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Half the spectators did not see what happened, but Kalek s awful scream told
all that it was bad.
From some angles it did not look like anything had happened until they looked
closer and saw the stream of blood shooting onto the ground where a hand lay
on the flagstones. The hand of the
Temu King had been caught against his shield like meat on a butcher block.
Dreibrand struck again to finish his victim, but desperation to survive gave
Kalek the ability to block.
Kalek struggled to master his legs despite the aggressive shock gripping his
body, but he could only scramble away a short distance before collapsing. His
shield slipped away from his wet stump.
Dreibrand loomed over him, breathing hard from his efforts. With fading
strength, Kalek held up his sword.
 Enough! Xander roared and jumped into the circle of combat. The Temu General
placed himself before his King as a shield.  Your revenge is done. I will not
let you kill him, Xander declared while making a belated grab for his weapon.
Pumped up by the primal emotions of battle, Dreibrand almost cut Xander down,
but the pleading dark eyes of the old Temu warrior cooled his temper. Xander
had tried to stop the abduction of
Miranda, and Xander had let her go free. As much as Dreibrand resented the
man s desire for his woman, he had to admit that Xander had always been
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honorable, even when given the opportunity not to be. And Dreibrand remembered
when Xander had tended his wound, and he could not strike the General.
Shan twitched on the verge of intervening. If Xander entered the battle, all
of the warriors might jump in. Shan would have to use his magic if the others
started to fight.
Xander watched the murderous contortion fade from Dreibrand s face.  Remember
the friendship
Taischek gladly gave and spare his son. You have cut off the hand that struck
you. The Temu Tribe will always respect Dreibrand Veta as we have in the
past.
 Shut up, Xander, Kalek growled, but his voice was agonized and soft. His
sword fell to the ground and he clutched his spurting stump. Kalek shook with
pain and weakness and the color drained from his face.
Dreibrand looked at Kalek, who was defeated. The Temu King might bleed to
death yet. Already his lips had gone blue beneath his thin mustache. Dreibrand
recalled how good Taischek had been to him and Miranda, and he lowered his
sword. Dreibrand did not know where his mercy came from,
but seeing Kalek on his knees and wet with his own blood burned away his rage.
 I wish things had been different between us, Kalek, he said.
Xander spun around and dropped to his King s side. Grabbing the handless arm,
he clamped his hand over the stump and tried to hold the blood back.
Catching his breath, Dreibrand looked for Miranda in the crowd. Her beautiful
green eyes greeted him and he saw in them her relief that he had not been
hurt. She did not seem upset that Kalek still lived.
Shan said,  Are you satisfied, Dreibrand?
Again Dreibrand looked at Kalek in his suffering. Now that Dreibrand had
redeemed his pride, he did not feel proud of what he had done. He scanned the
faces of the Temu warriors. He remembered living among the tribe and liking
it.
 I regret that my relationship with the Temu Tribe must end like this. But I
am satisfied. Kalek has answered for what he did, Dreibrand announced.
 This matter is settled, Shan declared.  And I ask all humans not to bring
their quarrels into my realm again.
A warm tingle of energy followed Shan s words and touched every person
present. Sparkling with power, the rys King wheeled imperiously and headed
into the Keep.
Deciding it was best not to stay in the sight of the Temu, Dreibrand took
Miranda s hand and signaled for the Yentay to accompany him inside.
Quylan did not follow and instead rushed to assist Xander with the bleeding
Temu King. Although she deplored the attack on Dreibrand, she now only saw a
man she could help.
30 ~ Rys Diplomacy ~
Through the night Shan secluded himself and meditated deeply. He released his
mind from the mundane worries that swirled around him, and he simply enjoyed
the powerful essence of his homeland flowing through the mountains. Shan felt
the first kiss of dawn upon the supreme slopes of the Rysamand, and he felt
his kingship confirmed within himself. He was the King of Jingten and the
ruler of all rys.
The liberating exhilaration of becoming King now truly soaked into Shan s
soul. Before, Onja s presence had always tainted his connection with the
natural forces of his homeland. Now Onja was gone, and Shan could revel in his
magical perception without the cancer of her evil. The world now seemed pure,
and he could put his mind to higher purposes, instead of war and death.
Shan.
He recognized the call of Quylan s mind. Easing out of the ecstasy of his
meditation, Shan returned to his physical surroundings. He felt totally
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relaxed, and his body was entirely renewed. The strain of the war had
disappeared from his flesh, and it would only remain in the vaults of his
mind.
He greeted Quylan with a smile when she entered the meditation chamber and
settled onto the floor next to him. Ruinous splashes of blood stained her
clothes.
The troubles among his human friends returned to Shan, and he regretted the
distasteful conflict that had occurred. Shan dared to hope that the soul of
Taischek would forgive him for permitting the duel.
 Kalek will live, Quylan announced because she felt the question building in
Shan s mind. Since their sharing of body and spirit, they could often sense
each other s moods and thoughts, but
Quylan noted a dark impenetrable place in Shan s mind. It had appeared after
he defeated Onja.
These sheltered memories no doubt contained the events of Onja s death, but
Quylan respected her lover enough not to pry too much. She hoped that as his
love grew, he would share this with her.
When Shan did not say anything, Quylan asked,  Does it upset you that I helped
him?
 Of course not, Shan responded.  I did not want anyone to die.
 But you would have let one of them die. I could tell that you were serious
about not helping either one of them. Kalek was about to bleed to death, and
you just left, Quylan said.
 I gave my word not to interfere in their duel, Shan said.  It was the only
way to keep it between just Kalek and Dreibrand, who was being very foolish. I
had to control the situation.
 You hated to see them fight, Quylan noted.
 I wish none of them would fight, Shan complained.
 These tensions will go away soon. General Xander told me he will order most
of the Temu warriors home today. Only a small portion will stay until Kalek is
fit to travel. And I expect the Tacus to leave soon. Then we shall have our
peace, Quylan said.
 Where is Kalek? Shan inquired.
 I took him to my father s house, she answered.
Shan gently took up the hand of his juvenile lover.  You are so kind. I felt
the brilliance of your compassion when you went to help Kalek.
 I knew I could stop his bleeding. He will recover quickly, Quylan said
proudly.
 It pleased you to heal him, Shan observed.
Quylan averted her eyes. Healing redeemed her as much as it pleased her.
Shan had seen the shame and regret in her heart, and he sought to soothe her.
 I know the terrible test that Onja put to you, he whispered.
Quylan shuddered. She had hoped Shan did not know what she had done.
Softly, Shan recalled,  When my ryslinghood neared its end, Onja gave me the
same test. She said it was time for me to learn to kill, but I could not do
it. I ran away into the mountains and hid. When [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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