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Barbara Hambly - [Darwath 07] - Whisper by Hambly

Barbara Hambly - [Darwath 07] - Whisper by Hambly

Author:Hambly
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Published: 2015-07-18T05:00:00+00:00


*

It was two at first, toddlers Mithrys’ age, born since the Summerless Year. Their mothers came, weeping, to Ingold: the children weren’t dead, but could not be wakened. Ingold, haggard and red-eyed from sleepless nights in the library, stood for a long time beside the infants’ cradles, and beside him Gil – who had never had any use for children prior to bearing Mithrys – felt tears burn her eyes, of pity, horror and grief. The wizard passed his thick-muscled warrior’s hand across the still faces, stroked his thumb across the lids of the shut eyes, his own eyes shut, as if listening intently. When he turned away his face was grim with anger.

Bors met them outside the cell of the second of the terrified families. “Put your black magic in my mind,” he said softly. “Turn it inside-out and see if ever I touched a thing that brought this pass on those little ones.”

Gil and Caldern both insisted that Ingold work the spell of gnodyrr on them as well – far deeper than hypnosis, which Gil had also had at a birthday-party when she was fourteen, though she suspected she’d been too skeptical, even then, to be a good subject. The Icefalcon refused, but nobody really suspected him of pocketing glowstones or anything else for the black market anyway.

“At least I know now what it might be,” murmured Ingold, when Bors, shaken, drowsy, and certifiably not the culprit, was helped by two of his friends down the long Guard-room to his bunk. The old man sat back, exhausted himself, and accepted the hot tea Gil handed him: black magic, she gathered, was extremely hard on the practitioner as well as the subject of the spells, one reason that it was usually sourced from the energies raised by blood, pain, and death.

Rudy, Ilae, and Brother Wend gathered more closely around his chair, and the Guards – at least a dozen of whom had remained in the long room, at Bors’ insistence, to bear witness to his innocence – got their training-swords and filed out to join the drill class going on next door, leaving the little group of wizards around the hearth.

“There are spirits called Whispers,” said Ingold quietly. “Not magic in themselves, but they have an affinity for magic. If that’s what this thing is, it’s by far the largest I’ve ever encountered. One usually finds them in low-lying country, where it’s hot – or was hot, anyway. Coastal salt-marshes in Alketch or in the Morrian Lands—”

“Then the Lost Keep must be the one the Black Scroll calls Skanyin,” said Gil. “It was in what I’m pretty sure is the Morrian area – that’s east of here, isn’t it? Across the Eastern Ocean? It would be mid-morning there, when it was still night here. It’s only mentioned once, in the oldest section of the scroll.”

“Is there a ward against them?” Brother Wend’s round, rather boyish face puckered with anxiety. “A spell that will drive them forth?”

“There is.” Ingold cradled the small ivory cup between his hands.



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