The Realms of the Gods

The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce Read Free Book Online

Book: The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tamora Pierce
at the skink. “Why are you being so nice?” she asked. “I’d have thought a god would be more, well, aloof.”
    The skink couldn’t smile, but Daine heard amusement in her voice. “When you were a little girl, you once saved a nest of young skinks from two-leggers who wished to torture them. For my children, I thank you—and I hope to see you again.”
    Daine bowed to her, then began her descent. She had to stop more often to rest this time. A drink from the spring helped, but her legs were trembling by the time she reached the bottom.
    Weiryn was there, waiting, strung bow in one hand, a dead hare in the other, quiver of arrows on his back. “Your mother is worried about you.” His tree-coloredeyes were unreadable. “It’s not always a good idea to wander here, these days.”
    Daine wiped her sweaty face on her sleeve. “I know what I’m doing,” she said shortly. “And what is that ?” She pointed to his kill. “Surely a god doesn’t need to hunt.”
    â€œDon’t vex that tender heart of yours,” he replied. “As gods themselves, my prey are reborn into new bodies instantly, or there would be no game anywhere in these realms. And a hunt god must hunt.” He turned and walked toward the cottage. Daine fell in beside him. “Didn’t those mortals teach you anything? The tasks of gods bind us to our mortal followers.”
    â€œBut you don’t need to eat. You’re gods.”
    â€œWe don’t need to, but it’s fun. Which reminds me—I don’t like how you’ve been eating lately. What kind of hunter’s daughter won’t touch game?”
    Daine sighed. “One that’s been hunted, in deer shape and in goose shape.” She tried to smile. “I’m down to mutton, chicken, and fish, Da. I’m just too close to the rest of the People to be eating them.”
    Weiryn shook his antlered head. “To think that—” He whirled, dropping the hare. “I thought so.”
    â€œWhat?” she asked.
    In a single, fluid movement, he put an arrow to his string and shot. His arrow struck, quivering, in a patch of shadow under a bush.
    Daine frowned. Something keened there, in a tiny voice she heard as much in her mind as in her ears. Trotting over, she saw that the shaft pinned an ink blot. What had Ma called it? A darking? “What did you do that for?” she demanded, cross. Gripping the arrow, she yanked it out of the creature. It continued to flutter, crying, a hole in its center. “You don’t even know what it is!” She tried to push the blot in on the hole in its middle.
    â€œI don’t have to,” was the retort. “It came into my territory without leave, sneaking about, following us. Now,
    don’t go coddling it—”
    Sitting, she picked up the darking and carefully pinched the hole in its body, holding the edges together. “It’s fair foolish to shoot something when you don’t even know what it is.” The darking ceased its cries; when she let go, the hole was sealed.
    The god picked up the hare. “When you are my age, you may question what I do. Now, come along. Leave that thing.” He set off down the trail.
    Daine looked at the darking. “Do you want to come with me?” she asked, wondering if it could understand. “I won’t let him hurt—”
    The darking fell through her hands to the ground and raced under the bush. That’s a clear enough answer, thought Daine. “Don’t let him see you again,” she called. “For all I know, he’ll keep shooting you.” She trotted to catch up to her sire.
    â€œI never thought a daughter of mine would have these sentimental attachments,” he remarked. “Pain and suffering trouble gods, but they don’t burden us as they do mortals.”
    Daine thought of the two-legger goddess that she had met the

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