Chess did not look back. The noise behind him turned into a chaos of crashing objects and shouted curses, and, above it all, the woman’s high-pitched voice, loud enough to carry down to him clearly as he ran.
“Oh, sirs, I’m so sorry!” the woman cried. “Please, let me get that out of your way! I am a clumsy old bag, you know. Oh, here -- oops!” He heard more crashes then, but, thankfully, no weapons fire. There was yelling, and the stomp of feet, but it had all gotten a little further away.
Grateful for the brief reprieve, Chess bounded up the flight of stairs at the end of the hall in order to cross to the next building, and then decided to keep going: up again, and then, more hallways.
He was trying desperately to come up with a plan -- some route that would get him, alone, to the meeting place. He wondered if Ileana was already there waiting for him, and if Sariel would be? What if she objected so strongly to Ileana’s coming with them that she decided to go off on her own? It was a definite possibility, he realized. He was terrified at the thought of losing her. The thought frightened him even more than having all of Razor’s army pursuing him. And Ileana? Had she managed to get away from Tez? Or had she found out that she was wrong about the basic nature of both of her men?
He could not help them now, though, he realized. The best he could do was hope -- and get himself to the meeting place. He passed another adjoining corridor, and tried to form a map in his mind. He considered all the possible ways that he could go. He would soon have to go down another flight of stairs to cross to the next building. Because, straight ahead was the glass walkway that led to the barmons -- despite his fatigue, Chess almost smirked as he corrected himself -- to Woolf’s area, a place that he instinctively avoided, even now, in his desperate state. Because, no matter what was coming at them, he knew that Woolf’s men would be out in the passageway as soon as anyone entered. They were probably monitoring the activity around their area now. And then, Chess had an idea.
Raising his head, he tried to gauge, by the level of sound, how far back Razor’s men were. He slowed his pace a bit. It was a long shot, he realized. He probably had no chance. And could he even remember which pane of glass was the one that had cracked when he had been thrown against it?
Chess risked a backward glance and saw the first of Razor’s men round the last corner, weapon at the ready. Die trying, he thought. He pushed through the door and headed down the glass corridor.
Chess was about halfway down the passage when Woolf’s men appeared, weapons already firing. Instinctively, he dived to the side of the hall and ducked. But then, finding himself unharmed, he kept going forward. Because Woolf’s men were not aiming at him or even looking at him. Their attention was focused on the large armed gang that was fast approaching their territory. Chess did not stop to wonder about this, he was desperately searching for the cracked pane of glass. He found it quickly and, hauling off his full backpack, he swung at the area with all his strength.
The glass did not shatter as expected. Instead, an entire side popped out of the frame and hung there. Chess blinked at it in surprise, but the noise of weapons fire over his head kept him moving. He took one step back and crashed forward, sending the entire panel outside along with him. The glass fell down, hit the top of the bushes in the overgrown garden, and slid to the ground. Chess did the same.
On his knees, breathless, he retrieved the backpack and water bottles from under the bushes. The din above him was terrifying, but there was no way any of them could see him out here in the dark.
He got unsteadily to his feet and, panting, limped off in the direction of shelter. Vaguely, he noted that people were standing around outside the sheds as he went by. They were not looking at him, though. They seemed to be gazing intently into the distance behind him.
He had almost reached the wood line when he saw the girls -- both of them, running toward him. Heaving a sigh of relief, Chess lost his balance and fell. “I can’t,” he gasped. “Just go…” He held out the knapsack, but no one took it. Instead, he felt them grab his arms and lift him partially to his feet. Forcing his legs to give one last effort, Chess stumbled along with them toward the cover of the trees.
Continued next page...
I won’t tell you there's nothing under your bed
I won’t sell you that it's all in your head
This world that we live in is not as it seems
The monsters are real, but not in your dreams
Learn what you can from the beasts you defeat,
You'll need it for some of the people you meet.
-Goodnight Demon Slayer by Voltaire
So are these “opposites” really evil?... or are they secretly working behind the scenes with the other gods?... or are they championing the causes of humans against the authority of the gods? There are probably many different interpretations for every story. But one theme that is repeated in mythologies around the world is the idea of a god or super-human creature who challenges authority, whether that authority is in the form of gods or humans who are in power. This is the mythic motif that is often referred to as the trickster.
Tricksters, whether supernatural or not, fill the same kind of role as evil gods: they break the rules, defy the good authority figure, and upset the hierarchy. Some tricksters that might be familiar include Anansi the trickster spider of West Africa, Coyote and Kokopelli of various Native American mythologies, and Monkey of Chinese mythology. In the novel Watership Down, El-ahrairah is the trickster folk-hero of the protagonists. Much like the gods who create change, the trickster seems to go along with our western-world rebellious style of thinking: man in control of his own destiny, defiant of the gods and of rules, and celebrated when he uses his wit to win a better situation for himself, and often for his people also. And tricksters perform another important role: they point out the flaws in claims made by those in authority. Most are thought of as folk heroes, but they tend to do the same types of things as mythic figures who are considered evil. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Trickster is the god of this world, as it is; not perfect; not eternally changeless... When someone claims innate superiorness of their own worldview above all others, Trickster shows their foolishness... Whenever someone (god or man) tries to arrange for unending structure – perfect, eternal order; that’s when Trickster escalates his mischief.
-Eshu, the Trickster God
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