Bloodstone by Karl Edward Wagner

Bloodstone by Karl Edward Wagner

Author:Karl Edward Wagner [Bloodstone]
Format: epub
Tags: Fantasy - General
ISBN: 9780446306294
Publisher: Grand Central Pub
Published: 1983-02-15T06:00:00+00:00


XIV

Flight into Nightmare

The rain was cold, the mist from the river colder. Teres huddled under the clammy folds of the cape, limbs pressed together for warmth. The cloak was soaked through, but kept the rain off; underneath she wore only the brief halter and loin belt, and through the thin silk, the filigree, chains and beads were chill against her flesh. She considered her packet of clothing, but left it under the bowpiece where it could stay dry. She could not get any wetter, at least, and should the boat capsize, she could swim better like this. Through the night the river bore her along. In the darkness it was impossible to judge her speed, but the boat seemed to hurtle through the rain. Logs and bits of drift bobbed past, pulled from the shore as the Neltoben climbed along its banks. At first, Teres's heart caught each time a chunk of flotsam nudged against the boat. But their course and speed were about the same, and presently she ignored the other passengers upon the flood current. Occasionally she drifted near enough to discern the blacker shadow of the riverbank, and quickly she would steer the boat back into the middle of the stream. A few snags reached out, but these were rare, for the river had risen several feet, and the racing current swirled her craft past such obstructions.

A monotonous drizzle, the rain continued to fall. Dawn was drawing near, though, for the skies were tinged with gray. The shoreline became a dark wall, dreamily floating past her boat, and the mist grew thicker, whiter with the approach of light. At present there seemed little to do to man the rowboat; the river appeared willing to carry her back to her land without effort on her part. It was not even raining heavily enough now to bail.

Wearily Teres slumped across the stern. Her hair was wringing wet and made a clammy pillow as she stretched trying to make herself comfortable. The patter of rain and the mumble of the river were soothing, hypnotic. When had she last slept? An eternity ago, it seemed. The ordeal of the last few days left her exhausted, drained of strength physically and emotionally. How pleasant it was to lie here, alone with the river and the rain and the coming dawn.

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Teres slept.

Dreams came to her, flowing like the river. Troubled scenes of battle, shiny blades flashing for her. She fought frantically, her movements slow, clumsy. She hacked at onrushing assailants whose bodies showed no wound, who kept coming toward her even as she slashed and chopped their unyielding flesh. Swords stabbed into her, tore her skin. She seemed to feel the pain, moaned and twisted as she lay, unable to waken fully.

Faces drifted past her consciousness, flotsam on the current. Familiar ones whose names she knew, anonymous faces who had swirled before her eyes in the fury of combat. Malchion--always taunting, laughing at her as he encouraged her. Ristkon--his face ghastly purple, twisted smile leering.



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