Reap the East Wind

Reap the East Wind by Glen Cook

Book: Reap the East Wind by Glen Cook Read Free Book Online
Authors: Glen Cook
became his own. His strange companions were preoccupied elsewhere.
    Often, it seemed, he touched distant minds and unconsciously took from them, adding to his own knowledge and strength. He began to follow his desert companions more exactly.
    At first they were delighted with their new strength. As time passed, though, there was a change to consternation which threatened to become fear. Then:
    “Deliverer! Wake up!”
    A hand rocked his shoulder violently. He ignored it. He clung to his twilight state and drifted out of himself, surveying his surroundings.
    The pool had grown again. Water poured out of it now. The moisture ran down into the desert, where it quickly vanished. Plants and creatures crowded the short brook in a dense, intense little life-patch. Life had launched its counterattack against desolation.
    This was Sahmanan’s doing. She was devoted to restoring her homeland. Her master simply wanted to extend his rule, to find himself new worshippers.
    The shaking became gentler. Ethrian shifted his attention to the body lying between the beast’s paws.
    It had grown. It was about to become that of a man. A man who would be tall and powerful and dark, like his mother’s brothers. The sleeper’s face resembled that of his uncle Valther, the one who had married the Shinsaner sorceress. Ethrian and his mother had been living with Valther when Lord Chin’s agents had spirited them away.
    He considered the woman trying to waken him. She had substance now. She appeared to be in her late teens, and of promising beauty.
    Only in her eyes was the past of her, the time-depth of her, obvious. Her eyes were older and deader than the desert.
    Ethrian permitted himself to be wakened.
    “Deliverer! You have to free us, or we’re doomed.”
    What had they contrived now? “Show it to me.”
    The woman tried to drag him past the pond.
    “I gave you power. Reach back. Show me from the beginning.”
    She made excuses. That would require intercession by the Great One. He was preoccupied.
    “Unpreoccupy him. Tell him to make time.” How can I have aged in dreams? he wondered.
    He had, by drawing on those minds he was not entirely aware of having tapped. He was not the boy who had swum the strait and walked the beaches of Nawami. He was no longer the youth who had flown to witness his father’s passing. He had become someone else. Someone more sure of himself and more determined to remain his own creature. He had developed an arrogant face. He now had eyes like a snake.
    “Show me. From the beginning.”
    A savage bellow raged across his mind as the stone beast responded. It flung images at him like a barrage of angry spears.
    They were coming. Shinsan was in the desert. The stone beast was animating a handful of its soldiers in waiting. They were out there now, overwhelming Shinsan’s reconnaissance parties.
    Ethrian saw it through, to the moment, and wondered if anything could stop the Dread Empire. What drove it so? Did it feel compelled to conquer even lifeless lands?
    He yielded no more power. The beast was trying to panic him.
    Its soldiers obliterated a half dozen patrols. The explorers stopped coming.
    “Deliver us!” the woman begged, her soft eyes filled with water. “They’ll come again, and they’ll destroy us.”
    “They might. That’s their nature. Who is master here?”
    “The Great One.”
    “Then you get no help from me. I won’t bend the knee to him.” Ethrian turned away, stripped himself, waded into the cool of the pool. Fish brushed his legs. Waterfowl chivied their young into the reeds. Sahmanan pursued him along the pond’s edge, begging from beyond the vegetation.
    “You’ve made a work of art of this,” he told her. “Why not confine yourself to this? The patrols are gone.”
    Would they give up? Of course not. Shinsan did not accept defeat. Her soldiers would try an alternate approach. It would have more weight behind it.
    What would they do if they caught him?
    A slow

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