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Mynx. She was here all along, waiting for us. Aren't you proud of me, Phytos?"
Mynx resisted the urge to clobber the kender.
"How ..." The centaur's voice failed, and he coughed. "How didst thou get here?"
She pointed weakly to the Diamond Dragon. "I was in there." Doubt creased the centaur's face,
followed by sympathy.
"Poor thing," he murmured. "She hast gone daft. She must have been wandering in the forest for
days. Who dost thou suppose she is, Kifflewit?"
The kender was still hopping up and down. "It's Mynx, I told you, Phytos! She's my friend. She
wanted the Diamond Dragon, but I wouldn't give it to her. She probably followed us, huh?"
"That thing swallowed me, Kifflewit!" Mynx shouted at the kender. "I've been bouncing around in
there like dice
in a tavern, while you two have been breathing fresh air, drinking wine, and eating bread and
cheese!"
Soon she and the kender were nose to nose. "It's mine," the kender shrieked. "Your tricks can't fool
me!"
"Didn't you remember I was in there, you addlepated, dunderheaded kender?"
"Well, maybe so, but if you hadn't tried to steal it from me in the first place..."
"We need this thing to help Tarscenian, you little idiot!"
"You could have asked. Not even a 'please'!"
"Tarscenian needs it!"
"Thief!"
Finally Phytos cleared his throat. "I fear there are explanations I am not privy to. But perhaps thou
couldst tell me, Mynx."
When the thief appealed to the centaur, words poured out of her. Phytos's expression grew
increasingly grave.
"... So you see," she finished, "Tarscenian is heading into danger, and the Diamond Dragon isn't
even where he thinks it is, to help him. Gaveley sold him out, Phytos! They'll kill him. We have to
go back and help him." She tugged at his arm. "Hurry. Can you carry us both?"
Phytos grasped her frantic hand and held it. "Calm thyself, woman. I will do what I can. Get thee on
my back." He directed his violet gaze at the kender. "Perhaps we should leave Kifflewit Burrthistle
here," the centaur intoned, "inasmuch as he has made this task that much more difficult."
"Me?" the kender squeaked. "What did I do?"
Mynx climbed up on Phytos's back. Kifflewit, protesting all the way, bounded up to join her just as
the centaur launched into his trot. "Wait!" Mynx cried. "Phytos, you're going the wrong way."
"No," the centaur rejoined. "Hand me the horn from my pack. If, that is, the kender did not dent it
beyond use when he hid in there."
Mynx rummaged in the pack, passing the horn up to the centaur's waiting hands. "We should be
near enough," the man-horse said to himself. The creature raised the horn to his lips and blew a long
blast, then two short ones, then another long. He handed the instrument back to Mynx.
In a short time, they were surrounded by several dozen centaurs carrying bows, arrows, and clubs.
Phytos rapidly apprised them of recent events in Solace, of the deaths of Feelding and Salomar and
their two compatriots, and of the dire predicament of the lone man who might be able to act against
Hederick without bringing about a full-scale war.
"Wilt thou go back with me?" Phytos shouted. "Wilt thou join thy strength with him and this
woman?"
The centaurs raised a hurrah.
Within moments, Mynx sat upon a well-rested centaur, with Kifflewit perched happily on another.
Phytos, riderless, moved into the fore.
They turned their heads toward Solace and moved at a gallop.
Chapter 22
A short time later, Tarscenian had up the kitchen steps and darted into another corridor. It was long
past midnight. Hederick was old. He would be in his rooms at this hour, resting, if not asleep.
If only Tarscenian could find the High Theocrat's quarters. He cursed silently. Helda had scooted
back to the kitchen before he could think to ask for directions, and he'd lose even more time if he
went back now to ask ... assuming the scullery maids would even know.
Footsteps sounded furtive ones. Tarscenian stepped back into a doorway, reassuring himself that
his dagger was still concealed in the sleeve of his robe.
A yellow-robed novitiate came around the corner, up the stairs from the direction of the kitchen, a
chunk of sausage in one hand and half a loaf of brown bread in the other. He was busily chewing.
Clearly, the novitiate expected to meet no one at this hour. Tarscenian tried to remember what he
could of Seeker etiquette.
He stepped out from the doorway and hailed the novitiate. "Little brother, stop a moment!"
The young man stopped, horror dawning on his face. At first he tried to secret the food behind him,
then gave up the attempt. "Oh, sir, I was hungry. The fast has been so long. I am sorry. I know
thievery is a sin. Please don't tell the high priest..."
"Yes, yes." Tarscenian waved away the young man's apologies. "Never mind that. Don't worry. I
need your assistance. I was taking an important message to Hederick and lost my balance and fell [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]