“Ow!" said Horace as the Ranger's fingers probed and poked around the bruise.
Did that hurt?" Halt asked, and Horace looked at him with exasperation.
Of course it did," he said sharply. "That's why I said 'ow!”
“Sometimes," Halt continued, "we tend to expect a little too much of Ranger horses. After all, they are only human.”
“Halt?" he said diffidently. He heard a deep sigh from the short, slightly built man riding beside him. Mentally he kicked himself.
I thought you must be coming down with some illness for a moment there," Halt said straight faced. "It must be two or three minutes since you've asked a question." Commited now, Horace continued.
One of those girls," he began, and immediately felt the Ranger's eyes on him. "She was wearing a very short skirt."
There was the slightest pause.
Yes?" Halt prompted, not sure where this conversation was leading. Horace shrugged uncomfortably. The memory of the girl, and her shapely legs, was causing his cheeks to burn with embarrassment again.
Well," he said uncertainly, "I just wondered if that was normal over, that's all." Halt considered the serious young face beside him. He cleared his throat several times.
I believe that sometimes Gallican girls take jobs as couriers.
Couriers. They carry messages from one person to another. Or from one buisness to another, in towns and cities." Halt checked to see if Horace seemed to believe him so far. There seemed no reason to think otherwise, so he added: "Urgent messages."
Urgent messages," Horace replied, still not seeing the connection. But he seemed inclined to believe what Halt was saying, so the older man continued.
And I suppose for a really urgent message, one would have to run."
Now he saw a glimmer of understanding in the boy's eyes. Horace nodded several times as he made the connection.
So, the short skirts...they'd be to help them run more easily?" he suggested. Halt nodded in his turn.
It would be more sensible for of dress than long skirts, if you wanted to do a lot of runnig." He shot a quick look at Horace to see if his gentle teasing was not being turned back on himself-to see if, in fact, the boy realized Halt was talking nosense and was simply leading him on. Horace's face, however, was open and believing.
I suppose so," Horace replied finally, then added in a softer voice, "They certainly look a lot better that way too.”
“They have terrified my poor wife and threatened my very person!"
Halt eyed the man impassivley until the outburst was finished.
Worse than that," he said quietly, "they've wasted my time.”
“Do you think you could put that boot back on?" he added mildly. "The window can only let in a limited ammount of fresh air and your socks are a tough ripe, to put it mildly."
Oh, sorry!" said Horace, tugging the riding boot back on over his sock. Now that Halt mentioned it, he was aware of a rather strong odor in the room.”
“Halt snorted derisively. "Battleschool evidently isn't what it used to be," he replied. "It's a fine thing when an old man like me can sleep comfortably in the open while a young boy gets all stiff and rheumatic over it."
Horace shrugged. "Be that as it may," he replied, "I'll still be glad to sleep in a bed tonight."
Actually, Halt felt the same way. But he wasn't going to let Horace no that.”
“It was safe to assume that the rider would be carrying a weapon of some kind. After all, there was no point in wearing half armor and going weaponless.”
“The battle, if you could call it that, lasted no more than a few seconds.
“Relax? he repeated incredulously. You're going to fight an armored knight with nothing more than a bow and you tell me to relax?
I'll have one or two arrows as well, you know, Halt told him mildly, and Horace shook his head in disbelief.”
“Remember, this thing is small. It's not like the wolfships. It'll ride over the waves, not crash through them. So we're safe as houses."
He wasn't sure about the last two statements, but they seemed logical to him.”
“In a month, the passes into Teutlandt and Skanida will be open and my companion and I will be on our way."
He paused and Philemon frowned, trying to understand what he was being told.
You want us to come with you?" he asked, at last. "You expect us to follow you?"
Halt shook his head. "I have no wish to ever see any of you again," he said flatly.”
“He had lost control over his own body, he realized dully.”
“It formed into small drops on his weather beaten features, drops that rolled down his cheeks. Strangely, some of them tasted like salt.”
“He appeared nondescript enough, that was for sure. His clothes were simple-verging on drab, in fact. His beard and hair were badly cut. They looked as if he had cut them with a hunting knife, thought Deparnieux,unaware that he was only one of many people to have had that very same thoughts about Halt.”
“Will was worth at least a few tears from a grizzled old wreck like himself, he thought, and made no move to wipe them away.”
“I said you were Sir Horace of the Order of the Oakleaf,” Halt told him, then added uncertainly, “At least, I think that’s what I told him. I may have said you were of the Order of the Oak Pancake.” Horace”
“Never give up because, if an opportunity arises, you have to be ready to take it. Don’t give up,”
“Erak belched quietly and leaned to one side so he could scratch his backside. He was sure that Slagor’s crew had brought fleas with them into the hut. It was the one discomfort they had not had to bear so far. Cold, damp, smoke and smell. But now they could add fleas. He wished, not for the first time, that Slagor’s wolfship had gone down in the gales on the Stormwhite Sea.”
“Each time, he felt that this could well be the last. He put both arms around Evanlyn, felt her arms go around his neck in return,”
“warlords battled constantly for supremacy and the possibility of attack was ever present. The castle itself was squat and powerful, with thick walls and heavy towers at each of the four corners. It had none of the soaring grace of Redmont or Castle Araluen. Rather, it was a dark, brooding and forbidding structure, built for war and for no other reason. Halt had told Horace that the word Montsombre translated to mean “dark mountain.” It seemed an appropriate name for the thick-walled building at the end of the winding, tortuous pathway. The name became even more meaningful as they climbed higher. There were poles lining the side of the road, with strange, square structures hanging from them. As they drew closer, Horace could make out, to his horror, that the structures were iron cages, only an arm span wide, containing the remains of what used to be men. They hung high above the roadway, swaying gently in the wind that keened around the upper reaches of the path. Some had obviously been there for many months. The figures inside were dried-out husks, blackened and shriveled by their long exposure, and festooned in fluttering rags of rotting cloth. But others were newer and the men inside were recognizable. The cages were constructed from iron bars arranged in squares, leaving room for ravens and crows to enter and tear at the men’s flesh. The eyes of most of the bodies had been plucked out by the birds. He glanced, sickened, at Halt’s grim face. Deparnieux saw the movement and smiled at him, delighted with the impression his roadside horrors were having on the boy. “Just the occasional criminal,” he said easily. “They’ve all been tried and convicted, of course. I insist on a strict rule of law in Montsombre.” “What were their crimes?” the boy asked. His throat was thick and constricted and it was difficult to form the words. Again, Deparnieux gave him that unconcerned smile. He made a pretense of trying to think. “Let’s say ‘various,’” he replied. “In short, they displeased me.” Horace held the other man’s amused gaze for a few seconds, then,”
“The rivalry of the European states in constantly increasing their forces has reduced them to the necessity of having recourse to universal military service, since by that means the greatest possible number of soldiers is obtained at the least possible expense. Germany first hit on this device. And directly one state adopted it the others were obliged to do the same. And by this means all citizens are under arms to support the iniquities practiced upon them; all citizens have become their own
“We now had impressive evidence that low protein intake could markedly decrease enzyme activity and prevent dangerous carcinogen binding to DNA.”
“Some day, Prince Kheldar, you will fall in love," the queen said with a little smirk, "and the twelve kingdoms will stand around and chortle over the fall of so notorious a bachelor.”
“When I'm done sorting out the Unit, Alex and I are going to have a little chat"
"Over my dead body"
"I'm thinking over his dead body.”
“Only the lower natures forget themselves and become something new. Thus the butterfly has entirely forgotten that it was a caterpillar, perhaps it may in turn so entirely forget it was a butterfly that is becomes a fish.”
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