The Bone Court, Page FourThe soldier tried to turn, but sharp metal pressed against the back of his ribs, warning him that such a course of action would be unwise.
The voice was male, and the accent was unfamiliar, but not completely alien, not like it was listening to the common tongue being spoken by a kreen or, Sikkar forbid, a werewolf. He could discern nothing else about his attacker, but judging by the state of the rock wolf, the casual assumption of an ability to kill was perfectly reliable and genuine. The soldier didn't even pose a threat.
“So I suppose, then, you'd be wondering what I want,” the voice said.
Oh. Right. The soldier's despair and self-pity was headed off prematurely by the faintest glimmer of hope. This assassin hadn't killed him outright. There must be a reason for that. That reason might be his big chance to get away from all this, and even if it wasn't, the delay meant there was time to appeal to his attacker's humanity, to convince him of the vital nature of the soldier'
The Bone Court, Page ThreeThere were many other, more common sayings. Many of the more popular ones had something to do with livestock, with the possibility of predators dressing in wool or horses and their dental work, the birth rate among chickens, that sort of thing.
The soldier had been a country boy, but his family had been carpenters, not ranchers. These particular sayings held no particular meaning to him, no more than they did for most people, and at this exact moment, he had no way of knowing which might be most applicable anyway.
The wolf's body hit him with less force than expected, and there were several, long, rather embarrassing moments before he realized it was dead.
A 'flump.' The body landed on the bare stone, and he stumbled back, catching his breath.
What. . . ? What. . . ? How. . . ?
His shield clattered to the earth. The arm that held it might be returned to full operation, someday, under the care of a good biomancer, assuming he could afford such a thing. For now, he was more concerned he
The Bone Court, Page TwoThere was a saying back home that the Fallen were the ultimate missionaries, because there can be no crisis of faith when you're standing at the wrong end of a Fellblade. When you reached that point, nothing else mattered. You prayed.
Right now, the young soldier was having a similar moment of spiritual clarity before the fangs of a lone rock wolf.
He dove over a small ledge, landing in a more perfect roll than he'd ever have been able to manage under less stressful circumstances. The wolf nipped at his feels as he went airborne. It sailed through the air at almost the same instant he did, and then somehow, it felt like it actually landed before him.
He brought his shield around as he staggered to his feet, and a large weight crashed into it. The wolf bounced off his defense, teeth snapping the air barely a hand's breadth from the poor soldier's face. He flung it back, flailing at the air with his torch in the vain hope of
The Bone Court, Page One“Put your trust in Sikkar, and he will always be standing right behind you.”
It had been his grandfather's saying, and his grandfather had said it all the time. Seeing how his grandfather had raised him, it was only to be expected that the phrase would have a big influence on his life. It had. The phrase was, perhaps, single-handedly responsible for his not joining the Paladin guild.
The young soldier slumped down beside what felt like a large boulder. Sikkar, how he hoped it was a boulder. The caverns of Crypt were black and impenetrable to his human eyes, and he had to identify his surroundings by feel alone. Other creatures here would not have that limitation. He could not light a torch for fear of drawing attention, but that did not mean the darkness would hide him. Instead, he removed the shield from his back and did his best to wedge himself into the gap beneath the rim of the large stone edifice. He had to hope this position offered at least some concealment. It was