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Изменено (AggressiveBacon): 3/10/2019 2:53:26 PM

The Lords of Ambros (Chapter 10, Part 3)

Table of Contents: [b]Chapter 10, Part 3[/b] It was not until morning, Roak had announced, that their host should depart in pursuit of their quarry. Until then, Locke was left to tend to the wounds of the killer of his friend. He did so in silence, but not without care. He thought, keeping watch over the form of his fellow, that Hardy looked (in contrast to his former self) entirely without malice, and was indeed quite pale. His eyes were closed. His breathing, shallow. He had, it seemed, given up, and was content to die. His fate-though given, in word, to Locke-lay upon the whim of the moment, to be decided by the slightest shift of circumstance. Roak saw this, too, it seemed, for in each of his passing appraisals (which now came often), the Warlord had to him a look of impatience. Though he did not speak, the sum of his manner suggested two words: [i]Not yet.[/i] The whole of the day went by in this way, as did-in its wake-the night, with Roak drifting between silent thought and silent observation; Locke keeping his watch; Hardy, tempting death. By the show of dawn, Locke looked for the first time in hours upon the face of his withered charge, which he had guarded till then in the absence of sight. There was again some color in it, and some life. Life enough, Roak seemed to think, to bear the burden of travel, for it was immediately after assessing the boy’s condition that the Warlord declared they should set out. Whatever the Risen had expected, Hardy did not bear travel well at all. Locke had, with the aim of sparing his patient the inevitable exertion that would otherwise be demanded of him, attempted to carry the ailing boy. As a simple matter of muscle and weight ratios, he was destined to fail at this task. Fate pulled no favors, and he was soon upon the ground beside his living cargo. No others moved to help. None dared. Since his murdering Mason, the other refugees had avoided so much as acknowledging Hardy’s existence, for fear of unknown and unknowable consequences. This left only Roak to aid the two in their endeavor. He did not. So, Hardy had walked. Locke remained at his side throughout the journey, supporting him often, in place of a cane, and mindful to stop when he suspected need for rest. On each such occasion, the host was called to a halt by Roak’s order. Still, the Warlord paid no heed to Hardy; he stopped only for Locke. After hours of stumbling toil, the disorderly column of youths was again halted by word of the Wolf. Those within it obeyed gratefully. Many collapsed to the ground in exhaustion. Hardy and Locke were among them. Tired as they were, the depths of their fatigue did not stop the brightest of the refugees from sensing something odd in their circumstances. Hardy and Locke were among [i]these[/i], too. The conscripts were, to the last, weary of their late wanderings, and saw little hope of a gentler road ahead. Their clothes were weathered and ragged; their shoes, worn through; the feet and the hands of a great many were bloody and frostbitten. Some were of such poor health that those about them doubted their surviving the effort at all, battle or none. Yet none of these things, the refugees knew, were cause for their stopping. That decision, as the rationale behind it, rested solely with the Wolf. This knowledge sparked, in those who possessed it, a great deal of unease. For a span of some hours now, the Warlord had appeared quite on edge. He would, in their marching, easily outstrip his followers; rebound to the place of the furthest straggler; outstrip them again…all the while remaining silent as to his purpose. He made a practice of pacing about in this way, marching to and fro, stopping only to observe the murderer’s condition or-more rarely-to listen. It was with the latter of these tasks that he was presently engaged. Locke watched for some time, just as many others, as Roak paced. He appeared plagued by some manner of indecision: the final product of that day’s mounting impatience. With time, his movements grew more mechanical, pulling more of his focus from his evidently unpleasant musings. After what felt hours, but may as easily have been minutes or days, the Risen snapped, and broke from the rut which he had so long tread. He made, with sudden purpose, for the place where Locke and his patient sat, resting. As was now ritual, he made note of the latter’s state. Apparently finding in it something previously lacked, Roak broke precedent, and seized Hardy by the arm. The boy, as shocked by this development as any other, hadn’t any thought to resist. He was quickly brought to stand before a low stone, and was there held steady. The Warlord before him unsheathed a knife: the very same that had ended a life the day prior [Continued]

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