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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Twilight's Dawn (Chapter 68)      Page
  • Twilight's Dawn(Black Jewels,Book 9)(68) by Anne Bishop
  • “Guarding Rihlanders,” Falonar sneered.

    Zaranar made a crude, angry sound. “Some of us are willing to do the work we agreed to do, and that includes protecting the Rihlander villages, Blood and landen. I heard there was a Jhinka raid on a landen village a few weeks ago, and it was the Rihlander guards from Agio who stepped in and drove the bastards off. The Eyriens in the northern camps should have been patrolling that part of the valley and should have spotted the Jhinka before they reached that village. But they couldn’t stir themselves to raise a bow let alone shoot a single arrow. I won’t blame Lucivar a bit if he tosses every one of those lazy sons of whoring bitches out of the valley.”

    “The Rihlanders aren’t used to dealing with Eyriens,” Falonar argued. “If they showed the proper respect, they’d get the help they need.”

    “Oh, they’re used to dealing with Eyriens,” Rothvar said. “Just not in daylight. Prothvar Yaslana and a handpicked troop of men used to patrol the northern part of Ebon Rih as well as the Sleeping Dragons at the end of the Khaldharon Run. The Queen’s court might have had more contact with Prothvar himself, but the Eyriens who served him were known to the Blood in Agio, at least to some degree. First time I walked into a tavern there, it was late afternoon and the owner looked confused to see me. Then he offered me a glass of yarbarah. Apparently Lord Yaslana and his men stopped by there on occasion, so the man kept bottles of the blood wine on hand.”

    Falonar swallowed his growing disgust. Rothvar and Zaranar were the best fighters among the Warlords Lucivar had brought to Ebon Rih. They should be troop leaders controlling their own portion of the valley, with men under their command.

    He ignored the memories of how many men were killed or maimed in fights that started because a troop leader needed to expand his territory—and increase his income—in order to pay his gambling debts.

    Then he focused on the knives Kohlvar was sharpening and no longer tried to swallow his disgust. “Hell’s fire, Kohlvar. You made some of the finest weapons in Askavi, and now you’re sharpening kitchen knives?”

    “These blades get dull like any other,” Kohlvar replied as he studied the edge of the knife. “Doesn’t hurt my pride to give the women some help, and who would know better than me how to put an edge on a blade?”

    “What about your reputation?” Falonar demanded. “You’re a weapons maker. This is menial work. Who did Lucivar have doing it before you?”

    “No one. He did it himself.”

    And that lack of understanding, of distance, was the reason Lucivar had no business ruling anything, let alone a prime territory like Ebon Rih.

    “You’ve been up to the women’s settlement at Doun?” Zaranar asked.

    Lucivar had made it clear that no man who wanted to keep his balls went to the settlement without his permission.

    Kohlvar shrugged. “Lucivar came by not long ago and asked if I wanted to go with him. I wasn’t busy, so why not? And I was curious.” He looked a little uncomfortable, but he also looked amused. “The man walked in, took a look around, and started scolding the women for hauling things that were too big for them to handle instead of waiting for him to help. And a couple of the women started scrapping right back, saying they had brains and Craft and plenty of hands and didn’t need a penis in order to get things done.”

    An uneasy silence. Then Rothvar asked, “What did he do to them?”

    Kohlvar laughed. “He grinned and went to check the woodpiles and other things he wanted to check. Later he told me one of the women who’d been scrapping with him had come to Kaeleer this past summer, and she’d been so afraid of men she would puke from fear when he walked into the room. He said it was good to see her growing her backbone and heart.

    “Anyway, we ended up in the kitchen, drinking coffee. Then he called in his whetstone and started sharpening the knives. I wasn’t going to sit there like a fool, was I? So I gave him a hand. Most of the females were keeping to the far end of the room, but the boys were hugging the table, watching him while they answered his questions and asked plenty of their own. He slapped down a boy with nothing but a look when that boy tried to bully the one girl who got brave enough to approach the table. When he was done with the last knife, Lucivar took all the children outside for a flying lesson.”

    Kohlvar vanished his own whetstone and the kitchen knives. Then he looked at Hallevar. “There isn’t a youngster in that settlement who would be old enough for a hunting camp, but there are some there who are old enough to start learning what you can teach.You should talk to Lucivar about going with him the next time he visits.”

    “I think I will,” Hallevar replied.

    Falonar listened to them a few minutes more, then made an excuse to leave. They didn’t see the truth about their future, didn’t understand how a leader who was so common he didn’t see anything wrong with taking care of menial tasks would diminish the standing of all Eyriens in Kaeleer.

    These men belonged to Lucivar, and for the time being, there was nothing he could do about that. So he was going to have to look to the men in the northern camps for the help he needed to save all of them.

    Surreal dropped from the Green Wind and landed lightly in the courtyard of Lucivar’s eyrie. If she’d been polite, she would have used the landing web and climbed the stairs to the courtyard, but she wasn’t feeling polite since she was the messenger who had to hand over this basket.

    Merry woke up this morning feeling hungry and well and had been cooking and baking since sunrise. The goodies in the basket were her thanks for the pot of soup Marian had made yesterday.

    “This is payment and more for a pot of soup,” Surreal grumbled as she banged on the door. “And I deserve these goodies as much as anyone.” Especially after the dream that had ripped through her sleep last night—the boy Trist, torn and bloody as he’d been in the spooky house, smiling at her and saying over and over, “The worst is still to come.”

    Maybe it was just lack of sleep, or maybe it was something more that made the floor and walls of her room seem to rise and fall this morning—and made her chest hurt in a different way. Maybe she should stop and see one of Riada’s Healers before going back to The Tavern. Maybe ...

    The door swung open. Lucivar looked edgy, heading toward pissed off, and he was wearing the heavy wool cape he used as a winter coat. Wishing she’d just left the basket, she started to step back when he reached out, grabbed her coat, and hauled her inside.

    “Some of this has to go in the cold box until you’re ready to eat,” Surreal said, trying to hand him the basket.

    “Fine.” He hustled her into the kitchen and put the basket on the table. Then his hands clamped down on her shoulders, holding her in place. “Marian is in the village running errands. Falonar needs to talk to me. He says it’s urgent. I need you to stay here and watch Daemonar.”

    “No.”

    “Thirty minutes. An hour at the most. Tassle and Graysfang are on their way back here, so you won’t be alone with the boy for long.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire