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I mean you no harm at all.

"And I wish not to harm you, Simeon. Get out."

Yesterday, as you well remember, I fas.h.i.+oned a sword from the very air itself. Do not forget that. Do not underestimate me, though I am in your regions.

"I beg of you to leave. You're in danger here."

From what?

"I cannot say. It is in the knowing that the danger lies."

That is not good enough.

"It is all I can say."

I swung the sword, and he dissipated into an eerie blue vapor that clung to the walls until the wind whistled in to blow it away. It curled along the stone, slithered back to the pit, and was gone.

Two hours into the session, as I was sprawled on the dirt shelf above the pit, grasping at thoughts and diverting them toward the waterspout, a "G" drifted out, and with another level of my mind, I plucked at it and traced it. G to Gra.s.s* which is dark Green and bendinG over the hills* toppinG and hills to see GGGGG* G* G * G.o.dG.o.dG.o.dG.o.dG.o.dG.o.d like a whirlwind moaninG and babblinG over the Glens, cominG, cominG, twistinG relentlessly onward toward me* G* G*

I reached out to take a strong hold on the thought progression, partially because it might lead to something of interest and partially because it was such an odd, intense, and seemingly fractured train of images. Suddenly, the earthen shelf under me gave way, plunging me down toward the flaming pit which sent climbing streams of magma after me.

Wind lifted me toward the river before I could plunge into that cauldron of teeming madnesses.

I flew as if I were a kite.

The river swept me toward the ocean.

The water there was choppy and hot-and at places steam rose in spirals like smoke snakes.

At places, ice floated, dying.

I fought for the surface, desperately trying to stay on top of the turbulent currents, giving up thought direction and fighting only for the integrity of my own mind. Then I was suddenly up and splas.h.i.+ng through the pillar of foamy water that roared into the black, heavy sky; like a bullet out of a rifle, whining, spinning, was I. Splas.h.i.+ng, sputtering, I showered out of the mind of Child.

The room was dark. The hex signs glowed on the walls, partially illuminating the serious faces of the generals and the technicians. They were all grimacing, like gargoyle masks.

"He threw me out," I said in the quiet which stretched to the breaking point.

Everyone stared at me with what was obviously a bad case of doubt. I wished I had been more conciliatory in the days past, so that this incident would not appear so suspicious.

"He just threw me out of his mind," I said. It was the first time it had ever happened to me. I explained that.

They listened. Somewhere, I was certain, Child was laughing*

VIII.

Rumors of war.

The Chinese had slaughtered the skeleton staffs manning the last two Western Alliance emba.s.sies in Asia. One was in what had once been called Korea, the other on the home isl

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