|Английски оригинал||Перевод на български|
I stare at the kuriya pool with fury. I'm looking at a picture of the Fairy Glade. I presume the magic pool is once more making a fool of me. Having spent a considerable time working myself into a trance looking for information all I get is a picture of the place where my ex-wife had her assignations with the young Sorcerer. I thought it was all in the past but it must still be troubling me to interfere with the kuriya like this. Any strong image in your own mind can cause interference. Sorcerer's Apprentices often get pictures of their favourite actresses. So do Sorcerers.
This is the last of my kuriya. A waste of money. I'm about to give up in disgust when the pleasant vision of grass and flowers suddenly darkens and a malevolent face begins to take shape. I try to break the connection but it's too late, I'm trapped and I lack the power to pull away.
"Bad mistake, Thraxas," growls the malevolent image. "You should know better than to meddle with me."
"And who the hell are you?" I demand.
"I am Horm the Dead."
I cringe. My skin crawls. I'm scared. I try not to show it. "Well, nice to meet you, Horm. But I've a few things to be getting on with—"
Horm rasps out some evil spell and my room seems to explode. I'm blinded by a searing light and flung against the wall. My desk bounces on to my chest and shards of broken glass rain down on my head as I crumple to the floor. Makri hears the noise and rushes in to find me lying hurt and confused with most of my furniture piled on top of me. She hauls the desk off me then helps me to my feet.
It takes me a while to get my breath. "A message from Horm the Dead," I gasp, eventually.
Makri unsheathes her sword and whirls round.
"Not here. In the pool. He sent a spell through."
"Can you do that?"
"No," I reply. "Well, not according to what I learned anyway. I guess Horm the Dead might have some tricks we don't know in the west."
Makri bursts out laughing.
"You're covered in ink."
"Makri, I just suffered an attack from one of the world's most deadly Sorcerers. I don't see anything funny in that."
This makes Makri laugh some more. "You shouldn't have pawned your protection charm. Why is Horm trying to kill you?"
I really can't say. Just something I've blundered into as usual. But if Horm has been wrecking my room, I must have got closer to his business than he'd like.
Even Makri has heard tales of the malevolent power of Horm the Dead. "Didn't I hear you say one time that you'd never go up against him?"
I shrug, pretending to be unconcerned. Makri is not fooled. She lectures me on the stupidity of getting involved in too many cases at once.
"You don't even know why people are trying to kill you any more."
"I keep telling you I need the money."
"You shouldn't have got in debt to the Brotherhood."
"You think I don't know that? Can't you do something useful instead of lecturing me all the time?"
I hate it when I find myself involved with powerful Sorcerers. I should stick to divorce work.
Gurd is furious about the room. Destroyed three times in three days. A new record. He mutters darkly about looking for a tenant who won't keep ruining his furniture, and I have to divert him by steering the conversation round towards Tanrose, which I don't really have time for.
Later I tell Makri about the latest developments with Cerius, and the crossbow attack.
"I used the last of my kuriya looking for some clues but all I got was a vision of the Fairy Glade."
"What's it like?"
"Like a puddle of black ink."
"Not the kuriya, idiot. The Fairy Glade."
"Oh. Well, it's idyllic, during the days. Fairies flying around, unicorns wandering through the trees, Nymphs and Dryads playing music, beautiful flowers, sparkling streams. You should go, Makri, you'd like it."
"Maybe. I could use a bit of peace after living in this stinking city for a year. But Gurd says no one with Orcish blood can get in."
This is true. The Fairy Glade is deep in the woods, a long way from the city, and it's protected from harm by various natural magics, one of which does not allow an Orc to enter.
"You're only one quarter Orc. And you're one quarter Elf. The Fairies are big on Elves. They might take to you."
Makri says she has had quite enough rejection from Humans to risk more at the hands of Fairies, Nymphs and Dryads.
I wonder where my wife and the young Sorcerer went after running off to the Glade all those years ago. They couldn't have stayed there long. No Human can spend a night there. Sleep comes on even if you fight it, and then the dreams drive you mad. Literally mad. Every year a few romantic or foolhardy young souls try it, and the result is always the same; they wander off to perish somewhere in the wilds or end up back in Turai begging aimlessly on street corners. The Fairy Glade is strictly for daytime visits only.
Makri says she keeps passing meetings with orators haranguing crowds in the streets, and earlier in the day she'd seen one meeting disrupted by a group of armed men.
"Election. Deputy Consul's post's coming up for grabs."
"Don't you know anything about the city you live in?"
I remember Makri hasn't been in Turai long enough to have seen an election, so I explain to her that the Deputy Consul is second only to the Consul, who's second only to the King, and that the post comes up for grabs every two years.
"The Traditionals, who support the King, always held the post but last time Rittius won it for the Populares. Since then Lodius's party has been gaining power. Something to do with the Royal Family bleeding the city dry, no doubt. Cicerius is trying to win it back for the Traditionals."
"So why all the fighting?" asks Makri.
"Politics is like that in Turai. No one wins an election without bribing some voters and frightening others. The Traditionals generally employ the Brotherhood as their strong-arm men and the Populares use the Society of Friends."
Makri asks if she's entitled to vote and I tell her no, women aren't allowed, which puts her in a bad mood, even when I point out that no one is worth voting for.
"Not even the Populares? Wouldn't some democracy be a good thing?"