The Towers of the Sunset

The Towers of the Sunset by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

Book: The Towers of the Sunset by L. E. Modesitt Jr. Read Free Book Online
Authors: L. E. Modesitt Jr.
Tags: Speculative Fiction
methods of sensing objects, he studies the room as well as he can. The bar on the door remains undisturbed.
    Finally he rolls over, as if turning in his sleep, not sure that he is really awake.
    "That is unnecessary." The voice is low and husky, feminine. "You know that I am here, and I know that you know."
    Creslin sees a woman in a pale garment seated on the end of the bed. In the darkness, he cannot tell the color of her hair, except that it is not blond or pale. That darkish hair glitters with the tiniest of red sparks.
    He struggles to a sitting position, not sure but whether he isn't dreaming. "Who are you?"
    "You can call me Megaera."
    "That's an odd name."
    "Only if you do not know the legend behind the Legend." She moves closer to him. "Unfortunately, I am yours, and you do not even know me."
    The huskiness of the voice causes him to shiver even as he reaches for her, not knowing whether she is real.
    "But ..."
    His hands part the pale garment. Her body is warm against his, and her lips burn . . .
    But Creslin awakens alone in the middle of a rumpled bed, the predawn light as bright as any sun to his night sight. He squints and turns.
    The shadowy lady is gone. Creslin frowns, looking from the rumpled coverlet beside him to the barred door and the narrow window. The dark-haired beauty has vanished, yet no human frame could fit through the hand-span clearance of the window, even were it full open. And how could she have barred the door from the outside?
    Yet the bar remains in place across the door, and the dust on the floor by the window and on the window ledge remains unmoved. Though the fragrance of ryall had seared his nostrils as he had crushed her to him, no fragrance remains on the coverlet where he thought she had lain. Had it been a dream?
    He flushes as he recalls the details.
    Megaera-is that her name? What is it that she had said? The words that had seemed so portentous in the evening are near lost in the sunlit morning. Near lost, but not totally lost. Creslin begins to recall the darkness . . .
    "... the Legend. Unfortunately, I am yours, and you do not even know me. Now, harsh wizard, though you try, never will you escape me, neither through purpose nor deed, for I am sealed to your soul . . •. and for that, you will pay."
    Who is she? How did she find him? And why will he pay? She had resisted-but not for long-and she had shared his bed.
    He swallows, not quite believing that he could have forced himself on her ... but had he?
    He swings his feet onto the stone, recognizing that one reason he is not chill is that he wears his underclothes. He had worn underclothes to bed, taking to heart the innkeeper's admonition that the nights in the Westhorns were cold, even with the inn's fires stoked high. Yet he recalls warm skin on warm skin. Even in the empty room, alone, he flushes.
    So why is he shivering as though the ice of the Westhorns has knifed through his heart? Megaera?
    He shakes his head and stands, shuffling to the basin of cold water, where he splashes another kind of chill upon his face. Thinking about the natural hot baths at the other end of the inn, he stops, then purses his lips.
    After a moment, when he looks out through the narrow window at the patterns of frost upon the grass in the field across the road from the inn, he continues his ablutions with the clean, cold water he had not used the night before.
    After he dries his face and hands, he folds the towel over the wooden peg on the edge of the table and then unfolds the heavy leathers. By the second bell, he must meet Hylin and Derrild.
    But his eyes flicker back to the pillow as he pulls on his boots, and his thoughts linger on a mirror, although he cannot say why.
     
     
    XXI
     
    IN CONTRAST TO the ice-rain and the gloom of the day before, the morning dawns bright and clear, the sun-thrusting its light through the sole gap in the eastern peaks of the Westhorns and thus through the narrow windows of the Cup and Bowl long before

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