Somewhere above him, sealed in revolving casks of flyweights lay the letters to the book, not the final book perhaps but the book with every secret of the lost land, and Xotl’s own people in their journey from Stygia and the mind blasting secrets they once strove to guard from outside raiders.

Lost without understanding, he could not understand their voices on the wind through the cacti forests. So he’d come here, to the proud keep on the heights, and found only this quartzine maze of the Founder.

The first mirror broke into fragments that rained upon him in his flight. Behind Xotl the Cold Man barreled on with its elongated snout and iron thews, the flat-footed charge of the steel beast ravened in a mechanical maniac way for the blood of the Xuchotlan. As the iron beast crashed closer, Xotl gripped the long knife he still carried and prayed to the Green Lady but no plan came to him.

As it careened forward showering the semi-barbaric tracker with biting shrapnel, he sprang from his hiding place in the manner of a desert mountain wolverine– now he found slight purchase on the smooth and machine tooled surface of the creature, but its grasping pincers were easier to avoid up close.

He knew he was chancing a worse pulping of his injured frame by wrapping up the creatures middle with his legs in a lock position as he strove to pry back the neck plate and expose the semi-organic nerves piping along to the sensors housed in its sleek skull– like a man caught on the charging buffalo with no steering but to hold to its mane he and the metal charger tore through the crumbling Halls of Science in a welter of rending shards and screaming visions of an ancient past brought into the roaring case of steel guarded modern product from the old craft of the counterfeiter.

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