The Elves' Prophecy: The Book of Being

The Elves' Prophecy: The Book of Being

by Jodie Forrest

Paperback(Book 2 of Trilogy)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780964911314
Publisher: Seven Paws Press
Publication date: 11/01/1996
Edition description: Book 2 of Trilogy
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.06(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

Hassan sidled up to Brubakken's booth again just as Aud issued her invitation to dine. He took a sidelong glance at her and Tomas the Rhymer, but his vigilant face did not change whatsoever when his gaze passed over the young Mage's glowing-eyed birds. Then, noticing the tarps pulled over the coils of line, he looked dubiously at Brubakken. Since Aud had given Brubakken the slightest of nods, he tapped on the astrolabe that he carried at his belt. "Neither of my friends has any Arabic; you may speak freely," he said to Hassan. "I'd be glad to address another question before I go. But I cannot answer the same one as before."
"So you've told me before. It isn't the same." Hassan was eyeing the Rhymer. "He watches us."
Brubakken shrugged, not as a Swede does: an Eastern gesture he'd perfected in Miklagard. "He is learning." And that Aud's friend certainly was, and would continue to do. If he survived.
"Ah." Hassan's crooked teeth flashed. "Your student, that is different. I am honored."
He proffered a slight bow, which Brubakken was pleased to see the Rhymer return without hesitation. Only a fair imitation, but give the lad time.

"Well?" Brubakken produced an astrolabe from its leather case.

"What will happen with the King's bailiffs?"

Brubakken reflexively glanced at the Sun, gauging its position, and rotated a plate on the astrolabe. "Legal trouble again? If that's the true question--"

"No! How should I be in trouble?" Hassan scowled. "I have stolen nothing. All that I promised the bailiffs I gave them." An extravagantly fluid gesture.

"Some contention there was over its quality, but what does a Swede know of spices? And less of fine silk--" He stopped, looked contrite. "They have not traveled as you have, Brubakken. Without your experience, how can they judge merchandise--"

"Be easy, I've not taken offense." Brubakken refrained from mentioning that at a port as flourishing as Birka, the King's bailiffs had probably seen more exotic goods than had Hassan.

"Brubakken," said the Rhymer. Softly, but the Swede took a hasty glance down the rows of stalls. He counted three, no, four bailiffs, including the one with whom Hassan most frequently dealt and who looked particularly dour. Trailed by half a dozen men-at-arms from the garrison, they were heading straight for Brubakken's booth. Which would have been innocuous enough, save for the dry irksome itching of his scalp that was the invariable accompaniment to what faint Sight he possessed. What had Hassan done, tried to palm off a load of dead silkworms? Assuming he'd been able to smuggle them out of the uttermost East. The itch grew into a tingle, became painful: did the bailiffs intend to rob Hassan of the rest of his wares, under the pretext that he'd tried to swindle them? Sometimes sheer instinct worked much like the Sight. At sight of the officious enclave converging upon them, Hassan clutched Brubakken's arm. "Hide me. I pay whatever you ask."

"They'll search my booth; you frequent it--"

"Not that way. With magic." That brand of magecraft they had never discussed. So Hassan did have some rudimentary Sight. They locked stares, Hassan's face pale and grainy as raw linen. He could die in custody, along with not a few prisoners before him. Brubakken grabbed Hassan's hand, thrust it into the tankard of water he'd left on his counter and held it there, while he dashed the contents of Aud's cup over Hassan's immaculate white sleeve. Hassan gasped.

"Hold your fingers in the water and keep your wet sleeve against your skin. Don't move or speak till I tell you, no matter what you see. Or we could all four of us die,"

Brubakken hissed in Norse, which Hassan understood. Brubakken included the Rhymer in his stare. "You, play your harp and say nothing." Risky, but the young Mage promptly reached for his satchel. In no time he looked absorbed in his harping, and the ravens hopped down to his pack where it sat by the plankway. Brubakken saw how, without seeming to, the Rhymer watched Hassan. A fine way to learn. If the fast-approaching bailiffs were fooled; if the four of them eluded arrest. But Brubakken would not incur the responsibility for allowing a man to be dragged away, robbed and beaten--or worse--over no more than a history of driving hard bargains and flaunting a costly cargo for which he'd not paid an appropriately succulent royal tithe. Over greed on both sides. Not when it could be prevented.

Hassan's spotless robes appeared tattered now and grey with filth. From his turban fluttered a few greasy strands of cobweb. His face had blurred. Shifted. Most of his nose had been eaten away, and the hand thrust into the tankard of water possessed only two fingers. On his face was a horrid assortment of weeping patches where there once had been skin.

The bailiffs and soldiers shot one look at the leper, shrank to the far side of the plankway and hurried by with their hands raised to ward off contagion. Brubakken heard a low-voiced malediction as they passed. He'd overdone the illusion a trifle, perhaps--a leper in that pitiable state would require a miracle to get passage on a ship bound to Birka or anywhere else--but small matter, no one would question it. No one would dare.

"Go hide by the docks," he told Hassan, who was staring at his two-fingered hand. His ruin of a mouth worked soundlessly. "It's just an illusion! You'll keep that semblance until your sleeve dries completely, and then you can buy your way off-island. Make haste--do you need silver?"

Hassan shook his head. "I have some for you," he whispered. After a cautious feel of his robes, he produced a small silken bag of many thicknesses and, with a low bow, gave it to Brubakken. "With all my heart I thank you. I shall send more as soon as I may." Turning, he hurried down the plankway, making good speed through the crowd as appalled market-goers melted away to the left and right of him.

"But it rippled," murmured the Rhymer. "Like water. I could see his own face through it." He hadn't missed a note on his harp, but his eyes were narrowed and alert, and he sat poised on the edge of his chair as if he half-doubted its solidity.

Aud, who had seen stranger things than this, looked as she always did: calm.

"It was water," said Brubakken after a moment. If Aud wasn't taken aback that the Rhymer, with no training yet, had seen through the illusion, he certainly was, and he didn't bother trying to hide it. "A water Elemental, I should say."

That earned him a piercing stare from the deep-set grey eyes. "One connected to you?" Brubakken nodded. He might have said too much already, before any tests had been administered. "I've finished here. Shall we accept Aud's hospitality?"

The three of them began strolling along the plank-lined center aisle between the stalls, headed for the pathway across Birch Island towards Salvik harbor and Aud's house.

"You're more than welcome to visit me long enough to get a good rest, my friend. I expect Brubakken is of the same mind," said Aud, breaking a silence.

"That I am. You look like you've spent a month marooned on the ice."

"Not that," the Rhymer said bitterly.

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Ian Read

A rollicking good read, written with great passion and no small understanding of the magic of Northern Europe. Treat yourself to some Real witchcraft!

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