A storm of cheers and applauses met them, when the gang entered the Hall of the Fountains. They greeted people, talked with them, exchanged jokes, and then each had a red fill from the Fountains. However, the ambiance inside the Hall that night was different; it was the Mystery of the Fountains—much diminished in importance—that was missing. Everybody knew that Miss Kinlen was going to come, and it seemed that her presence was the missing element needed to revive the good old Mystery back. Slowly, the regular heat and noise retorted to the usual parameters.

     When Miss Kinlen entered the Hall there were a few moments of a perfect silence, then applauses started moderately, so that she would not be too scared, or too embarrassed. Miss Kinlen was wearing a superb traditional Tzedan dress—violet in color, highlighted by complex metallic embroideries in silver and gold—and she appeared to be a princess welcomed by her loving subjects. Bruce and the rest of gang were waiting in a stand up position at their table, then everybody in the Hall stood up for her.
     As Miss Kinlen arrived at their table, Bruce introduced his friends telling a few funny or interesting words about each of them. Slowly, the embarrassment of the first moments was passed, and his friends started talking to her on their own.
     Bruce wanted that each of them would reveal, in turn, their true feelings during the Process, when it looked like he was ready to accept Mr. Uluru’s offer.
     “I hated you, Bruce,” confessed Baan, “You seemed so genuinely lost in temptation, and then you did not answer to our messages—”
     “Aah, I was pe’fectly confident he was bluffing,” ventured Ab in a nonchalant attitude.
     “Is that the reason you named me ‘clogged sewage’, Ab?” asked Bruce in a reproachful tone of voice.
     “I neve’ said clogged!” snapped Ab angrily back, and then everybody started laughing, including Miss Kinlen. She was so sweet when she was happy, that Ab went on laughing with funny hiccups, and that made everybody laugh even harder.
     “To be honest, I was thinking I should start recording my last wishes, and then find a dark corner to self-induce a quick and painless death,” confessed R’Ezan in his scratchy voice, then he added, “Of course, that was, after I first disintegrated you, Bruce, with a Qepa gun.” Since he had received his credit increase notice, R’Ezan couldn’t make his mouth cease smiling and, from time to time and totally unexpected, he had violent bursts of a buffered laugh.
     “I was furious,” confessed Troxi via his electronic translator, and they all started laughing again because Troxi was totally incapable of expressing fury—except for an innocent color change.
     “I thought a lot about you in those moments, Miss Kinlen. What were you thinking about?” asked Bruce.
     “Oh, I was thinking it was so much better if you accepted that excellent offer, obviously,” replied Miss Kinlen in a serious attitude.
     “You are joking, Miss Kinlen . . . aren’t you?” asked Bruce perplexed.
     “Ha, haa! I got you!”
     After a while, Ab offered to bring Miss Kinlen a cup of red drink. She thanked him nicely, then she said she would get one herself.
     In the moment she started her trip towards the Fountains the silence waved quickly roundabout the Hall. She reached for the cup dispenser and took one, then she stepped on the Fountains’ path. The silence was total. Miss Kinlen was walking the path relaxed and without hesitation. She passed the Red, the Orange, the Yellow, the Green, the Blue and then the Violet Fountain. When she turned the corner of the path everybody stood up and pushed forward for a better look. She was walking towards the center, towards The Great Fountain!
     Miss Kinlen raised her arm and filled her cup carefully with the transparent water. In that moment there was such a loud burst of joy, that the millennia old walls of the Hall had never heard before! She paused right there, with the cup in her hand. She smiled to everybody, then she started on the way back.

     It was when she reached her place at the table that Fountains’ transformation started being noticed by everybody. The silence covered the Hall again. Slowly, the six colored Fountains ceased functioning, and they went on losing their waters gradually, until their basins remained empty. Only the center Fountain was working as usual.
     A Technician lady went to the cup dispenser. She took an empty one, then she started on the path. She reached the center Fountain without problems, then she filled her cup with the transparent water. She tasted it, then she announced perplexed, “It is plain water!”
     Everybody turned towards Miss Kinlen in wonder, and waiting.
     She took her cup and sipped a little, then said gasping, “Oh, it is so incredible! It is a lot more wonderful than the violet one!” Miss Kinlen stretched her arm with the cup towards Bruce. She smiled sweetly, then asked, “Do you want to taste it?”
     He replied smiling gently in response, “No, Miss Kinlen. That drink is only for you. Please, enjoy it for all of us.”

     To Bruce, the Mystery of the Fountains started making some sense. The Fountain system had been waiting patiently, for millennia, to lure the proper person. As soon as the right person had been found, the lure was not needed anymore. Somewhere, somehow, a mechanism had received the signal, and an entire process should have started to unfold—if it was still capable of any action after that terrible amount of time.
     He asked himself if the future events could be dangerous for Miss Kinlen. “It shouldn’t be,” thought Bruce, “because it all worked as if she is the precious chosen one: the best person of us all.
     [. . .]



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