Bleak Seasons

Bleak Seasons by Glen Cook

Book: Bleak Seasons by Glen Cook Read Free Book Online
Authors: Glen Cook
silhouetted by pink light. The Shadowmaster did not appear to be with them. “Goblin! One-Eye! Where the hell are you now, you little shits? Has something happened to Shadowspinner?”
    Goblin materialized, his breath heavy with the smell of beer. He and One-Eye had a few gallons stashed somewhere nearby, then. He dashed my hopes. “The Shadowmaster is alive, Murgen. But maybe he’s messed his drawers.”
    He giggled.
    “Oh, shit,” I muttered. The little toad had gotten deep into the home brew. If One-Eye had, too, I might have one truly interesting rest of the night. It was possible those two would forget everything and pick up the feud they have had going for a hundred years. Last time they got drunk and went after each other they tore up a whole city block in Taglios.
    All the while the Speaker’s grandson hung back in the shadows and watched like one of those goddamned crows. There were a lot more of those around now.
    Old Wheezer came puffing up from the street. He had to take a break before he got to the top. He hacked and coughed and spat blood. He was from the same part of the world as One-Eye. They have nothing else in common except a taste for beer. Wheezer had been to the barrel a few times, too.
    He came on up top as I surveyed the city and tried to guess how bad things really were. We were getting very little pressure right then.
    Wheezer hacked and wheezed and spat.
    A new generation of pink lights erupted at the feet of the hills. They cast two shadows against the sky. There was no doubt they were shadows of Widowmaker and Lifetaker, the dread alter egos Lady created for herself and Croaker so they could scare shit out of Shadowlanders.
    “This isn’t possible,” I told my tame wizards. One-Eye was back. He used one hand to support Wheezer, who seemed to be suffering an asthma attack along with the effects of his tuberculosis. In his other hand One-Eye clutched something polelike wrapped in rags. I continued, “That can’t be Croaker and Lady because I saw them go down with my own eyes.”
    A handful of horsemen drifted toward town. Among them was a blob of darkness that had to be Shadowspinner. He was staying busy. Pink fireflies swarmed around him. He had trouble fending them off.
    As though they realized their boss would be in a foul temper when he got back, the southerners’ attack suddenly picked up.
    “I’m not sure,” Goblin mused. He sounded like he had been scared sober. “I can’t get any sense of the one in the Lifetaker armor. There’s a shitload of power there, though.”
    “Lady had no power left,” I reminded him.
    “The other one does feel like Croaker.”
    Couldn’t be.
    Wheezer finally gasped, “Mogaba…”
    Several men spat at mention of the name. Everybody had an opinion about our fearless war chief. Listening to them you might have concluded that Mogaba was the most lusted after man in town.
    A writhing pink thread reached for Shadowspinner’s party. The Shadowmaster batted it away from himself but it slew half his party. Parts of bodies flew in all directions.
    “Shee-it!” somebody said, pretty much capturing the popular feeling.
    Wheezer barked, “Mogaba … wants to know … if we can free up … a few hundred men to … counterattack the enemy who … are inside the city.”
    “How stupid does that bastard think we are?” Sparkle grumbled.
    Goblin asked, “Don’t that camel’s wife know we’re on to him?”
    “Why should he think we might suspect him? He’s got such a tall opinion of his own brain.…”
    “I think it’s funny,” Bucket crowed. “He tried to screw us and only ended up with his own ass in a sling. Even better, maybe the only way he can pry it out is to have us do it for him.”
    I asked Goblin, “What’s One-Eye up to?” One-Eye looked like he was praying over one of the ballistas with Loftus. Rags lay scattered around their feet. A gruesome black spear lay in the engine’s trough.
    “I don’t know.”
    I checked the

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