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.Anvar lay in the gutter - where he belonged, the Archmage thought spitefully - sobbing quietly."Get up, you!" Miathan unleashed his rage with a vicious kick, but his victim simply whimpered, and lay there unmoving."Oh Gods - this is all I need!" Miathan muttered savagely.With angry, magically impelled strength, he lifted Anvar and threw him roughly across his saddle.He tried not to look at the boy's face, with its resemblance to Ria.She's dead now, he reminded himself.Dead at last.As he led the horse down the steeply sloping lane toward the bridge, Miathan found himself wondering how she had managed to hide herself and her son for all these years.Had she known she would have allowed her to bear this half, to allow himself to be allured by a Mortal in the first place!It was part of Miathan's Magefolk arrogance that he had nothing but contempt for the Mortals with whom he shared his world and his city, thinking of them as little more than animals.It was particularly unfortunate for Anvar that his discovery had come at this time, when the Archmage was still smarting from Aurian's defection, and her unfortunate, unanticipated friendship with the despised and lowly race.Because he was anxious to retain her respect and goodwill, in order to foster his future plans for her, he had been forced into the invidious and humiliating position of making concessions to Forral and Vannor that he would never otherwise have countermanded.Already, the Archmage was beginning to regret bringing the swordsman back into Aurian's life - the very same Mortal who had corrupted his one-time friend Geraint with those ridiculous ideas of rights for Mortals! But at least Aurian was younger, more easily influenced, Miathan mused.And she must be influenced! This very day, his plans had taken a new and unexpected turn, when the young Mage had returned to the Academy.A mere month's absence had turned the child into a woman! Miathan had been stunned by the difference that was not merely due to her new clothing.He saw her sudden awakening, the new yet innocent air of maturity, the awareness of her female self that cloaked her in an aura of unconscious sensuality.It stirred feelings within him that he believed he'd put away long ago in favor of cold ambition.How it had galled the Archmage that some clod of a Mortal - and one that he himself had summoned, at that - had been the one to bring about this transformation! Now, suddenly, he found that he wanted Aurian for himself - and by all the Gods, she belonged to him, not that unworthy, low-born animal of a swordsman! Still, he had both the will and the opportunity to win her back - and in the meantime, he had another Mortal - one to whom he also owed a debt of revenge, for daring to exist in defiance of his wishes - upon whom to vent his wrath.It was night outside the Mages' Tower.Anvar stood blinking in the warm lamplight of the Archmage's opulent quarters, still half drugged and hardly aware of what was happening to him.His legs ached from climbing the endless spiral of steps that had led to this room, and his body was scored and bruised from being brutally hauled through the streets.His arms and wrists were in a fire of agony from the merciless pulling of Miathan's rope, and he was confused and terrified.What was he doing here? Why had the Archmage taken him away from his home? Were the Magefolk intending to punish him for his part in his mother's death? Anvar choked back a sob.Why, why had he not been on time this morning? It was all his fault! But why had his father sent him away with Miathan? Did Tori really hate him that much?Miathan propelled him roughly to a seat and stood glaring down at him with the cold of a thousand winters in his eyes.Anvar began to tremble."So," the Archmage said harshly."After all these years you've turned up to plague me! I had planned to have you destroyed before you were born, had your wretched mother not run away.Still, you may have your uses."He placed a hand on either side of Anvar's head.Anvar gasped with pain.It felt as though his brains were being wrenched inside out.Doubling over, he vomited onto the floor."Imbecile!" The blow from the Archmage's fist rocked his head back on his shoulders.Anvar tried to cringe away, but Miathan caught hold of his hair and hung a sparkling, flatfish crystal on a silver chain round his neck."I will not tolerate a mongrel joining the ranks of the Magefolk," he said."You may have power - but I'll soon take care of that!" He lifted his staff, crying out some words in a strange and convoluted tongue.The crystal round Anvar's neck blazed with a sudden, unearthly light.Anvar screamed out in agony and collapsed on the floor clutching at his head, feeling as though the very life were being sucked out of his body.He was dimly aware that Miathan was removing the crystal, and when the pain subsided and his vision cleared, he saw the Archmage hanging it around his own neck with a smug smile."So much for your powers," he said."Now they belong to me.Just one more refinement, I think, before we send you where you belong, you half-breed bastard!"Once more he put his hands on Anvar's head, and held his terrified gaze with burning eyes.Anvar felt as though a band of icy steel were being clamped tightly about his brow."Can you feel it?" The Archmage asked."It will be with you for the rest of your life, Anvar.Normally you won't even notice its presence - but if you try to tell anyone what you did today, or about your Magefolk heritage - if you even try to think about it - that band will tighten, causing you unspeakable agony.If you persist, it will kill you, make no mistake."There was a knock at the door."Enter," Miathan called.A huge man with greasy black hair and a brutish face entered the chamber.He bowed deferentially to the Archmage, flicking a puzzled glance at Anvar, who still huddled, groaning, on the floor."You sent for me, Sir?""Indeed I did, Janok." Miathan beamed."I was told of your complaint that you're short of help in the kitchens, and I have a new bondservant for you.He comes from a baker's family, so he may be of some use to you.His father gave him over to me - after he killed his own mother."Janok frowned."Sir, you want me to take a murderer into my kitchen?""Don't worry," Miathan said blithely."He's a cowardly little brute at best.Treat him as he deserves, and you should have no trouble.If he proves too much for you to cope with, you may, of course, refer the matter to me." His eyes were steely with an unspoken threat."Very well.Sir," Janok mumbled, defeated but obviously unhappy."Come here, you."He went to Anvar, and taking a handful of his shirt, lifted him bodily off the floor.As he was dragged out, the last thing that Anvar saw was A smirk of cruel satisfaction on Miathan's face.The Archmage was gloating.Chapter 8BONDAGEAs usual, Anvar never saw the sly foot that tripped him.- He was carrying the heavy bin full of meat offal and vegetable peelings toward the kitchen's outer door when there was a sharp pain in his ankle.Then he was down, sprawling on the flagstones that he had scrubbed only this morning, in a welter of blood and stinking garbage.The Head Cook's furious bellow silenced the titters of the other kitchen workers."Stupid, clumsy oaf!" Janok's heavy boot caught Anvar hard in the stomach, in the ribs, and in the face.Seizing a broom that had been propped against the wall, Janok began to beat him, cursing him all the while.Anvar howled as the heavy shank struck down repeatedly on his back and shoulders [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]