Book 3 - A Path to Coldness of Heart

Book 3 - A Path to Coldness of Heart by Glen Cook Read Free Book Online

Book: Book 3 - A Path to Coldness of Heart by Glen Cook Read Free Book Online
Authors: Glen Cook
Tags: Fiction, Science-Fiction, Fantasy
“That’s weird. That’s the third time this winter.”
“It does happen. Once in a winter, one year out of ten. We haven’t gotten unusual amounts of snow.”
“Meaning I’ve been slow catching on. But I get it, now. Varthlokkur doesn’t want us raiding in the vicinity of Vorgreberg.”
“He’s taking Inger’s side?”
“No. He’s keeping me from doing something desperate.”
“Why would you?”
“Because I’m dying. Because I want so badly to see things settled before I go. Because I am the glue.”
Kristen did not argue. Neither did she spout upbeat nonsense. This was grim news. “I see.”
“Again, I apologize for dragging you in when I couldn’t keep my promises. I wouldn’t have done it had I known then what I know now.”
“I do have to ask if you’re sure.”
“I am. This is in the blood. I deceived myself in thinking that it wouldn’t get me, I suppose. Putting a shine on it, I can say that I’ve gotten four years more than my father did.”
“So what shall we do, girl? You don’t have to tell me now but you’ll need to decide within ten days. I’ll beat back the darkness as long as I can but that won’t be long. And once I go, everything else comes apart.”
Because he was the glue. And there was no one to replace him. “Credence, there may be a positive possibility yet.”
“I could use one. Please explain.”
“The interest shown by the sorcerer.”
“You think he knows about my problem?”
Had he not said so himself? “Nothing escapes him.”
“As you say, you are the glue. Attract his attention. Show him that you know he’s interfering. He might make contact. Then you can get his views on what you should be doing.”
Abaca’s face darkened.
“I don’t mean ask him to give orders. Find out what’s going on in the rest of the world. He knows more than you do. There might be a powerful strategic reason for avoiding hostilities. Maybe Inger’s regiments have begun to have a change of heart.”
Abaca grunted. “I’ll think about that. You think about what’s best for you and yours. We can still get you out of the country and back into hiding.”
Kristen and Dahl made the slow walk to their own cabin. Dahl asked no questions while they were in the open.
    The fugitive spent four days looking for a way to cross the Roë River without being noticed. There were no bridges this far south.
    Something dramatic had happened upstream. The water was high, filthier than usual, clotted with debris and the occasional rotting carcass with feeding birds aboard. The current was not swift but it was there. The flood was too wide to swim and dangerous in more than the obvious ways. There was a shark in the Sea of Kotsüm that did not mind the absence of salt in the river.
    A boat was his only option. That was a problem. There was little westbound traffic. That was all military. He did not feel daring enough to ferry over with Shinsan’s couriers.
    Hiring a rowboat might work. But with the river in flood no boatman would hazard a night crossing. He would be sighted by day. Someone would ask questions.
    He could kill the oarsman on the other side but that would cause excitement, too.
He went back to the swimming option. Suppose he made a float, then crossed on a clear night, steering by the stars?
No. Sharks or no sharks, that was begging for disaster.
Almost despairing, he decided to take the long way. That might take weeks but he was not pressed for time. No one was waiting. He had been dead for a long time.
He headed north.
Eventually there would be a city. It would boast a bridge. There would be traffic and confusion. A foreigner would not be unusual. He could hire on with a caravan. And he could enjoy some real food for a change.
His fourth day headed north, working back eastward in search of a ford across a small tributary, he stumbled onto a coracle hidden in the undergrowth. There was no one around. The coracle was neither

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