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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 a wounded man at a crossroads near the 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 and he then tells her what had happened.

While he was reading the sign at the crossroads, upon which was written in runes; "Whoever comes from the west, if you go left, you will return, if you go right, you will return, if you go straight, you will not return", an old lady suddenly approached him. She asked him if he has some food to share. He gave the old lady a fish and bread. In return for his kindness, she tells him to come closer so she can whisper to him a secret which will make him rich and famous. When he got closer to her, she attacked him. He was taken aback by her strength but he killed her. As the old lady dropped dead, she grow young again.

Visenna suggested that the old woman's appearance was an illusion. She then uses her magic to force the corpse to talk. From the incoherent speech of the corpse, the words "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 healer from a Druids' circle. Both of them think they had been alone for too long. They arrive at the small village Klucz and meet the 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 the closest smithy, saying that her horse lost a horseshoe as an excuse to give her a reason to stay in the village. Korin comments that Amell is famous for jasper and jade mines which Koshchey's Men probably profit from.

Visenna and Korin head to visit the smithy. The smithy's owner is smith Mikula. Mikula mentions that he sent a boy to the Druid's circle earlier to ask for help. Suddenly riders are heard outside of the forge. The riders are Koshchey's Men. They said that they caught the boy that Mikula sent and then proceed to kill the smithy's workers and set the smithy itself aflame. Mikula is saved by Korin and Visenna, who fended off some of the bandits, the rest of which escaped. Then came villagers from the next village over. They killed 3 bandits but one escaped. All of the people who have gathered agreed that with help from Visenna they can kill the bandits. Later, by the fire, Korin tells Visenna about himself. He tells her that he is a thief and a mercenary. Visenna later explains that she wishes to help the villagers and wants no reward for helping.

The next day, the villagers, along with Visenna and Korin, head to the bandit caves. They see bandits with a cart evacuating. Visenna and Korin talk with the bandits' new leader, Kehl, who is a bobolak. The 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 the 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 the Koshchey. The old lady that attacked Korin earlier was his doing. He accuses Visenna of being here only because the Druids' circle told her to unblock the flow of money from the mines. He agreed to help them find the Koshchey in exchange for keeping his life.

They head into the nearby ravine. Fregenal begs Visenna not to kill the Koshchey. When they get close Visenna starts to feel the Koschey's presence. Fregenal hits Visenna over the back of her head with a stone, knocking her unconscious, and manages to dodge Korin's retaliation, as well as attacking his knee. Visenna's bird attacks Frenegal. He gets rid of the bird and starts to laugh as the Koshchey approaches. It looks somewhat like a big spider. Mikul appeared behind Fregenal and decapitated him. Then he picked up the unconscious Visenna and ran to safety. Korin followed slowly with his injured knee but he could not keep pace. Korin tried to heal Visenna with her hematite when Mikul stopped but, seemingly, to no avail. Koshchey was very close now and things seemed very dire. However, suddenly, Kehl came to the rescue. The three together (Kehl, Mikul, and Korin) tried to fight the Koshchey. During the battle, Visenna woke up and cast a spell which caused the Koshchey to explode. Kehl was badly injured but he was proud of his sacrifice.

Epilogue: Visenna rides on her horse and talks to her bird. She admits that she didn't know about the Druids' circle profiting from the mines. She wonders if magic would be needed in the future for medicine. She apparently communicates with the Circle through this bird. She arrives at the crossroads (from the beginning 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 shortcut and waited. He says he was alone for too long. She understands because she felt the same. They kissed. The bird tweeted and Visenna told it to fly away and say nothing.

The Witcher[]

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"This is my story, not yours. You must let me finish telling it."
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