Kingmaker's Sword (Rune Blades of Celi)

Kingmaker's Sword (Rune Blades of Celi) by Ann Marston

Book: Kingmaker's Sword (Rune Blades of Celi) by Ann Marston Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ann Marston
rescued flask and handed it to him. “What do you intend to do about this mess?”
    He nudged a limp Isgardian with the toe of his boot. The man made a snoring sound and Cullin grinned. “They will no doubt in good time be collected by someone whose appointed station in life is to take care of such disagreeable tasks,” he said. “Leave them. They look comfortable enough, do they no?” He drained the mug and let it fall to the floor.
    “Oy!” the tavern keeper cried as we turned to leave. “What about this damage to me place? It’ll cost me twenty silver to fix it.”
    Cullin crossed the room to lean negligently on the bar. He grinned and, in the face of that vast display of white teeth, the tavern keeper shrank back among the casks of ale and wine stacked behind the bar.
    “Little man,” Cullin said softly, “for twenty silver, I could buy this palatial establishment and , no doubt, your toothsome daughter there.” He jerked his chin at the barmaid. The girl took a startled step backward, turning first white at the threat, then pink at the compliment.
    Not to be diverted when the subject was chiming silver, the tavern keeper bared his own teeth in an ingratiating grin. “Sir, your pardon I beg of you. But this poor tavern be all I have to support a wife and eight squalling young’uns.”
    I bent and relieved three of the inert bodies of their slender purses, and tossed them to Cullin. He plucked them out of the air with one big hand, hardly bothering to look, and spilled their contents on the scarred and stained planking of the bar. He frowned at them, stirring the pile of mixed coins thoughtfully with a blunt forefinger, then took two silver from his own purse and added them to the pile of coppers and silvers.
    “That should be enough,” he said. “I’m loathe to think I be the cause of a man’s brats crying hungry.”
    The tavern keeper’s hands were but a blur of motion as he scooped the coins from the bar and stashed them safely. “I thank ye, kind sir,” he said with another obsequious smile. His teeth were bad and showed black gaps. “Be sure I’ll tell of the generosity of Tyran clansmen.”
    “Ye’ll no see verra many of us if ye dinna stop selling that horrid sour ale,” Cullin said. He pushed himself away from the bar and grinned at me. “A decent inn, I think, Kian,” he said. “With good food and excellent wine. What say you to that?”
    “I’m agreeable,” I said.
    He flung his arm about my neck and laughed as we stepped over the clutter of broken tables, shattered stools and sprawling bodies to the door. “And a woman or two,” he said. “A couple of soft, tender, sweet-smelling women.” He laughed again. “That’ll do for me, then. Ye’ll have to find your own.”
    We found a good inn. It was expensive as were all good inns in any seaport, and Honandun was no exception. But we were heavy with silver paid by the merchants for delivering the goods train safely to the city. It had been a long trip from Banhapetsut, and a hectic one. I bore a new scar on my ribs from a bandit’s arrow, and Cullin’s hardened leather left wrist guard was ruined by a lucky knife thrust. The bonus in gold had been well and truly earned this trip.
    We had just finished a well-prepared meal with a fine Borlani wine when I heard Cullin make an appreciative soft whistling sound. I turned toward the door in time to see a woman enter the common room. The man who accompanied her was as nondescript as the woman was memorable.
    Oddly enough, I had seen her before. Only that morning as we escorted the goods train to the waiting ship. Tall and richly dressed, she had been disembarking from a newly arrived ship as Cullin and I rode past behind the string of pack animals. What struck me about the woman was not her beauty, for beautiful she was not. Her features, even though regular and well defined, were far too strong for beauty. Handsome, mayhap. Certainly striking. She carried herself with an ease and

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