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.”Vanye watched the halfling lord, whose manner soon began to take on that languid abstraction he had seen in hall, that haze-eyed distance from the world.Here was Bydarra’s true, his qujalin son, the heir that surely the old lord would have preferred above Hetharu; but Kithan had arranged otherwise, a silent abdication, not alone from the defense he might have been to his father and his house, but from all else that surrounded him.Vanye regarded the man with disgust.But neither, he thought suddenly, had Kithan resorted to it last night, when a mob had murdered his people before his eyes; not then nor, he much suspected, despite what he had seen in that cell-had Kithan taken to it the hour that Bydarra was murdered, when he had been compelled to pay homage to his brother, stumbling when he tried to rise: his recovery after Hetharu’s departure from Ohtij-in had been instant, as if it were a different man.The akil was real enough; but it was also a convenient pose, a means of camouflage and survival: Vanye well understood the intrigues of a divided house.It might have begun in boredom, in the jaded tastes and narrow limits of Ohtij-in; or otherwise.I dreamed, Jhirun had wept, who looked further than the day, and could not bear what she saw.She had fled to Shiuan in hope; for the Shiua lord, there was nowhere to flee.Vanye stared at him, trying to penetrate that calm that insulated him, trying to reckon how much was the man and how much the akil-and which it was that had stood within his cell that night in Ohtij-in, coldly planning his murder only to spite Hetharu, by means doubtless lingering and painful.And Morgaine took them, Kithan and his men, who had no reason to wish her well: she delayed for them, while the halfling lord retreated into his dreams: he chafed at this, vexed even in their company.“This road,” Morgaine said suddenly, addressing Kithan, “goes most directly to Abarais.”Kithan agreed with a languorous nod of his head.“There is none other,” said Morgaine, “unmapped in your books.”“None horses might use,” said Kithan.“The mountains are twisted, full of stonefalls and the like; and of lakes; of chasms.There is only this way, save for men afoot, and no quicker than we go.You do not have to worry for the rabble behind us, but,” he added with a heavy-lidded smile of amusement, “you have the true lord of Ohtij-in ahead of you, with the most part of our strength, a-horse and armed, a mark less easy than I was in Ohtij-in.And they may afford you some little inconvenience.”‘To be sure,” said Morgaine.Kithan smiled, resting his elbows on the shelf of rock at his back; his pale eyes fixed upon her with that accustomed distance, unreachable.The men that were with him were alike as brothers, pale hair drawn back at the nape, the same profile, men dark-eyed, alike in armor, alike in attitude, one to his right, one to his left“Why are you with us?” Vanye asked.“Misplaced trust?”Kithan’s composure suffered the least disturbance; a frown passed over his face.His eyes fixed on Vanye’s with obscure challenge, and a languid pale hand, cuffed in delicate lace, gestured toward his heart.“On your pleasure, Barrows-lord.”“You are mistaken,” Vanye said.“Why,” asked Morgaine very softly, “are you with us, my lord Kithan, once of Ohtij-in?”Kithan tossed his head back and gave a silent and mirthless laugh, moved his wrist in the direction of the Suvoj.“We have little choice, do we not?”“And when we do meet with Roh and with Hetharu’s forces, you will be at our backs.”Kithan frowned.“But I am your man, Morgaine-Angharan.” He extended his long legs, crossed, before him, easy as a man in his own hall.“I am your most devoted servant.”“Indeed,” said Morgaine.“Doubtless,” said Kithan, regarding her with that same distant smile, “you will serve me as you served those who followed you to Ohtij-in.”“It is more than possible,” said Morgaine.“They were your own,” Kithan exclaimed with sudden, plaintive force, as if he pleaded something; and Jhirun, flinching, edged against the rocks at Vanye’s side.“They may have been once,” Morgaine said.“But those that I knew are long buried.Their children are not mine.”Kithan’s face recovered its placidity; laughter returned to his half-lidded eyes.“But they followed you,” he said.“I find that ironical.They knew you, knew what you had done to their ancestors, and still they followed you, because they thought you would make an exception of them; and you served them exactly as you are.Even the Aren-folk, who hate you, and tie up white feathers at their doorways-” He smiled widely and laughed, a mere breath.“A reality.A fixed point in all this reasonless universe.I am khal.I have never found a point on which to stand or a shrine at which to worship-til now.You are Angharan; you come to destroy the Wells and all that exists.You are the only rational being in the world.So I also follow you, Morgaine-Angharan.I am your faithful worshipper.”Vanye thrust himself to his feet, hand to his belt, loathing the qujal’s insolence, his mockery, his elaborate fancies: Morgaine should not have to suffer this, and did, for it was not her habit to avenge herself for words, or for other wrongs.“At your pleasure,” he said to Kithan.Kithan, weaponless, indicated so with an outward gesture, a slight hardness to his eyes.“Let be,” Morgaine said.“Prepare the horses.Let us be moving, Vanye.”“I might cut their reins and their girths for them,” said Vanye, scowling at the halfling lord and his two men, reckoning them, several, a moderately fair contest.“They could test their horsemanship with that, and we would not have to give them further patience.”Morgaine hesitated, regarding Kithan.“Let him be,” she said.“His courage comes from the akil.It will pass.”The insouciance of Kithan seemed stung by that.He frowned, and leaned against the lock staring at her, no longer capable of distance.“Prepare the horses,” she said.“If he can hold our pace, well; and if not-the Hiua will remember that he companied with me.”There was unease in the guards’ faces, a flicker of the same in Kithan’s; and then, with a bow, a taut smile: “Arrhthein,” he said to her.“Sharron a thrissn nthinn.”“Arrhtheis,” Morgaine echoed softly, and Kithan settled back with an estimating look in his eyes, as if something had passed between them of irony and bitter humor.It was the language of the Stones.I am not qujal, Morgaine had insisted to him once, which he believed, which he still insisted on believing.But when he had gone, at Morgaine’s impatient gesture, to attend the horses, he looked back at them, his pale-haired liege and the pale-haired qujal together, tall and slender, in all points similar; a chill ran through him [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]