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"Droga, z której się nie wraca" (A Road with No Return) is a short story included in the Something Ends, Something Begins collection.

Characters

Summary

Visenna with a bird perched on her arm finds wounded man on a crossroads near confluence of two rivers Ina and Yaruga. There is a body next to him. The wounded man is called Korin. Visenna heals him using magic and hematite. He tells her what happened. He was reading the sign on crossroad which had have written in runes "who comes from west, if you will go left, you will return, if you will go right, you will return, if you will go straight, you will not return". Suddenly an old lady approached him. She asked him if he has some food to share. He gave old lady a fish and bread. As a give, she tell him to come closer, so she can whisper him secret which made him rich and famous. When he get closer to her, she attacked him. He was taken aback by her strength but he killed her. As old lady drop dead, she grow young again. Visenna said her old appearance was an illusion. She then tries to force the corpse to talk. Word Fregenal, Koshchey, and treasure can be heard uttered by the corpse.

Visenna and Korin travel together on Visenna's horse. Visenna reveals that she is a druid master from Druid Ring. Both of them think they had been alone for too long. They arrive at small village Klucz and meet village's mayor. Mayor Topin tells them that merchants do not come anymore because the pass to Amell is closed by Koshchey's Men. Koshchey's Men (vrans and humans) harass nearby villages. Visenna asks about closest forge. Korin says that Amell is famous from jasper and jade mines which Koshchey's Men probably profit from.

Forge owner is smith Mikula. Mikula sent a boy for help to Druid Ring earlier. Suddenly riders are heard outside of forge. Riders are Koshchey's Men. They said that they caught the boy who Mikula sent and then proceed to kill forge workers and burn forge itself. Mikula's saved by Korin and Visenna. Rest of the bandits escapes. Then came villagers from next village. They killed 3 bandits but one escaped. All people agree that with help from Visenna they can kill bandits. Later by the fire Korin talks about himself to Visenna. He is a thief and mercenary. Visenna explains that she wants no award for helping.

Next day villagers head to the bandit caves. They see bandits with a cart evacuating. Visenna and Korin talk with bandit's leader Kehl who is a bobolak. Bandits want no further quarrel and agree to never come back. They left their former leader in the cave imprisoned. Korin and Visenna go into cave. They meet Fregenal a mage who is tied and powerless. He recognizes Visenna. It is revealed that he is an ex druid. He worked on forbidden magic and he created Koshchey. The old lady who have attacked Korin earlier was his doing. He accuses Visenna of being here only because Druid Ring told her to unblock money flow from mines. He agreed to help them find Koschei so he would live.

They head into the ravine. Fregenal begs Visenna not to kill Koshchey. When they get close Visenna starts to feel Koschei's presence. Fregenal hits back of her head with a stone and manages to hit Korin's knee. Visenna's bird attacks Frenegal. He gets rid of the bird and starts to laugh as Koschei approaches. Koschei is coming slowly. It looks somewhat like a big spider. Mikul appeared behind Fregenal and decapitated him. Then he carried unconcious Visenna and run. Korin followed slowly with his injured knee but he could not keep pace. Korin tried to heal Visenna with hematite when Mikul stopped but to no avail. Koschei was very close now but to the rescue came Kehl. Three together (Kehl, Mikul, and Korin) tried to fight Koschei. Visenna woke up and cast a spell which caused Koschei to explode. Kehl was badly injured but he was proud of his sacrifice.

Epilogue: Visenna rides on her horse and talks to the Bird. She admits that she didn't know about Druid Ring profiting from mines. She wonders if magic would be needed in the future for medicine. She apparently communicates with Ring through this Bird. She arrives at crossroads (from the beggining of the story). Korin is waiting there. He says he woke up in the morning and discovered that she left. He had something important to say to her so he took a shorcut and waited. He says he was alone for too long. She understands because she felt the same. They kissed. Bird tweeted. Visenna said to the bird to fly away and say nothing.

The Witcher

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