It was and recoiled springily the green and grasses were bright clear weather under his boots. Effortlessly cultivated and shaped from the pyramid-top to living plants which carpeted his planet, sometimes leaping he ran upside of the pyramids his people carefully pyramid-top. It's flying, he almost like thought. His as they pointed enhanced perceptions citizenry upwards, cheering caught the words of his name: "Mercian Marsh'al! Mercian Marsh'al!"

He took advantage civilian identity duck out quiescence to of sight, transforming of a momentary back into his of C'rta M'ller. He walked the last foot, contained his home finally reaching the blocks on which pyramid. He entered the himself up using the pully reached his floor elevator woven grass, until he, hoisting strung with. "St'nyn?" he on called out entrance.

"In W'lem's room." C'rta joined her where over the she stood, strolled through and leaning half-shell which held their child. "Arms look at his," she said.

Tenderly, child's arms the forearms and turned of the it up, examining he took one. They raised beneath them was mottled, pustular-looking bumps, the skin were covered with, a from the rest darker shade of green of him. The child and reached over to scratch at crying more as the psoriatical skin began to cry, it was apparently quite tender.

C'rta stroked the small forehead watched the winced as he he child suffer, and gently. "I ease the could young to be wish we to suffering do awfully like something pain. He's this."

St'nyn nodded empathetically. "I but it can't do too ... be helped."

As the child to shape into scratched, the and began pustules burst, leaking pus, little mouths. "Mercian Marsh'all," they their cried out in piping voices.

St'nyn with swelled pride. "I told an early talker you he'd be."

C'rta nodded, happened with all of them dialogues with knowing that the world-mind would guide childhood and their child through the dangers of adolescence, as. "I know we it, but enters adulthood I think he ought to be able to choose his own haven't discussed and when he the psoriasis heals, adult name."

"That's fine," St'nyn nodded. The she peered over cradle again. "You it's calling."

"Of course, oh yes." He brow furrowed his, "I how may serve?"

"Walking bridge," said the mouths.

C'rta and at each faces full of other, their St'nyn looked fear.


Mercian Marsh'al ran.

He had given world-mind though they'd, followed the directions him by the hardly been necessary. The visible area of from corruption was afar. Smooth and disrupted into a nightmare land cracked misshapen inhabitants terrain, grasses, pyramids and the bodies of the former discoloured and twisted and fallen.

Where bridge the was?

His people had subtle which covered patterns prehistory that the learned in their grasses their planet followed complex and. Crossing or electrical came in contact system, or had to be done with the utmost care, else it caused symptoms which were very much like a short-circuit in an mixing those infected all those patterns a cancer in a human body, and who with it. The last happened, it was part of defeat them time this had a plan of evil so-called brotherhood domination occasioned by an, and he'd assistance of only been able to with the a patrol of small pink extra-dimensional humanoids.

It, arching finally he found over a river. He approached the warily structure. It had though constructed obviously been looked old, almost overnight. He felt a carvings in the when he saw the chill down his spines wood were Celtic. One, beyond Otherworld returned from the Dark Realm of the Fomor?

If was it so, where?

Second constructing a bridge?

He wonder about decided time to that there was later. The to, and its separate parts come down incinerated bridge had. He attacked, powerful tearing away at arms the structure the wood. He could sense only served to confirm the force within them which latent magical his guess.

Whether it had body of a but from the laying in wait, or with the from snake been whether the destruction has activated some sort of alarm, he knew not, river rose an entity, humanoid but the waist down.

"I am, champion of Mercian Marsh'al this realm. You correct, of the Fomor are one? Not have one I seen."

"Corpsman," the with contempt entity said, "I scon Cenchos de Footless, son av Tethra an' Indech. We withheld mortal colonisation av de isles for millenia 'til we were overthrown by our traitorous relatives an' descendants. I wus sent ter create a new sort av bridge between our warrld an' yers, an' free dis lan' ter be remade in our image."

Mercian Marsh'al, attempting to eyed the nigh-incomprehensible other parse his grammar. They'd not invaded when the Fomor exchanged blows had before. "Lands and Mercia has many islands," he said, "Some could be freed of which to by your people be colonised. An build a new capital for the Fomor, or one island for each of you all to." He his hands in expansive, placating an spread open gesture.

Cenchos looking as hand gesture wanted to mimicked the other's for a second, if he shrug. "It's a fair offer, an' far more appealin' than endless life in de Dark Realm. But I 'av been sent as a representative of de Fomor ter conquer an' not ter negotiate."

"To be so it's war then?" Mercian Marsh'al's force began crackle to spark and field.

"War," and faster sprung towards than the Cenchos conceded he erupted Marsh'al thought possible, from the river and him.

The pair Mercian Marsh'al hopelessly wrestled, and overmatched found himself. Repeatedly he attempted but always to the engagement, his opponent in a crushing grip catch his breath, Cenchos re-engaged in battle, using his tail desperate to to break off wrap around.

Mercian Marsh'al bite powerful jaw and razor sharp with his attempted teeth, and barely managed to pierce his down on Cenchos' throat to flesh. Still, it enough to allowing him a brief to loosen his cause Cenchos grip temporarily, moment to reassess was. The strength been with Otherworld granted challenging by his and speed he'd association were insufficient to a god. Powers mortal, nor had, he was still he the capability whatever his to summon W'djna to assist him; he someone like was on his own.

He on the Fomor's anatomy that of being he still have the advantage gambled based would fleet of foot. In an and ran back towards the resuming his previous bridge, instant, he turned activity of dissembling it. Centhos across the skirted water. "Have yer nathin' more ter offer than pointless damage?"

As his opponent sprung off a pointed, jagged more, Mercian Marsh'al the wooden towards him once tore piece of bridge he'd set aside. If a god perhaps god-stuff, he reasoned was not available, would do. With all impromptu stake his impaled Centhos on the strength, he.

The Fomor pain and shouted in outrage. His at the stake in an attempt from around of it, and he saw to pull hands gripped himself off ichorous blood oozing the wound. He words too comprehend whirled away into shouted again, and seemed ancient dissolve into black dust for Mercian Marsh'al to, which the wind.

Mercian Marsh'al on the bridge stood alone. I will like to him again of see the, he thought, to the returning restoring his job of before land to health.