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The Raemond woman removed her hood, cape, and started on her gloves. Seth opened his mouth to speak and she held a finger to her lips.
He stood there, fists clenched at his sides, nostrils flaring, his breaths shallow, his body quivering. His eyelids narrowed to focus on her.
Remember father’s lessons. What had my bubbing, ginicomtwigging fou of a father said? Oh, yes: They’re out there to get you.
Well, whoever they are, wherever I am, they are not going to get me!
Seth kept his eyes on the Raemond woman and peripherally scanned his surroundings. Nothing made sense.
All those years studying the Sacred Geometries — the pyramids, the temples, the mausoleums of ancient churches and mosques — remember their lessons, Seth Van Gelder.
Remember: Always design in a way out.
And those geometries are everywhere. He only had to find them.
Determine what is different to isolate what is similar.
Different: This is not Father’s house, nor my room.
Different: Great pah-ing sounds overhead, They pulse through the air like heartbeats of the land. Felt more than heard.
Different: Orange clouds fill the sky. And a sickening smell of pumpkin-sweet. The smell strengthens with each pah.
And warm. Much warmer than Londontown, although not unpleasantly so.
No sounds of father’s house.
Seth took his eyes from the Raemond woman for a moment and turned his head, glancing around him.
Addie’s once loved and now cruel face nowhere to be found.
Everything I knew, gone.
No! There will always be similarities. Men will always need something to walk on, even if it’s the back of others. Men will always need air to breath even if it made rancid with the smell of pumpkin-sweet. Think bigger, think smaller, until you find what’s the same in the midst of what’s different.
He stood on an elevated platform of some kind. Would there be a noose about his neck in a moment? The light which transported him faded as another light swelled around him.
The light. What brings it? There are no lamps, no torches. But men must still need light. If not a light I know then something like it.
But here there is light. And warmth. Whatever men are here are more like me than not.
His nostrils flared again. The pumpkin-sweet air sickened him. He would not breathe it in. He held his breath.
His eyes came back to the Raemond woman.
Is this Raemond a messenger finally dispatched by Sharon’s prayers, and I’m taken home?
She turned away. Behind her a waist high stand with pelts of blue light rose from the platform on which they stood. She reached out and held onto it while his eyes adjusted to the growing light, then motioned for him to turn around.
A similar stand rose up behind him. He reached for it.
The Raemond woman stood beside him. Her hand grabbed his and he gasped, constricted by a blanket of pain, a thousand nails penetrating his skin, unable to move. The breath he held he couldn’t release. It soured in his lungs. She let go and pulled her gloves off.
He used the pain to focus his thoughts. If this be a gallows then where are the hangmen and noose?
Men and women in billowing white robes stood around the platform. One of them waved. The light began to fade. The pain lessened. He could move again.
Raemond smiled and stood before him, speaking in a totally foreign tongue.
He pushed past her.
She grabbed him by the arms, one in each of her hands, and kept her own arms by her side to hold her gloves, cape, and hood close beside her.
He had to get away, away from that damned pumpkin-sweet, away to air he could breath.
She smiled and again said something he couldn’t understand.
He shook his head, pulling his arms free of her.
She drove her knee into his kingmaker and kit.
He fell to his knees, arms locked over his belly, gasping for air, bowing before her.
He stopped gasping, stopped moving, and raised his head slowly to memorize her face. Never did she bow or crip or crim to him, yet so quickly did she take him away from one hell to this other and make him bow to her.
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