Drenai Saga 01 - Legend

Drenai Saga 01 - Legend by David Gemmell Read Free Book Online

Book: Drenai Saga 01 - Legend by David Gemmell Read Free Book Online
Authors: David Gemmell
Rein. You still remember what a sword’s for, don’t you? Or will you do what you normally do and scuttle back into the trees while other men do your dying for you? Run, you dung worm!” Rek leapt forward, and Reinard backed away at speed and stumbled into Grussin.
    “Kill him—but not the woman,” he said. “I want that woman.”
    Grussin walked forward, his ax swinging at his side. Virae advanced to stand beside Rek. The axman stopped ten paces short of the pair, and his eyes met Rek’s: there was no give there. He turned his gaze to the woman. Young, spirited—not beautiful but a handsome lass.
    “What are you waiting for, you ox!” screamed Reinard. “Take her!”
    Grussin turned and walked back to the group. A sense of unreality gripped him. He saw himself again as a young man, saving for his first holding; he had a plow that was his father’s, and the neighbors were ready to help him build his home near the elm grove. What had he done with the years?
    “You traitor!” shouted Reinard, dragging his sword into the air.
    Grussin parried the blow with ease. “Forget it, Rein. Let’s go home.”
    “Kill him!” Reinard ordered. The men looked at one another, some starting forward while others hesitated. “You bastard! You treacherous filth!” Reinard screamed, raising his sword once more. Grussin took a deep breath, gripped his ax in both hands, and smashed the sword into shards, the ax blade glancing from the shattered hilt and hammering into the outlaw leader’s side. He fell to his knees, doubled over. Then Grussin stepped forward; the ax lifted and chopped, and Reinard’s head rolled to the snow. Grussin let the weapon fall, then walked back to Rek.
    “He wasn’t always as you knew him,” he said.
    “Why?” asked Rek, lowering his blade. “Why did you do it?”
    “Who knows? It wasn’t just for you—or her. Maybe something inside me had just had enough. Where was this caravan?”
    “I was lying,” lied Rek.
    “Good. We will not meet again. I’m leaving Graven. Is she your woman?”
    “You could do worse.”
    Grussin turned and walked to the body, retrieving his ax. “We were friends for a long time,” he said. “Too long.”
    Without a backward glance he led the group back into the forest.
    “I simply don’t believe it,” said Rek. “That was an absolute miracle.”
    “Let’s finish breakfast now,” said Virae. “I’ll brew some tea.”
    Inside the hut Rek began to tremble. He sat down, his sword clattering to the floor.
    “What’s the matter?” asked Virae.
    “It’s just the cold,” he said, teeth chattering. She knelt beside him, massaging his hands, saying nothing.
    “The tea will help,” she said. “Did you bring any sugar?”
    “It’s in my pack, wrapped in red paper. Horeb knows I’ve a sweet tooth. Cold doesn’t usually get to me like this—sorry!”
    “It’s all right. My father always says sweet tea is wonderful for … cold.”
    “I wonder how they found us,” he said. “Last night’s snow must have covered our tracks. It’s strange.”
    “I don’t know. Here, drink this.”
    He sipped the tea, holding the leather-covered mug in both hands. Hot liquid splashed over his fingers. Virae busied herself clearing away and repacking his saddlebags. Then she raked the ashes in the hearth and laid a fire ready for the next traveler to use the hut.
    “What are you doing at Dros Delnoch?” Rek asked, the warm sweet tea soothing him.
    “I am Earl Delnar’s daughter,” she said. “I live there.”
    “Did he send you away because of the coming war?”
    “No. I brought a message to Abalayn, and now I’ve got a message for someone else. When I’ve delivered it, I’m going home. Are you feeling better?”
    “Yes,” said Rek. “Much better.” He hesitated, holding her gaze. “It wasn’t just the cold,” he said.
    “I know: it doesn’t matter. Everybody trembles after an action. It’s what happens during it that

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