Haydn of Mars

Haydn of Mars by Al Sarrantonio

Book: Haydn of Mars by Al Sarrantonio Read Free Book Online
Authors: Al Sarrantonio
Tags: Science-Fiction
me?” I whispered.   “Tell me, or I will cut you.”
    He gasped, and dropped his own blade, which I kicked into the corner.
    â€œ Tell me!” I ordered.   “Or I’ll bring you back to the Mighty myself and let him deal with you.”
    This brought on a fresh bout of weeping.   “It’s no use, Ransom .   By now the Mighty is gone.   They’re all gone! ”
    I pressed the blade deeper into his throat, and a chill went down my spine.   “What do you mean?” I hissed.
    â€œThey’re dead by now.   The Meridiani Pass, they were to be waylaid there.”
    I nearly cut him, such was my rage.   “How could you do this?”
    â€œHow could I not! ” he wailed.   “The F’rar have taken my entire family hostage in the east!   Just as it was with the girl Hera.”   He looked up at me with haunted eyes.   “They drew and quartered my brother Timon!   They cut out my father’s tongue – and he a singer!   And said they would do worse to the rest of them if I did not do as they asked and delivered you to them.   If they had known you were still with the Mighty you would be dead by now.   Because I did not trust them, I told them you left a week ago and that I was to meet you on the way north.   But still they insisted on attacking the Mighty, to make sure.   We were lucky to leave when we did.”
    â€œThe Mighty trusted you!” I responded.
    â€œIt is the worst thing I could ever do!” He buried his face in his paws and wept. “ But they have my family! ”
    â€œWhat were you to do after you killed me?” I asked him.
    Still weeping, he said, “Bring your body to them as proof.   Then they will let my family go.”
    â€œThey won’t, and you are a fool.   I suggest you go to the morgue and find a suitable replacement for me.”
    He looked at me in horror.   “The F’rar will kill me!”
    â€œIf you follow me, or ever come within my sight again, fat cook, I’ll kill you myself,” I said. “I am sorry for your family, but what you did cannot be forgiven.”
    He looked up at me with a kind of pleading in his eyes.   “The Mighty never understood that the world is changing.   It is a different place now than it was only a few months ago.   The F’rar have changed everything...”
    â€œAnd this is what you do to a man who loved and trusted you?”
    â€œThese F’rar are not bound by honor!   I had no choice! ”
    â€œThere is always a choice.   Good-bye, Hermes.   If you had told the Mighty, he would have knocked down heaven to free your family.   Instead you betrayed him.”
    I left him there, weeping.
    I expected that the door might be watched, but this was not the case.   There was a back stairway which led to a storage room and a door into an alley, and, as luck was with me, I was able to mount Hermes’s laden but stronger horse, leaving my poor mare for the traitor, without being seen.   I made sure to transfer my things to the larger animal, including my precious book.
    After riding slowly through the market square and under the unwatchful eye of the tower sentry, whose snores could be heard from the ground, I kicked the horse into full gallop, already afraid at what I would find at the other end of my short journey.

    No one was left alive.
    They had been caught in the middle of the Meridiani pass, just as the fat cook had promised.    I wished at that moment that I had slit his throat.   From a distance the bodies looked like a string of beads laid out between the wagons, which had been undamaged.   The Mighty had not even had time to draw the caravan into a circle.   I soon found out why: the F’rar had taken a page from the Mighty’s own book, and hidden themselves in ground traps.   A line of these crossed the path of the

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