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  1. Quintessence
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The preferred primordial index is and baryon content. Adding constraints on the amplitude of matter fluctuations on small scales, , obtained from clusters abundance or weak lensing data may allow degenaracies to be broken, although present-day systematic uncertainties do not allow for firm conclusions as yet. Further addition of the Hubble Space Telescope measurements of the local distance scale and of the high redshift supernovae data allow one to obtain tight constraints.

When these constraints are combined we find that the amount of dark energy is C. Data correspond to usage on the plateform after The current usage metrics is available hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days. Introduction 2. Consistency and spelling matters 3. Punctuation 4. Verb tense and voice 5. Rachel nodded and they left. Out on the street they walked side by side, both feeling uncomfortable.

Neither knew how close to walk to the other, not so close as to be breaking the rules of propriety, and not bearing to be too far. Lothar trudged by her side, not saying anything. He cast sidelong glances at her, painfully aware that this might be the last time he ever saw her. Rachel did the same. Once their gaze met and they both snapped their eyes forward, looking straight ahead until the high stone wall of the ghetto loomed ahead. The iron gate lay before them, its portals deceptively open. They paused. Maybe things could have been different, Lothar thought.

He felt ashamed to be thinking such thoughts on her wedding day, but there they were. But it was too late now. Lothar looked at the woman he was losing, the woman he never really had, and felt as if his life was ending. He wanted to say something, to finally say something, but the feelings they had for each other had never been given words. What was the point of doing so now? Do it for me. Her hand tightened its grip on his arm as her eyes bore into his. She turned and left. Lothar watched as she disappeared through the ghetto gate. He remained there as the sun slanted to the west. The town bells rang the hour, and the soldiers stationed at the gate pushed its heavy iron doors shut with a clang.

He saw the city laid out before him as if he were looking on it from a great height. Then he plunged into a darkness pervaded by the smell of nepenthe. His body shook at the mere suggestion of it and he had to force himself to continue. For a few minutes there was nothing more. They were vague, indistinct. Suppressing his frustration, he kept his mind open. Then came a clear vision. A man and a woman, nobly dressed, sitting on gilded chairs in a mirrored hall with crystal chandeliers. The woman played with a young boy on her lap. Next to the man, a girl sat and talked.

Lothar could not hear her words. Why was he seeing them? They were obviously connected to the spell in some fashion. All the energy he felt flowing out of the veins of Birgit and the other victims was being focused on them. Lothar struggled to concentrate. He needed to find out where Birgit was being held. He needed to stop that spell now more than ever. The image of the family faded and was followed by more flitting shreds of vision.

He saw flags, although not clearly enough to see to what state they belonged. There was the distant rattle of gunfire. He saw the darkness again, smelt the acrid tang of nepenthe. That was all. He was too distracted.

Married tonight. Behind that metal gate Rachel would be promised to another man. She would be out of his life forever. Lothar groaned and flung himself on his bed. There was no point in trying to meditate. Burying his face in his pillow, he wished he could forget. He pounded his fist into the mattress with impotent rage and despair. He heard a faint crackle as his fist hit paper.

He looked over, confused, then pulled away the sheet and saw, wedged into the straw, a little packet of paper. He grabbed it and tore it open. Inside was a little blob of nepenthe, maybe a dram and a half. The paste was a bit dry; it no longer glistened like tar but was cracked and dusty like an old turd. It had obviously been in there for quite some time. Lothar let out a whoop at his good fortune. This had happened before. He would stash away some of his drug and then forget all about it.

It was always a treat when he found it again, like someone giving him a present on winter solstice. He sat up and grabbed his nosepipe. He scraped the paste into the bowl, examining it as he did so. Dry nepenthe was a little tricky, though. Sometimes it would be weaker, but occasionally it would become much more potent, like beer kept too long in the cask.

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How would this batch be? Well, there was only one way to find out. Only after he had inhaled for the third time did he remember his promise to Rachel. Self-loathing rose up in him and he yanked the nosepipe out of his nostrils. He was a human explosion, with nothing at the center. He opened his eyes and beheld Wallachia. It was as he had always imagined it, an exotic land of steep gorges and darkened forests, where fell beasts stalked and hissed in impenetrable forests. Atop rocky crags wolves howled, and through nighted villages slunk men who were not men, searching for the blood that was their sustenance.

Proud castles rose before him, guarded by long-haired warriors of barbaric ferocity. They were assailed by turbaned hordes of Ottomans, who had long fought for this land and long been denied it.


Leading them was a silk-robed sultan, his bejeweled scimitar glistening under an Eastern sun. And there, emerging out of the glorious Oriental panoply of his vision, was the answer he had been looking for, the place where Birgit was being held.

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Gone were the far distant battlefields, gone were the dark forests and sheer crags, and there before him stood the house. He saw it as if he were standing right in front of it, and knew in a flash exactly where it was. The vision burned like white fire through the misty wisps of his hallucinations. As quickly as it came, it started to fade. The outlines of his world waned and shrank. He was about to slip into oblivion again. The dried nepenthe made him crest higher and more quickly than ever before, but he was crashing just as quickly. Desperately he tried to gather his thoughts, casting about the room for something to write with.

He needed to leave a note to himself for when he awoke. He stumbled against a wall, fumbling around for his quill and inkstand. Or did he sell them when he sold the last of his books? He was sinking. A wet sensation on his face and a salty tang in his mouth told him his nose was bleeding. He despaired as he sank to the floor, his world darkening. Then, with the last shreds of his disintegrating mind, he had an idea.

Feeling his way to a wall, he ran his finger under his nose, taking away a sticky mass of blood and mucous. He raised his finger to the wall and started to write. There was some significance there. Then in a flash he remembered. The words sparked a vague memory of a house on a hill. Watchtower Hill lay to the north, on a high bluff from which a military watchtower commanded a view of the city and surrounding countryside. A road went right over the hill, leading to several hamlets further north.

Peddlers and merchants sometimes used the road and there were several houses along the route. He concentrated on the faint memory. Yes, he knew it now. The one he had seen was nearly at the summit of the hill, not far from the watchtower itself. It would be simple to find. Stumbling around his room, he pulled on his cloak, grabbing the pistol and the strange amulet Rachel had given him. On his second time down the stairs he stumbled and nearly fell. He paused, trying to calm his nerves and clear his thoughts. The dried nepenthe had become too strong, and made him clumsy and stupid. His steps soon led him out of the seedy district where he lived and onto a main avenue.

Soldiers were everywhere. Several units lounged in a shaded beer garden by the side of the street as cavalry trotted past. At one intersection he squeezed around slow teams of oxen pulling cannon. It was obvious the Duke was expecting trouble. Lothar wondered if he should find Francesco first. Some sense was telling him the final part of the spell would be done tonight. All he knew was that he needed to stop it before it was completed.

Luck was with him. At the north gate he spotted a familiar face. A sword and a brace of pistols hung on his broad belt. Ernst stood by the gate watching everyone who came and went. You look a wreck. Lothar told him of the spell and his vision, and gave him directions to the house on Watchtower Hill.

When he finished Ernst nodded. I have to go. Find Francesco and follow me as soon as you can. The sun hovered low above the western horizon by the time he made it to the hill. He huffed and sweated as the lowering sun dazzled on the far-off river. Looking out, Lothar could see the bridge near the house he and Francesco had raided. Lothar stopped for a moment to catch his breath. He looked to the south, where the whole city of Kranzburg stretched out below him, its winding lanes interlaced like veins in a leaf.

He traced the curve of the river from the bridge, around the northern end of the city and away to the east, enclosing the city on three sides. Far to the southeast he could make out the ruined wharves of the old harbor, where he had first discovered the writing in the warehouse.

A little rested, Lothar turned back to the north and continued uphill. The watchtower was about half a league ahead of him, and soon, he knew, the house would be visible. He stopped, turning back and looking at the city again. One part of the ritual to the southeast, one to the southwest, and now a new place to the north. A perfect triangle, and at its center, the city. There were outlying districts beyond them, on the other side of the river.

So what was at the center? The palace. Yes, the palace was at the dead center of the triangle the Wallachians had created. Whatever the purpose of this spell they were weaving in blood, the palace was their target. So the Wallachians were the vanguard of an invading force, just as he feared.

He continued climbing. The watchtower, a thin spire of stone silhouetted against a reddening sky, rose before him. He entered a little copse and the house came into view. It was a compact, two-story wood-frame building, shaded on all sides by trees. As with the warehouse and the cottage by the bridge, it appeared to have been abandoned for some time. Weeds grew on the overgrown lawn, and once-beautiful rosebushes were now choked with weeds. The windows were shuttered. He slipped behind a tree and studied the building.

After a few moments a thin, disheveled man came around the corner of the building. Even from a distance Lothar could tell he was a user. Lothar ducked behind the tree. After a moment he dared a peek. Soon he disappeared behind the building. Lothar hesitated, unsure what to do.

The Voivode Nicolae was a military officer, and his two companions would be dangerous as well.

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And here he stood with a fuzzy head, out of breath from what should have been an easy walk for a man his age, and carrying no weapon except an unloaded pistol. Why in Hades did I smoke last night? Damn my eyes! Lothar leaned his forehead against the rough bark of the tree, trying to control his labored breathing and clear his head. Francesco was relying on him, so was Herr Eisenbach. He was letting them all down.

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What hurt most of all, though, was the knowledge that he had broken his promise to Rachel. He used to tell himself he would do anything for her, he still meant it, but when she asked him to do one little thing, something for his own good, he let her down. Lothar stood up straight and drew his pistol. Now he had a chance to make good. He might not be able to stop the ritual, but he could slow it down. His death might buy Birgit enough time for real help to arrive. He saw no point in stealth. He needed to act now before his weak will failed him once again.

Holding the pistol by the barrel like a club, he let out a roar of frustration and anger and charged at the house. In a flash he crossed the lawn, leapt up the front steps and ran shoulder first into the front door. With a crash the door flung open and he stumbled into the darkened interior. For a moment he paused, eyes adjusting to the dim candlelight of the interior.

A noise to his right made him spin around.

The haggard face and bloodied nose of a nepenthe addict rose before him. He swung his pistol and cracked the man on the jaw, sending him hurtling to the floor. All around him the shadows were moving. From far corners of the room, dark figures rose in ones and twos. They were men and women, some young, some old, all looking thin and ragged in tattered clothing. The acrid smell of nepenthe hung in the air.

They shuffled towards him from all sides, a constricting circle of desperate humanity. There must have been two score of them, all with arms or necks swathed in bandages. The candlelight caught the gleam of knives as they closed in. Lothar desperately looked about. At the far end of the room he spied the graceful curve of a marble stairway.

It was the only way out except for the front door, and he was damned if he was going to run away now.

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He sprinted towards the stairs. A nepenthe head staggered towards him, glassy eyes trying to focus though his hallucinations. Lothar could imagine what the man must be seeing. The addict tried a feeble lunge with his knife that Lothar easily avoided as he ran past. A woman stood square in his way, a meat cleaver in her hand. In the half-light the bandages around her neck made her look like a gentlewoman wearing a lace collar, but the patched and faded dress and the wicked gleam in her eyes told otherwise. She swiped at Lothar as his forward momentum carried him right into the path of the blade.

He twisted his body to the side, but the cleaver sliced a shallow cut across his chest. Lothar swung at her and missed. He kept running. Then he was beyond them, staggering up the steps. His chest burned from the cut and something seemed to be wrong with his left arm; he focused his will on getting up to the next floor. There was no stopping now. As he made it to the top, a door opened to his left, suffusing the upper hallway with the bright glow of candles. In the doorway stood a giant of a man. He wore a loose shirt and baggy trousers of fine material.

Around his waist was a wide leather belt studded with iron. From the belt hung a broadsword. His broad features were swarthy, with wide-set brown eyes that glittered with malevolence. Those eyes fixed on Lothar. Below a bushy black moustache a cruel mouth curved into a grin. The man reached for his weapon. With a yell Lothar charged at him, pistol upraised. As the Wallachian drew his sword, the sorcerer brought down the butt of his pistol with all his might. Lothar raised his pistol to strike again. Lothar fell to his knees, his stomach a knot of pain.

He gasped for breath but his lungs felt constricted, burning with pain and lack of air. He barely felt the pommel crash down again, this time on the back of his skull. He heard growled conversation in strange, flowing syllables. Bright lights danced before his eyes. Someone pulled his hands behind him and wrapped tight cords around his wrists.

Awareness returned. He lay in a corner of a sumptuously furnished room. Brass candlesticks were set in various spots, illuminating fine couches and a mahogany side table inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Thick Turkish carpet covered the floor. Despite their opulence, the furnishings could not completely cover the rot of the old building. The plaster was flaking on all the walls. The uneven floor creaked beneath him as he shifted his weight.

At the door, standing with his arms crossed, was the man he had fought. When he saw Lothar looking at him he flashed a mocking grin. Nearby stood another warrior, almost the double of the first, who cradled in his hands a heavy mace. It was cast of a single piece of iron, with a handle a full three feet long and a knob at the end fitted with spikes. The owner gave Lothar a hungry look.

And, reclining on a settee in the center of the room, was Birgit, dressed only in a nightgown. Her hooded eyes and expressionless face showed she was half asleep with nepenthe. The girl was curled up in the embrace of the third Wallachian. His noble features and silk shirt set him apart from his fellows. He played with her absently, as one might do with a kitten, his hard eyes set upon Lothar. Karletta was right, she did look a lot less beautiful than her picture.

The round face and the rose color of her cheeks he remembered from her childhood had vanished. Now that face was drawn and pale, with eyes sunken deep in their sockets. He struggled with his bonds and a sharp pain jabbed his left shoulder. It was the side he had used to batter down the door. Lothar could barely feel or move the fingers in his left hand. He realized he must have fractured something. The pain felt worse than the throbbing in his head, or the dull burn of the cut on his chest.

He used to be my tutor.

A Quintessence of So Subtle a Nature

I even learned about Wallachia, Nikki. The Danube River flows through it all the way down to the Black Sea. He was very bad. They caught him smoking nepenthe and sent him on his way.

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Everyone whispering all the time, you find out about everything before long. It helps with the complexion. The Wallachian reached over to a side table for a nosepipe. Set on the table beside it Lothar saw a brass hypodermic needle, and, beside that, his useless pistol and the amulet Rachel had given him. He cursed himself silently when he saw it. As Nicolae gave Birgit the nosepipe, she eagerly set it in her nostrils. Plucking a candle from a nearby holder, she gave a satisfied smile and lit up.

Then she sighed and lay back on his chest. No, she is still a virgin. Not that she was not willing and I was not tempted, but she is much more useful for me the way she is. Yes, your little student is providing just the ingredient I need. We shall be completed shortly. After your dramatic entrance my men looked all around. We are quite alone. I think not. I chose this house because it is quite well screened with trees.

The sentries did not see your little charge across my front lawn. Then he removed the bandage on the inside of her elbow. Dark scabs crusted the skin underneath. Did you hear how she rattled off her geography lessons? But after a few months smoking that poison, she was easy to lure away from her father.

Cezar, the swordsman Lothar had so vainly tried to fight, approached holding a silver bowl. Even I got through them. And suddenly it was all clear to him. The palace at the center of the triangle, the essence of nepenthe, the blood of a virgin. It was the ultimate unmaking. The triangle is the shape of containment, limiting the spell to its focal point. Nepenthe is forgetfulness, the absence of memory. Virginity is an absence of a sort too. The absence of motherhood, an ungrown branch of the family tree.

Would they have ever existed? Would the people remember them? Even if they did, there would be no one left with a better claim to the Duchy than the Baron of Saxony. Birgit was the perfect focus for the spell. A virgin and a nepenthe head. But how had Nicolae met her? The writing is Hebrew, is it not? I must confess I have never met a Jew. A wise Voivode got rid of them in Wallachia a long time ago.

Impaled the holy men and burned the rest in their synagogues. Is this one of your religious symbols? He would have remembered to use the amulet instead of charging like a lunatic to his death. Even when he tried to do some good he made a mess of it. He tried to calm himself.

He needed to get to the amulet somehow. Cezar emerged from the other room carrying the silver bowl. Nicolae dropped the amulet back onto the table with a clatter and picked up the hypodermic again. Lothar gritted his teeth in disgust. Both regions are a patchwork of little fiefs mostly owned by small men with no ambition.

We fight our little squabbles while greater powers like the French and the Ottomans rule whole empires. The Baron wants to rule more than Saxony, and I want to rule more than my little strip of farmland. I will help him make a real kingdom, and he will send me 40, Saxon mercenaries to help tame my neighbors. Nicolae did not answer. Again hot blood gushed into the silver bowl. Birgit sighed in her stupor. Her face had grown very pale, her breath barely audible.

Lothar sobbed with frustration as he struggled with his bonds. Cezar disappeared into the ritual room once again. A shout from outside made Nicolae leap to his feet. He hissed a harsh command to Anatolie, who moved to the door and bolted it. Cezar ran out of the other room and drew his sword. Nicolae reached behind the settee and grabbed a blunderbuss, which he slung over his shoulder before picking up Birgit.

It looks like I will have to speed up the ritual. Say goodbye to your student, and goodbye to your Duchy. With Birgit in his arms, Nicolae strode into the ritual room, kicking the door closed behind him. For a moment there was no sound. Screams and the clash of steel rang out from the below. A gun went off, then another.

Cezar brandished his sword at Lothar, mutely warning him to keep quiet. Cezar rushed at him. Lothar rolled out of the way just in time as the broad blade cleaved into the floor, cutting through the carpet and deep into the wood beneath. Lothar kept rolling, wincing as the weight shifted onto his injured shoulder.

The sword swooped past his ear. Then he bumped against something solid. He had rolled all the way to the other wall. Cezar grinned and went in for the kill. The sound of splintering wood from across the room made the Wallachian turn. Ernst stood in the doorway, the kicked-in door hanging on a single hinge.

He gripped a sword in one hand and a pistol in another. With a speed remarkable for a man his size, the Wallachian ducked out of the way and the ball buried itself in the far wall. Ernst cursed and made a low cut with his sword. The Eastern warrior parried with the haft of his mace. The man fell to the floor and lay still as a stone.

But that suggestion is the central idea of the Origin of Species, and contains the quintessence of Darwinism. Aristotle could not know enough, physically, about Nature to understand its matter, or its motions, or its forces; and consequently he fell into the error of supposing a primary matter with four contrary primary qualities, hot and cold, dry and moist, forming by their combinations four simple bodies, earth, water, air and fire, with natural rectilineal motions to or from the centre of the earth; to which he added a quintessence of ether composing the stars, with a natural circular motion round the earth.

The ultimate triumph of the good spirit is an ethical demand of the religious consciousness and the quintessence of Zoroaster's religion. No other German poet has succeeded in attuning feeling, sentiment and thought so perfectly to the music of words as he; none has expressed so fully that spirituality in which the quintessence of German lyrism lies.

Of other Indian writers mention may be made of Cridhara, the author of a Ganita-sara " Quintessence of Calculation " , and Padmanabha, the author of an algebra. Here and there there are touches of the latter, as in the portrait of Quintessence , but passion is everywhere absent - an absence for which the comic structure and plan of the book do not by any means supply a complete explanation. Kleinians consider them to represent the quintessence of omnipotence. You will never have reached the heart of the matter, you will have failed to grasp the quintessence of Karate-do.