The Depth of a Dream

This little story serves two purposes.  It’s the “except” for my July Camp NaNo story and the answer to my last NaNoWriYe DreamWidth prompt for the month of June.

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Prompt: torn

Taurys had been so certain that is was what he’d wanted a month ago.  There had been no doubt in his mind.  Now, though, he couldn’t seem to escape from the uncertainty of it all.  A part of him was still firm in the resolve that this was the right thing to do.  He was torn between that certain resolve and the fear that it was wrong to tamper with nature in this way.

As he stared down at the body on the table, he chewed his lip.  Gilbert had done an excellent job in recreating his natural appearance.  He felt like he was staring down at his twin brother.  The figure had the same dark, tidy hair.  He had the same shining green eyes.  His complexion was the same, even.  Only the height was different – his new form was much shorter than his original form was.

Sighing, Taurys glanced over at Gilbert.  The scientist was hard at work on something.  “What more are you doing?” he asked, even though he knew Gilbert couldn’t hear him in his current state.  He glided over to peer over Gilbert’s shoulder.

The smaller man was frowning as he worked on something on the workbench.  It looked like nothing more than a tangle of wires to Taurys.

“What’s that meant to do, Gilbert?” Madeline asked, her voice as soft as it always was.

Gilbert answered without looking up from his work.  “It’ll help me monitor his systems,” he said.  He grimaced and added, “Provided things work the way they should, that is.”  He glanced over at his wife, then.  “Is he still here, Maddie?”

“I’m right here,” Taurys said, rolling his eyes.  He chuckled when Madeline nodded.  He knew that she could hear him, even if she couldn’t see him.  “Is this the right thing to do?” he said, his voice soft.

“Gilbert thinks so,” she said, shrugging.  Then, she smiled at her husband.  “He’s nervous about the morality of the whole thing.”

Gilbert shrugged.  “He… You were murdered, Taurys,” he said, shrugging.  “I’m just trying to give you back what was taken from you.  I don’t see how that can be wrong, but… it’s up to you.”

Taurys nodded, even though neither of them would know that he had.  “Thank you, Gilbert,” he said.  “I’ll decide soon.”  He smiled when Madeline relayed the message.  Gilbert nodded once and then got back to work.

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Only in Daydreams

I had such fun answering this prompt from the NaNoWriYe DreamWidth.  I’m really pleased with how it turned out and I’ve gotten away from the dark stuff I’ve been writing the last few days.

Prompt: Strangers

“My goodness,” Mama said, her voice soft. “Don’t you look like the fine young gentleman?”

Erik heaved a sigh and pushed a lock of hair behind his ear. “Are you going to take pictures of us before we head out?” he asked. She always had. He didn’t know why this year would be any different, except that it was in so many other ways. They would be starting secondary school – a new school, with kids they didn’t know – and Papa was home.

“Of course,” Mama said. She waved him towards Gretchen and said, “Stand with your sister.”

Gretchen was wearing one of her new skirts and Papa had a look on his face that made Erik wonder if she’d make it out the door. However, Papa surprised him by finally sighing and kissing her on her brow.

“Papa,” she said, barely stopping herself from rolling her eyes. “We’ll be back not too long after you get home. We’re just day students.”

“I know,” he said. He smiled and then looked over at Erik. “I’m just… you both look so grown up!” He stepped back, so that Mama could take several pictures of them from different angles.

Then, Gretchen was hurrying out the door. She paused on the front steps just long enough to put her skates on. Then, she was leaving Erik behind. He didn’t bother yelling after her. She wouldn’t have listened anyway.

“Worried?” Papa said, his voice soft.

Erik heaved a sigh and shrugged. “I won’t know anyone,” he said. He bit his lip and dropped his gaze to his shoes. Gretchen would make friends within moments of entering the school. It wasn’t so easy for him. He was too shy of strangers to talk to them.

“Henryk will be there,” Papa said.

That was unexpected. Erik looked up at him sharply and smiled. “Really?” he said, his voice faint. When Papa nodded, he laughed softly. “I better get going or I’ll be late.”

“Try and have fun, Erik ,” Papa said, waving to him. As Erik hurried out the door, he said, “Before you know it, you’ll be graduating. These days go by quicker than you think.”

Erik blinked at his father’s words. Then, he nodded. “I’ll remember that, Papa,” he said, his voice soft. He put on his own skates and then he hurried off towards the school. He would do his best not to let his shyness get the better of him. In seven years, he would be graduating.

Papa had been gone for seven years and Erik had heard his father say, more than once, that he hadn’t realized how much he’d missed. “I’m not going to miss a moment,” Erik breathed. He’d take each person as they came. A stranger was just a friend he hadn’t made yet.

Without a Dream

So, today, I’m stepping back to write a scene that is set before the first story.  Gilbert is not the kind of agent that normally goes into the field.

Prompt: Aim

“Let’s get started,” Madeline said, her tone gentle. When Gilbert nodded, she handed him a pair of goggles and earphones. “Put these on.”

“I already wear glasses,” he said, even as he set the goggles over his eyes.

Madeline smiled as she settled glasses in front of her own eyes. “It’s very important to protect your eyes,” she said, shaking her head. She paused to check the weapon. Then, she set the pistol in his hands. “Imagine that there’s a magnet downrange, constantly keeping the barrel pointing down there.”

“Right,” Gilbert said, his voice soft. He listened as she talked him through how to grip the handgun. He never realized how tightly he would have to hold it. How did she do this regularly?

She talked him through the next steps of using the sights. He was surprised to hear that she wanted him to look at the sight that was closest to him. “So, put your finger on the trigger,” she said, her voice soft. “Slowly exhale and then draw back the trigger with firm, even pressure.”

Gilbert nodded slightly. Then, keeping the handgun level, he breathed outward. Then, just before he needed to inhale, he drew back the trigger. He gasped when the gun jerked in his hand. He took several more shots and then handed the weapon back to Madeline.

She chuckled softly and checked it. Then, she set it aside. She brought the target back in and nodded slightly. “It’s not too bad, Gilbert,” she said, pointing at the numerous holes in the target. None of them were in the center area where he was meant to be shooting. However, they were all clustered near each other and not far off the mark.

“He’s nowhere near ready,” Director Williams grumbled.

Gilbert gave a wry laugh and looked over at him. Tugging the goggles up and off, he shrugged. “I can’t delay much longer, Boss,” he said, his voice soft.

The other man grimaced. “That’s what scares me,” he said.

Dreamers – part 12

This is, I think, the last section of this story.  The next part is going to be a sort of prologue, but given the time-jump necessary, it won’t be part of “To Wake the Dreamers”.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.  This section used a picture prompt from the NaNoWriYe DreamWidth.

inspiration typography

Valdis didn’t like the way things were now.  No one seemed to hear him or see him.  Worse, he couldn’t touch anything.  That was incredibly frustrating, since he very much wanted to slap Ivan.  At the moment, he was sitting on the edge of his old desk, glaring at his former boss.  He might have remained there, except that he heard someone calling him.

“We call upon the spirits of Valdis Kaslauskas and Ilya Putin,” the voice said.  “If you can hear me, speak now, through the spirit board.”

“Spirit board?” Valdis said, blinking.

He startled when someone spoke up from behind him.  “It beats hanging around here.”  He turned to find Ilya standing behind him.  Giving him a weak smile, the agent said, “Come on, kid.  This is no way to live… or… whatever.  Why are we still here?”

“Right,” Valdis said.  He blinked and, suddenly, they weren’t there anymore.  They were in a small, dimly lit room.  Four people – two men and two women – were sitting around a table.  A fifth was standing back with a notebook and pen.

Valdis blinked at the man with the pen.  “Taurys?” he breathed.  Then, one of the women spoke up.

“Ilya,” she said, her voice soft.  “Valdis, speak now.  Please.”

Ilya stepped over to the spirit board and frowned.  He set his hand on the planchette that the four people were holding and guided it towards the word “hello”.  “It’s working,” he said, his voice softly.

“I haven’t been able to touch anything,” Valdis said, his voice soft.

“Who is this?” the woman said.

Chuckling softly, Ilya said, “We can touch this, it seems.”  He guided the planchette through the letters of his name.  Then, he continued to spell out words.  After a moment, he stopped.

Taurys read out the message that he’d written into the notebook.  “Ilya,” he said.  “Valdis is here too.  Felicja… I’ve missed you.”  He looked over at the table and gave a flashed smile at one of the women.

“Eliasz,” she breathed.  “You… are such an idiot!”  Tears welled in her eyes and she gasped when Ilya tried to brush them away.  Looking at the other woman, she said, “I felt… he touched me.”

She nodded.  “I’m Madeline Schneider,” she said.  Nodding at the man across from her, she said, “You might remember my husband.”

“Doctor Schneider,” Valdis breathed.  He frowned and stepped over to the spirit board.  He chewed at his lip as he spelled out a message of his own.

Taurys nodded as he read the words.  “He wants to know why we called them,” he said.  He looked at Dr. Schneider and added, “He called you Dr. Schneider.”

“That’s Valdis, then,” Dr. Schneider said, smirking.  “Ilya was never so formal.”  He heaved a sigh and glanced around the room.  “I’ve perfect the body that I was trying to make while I was in Veligrad.”

Taurys nodded.  “I’m… using one,” he added, his voice soft.

“We called you here to… give you a chance to do the same,” Dr. Schneider said.  He grimaced.  “If you’re willing, I’ll get started right away.”

“Anything is better than the way we’ve been living,” Valdis breathed.

Ilya nodded and moved the planchette to the word “yes”.  Then, he spelled out the word “please”.

Dr. Schneider nodded slowly.  “Right,” he said, a faint smile touching his lips.  “I’ve got them started already, at Arthur’s insistence.  It won’t take long to finish with the programming and then we’ll discuss… you moving into them.”

“It’s not going to be easy,” Taurys said, smiling.  “You’ll get used to it, though.  I promise.”

 

 

Dreamers – part 9

Today, I had a bit of a challenge in using the prompt from NaNoWriYe’s DreamWidth in the story.  However, I remembered a throwaway line in an earlier section and that cleared things up nicely.

Prompt: Ballgown

By the time Gilbert and Madeline were able to come together once again, it was the day of the annual awards ceremony for the IIA.  Gilbert fussed with the collar of his dress shirt.  He knew how Erik felt about having to dress up for these things.  He felt the same way, in fact.  However, it was part of the job.  He heaved a sigh as his fingers tangled in the bow tie once again.  “Maddie?” he called.

There was a rustle of fabric and then she was at his side.  After she got his fingers untangled from the fabric, it was a simple matter for her to tie it herself.  Then, she kissed his cheek.  “Charmingly awkward,” she said.

As she stepped back, Gilbert got a good look at her gown.  The soft peach color accented her fair complexion perfectly.  It was sleeveless, but she had long gloves that covered most of her arms.  “Well,” he said, blinking.

Madeline stifled a laugh and said, “I’ve got to finish helping Gretchen get ready.  Can you handle Erik’s tie?”

“I can help him with his,” Gilbert said, grinning.  “It’s my own that I have trouble with.”  He heaved a sigh as she headed for the door once again.  “We need to talk about that thing still.”

“Felicja and Taurys will be at the ceremony,” Madeline said, heading out the door.  “We’ll talk there.”

“Yes, dear,” Gilbert replied.  She was avoiding the subject.  He shook his head and headed off to help his son get finished dressing for the ceremony.  Normally, they wouldn’t bring the children to events like this.  However, Director Williams had insisted that they be there.  After all, their parents were among those being honored.

He tapped on the door of Erik’s room and then peered inside. Erik was already dressed and, to Gilbert’s surprise, he’d managed to tie the formal bowtie without any help.  “Good job,” he said, smiling.

Erik shrugged.  “It’s not hard,” he said.  Then, he stepped up to Gilbert and tilted his head.  “Why are you getting an award, Papa?”

“Well,” Gilbert said, as he struggled for a moment to find the words.  Finally, he sighed and shrugged.  “My boss feels like what we did was special enough that we need to be congratulated in a special way.”

“Don’t you want to get an award?” a new voice said.

Gilbert turned around to find Madeline and Gretchen coming down the corridor.  He smiled at the gown that Madeline had found for their daughter.  It was blue and white with just enough frills to show that she was still quite young, but there was enough formality to it that Gretchen wouldn’t feel like “a baby”.

Shrugging again, Gilbert said, “I just did my job.”

“Arthur feels we went above and beyond the expectations of our jobs,” Madeline added, her voice soft.  She waved at Erik and said, “Get your sister’s shawl, Erik.”

“Yes, Mama,” Erik said, as he hurried off.

Gretchen looked at each of her parents and frowned.  “Are you two fighting?” she asked, her voice faint.

“No,” Gilbert said.  He gave her a weak smile and then shrugged.  “I need to ask your mama to do something that she doesn’t really want to do.”  He turned to Madeline and, still talking to Gretchen, added, “I know that and I understand why, but I have to ask anyway.”

“If she doesn’t want to do it, then she shouldn’t have to,” Gretchen said, sounding a bit annoyed.

Madeline chuckled.  “We all have to do things that we don’t want to do, sometimes, Greta,” she said.  “Papa didn’t want to be in Veligrad for seven years.  You didn’t want to go to summer camp.”

For a moment, Gretchen frowned.  Finally, she nodded and said, “Papa doesn’t want to get an award.”  Then, she headed down the corridor and took her shawl from Erik.  “Let’s go outside, Erik.”

“All right, Sister,” Erik said, as he followed her through the door.

Gilbert offered Madeline his arm.  As she looped her arm in his, he said, “I wouldn’t be asking this of you if it weren’t important, Maddie.  You know that, right?”

“I do,” Madeline murmured.  She kissed his cheek and then nodded.  “I’ll do what I can, but I can’t make any promises.  Their spirits might have moved on or they simply might not want to talk.”

“I just want you to try,” Gilbert murmured.  He sighed as he looked down at their formal attire.  “After the awards ceremony.”

“After the awards ceremony,” Madeline repeated.

Dreamers – Part 7

Here we are with another section of this story.  I used a word prompt from the NaNoWriYe DreamWidth for this one.  It’s been a fun challenge to get these to fit with where the story needs to go.

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Prompt: Downtown

Madeline was watching Gretchen as she scanned the racks of clothing. She knew her daughter wanted to look at the short skater skirts and tank tops with their plunging necklines that were on the racks not far away. However, she couldn’t help but smile as the girl ground her teeth and perused the floral a-lines and smock blouses that were closer at hand.

Erik was keeping himself amused by playing with a puzzle he’d found in the toy section. If he managed to solve it before they were done, Madeline knew they wouldn’t be buying it. However, she also wasn’t about to make him wait for them to finish shopping without doing anything.

“Mama,” Gretchen said, holding up a pretty skirt that had flowers embroidered at the hem. “Is this one all right?” From her tone, Madeline knew her daughter was frustrated by her limitations, both due to the selection and her parents’ rules.

“You really don’t care much for flowers, do you?” Madeline said. When Gretchen shrugged, Madeline stepped closer to her. Taking the skirt, she looked it over for a moment before holding it up against her daughter’s slender frame. It fell to just above Gretchen’s knee. Her friends wore their skirts much shorter, but Madeline knew Gilbert would prefer something longer. This seemed like a fair compromise.

“No shorter,” she said, as she set the garment in her shopping basket. When Gretchen sighed, she smiled. “You’re twelve, Gretchen. Enjoy being young while you can. Worry about dressing like a grown woman when you are one.”

“Yes, Mama,” Gretchen said, rolling her eyes and turning back to the rack where she’d found the only acceptable skirt so far.

“Mama,” Erik called, holding up the communication device she’d given him to keep an eye on. “It’s vibrating.”

Madeline stepped over to her son and took the device. Keying a button, she said, “Go for Dreamer.”

Gilbert’s voice came through the speaker in response. “Hey, Dreamer,” he said. “Sleeper, here. We’re heading for the Mushroom, but… Can you meet us at the Mall later? We have something we need your help with.”

“I’ll be there around fourteen hundred,” she said, glancing at her watch. “I’m shopping with the kids at the moment.”

“Hey, cool,” Gilbert replied. “The boy needs a suit for that thing at the end of the month – at least a new waistcoat and matching tie, maybe a shirt.”

“Got it,” Madeline said. As she ended the conversation, she smiled at Erik. His expression was like a prisoner who’d just learned it was time for his execution. “It’s not that bad,” she said, shaking her head.

“It’s torture,” he said, looking back down at his puzzle. He sighed as he popped a piece off and the rest of the pieces came apart. “Solved it,” he said, as he put it back together.

“How do you do that?” Gretchen said, as she added two more skirts and three blouses to Madeline’s shopping basket. “You picked that up… like, twenty minutes ago and it has a tag on it that says, ‘hours of play’.”

“It wasn’t that hard,” Erik said, shrugging.

Shaking her head, Gretchen tapped the skirts. “Same design, different embroidery,” she said. “The blouses have… like sweetheart necklines that go to here.” She set her hand at her chest, just below her neck.

“That should be fine,” Madeline said, smiling. She took the puzzle toy from Erik and set it down on a shelf. One of the workers would put it back where it belonged later. “Time for more shopping, Erik.”

“Why doesn’t Papa use our names?” Gretchen said, shaking her head. “I’m always the girl and Erik is the boy.”

“Protocol,” Madeline said, shrugging. “You don’t have codenames, so he uses something else that works to identify you without speaking your name.”

“A codename would be cool,” Erik said. He looked thoughtful and said, “I could be… like, solver or something.”

“I’ll give the suggestion to the Boss,” she said, smiling. Then, she ushered the children towards the shopkeeper, so they could make their purchases. This shop had some boys’ clothing, but there was a better selection of formal wear in the shops downtown.

Resting in Darkness

My lastest story using NaNoWriYe’s DreamWidth prompts.  Those can be found here, by the way.

Prompt: Underground

It was strange. When Taurys had first died, he’d expected to go to heaven. Wasn’t that what he’d been taught as a child? Of course, Ivan had always said that such things were children’s tales, told to comfort those who were frightened of death. He felt that death was the end of life and there was nothing more.

Taurys knew in his heart that Ivan was wrong. His experience now was proof of that. However, he hadn’t gone into the light either. He was trapped in the world, watching people live. None of them could see or hear him. He knew that much. He’d been trying to get Gilbert’s attention since he’d found the scientist.

Frowning, Taurys walked unnoticed behind Gilbert and the woman he called Madeline. From the way they interacted… he sighed when Gilbert caught her hand. She was his wife – or his love, at least. They stepped into an elevator and Taurys followed.

He was surprised when the car went downward, rather than upward. “Where are we going?” he said, frowning as the numbers continued to climb. The car stopped on the twentieth floor – down from the first floor, which was on the surface.

Still feeling confused, Taurys followed them. His eyes widened as they entered a room that was so like the situation room back in Veligrad that he knew it could be nothing else.

“Dr. Schneider,” a man with an Anglian accent said, beckoning to the pair. He nodded at Madeline and said, “Agent Schneider.”

“Arthur,” Madeline said, her voice soft. “What’s up?”

“We need you to bring the prototype to headquarters,” Arthur said, scowling. He looked at Gilbert. “Our experts will study it there.”

Gilbert frowned and then nodded. “Yes, sir,” he said. He gave Madeline a weak smile. “The kids are out of school for the summer holiday. A trip over to the islands might be fun for them.”

“There’s reason to believe that Veligradian intelligence is after you, Dr. Schneider,” Arthur countered.

“They’re after the children,” Taurys snapped, even though he knew they couldn’t hear him. At the same time, Madeline spoke up.

“All the more reason to keep our children close, Arthur,” she said, her voice taking on a sharp tone, even though the volume didn’t change. “They won’t be looking for a family traveling on holiday. We’ll blend right in with everyone else.”

“I won’t take that chance,” Arthur said. He looked at Gilbert. “I’ve arranged for them to attend Camp Whip-poor-will for the summer. Agent Anguo will be there and will keep an eye on them.”

“I’ve been away for seven years, Arthur,” Gilbert said, shaking his head. “I want to be with my children!”

“This is not up for debate, Sleeper,” Arthur said.

Gilbert ducked his head. “Yes, sir,” he murmured.

“Sleeper?” Taurys said, his voice soft. They’d heard of Sleeper in Veligrad, but he never imagined that Gilbert was that person. “What other secrets have you got, Dr. Schneider?” he murmured.

Shining Dreams

Today’s prompt is a picture prompt (by the way, these prompts aren’t actually daily.  I’m trying to catch up).  This story is set not long after the picture prompt with the sun shining behind the palm tree.  It just seemed to fit.

prompt-10

Erik woke with a start and looked around as thunder seemed to split the air. He blinked as flowers filled the sky. Then, he realized that the flowers were made of sparkling things. “Sparkle flowers?” he said. He looked over at Mama and blinked. “Sparkle flowers, Mama?”

“Fireworks,” Mama said, smiling. She chuckled when he startled again as more of the flowers bloomed in the air. “Are they pretty, Erik?”

“Pretty,” Erik said, grinning at her. He giggled and then ran to the edge of the water. Gretchen was already standing near the water, watching the flowers bloom. “Pretty sparkle flowers,” he said. Then, he laughed and covered his ears. “Loud.”

Behind him, Alfred said, “They’re not flowers, kid. They’re fireworks.” When Erik looked at him, he said, “Fireworks.”

“Flowers,” Erik said. He nodded and grinned. “Sparkling sky flowers.” Then, he turned around to watch more of them bloom.

Mama laughed and said, “Are you actually arguing with a three year old, Alfred?”

Perchance to Dream

This is my last response to a NaNoWriYe DreamWidth prompt for today.  If you know Shakespeare, you can guess that this sort of goes with the previous one.  It’s sort of a “meanwhile in Allemande” type thing.

prompt-4

Gilbert lay, flat on his back, staring at the ceiling. He was meant to be sleeping, but he couldn’t sleep. He had too much on his mind. He rolled onto his side and looked at Madeline.

She was curled on her side, facing him. He reached out and caressed her cheek. He had very nearly been lost to her. When he’d gone to Veligrad, he’d promised her that he would return and he’d nearly broken that promise.

He heaved a sigh as he remembered a dream he often had when he was young. As he closed his eyes, he could still picture the scene: the sun sinking towards the horizon, shining off the mirrored surface of a lake. He would step to the edge of a cliff and throw himself off, towards the water below. He’d have to trust that he would land in the water correctly.

That was, he realized, what he had done every day when he’d been in Veligrad. Every time that he’d gone to the lab, he had been throwing himself off a cliff and trusting that everything would turn out all right.

Every time before, he had landed smoothly, cutting through the water like an experienced diver. Today, he’d nearly drowned. He probably would have been killed, except that one person carried enough to rescue him. Gilbert heaved a sigh and smiled. When he opened his eyes, he found that Madeline was smiling at him. “I love you,” he whispered.

“And I you,” she said. Then, she snuggled closer and kissed his mouth. Breaking the kiss, she set her head on his chest and said, “Now, go to sleep. We have a busy day tomorrow.”

Dream Journeys

Another story inspired by the prompts from NaNoWriYe’s DreamWidth.  This one is set directly after Gilbert escapes from Veligrad.

prompt-6

Gilbert woke to the sound of items falling and tumbling to the floor. He sat up, blinking into the darkness of the baggage car and sighed. He could see that some of the luggage had fallen off the shelves. One bag was on the floor, others were leaning precariously against their neighbors.

“When did you get to be such a light sleeper?” Madeline asked, her voice soft. He made a curious noise and she laughed. “When we were first married, it would have taken more than that to wake you, my love.”

Shrugging, Gilbert shook his head. “I’ve been seven years in Veligrad,” he said, his voice soft. He looked over at the jumbled pile of suitcases. “I slept with my bag, packed, under the bed. I was ready to run at the slightest hint of trouble.”

Madeline heaved a sigh and looked up at him. “I’m sorry that you had to go through that alone, Gilbert,” she said, her voice soft.

He shrugged. “It was worth it, if I was able to stop them from succeeding,” he said, his voice soft. He shook his head. “The only thing that I regret is that I lost so much time with the kids. Do they even remember me?”

“Gretchen does,” Madeline replied. Her brows furrowed. “I think Johannes has vague memories of his father.” She stood, then, and padded over to the high window that gave them just enough light to see. “We’re in Sarmaci,” she said. She turned to him and smiled. “When the train stops, Felicja will meet us. We’ll be making the rest of the trip in the passenger car.”

Gilbert stretched. “Provided they don’t arrest us when they find out we stole aboard in Veligrad,” he said.

Madeline chuckled and shook her head. “I’ll show them my badge and explain that we’re traveling on official business,” she said. “They won’t give us any trouble.”

“From you lips,” Gilbert said, “to God’s ears.” Too much had gone wrong in his escape from Veligrad for him to trust that his luck had truly turned.

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