The Keeper's Shadow

The Keeper's Shadow by Dennis Foon

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Authors: Dennis Foon
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ignore him. “Excuse me,” he says, quite loudly, worried they might be hard of hearing. “Would you happen to be Othard and Imin?”
    Both are visibly startled, but only one peers over his test tube to acknowledge the visitor. “I am Othard. Who are you?”
    â€œMy name is Roan of Longlight.”
    Both physicians freeze as if confronted by some fantastic apparition.
    â€œRoan? Of Longlight?” asks the other physician.
    Roan nods. They stare at him quizzically, then at each other. Imin, presumably, stands up and pumps Roan’s hand. “Forgive us. There is a virus in Farlands we are trying to defeat. It’s become a rather absorbing obsession.”
    â€œBrother Asp told me you might know how to find a place I’m looking for,” Roan says, wanting to get straight to the point.
    â€œAnd what might that be?” Othard asks.
    â€œThe Foresight Academy,” Roan answers, almost causing Othard to tip his test tube over in its stand.
    Imin leans against the table for support. “You planning on traveling there alone?”
    â€œNo,” admits Roan, “I’ve a friend.”
    Othard and Imin share a worried look, before Imin asks: “Is he strong?”
    â€œHe’s a Mor-Tick survivor.”
    â€œThat’d do it.”
    Nodding in agreement, Othard bravely steps forward. “May we come along?”
    The doctors wait, eyes wide, not breathing.
    â€œI was hoping you’d ask,” Roan replies.
    â€œOh, thank you, thank you!” they shout, embracing each other.
    â€œYou have no idea how long we’ve dreamed of going there,” says Imin, taking Roan’s hand in his.
    â€œBut our responsibilities were huge, and the dangers in going to the Academy great,” Othard adds.
    â€œWe are not warriors like you...”
    â€œâ€¦or as frightening in our countenance as a Mor-Tick survivor…”
    â€œâ€¦so we dared not take the risk...”
    â€œâ€¦but we did the calculations...”
    â€œâ€¦and there’s a good chance it’s survived.” Imin stops, suddenly unsure, and peers at Roan. “The library. That’s why you’re going, isn’t it? For the library?”
    As Roan nods an assent to Imin, Othard reaches inside a cabinet and removes a false wall from the back. Inside is a rolled-up parchment. Withdrawing it, Othard explains, “It has taken years to piece this map together. Questioning the Dirt Eaters was not an option. It would have only increased their already growing suspicions of us. But there were clues. Clues in the library at Oasis, here and there.”
    â€œHere and there,” Imin echoes, “in journals.”
    â€œAnd letters,” Othard adds. “Duty rosters. Memorandum.”
    â€œDoctors,” Roan interrupts. “The map?”
    â€œThis is it,” says Othard, tapping the roll in his hand.
    â€œDid we mention,” interjects Imin, “the place is booby-trapped?”
    â€œHow do you know?” Roan asks.
    â€œRumors…”
    â€œâ€¦Reports…”
    â€œâ€¦Accounts...”
    â€œâ€¦No one who’s gone there has ever—”
    â€œYes! I understand. Thank you. Maybe you’d like to pack a few things for the trip?” says Roan, attempting to stem the tide.
    â€œOh! Are we going now?” asks Othard.
    â€œYes. Right now.”
    â€œThis is a great day, Roan of Longlight,” exclaims Imin, quickly throwing some clothes and notebooks into a pack.
    As the two physicians charge toward the hatch and collide with each other, Roan can’t help but wonder if he’s made a mistake in inviting them along.

THE EXORCISM
    MABATAN INTERVIEW 2.4.
WE WALKED FOR MANY YEARS WITH THE WHITE CRICKETS BEFORE WE KNEW THE LANGUAGE OF THEIR SONG. THEN WE UNDERSTOOD THAT THE EARTH SPOKE TO THEM, AND THROUGH THEM, ITS MESSAGE CAME TO US.
    â€”GWENDOLEN’S CRICKET FILE
    T HE ROOM IS TOO SMALL. The

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