The Story so Far.
In Book 1 Hawkmoon rescues the future Queen. Knowing Chandra will never stop until Mira is dead Hawkmoon gains entry to the palace and kills the usurper. Mira is crowned Queen and faces the challenge of saving the Realm from Vampire treachery and a Reiver invasion.
Taking one of the new balloons Bekter and Hawkmoon fly north, to destroy a vital bridge and gain time as the Queen prepares for war.Crossing the desert, Hawkmoon and Bekter catch sight of the outlines of a city buried in the sand; the fabled City of Brass. Built by the Ancients it is said to hold weapons of great destructive power; weapons that will help in the coming war. Fighting to save a village from massacre Hawkmoon kills a Reiver and captures a battleaxe.. Unknown to Hawkmoon the axe is a hiding place for a powerful demon; the Soulbiter. The Soulbiter makes Hawkmoon invincible but at what cost?
After destroying the bridge at the Challon River Hawkmoon and Bekter escape downriver. On foot over the Plain of Tarsis they meet Aillie who tells Hawkmoon that Aladan, the Elven King has called a Great Council and that the only means of reaching the Greenwood on time is to cross the Void
They pass through the Void but the effect on Bekter is deadly..
Trapped in a defile Hawkmoon is gravely wounded but defeats the Reivers when he gives permission to Soulbiter to take control. While recovering in the Greenwood Hawkmoon meets Rosanne, the King’s sister. They fall in love.
Grave matters are discussed at the Council, the first of which is how to cross a desert where nothing can set foot on its surface. Chatto has come to the Greenwood. Along with a party of Elven scouts the Dhampir and Hawkmoon set out to find the lost city.
The Sand Riders.
The year was turning by the time the company stood at the nearest point to what Hawkmoon calculated would take them to the place he had seen in the flight to the River. The ruins had stretched for miles covered in drifts of sand. Had they crossedat midday they might never have seen it. The first problem was to go on the sand without attracting the worms. They waited for days. Nothing happened until, late in the afternoon of the third day an elf stepped out on the dunes. His name was Maleen, one of the more daring .
Without warning the sand erupted. A long sinuous form reared its nightmarish head. Someone said it was a small one; that the great ones stayed further out. There was insufficient draught to allow them close to the edge. Cut off from the safety of his kin who stood open mouthed, Maleen had the sense to run to a broad flat rock where he scrambled for safety. The monster turned, waving its eyeless head, seeking him. . No one knew what they ate. Maleen’s only wish was that he should not become part of their diet. Smaller shapes, less than spear length skirted the edge of his perch..
They stood,debating. Elves are light footed. They can cross fresh snow with barely an imprint. Could the same happen on sand?.... Encouraged by shouts from the others Maleen stepped close to the edge of the slab and lifted an experimental foot. It had hardly touched the surface when an explosion of dust threw him scrambling backwards .
A spiral of dust rose as the serpent withdrew.Ecker despatched an elf north to the upper edge and another down. At a signal they stepped out. A burst of sand blanketed the southernmost elf. The others shouted for him until he emerged, spitting dust.
Maleen sat on the sun warmed rock. He blamed himself; always the most daring. He could see his friends and Hawkmoon staring at him.Now he would pay for it. Maleen had a water flask but no food.. His friends would stay,waiting, watching for a chance for him to run the twenty yards to safety. They would wait in vain.
The Elves slept little as they schemed how to rescue their friend.. They would spread out on the edge and make short runs onto the sand until the monster was confused. Hawkmoon listened to their talk Ecker refused to consider the plan. How many of the smaller worms had come in close? A number of plans were proposed, debated and rejected. They fell into a sad quiet, contemplating the death of their friend.
The sounds of pipe music reached Hawkmoon and he woke. The sky was red The Elves were standing in a group, faces gripped with awe. Following their eyes Hawkmoon turned to the dunes. In the sunrise they arched from the sand in rows either side of a path that led from the spot Maleen had passed the night. Weird blue lights flickered and buzzedon their flanks. Maleen walked to them from his rock prison enclosed bygigantic shapes . Holding his hand a little girl skipped her way alongside him.. In her other hand she held a set of carved pipes . She stepped onto the hard pan. His friends gathered round Maleen laughing and cheering. Others looked back eyes riveted on the Serpents.. The girl smiled and curtsied while the Elves applauded, then went to Hawkmoon and took his hand. Hawkmoon turned to Ecker who bowed gravely.
“Fair winds, Elf Friend. I’ll warrant the sights that await you have not been seen for time out of mind”
She led him onto the sand.. They made their way out close by the place where Maleen had passed the hours of darkness Hawkmoon gazed at the blue light that crackled around their massive bodies. There was a smell, like the air after a lightning storm. The others retracted leaving the largest.. The little girl stopped in front of it. The monster seemed to regard her although it was without eyes. Then it rolled from the depths until it lay, exposed in the morning light, sand cascading from its sides. Its back was as wide as the deck of a galleon. It started to roll further. Hawkmoon went to take her back but she gripped his hand. The giant ceased its movement. She went to the side where and started to climb. Hawkmoon turned calling to Chatto.
“Stay here . I will come back for you”
Up close it was pitted with seams and overlapping plates. The creature’s back was indented with hollows. Rumbling came from underneath as it pushed a wave of sand. The Elves gazed in wonder as its length uncoiled from the depths. Breasting the dunes in a concussion of pounding sand, in moments the creature was lost in the desert beyond.
The house stood on a north facing slope, roofless, weeds choking an abandoned garden. Face wrapped in cloth to catch the vapour from his breath Mahan studied the cabin.Winter had come early and frost was in the air. Littered with bones and rusty armour most of the place bore the marks of fighting The ground at the front and sides had been reclaimed by the forest. The back was protected by a cliff. Chandos was gone.
When he turned to leave a grey wolf stood by his horse. He had a moment only to wonder why the animal had not warned him before an arm circled his chest, and a blade picked at his throat.
“You make too much noise” A voice came.
“I didn’t think you were here”
“I don’t care what you think, who are you, why are you here, be quick.”
The blade nicked the his throat, drawing blood. “Take it easy. I have orders for you” Mahan was close to panic.
“You are to move north”
“They know winter is coming?”
“Your orders are to move up to the edge of the Icelands” Mahan was on the point of turning when he remembered the knife. “After that you are to come back and report”
“What’s your name?” The voice demanded.
“Mahan, Ranger Mahan.”
“How long have you been a ranger?”
“I graduated from Holgun at the start of the year”
“Your first mission is to the Icelands?”The voice was sceptical.
Without moving Mahan pointed at the blade“Would you mind taking that knife away?”
Chandos was of middle height with a wiry frame.A scar began over his right eye and went to the hairline. On the left side his face was badly burnt..
“Have you eaten?” He asked.
“Not since dawn”.Chandos put the knife in his belt.. He clicked his tongue at the wolf, who left.
“Most of the game has been hunted out. It happens this time of year when they restock for the winter. This year they have pushed further south and taken more food”
“A good question. They are up to something.”
“Can you guess?”
“Up here guessing can get you killed. You can guess down south” In the ruins Chandos knelt, drawing a series of cuts in the mud floor.. Replacing the weapon his fingers searched in the dirt until they caught a length of chain. Standing he tugged on it and a square of floor rose to reveal a space underneath. He gestured to Mahan. The young ranger approached the hole. Enough light fell to show the top of a ladder and a passage running to the cliff.. He placed a foot on the top rung.
The tunnel ran on a downslope. They came to a rock wall with footholdscut in the sides. Mahan climbed until they emerged on the edge of an escarpment, Further out a black cloud hung over the plain. Chandos pointed.
“What do you see?”
Chandos grimaced. “I’m amazed you lasted long enough to get here….When does a cloud move against the wind?”
“We could go back” Mahan said.
Shaking his head Chandos took them round an outcropping and stopped before a rock face.The ground in front was bare. Dropping he pushed his weapons through a narrow opening and wriggled through.
“Get in here”
Mahan bent to the opening. “I can’t get through that”
“You can if you want to live. Strip if you have to but get in. That or run for your life.”
Mahan pushed his gear through and removed his jacket. Running around the woods after an uncouth fellow, pursued by Heaven knew what… Yet there was much he could learn from the Watcher of the Northern Marches. Then it would be back to headquarters and promotion.
Mahan was halfway through when he got stuck. Modesty prevented the removal of his breeches, the belt of which was snagged on a root. Chandos had a torch; he leaned forward with a knife.
“I won’t be taken on account a fool. I am about to cut the belt. When you are free, get in as if your life depends on it. Now be still.” Reaching,Chandos started to saw with the knife but stopped, hissing with annoyance..
“There is wire in the fabric. It won’t cut ….Breathe out. Make your body as small as you can. I am going to pull . If this doesn’t work I’m leaving” Mahan blew out until lights danced before his eyes. Clenching every muscle, he relaxed and slid through. The sound of birds screeching came from outside.. Chandos pushed sand at the opening. “Help me” They filled the space and sat back .Chandos looked at him.“ I would not have had a problem with Shardik.“
“Shardik is dead.”
“What happened?” Chandos asked.
“He was murdered. We have lost Rangers. Some in accidents or what were meant to appear as accidents. Others of natural causes or what looked like natural causes. Twelve is hardly a loss to a group that operates as widely but the Free Company was never large.”
“How did Shardik die?”
“One morning he failed to wake . The Director brought a witch. She thought it might have been a Dreamcaster. I knew Shardik. No one better with a weapon, which is why they came at him with Sorcery. I am an analyst, I read books…. “ Mahan paused.“ We believe there is a traitor in the Rangers”
“It is unthinkable” Chandos said.
“The Director wants you to lead an investigation. You are one of a handful she can trust”
“Have you a message for me?” Reaching inside his tunic Mahan took a leather pouch. From this he extracted a capsule. Chandos pocketed it. “Where do you work?”
“In the chamberlain’s office. When I get home I am being promoted to assistant Spymaster at our embassy in Numidia. You will find great changes when you return. The new queen is energetic. She is popular with the people but powerful interests are lining up against her. She has been trying to build alliances but except for Silverlode no one is willing…The Reivers have promised not to invade their lands if they do not interfere when they attack. They have allowed themselves to believe that Strongbow will honour his promises.”
“What about the barons?”
“They’re behaving themselves, for now. The Queen is popular and they have done well out of reconstruction.”
Chandos handed the ranger a wooden bowl holding a black liquid. Mahan sipped and made a face.
“Rumours?” Asked Chandos.
“The city is awash with them. The Reivers are coming. The Reivers are not coming; a secret peace treaty has been signed. There is a new weapon which will smash the enemy. They have crossed the Challon and are on the Plain of Jars. A High Council took place. That was not a rumour.”
“Did you go?”
“Me?” Mahan laughed“Heavens no. Only the nobles… Women from the Sisterhood were there. which is curious”
“In what way?”
Mahan took a blanket. “They are not senior enough. It seems that a new weapon might be more than rumour. It was invented by one of those curious people who came from the North. Terribly clever with potions”
“Does it work?”Chandos asked.
“Quite well it seems” Mahan smelt the cloth.
“Who else attended?”
“Elmund Dwarfdale, the ambassador for Silverlode . And their Queen. Morah was there and the Chamberlain. The Queen was resplendent. There was scandal when she left and scandal when she returned. Not that anyone cares. They were utterly disenchanted with the stepmother.”
Rising Chandos brushed dust from his troos. “Stay here and make no noise.” Mahan found a jar of cream and honey with a pleasing,alcoholic bite. It would help pass the time. He pulled another blanket and lay down for sleep.
They remained for two days while the hunters circled the hills. On the third day Chandos took a bow and went to hunt for fresh meat. Mahan offered to go with him but was refused. “Have you met Hawkmoon?” Asked Chandos on his return. It was close to dusk
“I met him once, after the coronation. He escorted the Queen. No one knows anything about him. The tribes hold him in high regard. He led a Tuman for the Khan and is well thought of in the Empire. He is said to be our best hope. Personally, I don’t see it”
“He has no formal training. No one knows his provenance so we may assume he does not come from quality. Several of the more important people are poorly disposed to him”
“You have something for me?”Chandos asked.
Mahan took a small parcel and handed it over.
“Has it been damaged?”
“No, I was not to open it. What is it, if I may enquire?”Mahan was curious.
“You may not…Are they in the city?”
“The Queen is. Hawkmoon is away. They say the only time you know where that fellow is the moment he sticks a knife in your back.”
Chandos beckoned to Mahan. They moved into an overhang that widened to a longer passage. They walked in file, Chandos leading. It wound up, the only sounds, their feet scuffling through dry sand. When they came out it was night. They were back in the trees of the lower forest. Blacksmith’s Planet had risen, casting a red glow on the clearing. Chandos stopped holding a knife. “You have been helpful, but we need more information. We want to know about Hawkmoon”
“I don’t know where the damned fellow is, I told you, and who is “we”. Mahan whirled at a sound from behind. There were four caped figures with others further back. Mahan turned to find Chandos standing closer.
“I will tell you nothing. I would die rather than speak”
“I know that”
The knife sliced Mahan’s throat. He fell forward, Chandos catching him, lowering him to the earth. A hand reached for Mahan .Chandos slashed at it. He pointed the knife: “I will kill the next one that touches him”
“We want the blood” A voice replied
“He was a Ranger, he will die as one.”
“Those were not your orders”Chandos stard, eyes wracked with despair. “Bring the old man”
The Shaman was scrawny, dressed in skins; the skull of a wolf on his head... Squatting by the corpse he drew a handful of leaf from a pouch on his belt,placed it on his tongue and chewed until it formed a paste. He began to chant, swaying from side to side. After a time his eyes rolled in his head until only the whites were visible.
Black vapour roiled, forming a cloud above the shaman’s head.. Mist rose from the forest floor. Faces formed in the cloud.A guard got too close. It touched his foot. He screamed arching backward. In the mist a human form took shape . A voice spoke, grating like nails over glass.
“Why do you trouble us, have we not suffered enough?”
The shaman smiled through rotten teeth.“A small matter, my dear. I will not detain you. And then a tasty morsel”
The shaman pointed. “Take this, search its memories. Tell me what you learn. I want to know what he knows about the one they call Hawkmoon.”
The demon gazed at the corpse. It pointed and mist flowed reaching to the body. The mist hovered for a moment and entered through its mouth . Standing the corpse began to speak.. A clerk stood to one side . After a time the corpse lay down and the demon turned to the wizard.
“I did not give you permission to do that” the shaman accused.
“He knows nothing”
“That is for me to decide”
“He has no knowledge of the one known to you as Hawkmoon”
For the first time the demon looked directly at the shaman who blanched, taking a step back…“Who is he?”
“He is the Deathwalker”
“He is only a man. Why can we not find him?”
“ He walks in shadow. We will answer no more. You have promised food. It will go badly for you if you disappoint us.”
The Shaman pointed at the corpse “This you may feed on, it is…” He jerked at the touch of a blade .
Chandos looked at the demon without flinching “There is a herd of deer down in the woods. You may have them.”The demon bowed, flowing into blackness.
“I will kill you for that” The old man rubbed his throat.Chandos shrugged. “It would be a kindness but the Crimson Lord might not be pleased” When they left Chandos returned to the hiding place under the cliff. He lit the torch and read the note once more
Mahan has a package. Go to the First Aerie. Gain entry to the vats and hide it .In the packet is a glass vial. Push it hard enough to break the glass. From that moment you have five minutes.Go to Shaleen’s Gate. The password will be the one we use for you.
I regret the sacrifice of a Ranger.You must understand that the order is no easier for me to give than it will be for you to obey.
Pushing a wave of sand it drew a line across the desert. Grinding came from underneath as plates harder than iron stretched to drive it forward. The sand became deeper allowing it to gain speed.Except for the occasional rock island its course held true. They sat at the front with a view of what lay ahead. Hawkmoon wondered what effect long exposure on the surface would have on the beast. Except for those in their final moments, few had seen one and no one had ever seen that many in one place. Still less had there been a suspicion that humans could use them as a mode of transport. As it picked up speed a hot breeze swept over its long back. Hawkmoon drew the canteen from his belt. Before drinking he offered it to the girl. She sipped, grimacing at the taste andoffered a glass with a stopper. The water tasted cool and sweet.
The sun climbed to its highest. The giant slowed as tall needles appeared at the horizon. It stopped by a broad slab of dusty rock .People were there, one jumping down as it halted. Bowing to Hawkmoon he led him to the slab where food awaited. A young man came with a jug of water and a white cloth. Hawkmoon ate seated with the others in a circle around a large bowl. Her face lined by years of sun and wind a fine old woman sat on a dusty cushion. . Hawkmoon looked close.Memory stirring. She gazed at him with a half smile. Soon it was time to leave .
He had thought the creature that brought them was big until he saw the one that waited….It stretched for a half mile. The man who gave him the water would be his new companion. He had erected a seat near the front tied with leather strips to secure him from falling out.The girl remained with the old lady who wrapped both arms around her. He heard her being addressed as Shayid.. Hawkmoon bowed.She smiled.Again a stirring of memory.
The giant resumed the same course which, from the little he could make out was west around the curve of the planet.. They left the needles in their wake. He looked a last time to see a small hand waving. He waved back.. The heat and food combined to make him drowsy. In spite of wonder and curiosity he fell asleep.
When he woke the stars looked down. His companion gave him water and a sweet wafer cake. During the night, to his pleasure and that of his fellow voyagers showers of meteorites went racing across the sky . Some reached the far horizon. The Desert Born smiled, happy at what they took to be a good omen.. When it ended he slept again. It was evening of the fourth day when the giant began to ease its headlong race.
Low hills appeared to their front.The giant slowed until a fast horse could have kept pace. Atolls of rock poked through the drift.Sand rippled as creatures wriggled clear of its path. They approached a rough dock carved from Basalt, swept clean by the wind. Hawkmoon descended carrying the axe.. A sandrider threw a satchel across to land at his feet.
After the clamour his ears rang with silence. Wind rose from the dunes . Sand skittered around his feet.. His legs ached from days of sitting.. At the far side someone had fashioned a crude stairs.
Bekter Goes Home. omega
Floes of broken ice marked the beginning of a warm spell.Late that day the repair of a sword sent Bekter to the blacksmith. The elves had rescued Captis from a forest tribe who murdered his family and maimed him to make him easy to follow..Similar in bulk and temperament to Bekter. Captis was one of the few outsiders permitted to remain in the Greenwood. A master weapons maker, he was grey haired and walked with a limp.
Every six months a consigment of metal came for Tarissa. In the load was a case of Cape Brandy for which that country was renowned. When four bottles were empty and a fifth opened they sat in companionable silence…Bekter’s eyes were lost in the fire.
“Twenty nine years, we fought together, travelled, hunted . Made money and spent it…… Hawkmoon is fearless….. calls sorcerers to heel like they were mongrels….Time was we would sit by the fire with pipes and a cask of beer. Hawkmoon would start about a forest where people had been disappearing… a prince making trouble for his neighbours. By morning there was a plan and an angry wife to be appeased…” Bekter was silent, staring into the coals. He looked at the blacksmith who returned his gaze solemnly . “All that is finished now”
Turning to the hearth he began to speak. Once started, the words tumbled out. He spoke of the Void and the fighting. Finally he came to the passage of the Hanging Tree.
“Years back,we stopped at a monastery in Seareach. I was never that religious Couldn’t be bothered…. There was an old monk… He seemed to know a lot about us. Hawkmoon especially” Bekter pushed a cinder to the fire with the tip of a boot… “ He said the worst thing for a man was to know the true nature of evil. It left a mark on the soul that never faded. I had seen bad things, evil things,I thought I knew. I had no notion.
At first it was dreams. Nothing strange in that. It happens after fighting… But this... It gets worse every day” Bekter sat, eyes lost in the glow of the fire. Finally he stood to his feet.. “I’ll go home…. That’s what I’ll do. ” He left, muttering.
The King was away but would be home that afternoon. After lunch a guard came to bring him to the Residence.. The King was getting his pipe started.. “The road to Reenavanna is clear. There are no Reivers a hundred fifty miles..” Aladan said, puffing.
Bekter bowed. “My Lord,I have come to say farewell.”
“This is an early thaw, Bekter. There will be more snow. You should wait”
“I am worried about my family” Bekter demurred.
The king regarded his friend noting the change in him. Hawkmoon had told the King of the passage through the Void.The evil of the place had gone to Bekter’s core . “Stay with us” The King said. “ When this is over I will bring your family.They can make their lives in the Greenwood.”
Bekter shook his head. “All the years, leaving her to struggle . She is not young anymore. This is our last child. Except for the first, I was never there. ”
“When are you leaving?”
“ Tomorrow” A page brought a chair.“It has been years since relations were severed between the Kingdom and the Greenwood. A troop of Elven warriors would be a rare sight and pleasing to Her Majesty” Bekter proposed.
Aladan smiled.” My friend, you display an unsuspected gift for diplomacy… Alas we have need of everyone capable of bearing arms...”
Bekter sat, his mind lost in images of war in a haven of peace.. The Wampyrrh hated the peoples of the Land but reserved particular spite for those from whom they had descended. His face echoed his feelings. The king continued. “We cannot stand against a Reiver army.Our plan is to find the enemy and harass it with small attacks while the people run before it.” The king reached for Ashling and took her hand. “ The Greenwood will be poisoned . We will be cut off from the source of our lives”Bekter gazed at Aladan, noting the weight of years. Those who passed their lives in the Greenwood knew peace and harmony. All, except the Lord and Lady.
Leaning across Bekter placed his hand on the King's’ arm, and looked long at his friend. From another it would have been a grave breach of protocol. “Your Majesty, you are not without allies . If the world leaves you to stand alone you have Hawkmoon and me. We have broken armies…We know how to do it. Stay in your homes. Help will come”With his good humour and his bravery Bekter had found a way into the hearts of those who lived in the Long Valley. None more so than its King and Queen.. The Lord and Lady gazed long at Bekter, touched by his love yet knowing in their hearts that even men as mighty as these could not delay the sorrow that was to come.
Bekter remained seated until the King rose.Taking a wrapped bundle from a carved wooden box, he parted the wrapping to show a coat of chainmail, shining in the light of the afternoon. “When friendship stood between the Greenwood and Silverlode we exchanged gifts. This was given to my grandfather on the eve of one of the wars we fought together. It will prevent any weapon. It saved my father’s life and mine on one occasion. Wear it with honour” Bekter looked at it doubtfully.It seemed to be made for a child. “You will find that it fits.” The King said with a wry smile.
They watched as Bekter crossed the bridge. Ashling had given him a letter for the Queen and a sealed gift for his wife.
It was a week before they came to the start of the Marshes. They stood on the brow of a hill gazing at a distant range sloping westward.“I was thinking of the little fellow…from Tarissa. What was his name?”The king remained silent.“A gambler tried to knife him… What was his name? He was a Dragonrider and he said if ever I needed a favour….” Bekter laughed. “Strange to think of him now”.
“I would have sent a troop with you if I had them to spare… “ Said the King.
“I know that.” Bekter said, reaching to shake hands. There was much to say and little reason to say it. Without a backward glance Bekter turned his mount and rode away.
Her pony was nervous. She dismounted by the stream where rivulets of half melted snow raced to join the current. The sun was westering, the shadows adding their chill to the forest.She had left early, before dawn. No one knew where she was or if they did they thought she was in one of the barns. They treated her well and she had been happy here. It made it all the more bitter. She dreaded what was to come and cursed herself for her faithlessness. Baulking at an expanse of ice covered rock the pony stopped.. She squeezed its flanks with her knees but it stayed motionless on stiff legs. She dismounted and slipped, falling in mud, The pony looked down at her . Grasping the reins she led it back and up from the bank on a path that took her away from the river. In the woods the light was fading under snow laden branches. At her feet a streamlet coursed to join the mighty Challon. She tied the pony inside the treeline. Leaving a feed bag on its muzzle she pulled brush around it.. They had made it clear what would happen if she were discovered.
Night came as she stepped on a track that led behind a hill The stillness in the air promised more snow but the sky cleared bathing the country in starlight. She knew she was late and started to panic. Would they wait? Would they punish her? The first time the caught her and Sasha on the road, they had done such things..When they came again they showed her images.Sasha in the Pain Pits, screaming. Crazed with pity she would do anything if only they would not hurt him anymore
Go to the Greenwood, they said.. Be our eyes and ears. Work for us and your husband will live. Get us what we want. If you don’t. We might give him back to you but he won’t be much use to a woman . A fine looking girl like you should have babies...
A cottage stood at the end of the lane. Pushing the wooden gate she stepped on the path that took her to a heavy, iron banded door. Stooping she lifted a flat piece of sandstone and took the key from where she hid it the last time
They had forbidden her to make a light. She waited in the dark, shivering.. The night dragged on She was fighting not to sleep when a voice carried in the dark. She knew it but still it made her skin crawl.“Magga. sweet Magga, tender Magga”
Cold brushed her face. She yelped but stayed still. A hand traced sharp nails on the skin of her throat … It lingered at the crook of her neck and then went lower, parting the folds of the cloak as it slipped inside her tunic. It slid down,cupping a breast.
She moaned in revulsion. A voice hissed in the shadows.“Enough of your fun. We need her. “
The hand withdrew. She sagged, weak with terror.. Sasha was dead. She knew that now. The younger stood by the small window to watch outside. A shape moved in front of Magga and blocked what little light remained. She gagged on the stench of carrion. A weird light grew. She could see its face in the phosphorescence. It was narrow and pinched with a hunger The eyes were lidless..
“I sense defiance… Well now you are a surprise. You believe your husband to be dead. But my dear, can you take that chance? You have to go on. There is nothing left but the hope that there is hope..He may live, we may give him back to you.. What else can you do now that you have betrayed your people? They will smell the vampire off him and they will know. They will kill him and drive you out. So now tell me . Don’t lie. I know when you lie.”
She told him everything.Who had come to Elfhome and what had been decided. He questioned her about the private meeting. She had been asked to leave before they started to talk about the route. They were angry with her.
“ I would have liked to have known about their line of march but you were not present. Come back with word of their destination and you will be rewarded...”
The older vampire turned and spoke with the other .Summoning her courage, Mgga spoke “The next time I want you to prove to me that my husband is alive.”
“My dear , you are in no position to make demands.”
“I believe I am. You said it yourself. I have nothing. I did this for Sasha. If he is gone I have no reason to do anything for you.”