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datatime: 2022-09-25 12:18:46 Author:WyfGdNcY

"I have done much better work than this," he answered, climbing up onto one of the rocks, then stepping down the other side. "In some ways this is my least successful experiment, I tried to keep it simple. Too simple, possibly."

"Yes, but don't expect too much, Atrus. The people of this Age are an immensely simple folk. Crude, one might almost say. They manage to eke out a meager existence by way of fishing and basic agriculture, but as for culture, well. .."

Coming to the front of the building, Gehn turned, facing the crowd, whose number had grown to several hundred.

"Good," Gehn said, lowering his head so that the man could place the garland over it. Then, straightening up, he gestured to the man, "Gather the villagers. I shall speak to them at once."

"You are welcome, Great Master. Your dwelling is prepared."

Atrus fell silent, watching as a dozen or so of the tall, manlike figures came up the slope toward them, carrying flaming torches.

Coming to the front of the building, Gehn turned, facing the crowd, whose number had grown to several hundred.

"You are welcome, Great Master. Your dwelling is prepared."

"I have done much better work than this," he answered, climbing up onto one of the rocks, then stepping down the other side. "In some ways this is my least successful experiment, I tried to keep it simple. Too simple, possibly."

In the flickering light of the torches, Atrus saw what he was wearing. It was a crude, handwoven copy of a Guild cloak]

"I have done much better work than this," he answered, climbing up onto one of the rocks, then stepping down the other side. "In some ways this is my least successful experiment, I tried to keep it simple. Too simple, possibly."

Atrus stared at his father, surprised. This was the first he had heard of any of this. But Gehn spoke on, his voice booming now.

"Master" the acolyte answered, glancing at Atrus, his dark eyes curious.

Atrus glanced at his father, alarmed. "Are we in danger?"

In the flickering light of the torches, Atrus saw what he was wearing. It was a crude, handwoven copy of a Guild cloak]

"Now lead on" Gehn said, his voice stern, commanding.

There was a path leading down between the scattered rocks. After a dozen paces it opened out onto a bare slope covered in thigh-high grass. Below them, maybe a mile or so distant, huddled around the left-hand side of the lake, was a scatter of low, rectangular buildings, oddly shaped, as if half made of stone; maybe forty in all, lit by the lamps which hung over doorways and on poles along the harbor's edge. Suspended walkways linked the huts. Beneath the eaves of the nearest huts a number of dark, upright figures could be glimpsed.

"I have done much better work than this," he answered, climbing up onto one of the rocks, then stepping down the other side. "In some ways this is my least successful experiment, I tried to keep it simple. Too simple, possibly."

Atrus turned to stare at Gehn, surprised. "Its inhabited?''

Behind them, the people of the village gathered, following silently, their torches burning brightly in the moonlit darkness.

Atrus fell silent, watching as a dozen or so of the tall, manlike figures came up the slope toward them, carrying flaming torches.

Gehn shook his head. "Be patient, Atrus. You are here to observe, so observe."

Atrus turned to stare at Gehn, surprised. "Its inhabited?''

"People of the Thirty-seventh Age," he began, speaking loudly, the circle of hills making his words echo back to him across the lake. "This is my son, Atrus. I have decided that we shall stay with you for a time. While he is here you will treat him with the same respect you accord me."

On the other side, the land began to climb again, and on the top of a narrow ridge, behind which was the more massive slope of the hill, was what looked like a meeting hut of some kind, much larger than the huts that faced the harbor. As they crossed the bridge and began to climb the slope, Atrus saw lights being hastily lit up ahead, garlands hung between the wooden posts at the front of the building.

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