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Four Lands and Four Pillars /by Natalie Davitashvili/

Size: 145x205 mm
Number of pages: 384
Copyright holder: Karchkhadze Publishing
Contact: George Karchkhadze, gia@karchkhadze.ge
"Four Lands and Four Pillars" to a certain extent represents a continuation of Nato Davitashili's earlier books "The Story of Lile Ioreli" and "When the Winged Lions Return". Why is it that the iron-faced and the faceless natives of the Zaari land cannot see each other's real faces? Why is the very beautiful and bewildering dance of the weeping sisters dangerous? For whom do the invisible and very strong blacksmith monks call? Lile Ioreli, who is sent into this world in the shape of an all-seeing Ilumeli, is once more the only one capable of getting to the heart of the secret of this place, and of restoring the former harmony between sides engaged in a life-and-death struggle with each other. Amazing depictions, peculiarly interesting stories, and a tense narrative: Experience a new adventure in an unknown world together with a well-known hero!



Translated by PJ Hillery



    As if bewitched, Lile was looking up at the sun in the dark-red sky, tired and exhausted from its sluggish attempts to come up and which, in order to find respite, was gathering all its strength leaning on the downhill slope. It was as though some very great, evil and unidentified force was tugging hard at the sun from that side of the mountain and was preventing it from floating off into the sky. Who could find fault with its coming up, but its radiant body gradually lost its brilliance, turned pale and descended towards the abyss. In vain did its silken rays wrestle with the sky and the earth, with the mountains and the lowlands, with the cornfields and the vineyards, with the ripples on the river and shimmering rocks that emerged from among these ripples. Soon, these themselves had to be saved: the sun that had rolled down the mountainside to be devoured in the abyss took with it everything in its path.
     Lile was standing still and didn't notice Rupia. All around. neither the hay meadow could be seen, nor the scythe on which he had been leaning up to then with his whole weight, nor could he feel any longer the pleasant breeze which dried the drops of perspiration on his furrowed forehead, the sweetish aroma of scythed grass had lost its force. With Lile it was as if time, too, had been reduced to silence and he, dumbfounded, was staring at the torture of the rising sun.
     It was just then that Rupia came up and sat on Lile's shoulder. The crow once or twice beat his wings, but when he couldn't attract the youth's attention he shouted angrily in his ear:
     "Lile, come to your senses!" When he still didn't receive an answer, he sat on the youth's head and gave him a good pecking.
     Now Lile was roused, distant lands had caught his gaze and he rubbed his dumbfounded eyes, at the same time heaving a heartfelt sigh.
     "Is that you, Rupia? I didn't notice you," he apologized to the crow.
     "How could you have noticed me, you were standing as if bewitched."
     "Yes… I'm looking at the sun… Just have a look at how difficult it's finding it to come up." Lile pointed towards the sun that had rolled down the mountainside.
     "The sun? You don't say. The sun is right over your head, just at the zenith, you won't see a trace of a shadow. What sun are you looking at?" Rupia asked Lile, astonished at the latter's response.
     Lile looked up, the shining midday sun dazzled his eyes. Just in case, he looked down at the hay meadow, and he really couldn't see his own shadow.
     "How's that, it's already midday and the sun is shining?" he cried out in great surprise.
     "I was astonished when you told me on this very sultry noon that you were looking at the sun coming up."
     "Well, what was it then?" Lile looked at the horizon again, but he could see no trace of the earlier scene. "A couple of minutes ago I really was looking at the sun coming up, to be more correct, at its ordeal. It seemed to me that the whole world was seeing the sun for the last time and everlasting darkness would descend," Lile tried to justify himself.
     "Don't think any more about it. You can be calm. Our sun is shining on these parts as it always has. It will have been a simple hallucination. And now, if you continue to stand directly in the sun for a long time in this very sultry heat, you will be struck nicely in the head and will need looking after."
     "How did you put it, "our sun is shining"?" Lile solemnly repeated Rupia's words while staring into the distance.
"Yes, I said that. What's the matter?" Rupia turned the question round.
     "You're right… The sun cannot come up for some other foreign land," Lile shook his head sympathetically. "Or else… Is it simply impossible for the people there to see the sun coming up? If that is so, then it's not me who's bewitched, but them."
     "I think a werewolf has really put you under the evil eye," Rupia cried in dissatisfaction.
     Lile denied it. "No, I'm speaking in my right mind, I'm neither under the evil eye nor bewitched,"
     Rupia knew well that putting Lile under the evil eye was not all that straightforward, an army of werewolves couldn't harm him, not to mention a lone one, and he had well thought out what he was saying now. In spite of this, he still behaved as if he didn't place great significance on Lile's words. Well, who knew Lile better than him? He even understood what thoughts were going around in his head and what decision he would take a couple of minutes later. This decision scared the crow and he appeared to dismiss Lile's hallucination. "Perhaps he might no longer pay it great attention," he thought.
     "We've stayed for quite some time in Rashkashi, haven't we?" Lile asked in passing, he cleaned the perspiration from his forehead with his fist, he passed his hands over his chestnut-coloured hair that reached in waves down to his shoulders and he pressed his stiff neck. The pain passed like lightning, but found it pleasant and once or twice he shook his head stiffly. He shook the dust from the tails of his short tunic, and then he looked again towards the horizon. The hallucination was not repeated, nor was the sun seen floating off anymore, nor the mountains, vineyards and cornfields lost in its rays. Lile put his scythe over his shoulder and he set off for shade towards his shelter in an isolated tree.
     "What do you mean "we've stayed"?" Rupia, lost in his thoughts, gave a belated response.
     "You know very well what I mean… Perhaps you've grown old, your wings are no longer strong and your eyes sharp, perhaps you are no longer eager… Tell me and, without you…'
     "Yes, alright, alright!" Rupia interrupted him. "Don't I know that you still can't rest. When do we intend to leave?" The crow finally gave up the last semblance of self-control. "Your mother will go crazy. It's less than a year since you returned. Must she always be waiting for you?"
     "I must find that place where they intended to swallow up the rising sun in an abyss," Lile stated firmly.
     "Do you know what I'll tell you?" Rupia cawed.
     "I know… I know… Why on earth did it appear to me, tell me? Why must I go, tell me? Imagine, if someone was drowning in this river and shouted "Help!" wouldn't we rush to rescue him? We would rush to him. Since they trust me, I must help them as well. A mower will appear in Rashkashi for this hay meadow, it won't remain unmown."
     "Still where do you consider the land where the sun comes up to be?" Rupia was interested. "Shouldn't we look for it on the other side of the hidden door to the Nether Regions?"
     "Exactly. Since the floating sun is not of our land, we shall have to go far in order to find it. We must visit the Nether Regions once more, once again must we push open the door there. Let's see where it will take us this time."
     "It's up to you. But I'll not let you go alone. I'll come with you. Nobody can know where you might find yourself about. But tell me one thing, you aren't reluctant at all to leave here? Look at your village, what will you see to better it?"
     Lile shaded his eyes with his hands, Rashkashi truly was a beautiful village, spread out like tree mushrooms on a mountain slope covered in green silk brocade, the only place which was remembered pleasantly by someone yearning for calm, parental love and warmth. Here there were the ogres who reared him and with whom he got on like the crown of a tree gets on with its roots. Here was lit the only hearth that he considered his and whose call could be felt everywhere. Here stood his parental home and, wherever he might be, he would always return here.
     "Why do you ask me this? Don't you know that I can't settle down anywhere else," Lile was amazed at Rupia's question.
     "Yes, you'll never settle anywhere else, but…'
     "But what?"
     "You can't live permanently in Rashkashi, Iroeli!" Rupia responded, losing his temper.
     "I can't dispute that. You're right!" Lile laughed. "It looks like the time for this has not yet come."
     "But of course, you first have to search for the land where the sun comes up," Rupia laughed quietly to himself.
     "If you say so!" On this occasion Lile didn't take offence at his friend's joke. "This matter of the sun doesn't interest you?"
     Lile's direct question somewhat confused Rupia. If he had said that he couldn't wait to go down into the Nether Regions and once more open the sealed door, that would be a lie, but neither would it be true that he insisted on a wish to stay in Rashkashi. He longed for foreign lands and, if he was dragging his feet, that was also because of Lile, lest the youth get into danger.
     "I'm only being cautious for your sake, otherwise…'
     "I know, but what can happen to me by your side, under the cover of your wings,?" Lile ingratiated himself with the crow.
Rupia did not have the slightest doubt over Lile's sincerity, he took the praise as his due and puffed up to the size of a brooding mother hen covering her nest. "Rupia, there's something I want to ask you, but perhaps you might not find it pleasant… you might even be offended," Lile said with untypical modesty.
     "Be offended!" Rupia gasped in surprise. "How might you offend me? I'm all ears…'
     "You told me just now that you don't regret leaving much-loved places… Weren't you born and didn't you grow up there, in the Nether Regions. Don't you think about there, surely you have sometimes yearned for those places where you have lived for so much time?"
     "No!" Rupia spoke coldly. "The only thing that the Nether Regions taught me was hatred. You have no idea what it means to live seized by hatred and anger. How evil devours and destroys you. You see relief only in ruin and destruction. A man possessed of hatred is like someone who finds himself in a storm, dashed this way and that by a whirlwind, left breathless, made faint and threatened with suffocation. But one who has found themselves in a whirlpool of hatred will still choose a storm for you. Look, what did I leave there. What do you think, should I yearn for the Nether Regions? And they have taught you love in Rashkashi. Look after it. Just one slip of the foot is all it takes for a very small place to be freed up in your heart and for accursed jealousy and hatred to creep into you and you wouldn't even notice how it can devour your whole heart."
     "You have never spoken of this to me." Lile stroked Rupia's dishevelled feathers sympathetically. His thoughts in unpleasant disarray, the crow raised a wing to the youth and jumped off to the side.
     "Well, observe this place closely and say the first word that comes into your head," Rupia asked Lile.
    Nature encircled by thousand-year-old mountains brought calm to Lile, but that calm was not insignificant, on the contrary, Lile felt its breathing and its pulse, it filled his heart with strong feelings and made him think of the splendour of life.
     "Calm!" said Lile.
     "Yes… It's a splendid word!" Rupia cried out. "And in what mood does this calm put you?"
     "It strengthens my thirst for life."
     "And pushes you towards doing great things. You long to help the rising sun," added Rupia.
     "If you like," Lile agreed with him.
     "In the Nether Regions you would not recognize the splendour of calm, it would appear to you as a swamp and you would find it hard to breathe. Calm there pushes you towards destruction. It is as if this destruction in the end is still not
followed by calm, only a dead and empty calm."
     "Rupia, today I remember what you once said to me in the Nether Regions and which I'll never forget."
     "What was it I said?"
     "That behind every event there is hidden a much more significant reason than is seen at first glance. That reasons are linked to each other like a chain and no one can keep an eye on all the links, or be aware of where the beginning and the end of the chain are hidden."
     "I put it well…" Rupia laughed quietly to himself.
     "Yes, really… I have thought about this many times. It seems to me that this infinite universe is woven from such chains. Sometimes one is the main, and sometimes another. But which is which is hidden from us mortals. Perhaps breaking one is enough to change, to destroy and to ruin everything. For this reason it is necessary to maintain the strength of every link of every chain."
     "What does smashing everything mean?" Rupia asked with interest.
     "Shall I tell you step by step or… tell you the final outcome?"
     "Simply tell me."
     "Simply is difficult… Alright… When honour, belief, love and hatred itself will disappear entirely…, then life will cease everywhere and in everything."
     "I knew that you could see through walls, but I couldn't imagine that you could see the future."
     "But I can't. What are you saying! It's just supposition and nothing else."
     "Even so, is that insignificant? You are given the means to change a possible future and to weld together again a link fated to be severed. Aren't you now setting off to look for a chain fated to be severed?"
     "No! What are you saying! I'll simply call on the Nether Regions, I'll be overjoyed to see it," Lile laughed.
     "It's great that you are in the mood for, both, discussion and humour at the same time, but it's good to be cautious. You haven't forgotten where we are going?"
     "You're right!" Lile immediately agreed. "We'll take the old path again, or is there another path leading to the door?"
     "Of course there is. The Nether Regions are a hundred times larger, there are numerous paths, but that is the shortest and also the safest, if it can be called safe," Rupia explained to him. "Take Alaia Volcano, from where the fiery clouds are fed. You won't come across such a sight anywhere under the sun. Shouldn't we take a stroll down there sometime? To see Alaia's raging heart is worth a life. Hey, I can't even remember when I last saw it. Aren't you interested?"
     "Of course, but we don't have time for that now," said Lile with regret.
     "Of course. There is no time for that," Rupia, who was not at all offended by Lile's refusal, quickly agreed with him. Quite the opposite, he was glad. He himself didn't know why he had proposed that Lile descend into the depths of the Nether Regions and he was already annoyed with himself.
     "Lile!" a call could be heard.
     "They have brought us a meal… I'm over here, over here!" Lile called out.
     Lile ate heartily and in silence. He picked up some mallow leaves with a piece of unleavened bread and followed this with gulps of cold water from a small pitcher. He was carried away by his thoughts. Again the rising sun in a dark-red sky appeared before his eyes. He couldn't understand what power was holding the sun and dragging it towards the abyss, or whether it would take the whole world with it if it fell in!
     Rupia was also lost in thought. "All the same, why on earth should he, at one time the uncrowned king of the Nether Regions, the first among the evil spirits, have become Lile Ioreli's supporter and guide? What would have happened if their paths hadn't crossed and he had remained forever in the whirlpool of hatred and never seen what was happening on the other side of the threshold to his world?" But even thinking this terrified him.
     Rupia pecked up the last grains. He cleaned his beak on his feathers and he adjusted his wings. After his bite to eat he wanted to cool off his heart burdened by the heat and by recollections of the past. Now he wanted nothing more than to bathe in cold water.
     "I'll fly over towards the river, I'll cool off a little. Are you going to stay in the hay meadow for long?" Rupia asked.
     "No! I'll do a little work, I've done nothing since morning." Lile looked at the hay meadow. "Don't go too far, I intend to leave tomorrow."
     "Where might I get lost? I'll be back soon." Rupia calmed him down.


     The passage of time had taken nothing from the underground, but neither had it added anything. Everything was like it had been in the old times for Lile and Rupia. No sign of life had left a trace on the enormous space encircled by pitch-dark clouds. All around hung the aroma of evil hallucinations and death. The heavy air had set in like an unbearable burden. The boggy field burbled repulsively, and it was more like the mindless muttering and raving of a patient. From time to time the bog, roused from its half-sleep, flicked its mud-coloured tongues this way and that in an attempt to get its feelers around a victim.
     As in the old times, he would pit his strength against a guest in the underground demons' land, the abode of demons and of a thousand sorts of evil spirit. Even though this had earlier been a residence, now however, it had been quite considerably extended, and had in part been converted into a refuge for survivors.
     The path very slowly petered out and, stretched across the abyss, there appeared a stone bridge up to a hundred paces long, built from gigantic hewn slabs which linked a tunnel with the fortified tower of Samsala, King of Darkness. Unlike the bridge, together the traces of the stone construction of the palace and their cementing nowhere left a visible mark. It was as if they had carved it from a single rough monolith into an unpleasantly dark-coloured fortified tower.
     So many tufts of cloud were swimming about the bridge, but only one of them was on fire. As soon as this one approached Lile, it was scattered into small shimmering pieces with a single blow of his sword. 
     "Samsala is no longer alive so where did this tuft of fire here come from?" Lile was astonished.
     "These clouds weren't even Samsala's doing. Haven't I told you that Alaia Volcano feeds and nourishes them?"
     "We've arrived at last!" said Iroeli and he pushed in the door of the main hall of the palace. The hinges began to creak. Lile raised his sword, lighting up the place and on both sides he looked on a row of flying wolves with five feet and three heads. He knew that they were carved from stone, yet it appeared that all took a step forward together on meeting him. Lile smiled.
     "Why did you freeze?" Rupia, settled on Lile's shoulder, quietly asked him, as if afraid that someone might hear his voice in this empty place.
     "It's nothing, nothing…" Lile answered him imperturbably. His calm soothed Rupia.
     "Look at that!" said Lile walking round the fragments of the Chalice of Bile and stopping before a door bolted with tree bars. He tried to see something on the other side of the door, but in vain. From there on he could no longer see into other people's minds or read their thoughts, nor see through walls. All his skills remained on this side of the door. Lile touched the three locks on the door. It was as if they were waiting for Iroeli's order, they released themselves on their own and the door opened. Lile carefully stepped across the threshold and entered the narrow tunnel with its moving walls. There everything was turning like a drill, but Lile still stood firmly, as if he wasn't touching the base of the tunnel. The sound of the door closing could be heard from behind his back. The tunnel turned faster. Lile was dizzy and could only continue on his way with his eyes closed. He opened his eyes after each ten steps. He didn't count how many such ten steps he made, but in the end he found himself before an unknown door. This tunnel was wider, subdued, stationary and lit up. Lile stretched out his hand towards the door and tried to push it.
     "Where are you going? First observe the door. See, what is engraved on top.
     How do you know what this bodes," Rupia's voice stopped Iroeli.
     Lile took his friend's advice. First he looked carefully at this individual ornament from close up. Around the door he followed interwoven elegant vine and wheat ears. In the centre of the door was fixed a round disc divided into three parts.
     "A fragmented circle!" Lile said to himself. "It tells me nothing."
     Lile felt the disk with his hand. The pieces followed the movement of his hand, they aligned with one another and they came together. As soon as the last piece was in place the disk lit up and just disappeared. A new image appeared on the door. Now a four-leaf flower was painted on it in a circle. Lile took two steps backwards to see the ornaments carved out on the door in their entirety. Three pillars arranged around the flowers forming a triangle. On one apex stood a crown, on the second a sword was raised, and on the third a scroll could be seen. Along the right-hand leaf, surrounded by the vine and wheat ornaments, lay a pile of stones. "Perhaps these are the ruins of the fourth pillar," thought Lile. Beams emerged from these ruins, as if the sun was about to come up. Compared to the other leaves, the right-hand one looked totally threadbare. Lile felt it with his hand. On touching it he felt that it was traced out by a more superficial cut than the other three. On the other hand, if the other three leaves froze his hands, this one radiated warmth.
     "I think I realize something!" Lile shouted out.
     "What?" asked Rupia.
     "The depiction on the door appeared after I united the three shards of the disc. We need to find just such shards and unite them so as to find the land where the sun comes up."
     "That's what I thought, too," Rupia agreed with Lile.
     "We're on the right path!" Lile stroked Rupia's head in appreciation.
     Lile emerged from the stuffy tunnel and turned his face in pleasure into the cold and damp air. By the light of the moon the glittering silver sky was crammed full with stars arched over the locality. The field was not entirely bare, here and there bushes could be seen. Lile carefully examined his surroundings. All around complete silence prevailed, neither the rustling of leaves, nor the buzzing of insects, nor the sound of night birds broke the silence. This was the quiet of the grave, although you could not call it a herald of calm.
     "Do you hear anything?" Rupia asked in a whisper, as if the crow was reluctant to break the reigning silence.
     "There's not the slightest noise."
     "There's something I don't like. Am I to believe that not even a night moth or a cricket is flying about in such a large field? This calm appears false to me."
     "Well, we must continue on our way carefully," Lile answered him and moved several steps away from the threshold of the door. Soft soil gradually replaced the hard ground.
     "What's that? It's not like mud. It seems to me that I'm standing on a threshing floor strewn with still to be threshed corn covered over with a kilim," Lile shouted out in amazement, he bent down and felt the ground beneath his feet. He was left with a soft, damp moss in his hand. He uprooted it and examined it carefully. The field was covered with soft velvety tufts of moss.
     Rupia imitated Lile. He pulled out tufts of the field covering, he filled his mouth with a slightly sour mass as soft as dough.
     "Shouldn't we wait in the tunnel for dawn? We'll see better in the sunlight where and in what kind of a place we are standing," Rupia said to him, however, as soon as this was said the sound of the door slamming could be heard. Lile didn't even think of going back into the tunnel, but he still tried to open the door, although in vain, he could no longer get the handle to work for him. Lile tried that place where the door was fitted. He was left with the surface of a rock face in his hand. The door was carved in the rock face, but the field that began beyond the threshold wobbled like the surface of an inflated wineskin and was bowed down by footsteps like risen dough. 
     Lile reached the nearest bush with great difficulty. The bush barely reached up to his waist. Ioreli stroked the plant with his right hand and here, too, he was left with mossy tuft of cloud in his hand.
     Suddenly a knocking sound disturbed the silence. One heavy blow was followed by several light ones, and this was repeated several times. Both were very pleased at hearing the sound.
     "It really is a forge!" Lile shouted out.
     "Yes... yes… those must be hammer blows."
     Lile and Rupia followed the sound, which was coming from the right of the door. Lile was convinced that it was at a distance of about twenty paces, but on the way back he had to cover a significantly greater distance. At the same time he came across bushes that he had not met on the way there. Lile drew his sword to slash them down. However he could make no impression. It was as if he were confronting mist, fire or water.
     "Perhaps we should have tried to walk through that?" Rupia shouted out and without thinking he flew into a bush that looked like a tangled ball of thread. Within a couple of seconds, Rupia began to caw. "I'm choking, drag me back out." It was a good thing that Lile had put his hand in and dragged him by the tail and hauled Rupia back out, his mouth filled with pieces of sticky, gluey bush. While Lile was reviving Rupia, the bushes suddenly weakened in an instant and the door again appeared in its old place. Lile had already brought the crow to the threshold of the door and had set him down, he himself sat by his side. This time the knocking sound could be heard within hand's reach.
     "How long must we stay sitting like this?" complained Lile. "I'm just about to nod off."
     "Don't be offended. Have a rest. I'll guard us," said Rupia with his customary care.
     "Perhaps it would be better to follow the sound. Let's go up to the brink of the rock face, keeping to the walls."
     "I don't know… If that's what you want!" the crow agreed with him unenthusiastically.
     Iroeli stood up, he followed the wall with his hand and continued on his way like that. It was easier to walk at the base of the rock face. The knocking sound was becoming ever clearer. There was no doubt that they were hitting an anvil. What appeared to be human voices could be heard, singing quietly and wordlessly, more like singing a hymn.
     Suddenly Lile stopped.
     "What happened, why did you stop?" Rupia was concerned.
     "I can't go on. I'm sinking into the ground."
     Lile found a firmer place with his foot, but soon he also began to sink there, he only just managed to shift to the side in time to avoid being buried up to his knees. In looking for a safe place he had moved quite a distance from the rock face and found himself in the depths of the field. The further he went in, the firmer the ground got and the easier it became for him to stand on his feet and to walk.
     "Where are we?" Rupia couldn't hide his displeasure.
     On his way Lile avoided fenced-off bushes, dwarf trees and shoots and he tried not to go near them. Rupia, who had already survived suffocation once, perched on Lile's shoulder.
     Soon this sparce region gave way to real scrubland. Avoiding the bushes became impossible and, once or twice, Lile became entangled in them. This time he was left with real moss in his hands, here and there as soft as down on the ground, in some places as rough as tree bark. Everything was woven with moss threads.
     "It's a moss forest! I've never seen anything like it," Rupia couldn't hide his astonishment. "Do you see, a breeze has risen," said the crow and he adjusted his raised feathers. Suddenly it blew so strongly, he could barely keep his balance and he immediately shouted to Lile: "Where on earth are you going? If you're standing firmly, perhaps we could shelter beneath these dwarf trees and wait for dawn."
     After several sleepless nights, Lile could barely stand on his feet, and he was hungry to boot, so he paid attention to Rupia's advice. He selected a larger tree, he tested the ground beneath it and found it firm, and when he was convinced he sat down and carefully rested against the crown of the tree. The crown bent, but it still withstood Lile's weight. The wind was becoming stronger and stronger.
     "That's all we need, that the wind blows us away," Rupia complained and he sat on Lile's lap.
     "You can't trust these parts. Creep in under my clothes. My heart tells me that this wind won't leave us alone so easily," Lile warned the crow. Rupia immediately moved from Lile's lap to his breast.
     "It's a little cramped in here but, on the other hand, I do feel secure," the crow laughed quietly to himself. He flapped about for a short while as he made himself comfortable, then he stuck his beak out and he relaxed.
     Lile was proved right. The wind grew into a storm. He found it difficult to remain in one place. Lile clung to the bushes so that the wind wouldn't carry him off, but this didn't help. He was left with clumps of moss in his hands. Lile again headed towards the soft ground. "Perhaps if I sank a little into the ground the wind wouldn't be able to do me any harm," he thought. The impression remained that, as it rushed along, the storm not only took everything around it, but its soil as well. Several times his heart was almost in his mouth, as when falling from a great height. Sometimes it appeared to him he was descending at a great speed. The firmness underfoot suddenly disappeared altogether and he began to fall into a bog-coloured mist. He tried in vain to keep his balance, but his hands couldn't grasp anything. Rupia freed himself from Lile's breast and flew down together with him. The mist dispersed several moments later. Lile now continued to fall in a spin. Rupia saw how Lile fell into the water. Fortunately, the water was not very deep, nor so shallow that you'd hit the bottom with full force. Lile lost consciousness on hitting the water, but as soon as he touched the bottom he immediately came to. His feet struck the bottom very hard, and the weight of his weapons again dragged him down. Lile tried several times to come up, but was getting weaker at each attempt. Finally he rose only very slightly from the bottom, however, to his amazement, instead of sinking, he began to float up.
     For Rupia these seconds were unbearably prolonged. The crow, driven crazy by his friend's disappearances, was flying in a circle above the water and cawing in a doomed voice. He was especially fearful when a smallish tuft separated from a greenish cloud and followed Lile into the water. This very same tuft of cloud followed Lile up. Rupia almost lost his voice from joy on catching sight of Iroeli, and he could barely tell him in which direction the shore was so that he could swim over. 
Lile looked upwards as soon as he had exhaled. He was interested in where he had fallen from and to where his rescuer who had saved him from drowning had flown off. A gigantic greenish-greyish cloud was floating above his head in the rays of the newly-risen sun. It was so big that it could have accommodated a whole village.
     "This no time for looking at the sky! Swim over towards the shore fast!" Rupia shrieked at Lile.
     It was difficult for Lile to swim armed and wearing his clothes, but even during his time on the bottom, he hadn't thought for an instant of getting rid of them. Fortunately, the shore looked close. He soon swam over and, tired and exhausted, he dried off on the sand with his face down.
     "Are you alright?" Rupia shouted at him.
     "Yes… but just let me get my breath back…" Lile was barely able to answer him. He turned over on his back, he raised his head stiffly and he followed with his eye the dark-red rug spread out by the sun arising from the sea, then he looked again at the flying island that was receding further and further from him.
     "I wonder if everything is still ordinary here? This isn't the land of the rising sun, this is the country of dragon clouds," Rupia was angry.
     "The sand and water are ordinary!" Lile came over and sat down, he took a handful of sand and very slowly the breeze carried it off. "The wind brought us here, where we must seek and find the sun that has rolled down the mountainside. We will find it if we search properly for it. If not, and the sun has rolled out the red rug before daybreak tomorrow, then at least we can just follow the latter. We'll get to the bottom of it, we'll certainly get to the bottom of it."
     "For how long must you sit in your armour, you won't dry like this," Rupia warned Lile.
     Lile took off his armour, he removed his knitted coarse wool tunic, wrung it and spread it on the sand.
     "What's happening over there?" Lile showed interest and he looked back.
     A wide band of the shore sparkled golden, and after about fifty paces it joined rock faces in the colour of scarred and worn river rocks. In several places, a similarly worn but narrow brownish strip ran through it. An ascent of the wrinkled rock faces was easily possible. An observant eye couldn't miss the niches cut out here and there, some big enough for a man to easily fit in. In front of the small niches, birds the size of a fist were flying about, apparently they had built their nests there.
     "I'll look after myself, I'll get my teeth into something, but what will help you, everything of yours has got wet," Rupia was concerned.
     "Only my clothes got wet. The water didn't get into my provisions," Lile reassured the crow.
     And true, the bread and salted meat, double-wrapped in soft calfskin were entirely unharmed. Neither the dried fruit, nor the walnuts were damp. Not only could he rest, it was also possible to have a moderate bite to eat.
     Soon the sun had heated up considerably, Lile's clothes dried, but being on the shore had become unbearable. Lile and Rupia selected a nearby niche cut in the rock face and moved in there. The cave was like a monk's cell, it had one entrance and it looked quite insecure. Lile allowed himself some rest. After about three days of being alert, he immediately fell asleep. Rupia was alert. He was very interested what was happening beyond the rock faces, but he didn't leave Lile. He sat on a little prominence and sometimes looked up at the sky and sometimes stared at the sea. He caught sight of several tufts of cloud on the horizon, but he couldn't distinguish whether they were ordinary clouds or flying islands with forests of moss.


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