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Ian added,  Or for your corpse if you give us reason.Please . . . give us a
reason.
Ry twisted his head slowly, fractionally, until he could lookupward out of the
corner of his left eye. Kait saw the initialbewilderment in his face give way
to shock.
 Ian?
 At least you remember me. And now the situation isreversed, isn t it? After
all these years, your life is in myhands. Ian kept his voice low and said,
 And I vesworn to have your life . . . brother.
So will you dietoday?
Kait stared from one to the other. Brother? Ian was Ry s brother
? She closed her eyes for just an instant. What werethe odds that she could
love the brother that she couldn thave, and have the brother she didn t love,
all the while notknowing they were brothers? She would have screamed at
thecoincidence, but it wouldn t be a coincidence, would it? Thegods had their
sticky fingers deep in her life, and they weretoying with her. Having fun at
her expense. Planning traps for heras carefully as she d planned this trap for
Ry.
 What in the hells did I ever do to you? Rymuttered.
 Pretend you don t know and watch how fast I killyou. Ian kicked him in the
ribs.
Kait grabbed Ian and snarled,  Stop it.
From the top of the ridge, Ry s friend called down, Let him go. We ll kill all
of you to get him if we haveto.
Kait reluctantly turned her attention from Ry and Ian and thestrange drama
enacting itself between them.  Don t wasteyour breath. First, I know you re
there alone. Second, theblade at his throat has been dipped in refaille.
If wedon t like the way you blink your eyes, he ll die beforeyou can do it
twice.
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Yanth, after a moment s pause, apparently came to theconclusion that he didn t
have the upper hand. Don t hurt him. I m listening. Tell me what youwant.
Kait said,  Go back to your ship. Bring the captain andyour parnissa back to
shore, and wait for us by the graves.We ll meet you there.
 What guarantee do I have that you won t kill Ry if Ileave him here with you?
Kait said,  If he s dead, we ll have no hope ofnegotiating with your people,
nor any hope of surviving aconfrontation. As long as he obeys us he ll come to
noharm.
Under his breath, Ian muttered,  Not today, in anycase.
* * *
The negotiators stood on the beach with therolling pulse of the incoming tide
growling behind them. Kaitstudied the parnissa, a cold-eyed young man who
looked as though hespent every spare moment in the study of the warrior arts,
and thecaptain, who looked to Kait both sensible and patient. Theparnissa s
robes were of bright silk, in greens and golds,heavily embroidered with the
sacred symbols of Iberism: the eye ofwatchfulness, the hand of
industriousness, the sword of truth, thescales of justice, the nine-petaled
flower of wisdom. The captain,too, had dressed to show his status: the green
and silver silks ofthe Sabir Family but cut in the traditional Rophetian
fashion, aheavy silver chain around his neck stamped with the insignia of
thegod Tonn, and silver beads braided into his beard andshoulder-length hair.
Yanth stood behind both of them, his silkshirt and leather breeches both black
as an executioner s. Hekept his hand on his sword and glared at her.
Kait knew how she looked to them  a waif-thin woman in theworn and patched
rags of the lowliest of sailors, wearing a deadman s too-large boots. She
rested her hand on the pommel ofher own sword, with its Galweigh crest and
inlaid ruby and onyxcabochons, and pulled her shoulders back and lifted her
chin high.She was no impostor. She walked forward, leaving Ian, Hasmal, andthe
kneeling Ry behind her.  I declare myself Kait-ayarennedaughter of Grace
Draclas by Strahan Galweigh. By virtue of mytraining in diplomacy, where I
have reached the position of yanar in the Galweigh Family, I will state our
case for mypeople. They are agreed, and my word is binding, sworn to the
godsof Calimekka and Ibera.
The captain raised one eyebrow in quickly suppressed surprisethat she knew the
formulas of negotiation, then nodded.  Ideclare myself Madloo Sleroal. By
virtue of my captaincy of the
Wind Treasure, which I have achieved by Tonn s choice andgrace, and in the
honorable service of the Sabir Family, I statethe case for my people. My word
is binding, and sworn before
Tonnand Tonn alone.
That was typically Rophetian. They wouldn t swear on thegods of Iberism, only
on the single
Rophetian god of the sea. Kaitwould accept that, though  a Rophetian captain
with a wholeocean lying between him and home would never forswear himself
infront of Tonn.
The cold-eyed parnissa glanced from the captain to Kait, undidthe cord that
belted his robe, and held out the black silk rope. Hesaid,  I stand between
the disputing parties. I serve only thegods, without loyalty to one party or
the other, and the godsoversee through my eyes all covenants, pacts, and bonds
made thisday. All words spoken before me are spoken before the gods, andcarry
the force of soul-oath. Kait held out her right wrist,the captain held out
his right wrist, and the parnissa bound themtogether with the cord, carefully
tying the negotiators knot. Bound together,
you swear before me to deal honestly witheach other for the good of all.
Should either of you break thebond, your life will be forfeit. He stepped
back.  Menact and gods attend.
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 Men act and gods attend, the captain said.
 Men act and gods attend. Kait inhaled slowly and letthe breath out even [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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