Ventus – Day 36 of 135

His throat was red and lacerated where Turcaret had hit it with the sword. Little blood flowed; the wound seemed superficial.

Obviously, he had struck the stone floor with the tip of the sword before the rest of the blade had touched Chan’s throat. That must have been what happened.

No time to worry about that, Chan was on his feet. Turcaret grabbed the man’s own dagger off the table. Chan made a clumsy grab for him but Turcaret stepped inside his reach and stabbed up, right under his heart.

The dagger tore through Chan’s shirt and grated across his ribs. He staggered back, coughing. Blood flowed freely from the wound. Turcaret could plainly see he’d raised a flap of skin the size of his palm–but the blade had not penetrated.

Surprised, but not worried, Turcaret jumped after Chan, who was trying to get to the door. “Die, damn you!” He reversed the dagger, grabbed Chan’s shoulder and stabbed him again and again. It was like stabbing a table. Each blow cut Chan’s shirt as the blade scored across his skin, and plainly he wore no armor. But the blade would not penetrate more than a few millimeters. Finally it too broke against the man’s shoulder.

Turcaret backed away. “How have you done this?”

Chan huddled against the closed door, gasping. His whole upper body was covered in blood. This was not going to be the clean kill Brendan Sheia had demanded. There was no way Chan would appear to have been killed by Yuri’s dying blow. Maybe it could be made to look like more of a fight had taken place, but they had wanted to avoid that because the question would be raised why no one had heard anything. But the man would not die!

Chan turned now and uncovered his eyes. He might have been vulnerable there, but Turcaret had not thought of it in time. Chan’s face was transformed. The skin around his mouth was pure white, and his eyes were wide. He was shaking, but not, it seemed, from fear.

“Help,” Turcaret said under his breath. Then he screamed it.

“Get in here and help me!”


Jordan was no longer sure where he was. When the wall spoke to him he’d bolted, and came to himself briefly to find himself here outside on the front lawn of the estate. He tried to keep going, to somehow escape the noise in his head, but only made it fifty steps before he went blind again. He could see–with a clarity which was itself frightening–but no longer through his own eyes.

The spirits surrounding him were handing vision back and forth, like a ball. All the parts of the Boros estate had their spirits, it seemed, and each kind of thing perceived the world in a different way. They were all speaking at once, looking about themselves, as though awoken from an ages-long sleep to find themselves startled by the world.

Something had awoken them. Something was coming.

The trees told of a gargantuan weight descending through the air, and of a shadow between them and the twilight sky. The stones could feel an electricity spreading in a kind of wave, coming from the east. Jordan understood these things because the stones, and trees and water, were speaking in common terms of reference, some of which were actual words and phrases he could understand, some images, some physical sensations.

He staggered to a stop, swaying, unsure whether he was even still on his feet. No, he seemed to be above the ground now, very high up. He could see the rooftops of the manor, and he saw the windowed facades (last rays of sunlight touching them gold) and felt the draft of the passage of human bodies through the halls within. The attentiveness of the estate seemed to draw a tighter focus, bearing him images of people. He seemed to touch the faint trails of heat left by the cooks in the kitchen, as reported by an archway there. The flagstones in the courtyard felt the pressure of walking feet, and measured the passage of four people. The sound of voices echoed weirdly as if from a long distance.

The spirits were searching for someone, he realized–a man or woman who was somewhere on the estate.

He knew he wasn’t really in the air; this was just a vision. Jordan began to move again, perversely wishing they would notice him because then he could see where he was, if only through their eyes. He put his hands before him like a blind man, and walked.

The heavens… something was coming down from the sky. The estate knew it, and increasingly the snatches of vision Jordan caught were images from a vast height, far above the highest trees.

If he wasn’t able to fight back these visions, he was as good as dead. Was he just going to stand here and let whatever it was that was coming take him?

Angry at his own helplessness, Jordan stopped walking, dropped his arms to his sides, and breathed in deeply. Once. Twice. He called on all the things Calandria had taught him, and tried to subdue the panic. All so he could have his own eyes back, for just a moment.

He felt the kaleidoscope of visions clearing, and tilted his head back. He saw the cloudless sky, scattered with the first stars of evening like finest jewels on blue silk.

And he saw the Heaven hooks.


Linden Boros displayed the family smile to Calandria. It was no more charming coming from him than it had been from Yuri or Marice. He was dressed in dark riding breeches and a red embroidered jacket, as if he had just arrived from the stables. He had ten men with him, all armed. August Ostler stood near him, looking uncomfortable.

“August told me there was a fight,” said Linden. “Were you a witness to it, lady?” His bodyguards had their swords out.

Calandria looked at the swords, wide-eyed. “What is this about?”

“It would seem my bastard brother has overstepped his boundaries,” Linden said dryly. “Through his friend Turcaret.” He gestured for her to come up the steps. She walked up to stand before him.

“Where is my apprentice?” she asked. “He should be with your man here.” She indicated Ostler.

Linden’s brows furrowed slightly. He glanced at Ostler, who shrugged. “Not my concern,” he said. “But I think you owe us an explanation.”

Calandria cocked her head to one side. “Explanation? Regarding what? That we saved your man here from death requires no explanation–unless you are one of those who would not save a life unless it profit you. That we hid him? It was at his own request. He was a bit ashamed of himself after breaking the rules of the house.”

“And why are you dressed for riding at this late hour, lady?”

“Considering the kindness I’ve done your man, Mister Boros, I think I’m entitled to keep that to myself.”

He scowled. “May I remind you that you are a guest in this house?”

“Not for much longer,” she said. “And I am not the guest who transgressed the rules,” she added, nodding significantly at August, who shrank back.

Linden folded his arms. In this light he appeared quite menacing, slim and poised, with his sword loose at his side. The blond hair cascading down one shoulder was bound with black ribbon. Standing this close to him, Calandria caught a scent of leather, horses and sweat. “Speaking of transgressing rules,” he said with some irony, “the Winds might be upset to know just how much science you carry around with you, Lady May.”

She didn’t reply. “Our poor August, here, was done for, by his own admission,” Linden continued. “Someone tried to disguise a freshly healed sword wound with a new and shallower cut, but it’s a clumsy job. Especially since there’s a corresponding scar on his back. I’ve never seen such a pair of scars like that before… most people with that sort of wound don’t last a day. Now August assures me his blood is actually rather thin, making it difficult for him to clot a cut finger. He says you did something to him… something scientific, which brought him back from the brink of death. The last person to try that was general Armiger, whose entire army was destroyed by the Winds.”

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