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.He was enraged they’d wandered off with the orcs.He’d have to incinerate an ogre to teach the rest a lesson.*“It’s too dangerous to try to cross the open lands beyond the stream while the soldiers are still flushed with excitement,” Saxthor said.“They’ll be alert and looking for movement.We’ll have to camp here in the hills tonight.”They moved higher on the mountain behind a peak, well out of sight of the fortress.Just as Tonelia was about to light the fire, Bodrin dropped down and grabbed her hand.“What is it?” Tonelia asked.“Look there just beyond the trees down by the stream, you see it?”The moonlight just highlighted the wraith’s black form searching the battlefield.“Saxthor, Tournak, get down.Be quiet.” Bodrin pointed.The four watched the wraith.When Bodrin moved, his arm bumped Tonelia.Saxthor saw her flinch, exposing the goose bumps covering her arm.Tonelia glanced at Saxthor.“I do hate those things.”The wraith was very clever.Passing through the battlefield, it came to where the Tossledorn troops discovered the unconscious orc.“The wraith knows there’s more in play than soldiers, orcs, and ogres,” Saxthor said.“Look how it’s moving side to side.It knows something is amiss.”“I bet it wishes it had a ghoul,” Tournak said.“Feeding on the dead, a ghoul’s sense of smell is more acute.”“Wraiths and ghouls-- what do we do? It’s going to track us down.” Tonelia rubbed her arm.“I’ll never forget the wraith and those ogres that snatched me in Talok Tower.” She shuddered and Bodrin wrapped his arms around her.“You can only destroy wraiths with extraordinary energy or sunlight,” Tournak said.“Sorblade’s power and bolts of wizard-fire colliding destroyed the two in Talok Tower.This one won’t like telling the Dark Lord it lost so many troops.We’ll have to dodge it and hope it doesn’t find us.It’ll hide from its master so long as it can.”They hid and watched all night.At dawn, they slipped down the hill, over the stream, and into the marsh beyond.* * *For a diversion, Magnosious was lying on his back up on the hilltop above his lair, flaming unsuspecting vultures that soared on thermals to The Crypt.The dragon liked to blend in against the rocks, then at the last second, snort a tiny flame.If his aim and timing were just so, he could sear a buzzard, cooking it rare, then catch and swallow it in one gulp before it hit the ground.“Magnosious! Don’t pick your teeth in public.How many times must I tell you that? Come down from there,” irate Earwig said.Magnosious rolled over onto his great belly and stood up, shaking off the rocks and briars stuck between his bronze scales.He flicked a wing feather from his fangs with a fingernail.“I need to find a piece of that nasty rose,” Earwig said to the dragon landing beside her.“Surely you didn’t incinerate all of it.Help me find a few thorns for a potion.”“Thorns for what?”“Never mind why, just help me find that rose.”“I can’t see anything that small,” the dragon said, watching a buzzard circle overhead.“Well if you hadn’t gobbled up the servants, I might have someone to help me look.Now you find a piece of it before I tear up a piece of you.”“I’ll get you a piece of it,” Magnosious said.He stamped about, pretending to look for the rose, trampling everything else in the weed patch in the process.Only the poison ivy on the castilyernov walls seemed to have recovered and thrived.“I found a piece!” Earwig picked up the finger length shoot with a long pair of tongs.Cackling at her good fortune, she hobbled off with her prize.Magnosious looked up and toasted the buzzard, whose circling overhead was one tease too many.In the tower, the witch carefully snipped off the black thorn tips and ground the lethal fungus to a fine powder.The powder she poured over a tray of fresh horse dung.She added ground dead bats and then scattered the spores of the Bloody Death mushrooms over top of that.She took the tray down to tower’s dark, dank cellar at its root.“I’ve grown mushrooms in this cellar for years,” she said to herself as she climbed the worn stairs.“It’s been my favorite gardening project.It soothes my nerves to watch something feed off rotting things and grow into such a luscious, spongy creation.Infused with the rose fungus, those mushrooms should radiate death.Their recipient should expire on contact.” She clasped her hands at the thrilling thought and chuckled so hard she lost her balance and fell over backwards down the staircase.*Duke Minnabec rarely left his counting room in Earwighof’s cellar anymore.Once he hobbled out front to his coach for a trip to the tax office.He looked around and noted all the poison ivy on the walls, the cactus with exceptional spines by the walks, and poison oak pruned to globes as centerpieces for beds of stinging nettles.Mock orange with five-inch thorns grew under the windows, and barberry hedges edged other beds.He’d thought the place had changed a lot with Irkin’s attention to detail.How nice that she’d turned her attention to gardening in her declining years.*Earwig checked the mushrooms daily [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]