The Splintered Eye (The War of Memory Cycle)

The Splintered Eye (The War of Memory Cycle) by H. Anthe Davis Read Free Book Online

Book: The Splintered Eye (The War of Memory Cycle) by H. Anthe Davis Read Free Book Online
Authors: H. Anthe Davis
never wanted it, that it had ruined his life—but before the words could form, he looked at their pretty, mildly interested faces and realized that they did not want to know.  And he did not want to tell them.  They were strangers and godfollowers, not friends.
    Beside that, he didn’t want to sound like a whiner.
    “ Annoying,” he said instead.
    “ Why’s that?”
    “ Because people ask me stupid questions.”
    Fiora sat back, frowning, as the girls around her laughed.  “He’s right,” one of them said, “who asks a man why he’s not a woman?”
    “That wasn’t what I—“
    “ I have a better question,” said another girl behind Fiora.  She wore men’s garb too, but was fairer and sleeker, like a rapier next to a machete.  “I’m Tavia.  Can you really cause earthquakes like they say?”
    Cob blinked.  “Like who says?”
    “The old tomes,” said a brunette in a brown dress.  “The shamans' tales and the pre-Imperial stuff.  They say you can do lots of things.  Earthquakes, floods…”
    “ Change the seasons,” said another girl.
    “ Heal wounds, make plants grow…”
    “ Blot out the sun!”
    “ I don’t think I can do that,” said Cob cautiously.  The Guardian was silent inside.
    “ So what can you do?” said Fiora.  The others leaned forward, no longer shy.
    Cob closed his eyes.  In the dark of his mind he saw the void that had yawned beneath him—within him—when he fought the circles of imprisoning magic in Thynbell.  That terrifying emptiness.  He hated admitting that he had opened himself to such a thing.
    “Break magic,” he said tersely.
    Tavia crossed her arms.  “That’s it?”
    “The Guardian does the rest.”
    “ So why can’t you break your own bonds?” said another girl in a dress.  “If that’s your great skill, but you still got caught by the Empire’s trap…”
    Cob shrugged and looked away.  “I dunno.  It’s like being in a cage; I can reach out but I can’t escape.  I guess the Guardian didn’t see it until it slammed shut.”
    Some of the girls murmured in sympathy, which only made Cob feel more awkward.  “That’s unfortunate,” said Tavia, “but really, you can’t do anything else?”
    “ Don’t hassle him,” said Fiora, eyeing Tavia.  “You say my questions are bad but then you start picking on him?”
    “ I didn’t pick on him, I asked a pertinent question,” said Tavia.  “Just because it’s better than yours—“
    “ You wouldn’t even have come over if I hadn’t had the guts to.”
    “ Ha!  You think it’s a virtue, flinging yourself at him?”
    Fiora slammed her mug on the table and stood, glaring.  “Are we gonna have to duel again?  Because I will kick your bratty ass!”
    Tavia planted her fists on her hips and looked down her nose at Fiora, sneering, and as the other girls withdrew to a safe spectating distance, Cob realized the two were about to fight.  He was surprised that girls really did that.  When his Army comrades talked about catfights, they sounded like pure fantasies.
    He was tempted to let this go on, just to see if hair-pulling and blouse-ripping really happened, but he knew it would be a bad idea.
    “Hoi.  Ladies,” he said sharply.
    They both turned their glares on him.  He scowled in return.  “I dunno the rules here, but I figure ‘no fighting in front of guests’ might be in there.  So quit it before I pitch you to the snow to cool off.”
    Tavia’s expression went rigid, insulted, but Fiora cracked a grin and saluted smartly.  “Yessir, Guardian sir!” she said, and plunked down in her seat, ignoring Tavia’s daggered stare.
    With a last frosty look for the two of them, Tavia jerked her chin to the other girls, and like a flock of birds they all wheeled together and fluttered off down a hallway.  As the last of them vanished into the corridor, Cob looked to Fiora, who sat with chin propped in hand and fingers drumming on the table.  “Why are you still

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