негодяй и извращенец (С)
Рассказ "Smelling danger"
Отряд находится на службе у Госпожи и расквартирован в Алоэ, где чуть раньше происходило описанное в "Стремнине Эльбе". Подчиняются непосредственно Шепот, но та в главной ставке и далеко. А проблемы - вот они, уже тут. Ею же и присланы.
Оба рассказа войдут в роман "Port of shadows".

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Smelling Danger

THE CAPTAIN WAS suffering one of his random infatuations with training and order. The Dark Horse was almost empty. Long days left men too tired to come relax. Markeg Zhorab met me, scowling. I showed him a coin. I had an edge on the troops. They were healthy, lately, except for an odd fungus going round.
Tavern business was so feeble Goblin and Otto were playing tonk three-handed with a kid called Sharps. Sharps was one of the recruits whose need for training had set the Captain off. Sharps being in the tavern instead of learning his trade suggested that he would not last.
Zhorab brought my beer. He took my money. I settled into a chair.
"I'm in."
Goblin asked, "You slither out on your belly?" He dealt. And buried me in a pathetic mess.
"I got nothing to do."
"You would have if you bothered to turn up at the free clinic."
Otto observed, "There's always something you can improve." Making mock of the Captain.
"I see you skating yourself."
"I'm teaching young Sharps the nuances of urban intelligence work."
"And your excuse?" I asked Goblin, kissing a fresh hand hopefully.
"I'm like you. I've got nothing to do."
"The standard state of affairs with him," I told Sharps. "To hear him tell. Goblin. I thought you had an apprentice to train."
"The Third? The Old Man sent him and One-Eye out on another livestock census."
Otto said, "The Captain has had a hard-on for One-Eye ever since the Limper was here. How did the little shit piss him off?"
I said, "You remember. You was there. He pulled a One-Eye. He tried to take over the op so he could scam some cash. If we'd gone along we'd all be taking a dirt nap now. That's what he did."
Goblin said, "Don't get all hot, Croaker. It came out all right We ended up looking sweet to your honey."
I deflected talk from the Lady. "That isn't the problem. The problem is the same as it always is. One-Eye never learns."
Goblin used his soothing voice. "Your deal, Croaker."
I dealt. "This is more like it. I need to be permanent dealer."


"CROAKER." GENTLY OVER my right shoulder, from a man who had fallen out of a tall ugly tree and had hit every branch on the way down.
"Candy?" Why was the number three man of the Company in a dive like the Dark Horse?
"The Captain requests the grace of some of your precious time."
I exchanged looks with Goblin. Otto and Sharps had turned away in hopes of going unrecognized.
For Candy to catch up this quick meant he had left the compound before I'd gotten halfway to the Dark Horse.
I gathered my winnings, passed the deck to Goblin. Headed for the street, I asked, "What's up?"
"You'll find out." Candy did not speak again.
Native building materials were limited, other than a plentiful supply of clay-rich dirt that made a good mud brick. The compound wall, that the Captain wanted heightened and thickened, and every building wall inside, was adobe. Beautiful to those who favored brown.
A hot breeze blew strong enough to toss leaves and dust around and kick up spin devils. One baby whirlwind danced in front of the Admin building. I asked Candy, "Does that look natural?"
"No. And it was there when I left to get you. But Silent says its harmless."
The spin devil chose that instant to race off across the parade ground. It fell apart before it got a hundred feet.
The Old Man waited behind the massive, crude table he used for a desk. He gestured at a chair facing him.
I sat. We were alone except for Candy. Candy did a fast fade.
The Captain was a bear of a man, none of him gone to fat. Nobody recalls why he was elected. He has been good as Captain. He has kept most of us alive.
He leaned back in a chair as crude as his table, made a steeple with his fingers in front of his mouth. He stared. All part of the routine.
I asked, "What’s up?"
"Have Goblin and One-Eye seemed odd, lately?"
"How could anyone tell?"
"An excellent point. But the question stands. Think."
I did. And my answer stood, too. "Unless you count One-Eye developing an honest streak." The little black wizard had not gotten caught cheating at cards, or indulging in black market schemes, for weeks.
"I count it. An honest One-Eye is a One-Eye up to something. He doesn't want to attract attention."
"Sir?" He had me nervous. Once he takes official notice of anything that means he sees a problem in need of addressing.
"I'm thinking back to the Limper's visit. Recall that?"
"I could forget? I'm still trying to get the stains out of my small clothes. But we found the woman for the Lady before he messed us up."
"You men were clever. You managed that slickly. But the truth found its way back to me. Think it might get back to the Limper, too?"
"No way. Who would tell him?"
"He has no friends here. That's true. But that isn't the point. He wouldn't need to be told. He'd know. The information was inherent in your blackmail plan."
"Oh." And I knew who had ratted to the Old Man. Me. I put everything into these Annals. He does look in occasionally.
"Focus. Goblin and One-Eye. Limper took them away. They were gone two days. We forget that."
Not me. Nor Goblin, once I proved that part of his life was missing. He had no recollections of those two days, though.
"Watch them, Croaker. Though with the Limper involved anything could be a diversion. Pass the word. Somebody should be eye-balling them every second."
"They'll figure it out. It'll piss them off."
"I don't care. Maybe they'll behave. Go on. Get out."
I got, lost in wonder. That was an epic conversation for the Captain. What was he up to? Was he really worried about those idiots? Or was he trying to ramp their paranoia, hoping they would keep their chaotic tendencies in check?
We had been in Aloe a long time. One-Eye was the sort who might stir shit just because he was bored.
Then I got it. The Captain made the point but I missed it. One- Eye was not behaving like One-Eye. And that started right after the Limper's flying carpet vanished over the western horizon.
Hagop fell in beside me as I headed back to town. I asked, "You skating out of work?"
"I noticed you never stopped at the infirmary."
The notion had not occurred to me.
"You might have fifteen guys lined up."
"To get out of work, maybe."
"Guys have been complaining about feeling dizzy."
"Not to me. All I see is purple fungus, crabs, or clap. Only no crabs or clap anymore. Those temple girls are cleaner than Elmo's mom. Anybody does come up with the crabs or clap, I'll just let them scratch and squeal when they need to piss."
"That's what sets you apart, Croaker. Your boundless empathy."


THERE WAS SOMETHING wrong. Something strange in the air.
Hagop felt it, too. "Is this Aloe? Where is everybody?'
There were few people in the street. The wind was rising, hot, and dirty. A dead weed, uprooted, rolled with it.
I slowed, hand on my knife, thinking wishful thoughts of weapons with a bigger bite. Hagop drifted out to my right, denying the cluster target. He drew his knife, too.
Another weed bounded in from my left, flying up to chest level. I stabbed it twice, then felt stupid. But I did not relax.
The wind went away. The weeds stopped rolling. A half dozen spin devils formed, then collapsed.
"I don't care what Silent says, that's spooky."
Hagop grunted. He was fight-ready, not thinking.
I grumbled, "There's something off. I'm worried."
"Your problem is you don't believe in Aloe."
Right. Aloe was too damned nice. The people were not determined to kill me first chance they got. They were genuinely grateful when I fixed their kids. They appreciated the peace we brought and the justice we enforced. They reported villainy when they discovered it.
The Captain had men helping with agriculture and civil engineering, not just to win the people over but because busy soldiers get into less mischief.
I confessed, "You're right. The longer this goes on, and the longer the Lady holds off dropping us in the shit, the more I'm sure the big ugly is crawling up behind me. I'm seeing things out of the corners of my eyes." I watched a spin devil cross ahead of us, then fall apart.
Hagop paid it no heed. "Fifty yards and you'll be safe, Croaker."
There it was. The Dark Horse. Almost close enough to touch. And us alone outside... Not really. I did see people when I relaxed and looked.
We hit the door to the tavern. Doom had stayed its hand again. It would gnaw my bones some other day.
"I need a hobby, Hagop."


NEITHER GOBLIN NOR One-Eye were inside. Our third wizard, Silent, was. He was in the tonk game in my usual spot. Hagop's buddy Otto had his usual seat. So did Elmo. Several soldiers watched. "Shirking, Sergeant?" I asked Elmo.
"Damned straight. The Old Man is out of his fucking mind lately."
"Could be this town is getting to him, too."
Hagop said, "Croaker's got the heebie-jeebies because Aloe is pieceful and friendly."
"He is a gift horse mouth-looker kind of guy," Elmo said.
Corey had the cheat seat usually occupied by One-Eye. "I'm tired of losing. Take my place, Croaker."
I must have looked troubled. Silent signed his willingness to move.
I confessed, "I'm going nuts thinking something bad has to happen. It's to where I'm wishing it would instead of piling up the awful nothing."
Elmo said, "He's lost it. He's speaking in tongues."
Otto said, "You think too fucking much, Croaker."
Elmo agreed. "It's all that education. So. What did the Old Man want?"
"He's worried about Goblin and One-Eye. He thinks the Limper did something to them."
Elmo asked, "He mention any messages from out west?"
"No." The Tower would communicate through Goblin if it was an emergency or by airborne courier if it was routine. We had not seen a flying carpet since the Limper left.
"How about from army headquarters?"
That was closer. Messages came by mounted courier.
"No. He didn't say anything about messages. Don't go calling something down on us. Let them forget we're out here."
Silent gave that sentiment a thumbs up. Then he dealt me a hand that failed to qualify as a foot.
The deck moved around the table. Pots came and went. There was little table talk.
Elmo said, "If I was the Lady and wanted to get a secret message to the Captain, I wouldn't send it through Whisper's camp."
"You know something?"
"Just brainstorming."
We all turned to Silent. Not pleased to be on the spot, he signed, Smelling danger.
I grumbled, "Why didn't I figure that?"
"Calm down," Elmo said. "Sit. It's your deal." He tipped a finger toward the door.
Goblin had arrived.


THE LITTLE WIZARD looked more like a toad than ever, crouching between Otto and Elmo. He said, "Big storm coming in from the north."
Otto said, "Weather coming in would explain why everything feels strange today."
"North?" Elmo asked. "That don't sound right. Sharps. Storms come down from the north, this time of year?"
"About once every five years. They're bad when they do."
Goblin repeated himself. "Big storm coming. Croaker, I got a sore I need you to check out."
"Now?" I was trying to drink beer, eat fried chicken, and not ruin the cards with greasy fingers.
"I'll bring it to sick call. I'm letting you know so you'll show up."
Elmo and Otto thought that was hilarious.
"I'm the hardest working man in this outfit."
"Definitely in the top six hundred and fifty," Elmo admitted. "How about you stop whining, quit eating, and play?"
The cards goddess spurned me again. "You want my seat, Goblin?"
He made a noncommittal noise. He looked troubled. Was he in pain?
This might not be good.
Goblin was older than stone. He might have something really ugly.
I asked, "You all right?"
"I am now. But there's a storm coming in from the north."
Otto told me, "Pick up them cards, Croaker. Let us skin you while the skinning is good."


I OPENED THE infirmary after breakfast. The air was heavy, humid, and still. It would be a day when nobody felt good, tempers would be short, and it would be hard to get anything done. In time, though, a hard wind came down from the north.
Three men showed for sick call, all legit. Two sported patches of purplish velvet something on their legs. I saw new cases most every day. The men did not know how they got it, it itched, and most reported having had dizzy spells a day or two before the purple developed. A fifty-fifty mixture of salt and borax, both common locally, cleared the stuff in three treatments.
It was not just a Company problem. The fungus was new to Aloe's physicians, too. It was not dangerous. There were no re-infections.
Goblin showed when I was about to give up on him. He was not comfortable, which was odd. I had been treating him for years. He had no reason to go maidenly.
"You do something you know better than to do?"
"I don't know... I think something might've been done to me."
"You said you have a sore."
He started muttering, two voices talking about him in the third person. I interrupted. "Runt. Can the silly shit. Get undressed."
He shut up. He stripped. The pasty, doughy result would bring no maidens running.
The sore was on his paunch several inches to the right of his belly button. It was an inch and a half across, round, suppurating, and stinky, though it did not smell of gangrene. It made a tricolor target. The outer ring was the hot scarlet of blood poisoning. That faded to black. A three-eighths inch dot in the center was a puddle of pus.
"How long you been letting this slide?"
"A while. It started out like a pimple. I popped it. It came back. Now it's like this."
"Might be a spider bite." There were some nasty fiddlebacks out in the bush. "I'll clean it out and run a test. You try any sorcery?
"Slowed it down. Made it stop itching. That's all."
"Climb up here." I stretched him out on a table and got busy with a scalpel. I cleared the pus and dead flesh. I treated the hole with distilled spirits. One ounce for the outside of the man, two for his soul. Goblin yelled a lot. I gave him another two ounces for the inner man, then put sulfur and sulfur acid into the wound. I followed that with a water flush. I was about to stuff the hole with fresh lichen when I spotted a black grain down deep in the meat.
"Hang on. I found something." I went after it with scalpel and tweezers, sure it was the cause of his trouble.
I finished him up, bandages and all, and added two more ounces of medicinal spirits. "Sit up. Look at this. It was in the sore."
He scowled. "Don't look like much."
"You been somewhere where you could get stuck with a thorn or a splinter?"
"I never had a splinter fester like that. Give me one of them little bottles to put it in."
"I want you back in the morning. Meantime, find out what that is. Think about did it start when you were off with the Limper."
He gave me the hard eye. "What's going on?"
"The Captain's got you and One-Eye on the suspect list."
"The Limper thing."
"Yes. Mainly One-Eye, though. He's the one acting weird."
"He is?"
"He's stopped cheating."
"Shee-it! You're right. He hasn't tried to... His last dumbfuck idea was that freelance raid on the Temple of Occupoa. Damn! I'm starting to feel the medicine. We need to tie the little shit down and hypnotize him."
"That's an idea." I considered taking Goblin to the Dark Horse so Silent could work on him but the weather demurred.
The north wind was fierce. The sky grumbled in the distance. The air had an electric feel.
Goblin said, "I'll go sleep the storm off." He swiped a long pull of medicine.
"I might prescribe some spirits and a nap for myself."


THE SKY LORDS engaged in a savage brawl. The door and shutters rattled furiously. Rain slammed the infirmary. Water came in under the door. Major repairs would be needed. The roof leaked and mud brick walls weather fast once the stucco comes off.
Still, encouraged by self-medication, I considered visiting the Dark Horse.
The Captain flew inside behind a wild swing of the door. He grabbed hold and strained to force it shut. I went to help.
Hailstones bounded in, some an inch in diameter. They stung.
The Old Man treated himself to an uncharacteristic oath. Then "What the hell? This isn't summer weather."
"Locals say it happens once every five years. Goblin started predicting it yesterday."
"And how did he know?"
"I don't know, boss. I do think that this isn't as bad as it can get."
A jaundiced eye. "It'll take a month to fix what's busted already."
"You wanted something?"
"Two somethings. A report on Goblin. And treatment for the purple stuff." He hoisted his right trouser leg. "It came on fast. I had an itch last night. I got this now."
"Take the pants off."
He complied. "About Goblin. What was it?"
"I thought a spider bite. When I cleaned it out I found a little black something. Maybe a splinter. Maybe a thorn. He's going to examine it. Up on the table. Don"t move while the paste is drying. You suffer any dizzy spells lately?"
"Yes. Why?"
"That's the only thing people with the purple have in common."
"They get it in town, too?"
"They do. They use this same treatment."
"That feels good. The itching is gone."
A savage thunder battle broke out. The building shook. Hailstones pounded the roof. New leaks developed.
The Captain grumbled, "All this, and flash floods to come. Not good. I'll call One-Eye in. Give him a complete physical. Understood?
"No. Am I looking for something?"
"You'll know it when you see it. If it's there."
The air was saturated. The poultice on the Captain's leg was not drying. He sat up, pressed a finger into the paste. "We're being inundared with distractions."
More thunder. Blinding shards of light got in around the shutters. A downpour of legendary violence followed.


MUD WAS EVERYWHERE. Water concealed the horizontal kind, rippling in the wind. Every structure in the compound had a melted look. Those not included in the recent improvement campaign were no longer habitable.
The wind remained strong but had turned dry. That helped some.
Nobody had been killed, Company or in town. Injuries were few. Property damage was terrible. People worked feverishly to save what they could.
The folk of Aloe insisted that their gods had protected them. They claimed that past storms had been much less benign.
One-Eye came back looking like death warmed over. He had left the Third with a pig farmer, unable to travel. The Third had been caught in the open during a hailstorm. He had been hammered badly.
The ugly little black man with the filthy black hat got dragged to the infirmary, struggling. He screamed and swore that he did not need to see me.
My shop had gotten rehabilitated immediately after the mess hall.
"Get naked, One-Eye."
"Croaker? What the hell? No fucking way!"
"Gentlemen, help our brother shed his apparel. Be sure to wash your hands afterward." One-Eye was not fastidious. He wore clothes till they rotted off, or till he stole something he considered fetching. What he wore now would be dangerously infested.
Candy took that beaten old hat. One-Eye tried to groin-kick him. Candy drove a fist into his gut.
One-Eye screamed like a little girl thrown into a fire. Everything stopped. One-Eye collapsed.
Damn! "Gentlemen, please continue."
They finished. They took care not to hurt One-Eye any more. He was careful not to provoke anyone else.
Goblin turned up. He might be useful. "Stand by, runt. Candy, I need him on the table."
The men hoisted One-Eye and stretched him out.
"Gods," somebody muttered.
Because of One-Eye's purple legs? Or the smell? Candy's punch had knocked a crusty bandage off a nasty wound.
"We have to knock him out before I can do anything. Goblin?"
"I got nothing better than you."
I told him what to bring me, mixed in a sweet fig wine. Meantime, One-Eye got his breath and attitude back. We had to make him drink.
Eventually, Goblin declared, "He's under."
"The rest of you guys can go. He'll be out for hours. He won't feel like scrapping when he wakes up."
Candy and crew departed. Somebody wondered why we didn't burn One-Eye's hat and clothes. Entire tribes of creepy-crawlies would be living in there. "Too much," I said. "Just wash them."
The Captain turned up. He had mud all over. He had been out working like everybody else. "What have you got, Croaker?"
"The worst case of purple yet. Both legs, ankles to mid thigh, all the way around. It's turning green and gray where it's been there the longest. He wanted to keep it secret."
"The original case?"
"That's my guess. I'm tempted to let him be so I can see the disease's full course." I scraped graying mold to see what lay beneath.
"And the belly wound?"
"Like Goblin's but farther inboard and farther gone. It looks and smells the same. He'll be a while healing."
"He didn't treat himself."
That was actually a question. One-Eye was my backup as physician. He should have taken better care of himself.
"We'll ask when he comes around."
"Deal with him, Croaker. Goblin and I will be in the corner having a word."
Ouch! Poor Goblin.
I got out more little bottles. I put pus in one and purple scrapings in others. I cleaned One-Eye's wound. I found another something that looked like a bit of thorn. "Here we go. Same thing."
The meeting of the minds took a sabbatical. Goblin was grateful. He looked like an eight-year-old saved from having to go cut a switch. The Captain studied One-Eyes wound. "Can you keep that from going bad?"
"I can. If One-Eye takes care of himself."
The Captain told Goblin, "If he croaks you go in the same hole he does." He stalked out.
I looked at Goblin. "Wow."
"Got pretty intense."
"The man needs to get a sense of humor."
"He needs a life without hassles like you and One-Eye. He had a sense of humor, once upon a time." That won me no love. "You get anything from that thing I took out of you?"
"It was a spider fang. Venomous. But not a fiddleback. The festering is a diversion. The fang's mission was to carry a spell into my guts. You ruined that when you convinced me that I was missing for two days. It still went on poisoning me till you pulled it out, though."
"That adds up, sort of. To a sorcerer. Was the spell supposed to make you do something?"
"I don't know. We can ask One-Eye. He had the full effect for a whole lot longer."
There was that dim hope. I had a feeling we were caught inside a puppet show.
"Goblin, if you was seeing this with a neutral eye would you say it was Limper's style?" In the past the Limper had been a get a bigger hammer kind of problem solver. This seemed too complicated.
"What do we really know about him? Not much. But who else stands to profit? Nobody since the Battle at Charm. Unless Whisper..." Uh-oh.
I harkened back to two people in a forest clearing years ago, when Raven and I ambushed and captured the great Rebel commander of the day, Whisper. Now Taken. Now the Lady's proconsul here in the east and our commanding general.
The other person there, then, had been a Taken trying to make a turncoat deal. The Limper. Who had suffered terribly for his treason.
Goblin said, "He might be that clever. We don't know what he hasn't shown us. We only know that he doesn't want to do anything the Lady will notice. Especially since we got hold of that rescript."
I grunted. One-Eye was set to go.
Goblin stuck with his theme. "We've never proven that the Limper is stupid, only that he's so powerful he doesn't need to be smart."
"Maybe." But I wondered.
Goblin growled, "Damn it, Croaker! There you go thinking too much again."


DAYS PASSED. WORK proceeded. The Old Man kept just two hundred men in to refurbish the compound. He seemed unusually edgy. He did not get enough sleep. Some men, me included, worked in town part time. The rest helped salvage livestock and crops and got fast growing stuff into the driest ground quickly so Company and Aloe alike would not face a hungry winter.
One-Eye did not waken for five days. Goblin kept him in a healing coma.
In normal times Goblin and One-Eye spend a lot of time making like they are deadly enemies but neither one can get by without the other.
I had an epiphany. A teensy one, but an epiphany nonetheless.
One-Eye always started their squabbles. They had not had a serious dust-up since the Limper left. That had been overlooked by everyone but the Captain.
Being a precious Company intellectual resource I indulge in manual labor only when I must. I do not operate shovels or mattocks. I felt for the blacksmiths, armorers, carpenters, and Silent. Silent was draining himself trying to make fields dry faster.
The purple loved the damp. I saw dozens of new cases.
That was true in town, too. We had to hustle to find enough borax.


I STAGGERED INTO the Dark Horse the evening of the sixth day of the cleanup. I had passed beyond exhaustion. I might never go back to the compound.
"Croaker?" Zhorab was surprised to see me. He had only one customer, himself. He sat at the bar in the light of one feeble lamp.
"Damn. I didn't think it would be this dead."
"Me neither. I thought people would come drown their sorrows. But they're all being civic-minded. Even me. I finish the day too exhausted to come back and pretend. What'll you have?" He oozed off his stool, eased behind the bar. "Beer, of course. With you guys it's always beer."
He drew a flagon. I put a coin down. He pushed it back. "No point." He topped up his own drink, returned to the customer side of the bar. "I blame you."
"Me? For what?"
"Not you personally. The Company. For all your energy and determination to make things right. Instead of busting their asses most folks here would rather drown their sorrows while shaking their fists at the gods."
"The gods help most those who help themselves."
"Right. I'm telling you, you guys set a bad example."
"Sorry about that, Markeg. I got to head out before I pass out."
"Hang on."
I hung, leaning on the bar, as a man struggled with his conscience. I let the battle run.
Markeg Zhorab, barkeep, had been something else, once upon a time. He was a big man with a lot of old scars. His yesterday and today were conflicted.
He had something to tell me. He would give it up, gendy, voluntarily, now, or later to men who would not be polite when they asked.
"You people have been good to me, Croaker. You've been good to Aloe. You've been good for Aloe."
"That's what we do. We're peacemakers. Bringers of order. Prosperity follows us."
"Some don't see that. Some don't want to see that." "Uhm?"
"They're stirring trouble because you arrested that temple girl."
"Really?" I had been surprised at the lack of outrage then. The girl had had no family. The indignation focused on our intrusion into a temple.
Zhorab said, "They want me to spy on you guys."
"Go ahead. If that helps keep you safe."
"Damn! You won't force me to be a double agent?"
Yes, Zhorab would be a double agent. But he would not know it. Every word he heard from now on would be designed for Rebel ears.
"We aren't worried. Anyone who looks can see what we're doing and why. The system goes back forever. It works."
Did I believe that? Some. Mostly I do not worry about that stuff.
Zhorag decided. "There's something else."


"BRING ME SOME sticks to hold my eyes open," I told Silent. "I'm surprised I stayed awake long enough to make it back." I exaggerated. Operating without sleep is a necessary skill for a soldier.
One-Eye was awake, more or less, shading toward less. I was standing by in case the little shit got overexcited.
I had told the Captain about my visit with Zhorab.
His one comment was, "We're on our own." Then he told me to watch One-Eye. I got the feeling that he considered my news good.
Silent and Goblin wanted to put One-Eye to sleep, but hypnotized. Silent had tried with Goblin before, with unsatisfactory results. They had better hopes for One-Eye.
Goblin whispered, "What was that with the Captain?"
"I came up with confirmation that the weird shit going on is all aimed at us. And we'll be on our own, dealing with it."
He pricked One-Eye with a pin. One-Eye did not respond. "Meaning?
"Whisper could be involved. Limper, too. A Rebel operator called Cannon Shear has been ordered to destroy us. He's actually been on the job since last fall. He's Whisper's cousin, which might interest them back at the Tower."
"You came up with all that where?"
"In town. Some folks hear all the scuttlebutt."
"Grain of salt?"
"A bucket of salt. But think about this. Where did you go for two days? What did you bring back? Limper was multi-tasking when he came out here before. He was following the Lady's orders, yeah, but he was working on us at the same time. He fixed you and One-Eye so we don't dare report through you. He'd know if we tried. Right?"
Goblin tested One-Eye. "Maybe.'
"Maybe his main reason for taking you off somewhere was so the rest of us would distrust you now. We have to honor the threat. But, looking at One-Eye, I'm sure there's more to it." If Company hygiene matched the Limper's abysmal standards the purple would have crippled us all by now.
"I see. I can't yell for mommy direct, we can't go through Whisper's headquarters, and there's no way to get a courier through to the Tower. You set, Silent?"
Silent nodded.
I said, "I think Whisper and Limper mean to let Cannon Shear be their revenge. They don't need to do anything. They can claim ignorance later because we never asked for help. After they eliminate Shear."
"Clever. Though it would mean that Whisper is in it deep. One fly in that ointment, though, Croaker. That rescript with the slurs to the Lady you swiped from Limper when he was here. He'll want that back, bad. It can take him down with us. One-Eye. Sweetheart. Wake up. You've just enjoyed a wonderful night's sleep."
I had tucked a copy of that damning rescript into the shirt of the girl that Limper had had to carry back to the Tower. The Lady might be watching him already. But I could not mention that while Goblin or One-Eye were suspect.
Both wizards signed for silence.
"Cannon Shear is headed our way. His initial strategy was to hit us while we were still scattered and confused by the storm."
The Rebel had expected the bad weather. This was the summer it was due. But they were more than a week late, now.
Goblin and Silent signed for silence. Who knew what ears might be listening?
Shear's force had not assembled when and where it should have. Zhorab did not know why. He reported severe confusion in the underground.
Unexpected shit can screw up the plans of the bad guys, too.
One-Eye's eye was open. He appeared rested, relaxed, amused, and ready to talk. His answers, though, were no more useful than Goblin's bad been.
Goblin kept after him from various angles. It did no good.
Goblin said, "More effort went into him than into me."
"Might have to do with perceived character. Maybe we should keep him under."
Silent signed something about the Third.
Goblin nodded, started whispering about spiders. One-Eye had no use for eight-leggers except to deploy as an affliction on someone else. Goblin signed to Silent, told me, "Let's go outside."
It was dark, the sky was clear, moonless, stars in a flood beyond calculation. Goblin whispered, "One-Eye will sense that I'm not there to protect him."
So. Silent would do something with imaginary spiders, going for a backside breakthrough.
"We're past where we might need you, Croaker. Go make love to your cot."
The Captain said, "Not so fast." Great. He was back and determined that I never sleep again.
"Any headway with One-Eye?"
Goblin said. "No. We were about to..."
"Finish what you're doing, then shut it down. There's something more pressing. Croaker. You said this Cannon Shear is going to come at us from the north."
"Yes, sir. He's late."
"Goblin. Which one of you manages wildlife?"
"We all do, sir."
"Who does it best? Who can send a bird to find Croaker's fabulous Rebel army? I want to know, is it late because it was smashed by the storm, too?"
"You'll want Silent."
"Get him. Now."
"Right." Goblin ducked inside.
The Captain said, "It occurs to me that your witness, though telling you what he believed to be true, may have been deliberately misled."
Goblin let out a howl. The Captain and I rushed inside.
One-Eye had gotten a hand free. He had smacked Goblin. Now he was trying to work some kind of sorcery.
The Old Man punched him in the temple, stepped round so the little wizard could see who was taming him. Then he pressed a hand down on One-Eye's face so he could not breathe.
One-Eye faded into unconsciousness. The Captain said, "Bind him. Put a sack over his head. Stuff him in an empty pickle barrel with some brine still in. Croaker, help Goblin with that, then get some sleep. Silent, you're with me." And he was gone.
I wondered, "What got into him? He don't usually get involved."
Goblin opined that a pickle barrel might be good therapy.
We outfitted One-Eye with said barrel, hammered the top into place, then went off in search of our cots.


IT WAS MIDMORNING before I wakened with what felt like a hangover. I had thirty-some clients waiting at the infirmary. Fourteen had purple in its earliest stage. Word about One-Eye's legs was out. Rumor said we stuffed him into a pickle barrel to preserve him till we discovered a cure for the advanced form of the disease.
There were malingerers, men with bruises and scrapes, and two with bad colds. There was trench foot because of all the wet.
Orders came to assemble, to inspect weapons and commence combat drills. Scuttlebutt said the Old Man wanted a straight up, force to force engagement once he located Cannon Shear.
Not good. We had not seen one of those since the Battle at Charm. Fewer than half of today’s Company had seen that epic bloodletting.
Elmo was my last patient. He had a broken pinkie on his left hand. Something to do with a miscreant hammer. I asked what the Old Man was up to. "You got questions, Croaker, take them to him. All I know is we got today to get our shit together, then we’re headed for a badass brawl with a million crazed Rebels."
Master of understatement, the good sergeant. That should motivate the men to hone their blades extra sharp. They would need to cut down thirty or forty Rebels apiece.
There was a more subtle message for me. Need to know.
Sick call concluded, I went out to see what I could contribute. I should have stuck to the infirmary. I needed to get my show ready to hit the road. I had to have everything aboard the hospital wagons and secured before the order to make movement came.
Lots of things were happening at once, all in the open where any keen-eyed spy could see. Men drilled. Archers practiced, testing bows and strings. Wagons loaded. Farriers checked horseshoes. Teamsters checked harnesses, trees, brakes and traces. Wheelwrights and wain-wrights made sure the wagons were fit to roll. And a hundred men went on repairing the compound. They demolished wrecked buildings and used the salvage to strengthen the outer wall.
There were a lot of extra wagons. The Old Man had hired forty from town, with two teamsters to handle each. I am sure he counted on some of those men to be spies.
He materialized behind me. "You ready to go, Croaker?"
"Just about to get started, sir."
"Good. First thing you need to do is roll that pickle barrel into Admin. Park it beside your work table."
That would be the table where I am supposed to record these chronicles. Which I use maybe a quarter of the time. I prefer the privacy of the infirmary. The stuff over there was weeks behind. "Shit! I forgot the Annals over there! The storm..."
"They're fine. All sealed up, waterproof. Thank the clerks when you take the barrel in. You want to fuss, worry about the stuff you got here.


WE DID NOT gag One-Eye before we kegged him. He had unkind things to say as I rolled him over to Admin, stood the barrel up to walk it through the doorway, then tipped it and rolled it on into my corner. The little ingrate kept forgetting that it was me who saved him from having to slosh around in ten gallons of pickle juice. He might have drowned when I was rolling him.
One of the clerks asked, "How about you shove that under the table, out of the way?"
"It won't fit."
"Leave it laying down. Here. I'll help you."
He did. I stepped back. I hoped the Old Man knew what he was doing.
Predecessors had tried everything to tame One-Eye, with no success.
I did not feel bad for the little shit. He brought these things on himself.
"About my papers."
"Taken care of."
"But..." My work table was the usual mess.
"Sir, you need to prepare your wagons. The mounted vedettes are leaving now."
True. I did not have forever to get ready. "But..."
They practically gave me the bum's rush, moving me out of there.


A SOLDIER SHOVED inside the infirmary. He held the door. Two more followed with a litter. "Damn!" If I had to saw a leg off, or anything major, I would have to unpack again. "What's this?"
Silent and Goblin followed the stretcher bearers. The human toad explained, "The Third. We need him waked up so we can ask questions."
The soldiers made themselves scarce. They wanted nothing to do with what happened next. Wizardry would be involved. The stretcher was on the floor. I needed the patient on my examining table. "All right, boys. Time for heavy lifting. What's his problem?"
Goblin said, "Bad case of attempted suicide complicated by advanced stupidity and wanton disregard for personal hygiene."
I saw the slash marks on his wrists. They ran crosswise and were not deep. The blade had not been sharp. He had not been committed.
"Let's get him restrained."
While they handled that and I prepared smelling salts the Captain invited himself to the show. "Why didn't you strip him?" I frowned.
"You stripped One-Eye and Goblin."
I had had help in one case and cooperation in the other. "You're the boss. Untie him, guys." I pulled clothing off, had the Third tied down again.
I checked his outside. Other than a bad case of the purple and complementary fungi in several places, plus prime herds of livestock, I found nothing unusual. He smelled as bad as One-Eye had but did not have a similar wound.
The Captain asked, "Why did he cut himself?"
I handed over the smelling salts. "You can ask him in a minute." I cleaned and treated.
"Make sure he gets a bath when we're done here."
The Third responded to the salts. Sluggishly. The Old Man slapped his cheeks. "How many fingers, kid?"
"Close enough. Ask questions, gentlemen. Let me know what you get. I have to make sure the Lieutenant has the vanguard moving."
I muttered, "They're really doing it."
Goblin told me, "There's a rumor that Cannon Shear is a hoax. That this is all just an exercise."
"Yeah? I heard one about the Lady being on her way to help."
Goblin grinned at Silent. "Our little boy is maybe gonna get him some nooky."
"You're here to question the kid, runt."
"He's all touchy about it, too."
Sometimes they make me so mad. I missed half the questions. The thrust, though, had to do with what One-Eye was up to while he was out in the country.
I was not surprised to learn that he kept ditching the Third and skating out on doing the livestock inventories. He would have done that in the best of times. The man was bone lazy. He did only what he had to to get by.
The Third thought the runt might have been up to something this time but had no idea what. He knew only that One-Eye never stopped bitching about having to stay away from the compound.
"And that wasn't the usual stuff," the Third said, still groggy. "He didn't whine about missing out on women or drink, or even the tonk games. He just thought he belonged at the compound. But he always looked puzzled when I asked why."
"What about spin devils? I asked. And harvested baffled looks all I round. "You know, wind witches. Little baby whirlwinds."
"They wasn't any that I saw."
Silent shook his head, signed something. Goblin told me, "You only get those where the ground is bare and dry, Croaker. In a lot of direct sun. Not in pasture country. Nowhere now, till the world dries out."
So. Maybe Silent was right about them being harmless. I do get distracted by side issues.
"Do your worst."
Those two rascals worried the boy from nine different angles. An hour later they still had nothing useful. He did not know, or had been made not to know. In the end we had only what everybody always knows about One-Eye. He was up to something. Probably.
I got the Third all cleaned, treated, and bandaged. He would get to skate out of the coming campaign. A racket outside told me the main body was moving out. I had only minutes left. "So why did you try to kill yourself?"
The Third s face went blank, then pruned into a frown. "I didn't."
I lifted a wrist to show the ugly cut.
Goblin said, "The pig farmer said you did that. He admitted that he didn't actually see it happen, though."
A grim thought hung in the following silence.
The muleteers on my wagons yelled at me to get my lard ass moving if I did not want to walk.


WE MADE A scant nine miles. Evening sick call produced a dozen customers, most with blisters. The Captain strolled through the camp, looking smug as he took reports. Once he visited my station everyone knew new physical fitness requirements would be on the way.
Interesting. The men were less worried about the coming fight than about possible fatigue marches later.
I blame the Old Man. He had them convinced that they were invincible. Of course, what was gospel to them leaked into the broad social environment. The locals believed it, too.
Their blisters treated and my body fed I figured I would see if Goblin had gotten anything more from the Third. I could not find him. The Old Man had him and Silent looking for Cannon Shear using owls. Then I had to go back to work.
A pioneer squad needed help. Five were injured, two of them on litters. "What happened?"
"We got into it with some wasps." The squad leader had a thick Hanfelder brogue.
I knelt beside a litter. The man there groaned. His face and hands were covered with sting welts. He could not open his eyes. I worried that he might have been blinded.
The man on the other litter was almost as bad.
"Did you beat the nest with sticks?"
The squad leader grumbled, "That idiot Marker dropped it." He said no more. He had received a warning look. They had been up to something.
I asked, "Paper wasps or bald-face hornets? Do you know?" Both made nests that hung from branches. Both were common. Both had nasty stings and a hair trigger temper. Bald-face hornets, sometimes mistaken for bumblebees, were the worst. They were vindictive. They would hunt you down.
Unlike bees, both nasty bugs could sting you over and over.
"Paper wasps."
"You were lucky, then. Bald-faces probably would have killed you.
The Captain stood a few yards away, considering the casualties, glowering. He disapproved of people getting hurt in the field. Not only would a sword fall out of the line, another man might have to stand down to care for him.
I treated the fools. The poultice I used was a cousin to that used for treating the purple. No new cases of that had been reported.
One choice left. Keep these men here or send them back. I looked up, meaning to ask the Captain. He was gone. And still no sign of Goblin or Silent. Elmo was hard at it being an infantry platoon seargent. There was no recreation going on. Men not on duty or asleep fixing gear or sharpening weapons.
I went back to my wagons. The genius waspnappers were gone.
I finished my chores, wrapped up in my blanket, fell asleep to the joyful singing of feasting mosquitoes. I needed to recruit some apprentices. I needed somebody to bark at when I was in a bad mood.


MORNING COMES EARLY in the field. Everyone was afoot, fed, packed, hitched, harnessed, and ready to roll by the time there was light enough to travel. I dealt with bruises and scrapes during the day. Nobody complained about dizziness or itching. Nobody fumbled a wasps' nest. We climbed a long hill covered by scruffy hardwoods. We descended the far slope, piled up at a rickety bridge for two hours while the engineers reinforced it. There was no point looking for a ford. The water was still high and in a hurry. The countryside, normally mostly brown this time of year, had turned exuberantly green.
We climbed a longer, less steep hill populated by small, scraggly groves and singleton oaks. This was grazing country. Several flocks were visible in the distance, along with other livestock. Initially, I supposed their herders were taking advantage of the new grass, but then realized that they were all headed toward the thicker woods.
Peasants were taking their wealth into hiding. And they were headed in our direction, away from their declared liberators. Interesting.
So. Cannon Shear was real. And he was ten days late for his appointment with destiny.
I had not been convinced before.
We make things up all the time and put them out so our enemies will worry.
The long far slope descended to a stream wider and deeper than the one we had crossed earlier. The pasture land boasted numerous limestone outcrops, brush-choked gullies and ravines, and small stands of scrub oaks not connected with denser woods out to left and right. Someone had tried to establish vineyards down slope but had given up. The view northward, beyond the river, was vast, a green plain featuring villages, satellite farming communes, and a lot more undulating pasture. In the extreme distance a dust cloud partially masked remote hills. It would take a large gang to create that.
Our officers knew what was expected. Men began digging in before I was done gawking. Clearly, need to know had not included the medical staff.
Candy came by with a map. He showed me where he wanted me to set up, behind a screen of trees to our left, on the ridgeline, not far from the road we would use if we had to run.
That map was finely detailed. It was not new. More proof that the medical staff was out of the loop.
Once my hospital was set up I went snooping.
The Captain had been way ahead of me. He had been ready for this. His chosen ground, with the trenches, pitfalls, tangle foot, sharp-ened stakes, and whatnot added, could not have been more favorable. The Rebel would have to start by coming at us across two bridges, one stone, the other rickety wood a half mile upstream.
The Old Man could not expect Cannon Shear to come straight at us, whatever his numerical advantage, could he?


I THINK WELL of my brain. I am smarter than most. It is embarrassing to have to admit that I charged into the wrong story at the beginning. While I obsessed about spin devils, common summer phenomena round Aloe, and worried incessantly about the purple, so easily treated, and about One-Eye, that clumsy bear we call the Captain lumbered down his own path, outthinking everybody.
The Company prides itself on using deception, distraction, trickery, or occasional assassination, to avoid combat or to make an enemy think wrong if we do have to fight. Mostly the wizards handle that, making people see things that are not there. They love to conjure specters to make the Company look bigger and badder.
Specters do not contribute much once the action begins.
Though given hints and told outright I never really understood that similar tools could be used against me. Gentle nudges at the outset fixed my thinking in a rut. I saw things that were not there as well as what was there in the wrong light.
I was still in that wrong space, trying to separate the imaginary from the real, as Cannon Shear's force moved toward the two bridges. I saw few obvious specters and fewer living and breathing men than ought to be the case on our side.
I refused to believe that the Rebels, less numerous than predicted, meant to force those bridges under concentrated missile fires. Something was off about all this, from both sides.
The oddness on my side irked me. I am the Annalist. I need to know.


WHILE WE SPLATTERED Cannon Shear, nearly damming that river with Rebel flesh, he kept us fixed, twenty-one miles out, while a second column hooked in on Aloe from farther east.
The key moments happened elsewhere. I witnessed nothing. There was a reason. Somebody smarter than me worked it out.
If you were the Limper, most badass of the Taken, had a hard-on for the Company, and wanted to keep tabs from afar, what individual would you target? What fool always has his nose into everything because he has to know so he can record it in his precious Annals? You are correct, sir! Right in one. Croaker. Involuntary traitor gifted with induced paranoia and ensorcelled quills that let our little persecutor know every character they scribbled, wherever he happened to be. The Old Man distracted, mislead, and mislaid me all the way, though. From now on I'll go into every encounter with him mumbling: "Don't judge this guy by what he lets you see."
For events at the compound I rely on the questionable testimony of a few frightened operators who observed by the light of a sliver of moon, plus my own exemplary imagination.


A BLACK RECTANGLE drifted in over the west wall, settled noiselessly into the deep shadow beside the Admin building. A short blob of darkness entered the wan moonlight and scuttled to the building door. It dragged one leg. It paused, listened, but only for a moment. It knew it was not expected and it had sent a sleep spell ahead to neutralize any stay behinds.
Inside, a word and gesture created a ball of ivory glow. It floated a foot above the Limper s head. It shed just enough light to let him avoid furniture moved since his previous visit.
He felt something. A pool of the power of sorcery, quiescent. One of the Company sorcerers, asleep, tempting him to murder. Why not? The Annalist would discover the loss of the critical evidence anyway, unless the Rebels killed him.
He did not count on those idiots to do their part, out there, in Aloe, or here at the Company compound. The current class were worse than amateur.
He could not treat himself to the pleasure of a kill. The sorcerers were critical to the execution of the plan. And they would not live long afterward, anyway.
These wicked Company men were clever. They would have copies of the rescript cached somewhere. The suborned wizards would deal with those, once the original was safe. He would spell them orders through the spider fangs, which would kill them soon enough. But he had to have that original document. There was no way it could be brushed off as a forgery. The damning insult to the Lady was scrawled in his own hand.
The spark ahead stirred as though sensing his presence. There it was. Under the Annalist's table. A barrel, on its side, rocking. Two more barrels stood close by, upright.
One-Eye, then. The key to it all. Why was he not at the battle site?
They had put their best wizard into a barrel instead? Why? That was insane. Maybe the answer was in the Annalists notes. Or soon would be. Meantime, this had to be done fast. It was a long flight to his station. He had to get back before he was missed.
He shifted the nearest upright barrel. It was not empty but its contents did not weigh much. He could dump them, fill the barrel with the Annalist's papers, then sort everything out later. He could be headed west moments later.


OTTO AND HAGOP, shielded against sleep spells, slipped up to the Limper's flying carpet. Otto lifted a corner. The frame was almost weightless. Hagop slipped under. By the light of a glow weaker than the moonlight he attached a round wooden container four inches in diameter and two feet long. He pulled a string on one end, then got out of there. Both men headed for town, trotting to join others who had not gone out to meet Cannon Shear.


THE BARREL UNDER the table rocked. The man inside wanted to make it roll. It could go nowhere because two other barrels blocked it. Limper whispered, "I'll have you out in a minute." Not meaning a word. Tools for seating and unseating a barrelhead lay on the Annalist's table. "But first...
Limper popped the head out of the nearest upright barrel. It was filled with gray paper mache globs. Those should dump easily.
A thud. A flash. A bang. The barrel hopped a foot off the floor, came down hard and fell over. Limper caught the slightest whiff of the initiating spell.
There was another one! There, in the dark! Overlooked because of the smell of the man in the barrel! Ambush!
The wasps and hornets came awake, freed from the sleep spell.


THEY TORE HIM a new asshole, Silent signed. Tore him a whole new set. Even bundled up the way he always is. But he kept on stuffing that barrel, screaming worse than the Howler ever did. The hornets stayed with him till he was a hundred feet up.
There was a lot of laughter. The Captain had pulled a good one. He had begun laying the groundwork after the Limper's last visit, when he noticed the little shit messing with my quills and inks. Still, not everything had gone the way he wanted.
He opened the barrel! I still cannot believe he did that. I thought the bugs would have to get at him through the fill hole, fighting each other all the way.
I looked across at One-Eye. He was not thrilled, not least because somebody had washed his clothes while he was confined, but also because he now stank of pickle instead of like an idiot a year overdue for a bath.
I went to get the Captain's story. "Why so glum, sir?"
"I miscalculated. Understating it big-time. Whisper didn't do what I expected. I know she had to be in on it. I thought the Lieutenant would chase his Rebels right into the force she would try to sneak in behind us."
There had been no such force. The ambush of the second Rebel column did nothing but scatter panicky amateurs.
"She isn't stupid, Captain. She went down with the Limper once. Never again."
He shrugged. "Whatever, it was a good few days' work, whether I'm happy or not."
"Look on the bright side. There hasn't been a new case of the purple reported in three days."


TO GET BACK to where he was supposed to be the Limper had to overfly the deadly strangeness of the Plain of Fear. As always, giant flying things rose to contest the passage of an outsider. Limper ducked, darted, and maneuvered. Getting through was not difficult for one or the Taken. They could fall back on their sorcery if their situation got too tight.
All that motion caused the contents of the tube beneath Limper's carpet to slosh and mix. One especially violent jig finally shook loose a jammed trigger.
The explosion destroyed the fore half of the carpet. The Limper was making a shrieking climb at the time, twenty-three hundred feet above ground. He arced one way. A barrel followed a similar trajectory. Bits of carpet and frame, aflame and otherwise, began to flutter down.
The situation was tight enough for the Taken to call on his sorcery. He cursed all the way to the ground. The damned Black Company had done him wrong again. He might not be able to cover this up. He was going to be way late for work.

@темы: Шепот, Черный Отряд, Хромой, Одноглазый, Масло, Костоправ (Ворчун, Каркун, Старик), Госпожа (Леди), Гоблин, Глен Кук, Ведьмак

2016-06-11 в 17:26 

У Добра преострые клыки и очень много яду. Зло оно как-то душевнее... (с)
пишет, что файл не найден(((((

2016-06-11 в 17:45 

негодяй и извращенец (С)
Рита_Скиттер, похоже, у ifolder'а проблемы с закачкой fb2, выдает ошибку. Ты ведь fb2 качала? Я заархивировал его, попробуй сейчас.
Если архивом неудобно, напомни мейл, вышлю.

2016-06-11 в 17:48 

У Добра преострые клыки и очень много яду. Зло оно как-то душевнее... (с)
krys, его, родимого)))) нет, мне не принципиально в архиве или без - как порядочный параноик я храню библиотеку в куче различных мест)))))

2016-06-11 в 17:51 

Cижу тихо, в глаза не бросаюсь, рубаю картоху

2016-06-11 в 17:54 

Cижу тихо, в глаза не бросаюсь, рубаю картоху
krys, а вы можете перекачать архивы на wetransfer.com?
Айфолдер - это просто катастрофа какая-то((((

2016-06-11 в 18:42 

негодяй и извращенец (С)
Рита_Скиттер, делись потом впечатлениями!

imirel, есть: we.tl/GOEnpjIPXW
Может, перейдем на "ты"? Если вы не против. Мало нас, все свои.

2016-06-11 в 18:43 

У Добра преострые клыки и очень много яду. Зло оно как-то душевнее... (с)
krys, непременно))))

2016-06-11 в 18:45 

Cижу тихо, в глаза не бросаюсь, рубаю картоху
krys, спасибо)
Может, перейдем на "ты"? Если вы не против. Мало нас, все свои.

Конечно, не вопрос :)

Скачала, но взочту потом, видимо, сначала надо "Эльбу" прочитать. А я, простите, обеими ногами в книгах Юга :gigi:

2016-06-11 в 19:34 

негодяй и извращенец (С)
imirel, так это самое то, что надо: многие по прочтении цикла говорят "хорошо завершил" (если завершил - там есть возможность продолжения), но что-то тянет на Север. А тут - рассказы. Самое то.
Эльба и Опасность хронологически раньше двух других, лучше в таком порядке и читать.

На каком месте в книгах Юга сейчас?)

2016-06-11 в 19:36 

Cижу тихо, в глаза не бросаюсь, рубаю картоху
krys, на середине "Воды спят" :) Дрема прелесть)

2016-06-12 в 09:32 

негодяй и извращенец (С)
imirel, есть за ней такое)

2016-08-24 в 14:56 

Может перевод рассказа где есть ?

2016-08-24 в 15:02 

Cижу тихо, в глаза не бросаюсь, рубаю картоху
Elric72, мы пока точно не переводили(


Миры Глена Кука