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.For the greater protection of those inside, the building had no windows, and the smell of mold was all-pervasive.Today was worse than ever.The smell clogged his nose and gave him a swelling pain behind his eyes.Due to the pain and the pressure, he was listless and lethargic, found it difficult to think.“This will never do,” he said to himself and was just about to leave the room to take a refreshing walk outside when his second-in-command, a Knight named Dumat, knocked at the wooden door.The Marshal glowered, returned to seat himself behind the desk, and gave a horrific snort in an effort to clear his nose.Taking the snort for permission to enter, Dumat came in, carefully shutting the door behind him.“He’s here,” he said, with a jerk of his thumb over his shoulder.“Who is it, Dumat?” Medan asked.“Another draco?”“Yes, my lord.A bozak.A captain.He’s got two baaz with him.Bodyguards, I’d say.”Medan gave another snort and rubbed his aching eyes.“We can handle three dracos, my lord,” said Dumat complacently.Dumat was a strange man.Medan had given up trying to figure him out.Small, compact, dark-haired, Dumat was in his thirties, or so Medan supposed.He really knew very little about him.Dumat was quiet, reserved, rarely smiled, kept to himself.He had nothing to say of his past life, never joined the other soldiers in boasting of exploits either on the battlefield or between the sheets.He had come to the Knighthood only a few years earlier.He told his commander only what was necessary for the records and that, Medan had always guessed, was probably all lies.Medan had never been able to figure out why Dumat had joined the Knights of Neraka.Dumat was not a soldier.He had no love for battle.He was not prone to quarreling.He was not sadistic.He was not particularly skilled at arms, although he had proven in a barracks brawl that he could handle himself in a fight.He was even-tempered, though there were smoldering embers in the dark eyes that told of fires burning somewhere deep inside.Medan had never been more astonished in his life than the day almost a year ago when Dumat had come to him and said that he had fallen in love with an elven woman and wanted to make her his wife.Medan had done all he could to discourage relations between elves and humans.He was in a difficult situation, dealing with explosive racial tensions, trying to retain control of a populace that actively hated its human conquerors.He had to maintain discipline over his troops, as well.He laid down strict rules against rape and those who, in the early days of the elven occupation, broke the rules were given swift, harsh punishment.But Medan was experienced enough in the strange ways of people to know that sometimes captive fell in love with captor and that not all elf women found human males repulsive.He had interviewed the elf woman Dumat wanted to marry, to make certain she was not being coerced or threatened.He found that she was not some giddy maiden, but a grown woman, a seamstress by trade.She loved Dumat and wanted to be his wife.Medan represented to her that she would be ostracized from the elven community, cut off from family and friends.She had no family, she told him, and if her friends did not like her choice of husband, they were no true friends.He could not very well argue this point, and the two were married in a human ceremony, since the elves would not officially recognize such a heinous alliance.The two lived happily, quietly, absorbed in each other.Dumat continued to serve as he had always done, obeying orders with strict discipline.Thus, when Medan had to decide which of his Knights and soldiers he could trust, he had chosen Dumat as among those few to remain with him to assist in the last defense of Qualinost.The rest were sent away south to assist the Gray Robes in their continuing fruitless and ludicrous search for the magical Tower of Wayreth.Medan had told Dumat plainly what he faced, for the Marshal would not lie to any man, and had given him a choice.He could stay or take his wife and depart.Dumat had agreed to stay.His wife, he said, would remain with him [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]