Home > Ruin (The Faithful and the Fallen #3)(11)

Ruin (The Faithful and the Fallen #3)(11)
John Gwynne

He is Vin Thalun. A rage bubbled up, threatening to consume him.

‘Please, no—’ the man gasped.

Can’t kill him here – too much blood. His friends will be onto us as soon as they return.

‘Up,’ Maquin ordered.

Slowly the man stood, eyes flickering to the sheathed sword hanging over the cot.

‘Don’t,’ Maquin grunted, kicking the back of the man’s leg, sending him tumbling away from the cot. He slung the sword and belt over one shoulder.

‘Why are you here? Not at the arena?’ Maquin asked as the Vin Thalun climbed to his feet.

He glowered at Maquin. ‘Someone has to stand guard; Lykos’ orders. I pulled the short straw.’

‘Outside,’ Maquin ordered and followed his prisoner out of the door, directing him behind the cabin, into the trees. It was twilight; the world was slipping into degrees of shadow. Maquin dropped his bundle of provisions. ‘On your knees, hands behind your head,’ he grunted.

The Vin Thalun lunged forwards, turning as he moved, reaching for Maquin’s knife arm.

Maquin was too quick for him, sidestepping, slashing at the warrior’s hand, his blade coming away red. He barrelled forwards, the Vin Thalun somehow managing to grip his wrist. Maquin head-butted him, blood spurting from the Vin Thalun’s nose. He staggered and dropped to the ground.

Time for you to die.

The Vin Thalun must have read the thought in Maquin’s eyes, and he began to plead.

Undergrowth rustled and Fidele stepped out from amongst the trees.

‘You’re not supposed to be here,’ Maquin said.

‘You’ve been gone a long time. I was starting to worry.’

That felt strange – someone caring whether he lived or died. ‘Found someone in the cabin. You should look away.’

‘I’ve seen the colour of blood before. And he’s Vin Thalun,’ she snarled, looking at the rings in his beard. ‘I’d be happy to watch you slaughter a whole nation of them.’

‘All right then,’ Maquin grunted.

‘I can tell you where they are,’ the warrior blurted as Maquin stepped close, knife moving.

‘Where who are?’ Maquin growled; his knife blade hovered at the man’s throat.

‘Lykos’ secret. The giantess and her whelp.’



Camlin lay on a table in a ship’s cabin, various pains clamouring for his attention. The broken arrow shaft still buried in his shoulder won.

‘Bite on this and lie still,’ a voice said beside him. Baird, a warrior of Domhain, thrust a leather belt at him. He was one of Rath’s Degad, the feared giant-killers of Domhain. He had been assigned by Rath to see Edana to safety. In Camlin’s mind there was still a way to go on that score, as they were stuck on a ship with only a handful of faithful men about Queen Edana; the rest of them were loyal to Roisin, the mother of Lorcan, young heir to the throne of Domhain.

Running again.

‘Take it, you’re going to need it,’ Baird said. He grinned at Camlin, the skin puckering around the empty eye-socket in his face.

‘Don’t see there’s much t’be grinning about,’ Camlin said bitterly.

‘It was a good fight. One to make a song about,’ Baird replied, referring to the battle fought on the beach and quayside as they had made their escape. ‘And we’re still breathing. Happy to be alive, me.’

With a grimace, Camlin bit down on the belt.

‘You’ll need to hold him,’ Baird said, and Vonn’s serious face loomed over Camlin, his hands pressing on his chest.

‘Still need t’breathe, lad,’ Camlin muttered.

‘How can I help?’ Edana this time.

Half of Ardan is in this cabin.

‘Don’t think you should be in here, my lady,’ Baird said. ‘There’ll be some blood, probably some cursing too.’

Edana snorted. ‘I’ve seen enough blood already, and spilt some myself. As for the cursing, I’ve travelled with Camlin for near a year now. I don’t think I’ll hear anything I haven’t already.’

‘Well, if you’re set on staying, try holding his feet.’

Baird cut away Camlin’s shirt sleeve, gently probing the arrow shaft. A spike of pain lanced through Camlin, blood oozed lazily from the wound.

‘Sure you know what you’re doing?’ Camlin growled. ‘What with only one eye . . .’

‘Is this the time to be upsetting me?’ Baird said, grinning again. ‘Done this a few times, should be fine. The arrow-head’s too deep. Going to have to push it through.’

‘Best get on with it, then, it’s not going t’fall out by itself.’

‘Agreed,’ Baird said, gripping the broken shaft.

Camlin screamed.

‘How does it feel?’ Vonn asked.

Camlin stood on the deck of the ship, leaning on a rail, watching the dawn sun wash across blue-grey waves. To the east a line of dark green marked the distant southern coast of Domhain.

Slowly he rolled his shoulder and lifted his left arm, which had been healing nicely for the last two days.

‘Feels like I’ve been shot with an arrow,’ he grimaced. ‘It’s mending well,’ he added at Vonn’s concerned expression. Lad’s got no sense of humour.

Be a while before I can draw my bow, though, damn Braith to the Otherworld.

Images of the battle filled his mind: Braith, his old chief from the Darkwood toppling off the quay into the ocean. Conall knocking his brother Halion senseless as Camlin escaped to the ship with Roisin’s son, Lorcan. Looking back as they sailed away, Conall cutting Marrock’s throat and tossing him to the waves.

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