“Armel shrugged. "I suppose so, Brother, but why do creatures have to fight?"
Demple picked Mudge up and placed him on his shoulder. "Because there's always good and bad in the land, and goodbeasts have to protect their friends an' families from evil ones who want nothing but to conquer an' destroy.”
“Go find someone who will care for ye good, to sit quiet by yore side at the fire, an' if he treats ye decent as you hoped he would, you'll have all that your heart can desire.”
“Rakkety Rakkety Rakkety Tam, the drums are beatin' braw. Rakkety Rakkety Rakkety Tam, are ye marchin' off tae war?”
“When the sun slips o'er the treetops,
then small birds fly off to nest.
Feel the peace lie on the meadows,
'tis a time that I love best.
Slumber on, little one,
I am ever near.
Drowsily, lean on me,
dream small dreams, my dear.
All the jewelled stars a-twinkle,
Watch the clouds drift through the night.
Sail upon thy boats of dreaming,
to the rays of dawning's light.
Slumber on, day is gone,
by thy side I'll lay.
Fear no harm, rest in calm,
'til the golden day.”
“Rakkety Rakkety Rakkety Tam, the drums are beatin’ braw. Rakkety Rakkety Rakkety Tam, are ye marchin’ off tae war? A warrior from the borders came, a buckler o’er his shoulder, a claymore swingin’ at his side, there’s no’ a beast who’s bolder! O Rakkety Tam has sold his sword, Ah scarce believe he’s done it. He swore an oath untae a fool, who took his pledge upon it!”
“When I joined the regiment my comrades said to me, there is one beast we fear more than the foe. An army marches on its stomach, so ’tis plain to see, that fool we call the cook has got to go! O the cook! O the cook! If words could kill, or just a dirty look, he’d have snuffed it long ago, turned his paws up doncha know, he’d be gladly written off the record book! What a greasy fat old toad, that assassin of the road, we tried to hire him to the enemy. But they smelt the stew he made, mercy on us they all prayed, we’ll surrender, you can have him back for free! O the cook! O the cook! He could poison a battalion with his chuck. I’ve seen him boilin’ cabbage, an’ the filthy little savage, takes a bath in it to wash off all the muck! He made a batch of scones, big grey lumpy solid ones, the Sergeant lost four teeth at just one bite. Then an officer ordered me, sling them at the enemy, an’ those that we don’t slay we’ll put to flight! O the cook! O the cook! He’s stirring porridge with his rusty hook. Playin’ hopscotch with the toast, he’s the one that we hate most, tonight we’re goin’ to roast that bloomin’ cook!” A”
“You say respect my elders, but what you mean is respecting my betters, is that not right? Are you so full of your own arrogance that you need me to bow and kowtow to you like some throwback fledgling? Or perhaps we should reinstate the role of concubines in our society. Then you may have the pleasure of claiming me and forcing me to fall to my knees, bowing low in respect of your masculine eminence!”
Gideon watched as she did just that, her gown billowing around her as she gracefully kneeled before him, so close to him that her knees touched the tips of his boots. She swept her hands to her sides, bowing her head until her forehead brushed the leather, her hair spilling like reams of heavy silk around his ankles.
The Ancient found himself unusually speechless, the strangest sensation creeping through him as he looked down at the exposed nape of her neck, the elegant line of her back. Unable to curb the impulse, Gideon lowered himself into a crouch, reaching beneath the cloak of coffee-colored hair to touch her flushed cheek. The heat of her anger radiated against his touch and he recognized it long before she turned her face up to him.
“Does this satisfy you, my lord Gideon?” she whispered fiercely, her eyes flashing like flinted steel and hard jade.
Gideon found himself searching her face intently, his eyes roaming over the high, aristocratic curves of her cheekbones, the amazingly full sculpture of her lips, the wide, accusing eyes that lay behind extraordinarily thick lashes. He cupped her chin between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand, his fingertips fanning softly over her angrily flushed cheek.
“You do enjoy mocking me,” he murmured softly to her, the breath of his words close enough to skim across her face.
“No more than you seem to enjoy condescending to me,” she replied, her clipped words coming out on quick, heated breaths.
Gideon absorbed this latest venom with a blink of lengthy lashes. They kept their gazes locked, each seemingly waiting for the other to look away.
“You have never forgiven me,” he said suddenly, softly.
“Forgiven you?” She laughed bitterly. “Gideon, you are not important enough to earn my forgiveness.”
“Is your ego so fragile, Legna, that a small slight to it is irreparable?”
“Stop talking to me as if I were a temperamental child!” Legna hissed, moving to jerk her head back but finding his grip quite secure. “There was nothing slight about the way you treated me. I will never forget it, and I most certainly will never forget it!”
“It's not a happy ending!" she wept, as Elena stared at her, dumbfounded. "It will never be a happy ending! How can I possibly have a happy ending when I am going to have to spend the rest of my life without the creature I love?"
Elena blinked at her, as did virtually everyone else in the courtyard.
"You did say 'creature,' am I correct?" Elena asked cautiously. "And you do mean-"
But she had already run across the courtyard and flung herself at Peri's neck, wrapping both arms around it. "I mean I am in love with Periapt," she cried, sobbing. "And I don't care who knows it! He's clever, he's wise, he's kind and gentle, he's noble-"
And to her shock and amazement, Peri let out a bellow that sounded positively heartbroken.
"I will never love anyone but you!" he cried. "I swear, I will never take a mate if it can't be you, and I don't care if they exile me from the clan forever for that. Let them exile me!" He shook his head violently as he looked down at her. "If only you could be a dragon, or make me human!" he cried, curving his neck around her and holding her close.
Andie wept on, consumed with despair. "I will never, ever, ever find someone I love as much as you.”
“[H]e was one of those people who got to the top of an organisation through luck, connections, the indulgence of superiors and that sort of carelessness towards others that the easily impressed termed ruthlessness and those of a less gullible nature called sociopathy. But sometimes, just through his sheer unthinking brusqueness and inability to think through the consequences of a remark, he said what everybody else was only thinking. A comic poet working in obscene doggerel.”
“Old men want to feel that the experience which has come with their years is valuable, that their advice is valuable, that they possess a sagacity that could be obtained only through experience— a sagacity that could be of use to young men if only young men would ask.”
“One device, however, that our men had prepared proved very useful – pointed hooks fixed into the ends of long poles, not unlike the grappling-hooks used in sieges. With these the halyards were grasped and pulled taut, and then snapped by rowing hard away. This of course brought the yards down, and since the Gallic ships depended wholly on their sails and rigging, when stripped of these they were at once immobilized.”
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