Home > Dryad-Born (Whispers from Mirrowen #2)(24)

Dryad-Born (Whispers from Mirrowen #2)(24)
Jeff Wheeler

The skin and eyes were sallow. The stench in the room was overpowering. Dried lips parted, trembling with clenched pain. “Paedrin,” he croaked.

Seeing the agony in his master’s eyes shook him to his core. Shivu was Vaettir-born. Paedrin could not remember a single time he had ever been ill. Now he looked like a desiccated leaf, trembling under a breeze, waiting for the stem to snap off.

“Master,” Paedrin sighed, rushing to him. He reached to take the bony hand, but a subtle nod bid him stop.

“I…I…hoped you…would come. Grieve not for…me.” His breath was shallow, full of pain. “I will…rest…soon.”

“Master,” Paedrin said, shaking his head. Tears stung his eyes. How could he not grieve for the man? “I need your help. But I cannot leave you like this. There are Druidecht who can heal you. If I can take you away from here…”

A clicking sound came from Master Shivu’s throat. “Too…late. No keramat in the city. Only the Arch-Rike’s magic. He will not…heal me. Or the students. He is…angry for my refusal. Seek…the Shatalin temple, Paedrin. Seek…the sword. You will need it…to survive.” His eyes closed. “Scourgelands. To survive…”

“But where is the Shatalin temple?” Paedrin pleaded. He wiped his eyes furiously, unable to prevent the pain of his breaking heart. “Where do I look, Master?”

“The Vaettir…arrived…by sea. Shatalin. The ocean…west. Fog and mists. Rocks and mountains. Beyond Stonehollow. Seek Lydi. Shipyards. They will know where…in the mountains. When the ships came…they founded Shatalin for training Bhikhu. Separate from…Silvandom.”

Shivu grimaced, eyes blazing. His whole body trembled and shook from his legs to his neck muscles. He moaned and reeled, struck by another fierce wave of pain. The bed started to rattle with his convulsions. Paedrin stared at him helplessly. He wished Khiara had been there, who with a touch could have calmed the pain. He was furious with the Arch-Rike for allowing his master to suffer.

A bony hand grabbed his wrist. Master Shivu’s face was contorted. “Forgive them, Paedrin. Forgive.”

“Who?” he said, staring with grief. His heart was nearly bursting. “Who?”

“This is not the Plague. Romani poison.”

Paedrin stared at him in horror. “This is poison?” he gasped.

“Sanchein,” Shivu gasped. “Tell him. The Preachán.”

Sanchein hovered at the doorway. He entered meekly, wiping tears from his eyes. He looked beaten down by a great secret. “He arrived not many days ago, Paedrin. He was looking for you.”

“Who was?” Paedrin stammered. “This doesn’t make sense. Who are you talking about?”

“A Preachán fellow, claiming to be from Havenrook. He said you had stolen some magic from him and he wanted it back. A blade. You had taken it during a fight. He said the Bhikhu cannot have treasure and he wanted it back or ten thousand ducats. Master Shivu sent him away. He said that you had been executed by the Arch-Rike and that the temple did not have any ducats at all. The man was angry but he left with a surly expression. That night is when the first signs of sickness came. It happened after mealtime.”

Paedrin gripped Sanchein’s arms so tightly the man winced with pain.

Oh no, he thought in despair, his heart shuddering at the realization. He remembered the night in Havenrook when the mob had come after them at Erasmus’s home. With his Bhikhu training, he had dispersed the crowd, but one man—one of the men at Kiranrao’s table—had challenged him with a dagger imbued with power. Paedrin had broken both of the man’s arms and had assumed it would take months for him to heal.

Not so. Not in Havenrook, where everything was for sale.

The realization struck him like thunder. The man had sought revenge. He knew Paedrin was from Kenatos. He had come there seeking retribution. He had probably observed the temple for a day or two, learned about their mealtimes. And then he had poisoned the food or the well with monkshood, the poison Hettie had told him about. Only the Romani knew the cure.

What have I done? he shouted at himself. He stared at Master Shivu, whose eyes burned with agony and stared into his.

“Forgive,” Shivu whispered. “Uddhava will not save me. Revenge will not…raise the dead. Restore the Shatalin temple, Paedrin.” His chest began to heave. “Restore the Shatalin temple. Bring back the Shatalin.” His eyes began to bulge. “Stop the Arch-Rike!”

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