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.If Ferremo looked too closely, he was sure to figure her out.She gripped the lockpicks hard enough to make her hands ache, as the charge within the lock shoved them away and sent a thrill of electricity through her body.She concentrated on the weight of the tools, the shape of the handles, the feel of the metal.She remembered shaping her first lockpick, from a scrap of tin and a lava stone, shaving off the metal layer by layer, she holds it up to her eye—blue, no, brown—and studies the curve, smooth shallow—Nestrix shook her head and drove the memory away.She concentrated on her hands holding the picks.She tilted the wire up into the tumblers.She remembered using a plank of wood, wedging the end under a stone, and the little dark-haired girl, push down, Wenda, push down and the stone goes up, rolls a little more—Gods hrast it! Who was Wenda? Nestrix glanced up.Dareun had cast a spell into the blackness of the passageway and was ordering his men to watch the entrance.She remembered creeping along a dark passage, her foot coming down on the wrong tile, lightning blooms out of nothing, out of nowhere, and shakes my bones, burns my skin—The crates toppled over, clipping one of the men Dareun had called.The sound drove Nestrix from her thoughts.Tennora stood, her features set in a fierce mask, her blade dancing as if she'd held it all her life.All eyes went to Tennora, Nestrix's included.She turned back to the lock, willing herself not to think about what was going to happen if she didn't break free.Are you punishing me? Nestrix thought.You want me to die too? Without me you are lost, thief.Gone.Scattered to the four winds.Give me what we both need.The memories shifted.A child, a girl with black hair and blue eyes, watched the desert as the Spellplague ripped across it.Her hair turns blonde and then black and then she flickers into the shape of a blue wyrmling—Wenda, and that is how she died.Or didn't die, and a hundred years spin by and the mystery remains.She is gone to her grave one way or another, but the mystery haunts the haunting.Give me what I need and I will find out what happened to her, Nestrix thought.I don't have the time for your nonsense.Nestrix—Nestrix the woman—with a shard of glass or bruised fists or a broken plank or the storm that rises out of her belly fighting, fighting because she is angry, because she is lonely, because she is lost, and sometimes the blood and the bruises drive the anger and the pain away and sometimes they don't.Sometimes it isn't Nestrix who gets into these fights but a woman with honey blonde hair who strangled to death a long time ago.Neither is sated.Neither knows where she's going.Neither is truly alive.Better to be dead.You selfish beast, Nestrix thought, struggling with the lock-picks.You miss your child? Well, so do I.So does this boy's mother miss him.It doesn't entitle you to doom us all.Nestrix taunting Dareun—What do I care? I have nothing left.She looked up at Tennora, flicking her throwing blades across the room, her face pale.A bolt of energy seared across the room, nearly catching Nestrix's ear.She threw herself to the side and into the boy as it passed, smacking against the wall beyond.Scraps of mold sprayed outward, as well as shattered rock.A piece the size of the boy's heart tumbled to a stop by her knees.Antoum's eyes went wide."Closed," Nestrix reminded him, and she picked up the rock in both hands.If the thiefs memories wouldn't help, she'd do it her way.The edges of the rock cut her palms as she smashed it against the body of the lock.The metal didn't give as easily as she hoped, and the shock of it trembled up her arm.Again and again she slammed the stone into the lock.The body dented and twisted.She would never be able to pick the lock now.Tennora cried out.Nestrix looked up and saw she stood close—too close—to Ferremo, clutching her stomach.Nestrix nearly cried out with her.She slammed the rock down twice more, the shackle stretching and weakening but refusing to break.It had to break.Dareun's curse raced across the room.Tennora gasped as it seized her.The spell that followed was colder, crueler than what he'd done before, and the power of it drove a scream from Tennora and forced her to her knees."No!" Nestrix shouted.She smashed the rock down again, and—Here, look here, the old man says, and Nestrix-Lyra looks, and he points to the junction of the body and the shackle opposite the locking mechanism and says, here is the weak spot, this is where the lock is most vulnerable.If you cannot tease it open, break it here.With all her strength, Nestrix brought the rock down on the corner of the lock.A spatter of electricity burst out, enough to sting the backs of her hands with a dozen tiny burns.Nestrix cast the rock aside and twisted the lock out of its latch.The door opened.Dareun fired another bolt just as his minion stepped into its path.The man stumbled into her as she surged out the door.Breaking his neck was a matter of instinct, the way she might have snapped a camel or a marlin to stop it from flailing.Her blood pounded like thunder.Dareun looked up at her, astonished and angry."Come now, wyrmling.Throwing away a piece? That was just foolish." She glanced over at Tennora, still on one knee, and at the assassin, who had regained himself and had both knives out and ready."Ah-ah, lovac," she said in a taunting tone."Step aside.You don't want to be caught in the middle of this.""She bluffs," Dareun said."Of course not," Nestrix said."I'm mad, remember? Mad enough to use everything in my power to make you two suffer.And I warned you I don't play xorvintaal."Dareun stepped back, building up another spell, waiting for her to attack him with the gods only knew what.Nestrix smiled; as she wasn't a taaldarax, she hadn't lost her powers.Ferremo eyed her with a tense curiosity, flipping a knife over and over in his hand.Tennora sprang up, still clutching her wound with one hand, and slashed Ferremo behind the knee.He shouted as his leg buckled under him and the knife he had been playing with flew loose and clattered to the floor.Dareun's attention turned to his wounded lovac just long enough for Nestrix to bolt across the room and tackle him, her cape fluttering behind her.Whatever spell he had planned fizzled and vanished, and he fought to force her off him.But Nestrix was stronger.With her battered fists, she cracked the fallen taaldarax across the jaw, over and over.In a way, she was mad—mad and wild and fighting like a beast and not a dokaal.Gleeful at the chance to harm Dareun, to humiliate him—with his spells and his minions—begging to be released from a weapon as presumably weak as her two fists.He cried out, and layered beneath the cry was a green dragon's fluty roar.He seized her wrists again and twisted.Nestrix pulled back, and he was suddenly twisting on top of her, slamming her back into the ground.As they fell, she pulled her knee up and punched it into his ribs.He pinned her legs and held them so she could not kick again."Ferremo!" he cried."To me!"His face contorted with pain.He released Nestrix's left wrist and reached behind himself.With a grunt of pain he pulled a crossbow bolt from his ribs.Nestrix looked over his shoulder.Mucky and bleeding from a gash to the forehead, the bounty hunter wound the crossbow once more and dropped another bolt into place."In the name of the crown of Cormyr and the Lords of Waterdeep, lay down your arms." He hesitated for a moment, then added, "Andareunarthex."EIGHTEENJorik surveyed the wreckage of the apartment once occupied by Tennora Hedare.Papers lay burnt and torn everywhere, not a piece of furniture upright and whole.A fight between two parties had done it, he was certain.Its traces lay in the blast patterns that smeared the opposing walls, the layer stripped away from the tabletop someone had hidden behind.The wizard boy said it had looked like that when he'd seen it last."There was a man," he said."Actually three men and a woman, and the Tethyrian [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]