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Chapter 6

Derrl spent several days after the incident lying on his pallet convalescing. He had drained his resources in his attempt to pin the pattern down where he could keep it and hold on to it. He lay there for three days after, exhausted, mentally as well as physically. At times he stirred in his sleep, mumbling incoherently, something about, "… The pattern is me. I am the pattern…" All the while the mage stood watch over the prone form that was struck with bouts of restlessness. At times he cried out in his sleep. At times Kevesk could not bear to listen, for the keening had a painful edge to it. And yet he felt it his self-imposed punishment for not having forewarned the youth. The day passed with no change, except perhaps less frequent outcries. Morning was near, and the false-dawn crept in through the high windows. The mage had collapsed into a fitful sleep a few hours before, when he could no longer bear watch over the sleeping youth. As the light from the sun entered through the narrow windows, Derrl stirred on his pallet. His face still bore traces of the smile that had planted itself on his face when he collapsed. He opened his eyes. The smile grew broader still. He had done it. It was his, he had it now. He sat up and saw the exhausted mage collapsed on his chair by the pallet. He murmured a quiet "thank you" to the mage, though he did not wake him. He knew that the mage must have kept watch over him throughout the ordeal. He scrawled a crude message on the dirt floor, in letters that were barely recognizable as such. "I leaft, I will cumm beck." He did not know where he was going, he only knew that he was going somewhere where he could be alone, and where there would be no distractions. He strode out the door, and quietly closed it behind him. He glanced down the street at the traders who were bringing their carts to the square in order to sell their wares. He could faintly hear the voices of the first bargainers, those who had found the traders who already had their stalls set up. This would not do; he would have to find a nice secluded spot. Wait, he thought to himself, this is a port town, I should have no problem finding myself a quiet beach. He walked toward the port end of town with determination in his stride. He knew where he was going now.

The sands of the beach were almost a pure white and were warming in the morning sun. No doubt by noon they would be uncomfortably hot. As he walked, his boots kicked up large amounts of the fine sand. He spotted a large driftwood log that had once been a piece of the mast of some vessel. It had once been a deep rich brown, but now was bleached by the sun to a white closely matching the sands. He sat down on it, wincing at the splinters sticking out of the log, splinters that seemed determined to pierce his soft posterior. He thought to himself, It could be worse, as he took off his heavy boots. He noticed that he would have to get a new pair soon, since he was wearing the soles out of these ones quickly. He set the boots down beside the log and stepped down to the high water line and sorted through the various debris there. He picked his way through the driftwood and bracken until he found what he was looking for. He pulled out a long, narrow stick that was as long as his leg. He walked up the beach a ways, until he found a relatively clear patch of sand, about three yards across. He swept aside what was left on the patch with his feet. He stuck the point of his stick into the sand and walked around the patch of white sand. When he had completed his turn around it, he retrieved his stick from the sand and began to trace lines in the clear area. The design was essentially a large circle with four or five smaller ones inside it, criss-crossed by various smaller lines as they worked their ways across the outer circle. It was a very intricate pattern. As Derrl traced his lines, he couldn't help but notice that the wind seemed to be kicking up more and more sand. The sun had also disappeared behind a cloudbank that had not been there before. In all, it looked as if a large storm was brewing. He finished the last line of his pattern as a sudden downpour drenched him with massive water drops that made little craters in the fine sand around him. He found it odd that the section with the design got wet, but did not show signs of the little pockmarks that dotted the rest of the beach. Large waves began to crash on the beach, going far past the high water line, though it was low tide. As a Massive wave crashed on the beach it swept over the design in the sand. For a moment Derrl was annoyed that his effort had gone to waste, yet as the water receded he saw that the design lay untouched, if a little wet.

He heard a huge crashing sound from out by the mouth of the port where the shipping lanes were. At this he dashed over to the patch of sand and kicked his pattern into oblivion. As suddenly as it had been born, the storm died, leaving skies that were blue, if blotched by the retreating clouds. He could almost have believed that it had been a dream, until he walked back to fetch his boots and found them full to the tops with rainwater. Also, he was soaked. As much as he disliked doing so, he put on his sodden boots after emptying them and walked up the beach to the top of a dune. As he looked over to the port he saw a large trading vessel that had run aground and now sported a large hole in its hull, presumably a result of beaching itself.

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