2 Defiler of Tombs

2 Defiler of Tombs by William King Read Free Book Online

Book: 2 Defiler of Tombs by William King Read Free Book Online
Authors: William King
Tags: Fantasy
them carried swords. The men had daggers in their belts though and one of them had a sling in his hands now. He held it casually but it was obvious he was prepared to use it. Kormak held his hands up, fingers splayed to show his hands were empty. He walked closer. The wolf growled. Kormak kept walking.
    “Sir Brandon, it is an unexpected pleasure to see you here,” said the oldest of the men. He had once been tall but age had hunched him, giving him the gnarly look of an old tree. The two men flanking him bore a strong family resemblance. They were both broad-shouldered, brown-skinned, hawk-nosed with dark eyes and brows so black they looked as if they had been drawn on with charcoal. Their moustaches were as luxurious as the old man’s but theirs were black. All of them had scarves wound around their heads.
    The woman was younger looking, in her twenties judging by her appearance. Her hair was coal black and thick, halfway down her back in a mass of curls. Her lips were huge and red and pouting. Her eyes were dark as well. Her skin was much paler than the other Tinkers and she bore no family resemblance to them at all. She restrained the wolf with a hand on its neck.
    The animal was a massive creature, by far the largest natural wolf Kormak had encountered. He had met larger but they had been part of packs whose leader was an Old One and they had been twisted by the old dark magics.
    “Javier,” said Brandon nodding at the older man before greeting the younger two. “Stefan. Andreas. Well met upon this lonesome road. I do not recognise this lovely maiden.”
    “This is Aisha,” said Javier. “She is making her first trip north.”
    Kormak looked at the elder Tinker. He spoke very smoothly, but there was a tenseness in him, as if what he was saying contained a falsehood.
    “Well met. This is Kormak, a Guardian of the Order of the Dawn.”
    The Tinkers greeted Kormak. The woman stared at him with a look almost of hostility.
    “What have you got here?” Brandon asked.
    The Tinkers stood aside to let the knight have a clear view. “A man’s body. The wolf scented it. We saw the crows. It died no natural death.”
    “Let me take a look,” said Kormak, crouching down over the corpse. It had been pecked by the carrion eaters but it was still recognisably a man. He had been garbed in leather with a cloak of grey and green that would let it blend in well with the surrounding countryside. There were no weapons on the body but there was a pouch that contained a few small coins. A strange amulet with a rune in the shape of an eye within a circle hung round his neck. Kormak opened the tunic and saw a tattoo of a similar pattern was on the corpse’s breast. There was no mark of a killing wound on the body but there were odd blotched discolourations over his heart. The skin was very grey and the body was unnaturally cold even for one that had been lying on this chill hillside.
    “He was a Watcher,” said Javier. He said it as if it should mean something. Brandon nodded as if it did.
    “You knew him?” Kormak asked. The old Tinker shook his head.
    “We had dealings with his clan. That is their mark. The Eye.”
    Kormak looked at the standing stone. One of the runes on it was very similar to the one on the stranger’s amulet. He inspected the ground near the stone. There was a firepit in its wind-shadow. There were some ashes there, and the charred remains of burned wood. Some runes had been inscribed on stones nearby. They had been partially obscured as if someone had made a hasty effort to scuff them out.
    Javier saw the direction of his gaze. “Hill-men often meet in the shadows of these stones,” he said. “They say the Watchers leave messages for each other here.” Kormak sensed rather than saw a stiffness come over the woman. He looked up at her. Her face seemed even paler than before, and her jaw line was tight. A muscle pulsed in her throat.
    “He was a hill-man?” Kormak asked.
    “Not exactly. The

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