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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Rosemary Jones


Cold Steel and Secrets Part 2

Every attack has its defense: it needs only a quick eye and good judgment to confound the thrust.

— Elyne, a lady of Neverwinter

1478 DR

The young Nashers Yelled at each other as Rucas Sarfael rolled across the floor of the armory, grappling with the hellhound left to guard its treasures. Dhafiyand, the spymaster of Neverwinter, had assured him that there was no great protection for the weapons, and the armory had seemed like the perfect place to let Elyne’s students practice some burglary for the good of their cause and ingratiate himself with their rebel teacher. At the moment, Sarfael strove to keep his ruse from turning him into a roasted corpse.

Two of Elyne’s students came to his aid. Parnadiz ran forward to stab the hound with his outdrawn sword as Charinyn whipped off her cloak, flapping it in one hand, seeking to distract the creature by flourishing it. The others closed in, swords out, thrusting eagerly to kill the fiendish dog.

“The eyes,” Sarfael called out as he thrashed on the floor. “Blind it!”

They stabbed as he commanded, and Charinyn managed to nick the corner of the hound’s eye with her sharp rapier.

With a horrendous howl, the hound rolled off Sarfael. Snarling, it backed away from the group.

Its eyes glowed like hot coals and its huge mouth opened. Deep in its gullet, flames began to burn.

The young wizard Montimort gave a shout and a wave of ice flew off his hands, engulfing the creature and knocking it into the weapons chamber. The hound’s giant paws scrabbled for purchase on the icy floor. It slid into a pile of breastplates that fell with a clatter on its head.

Sarfael whipped out Mavreen’s sword. With a great leap, he cleared the hound, landing behind it. He slashed down and across, neatly cutting its throat.

With a gurgling bark that erupted in a small flame, the hound collapsed. The guard dog died at Sarfael’s feet.

There was a moment of stunned silence, then Parnadiz ran forward. “Well struck,” he said.

Sarfael looked up from the dead hound at the stunned Montimort.

“Well done, indeed,” he said to the young wizard. “Quick thinking to use ice against it.”

Charinyn and the others began to pluck weapons from the walls, quickly bundling their loot into the blankets and bags they had brought.

“We need to hurry,” she said. “Before the patrols return.”

Sarfael nodded.

The weapons secured, they moved briskly through the streets. As previously arranged, a hooded-and-cloaked Elyne met them near the foot of the ruined Dolphin Bridge. With her was another group, also well muffled against the night fog and prying eyes. With whispered instructions, the weapons were transferred and the recipients melted away into the dark streets.

“Where are they going?” Sarfael asked as casually as he could.

“To caches throughout the city,” she replied.

Another man joined them. “So this is your newest recruit?” he said to Elyne. “Your students say he saved them tonight.”

“Montimort’s wizardry accounted for our victory,” said Sarfael.

“Ah, yes, Elyne’s Luskar pet,” he said.

“The boy has proved his loyalty more than once, Arlon Bladeshaper,” she snapped back at him.

“But he is not and never will be a child of Neverwinter,” rejoined the other to Sarfael’s intense interest. Dhafiyand loved hearing about arguments and divisions among the rebel factions. The belligerent Arlon looked like he could be useful for starting a small schism among the Sons.

The man turned to Sarfael. “We welcome the return of exiles like yourself. Elyne, bring him to our next meeting.”

“And Montimort?” she asked.

“Leave the boy behind,” Arlon said.

“This prejudice of yours serves no one,” Elyne argued. “Least of all the city we both love.”

Sarfael silently applauded the lady’s forthright criticism of the Nasher before her, but he held his tongue. After all, Dhafiyand had sent him to make friends, not enemies. And the man had said he would welcome Sarfael to the Nashers’ next meeting.

Arlon shrugged at Elyne’s protests. “I will expect you there,” he said. “There are new rumors that the treasure we seek might have been found by that mad cousin of yours.”

Sarfael pricked up his ears at the talk of “treasure.” Dhafiyand would want to hear that.

“Karion is far more dangerous than Montimort,” Elyne said to Arlon, but the big man just shook his head at her and walked away. She stood staring after him, one slim foot tapping angrily against the pavement.

“We would not have escaped serious harm without Montimort’s aid,” Sarfael said to the still simmering redhead as they walked back to the warehouse. Her students ran a little ahead of them, full of whispering laughter about the success of the night’s raid.

“I know,” Elyne said. “We have far too few with any magical skills. The boy is a gift, and one that they should treasure. But they see only that he comes from Luskan.” “You disagree?”

She nodded. “He is as committed to the rebellion as any born here.”

“And you are as loyal to him?” Sarfael hazarded a personal question a little sooner than Dhafiyand would consider wise, but he wanted to know. She intrigued him, this rebel daughter of Neverwinter.

“He reminds me of family I have lost,” she admitted.

Sarfael told the truth without intending to. “I know what you mean.” The quick, light step of Elyne beside him reminded him of

Mavreen and all he had lost to the Red Wizards.

As always, Dhafiyand’s room was very warm, with a good fire crackling in the grate. Sarfael watched the flames flicker with a sour expression.

“You did not tell me that General Sabine guards her weapons with hell hounds.”

The spymaster glanced up from his correspondence at that. “Does she really? I wonder if that is the gift from Mordai Vell she mentioned at dinner the other night.”

“Vell?”

“An admirer of our general, apparently. At least to judge by the number of invitations that he issues to her and her staff, as well as the small presents of esteem that he sends her. All for the good of the new Neverwinter, at least according to him.”

“But?”

“He is a tiefling, and worse, a subtle, rich tiefling who uses gold to stifle the whiff of brimstone that hangs around him.” Dhafiyand leaned back in his chair and folded his long, lean hands upon his chest. “But he is not your concern. I gather that you meet with others tonight.”

“A meeting of some of the younger leaders, including one quarrelsome soul named Arlon.”

Dhafiyand nodded in satisfaction. “We’ve heard stories about that one.”

“Well, he’s calling this meeting, and let’s hope I hear something more than his spouting on true bloodlines and the best of Neverwinter.” Sarfael remembered the rebel leader’s quick dismissal of Montimort’s skills, simply because the boy was Luskan bred, and the distress that caused Elyne. Truly, bullheaded Arlon was an annoying soul.

“One would hope so,” said the spymaster. “Or I have wasted your considerable talents upon this group.”

“There are greater dangers to Neverwinter,” Sarfael began.

“Not Red Wizards again.” Dhafiyand sighed. “There is no threat there. No, bring me the plans and plots of these Nashers. And continue to listen for talk of a crown.”

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