"Our voyage is nearing its close and before us opens up the romantic and ancient city of Appsala, famed for its loathsome customs, murderous natives and archaic sanitation facilities, of which this watery channel this ship is now entering seems to be the major cloaca.

Does this mean that I have passed the exam? Was I right?" "I don't know if you are right or not. I have never seen the inside of one of the Appsalan devil-boxes." He danced around the room again. "You know more about their ... what do you call it, engine ... than I do. I have only spent my life tending them and cursing the people of Appsala who keep the secret from us.

Men who breathe the air die, and even those who are solely touched by it develop immense blisters and die in pain. The man of Appsala laughed when this happened to our people and after that raised the price even higher." Jason circled one of the boxes, examining it with interest, trailing Narsisi behind him at the end of the chain. The thing was higher than his head and almost twice as long.

Edipon grumbled, cursed and fumed under his breath and led the way to an inner courtyard where stood four immense black boxes painted with death-heads, splintered bones, fountains of blood and cabalistic symbols all of a sinister appearance. "Those swine in Appsala take our water-of-power and give nothing in return.

The door unlocked silently and a moment later they were outside, staring tensely into the darkness. "Let's go! Run, get away from here," Snarbi said and Jason grabbed him by the throat and pulled him back. "Isn't there one drop of constructive intelligence on this planet? How are you going to get to Appsala without food or water, and if you find some how can you carry enough?

None of the soldiers paid any attention to this exchange and when they had passed Snarbi staggered to his feet and tottered after them shouting curses. Jason did not hear them, he had troubles enough as it was. Seen from the surrounding hills, Appsala looked like a burning city that was being slowly washed into the sea.

Edipon gasped, and both D'zertanoj recoiled from the boxes at the thought. "We have tried that, in my father's father's day, since we are not superstitious like the slaves and know that these are man-made not god-made. However the tricky serpents of Appsala hide their secrets with immense cunning. If any attempt is made to break the covering horrible death leaks out and fills the air.

Red-eyed and exhausted Jason and Mikah supervised the soggy sinking and when the D'zertanoj returned at dawn the engine rested safely in a pool of mud on the bottom of the pit: the hood was off. "They're tricky devils over there in Appsala, but Jason dinAlt wasn't born yesterday," he exulted.

He knows that they will never let him live long enough to leave here, so he was grateful for any suggestions I had." "This is man's talk I do not understand," Ijale said, turning away and starting towards the cooking fire. "You'll understand this," Jason said, taking her by the shoulder. "The soldier knows where Appsala is and can lead us there.

Jason offered them something else, weapons, a chance to kill their masters, and even more killing later when they marched on Appsala. It was difficult for them to grasp the idea that they must work together to accomplish this and not kill Jason and each other as soon as they received weapons.