Next morning, Nargara got us up at dawn, so two red arrows started dashing around the house and the area, busy with the instructions we got. Elcha went to the meadows to collect herbs.
Me, having filled a bag, rushed around the customers to deliver elixirs, drugs and ice-messages – efils.
Efils are small round bubbles with water frozen inside. In ancient times, the Watermen, experts in this element, discovered a very peculiar feature about the liquid – it can perceive, accumulate and store the information transmitted to it.
However, this feature is not so easy to use. The fact is that water records everything, and it is nearly impossible to isolate the right piece of information from the abundance of it coming in.
Many centuries ago, though, some Elses managed to solve the problem. They had tried hard and long before they developed a spell that could help freeze water so that it did not melt back even when subjected to the worst heat. Little by little, this knowledge spread around, and the exchange of liquid messages got its leading role.
To begin with, the native element was more familiar, more convenient and faster to use.
Second, the pictures and images were very accurate here, which could not be done through conventional handwritten letters. With proper skill, actually, you can charge an efil even with the subtlest emotion – your feelings, smell perception, sounds, visual images and fantasies. In other words, the whole range of sensations in a single small bubble.
Third, water messages can be better and easier protected compared to paper. This technology has been improved through ages, and every sorcerer now has excelled in this just as the whim takes them.
I heard that in the capital, Ozeron, there is the Efillit, a large crystal, which held the records of the entire history, on from the moment the Watermen learnt to use liquids to store information. This huge crystal of frozen clear mountain water is in the heart of the capital, next to Ozirion – the palace where the Lord of the Water World resides. And it never stops growing. Year after year, it expands with the information about all the new developments and changes around the empire. People say that this jumbo can be seen on the Lower Square, standing high above all the houses in the area, always sparkling in the Sun and emitting a slightly white radiance in the night, and remaining ice even in the hottest days. That is definitely magic.
Now, this day I had three efils to deliver. Two had to be taken to customers in Karun, a third one to be taken beyond – to Mount Eagle. There was a guard detachment, which was in charge of the main trade route running around the city and stretching far to the east.
The guards often exchanged messages. Sometimes I had to run delivering efils between the detachments several times a day.
Having delivered the remedies and the ice mail to all the customers, I headed for Mount Eagle, deliberately making it my last destination for the day. That day Yoos was on duty with his squadron, and we had scheduled a training session to practice some hand-to-hand combat.
Actually, I didn’t fancy all those things – they made my whole body hurt afterwards. And Yoos, to put it mildly, never had a heart and would drive me just as much as he did all of his guys.
But now I did not just run there, but I flew, with a bright picture of my training session circulating all over my mind. And with a real weapon in my hands! My own weapon in my own hands!
The city was already left behind, and the Sun, looking over the mountain range, lit up the road ahead. The day had to be warm.
Several times I came across carts, all creaking under a pile of goods carried for sale. Once I saw a flock of sheep. I swept among them, which scared the poor animals half to death. Frightened, they rushed all different ways, and I could hear a good deal of expletive from the shepherds behind.
A couple of hours later the northern slope of Mount Eagle could be seen. The garrison was in its right part, so I just got round another rock and went straight there.
The Eagle’s Nest fortress seemed relatively small, yet quite strong. It was built of huge gray stones whose color matched the main rock, and which gave the impression that the fort was part of the rock.
Nearby, a cheerful waterfall was running noisily in fast mountain streams. Not as big as in Karun, though, yet showing some strength.
Nargara told once that the fortification was built quite a long time ago, when the trade way running through Karun was much busier, and there were more than a few robbers in the area. No better place for them! Deserted mountains, no guard, lots of carts transporting piles of goods – that’s what paradise for criminals must look like.
The local merchants soon got fed up with the robbers, and after a while, Lord Sakhord – the current ruler’s great-grandfather, ordered several fortresses be built around, with guardians patrolling the entire path far and wide. Two of them were built here in the Highlands – one in Karun, the other – on Mount Eagle.
I slowed down as I approached the fortress gate and gave a loud shout. The guard stuck his head from above, and the next instant the gate yielded open with a creak.