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Chapter 11

Azzie had planned to celebrate when Sir Oliver was finally on his way through the passageway, for it meant that his immorality play was well begun. All Aretino had to do was observe Oliver's progress and then record it. But no sooner was the knight launched than it became obvious that he was experiencing difficulties.

Azzie lost no time looking into what had gone wrong. He traced Sir Oliver's journey into the realm of faery, utilizing those telltale signs by means of which Evil is able to follow the progress of Innocence. And so Azzie went to the strange realm in the forest in which the lands of reality and those of faery were commingled.

After a long tramp through the gloomy corridors of the forest, Azzie came to a clearing. At the end of it he saw Sir Oliver, sitting on a log, with an owl perched opposite him. They were playing cards with a small, narrow deck, one just the right size to permit the owl to hold them in his claws.

Azzie didn't know whether to laugh or cry; he had intended Sir Oliver for great deeds. Azzie hurried over, saying, "Hey, Oliver! Stop kidding around and get going!"

But his words weren't heard, and he was unable to get closer than about twenty feet from the pilgrim.

Some sort of rubbery invisible wall blocked his path. The wall seemed to be soundproof as well, and perhaps was even able to block or distort vision waves, for Oliver was unable to see him.

Azzie walked around the invisible circle until he came to a point exactly opposite where Sir Oliver's gaze would have to fall if he chanced to look up. Azzie poised himself at that place and waited. After a moment, Oliver's eyes raised, and he seemed to look right through Azzie. He soon returned to his card game.

Azzie knew something uncanny was going on, something beyond the usual tomfoolery of which he was a master. He wondered who had taken a hand here.

His first suspicion was of Babriel, but this seemed to be beyond the angel's mental powers to conceive and execute. Who did that leave? Michael? It somehow didn't have Michael's finely polished touch. It was not Michael's sort of thing —but driven to desperation, Michael might be capable of anything.

That left only Ylith. He wouldn't put it past her! But what, specifically, had she done?

A moment later, she was standing beside him. "Hi, Azzie," she said. "Unless I miss my witch's guess, you were thinking about me." Her smile was simple and beautiful, and it gave away nothing.

"What have you done here?" Azzie asked.

"I thought up a bit of mischief I could do you," Ylith said. "It's standard-gauge invisible fencing."

"Very cute," Azzie said. "Now take it down!"

Ylith walked up to the invisible fence and felt around. "That's odd," she said.

"What's odd?" Azzie asked.

"I can't find the anomaly that powers the fence. It was supposed to be right here."

"This is just too much," Azzie said. "I'm going to Ananke."



Chapter 10 | A Farce To Be Reckoned With | Chapter 12







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