Deathstalker Honor

Deathstalker Honor by Simon R. Green Read Free Book Online

Book: Deathstalker Honor by Simon R. Green Read Free Book Online
Authors: Simon R. Green
control of their lives, but they didn’t dare. They knew that if he died, they would die too, and however badly he died, they’d die worse.
    “I trust you enjoyed the dinner,” he said smoothly. “Something a little different today.”
    The three aristocrats looked suspiciously at the dinner table, trying to remember if anything had seemed out of the ordinary.
    “No, no,” said Valentine, correctly interpreting their expressions. “I wouldn’t waste any of my special concoctions on such an unappreciative audience. Rather, I thought we might all enjoy a taste of the last real produce exported from the food planet of Virimonde.”
    For a long moment none of them got it. There was no food left on the planet anymore. Everyone knew that. And then the Silvestri’s eyes widened, and he put a hand to his mouth as all the color drained from his face. “The dead . . . the people of Virimonde . . . we’ve been eating . . .”
    “Yes, you have,” said Valentine. “And with such good appetite too. Ah, me; so many taboos, so little time. Enjoy the after-dinner mints, gentlemen.”
    With a cheery smile and a modest inclination of the head, Valentine Wolfe left to plan the surprises he had in mind for Owen Deathstalker and Hazel d’Ark.
     
    The great Deathstalker castle had been built on a huge promontory of solid granite. From the front and the two sides, open plains stretched away in all directions. To the rear there was a solid drop of hundreds of feet, ending in nasty, jagged rocks lashed by a vicious incoming tide. Which made the Standing both extremely easy to defend and very hard to sneak into. Perfect security thinking. Though that wasn’t why Owen had chosen to put his Standing there. He just liked the view.
    Of course, he’d never expected to have to break into his own Standing, so when he and Hazel finally came in sight of his old home, they had to stop and do some hard thinking. A frontal or side approach was out of the question; their special nature might make them invisible to the castle’s sensors, but they were still perfectly visible to the naked eye. And Owen didn’t share Hazel’s faith in their invulnerability. So after a certain amount of argument, they finally decided the only practical way was around the back. It meant retreating back some of the way they’d already come, and a slow descent down to the wave-lashed shore at the foot of the great promontory, but eventually they stood together amid the flying spray, looking up at hundreds of feet of bare granite wall.
    “There used to be birds here,” said Owen quietly. “Or things very like birds. Soaring and wheeling on the wind, crying out in the saddest voices you ever heard. And now they’re all gone. They even killed the damned birds.”
    “Just another reason to take revenge,” said Hazel. “Nothing like a little stoked rage to warm a body on a long, cold climb.”
    “It’s very cold here,” said Owen. “I don’t think I’ll ever be warm again.”
    He started up the dark granite wall, climbing slowly and carefully, and after a moment Hazel followed him. The wind rushed around them, trying to pluck them from the sheer rock face, but couldn’t budge them, so it just settled for blowing tears from their eyes. Owen concentrated on the wall before him, moving confidently from one foot and hand hold to another.
    After the first hundred feet, he decided very firmly that he wasn’t going to look down again till he was safely inside the castle. Great views aside, he’d never been fond of heights. And yet he moved increasingly easily up the bare rock face, his hands and feet instinctively finding holds and supports he would have sworn weren’t there till he needed them. Not for the first time, it was as though his body knew how to do something without having to be told. Owen brooded over that as he climbed. He’d become able to do all kinds of things that he never could before, since he passed through the Madness Maze, and emerged so

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