Sons of the Falcon (The Falcons Saga)

Sons of the Falcon (The Falcons Saga) by Court Ellyn

Book: Sons of the Falcon (The Falcons Saga) by Court Ellyn Read Free Book Online
Authors: Court Ellyn
nervous.
If I knew she was waiting for me, then I’d be nervous. But I don’t know even
that much.”
    “I admit, I never expected you to
remain this dedicated.”
    “Maybe that’s what Bethyn thought,
too.” Laral pushed his trencher away, suddenly too queasy to eat. Drys took
that as an invitation to help himself and swiped up Laral’s stew with a slice
of black bread.
    Kalla sighed wistfully. “Bethyn
would be a fool to turn you away.”
    Drys glanced up from his feast.
“Hey, Kalla? Why don’t you ever sigh over me?”
    She rested her chin in the palm of
her hand in a manner that screamed of longsuffering. “Because you have stew on
your chin, Drys.”
     
    ~~~~
     
    T wo days later, they arrived
at the copse of dead ash trees where the demon fell. Below the hill, the silver
ripples of the Thunderwater scythed a path through field and vineyard. The
hillsides grew green again, and none could tell that armies had camped there
and trampled the pastures to dust. Brengarra Town stretched out along the riverbanks.
The slate roofs gleamed in the afternoon sun, and the steady, quiet clamor of
the villagers passing along the cobbled streets bespoke a return to normality.
At the northern end of town, sheltered in the lea of the Shadow Mounds, the
castle reared up above the river crossing. The  thick basalt walls and heavy,
spiraling towers brooded over their domain. Beyond rose Tor Roth, that fist of
black granite ever ringed by rumbling storm clouds. The sun cast the tor’s
shadow long across the meadows, like a god’s sundial.
    “Well, let’s get this over with,”
Drys said, starting down the hill.
    “Wait,” Laral cried. “We can’t see
her like this, covered in dust and smelling of horse.”
    “You mean, she’s this close and
you’re gonna put it off till you’ve had a bath?” Drys’s face registered no
comprehension.
    For once, Kalla agreed with him. “She
won’t care, Laral.”
    He stared at those spiraling towers
and felt his stomach turn. “ Now I’m nervous, all right?”
    Kalla chuckled. “You won’t be less
nervous tomorrow.”
    How hard to cluck his horse into
motion and descend that hill. All too soon he rode into the shadow of the
gatehouse. Laral dismounted on legs of lead and banged the knocker on the
postern door. The thick curtains of ivy that shrouded the towers provided
plenty of cover for the watchmen on the turrets. A voice, flat with boredom,
called down, “State your name and business.”
    “Lie,” Drys hissed.
    “Why?”
    “You’re asking for admittance into
an enemy stronghold, idiot. Let Bethyn decide if we ride out again, not some bastard
in the tower.”
    Maybe Laral was an idiot, but he
didn’t want to play games. He called toward the battlements, “I am Laral of
Tírandon, and I beg an audience with Lady Brengarra.”
    “Tírandon?” snapped the reply, all
trace of boredom gone. “Wait there.”
    Drys swore, and Kalla’s fingers
tightened about the haft of her sword. A painfully long stretch of time slipped
past. Unsettling quiet gripped the battlements. “They’re measuring us for our
pyres, I’ll warrant,” Drys said.
    “Stay calm,” Laral warned.
    The postern door opened abruptly. A
sentry in a battered helm waved them in. “Leave your horses. His Lordship has
been expecting you.”
    “Lordship?” Laral’s heart plummeted.
    “Ah, shit,” said Drys.
    “Too late, Laral.” Kalla squeezed
his shoulder. “You came all this way, so speak with her anyway.” She nudged him
through the postern before he could decide what to do. He and his companions
followed the sentry through the mossy, cool darkness under the gatehouse and
into the sunny courtyard.
    Two men stood on the steps to the
keep. The shapes of their faces and set of their eyes marked them father and
son. The older man was round in the belly, and an elaborately waxed beard made
up for the lack of hair on his head. He waved the sentry away. “To your posts,
as you rehearsed.” The sentry

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