Rosemary Jones: Cold Steel and Secrets Part 2

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Rosemary Jones Cold Steel and Secrets Part 2
  • Название:
    Cold Steel and Secrets Part 2
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    Фэнтези / на английском языке
  • Язык:
    Английский
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Cold Steel and Secrets Part 2: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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“Everyone admires her. After her parents disappeared and that sister of hers ran away, she never wavered. Just formed the school for fighting, helping train our young recruits for the days of glory to come…”

Virchez nattered on about how the city would regain its place on the Sword Coast if only its own people could control it. Paying little heed to the rehash of the usual rebel rhetoric, Sarfael watched Elyne as she flung one hand up to acknowledge some point or other of Arlon’s persistent argument.

“Very well,” she said. “I will go. If only to end this rumor.”

“Take some others with you. I’ve heard Karion can play vicious tricks on those he dislikes. That’s why I told the boy to stay away from him and come to us here.”

Elyne glanced around the room. “I’ll take him,” she said with a nod at Sarfael. “He keeps a cool head in a fight. And, also, Montimort.”

“Your Luskar prodigy?” Arlon scowled.

“Montimort is a good lad,” Elyne said.

“But he is not and never will be a child of Neverwinter,” rejoined Arlon. “And a Luskar ally is no ally at all.”

“Stop quoting dead men. It is you who counsel making new alliances with the Dead Rats,” she said, “a dangerous idea, I think.”

“We must use what tools we can for victory,” he said. “But our safety lies with those of the true bloodlines, the children of the city who know and understand its glorious past. Let us look to the sons and daughters of Alagondar to lead us!”

The Nashers nearest Arlon banged their fists upon the table in agreement.

“To go off with the beautiful Elyne,” said the plump Virchez with a sigh.

Sarfael watched the tall redhead deftly weave her way through the crowd. He would have to tell Dhafiyand there had been talk of a crown, but already a series of lies began weaving through his head-he didn’t want the old man moving too quickly. He needed time to investigate the rumors properly.

In the back of his head, Mavreen snorted as she always did when he tried deceiving her or himself. “You simply want more time with the pretty Elyne,” she whispered in his mind.

“Jealous, my darling?” he asked.

Mavreen’s rippling laugh came back to him, that joyous beginning to so many of their adventures. “Go on,” she whispered. “Forget about your ghosts and look to the living.”

At least, that is what he believed that she would have said to him.

Sarfael slipped away from Virchez and intercepted Elyne by the door.

“Why did you want me with you?” he asked her as they stepped into the night.

“I want Montimort. His skills might be useful with Karion, and, more importantly, it gives him a chance to win Arlon’s approval,” she confessed. “And that means taking you.”

“Because?”

“Besides myself, you are the only one who treats Montimort as an equal. Who I can trust to protect him as I would. And where we are going, he may need that.”

“So there is talk of a crown?” Dhafiyand wiped the tip of the pen upon a flannel and set it deliberately upon his enameled brass penholder. It was nearly midnight, but the old man seemed as alert and awake as ever.

“There was talk of a man who claims to know of a crown,” Sarfael reported. His own head ached from all of Arlon’s shouting, and he looked forward to snatching a few hours of sleep before traipsing across the Blacklake District. “All rather vague. But we are being sent to investigate tomorrow.”

“But this Arlon Bladeshaper is definitely seeking a crown?”

“He needs supporters. They love to hear themselves talk, these Nashers, but I think they are reluctant to do more than chatter. Arlon says this crown will help turn the mob against Neverember. I think he believes it will move the Nashers to greater feats.” He wondered if Dhafiyand would notice how he kept Elyne’s name out of the conversation. Probably, but with luck, all the talk of a crown would distract him.

The spymaster leaned forward and steepled his ink-stained fingers beneath his chin. The man might run the largest network of spies in Neverwinter, but he kept his books himself like any clerk. “He may well be right. A crown can be a potent symbol and these are a people desperate for signs and portents.”

“Oh, I heard plenty of talk of that during the night.” To shake the fog from his head, Sarfael circled the room, stopping at the display of trinkets upon Dhafiyand’s mantel. The charming miniature of the moon elf caught his attention again. In the flickering light of the candles, the lady looked older than she had before and seemed to stare at him with displeasure.

Behind him, Dhafiyand went on, “Watch, listen, bring back any news that you hear about the crown or its location. If such a thing exists, we must make certain that it falls into Lord Neverember’s hands first.”

“So he can crown himself king of Neverwinter?”

Dhafiyand shook his head. “It might not be so simple. He might be well served by its disappearance.”

“Then perhaps it would be best if I simply make sure that it is not found,” Sarfael suggested.

Dhafiyand considered for a long moment. “No,” he said finally, “better to gain the crown and silence the tongues of any who have seen it.”

“I am no murderer,” Sarfael reminded him, as he had more than once in the past.

And, as he had in the past, Dhafiyand gave him cold comfort in his reply. “It does not matter. There are others without your scruples.”

“It was you who said that Lord Neverember had some ties to certain of these young nobles, however rebellious their nature, and he would not necessarily want them punished.” Sarfael edged around the topic, still playing the game with a spy’s caution and not mentioning Elyne by name.

“True,” admitted Dhafiyand. “Especially the pretty redhead.”

Sarfael kept his face blank. Better not to let the wily old man know that remark hit home.

“Still,” Dhafiyand continued, “of all the remnants of nobility left in Neverwinter, one could say that she has even more right to a crown than any other, even Lord Neverember.”

“But I do not know any in this room who would say or even think such a thing,” Sarfael said bluntly. “For we are both loyal servants of Lord Neverember.”

“Quite so,” Dhafiyand said, returning to his papers. “Send me word as soon as you learn more.”

As he left the room, Sarfael began to consider ways that he could deliver the crown to Dhafiyand and smuggle Elyne out of Neverwinter. For it seemed the pretty rebel’s connections to Lord Neverember might not be enough to protect her.

They went to the Blacklake District at noon. The northwest part of the city held a quiet air of menace even in broad daylight. Sarfael noticed that Elyne looked carefully from side to side as they wove through the streets. She also shrugged back her cloak, despite the cold spring wind, clearly showing that she was armed with sword and dagger.

Montimort’s gaze darted to every dark doorway and shadowed alley. His arms were wrapped around a large covered basket.

“We’re being followed,” Sarfael quietly observed to his companions. Three ruffians, all hooded-two lean men armed with swords and one orc-looking brute with a cudgel-made the same turns and twists they did.

“I know,” Elyne said. “I was hoping they wouldn’t spot us. Or that they would be reluctant to attack with so few.”

“Do you know who they are?” Sarfael asked. “I always prefer to know the names of the men trying to cut my throat.”

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