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Without once glancing up at Oceaxe and Maskull, she quietly glided straight toward Crimtyphon's corpse. When she arrived within a few feet of it, she stopped and looked down, with arms folded.
Oceaxe drew Maskull a little away, and whispered, "It's Crimtyphon's other wife, who lives under Disscourn. She's a most dangerous woman. Be careful what you say. If she asks you to do anything, refuse it outright."
"The poor soul looks harmless enough."'
"Yes, she does - but the poor soul is quite capable of swallowing up Krag himself.... Now, play the man."
The murmur of their voices seemed to attract Tydomin's notice, for she now slowly turned her eyes toward them.
"Who killed him?" she demanded.
Her voice was so soft, low, and refined, that Maskull hardly was able to catch the words. The sounds, however, lingered in his ears, and curiously enough seemed to grow stronger, instead of fainter.
Oceaxe whispered, "Don't say a word, leave it all to me." Then she swung her body around to face Tydomin squarely, and said aloud, "I killed him."
Tydomin's words by this time were ringing in Maskull's head like an actual physical sound. There was no question of being able to ignore them; he had to make an open confession of his act, whatever the consequences might be. Quietly taking Oceaxe by the shoulder and putting her behind him, he said in a low, but Perfectly distinct voice, "It was I that killed Crimtyphon."
Oceaxe looked both haughty and frightened. "Maskull says that so as to shield me, as he thinks. I require no shield, Maskull. I killed him, Tydomin."
"I believe you, Oceaxe. You did murder him. Not with your own strength, for you brought this man along for the purpose."
Maskull took a couple of steps toward Tydomin. "It's of little consequence who killed him, for he's better dead than alive, in my opinion. Still, I did it. Oceaxe had no hand in the affair."
Tydomin appeared not to hear him - she looked beyond him at Oceaxe musingly. "When you murdered him, didn't it occur to you that I would come here, to find out?"
"I never once thought of you," replied Oceaxe, with an angry laugh. "Do you really imagine that I carry your image with me wherever I go?"
"If someone were to murder your lover here, what would you do?"
"Lying hypocrite!" Oceaxe spat out. "You never were in love with Crimtyphon. You always hated me, and now you think it an excellent opportunity to make it good .. . now that Crimtyphon's gone.... For we both know he would have made a footstool of you, if I had asked him. He worshiped me, but he laughed at you. He thought you ugly."
Tydomin flashed a quick, gentle smile at Maskull. "Is it necessary for you to listen to all this?"
Without question, and feeling it the right thing to do, he walked away out of earshot.
Tydomin approached Oceaxe. "Perhaps because my beauty fades and I'm no longer young, I needed him all the more."
Oceaxe gave a kind of snarl. "Well, he's dead, and that's the. end of it. What are you going to do now, Tydomin?"
The other woman smiled faintly and rather pathetically. "There's nothing left to do, except mourn the dead. You won't grudge me that last office?"
"Do you want to stay here?" demanded Oceaxe suspiciously.
"Yes, Oceaxe dear, I wish to be alone."
"Then what is to become of us?"
"I thought that you and your lover - what is his name?"
"I thought that perhaps you two would go to Disscourn, and spend Blodsombre at my home."
Oceaxe called out aloud to Maskull, "Will you come with me now to Disscourn?"
"If you wish," returned Maskull.
"Go first, Oceaxe. I must question your friend about Crimtyphon's death. I won't keep him."
"Why don't you question me, rather?" demanded Oceaxe, looking up sharply.
Tydomin gave the shadow of a smile. "We know each other too well."
"Play no tricks!" said Oceaxe, and she turned to go.
"Surely you must be dreaming," said Tydomin. "That's the way - unless you want to walk over the cliffside."
The path Oceaxe had chosen led across the isthmus. The direction which Tydomin proposed for her was over the edge of the precipice, into empty space.
"Shaping! I must be mad," cried Oceaxe, with a laugh. And she obediently followed the other's finger.
She walked straight on toward the edge of the abyss, twenty paces away. Maskull pulled his beard around, and wondered what she was doing. Tydomin remained standing with outstretched finger, watching her. Without hesitation, without slackening her step once, Oceaxe strolled on - and when she had reached the extreme end of the land she still took one more step.
Maskull saw her limbs wrench as she stumbled over the edge. Her body disappeared, and as it did so an awful shriek sounded. Disillusionment had come to her an instant too late. He tore himself out of his stupor, rushed to the edge of the cliff, threw himself on the ground recklessly, and looked over.... Oceaxe had vanished.
He continued staring wildly down for several minutes, and then began to sob. Tydomin came up to him, and he got to his feet.
The blood kept rushing to his face and leaving it again. It was some time before he could speak at all. Then he brought out the words with difficulty. "You shall pay for this, Tydomin. But first I want to hear why you did it."
"Hadn't I cause?" she asked, standing with downcast eyes.
"Was it pure fiendishness?"
"It was for Crimtyphon's sake."
"She had nothing to do with that death. I told you so."
"You are loyal to her, and I'm loyal to him."
"Loyal? You've made a terrible blunder. She wasn't my mistress. I killed Crimtyphon for quite another reason. She had absolutely no part in it."
"Wasn't she your lover?" asked Tydomin slowly.
"You've made a terrible mistake," repeated Maskull. "I killed him because he was a wild beast. She was as innocent of his death as you are."
Tydomin's face took on a hard look. "So you are guilty of two deaths."
There was a dreadful silence.
"Why couldn't you believe me?" asked Maskull, who was pale and sweating painfully.
"Who gave you the right to kill him?" demanded Tydomin sternly.
He said nothing, and perhaps did not hear her question.
She sighed two or three times and began to stir restlessly. "Since you murdered him, you must help me bury him."
"What's to be done? This is a most fearful crime."
"You art a most fearful man. Why did you come here, to do all this? What are we to you?"
"Unfortunately you are right."
Another pause ensued.
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A Voyage to Arcturus -by- David Lindsay