Lihan Hawkhome, Part V

Thursday January 22, 2004 @ 07:08 PM (UTC)

And now, the stunning conclusion!

Two guards in the courtyard looked at each other in consternation as a pen-knife and an ink-cake rattled to stillness in Lihan’s dusty wake. “Was that an Anathema?” said Cuprek, rather wistfully, and Arn nodded. “I always thought they’d be…bigger.” “Scarier,” Arn agreed, watching the blaze of light dwindle down the road like a will-o-the-wisp. “THE ANATHEMA IS GETTING AWAY, SNAILS!” shrieked the red-headed brat in her very best regal manner, and the guards, along with those dashing from the manse, rushed to horse.

“That was my best pen-knife, too,” Lihan fretted, “what a terrifying day.” The horse did not reply, and there was no company but the sound of hoofbeats and the choking dust. However, the hoofbeats were too many, and company he would soon have. The piebald was already tired from its messenger run, and the guards he saw behind him were gaining, for all their heavy armour.

“Er, the Exalted of the Unconquered Sun easily lay low their enemies, right?” The horse once again disdained to answer, and Lihan studied his long, thin fingers, smudged with ink. “I think I might be able to lay low a small dog, if he were an enemy. More than that, I fail to see.” The horse flicked an ear backwards, as if to indicate that perhaps those heavily armed people coming up behind might care a little more than he did. Lihan looked over his shoulder, and found that the guards were close enough that he could see their oiled moustaches glinting in the coruscating light of his anima. “Fewmets of the Forest Dragon!” he swore, and, from some instinct born from the coupling of fear and deeply stirring memory, thrust one thin, spidery hand over his shoulder, shutting his eyes in fear and fervent prayer.

There was a sound like a plague of locusts scraping their carapaces together as they settled down for a rest in a ruined field. A thousand flinty whispers of sound and menace, and a rushing sensation, an almost feathery breath, caressing his palm. The next sound he heard was screaming, and he opened his eyes wildly to see the guards falling in a tempest of black, glassy shards that had clearly issued from his hand. Their horses slid and fell amid the fallen weapons, and their blood seeped among the bright colours of their enameled breastplates. He blinked. “Pity about the horses,” he whispered, “I think they were nicer than you.”

Nageru the bookseller dusted his wares and sniffed in self-congratulatory joy at the warm steam of stew-scent spreading from his kitchen. Tonight his house-guest, the illustrious First Age expert, Professor Hawkhome, would give a private lecture to the local chapter of the Seekers of Lore. It was, of course, a Highly Select and Secret organization, no less so because no one had ever seemed interested in ferreting out its existence or finding out what librarians, aging relic hunters, and other such scholars did in their evenings off. The shutters would be closed, the stew spooned out, and a frisson of secrecy would add to the pleasure they all took in their shared knowledge and interest. He hummed slightly, and didn’t even hear the sound of hoofbeats until Lihan careened into the room, his coats knocking over two piles of manuscripts.

“Nageru! I need your assistance at once!”

“Er…Professor Hawkhome, why are you…glowing?” the tubby little man shrunk back among the epic poetry section.

Lihan frowned, considered quickly, and drew himself up to his full height, pulling his long coats around him like an ermined robe, and calling forth the light of the wise setting sun to play about his head and wreathe his red-brown hair in aureoles of fire. “Nageru, I have been called to the service of the Unconquered Sun,” he intoned, “and to the ranks of the Children of Twilight. But even such as is my newfound power, I will need your aid —” he broke off as the man’s rosy face split in two to allow the eruption of a shout.

“Help! Help! Anathema! Unclean! Guards! Earthly Dragons, help me!”

Lihan dropped his airs, rolled his eyes, and grabbed the little man, who squeaked miserably. “Nageru, you nitwit! You know too much of the Golden Age to believe that swill! Weren’t you singing an ancient song of praise unto the Sun while you were doing the dishes last night?” he released the man, who stumbled backwards towards the books of epigrams.

“Well, yes, it’s a very old song, and, er, it’s—” he glanced around, “if someone saw you come here, I’m dead! Dead! The Dragon-Blooded will tear me to bits and burn me in my own books! You must go!”

“I need one of your carts, Nageru.”

He moaned, “I cannot help you! I must find guardsmen! I can’t be put in this position!” He backed into a pile of erotic poetry. “Anathema!” he shouted weakly.

“Well, at least I didn’t tell you where I’m going,” Lihan shrugged, and knocked the man out with a collection of Northern folk songs. Stepping over the sighing sleeper, he made for the stable, the ports, and the free Scavenger Lands.


New comment

required, won't be displayed (but may be used for Gravatar)


Don't type anything here unless you're an evil robot:

And especially don't type anything here:

Basic HTML (including links) is allowed, just don't try anything fishy. Your comment will be auto-formatted unless you use your own <p> tags for formatting. You're also welcome to use Textile.

Copyright © 2017 Felicity Shoulders. All rights reserved.
Powered by Thoth.