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Murder in LaMut
Legends of the Riftwar: Book II
It was a dark and stormy night.
That was fine with Durine.
Not that the goddess Killian, whose province was the weather, was asking his opinion. Nor were any of the other gods—or any mortals—for that matter.
In more than twenty years of a soldier's life, both fealty-bound and mercenary—as well as during the dimly-remembered time before he took blade and bow in hand—few of those in charge of anything had asked Durine's opinions before making their decisions.
And that was fine with him, too. The good thing about a soldier's life was that you could concentrate on the small but important decisions, like where to put the point of your sword next, and leave the big decisions to others.
Anyway, there was no point in objecting: complaining didn't make it any warmer, griping didn't stop the sleet from pelting down, bitching didn't stop the ice from clinging to his increasingly heavy sailcloth overcoat as he made his way, half-blinded, down the muddy street.
Mud seemed to go with LaMut the way salt seemed to go with fish.
But that was just fine with Durine, too. Wading through this half-frozen mud was just part of the trade, and at least here and now it was just this vile slush, not the hideous sort of mud made from soil mixing with dying men's blood and shit. Now, the sight and particularly the smell of that kind of mud could make even Durine gag, and he had seen more than enough of it in his time.
What wasn't fine with him was the cold. It was still too damn cold.His toes had ceased to feel the cold and the pain, which wasn't good.
Locals were talking about the 'thaw', something they apparently expected any day now that Midwinter was behind them. Durine glanced up at the sleet smacking him in the face, and decided that this was an odd sort of thaw. To his way of thinking, there was far too damn much of this half-frozen stuff falling from the sky for a reasonable thaw, or even an unreasonable one. Yes, before the current storm they had had three days of clear skies, but there was no change in the air; it was still too damn wet, and too damn cold.
Too cold to fight, perhaps?
Well, yes, maybe, in the view of the Bugs and the Tsurani, and that was a good thing. They had fought Tsurani and goblins and Bugs in the north, and now, it seemed, they had run out of Tsurani and goblins and Bugs to kill—at least around here—and as soon as things thawed out enough, it was time for him and the other two to be paid and to be going.
A few months of garrison duty until then was just fine.Actually, as long as they were stuck here, Durine preferred the idea of garrison duty to being paid off today and having to spend his own coin to eat and lodge. Durine's perfect situation would have been to have the Earl pay for everything except drink and women until this hypothetical thaw—and he included that limitation only because he didn't think that even Pirojil could conceive of a way to cadge ale and whores from the paymaster—then pay them their wages the day they rode south for Ylith and a ship heading somewhere warmer.
Which made this, despite the mud and the cold, pretty close to perfect.
The heavy action was supposedly at Crydee these days, which meant that the one place they could be sure the three of them were not going was Crydee. Come spring, the privateer Melanie was due in Ylith. Captain Thorn could be counted on for a swift conveyance and be relied upon not to try to murder them in their sleep. That would be bad for one's health, as Thorn's predecessor had barely realized in the instant before Pirojil had stuck a knife in his right kidney while the late captain was standing, sword in hand, over what he had thought was Durine's sleeping form. Given that Thorn owed his captaincy to Durine and his companions' suspicious natures, he should be willing to transport them for free, Durine thought.
Away where, though?
Still, that wasn't Durine's worry. Let Kethol and Pirojil worry about that. Kethol would be able to find them somebody who needed three men who knew which part of the sword you used to cut with and which part you used to butter your bread; and Pirojil would be able to negotiate a price that was at least half again what the employer thought he was ready to pay. All Durine would have to do was to kill people.
Which was fine with him.
But until the ice broke the only way they would be leaving Yabon would be by foot, horse, or cart, overland to Krondor. Their only other choice would be heading back up north for more fighting, and right now they had earned enough—when they actually got paid, of course—that their cloaks would be so heavily laden with gold coin and their purses with silver coin that more fighting wouldn't appeal to any of them.
This stint had left him with a new set to add to his already burgeoning collection of scars; a missing digit on his left hand from the time when he hadn't pulled back quite quickly enough while dispatching a Bug with his pikestaff. He now judged he would never play the lute.Not that he had ever tried, but he always had it in mind that he might like to learn, some day. That wound, and a long red weal on the inside of his thigh, reminded him with every step that he wasn't as young and nimble as he used to be.Murder in LaMut
Legends of the Riftwar: Book II. Copyright © by Raymond Feist. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.