Размер шрифта:     
Гарнитура:GeorgiaVerdanaArial
Цвет фона:      
Режим чтения: F11  |  Добавить закладку: Ctrl+D
Следующая страница: Ctrl+→  |  Предыдущая страница: Ctrl+←
Показать все книги автора/авторов: McKiernan Dennis L.
 

«Into the fire», Dennis McKiernan

Chapter 1

Down from the now-free gates of Mineholt North rode the five-Tipperton, Beau, Phais, Loric, and Bekki-three on ponies, two on horses, and drawing two pack animals behind. Down from the portal and along the road on the eastern side of the mountain vale they fared-two War-rows, two Elves, and a Dwarf-riding southward, soon to turn east and follow the tradeway to the city of Dael. Of the mighty battle which had raged before the gates a mere ten weeks past, the battle which had shattered the Foul Folk siege of the Dwarvenholt, the battle which had sent one of Modru's Hordes fleeing in panic, of that battle there remained little sign, for all was covered with unmarked December snow, and not even the great scorching of the funeral pyres from the aftermath showed through, though rounded hummocks under the whiteness betokened where lay the Daelsmen's burial knolls.

Past this field of blood rode the five, alongside a mountain flank, slitted eyewear protecting their sight from the blinding glare of the white pristine 'scape, the bright winter sun shedding little warmth down upon them all.

"I say," queried Beau, peering at Tip, "just how far is it to Dael?"

"Thirty, thirty-five leagues by road," replied Tipperton, "shorter could we fly."

At these words, Beau looked long at the sky. No birds were in sight, though the forward edge of feather-thin clouds eked southward high above. "Huah. Even if I were a bird, I'd think it too cold to fly. No, Tip, I'll stick to my pony even though it'll take us five or six days in all."

"Five or six days, Beau, that's just to Dael. We'll be forty, forty-five days on the road to Dendor, and that's if we don't run into trouble."

"Forty-five da-?"

"It's two hundred sixty, two hundred seventy leagues away, bucco."

"Oh my, eight hundred miles or so?"

"So Bekki says, Beau."

Bekki grunted and said, "It is two hundred sixty-six leagues and two miles and some paces by the route we will go if all steps out as planned."

Beau nodded, then began counting on the fingers of one gloved hand. After a while he said, "You are right, Tip: at six or seven leagues a day, that will take some forty or forty-five days." Beau shook his head. "A long time of eating field rations."

"Oh, Beau, take heart," said Tip, "there are towns along the way."

Beau shook his head. "We can't count on that, Tip, with Foul Folk all about. I mean, look at how far we had to go after leaving Arden Vale before we had a good hot meal. All the way down and through the Grimwall and over the Gunarring and back up to Darda Galion."

Tip shook his head. "You're forgetting the marmot and rabbit we cooked on the Plains of Valon."

"All right, all right, so that's, what, one hot meal in a thousand miles? Not exactly what I'd call eating well."

Tip turned up his hands, then said, "We ate quite well in Darda Galion, and then again in Caer"-Tip's face fell, yet he managed to say-"Lindor."

Beau looked across at his sad-eyed friend, then jerked his thumb over his shoulder and added, "In Mineholt North, too."

Tip glanced at Beau and smiled through his tears. "Yes, we did." Then he sighed and wiped his cheeks with the heels of his gloved hands. "I'm sorry, Beau, but whenevei I think of Caer Lindor, it brings it all back."

"I know, bucco," said Beau. "I know. And it's all right.'

They rode along in morose silence for another mile or so, and a chill wind kicked up at their backs and they drew their cloaks tightly 'round.

Finally they came to the mouth of the vale, and the road swung easterly. Along this way they turned, making new tracks in the unmarked snow as thickening clouds slid overhead.

Phais looked at the sky and removed her eyewear. "I think we're in for a blow."

"Oh my," said Beau. "Should we turn back? I mean, we're not too far from the shelter of the mineholt."

Phais glanced at Loric, and he shook his head and said, " 'Tis the winter season, Beau, and no matter when we set out snow will fly… lest thou wouldst have us wait until spring is upon us."

"Oh no," said Beau, pushing out a hand in negation. "We've been on this mission too long as it is to dawdle about waiting for fair weather. Besides, whatever message or meaning or charm or hex the coin bears, we need to get it to the one it is meant for."

At this mention of potential magic, Tip's brow furrowed, and he nervously touched his eiderdown jacket high on his chest. "Beau, I wish you'd leave this talk of spellcraft behind. I mean it's enough that we bear the coin without having to talk about enchantments or magic or whatever."

"All right, bucco," replied Beau. "I'll be quiet. I know it makes you uncomfortable and all to think that something actually touching your skin might be charmed in some way. I mean, if a Mage cast a spell upon the coin, or if a Sorceress laid a hex, or a Wizard incanted a-"

"Beau, enough!"


Еще несколько книг в жанре «Фэнтези»

Следи за собой, Дмитрий Быков Читать →