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The Aeolian Master - Book One - Revival
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to attack its human prey. There was nothing flying, crawling, or slithering. It was a peaceful scene with
serenity and beauty abounding. Damn if it didn’t remind Ben of a picture he had seen in an ancient Earth
history book, which portrayed a family in the country with food, drink, lawn furniture, and games, enjoying a
picnic. Looking out the window of the safety chamber at the landscape, in spite of its look of serenity, he knew
this would be no picnic.
"By God,” said Sam, “only two zones left." He was rubbing his left shoulder. "They say each zone is more
difficult than the last." He paused for a moment. "But I say ‘nothing could be worse than that last zone with
those big, frigging fish."
"I felt I was entombed," added Dahms. "In both of the last two zones we were confined to small spaces.
And the last one was the worst because we were confined to a small space filled with water."
"Yeah," agreed Gaal as he looked out the window. "But look at the scenery of the next zone. This time
there’s nothing but meadows, trees, some shrubbery, and open fields."
"That’s right," said Sam. "And if I die out there, at least I won't feel claustrophobic."
“When you’re dead, you’re dead,” said Ben.
"We aren't going to die." Dahms made the statement with a confident voice.
Ben gave her a look. “You keep saying that, but people keep dying. I hope that whatever it is you’re not
telling us is going to happen soon.”
The door slid open, and they stepped out.
Ben scrutinized the hills knowing that something was lurking out there, something waiting to take their lives.
They started slowly up the path watching for whatever it was. They climbed over a small hill and started
down a slight incline, and as they rounded a bend they came upon a man sitting on a bench reading a book.
“Humans’ most dangerous enemy,” said Dahms.
“Yes,” said Sam.
The man looked up, then put the book down on the bench and stood up. He was about five foot nine in
height and slender of build. He was wearing a brightly colored, red and gold suit with large lapels. A brown
belt circled his waist with a sword hanging from it. He was wearing brown boots, and on his head was a gold
and red hat with a long, red plume sticking out the left side.
He took his hat off his head and swept it in front of him as he bowed. Then he straightened up and said, “I’m
surprised. I’ve been working in the run for more than a year now, and you’re the first runners I’ve ever seen.
The zones before this one must be most difficult.”
“That they are,” said Dahms. “But as you can see we made it through, which means, for whatever reason,
success is on our side. And now I’m looking at you, and it occurs to me that you’re our next obstacle. Am I
The man was hesitant. “Yes,” he said in a whisper. It was obvious he didn’t want Hurd to hear him. He
continued in a soft voice, “but I never thought it would come to this. It has never been my intention to kill
“But we all have swords,” said Dahms, “and there are four of us and only one of you. Do you really think
you can kill all of us?”
“Quite easily,” said the man. “But I don’t want to.”
Ben decided he had heard enough. He stepped out from behind Dahms. “I know you,” said Ben. “Jimie
Benz. You placed twenty-third in the Galactic Games.”
The man took a step back. The back of his knees caught on the edge of the bench, and he had to quickly
readjust his balance to keep from sitting down. “And I know you,” he said as he straightened himself up.
“Professor Benjamin Hillar, the greatest swordsman in the galaxy. What the hell are you doing here?”
“I had a run-in with Hurd.”
“It’s not right,” said Jimie.
“Why?” asked Dahms. “Because now you know you can’t beat us?”
“No!” said Jimie. “Ben Hillar is a celebrity. It’s not right that Hurd would put him in this kind of peril.”
“Does that mean you’re not going to fight us?” asked Dahms. “Hurd won’t like that.”
“I don’t care what he likes.” Jimie was talking in a normal voice. “When I explain that no one can beat Ben
Hillar in a sword fight. He’ll understand. And then I’m going to put in my resignation.”
“Fine,” said Dahms. She started toward him on the path. “Wait,” he said. “Before you go I have to warn
you that there is an archer stalking you from behind. So, keep a watch out for him. And the next man you meet
will be an expert in the dagger throw—he placed ninth in the Galactic Games. After him there will be two men