And Night Descends (The Third Book of the Small Gods Series)

And Night Descends (The Third Book of the Small Gods Series) by Bruce Blake Read Free Book Online

Book: And Night Descends (The Third Book of the Small Gods Series) by Bruce Blake Read Free Book Online
Authors: Bruce Blake
halfway below the distant horizon, the sky darkenin’ to the red o’ fresh blood. Had he been aship, Horace’d’ve been glad to see the sky bleedin’ this way—it signified good weather and a calm sea for the night. But his too-small boots wasn’t standin’ on the deck o’ the Devil o’ the Deep or any o’ the others of the king’s ships and merchants he’d spent so many seasons upon.
    Instead, he stood on a sandy beach behind what a Small God’d called the veil, on the shores o’ the Green. To port lay a land known to man only through legend and stories told at taverns along the coast, and none o’ them he’d ever heard involved happy endin’s or tales o’ riches. Horror, creatures, and death were the stuff o’ them stories.
    Horace dragged his gaze away from the settin’ sun and a breeze rustled through the leaves o’ the brush leadin’ to the forest. He squinted, starin’ hard to see what might be hidden within its foliage. He spied nothin’ but shapes what might’ve been stumps and bushes, or beasts he couldn’t even imagine.
    Skin goin’ clammy, Horace stumbled back a step. His shoulders touched the shimmerin’ veil and lightnin’ shot along its surface, castin’ green light on the beach what illuminated driftwood and rocks in a witchy glow.
    The ol’ sailor’s legs gave up on him and he sank to the sand, his back draggin’ along the emerald wall. He pulled his knees up tight against his chest and buried his face in his crossed arms, prayin’ to any god what might listen—small or otherwise—that he’d make it through the night without discoverin’ if the stories told at taverns along the coast was true.

V Stirk—The Horse Doctor
    Stirk found himself halfway home before realizing what an ill-informed idea it might be returning to the place they’d found him. Could be he’d discover more of the king’s men awaiting him, plus they’d taken the door off, anyway. Even he realized a place without a door provided a poor hideout.
    He stopped shy of the border between Sunset and Riverside to consider his options, of which he saw few. Bieta knew people—too many people, Stirk would have said—but not him. He’d recognize most of them because he was usually around when his mother brought her work home. She’d send him away most times, but he often returned before they finished. Stirk hadn’t learned to figure out the time by looking at either sun or hourglass, so he frequently showed up earlier than he intended or she wanted. The men never acted happy at his arrival, so he thought they’d be less than good choices to enlist for help in his quest for revenge. Beyond them, only Flenge the tanner came to mind. He doubted he’d want to offer aid, what with the broken door and all.
    The big man raised his left arm, intending to wipe sweat from his head with his hand, forgetting a stump held the spot where it used to be. The smooth skin left by the healer brushed against his forehead and Stirk jerked away from the touch. He stared at it a second, anger that Enin even suggested such a thing brewing in his chest.
    “Enin,” he said and nodded to himself. “The horse doctor owes me for this. He’ll help.”
    One corner of Stirk’s mouth tilted up in a smile as he held the stump in front of his face a moment longer. Setting out, he amended his path to carry him straight toward the river. There, he’d cross the bridge to the other side, then find his way to the horse doctor’s.
    If Enin wasn’t willing to help of his own accord, Stirk decided he’d make him.
    ***
    Stirk waited at the end of the block, biding his time and watching the horse doctor’s door from around the corner. Nobody came or went and he wondered whether or not he’d find Enin within.
    As he leaned against the wall out of view of the door, he peered toward the sky. The sun had dipped low enough to touch the roofs of the surrounding structures; even without the ability to estimate time, Stirk knew night wasn’t

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