Rose of the World
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‘Who is this “she” of whom you speak?’ Rahe looked at him as if he were half-witted; then remembered he was only a mortal, and one without a hint of magic in his blood. ‘The Rosa Eldi, my boy. She who was once the goddess of this world.’ Aran’s brows drew together in a single black line across his forehead. The Rose of the World. The woman their king had taken to wife at the ill-fated Allfair last year. But she was a nomad, a mere Footloose woman . . . wasn’t she? He remembered abruptly the
deity’s form passed into the rock and then reappeared, apparently undamaged, though he hung limp and useless in the deformed creature’s grip. Infuriated now, Fent caught Sirio by what appeared to be his feet and whirled him around and around his head, like the men Saro had seen at the Allfair games with a boulder in a sling, competing for the longest throw. When he finally let go, the god flew overhead like a great translucent arrow. He hit the side of the chamber without a sound, and vanished.
into the waterlogged ground fifty yards from the enemy lines, the sole casualty being one foolish Eyran, jeering at their efforts, who had strayed too far forward and been shot through the throat. This had raised a thin cheer from the soldiers on the battlements, but until the northerners had brought the siege towers within range every other arrow had been wasted. Military training had never been of high priority in this rich and complacent city. And still there had been no sign of
anything he asked of it, fell back down. Suddenly, rough hands were upon him, lifting him up. He gazed around and found himself confronted by a giant of a man with an Eyran beard and steely eyes. He had no quarrel with the North; but how to convey that before the man slit his throat? ‘You’re the lord’s sorcerer, aren’t you?’ the man said in the Old Tongue. Virelai did not know whether to assent to this or not. He looked from the big Eyran to his companion, a small round man with a shock of
conjuror said, hard-hearted though he was. ‘Go, then,’ he said at last. ‘Thank you for coming with me. I hope you make it to the ferry.’ ‘And what about this?’ The conjurer gestured to his face and torso. ‘It’ll wear off in a little while.’ ‘Shame: it’s in better nick than my old thing. Never mind. See you in Gila sometime, I hope.’ Then he leaned past Virelai and waved to Saro. ‘Sorry, my friend. I used to do a good trick with locks and keys, but my criminal past is far behind me now. Fare