Home > Dryad-Born (Whispers from Mirrowen #2)(26)

Dryad-Born (Whispers from Mirrowen #2)(26)
Jeff Wheeler

Hettie would be waiting for him at the back of the temple. He rushed down the opposite slope of the tiles and then kicked off the edge, leaping high into the air, breathing in deeply to add to his flight. He soared like a raven over the wall, swooping down, his lungs aching to release the breath. Down he glided, coming over the lip of the wall where he saw Hettie crouching behind a shed nearby.

He dropped down next to her, startling her with his sudden appearance. He loved doing that.

“The Cruithne from the towers,” Hettie whispered. “He must have hired the Preachán to follow us here.”

“Little doubt of that,” Paedrin said, squatting. His emotions were jumbled together. He wanted so much to go back there and fight. He wanted to hurt someone. Anyone would do.

“What is it?” she asked, looking at him in concern.

She was Romani herself. He stared at her face, unable to quell the wave of nausea and antipathy for her people. “Master Shivu is dead. He was poisoned.” He let the word hang in the air between them. “Because I took that Romani man’s knife. The man who stabbed me with it.”

Her expression darkened, her face hardening with suppressed feelings. “I am so…”

He held up his hand curtly. “Please. Spare me your sympathy.”

She looked at him coldly a moment, then nodded. “I will. But perhaps you gain a little better understanding of why all your little sayings were hard for me to accept.”

Paedrin frowned, anger throbbing in his heart. “Do not mock the virtues of my upbringing. They may be of little worth to you, but they are still a better way to live.”

“It is a hard task to comfort the proud.”

“Another Romani saying. You have not run out of them yet?” He glared at her.

“No. But at least you know where to start looking for the temple now, yes? A good beginning is half the work.”

Paedrin’s heart was anguished, and he dipped his head, trying to master his emotions. “I do.” He sighed heavily. “Part of me thinks I should float off and leave you here. I can get out of this city easier. I can travel faster without you. I’m not fully convinced I can trust you.”

“The problem with you, Paedrin, is that you have always talked too much. I don’t need to hear every thought in your head to know they are there.” She held up her hand and pointed at her finger. “Yes, you can leave me here all alone. You won’t because you’d worry about me getting captured.” She flicked one finger down. “You can get out of the city easier. But can you do so without escaping notice? There are Finders who will be tracking us. I can help there.” She flicked another finger down. “You can travel faster without me. Very true. Any man can hasten to his own death. It may require both of us to claim the sword. One to distract and the other to steal it. That is how the best thieves do it.” She lowered the third finger. “You cannot trust me. Trust must be built and earned. I told you I would ring the bell if trouble came. I did. I told you I would be waiting for you here. I was.”

It left a final finger in the air. She looked at him pointedly, her eyes burning into his. “The last thing, you did not mention. I have magic that will be needed in the Scourgelands. But I think that it would be wise to not have to rely on it alone. If I use it too much, I will go mad, you see. If I don’t use it, I may be defenseless. I was hoping, along our journey, that you might start teaching me the Bhikhu ways.” The final finger came down and then she opened her palm to him, an offer of almost submission.

He blinked at her in surprise. “Teach you?”

Her expression was carefully guarded. “If you would.”

He rubbed his mouth thoughtfully. “You are serious.”

“There is much I can learn from you, though it pains me to admit it.”

Paedrin was uncertain how he felt about it. It gratified his pride that she asked him. He would enjoy teaching her the Bhikhu ways and to school her in pain. Was she trying to manipulate him? He would have to test it.

“Bhikhu don’t eat meat,” he said simply. “The philosophy comes with the training, not just the fighting. I won’t train a mercenary.”

“Agreed,” she answered, looking in his eyes firmly. “I will eat what you eat. I will do what you bid me to do. Will you teach me, Paedrin?”

Restore the Shatalin temple. Forgive.

He stared into her face, amazed at how familiar it was to him. They had not known each other very long, but the shared experiences had given them a tight bond. “Not even a rabbit.”

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