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   Chapter 123 No.123

The Book of Deacon By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5280

Updated: 2018-01-20 12:02

"It is the only food available, " she said.

"To you, perhaps, " Ayna said. "Those with more evolved palates have alternatives."

"What do you eat?" Myranda asked.

"Nectar. It is the only proper food that nature has ever provided, " Ayna said.

"Have you ever tried anything else?" Myranda asked.

"I cannot eat anything else, " she answered. "Quickly--finish. I am eager for you to begin."

Myranda obeyed and made her way to the tree, which still bore a pair of scars from her last trip there. A reed flute, identical to the one she'd been practicing on, was attached to a pole beneath it.

"Now, the tasks you are to complete are rather simple. First, you will hold a single note on this flute for twenty-four hours, then you will--" she began.

"A whole day!" Myranda exclaimed.

"To state it another way, yes. And please do not interrupt me again. Following the endurance test, you will play the elegy flawlessly, from beginning to end, while standing no less than ten paces from the instrument, " she continued.

"The most that a Master test has ever required before was three hours, " Deacon offered.

"Congratulations, your knowledge of our history remains unchallenged. I frankly have never been fond of the fact that the test has been so. . . insubstantial in the past. This is far more fitting, I feel, " she said.

"I have trouble remaining awake for more than a day, " Myranda said.

"Well, with a spell to occupy you, you should have no trouble at all avoiding sleep. Now, no more dawdling. Begin, " Ayna ordered.

It was clear that she was

d to take much less conscious effort, it took no less of a toll on her strength. By the time the sky had begun to redden, she was having trouble sitting up. Her mind lacked the will to control her muscles. Myn allowed Myranda to lean on her to stay upright. The hours ticked by until, finally, Ayna awoke and fluttered down.

"Well, not much longer. How is my student?" she asked.

Myranda found that she hadn't the will to blink her eyes, let alone answer. Even after the fire test she had not been so weary. At least then it was a lot of power over a relatively short time. This was more akin to a marathon to a sprint, and she was left with her reserves utterly drained.

"You should know better than to expect her to answer that, " Deacon said, fighting to keep his own eyes open as he etched the twenty-third mark on the ground.

The minutes passed and the crowd reformed. The tone of the note was wavering slightly as the sands of Deacon's hourglass trickled down. As the last minute of the endurance test began, Ayna offered some advice.

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