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Aflatan strode forth, authority and power in his way.

—Long and long have I been away.—he said in the old Gaalian language I could only brokenly understand.—but I return to you all a master.—

Then Aflatan began to do things that amazed us all. He twirled a rapid dance, faster than eye could belook. He jumped, remaining long in the air without a single visible thing to keep his place. Then, taking a handful of powder from his pack and setting it down, he slowly walked into a fire.

His clothes burnt around him, but Aflatan danced, untouched. Then, with a great laugh, he walked out directly before Kut. Before he could do a thing about it, Aflatan held Kut high with a single hand.

He carried his sack around his back as he approached the shrine and the face. Lifting up his hands, the dance stopped, allowing silence to take its place. Screaming words I did not understand, Aflatan walked headlong into the fire to the chanting of the crowd.

—He has the sack with him.—said Brendar urgently to me.—we must go now.—

The Gaalians were annoyed as we backed through them, keeping our faces like the entire assembly pointed at Aflatan and his amazing feat.

His form swayed and writhed in the fire, singing and uttering strange things. The flames around him had changed colour, to a deep purple. The same as that powerful plant. It also emitted strong banks of smoke.

Many laughed, but not a young Celean, Hredin. He boiled with anger about the treatment, for he greatly prized that particular Celeani.

Without thinking, he raced up to Lachai and shoved him in the backside with all his might.

With a triple roll, Lachai collapsed onto the rocks, spent. His eyes closed to avoid witnessing his own gruesome death.

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