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.” Varrik opened his eyes and glared at his misguided friend.“Unlike Sekall, I hold true to the Customs.”“Customs that were obsolete before we were born.” Bemzire wrapped his arm around a woman’s shoulders and drew her close against his side.Varrik didn’t know her name, didn’t allow himself to wonder.Females had only one purpose in the life of a Shadow Assassin and this woman had fulfilled hers.He glanced at the baby sleeping in her arms, ignoring the tightening in his chest.Soon it would be his turn to breed.“You have a strong, healthy son.” Varrik dragged his gaze away from the infant and focused on Bemzire.“Let that be enough.”“Enough for what? We are expected to remain in this prison, allowing others to dictate what gives meaning to our lives.” Bemzire stroked his son’s tiny face.Tension hardened his tone, yet his gaze remained tender.“With or without the elders’ consent, we’re leaving the Shadow Maze tonight.”“They will find you and kill you.You know the law.”Bemzire stepped closer, challenge flashing in his eyes.“I know it’s forbidden, but can you tell me why?”“You know why.”“I know the lies the elders use to control us.I want nothing more to do with the world below.”“There have always been lulls, shifts in power, and periods of waiting.We are above these things.We answer to a higher calling.” Varrik glanced at the woman.She remained silent and watchful as Bemzire argued their case.“Even if the elders allowed you to leave, how would you survive? You’re a criminal according to the world above.As soon as they realize where you came from, they will take you to the City of Tears.”“Then sweep my mind.The elders might not realize you have the gift, but I know you do.Use your ability on me, so I have nothing to reveal.”Varrik shook his head, his heart pounding in his chest.If one of the elders sensed the emotions raging in this room, they might join and penetrate his mental shields.He wasn’t ready to be a sweeper, was still too conflicted to embrace his destiny.“Sweeping your mind won’t keep the overlord from torturing you.If you think you’re a prisoner now, wait until you’ve spent some time in the City of Tears.”“Bemzire might have been trained as an assassin, but he has never taken a life.” The woman finally spoke.Her tone was calm, her expression resolute.“He’s a hunter, one of the leaders, a direct descendent from the south.” Varrik stared into her eyes, waiting for her to argue.She said nothing, so he drove the point home.“You were not the only woman taken during the hunt.Are all the females willing to forgive?”“It has to start somewhere,” Bemzire said firmly.Varrik turned back to his friend.“You didn’t answer my question.” He crossed his arms over his chest, gathering anger about him to drive back the pain.They were only repeating Sekall’s heresy, but the topic dredged up unwanted memories.Charismatic and shrewd, Sekall had been the biggest threat the elders had ever faced.So dangerous, in fact, he’d been silenced—while Varrik was forced to watch.“We will live a quiet life in some secluded settlement,” Bemzire told him.Varrik snorted.“Does she know how to plant and harvest? You’re certainly no farmer.” Bemzire raised his chin and reached for his sidearm.“You see.Lethal instincts and instantaneous reactions, cunning perception and faultless aim.The only vocation you’re qualified for is military, and the warlords won’t have you.”“I have other abilities.”“Ah, yes.You can create the illusion of invisibility and move small objects with your mind.What value does that have in the world above?” His crestfallen expression was answer enough.“You’re a hunter, Bemzire, a trained assassin.Don’t attempt to leave.They will kill you.One cycle with this female does not need to end your life.”“This is no life,” she sneered.“You accomplish nothing.You don’t even destroy.You’ve become ghosts with no purpose, obediently going through the motions of a meaningless existence.”He shot her so scathing a glare she took an automatic step backward.“You won’t remember his face come morning.You won’t remember anything at all.Now get out of my sight!”Varrik waited until they left to vent his aggravation.He kicked over a chair and released a string of curses that echoed off the cold stone walls.Through sheer force of will he kept memories of his brother buried deep in his mind.He had idolized Sekall, absorbed every word he spoke like a sponge [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]