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With a grunt he rolled to his side. His face was contused. Upon his right arm
was a wound. It was no more than days old. "Do you not think you should have
left that outside?" He grinned and sought my hand. I flushed. I still wore
Khys's cloak and the silk short-length. "Presti m'it, tennit," he said
quietly, sitting up. I took seat beside him.
"What happened to you?" I asked him.
"What happened to you?" he parried, eyeing me quizzically. There was a small
thread in his black curls. I reached up and disentangled it.
"Khys said you would answer my queries." I unlatched the cloak chain at my
bare throat.
"First let me congratulate you." His meaning was clear the band.
"It is only a convenience, I fear. Tell me the date, Carth. And what occurred
when Chayin discovered Liuma? And of where Sereth was, inform me. And what
kept Khys so long at the lakeside?" One cannot get answers to questions
unasked from such a man as Carth. "And how came you by those bruises? I would
hear that tale."
Rueful was Garth's answering grin. It minded me of our first meeting, as
crells in the pits of Nemar. The thought's trail touched him, and he
^SMorris t, scarred dark firoro chain sores. -^ft'dab groaned and stretched.
ourself in entirety." n it-bettered. Please, Carth.
" I have come to sit His tone was disbe-*himself.
iall muchdis his movements, We walked did we ex he pulled about
gravity,"tbat>ou owe me an f bcco so rightly angry with had postdated that
such a awaiting his
"and in all sfyVO, I take no pride. iwefit to rub his chin, tell you what you
;Qthere."
the slab, my bor-
will want to go Carth wryly, er had hap-in the nature of a There was kin, a
great stiffness to slabs. No word himself, nor as robeofacoun-a complexity of
cil member. Nor unfamiliar corridors. N$t tfW;n when we passed"be-tween two
arrars stiff and silent upon the threshold of a bar-gated passage did he utter
a word. He guided me through it to someiH-used stairs behind a massive stra
door. He knocked upon the stra, a pattern, and the door was opened from
within. I heard chain hiss upon its ratchet, and thought it odd.
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The stairs were torch-lit, the two guards respectively surly and taciturn. A
growl apiece did they give Carth, who then ushered me down those moist-slick
stairs. No ceiling stars had they wasted in this dank place. My skin crawled.
"Why did you bring me here?" I whispered as we made a better-lit landing off
which three passages radiated.
"I wanted you to see the place. Have a seat," he advised. Against one wall
were plank benches. I sat with care upon one, mindful of splinters, my cloak
pulled well under me.
"Tell," I urged him.
He did not sit, but leaned an arm upon the wall. Looming over me, he began it:
"I was asked by Khys to keep him apprised of Sereth and the cahndor as best I
could," he admitted hesitantly. "In doing so, I was upon the second floor when
you were abducted. And thus it came to be that I was directly behind Sereth
and Chayin as they hurried from couch with bare blades only to investigate. I
could not catch them upon the stairs. I gained their side only because Gherein
detained them at the stair's head."
And I recollected those footsteps I had thought I heard on the stairs while I
faced M'ksakkans within Khys's keep. If they had reached me unobstructed, I
would surely have been saved. Then I knew who of Silistra had aided M'ksakka.
"I am sorry, Carth. I lost the thread," I excused my wandered attention.
"I can see why," he remarked, but picked up where he left off.
"Gherein enjoined them to hasten outside, where they would find the body of
Liuma. Estri, he assured us, was nowhere about. And when they would have
passed by him he did not allow it, but derided them for their disbelief. He
was, he reminded them, first of Khys's council. He demanded they
212
Janet E. Morris prostrate themselves and show respect. That was not out of
character for
Gherein, and I thought little of it. I but soothed him, that he might step
aside, allow Sereth to inspect the keep. It was a thing of iths!" He spread
his hands, his eyes mere slits.
"Sereth," Carth continued, "was admirably restrained. Or so it seemed, he
locked behind that shield. Not one word did he say, but brushed by Gherein as
I engaged him. The cahndor, seeing this, turned and descended the stairs,
running. I think he knew then, if not before.
"Gherein gave me tasa immediately following their departure. He took his leave
in the direction of Khys's keep. It was iths, only, before Sereth reappeared.
They must have passed in the hall. He was withdrawn, pale. His eyes sought his
path before him. Then only did I think to seek you. And I did not find." His
tone turned bitter. "I gathered my wits enough to follow him down the stairs."
He stopped.
"Carth ..." I touched his arm. "Carth, please."
He confirmed my guess of the date/ in a low tone. Then he raised one leg up on
the bench, rested his elbow upon his thigh. "Sereth did not hurry," he
continued, and I began to see it Sereth's back before him as they descended
the stairs, his touch upon the other's arm. And Sereth's face, most terrible [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]