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good one, and that's why he came here. But why be a wizard if you don't want
to cast spells?
For that matter, why would a scholar be in Sanctuary? It was not as if the
town had a university, or a library, or even other people interested in
languages.
Of course, the easy solution would be just to leave the smaller scholar alone,
take his silver buttons, and then turn him out on the street when his funds
were exhausted. That would be the easiest solution.
Lumm shook his head. Without proper coin, this town would kick the small man
into the gutter in a week's time. Heliz was right that Lumm looked for sad
cases. Heliz was one of them.
The common room of the Unicorn was as smoke-ridden and murky as usual. Old
Thool, the Unicorn's resident sot, was lurching from table to table, cadging
what change and dregs of drinks he could manage.
The two waitresses, known to all as Big Minx and Little Minx, threaded through
the tables, grabbing empties and avoiding hands with equal deftness. Half the
people in the room were watching the other half, and malice hung in the air
with the smoke. A typical night, then.
Lumm himself scanned the room, looking for the Berucat merchant. No sign of
his heavy frame. But
Lumm's eyes stopped for a moment at one of the back tables.
At first he could have sworn that Heliz was a wizard, and had gotten to the
Unicorn before he did. On second thought, the table's occupant could have been
the scholar's sister. She was dressed similarly to the linguist, though her
red robes, running from neck to ankle, were cleaner, newer, and still had all
of their silver buttons. Yet her hair was as dark as the scholar's, swept back
instead of in the bowl cut that
Heliz wore. They shared sharp features: dark, heavy eyebrows and a thin,
raptorish nose. Yes, she could have been his sister.
And Lumm was staring long enough that the newcomer realized she was being
watched. She gave Lumm a smile and beckoned him come over.
"Help you?" she said in a pleasant, soothing voice.
"Sorry to stare," Lumm stammered. "You just remind me of someone." There might
be another reason, he realized, that the linguist was in Sanctuary. It would
not be the first time someone came to the town to lose themselves of pursuers,
family, creditors, or all three.
"No offense taken," said the young woman. She looked a few years younger than
Heliz. A younger sister? Surely not a daughter. Heliz did not strike him as
either being old enough or bold enough to spawn any young. "Sit and tell me
about it," she continued.
"Sorry to disturb you," said Lumm.
"I said sit and tell me about it." And she said something else as well,
something low and wispy that the staver did not catch, that brushed against
his mind and was immediately forgotten.
Lumm suddenly found himself in the chair opposite, though he did not remember
sitting down.
The young woman in the red robes leaned forward, and Lumm could not help but
notice that, unlike
Heliz, the newcomer did not use the top dozen buttons of her garment. Yet it
was her eyes that most caught his attention wide, deep, and green. Eyes you
could wander around in.
"I remind you of someone?" she said.
"Another fellow," said Lumm. '"I mean, not that you're a fellow and all.
Dressed like you. The fellow.
And you."
"These are the robes of my order," said the young lady. "I am a Crimson
Scholar. Have you heard of them?"
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Lumm felt the hairs stand up on the back of his neck. "No," he managed.
"Really?" she said, and added that breathy, low word again. Lumm felt the
words surge up his throat like a bad egg sandwich.
"I've never heard of your order," he said, almost like it was a single word.
It was the truth, of course, but he felt compelled to say it. "You just look
like someone else I've seen."
The young woman raised a glass of mulled wine, the spices heavy even at Lumm's
distance. "So you said.
Friend of yours?"
Despite himself, Lumm laughed. "I don't think he has any friends. A very
private person. Wants to be left alone. Spends most of his time in his room.
Reclusive, that's the word."
"Indeed," said the young woman, "that's the word. You know where to find him?"
"I should," said Lumm, "I'm his landlord. Maybe I should go get him, if you're
looking for him."
"Maybe you should tell me where he is," said the young woman, and for a third
time added a breathy addendum.
Again, Lumm felt the need to tell her, felt the words vomiting upwards. But as
he opened his mouth, Old
Thool slammed into both him and the table, hard. The young woman dropped her
glass on the table, sending shards and wine everywhere. She raised her arm to
keep it from getting in her face.
"Padpol for an old veteran?" slurred the drunk.
"Go jump off the dock," snarled the young woman, her face suddenly a mask of
rage. She added something as well, that struggling fish of a word that kept
avoiding getting tangled in Lumm's mind.
Thool stood bolt upright and started lurching towards the door.
Lumm rose as well, suddenly realizing he was sweating. He didn't look directly
at the young woman, but instead said, "Let me get a rag to clean all this up.
Won't take a moment." Without waiting for an answer, he headed for the bar,
and grabbed Little Minx by the arm. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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