Spellweaver - By Lynn Kurland Page 0,1

the pain of blood rushing back into his hands was so intense, it almost rendered him senseless. He closed his eyes and concentrated on breathing evenly until his hands stopped throbbing enough that he could think clearly again. And once he could, he turned his mind quickly to how best to escape.

Fortunately, luck was with him. The lads were so involved in their conversation, they weren’t paying him any heed. Then again, they hadn’t paid heed to the mage standing just outside the circle of their torchlight either.

Damn it anyway.

It was Amitán of Ceangail who stood there, watching silently. Ruith held out no hope that his bastard brother hadn’t seen him. He was only surprised Amitán hadn’t already plunged a knife into his chest.

Then again, that might have been because it would have been deflected by a spell of protection Ruith suddenly realized he was covered by. It was, he had to admit, a rather elegant thing, fashioned from Olc—if such grace were possible from that vile, unwholesome magic. He was so surprised to find it there; he could only stare at it in silence for several moments. Given that he certainly hadn’t provided the like for himself, he had to wonder who had. Obviously someone wanted him alive and unharmed.

He wasn’t sure he dared speculate on who that might be.

He supposed he could at least eliminate from the list his half brother, who stepped close to the spell, had a look at it, then swore at him in a furious whisper.

“Don’t think that will save your sorry self,” Amitán hissed. “Once I have what I want from you, I’ll kill you in spite of that rot. And once you’re dead, I’ll find that pretty little wench of yours and have what I want from her as well.”

“But she has no power,” Ruith said, because it was true. Sarah had no magic, and the sooner he convinced everyone within earshot of that, the safer she would be.

“You fool,” Amitán said scornfully, “she sees spells. Did you think we hadn’t noticed?”

Ruith didn’t have a chance to respond before Amitán strode out into the light cast by the fire. Aye, he’d very much hoped his bastard brothers hadn’t noticed what Sarah could do. But if they had and if they thought they could force her to use that gift to further their own ends ...

Nay, he wouldn’t let that happen to her. He rubbed his thighs as surreptitiously as possible to bring the feeling back to his legs and watched his guardsmen spin around to face Amitán, their hands on their swords.

“Oy, what do ye want?” the largest of the three demanded, with an admirable amount of fierceness.

“Tidings,” Amitán said shortly, jerking his head in Ruith’s direction. “Who captured that one?”

“Can’t say,” the first said stubbornly.

“Can’t, or won’t?” Amitán asked in a low, dangerous tone.

The second stepped up to stand shoulder to shoulder with the first. “I don’t see as that matters, friend, do you?”

“It matters, friend, because I want the answer. And if you have two wits to rub together, you’ll give it to me before I reward your refusal in a way you will find very unpleasant indeed.”

The lads stood firm, but Ruith imagined they were beginning to regret having taken on the task of guarding him to begin with. He couldn’t blame them. He had his own very vivid memories of encounters with his elder half brothers. They were, to a man, unpleasant and without mercy. He supposed he could concede that they were justified in their hatred of him and his siblings given that he was certain they had looked upon them as usurpers, but he’d suffered enough as a child thanks to their abuse not to feel compelled to extend any undue understanding their way now.

“There was a woman with him earlier,” Amitán pressed on relentlessly. “Where is she?”

The third elbowed his way to the front of the group. “Sold her to traders, did His Lordsh—”

Ruith watched as his companions jerked him backward and shouted him into silence. He wasn’t sure if it was because Sarah’s fate had been revealed or if the man had been on the verge of unwittingly revealing who had hired them.

If Amitán didn’t pry the entire tale from them, he certainly would.

He continued to rub his hands against his legs as he listened closely to Amitán and the men carrying on their discussion in increasingly belligerent tones. He quickly looked around him for a convenient escape route, then noticed something he hadn’t

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