“Then blind them with the dust of illusions—as you can. To-morrow, also, saying nothing of their sex, send a messenger to the Mountain and tell the Hesea that two old strangers have arrived—mark you, old—but that they are very sick, that their limbs were broken in the river, and that when they have healed again, I will send them to ask the question of her Oracle—that is, some three moons hence. Perchance she may believe you, and be content to wait; or if she does not, at least no more words. I must sleep or my brain will burst. Give me that medicine which brings dreamless rest, for never did I need it more, who also feel eyes upon me,” and she glanced towards the door.
Then I left, and not too soon, for as I crept down the darksome passage, I heard it open behind me.
It may have been ten o’clock on the following morning, or a little past it, when the Shaman Simbri came into my room and asked me how I had slept.
“Like a log,” I answered, “like a log. A drugged man could not have rested more soundly.”
“Indeed, friend Holly, and yet you look fatigued.”
“My dreams troubled me somewhat,” I answered. “I suffer from such things. But surely by your face, friend Simbri, you cannot have slept at all, for never yet have I seen you with so weary an air.”
“I am weary,” he said, with a sigh. “Last night I spent up on my business—watching at the Gates.”
“What gates?” I asked. “Those by which we entered this kingdom, for, if so, I would rather watch than travel them.”
“The Gates of the Past and of the Future. Yes, those two which you entered, if you will; for did you not travel out of a wondrous Past towards a Future that you cannot guess?”
“But both of which interest you,” I suggested.
“Perhaps,” he answered, then added, “I come to tell you that within an hour you are to start for the city, whither the Khania has but now gone on to make ready for you.”
“Yes; only you told me that she had gone some days ago. Well, I am sound again and prepared to march, but say, how is my foster-son?”
“He mends, he mends. But you shall see him for yourself. It is the Khania’s will. Here come the slaves bearing your robes, and with them I leave you.”
So with their assistance I dressed myself, first in good, clean under-linen, then in wide woollen trousers and vest, and lastly in a fur-lined camel-hair robe dyed black that was very comfortable to wear, and in appearance not unlike a long overcoat. A flat cap of the same material and a pair of boots made of untanned hide completed my attire.