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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

A Small and Sorry Tarrin



Tarrin prided himself on his ability to keep calm under difficult circumstances, but he had passed ‘stressed’ several minutes ago and was starting to approach ‘frantic.’ No matter which way he turned, the psychiatrist kept winding up back in Rumi, the blue door casting a long shadow of temptation in the afternoon sun. How much time had gone by since Talakan’s ultimatum--twelve minutes, twenty-four? Was time passing the same way at home as it was here? He was sure that Khyrisse would do what it took to reunite him with his dying wife despite her personal feelings about them--at least, he had to make himself believe that--but it wouldn’t do him much good if he couldn’t find her. So far, Tarrin hadn’t even been able to find the Rat.

And when a kiljhac finally did make her way through the overgrowth around Rumi, it was no one Tarrin had seen before. She waved, though, and called his name as if she recognized him. Tarrin was not in the mood for guessing games right now, nor for his customary politeness to strangers. “Who are you?” he said bluntly.

“It’s me, Flicker.” She came closer, no tension over the sex change apparent in her unhurried gait. “Why... I don’t look like an eight-foot-tall demon lord or anything, do I?”

“No,” he said. “You look like a kiljhac woman.”

“I do that sometimes.” She had a strange smile, wise and amused at the same time. Tarrin had to admit there was something calming about her presence. “I came to tell you Ebreth’s having some sort of seizure, but it looks like you’re in nearly as bad a state yourself. Anything I could help with?”

“I have to get back to my wife,” Tarrin said. “She may die if I don’t reach her soon.” His transformed friend’s words caught up with him suddenly: I came to tell you. Flicker could control his movements in this place. “Can you bring me to Khyrisse?”

“I wish I could,” she sighed. “My psychic mass is too great, I’m afraid. I can’t travel alongside the rest of you. But I can bring her the message... maybe she can find a way to reach you.”

“Doubt it,” Rani said through gritted teeth, phasing up through the pavement from beneath. “But I can.”

“Oh, I’m glad to see you!” Tarrin cried in a relieved rush of Diarian.

Rani ignored him. “Sunfighter,” explained the altered Flicker.

“Yeah, I know.” She caught her breath with an effort, like a swimmer about to take another dive. “Come on, let’s blow this joint before the fairies catch up with me.”

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