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.Who knows? You might even trust me with your shoehorn.Chapter 5ConchologyLord Ikavi Garkim looked up from the interrogation.The man seated before him had been trembling and sobbing, spewing out an endless string of half-truths and untruths, never approaching the fact his mind shouted: the pirates had eaten like kings at this very pub just yesterday."If spies had been here, I would have poisoned them-""All right.Shut up," Garkim interrupted with a chopping movement of his hand.There was something else beckoning to him, an odor on the wind.It smelled like a beached leviathan, the stench of something once hidden in black brine but now exposed to sun and air.It was an odor of death.The mage-king.Always, Aetheric remained in contact with his right-hand man, as though Garkim were but another stone golem.Sometimes he could feel the mage-king gazing out through his own eyes, speaking through his own mouth.But almost never did Aetheric send his summons this way, a pungent and piteous scent.It was as though the mage-king himself were poisoned and dying.Garkim released the barkeep's shoulder, only then realizing he had grabbed hold of it.He stepped toward the door, though the motion was more a stagger.Whatever black humors coursed, paralyzing, through the mage-king coursed through Garkim, as well.He has made me, Garkim realized.His death would unmake me, just as surely.The clatter of an overturned plant stand broke into Garkim's reverie.He stumbled out the door, calling to the proprietor: "I go now.The mage-king is finished with you." He turned and shambled away.Behind him, the man's piteous laments only increased, as though Garkim had just pronounced a death sentence.If the mage-king truly were poisoned, it would be a death sentence for all Doegan…The palace.It was there, just there, above the rankling horizon of adobe and timbers.It was visible from every alley and court of the city.If only his legs would carry him that far.Garkim knew this city-every shop window and alleyway and secret door-but it suddenly seemed alien to him.It was not a city anymore-not his city-but an endless maze of mud and dun.Garkim moved along the street as if in a dream.The midday sun was gray despite the clear sky.The city usually knew him, too.Today, though, it recoiled from him.It knew something was terribly wrong.Mar and Ffolk alike disappeared in the lane before him, draining into whatever niches presented themselves.Hovels leaned away from the staggering lord.Bleached awnings hung dead still in the dread air.Even the mud street sucked in its belly as though shying beneath a creeping scorpion.What could it be? Was the mage-king dying? Had his body endured the final assault from the bloodforge? Had the paladins returned with some cursed hammer of Tyr that could smash through the wall of the mage-king's abode?If the mage-king fell, all Doegan would fall.He could hear nothing.Lips moved in the shadows of drawn curtains, wagon wheels tumbled hastily out of sight, but he could hear not a whisper.There was only a strange, omnipresent groan, as of the world itself rolling over in restless sleep.The city fell away in ten thousand numb steps and at last, suddenly, Garkim staggered into the blue shadow of the palace.He crossed the stair bridge above the dry moat and bulled his way past the gate guards who had stepped in to bar his way.There was a touch of Aetheric's own strength in this melancholy that had settled over Lord Garkim; one of the guards went down clutching cracked ribs, and the other was knocked unconscious by an errant elbow.Seeing what had happened to the first guards, the second pair let Garkim through without requesting a password.He took no notice of them.They were like roaches clinging to the curved belly of the tunnel he walked.The very stones were warped by the Mage-King's deep, horrific sorrow.How could the guards not sense it? How could they be so oblivious to this recursive dread?The curvature seemed greater with each step, until individual stones stretched in eerie shapes around Garkim.It was as though he were walking within a glass globe.The world outside was bent into utter absurdity.His eyes could not tell him whether he stood in the crescent hallway before the audience chamber or on the highest parapet atop the tower.But he didn't need eyes [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]