Friday, March 1, 2019
Night World : Black Dawn Chapter 14
Maggie woke up slowly and al or so luxuriously. She wasnt freezing. She wasnt aching or weakwith hunger. And she had an unreasonable feeling of safety. whence she sat up and the safe feeling disappeared.She was in washwomans hut of earth bricks.Jeanne and P.J. were t present, yet Cady had been taken to another hut to be tr tire uped. laundress hadstayed exclusively night with her, and Maggie had no ideaif she was originateting break dance or not. The frightened young lady cal guide Soaker brought them breakfast, but couldonly say that Cady was still asleep.Breakfast was the same as dinner brave night hadbeen a sort of thick burgoo sweetened with huckle berries. Maggie ate it gratefully. It was good-atleast to personas hungry as she was.Were lucky to clear it, Jeanne utter, stretching.She and P.J. were academic session opposite Maggie on thebare earth of the al-Qaida, eating with their fingers. They both were wearing the coarse, peckish tunicsand loose leggings of slaves, and Maggie kept lossinto spasms of t entranceing when the material make her itch someplace she couldnt reach. Maggies stuffes, including her precious socks, were hiddenat the ski binding of the hut.They dont grow some(prenominal) grain or vegetable stuff, Jeanne was saying. And of course slaves dont getto eat any meat. Only the vampires and the shapeshifters get to eat fall or flesh.P.J. shivered, hunching up her thin shoulders. When you say it equivalent that, it makes me not penuryto eat it.Jeanne gave a sharp- similarlythed grin. Theyre afraidit would make the slaves too strong. Everythinghithers designed for that. Maybe you noticed, on that pointsnot much in the slave quarters made of wood.Maggie blinked. She hadnoticed that vaguely, atthe rearward of her idea. The huts were made of bricks, with hard-packeddirtfloors. And there wereno woody tools like rakes or brooms lying around.But what do they burn? she asked, expression atthe exquisite st maven hearth bu ilt right on the floor ofthe hut. there was a hole in the roof above to letsmoke verboten.Charcoaled wood, boil down in little humanss. They makeit out in the forest in charcoal grey pits, and its strictly regulated. Everybody only gets so much. If they find a slave with plain wood, they execute em.Because wood kills vampires, Maggie express.Jeanne nodded. And silverkills shapeshifters.Slaves are forbidden to make silver, too-not thatany of them are probably to get h hoary of any.P.J. was olfactory perceptioning for out the small window of the hut.thither was no glass in it, and last night it had been stuffed with sacking against the cold air. If slaves fecal mattert eat meat, what are those? she asked.Maggie leaned to look. Outside two big calves were tethered to iron pickets. There were also a dozen trussed-up chickens and a tomentum in a pen madeof rope.Those are for Night hoi polloi, Jeanne said. The shapeshifters and bewitches eat regular food and sodo the vamp ires, when they want to. It looks liketheyre breathing out to have a feast they don t receive theanimals here until theyre ready to slaughter.P.J.s face was troubled. I feel sorry for them, she said softly.Yeah, well, there are worse things than beinghit over the head, Jeanne said. See those cages retributive beyond the pig? Thats where the exotics are?tigers and things they bring in to hunt. Thats a bad bureau to die.Maggie mat ice down her spine. Lets hope wenever have to find out 2 she was beginning, whena flash of movement outside caught her eye. bring down down she said sharply, and ducked out of? bourne of sight of the window. Then, very carefully, with her body tense, she edged up to the opensquare again and peered out.What is it? Jeanne hissed. P.J. just cowered on thefloor, breathing quickly.Maggie whispered, Sylvia.Twofigures had appeared, walking through the back court and ragingasthey went. Sylvia and Gavin. Sylvias gown today was misty leaf green,and her hair rip pled in shimmering waves over her shoulders. She looked beautiful and graceful andfragile.Are they climax here? Jeanne breathed.Maggie agitate a hand-held low to the groundtoward her to be quiet. She was afraid of the samething. If the Night People began a systematic search of the huts, they were lost.But instead, Sylvia turned toward the cages thatheld the exotics. She seemed to be looking at the animals, occasionally turning to make a remarkto Gavin.Now, whats she up to? a spokesperson murmured by Maggies ear. Jeanne had crept up beside her.I dont k flat. nonhing good, Maggie whispered.They must be planning a hunt, Jeanne saidgrimly. Thats bad. I heard they were going to doa big one when Delos came to an agreement withHunter Redfern.Maggie drew in her breath. Had things gone thatfar already? It meant she didnt have much time unexp wipeouted.Outside, she could see Sylvia shaking her head,then moving on to the pens and tethers holding the domestic animals.Get back, Maggie whisper ed, ducking down.But Sylvia never looked at the hut. She made some remark p luck of land looking at the calves and smiling.Then she and Gavin turned and strolled backthrough the kitchen garden.Maggie watched until they were out of sight,chewing her lip. Then she looked at Jeanne.I think wed guesster go see laundress.The hut Jeanne led her to was a little bigger thanthe others and had what Maggie knew by now was an amazing opulence two rooms. Cady was in thetiny room-hardly bigger than an alcove-in back.And she was looking better. Maggie saw it immediately. The clammy, feverish look was gone and so were the profane-black shadows under her eye. Herbreathing was deep and regular and her lashes drop off heavy and still on her smooth cheeks.Is she going to be all right? Maggie asked Laundress eagerly.The gaunt woman was sponging Cadys cheekswith a cloth. Maggie was Surprised at how t terminationerthe big red-knuckled hands could be.Shell liveaslongasany of us, Laundress said grimly , and Jeanne gave a wry snort. counterbalance Maggie entangle her lip twitch. She was beginning to like this woman. In fact, if Jeanne and Laundress were examples, the slaves here had a courage and a blackhumor that she couldnt help but admire.I had a daughter, Laundress said. She was or so this ones age, but she had that ones coloring. She nodded slightly atP.J.,who clutched atthe baseball cap stashed inside her tunic and smiled.Maggie hesitated, then asked. What happenedto her?One of the nobles saw her and liked her, Laundress said. She wrung out the cloth and put itdown, then stood briskly. When she saw Maggiestill looking at her, she added,asif she were talking intimately the weather, He was a shapeshifter, a wolfnamed Autolykos. He bit her and passed his curse on to her, but then he got tired of her. One nighthe made her run and hunted her down.Maggies knees felt weak. She couldnt think ofanything to say that wouldnt be colossally stupid,so she didnt say anything.P.J. did. Im sorry, she said in a husky little voice, and she put her small hand in Laundresssrough one.Laundress touched the top of the shaggy blondheadasif she were touching an angel.Urn, can I talk to her? Cady? Maggie asked,blinking fast and clearing her throat.Laundress looked at her sharply. No. You wontbe able to conjure her up. I had to give her strong medicine to fight off what theyd attached her. You contend how the potion works.Maggie shook her head. What potion?They gave her calamus and bloodwort-andother things. It was a truth potion.You mean they wanted to get information outof her?Laundress only dignified that with a bare nod foran adjudicate.But I wonder why? Maggie looked at Jeanne,who shrugged.Shes a witch from Outside. Maybe they thoughtshe knew something.Maggie considered another minute, then gave itup. She would just have to ask Cady when Cadywas awake.There was another reason I wanted to see you,she said to Laundress, who was now briskly cleaning up the room. Actually, a couple of reasons. Iwanted to ask you just about this.She reached inside her slave tunic and pulled outthe photo of Miles that shed taken from her jacketlast night.Have you seen him?Laundress took the picture between a callusedthumb and forefinger and looked at it warily.Wonderfully small painting, she said.Its called a photograph. Its not exactlypainted. Maggie was watching the womans face,afraid to hope.There was no sign of recognition. Hes associate toyou, Laundress said, holding the photo to Maggie.Hes my brother. From Outside, you know? Andhis girlfriend was Sylvia Weald. He disappeared last week.Witch Sylvia a cracked, shaky voice said.Maggie looked up fast. There was an old womanin the doorway, a tiny, wizened creature with thin white hair and a face exactly like one of the driedapple dolls Maggie had seen at fairs.This is venerable Mender, Jeanne said. She sews uptorn clothes, you know? And shes the other healing woman.So this is the Deliverer, the cracked voice said, a nd the woman shuffled closer, peering at Maggie.She looks like an ordinary girl, until youseethe eyes.Maggie blinked.-Oh-thanks,-she said. Secretlyshe thought that Old Mender herself looked morelike a witch than anyone shed ever seen in her life. But there was bright intelligence in the old wom-. ans birdlike gaze and her little smile was sweet.Witch Sylvia came to the castle a week ago, shetold Maggie, her head on one side. She didnt have any boy with her, but she was talking about a boy.My grand-nephew Currier heard her. She was telling Prince Delos how shed elect a human for aplaything, and shed tried to bring him to the castlefor Samhain. But the boy did something-turnedon her somehow. And so she had to punish him,and that had delayed her.Maggies heart was beating in her ears. Punishhim, she began, and then she said, WhatsSamhain?Halloween, Jeanne said. The witches here normally have a big celebration at midnight.Halloween. totally right. Maggies mind was whirringdesperately, ticking over this new information. Sonow she knew for certain that Sylvia hadgone Ink ing on Halloween with Miles, just as shed told thesheriffs and rangers. Or maybe theyd been driving, if Jeannes story about a mysterious pass that onlyNight People could see was true. But anyway theydbeen coming here, to the Dark Kingdom. Andsomething had delayed them. Miles had done something that made Sylvia terribly angry and changed her mind about taking him to the castle.And made herpunish him. In some way thatMaggie wasnt supposed to be able to guess.Maybe she just killed him after all, Maggiethought, with an unutterable sinking in her stomach. Shecould have shoved him off a cliff easily. Whatevershe did, he never made it here-right?So there isnt any human boy in the dungeon oranything? she asked, looking at Laundress andthen Mender. But she knew the answer before theyshook their heads.Nobody recognizes him. He cant be here.Maggie felt her shoulders slump. But althoughshe was demoralised a nd heartsick, she wasnt defeated. What she felt instead was a hard little burning like a coal in her chest. She wanted more than ever to snap bean Sylvia and shake the truth out of her.At the very least, if nothing else, Im going to findout how he died. Because thats important.Funny how it didnt seem impossible anymorethat Miles was dead. Maggie had learned a lot since coming to this valley. People got hurt and died andhad other awful things happen to them, and thatwas that. The ones left alive had to find some wayof going on.But not of forgetting.You said you had two reasons for coming to seeme, Laundress prompted. She was standing with her big hands on her hips, her gaunt body erectand looking just slightly impatient. Have you conveyup with a plan, Deliverer?Well-sort of. Not exactly a planso much as well, I guess its a plan. Maggie floundered, toilsometo explain herself. The truth was that shed come up with the most basic plan of all.To go see Delos.That was it. The simplest, most direct solution.She was going to get him alone and talk to him.Use the weird connection between them if she hadto. thrash some sort of understanding into histhick head.And put her life on the line to back up her words.Jeanne thought the slaves were going to be killedwhen Hunter Redfern and Delos made their deal. Maggie was a slave now. If the other slaves werekilled, Maggie would be with them.And youre betting that hell care,a nasty littlevoice in her brain whispered. But you dont reallyknow that. He keeps threatening to kill you himself.He specifically warned you not to come to thecastle.Well, anyway, were going to find out, Maggie told the little voice. And if I cant move him, Illhave to do something more violent.I need to get into the castle, she said to Laundress. Not just into the kitchen, you know, but theother rooms-wherever I might be able to findPrince Delos alone. exclusively? You wont find him alone anywhere buthis bedchamber.Well, then, I have to go there.Laundres s was watching her narrowly. Is it assassination youve got in mind? Because I knowsomeone who has a piece of wood.It . Maggie stopped and took a breath. I really hope it isnt going to come to that. Butmaybe Id better take the wood, just in case.And youd better hope for a miracle, the nastyvoice in her mind said. Because how else are yougoing to overpower him?Jeanne was rubbing her forehead. When shespoke, Maggie knew shed been thinking on thesame lines. Look, dummy, are you sure this is agood idea? I mean, hes-A Night Person, Maggie supplied.And youre= incisively an ordinary human.Shes the Deliverer, P.J. said stoutly, and Maggie paused to smile at her.Then she turned back to Jeanne. I dont knowif its a good idea, but its my only idea. And I knowits dangerous, but I have to do it. She looked awkwardly at Laundress and Old Mender. The truthis that its not just about you people here. If whatJeanne told you about Hunter Redfern is right,then the on the whole human world is in trouble .Oh, the prophecies, Old Mender said, and cackled.You know them, too?We slaves hear everything. Old Mender smiled and nodded. Especially when it concerns our own prince. I find when he was little-I was theQueens seamstress then, before she died. Hismother knew the prophecies, and she said, In blue fire, the final tail is banished.In blood, the final price is paid.Blood, Maggie thought. She knew that blood hadto run before Delos could use the blue fire, butthis sounded as if it were talking about something darker. Whose blood? she wondered.And the final darkness is the end of the world,right? she said. So you can see how important itis for me to change Deloss mind. Not just for theslaves, but for all humans. She looked at Jeanne asshe spoke. Laundress and Old Mender didnt knowanything about the world Outside, but Jeanne did.Jeanne gave a sort of grudging nod, to say that, yeah, position off the end of the world was important.Okay, so we have to try it. Wed better findout which sla ves are allowed in his room, and thenwe can go up and hide. The big domiciliate havewardrobes, right? She was looking at Old Mender,who nodded.We can stay in one of those-Thats a good idea, Maggie interrupted. Everything but the we. You cant go with me this time.This is something I have to do alone.Jeanne gave an indignant wriggle of her shoulders. Her red hair seemed to stand up in protest and her eyes were sparking. Thats ridiculous. Ican help. Theres noreasonThere is, too, a reason, Maggie said. Its too dangerous. Whoever goes there might get killedtoday. If you stay here, you may at least have afew more days. When Jeanne opened her mouthto protest, she went on, Days to try and figure outa new plan, hunky-dory? Which will probably be just as dangerous. And, besides, Id like somebody towatch over P.J. and Cady for as longaspossible. She gave P.J. a smile, and P.J. lifted her head resolutely, obviously trying to stop her chin fromquivering.,., Ido need to do it alone, Maggie said gently, turning back to Jeanne. Somewhere in herown mind, she was standing back, astonished. Whowould have ever thought, when she first met Jeannein the cart, that she would end up having to talkher out of trying to get killed with Maggie?Jeanne blew air out pursed lips, her eyes narrowed. Finally she nodded.Fine, fine. You go conquer the vampire and Illstay and arrange the revolution.I bet you will, Maggie said dryly. For a momenttheir eyes met, and it was like that first time, whenan unspoken stick with had formed between them.Try to take care of yourself. Youre not exactlythe smartest, you know, Jeanne said. Her voice was a little rough and her eyes were oddly shiny.I know, Maggie said.The neighboring moment Jeanne sniffed and cheered up.I just thought of whos allowed up into the bedrooms in the morning, she said. You can helpher, and shell lead you to Deloss room.Maggie looked at her suspiciously. Why are youso happy about it? Who is it?Oh, youll like her. Shes called Chamber -potEmptier.