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a month.
 Jiz, phah! Trub spat at a green crawler, giggled as he pinned it.
 Choooo, Dob , look, riders.
Mad s Tits, lots and lots of riders.
About fifty men had burst through the line of bushy kerov trees. They came on
into the field, the claws of their macain tearing up the brembas. The Overseer
Jizraim came running, cursing and waving his arms until one of them lifted a
longgun and put a bullet through his head. As if that were the signal they d
been waiting for, the rest of the men began shooting.
Trub gasped and crumpled, the back of his head gone. Brains and blood
splattered over Doby.
Around Doby the other boys were screaming and trying to run, wounded, dying,
dead. He scrambled across Trub s body and pulled bremba leaves over him, lying
hidden, stiff with fear and horror as the men slaughtered everyone they saw. A
stray shot burned across his leg, but he bit on his thumb and kept the groans
in his throat. A macai loped past, swerving round Trub s body, but the rider
didn t see him.
The men rode on. Doby started to crawl out, but huddled back as he heard
the honks of more macain, the thudding of their feet, heard men shouting,
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laugh-ing, mocking the dead, tens and hundreds of men rid-ing through the
bremba field, churning it to mud, going round his bremba patch to avoid the
bodies scattered about him. After the men there was the steady slow thudding
of orsk hooves and the creak of axles as huge drays rumbled past.
It was almost dark before the field was quiet again.
Doby rolled from under the leaves, staggered to his feet and looked around,
then bent over, vomiting until his throat burned. He wiped his mouth, limped
around Trub and over Brosky, Stek, Mapel and the rest of his cousins and
brothers, heading toward the village, try-ing not to think of what he might
find when he got there.
When K vestmilly Vos turned the corner on the nar-row hall, she heard the
noise coming from the
Setkan, angry shouts rising above the rumble of voices; she stopped.
Jestranos Oram snorted.  I told you, you should ve let me go in there ahead of
time and calm them down.
 You know what Heslin said. If they see me leaning on you ....
 Hmp! You act like he s an oracle.
 Zdra, he s been right so far. She looked over her shoulder at Zasya and
Adlayr with Honeydew riding
Adlayr s shoulder.  That s what I m throwing you into, my friends; I
appreciate your courage.
Adlayr grinned.  All part of the job.
K vestmilly Vos touched the Mask. Though she wasn t used to it yet and the
feel of it on her face bothered her, it was also oddly comforting as if her
mother were going in with her.
The Setkan, the Treddekkap s Meeting Chamber, was a large room, a long table
in the middle and a raised platform at the end with the Marn s Chair on it.
The Treddeks were seated round the table, Tecozar Nov as Prime in the
end seat, the one facing the Marn s chair, the others on stools along the
sides. The rest of the room was filled with Nerodin visitors, chairs brought
in for them, though most of them weren t us-ing them at the moment;
they were on their feet yelling at each other and at the
Treddeks representatives from the Workers Guilds and the Merchant
Associations, Chitveks from the warrens. They were here on the Marn s
invitation, something some of the Rodin Tred-deks were visibly resenting,
voicing that resentment with yells of their own.
K vestmilly Vos walked across the platform, settled in the Marn Chair, the
meie taking position at her right, the gyes at her left. Oram walked down the
steps at the side and stood by the near end of the table, scowling, his arms
She waited.
Embarrassed, the yellers fell silent, dipped bows, then found their chairs.
Tecozar Treddek Nov rose to his feet.  We welcome you to the Treddekkap, O
Marnhidda Vos.
We con-gratulate you on the style and facility with which you have assumed the
Mask, and it is with ...
K vestmilly Vos leaned forward.  Let me thank you now for your good
wishes, O Prime, and acknowledge the grace with which you would have
presented them, but there is a gravely urgent situation confronting us and
compliments are for quiet times. She stood, walked to the front of the dais,
paused a moment. Camnor Heslin had scripted this with her, rehearsed it with
movements and voice changes, showed her what to look for so she could
intercept objections before they came out.
 You may have heard rumors, she said, and was pleased with the sound of her
voice, steady and full.  Let me tell you they are true.
A slight pause here, a turn of the Mask, side to side, gathering them in.
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 With the help of our friends from the Biserica we have discovered a way to
locate the bombs that have caused so much trouble and trigger them without
los-ing lives.
Another pause, then a quick addition.
 Property, yes. Lives, no.
Pause, deepen the voice, add a touch of solemnity.  We have crafted a
procla-mation to be sent to every public place in the cities, to the plants
and mills, everywhere we could think of that might be in danger. She saw
restlessness gath-ering, used another rapid series of words to acknowl-edge
and counter it.  Nik, no questions yet, the Inquisitor has men waiting with
copies of the procla-mation to pass out to you when you leave.
Slow again, matter of fact  speech, hands coming out just slightly, a sketch
of an embrace to gather them in.
 The bombs have more than a touch of magic to them, they conform themselves to
their surroundings, which makes them difficult to locate. On the Pan Pen s
bed, for example, the bomb was an extra brace that looked exactly like the
rest of the wood, stain and all. You could not tell it was there unless you [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]