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The torch caused shadows to dance across the jagged rock and filled the air with the thick smell of smoke and pitch. The sounds of the younglings’ hoofs echoed through the cave, which grew narrower as they proceeded, until it came to an end and the group could go no further.

“Well,” Laulja said. “This looks like the end, we should go back.”

But Türann raised his hand to silence Laulja and narrowed his eyes as he stared up into the dark. “There’s an outcropping overhead,” he said. “I think we need to go up.”

Laulja fluttered his lips, but the others eagerly voiced their approval of Türann’s idea. They gathered around and joined him in studying the rock wall they would have to brave and the narrow ledge overhead that would be their goal.

Türann eagerly went through the steps of his plan to reach the outcropping: he would go alone. Once he had reached the top, he would throw down a rope for the others to follow him. It would be quite the climb, and light should be sparse. But he was a skilled climber, certain of his own ability. Everyone muttered agreement at this brave plan--especially Maimu, who clung to his muscular arm--while Laulja fluttered his lips even louder.

Finally, Türann uttered a quick prayer to Wuraf, the protector of the gettefolk, touched his horn in greeting to the others, and then--under loud cheers--began his arduous ascent. He took it easy, handhold by handhold, foothold by foothold, always carefully testing the strength of the wall and its irregular surface.

The rock wall was quite high: you could break your neck falling, and already did Laulja picture Türann doing just that. He grinned: that would be nice indeed. . . But Türann seemed too prudent a climber for it.

Yard by yard, the rock wall yielded to Türann as the blessings of Maimu and the other youngling drifted after him. He went a lot faster now; he had apparently grown more confident as the outcropping came almost within reach. Laulja tried to imagine how long and high-pitched a shriek Türann could give before he would smack into the ground.

There was a way to find out. . .

Laulja grinned. It was an evil plan, but it was a nice thought. A shaman of great skill, such as Laulja considered himself to be, had the ability to petition the spirits for favors: simple things, little things. . .

A little push, perhaps.

Türann’s feet slipped. A collective gasp came from the onlookers--even Laulja could not suppress it. Not a high-pitched shriek followed, but a manly cry as Türann hung with one arm around the outcropping. Even from far below, it was plain to see that he was slowly losing his grip.

Just a little push was all that was needed now. No one would even see it.

Laulja closed his eyes--just for a moment--and rocked back and forth. His call was answered by those that dwell on the other side of the Mirror; and the favor he asked. . . granted.


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