on end. No one who’d lived here through a De

Author : aleksejanrusenkov
Publish Date : 2021-04-12 14:18:39


on end. No one who’d lived here through a De

https://nadams.instructure.com/eportfolios/3949 https://nadams.instructure.com/eportfolios/3895 https://mau.instructure.com/eportfolios/4389 https://mau.instructure.com/eportfolios/4406 https://mau.instructure.com/eportfolios/4316 house one little bit. And it was the night the sword-monks came. What if it was one of them?’ ‘No!Think, boy! If there’s one thing I’ve tried to teach you, it’s that you look for the money. Never mind who it was you whacked on the nose — although whether you think you’d ever manage to do that to a sword-monk is maybe something you should ponder while you’re training with them — whose purse were they taking, that’s the question! Some priest?’ He laughed and shook his head. ‘There’s Talsin’s heirs, they’re none too pleased with who’s on the throne. Maybe the Overlord himself. You think the sort of man who pays a snuffer to murder a prince is going to let an urchin from Shipwrights’ bring him down? And then yes, there’s the assassin himself. He killed two men. Slit their throats. He’s a cold snuffer, that one. Did you know … no, how would you? The soldiers at the Watchman’s Arms were poisoned, quite a few of them. Not a killing poison, but a sleeping draught to make them dopey, and that means that whoever he was, he was in the Arms earlier that night. Chances are it was one of the prince’s own men who did it. You going to go to Varr to look for him? Drop it, Berren. You stopped a murder, you got your reward. Leave it at that.’ Berren was shaking his head.‘The soldiers he had were all big. The man I saw was our sort of size.’ Master Sy groaned.‘Leave it, Berren. You chase after that snuffer, he’ll kill you the moment he gets a sniff of you. Stick to your lessons and keep your head down.’ Master Sy stood up once more. ‘Live to fight another day, eh? Just this once.’ He creaked his way up the stairs and went to his room and closed the door. Before long, the house shook softly with his snoring. Live to fight another day? For what? Berren mulled that one over. Like Master Sy always said:I’m not a thief-taker for Kol’s silver, I’m a thief-taker because I don’t like thieves. He got up and headed off for The Eight. On his way out, he thumbed his nose at the thief-taker’s snores. 14MORE THAN A PASSING INTEREST He went looking for the justicar, but it turned out that Kol wasn’t in The Eight that day and Berren eventually went back to the temple at dawn on Sun-Day with no idea where else to go. For the rest of that week he spent his days with Tasahre, watching the other monks, singling them out one by one, reading how they moved, how they fought, and, where he could, what they looked like from behind leaping up a wall. They were the right build, short and lithe southerners. Some of them went missing now and then — he saw that now. He asked, but Tasahre shook her head. That was business of the order and not his concern, she told him, and so he didn’t bother asking the others; still, as the week drew on, he watched. Different monks disappeared each day, usually just one or two of them but sometimes half a dozen. They were always missing in the morning and at midday but back for the afternoon. When he approached any of them, they simply walked away. None of them would talk to him, not even a word of greeting. The only time he got close to most of them was late in the afternoon in the fighting circle, and then only for as long as it took for them to bash him on the head with the flat of a sword, bow and walk away. Whoever had been in the scent garden, they’d gone away with a bloodied nose. He would have remembered if one of the monks had had a swollen face, wouldn’t he? And Master Sy was right, he couldn’t imagine ever catching one of them so off-guard. The black-powder smell bothered him too. Did monks use black powder? He hadn’t seen any. Maybe he was wrong and it had been someone else, but that thought only made him even more determined. The Eight was on his way home from the temple, near enough. Kol was never there but he found Master Fennis and Master Velgian and asked them both to put a word in for him. The days passed. The city fell into the madness of the Spring Festival— even Master Sy took a few nights off from watching the Two Cranes or whatever it was he did and took Berren down to the Abyss-Day celebrations at the docks — and then blearily nursed its hangover. The month of Rebirth gave way to the month of Floods and the river began to swell, living up to the name of the season hundreds of miles away around the City of Spires. Berren might have slowly forgotten his assassin, except that every day as he practised with Tasahre, he kept seeing in her shape a flicker of the silhouette he’d seen leaping the wall of the Watchman’s Arms. It was about a month since he’d started with the sword-monks when he came out of the temple in the evening to find Master Sy slouched by the gates waiting for him, arms folded over his chest and looking cross. ‘The Eight,’ he said shortly. ‘Kol wants to talk to you. Apparently you’ve been asking questions.’ He almost frogmarched Berren across Deephaven Square and down the Avenue of the Sun. ‘Told you to leave it be, didn’t I?’ They reached Four Winds Square, marched past the courthouse and down the narrow street that ran beside it, past the bronze octopus fountain and into the ivy-covered frame of The Eight. Kol was sitting there at his usual table and he had most of his thief-takers around him. As Berren and Master Sy came in, Kol short bloke who’s got a mean streak but can’t actually do much witha sword.’ ‘Why, I do believe I’m looking at one now!’ Master Mardan smiled back at the justicar. He was getting up though, and so were the others. ‘Gods, Mardan, any funnier and people might mistake you for the clown you are.’ Berren started to rise too, but Kol glared at him. ‘Not you, boy. Got more questions for you.’ When Mardan and Fennis and Orimel were gone, Kol got up. He came over to Berren and sat down in the chair beside him, where Master Sy had been before he left. ‘Your master. What’s he up to? Why’s he not biting on this?’ Berren shrugged.‘Don’t know. Said it was too dangerous. Said there was no prize in it and I’d just get myself killed and he had something else to be getting on with.’ ‘Aye.’ Kol looked troubled. ‘Well, he might have a point or two there. But what’s this other thing he’s got to be getting on with?’ ‘I …’ Berren bit his lip. ‘Maybe I shouldn’t say.’ ‘He’s after whoever killed Kasmin, right?’ Berren tried not to say anything but his face must have spoken for him. Kol nodded. ‘Thought so. Been doing some digging around that myself. Not sure he should be the one telling you about getting their fingers burned. He’s stalking a sea-captainfrom Kalda who calls himself the Headsman, right?’ Again, Berren’s face must have given him away. ‘Kelm’s Teeth, boy, remind me not to trust you with any ofmy secrets— it’s like reading a bloody book. Anyway, that warehouse where you had your little fracas, I looked into that. The Headsman’s renting a part of it. You know who else rents a space there? Saffran Kuy. The warlock.’ ‘The witch-doctor from the House of Cats and Gulls?’ For a moment, Berren couldn’t contain himself. ‘Call him that if you want. Not my cup of tea, even if Syannis gets along with him somehow. You know what the Headsman’s got up there?’ Berren shook his head. ‘Neither do I. When you find out, make sure I get to hear about it. I don’t care which one of you tells me, but one of you better had. Got it?’ Berren nodded quickly and almost jumped out of his chair.‘I’d better go. It’s late. Swords in the morning. Supposed to be at temple for dawn still.’ At the door, Berren paused. ‘That purse you left for us. There was more in it than was owed. So what’s Master Sy doing foryou?’ For a long time the justicar sat and stared at Berren. Then he took a deep breath.‘I’ve known Syannis for ten years, Berren, and I knew Kasmin for longer. I know you all think I’m a heartless bastard who wouldn’t part with a single penny unless there was something in it for me, and for three hundred and eleven days of the year you might well be right. That was the three hundred and twelfth. Staying alive, that’s what he’s doing for me. Now get lost before I ask for it back.’ 15A TIGER BY THE TAIL Berren ran outside, past the fountain and up the street into Four Winds Square. He was already yawning. Good food and plenty of it, a day full of hard work and he was ready for bed and a good night’s sleep. There’d be a few sharp words from Master Sy on messing with matters that didn’t concern him when he got home, no doubt. He was two streets away from the thief-taker’s house when a silhouette stepped out of an alley in front of him. Berren skittered to a stop on the wet stones of the street. He froze there for a second. The silhouette was of a shortish man with two swords over his back. The man who’d murdered two imperial guardsmen, who’d had the audacity to try and take the life of the imperial prince himself. Now he was standing in the street, only a dozen paces away. The assassin slowly drew his swords, one in each hand. For that first moment, Berren was sure he was about to die. ‘I know who you are, Berren.’ The moment passed. Other thoughts followed: that it was dark but still long short of midnight and others might come this way at any moment; that he’d beaten this man once before, in the scent garden; that he wasn’t far from home and Master Sy; and then a last thought came along, slower than the others yet more pressing. Why step out in front of him? Why be seen at all? Why not a shadow in the dark with a short curved knife and a throat-slitting flick of the wrist and away into the night, unseen? So he held his ground. The assassin growled.‘There’s no purse to killing you, boy. Do youwant to live?’ The man’s face was lost in the shadow of a deep hood. ‘If youdo want to live, put your justicar off my scent. I’ll be watching both of you. If you don’t, the next time I see you, I’ll kill you. Do you understand? Now run!’ The assassin’s voice was thick and guttural, a bit like the archer from the warehouse roof. Berren took two steps backwards and then stopped. ‘No.’ He drew out his waster. This wasn’t right at all. ‘Who are you?’ ‘Your death, curse you boy!’ The assassin hesitated an instant before he charged, both swords raised. Berren knew he ought to run, that Master Sy would tell him he was mad to stand fast; but he’d fought against sword-monks now; he’d beaten this man once before, and there was something … somethingwrong about the way this assassin held his swords, something about the way the assassin came at him that wasn’t right, as though it was all a bluff. The swords had happened, trying to put it all together in his head as he did, as if that might bring some sense to it. When he was done, he was no better off than when he started. ‘Velgian?’ Kol rubbed his face, struggling with disbelief. Berren nodded. He could see quite clearly now how the poet thief-taker must have been the man in the scent garden. Everything about him was right, right size, not the best swordsman, moved the right way, everything. But why? Why would he do it? Even Kol seemed bemused. ‘For a purse filled with the Emperor’s h



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