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.The amber liquid tasted strangely refreshing.Bert wasn't sure what to make of that comment, or her hearty display of drinking.Something about the beautiful stranger made him uncomfortable.Almost grateful that he had other customers to attend to, he pushed a small mound of round steel pieces toward her."Here.Take these to get back on your feet," he said."If you're hungry, I'll get a boy to bring you food.""Thanks," she said, placing the steel pieces in her trouser pocket."I'm starving." The ale had warmed her belly in a pleasant way.She saw Bert signal to a whey-faced boy with badly chopped, ashen hair.The boy disappeared behind a swinging door, only to reappear within moments carrying a rough-cut square board covered with steaming food.Ner shy;vously averting his eyes from the pretty woman, he set the board on the counter before her.Onyx frowned at the ridiculously small portion."I'll need more," she ordered.Then, with her hands on the counter, she bent forward to sink perfect white teeth into the juicy drum shy;stick of a small bird.Some instinct stopped her.Hardly lifting her face from the platter, the dragon-turned-woman looked quickly from left to right.The other diners at the bar were watching her strangely.Some held odd, pointed pieces of metal poised above their food.Leaning back slowly, self-consciously, Onyx tried to emu shy;late the actions of the humans around her.Though she found the practice slow and cumbersome, she managed at last to spear a piece of potato on the point of the metal stick and placed it into her waiting mouth.Hot! Her tongue leaped back in her throat, and she spit the offending potato back onto her plate.More foolishness! Humans heated their food!Onyx impatiently allowed the potato to cool and placed it back into her mouth.It had been spiced.She had to admit that it tasted better than she would have expected from a root.Onyx waited for the steam to dissipate from the drumstick before taking a bite.It, too, had been heavily seasoned and was far superior to the raw, cold meat that had been her daily diet.Onyx cleaned the food from her plate.Then, taking a cue from her fellow diners, she licked the board clean.She was surprised to feel a familiar tightening in her stomach.She felt as full as if she'd eaten a moose.Groaning, Onyx pushed the empty board back, as well as the second full one the bewildered boy had placed before her.She had eaten-now what? Perhaps someone here had infor shy;mation about Dela, or even knew the man from the maynus.With that thought in mind, Onyx spun around on her seat and contemplated the occupants of the room over the rim of her second mug of ale.Many of the patrons still eyed the pretty young woman now and then, but for the most part they had returned to their conversations.Onyx looked toward the hearth on the short wall to the right of the taproom door.Seated before the roaring fire, at a large round table, were a number of tooth shy;less, paunchy men.After pushing coins toward the center of the table, they would roll some polished white cubes with black dots on each side.Every now and again one of them would leap back, yelp victoriously-as if he had just killed something-then scoop up the coins.At another long, narrow table, more than a handful of men were holding small, thick pieces of paper inscribed with pic shy;tures and words, which they would occasionally throw toward the center.After a number of these pictures had accu shy;mulated, someone would collect the money, while the others looked on grimly.Was this how humans "earned their money"?"Do you like to roll the bones?" said a honeyed voice at her elbow.Onyx turned to look at the speaker, then caught her bot shy;tom lip between her small human teeth in a slight gasp.Dark tendrils of shiny hair curled around his face and dropped to rest on broad shoulders.The cheekbones beneath his wide-set emerald eyes were high and arched above smooth, weath shy;ered skin.His full, almost purple lips, inside a short-clipped beard and mustache, pulled up into a smile that brought out crease lines around his eyes.Something about him looked strangely familiar.The green eyes … Onyx gasped again.The man from the globe."I usually kill anyone who stares at me for so long," he said, "especially with such penetrating eyes.You remind me of Vil, a snake I once kept as a pet." He looked almost coy."Are you as sly as a snake?""Huh?" Onyx tossed her hair back from her face, and the room tilted crazily.Keeping one hand on her mug, she grabbed her stool to stop the spinning in her head.What was wrong with her? Perhaps the food had been tainted….Grinning, the man took the mug of ale from her hands and pushed it down the polished length of the bar."It is also my policy to encourage women to drink until they're well past dizzy, but for some reason you inspire chivalry in me."The ale had made her light-headed? Too bad, she thought, it had tasted good."The name's Led."Onyx squinted up into his face, her expression blank."It's customary to respond with your name." The man gave her a penetrating look."Unless there's some reason you don't want me to know it.""No!" she said almost too quickly.Onyx touched her head."The ale has made me a touch slow-witted, is all," she man shy;aged, borrowing from Aggis."My name is Onyx.""How appropriate [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]