CHAPTER THREE: Crossing the Rabbit's Path (5)

     “Then where-”

     Suddenly an arrow shaft zipped through one of the broken windows, arced like lightning in the air, descended down into impact, and stuck straight into the blank spot where Denthis had been standing. He somersaulted across the room and quickly sprang into a shadow next to the window. Grom and Bornen clumsily scrambled for cover beneath whatever fragments of the wreckage they could grab.

     Amid the boulders and snow laced terraces of the ravines outside the hut, a rather eely voice shouted in human tones, “I know you’re in there, Rabbit. It’s no use trying to run – you’re surrounded now.” There was some sniggering that echoed from under the crags and behind outspread pine trees, (proving that this particular speaker was certainly not alone). “Come on out, we just want to have a little talk.”

     Oh sure, Denthis thought, if talking meant having his arms tied down while a couple of Red Star cultists address him with angry fists, carving knives, uncomfortably hot iron, and a good length of rope to draw and quarter him with, then these fellows would gladly chat it up with him all day long, probably well into the night too. “I’d rather not,” he replied, “I’m busy entertaining guests at the moment. Perhaps you could come back later?”

     “What should we do Papa?” Grom asked fearfully, huddling closer to his grandfather.

     “Stay out of it – that’s what we’ll do,” he whispered. “We’re here to see Ezmyr, that’s all. I’m sure Denthis here can explain everything to them-”

     “Guests?” the cultist said deviously, “Is that so? Well then,” he chuckled, “you’ll have the good fortune of all dying together at least.”

     “What’s he saying?” Bornen inquired curiously as he glanced sidelong at Denthis.

     “Look, I’d really like to help you fellows out,” he remarked honestly, “I really would, but I don’t think they’re willing to listen to me.”

     “It’s a shame, Rabbit,” the voice hollered. “If you won’t come out of your hole, we’ll just have to . . .” A robed figure quietly crept along the exterior of the hut, halted under a window, signaled its readiness, then hurled a lit oil lantern through the hole.

     “. . . Burn  you out,” he concluded menacingly.

     A loud crash followed as the latern was dashed into pieces. Immediately a sheet of flame began to spread upon the floor, hastily consuming every surface it touched. The strange and arcane contents that littered Ezmyr’s hut crackled and combusted, only aiding to the expeditiousness of the blaze. In a matter of seconds the fire, which ranged in color according to whatever magic it mingled with, seemed to be everywhere. Dense screens of technicolored smoke billowed into the air. Grom choked on stertorous coughs and rubbed at his stinging eyes. He could feel tides of heat coil around him.

The End

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