The Nether Scroll

The Nether Scroll by Lynn Abbey

Book: The Nether Scroll by Lynn Abbey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lynn Abbey
Tags: SF
taking Sheemzher's offer. We're going into Weathercote Wood
to meet with Lady Wyndyfarh.
    Suddenly both the goblin and the wizard-lady had had real names again and Tiep hadn't
needed lamplight to see the determined look on his foster-mother's face. Galimer was shrewd
and Druhallen could be downright scary when he was casting a spell, but Rozt'a was the
warrior among them, the brawler who backed up her words with her body. When she lowered
her voice and her eyebrows, you knew you were in for a fight.
    Rozt'a had pitched her voice so low that Tiep had known for certain that her eyes had
disappeared.
    He'd lain very still then, praying to Tymora, the notoriously fickle goddess of luck, that one
of his foster-fathers would challenge Rozt'a's declaration. Tiep thought Tymora was on his
side when Galimer demurred, saying he had merchants to meet and arrangements to make,
if they were going to get out of Parnast without paying court to Amarandaris. Tiep thought
that was reason enough to stay out of the woods, but Rozt'a disagreed.
    One day. One day, that's all I'm asking. The rest of our time belongs to you—
    When Galimer fell silent, Tiep had pinned his hopes on Druhallen. Rozt'a tended to back
down from confrontations with Dru, but Dru said he'd take a walk in Weathercote Wood with
Rozt'a, with or without the goblin, and regardless of the path or the light. What he'd said didn't
make sense, but nobody argued with Druhallen and Rozt'a.
    When dawn came and brought the goblin with it, Tiep had pretended that he wasn't
awake. He'd hoped that Galimer would stay behind with him. It wasn't fair, but the desert
trader would give gold-haired Galimer a better price for the carved boxes than he'd give a
mongrel like Tiep. But his fantasies of profit had suffered total defeat when the goblin
announced that he'd lead them all to his lady's glade or he'd lead none of them.
    No problem, Galimer had said cheerfully. We'll go with you, Roz—as long as we're back
tomorrow. We can be back by then, can't we?—Good. Give me a few moments at the charterhouse. I'll
be back before you get the youngster woken up.
    Tiep had clenched his fists beneath his pillow then and he clenched them behind his back
now. When they'd given him a partner's share this spring they said his opinion mattered, not
as much as theirs, but enough so he'd no longer feel like a child tagging along behind his
parents. Tiep had never had the luxury of parents. He'd been making his own decisions as
long as he could remember—including the one that took him to the Berdusk temple when he'd
heard that a sick lady and her moon-eyed husband were mourning an unborn child and likely to adopt
an orphan if an orphan presented himself.
    Dru and Galimer were always talking about how Ansoain had died on the Vilhon Reach
and Rozt'a described busting her captain's face as if nobody had ever stood up for
themselves before. Well, Galimer had been full-grown when his mother died and busting
someone's face wasn't worth mentioning unless that someone was twice as tall as you were
and four times as heavy. None of Tiep's adults understood that he was older than all of them
together. Lately, they'd been whispering about cutting him loose because his notion of risky
was bolder than theirs. Maybe he should just leave before they got the chance to slam the
door.
    Maybe he should have left before they started hiking through Weathercote Wood.
    It wouldn't have been so bad if they'd been riding. Tiep was used to being astride all day
and each of their horses was a sensible creature that took care of itself and its rider on the
roughest road. But, no—the dog-face said horses weren't allowed on the Weathercote paths and
that was that. Horses had four legs, one at each corner. When a walking horse stumbled, it
still had three feet left on the ground to keep it from going splat! in the leaves. People had two
legs and when people got tripped up by roots lurking beneath the

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