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.“Remember the rhythm, goodwife.It’s still there.” He put her hand on his chest, and that was when she realized she was looking up at him from the floor.His aquamarine eyes were focused entirely on her.“Remember it.” His hand pressed her own tight against his chest where she could clearly feel the rhythm pounding harsh inside his chest, faster and harder than she remembered from before.She tried once more to remember, though her thoughts flew away from her like startled birds.And then, a surge came through the connection she had to the mechanism, a blast that felt like a fist slamming through her chest.The connection disappeared, the band disappeared, and she took in a deep breath, her heart starting its familiar thump with an unsure rhythm that felt like a spike had been driven through it.She rolled onto her side and screamed.***Sounds drifted in and out, voices that Krysilla knew she recognized yet couldn’t place.Concerned, angry, and at one point, she thought she heard someone near her ear telling her he would never ask this of her again if she healed.Now and then, she felt different cold hands touching her forehead or neck, making her curl into a tight ball, then more voices.And in between were dreams of standing on a precipice, her sash the only thing holding her back from falling down into the terrible abyss with a sun at the bottom, waiting for her.She woke to silence.Cold gripped her bones, making her more aware than usual of the spell on her wrist.She was laying on the couch, several blankets piled on her.A chair scraped against the floor, footsteps across the sitting room and she heard Zhiv’s nephews ask if she was awake and her sister’s reply that she would see.She heard the faint sound of breathing and opened her eyes.Tira stood in front of her.“Did you die?” she said.“I’m not sure,” Krysilla whispered back.But even that took more effort than she had expected, and she fell asleep once more.When she opened her eyes again, it was dark.Nitty was touching her forehead and neck.“You awake?” she asked.“I’m not sure.” Krysilla’s throat felt dry.Was this how Zhiv felt after a fever? Her eyes felt as if someone had poured sand into them.“Good.Now, let me tell you, dear sister, that I expect you to pay me back for everything I’ve gone through so far.”“What?” Nitty tossed a folded piece of paper at her, a purple wax seal keeping it shut.She picked it up, and felt Zhiv’s fury within the spell, though she could also feel it tightly controlled.“First,” Nitty said, “your fiddler shoved me into a sack, leaving me to wait until Daegan showed up with Tira before I knew where I was.Next,” Krysilla squeezed her eyes shut, trying to listen, “we ended up spending weeks running, stealing food—stealing, Krysilla—just so that Tira wouldn’t faint from hunger.My clothes got ripped.I couldn’t even wash my face.For two weeks, Krysilla.Two weeks.And then, when we finally show up here, there’s hardly enough food to last more than a day or two.I’ve had to work to make it stretch, and even then, it was only because that fiddler’s wild nephews had the decency to show us what their uncle had taught them about wild plants that we were able to survive at all.”She’d forgotten that Nitty had never cared for wild harvesting.Rolling onto her back, Krysilla winced.If she’d been beaten until her ribs snapped, she doubted it could hurt worse than she did now.“And finally,” Nitty put a cool cloth on her forehead, “that fiddler of yours and Daegan put you through some sort of torture and I wake up to find them watching over you like two nervous healers about to lose a patient.And then he had the gall to greet me as if everything were fine, just a small bump in the road.” Nitty’s lips thinned into a hard line, though when she spoke again, her tone wasn’t as harsh as before.“If they hadn’t done such a good job taking care of you, I might have already snuck you out.”“Water, please,” Krysilla said.“Even when she’s nearly dead, she says please,” Nitty muttered.“You’re like the poor, sweet girls in the tales of the Blessed Ones.” She heard Nitty’s quick steps as she entered the kitchen, and the sound of water being poured.“They always did what they were told, always made sure they were kind to others, even when it killed them, and then, when—”“Enough,” Krysilla whispered.But Nitty hadn’t heard.“—they realize how much they’ve lost, a Blessed One appears with magic trailing from her wings.” She came back with a cup of water.Krysilla sat up, clenching her jaw against the pain that stabbed her chest.“Do you expect me to rearrange time for you as well?”“I’m sorry.I worried you.”Now, Nitty softened, and her eyes glistened with unshed tears [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]