Villains by Necessity

Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward Read Free Book Online

Book: Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward Read Free Book Online
Authors: Eve Forward
Tags: Fiction, General, Science-Fiction, Fantasy
as efficient without a few daggers and knives: seven to be precise. Also my blowgun, forty needles for same, two rolls of wire, nine vials of various interesting chemical substances, my shortsword, my lockpicks, my tiger claws, my throwing blades, my other articles of the trade, and my small folding grappling hook with the silk rope.
    Hand them over, Arcie. You're not going to get out of our contract that easy."
    With a sigh, the Barigan complied, pulling the items one by one from various pouches and pockets. Sam and Kaylana looked increasingly interested as various items seemingly too large or long for the confines of the pockets emerged. Sam took the items and slipped them into their sheaths concealed about his person, his confidence slowly returning. True, he knew eighty-four different ways of killing someone without a single tool, but it did feel nice to be back in uniform again. He glanced at the last pouch Arcie was tucking back into his belt sulkily.
    "By the dead gods, Arcie ... how much of that chub of yours is Barigan and how much is ill-gotten loot?"
    Arcie glanced at the tall assassin. "None of your damn business, blondie."
    Sam inspected him a long moment. Then with a smile and a shake of his head, said, "True ... my business is to take the most precious of possessions, and you just take everything else." Arcie grinned at him, and Kaylana's stag started forward, picking its way carefully through the forest. The assassin and thief followed on their mounts, and birds alighted in the still-twitching thornbush to watch them go. They scattered a moment later, as a glossy black raven swooped low overhead and glided on ebony wings down the path.
    In a crystal tower, Mizzamir drummed his long fingers pensively on the edge of the font. Within the swirling silver waters, three tiny figures were visible: one on a horse, one on a large deer, and one on a pony. They emerged from a blurred green forest of trees and headed across the heath. Southeast. Mizzamir's fingertips touched the silvery runes decorating the rim of the white marble font in sequence. The picture increased, showing the three riders in silent progression, a tattered black-clad man, a scruffy, shorter man, and a young woman with red hair. To Mizzamir's magical sight, the faint greenish-white wisps of nature energy were dimly visible about her and the staff she carried. He raised an eyebrow in mild surprise as the image swiftly grew fuzzy and blurred, as the nature magic wisps obscured his scrying spell.
    "A Druid. Hmm. That may complicate things a bit."
    Mizzamir sighed and scattered the image with a flick of his fingers.
    "Was that her, with the red hair?" asked Fenwick, who had been looking over the mage's shoulder. He was a sharp-jawed young man, skilled at the hunt and the duties of heroes, with handsome features and brave eyes, and a prince in his own right. His great-grandfather had been one of the Heroes, the Forest Lord Fen-Alaran, and had ruled Trois, the southernmost of the Six Lands, graciously until his peaceful death before Fenwick was born.
    Fenwick was a man known for his defeat of the Trollish Legions at Halfast and the annihilation of the evil Nathauans.
    Mizzamir smiled benevolently at the young champion of good. Just like his great-grandfather, the mage thought.
    "Yes, that was her. It could cause some problems. I had thought the Druids and their foolish ideas gone, but apparently one remains." He began to pace the crystalline floor of his conjuring room, his robes billowing in the shafts of sunlight. The light poured in through the stained-glass windows and flashed off the polished and faceted crystal of his tower room, blindingly bright, even for midmorning.
    "She is very beautiful," commented Fenwick. "I had not thought of Druids as beautiful young women." He rubbed his small, neat beard thoughtfully.
    "Caution, lad. She's older than she looks, if I'm any judge," said Mizzamir gently, his eyes troubled. "A problem ... I did not wish for

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