Roger Taylor: Into Narsindal

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Roger Taylor Into Narsindal
  • Название:
    Into Narsindal
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    Фэнтези / на английском языке
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    Английский
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Roger Taylor


Into Narsindal

"The time of Hawklan is so far in the past that it could be the distant future"


Prologue

Hawklan’s face was desolate.

‘I remember the enemy falling back and standing silently watching us. I remember the sky, black with smoke, and flickering with fighting birds. There was a raucous command from somewhere and the enemy lowered their long pikes-they were not going to close with us again. Then the figure next to me shouted defiance at them, hurled its shield into their midst and reached up to tear away its helm.’ Hawklan paused and his eyes glistened as he relived the moment. ‘Long blonde hair tumbled out like a sudden ray of sunlight in that terrible gloom.’ He shook his head. ‘I hadn’t realized who it was. A great roar went up from the circling army. I called out her name… ’ He opened his mouth to call again. Both Gulda and Andawyr watched, lips parted, as if willing him this release, but no sound came from either of them.

‘Without taking her eyes from the approaching enemy, she reached back and her hand touched my face briefly. "I am here," its touch said. "I am with you to the end." I threw away my own helm and shield and took my sword two-handed as she had. Then the figure at my back cried out in recognition. He too I had not recog-nized in the press. Thus by some strange chance, we three childhood friends formed the last remnant of our great army.’

He paused again and clenched his fist, as if around his sword hilt. ‘A group of the enemy threw down their pikes and rushed forward to take… the girl. She killed three of them with terrible skull-splitting blows, but…

‘So I slew her. I slew my friend. With a single stroke. I saw her head tumbling red and gold down the slope and into the darkness under those countless trampling feet.’ He shook his head. ‘Better that than that she be taken alive.

‘The rest of her attackers fled back to their pikes and the enemy began its final slow advance. Back to back we held. Pushed aside and broke their long spears. Killed several. Then my last friend and ally fell and I… ’ He faltered.

‘He said "I’m sorry," even as he fell…

‘That last burden was my end and I too sank to my knees… ’

Chapter 1

Startled, Jaldaric spun round as the rider appeared suddenly out of the trees and galloped to his side. His right hand began moving reflexively towards his sword, but a cautionary hiss from Tel-Mindor stopped it. Abruptly, a second rider appeared on the other side of the road and moved to flank Arinndier.

Tel-Mindor looked behind. Three more riders were following. Despite himself, his concern showed briefly on his face. Not because the five men seemed to offer any immediate menace, though they were armed, but because he had not seen them, and that indicated both wilful concealment and no small skill on their part. However, his Goraidin nature did not allow the concern to persist. Instead he began to feel a little easier; the actual appearance of the men confirmed the unease he had felt growing for some time.

‘Hello,’ said the first new arrival to Jaldaric, his face unexpectedly friendly. ‘I’m sorry I startled you. We’ve been following you since you came out of the moun-tains, but your friend here,’-he nodded towards Tel-Mindor-‘was on the point of spotting us, so I thought it would save problems if we approached you directly.’

His manner was pleasant enough but, still unsettled by the man’s abrupt arrival, Jaldaric’s reply was harsher than he had intended.

‘Following?’ he said. ‘Do the Orthlundyn always follow visitors to their country?’

‘No, no,’ the man replied with a smile. ‘You’re the first.’ His smile turned into a laugh. ‘In fact you’re the only people who’ve come out of Fyorlund since we started border duty. It was good practice for us.’ He extended his hand. ‘My name’s Fyndal, and this is my brother Isvyndal.’

Jaldaric’s natural courtesy made him take the hand, though part of him remembered Aelang, and was alert for a sudden attack. ‘This is the Lord Arinndier, the Rede Berryn and his aide Tel-Mindor,’ he said, indicat-ing his three companions. ‘I’m Jaldaric, son of the Lord Eldric.’

This time it was Fyndal who started. ‘Jaldaric,’ he echoed, his eyes widening. Then, as if uncertain how to phrase the question, ‘Jaldaric who came with Dan-Tor and kidnapped Tirilen?’

Jaldaric’s face coloured at the reminder of his previ-ous visit to Orthlund. ‘Yes,’ he said awkwardly, looking down at his hands briefly. ‘To my shame.’

‘And was taken by Mandrocs?’ Fyndal continued. Jaldaric looked puzzled, but nodded.

Fyndal reined his horse to a halt, as if he needed a moment’s stillness to assimilate this information. His brother too seemed to be affected.

The three riders behind them also stopped.

Then Fyndal clicked his horse forward again. ‘Why have you returned?’ he asked, his manner still uncertain.

‘You not only follow, you interrogate,’ Jaldaric be-gan, but Arinndier leaned forward and interrupted him.

‘We’re representatives of the Geadrol,’ he said. ‘We’ve important news for all the Orthlundyn, and Isloman told us that we should seek out his brother Loman and the Memsa Gulda at Anderras Darion.’

Again Fyndal showed surprise. ‘You’ve spoken to Isloman?’ he said. ‘Where is he? Was Hawklan with him?’

He gestured to the following riders, who spurred forward to join the group. Jaldaric and the others exchanged glances. ‘Who taught you the High Guards’ hand language, Fyndal?’ Jaldaric asked.

‘Loman,’ Fyndal answered. ‘He taught it to all of us.’

‘Us?’ queried Arinndier.

‘The Helyadin,’ Fyndal replied.

All Fyndal’s answers were uttered straightforwardly and in the manner of someone stating the obvious. Arinndier opened his mouth to ask for an explanation, but Fyndal repeated his inquiry.

‘When did you see Hawklan and Isloman?’ he said, concern beginning to show through his affability. ‘Where are they? Are they safe?’

Arinndier shook his head. ‘We don’t know where they are,’ he said, then pausing thoughtfully he added, ‘They left Fyorlund some time ago with two of our men to return to Anderras Darion. I’d hoped they’d be in Orthlund by now.’

Fyndal frowned unhappily and made to speak again, but this time Arinndier took the initiative.

‘What we do know about Isloman and Hawklan we’ll tell to Loman and Memsa Gulda when we meet, Fyndal,’ he said. ‘That and a great many other things. Then it’s up to them what they choose to tell you. You under-stand, I’m sure. In the meantime, perhaps you could tell us who you are. And what the Helyadin are, and why you follow and question visitors to Orthlund. And why this man Loman should see fit to teach you our High Guards’ hand language.’

‘We’re just… soldiers,’ Fyndal answered, with a slight hesitation. ‘We’re on border patrol, making sure that nothing… unpleasant… comes into our land unchallenged again. Loman taught us the hand language because he said it was a good one’-he gave a subdued laugh-‘and it was the only one he knew. He’s taught us a lot of other things as well.’

‘Soldiers, eh? So the Orthlundyn have been prepar-ing for war.’ It was Rede Berryn and his tone was ironic. ‘How typical of Dan-Tor to tell the truth and make it sound like a lie.’ Then he looked at the young Orthlundyn again. ‘Who are you preparing for war against, Helyadin?’ he asked.

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