wouldn't make eye contact with her.

Her curiosity gnawed at her. At the gutter she stopped and risked a glance.

The woman was still staring at the sphere that hovered over the statue's outstretched hand. She was watching for Aundra Blacklock.

The woman was soaked to the skin, her dark hair plastered against her back and shoulders like a shroud. Up close, Tennora could see her aquiline nose, her skin the color of burnt sugar, and the sharp outlines of sinewy muscles wrapping up the woman's arms. The woman's hands were clenched at her sides. She wore nothing but a linen sheath with a belt and a pouch on a leather string around her neck. Just looking at her made Tennora want to shiver.

Tennora clearly made no impression on the woman. Nor, it seemed, did the rain, the children watching from the windows of the God Catcher, or anything else.

Tennora felt a twinge of pity. After all, trying to deal with Aundra Blacklock could make anyone a little mad.

And, too much like Tennora, the woman seemed to be at the end of her rope.

'Excuse me,' Tennora said, before her fear could stop her. 'Do you need some help?'

The woman kept staring at the God Catcher.

'Excuse me?' Tennora tried again. 'Coins bright? Are you a friend of Mistress Blacklock's?'


'Would you like to come in while you wait for her? To the hearth-house here?' Tennora paused. 'I'd rather not dine alone.'

'Dokaal,' the woman said, 'what makes you think I need or even wish for your assistance?' The woman's voice was coldly musical and it made the hair on Tennora's arms stand on end. Her mouth felt dry, and she swallowed.

'Perhaps,' Tennora said, hesitantly, 'because you are standing in the rain with no stormcloak.'

The woman looked down at her arms and the state of her tattered dress-which was rapidly becoming translucent-as if she hadn't noticed the fact.

'I will survive it,' she said.

'The Watch will be back.'

'And I will remind them why they fled the last time.'

'They didn't exactly flee.'

The woman's gaze was suddenly on Tennora, her eyes bright blue against the cold gray of the rain. 'What did you say?'

'They didn't exactly flee,' Tennora said. 'They just gave up.'

'It is the same.' The woman snorted. She looked back up at the God Catcher.

Tennora pulled her hood down. If the woman wanted to stand in the rain and skulk like a lunatic until the Watch came back and dragged her off, that wasn't Tennora's concern. She'd tried her best. If the woman died of damp lungs, she couldn't fault herself.

'Well, good evening then.'

As she turned, an iron grip closed around her forearm and yanked her back. The woman was looking down at her again, speculative now. She wore a strange biting perfume that Tennora hadn't noticed before.

'You came from the statue.'


'Do you know Blacklock?'

Tennora frowned. 'Aundra?' She tried to pull free and failed. 'She owns the God Catcher.'

'Do you know her?'

'I don't think anyone knows Aundra, whatever you mean. Can I be on my way?'

The woman let go, and Tennora stumbled backward. 'You know Aundra Blacklock,' the woman said, 'so I would like to have that help you offered. I need information.'

'I only offered a meal and company. I don't know what you want from Aundra-'

'I need… help.' The woman drew herself up-she was very tall-and held her chin a little higher. 'I have a problem to discuss with her.'

Tennora hesitated-she wasn't about to give some mad-woman a map to Aundra. But what was to stop the woman from following Tennora into the hearth-house and harassing her there? Besides, there wasn't much information she could give about Aundra Blacklock. Nothing the woman didn't already seem to know.

Call it, she thought as she entered the hearth-house, my good deed for the day, and hope the gods are paying attention.

The hearth-house was warm and anything but gray and wet. If Aunt Aowena had set foot inside she would have pressed her handkerchief to her nose and never lowered it, but Tennora thought the place had a certain irrepressible charm. Mardin, the owner, watched from behind the bar as Tennora came in and hung her stormcloak by the fire. Aunt Aowena would also have a few things to say about Tennora carrying on a friendship with the owner of a hearth-house, but Mardin Eftnacost had been a friend of her mother's-from before she had married Tennora's pleasant and respectable father and settled down.

Mardin had visited a few times when Liferna was still alive, always bringing little Tennora a gift and a story. And when she'd moved to the God Catcher, he made a point of watching out for her. He was a better uncle, she was sorry to admit, than Uncle Eckhart-a friendly ear to bend and a shoulder to cry on, and a free meal to offer if her rent was due. He'd been the one to teach Tennora how to handle herself if some tough tried to roll her-including the trick with the kidneys. He'd been in far worse scrapes and far more interesting adventures than anything Tennora had weathered. There was nothing like hearing a story of escaping from a tribe of gnolls in the middle of the night, still tied up, to put embarrassing herself in front of her classmates into proper perspective.

Mardin raised an eyebrow at the woman dripping on the floor and glaring at the ceiling. Tennora shook her head as if to say, 'Don't ask,' and held up two fingers for ale and whatever smelled so deliciously of rosemary. She sat down at a table close to the fire. That time of day, Mardin's hearth-house wasn't crowded.

The woman sat down across from her, where she could look out the cracked window at the God Catcher. 'Where is Aundra Blacklock?'

'I have no idea,' Tennora said.

'When will she return?'

'I don't know that either.'

A grin that was more frustration than joy curved the woman's mouth. 'Well, dokaal, what do you know?' 'I know you're chasing a very difficult person to pin down.' One of the serving girls set two mugs on the table. 'And my name's Tennora. Tennora Hedare. What's yours?'

The woman's smile fluttered, as if she might laugh or maybe cry.

'Clytemorrenestrix,' she said, speaking each syllable with care and precision as if it were a pearl she was laying down before Tennora.

'It's pretty,' Tennora said and meant it. 'Is it Tethyrian?'

'No,' the woman said.

'You just… you looked as if you might be Tethyrian,' Tennora said, sensing she'd hit a nerve. 'It's very unique. I feel as if I know it though. It almost sounds like a name out of a storybook. Like an ancient queen.'

She laughed-a brittle, strange laugh that made Tennora shiver. 'Not a queen.'

Tennora frowned. 'Does it… mean something?'

''She Will Thunder in the Sky.''

'That would be an interesting name for a queen,' Tennora said with a tentative smile. 'Or perhaps some sort of folk heroine, like in the old stories…'

Her voice failed her. She felt her mouth dry up again, and the pages of history books flew by her mind's eye. She knew where she'd heard a name like that before.

'No,' she heard herself whisper. 'It's not for a queen, is it? Not a heroine. It's a dragon's name.'

Clytemorrenestrix slowly looked up at Tennora through dark lashes, and this time Tennora could see that her eyes glowed like caged spellplague. The look they gave her was not merely speculative but predatory. The woman's perfume smelled like nothing so much as the air in summer when the sky was full of lightning, so much so that Tennora felt as if it crackled in her lungs.

Вы читаете The God Catcher
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату