Returning to the Norse-inspired realm of Baern, the second book in the thrilling Renshai saga continues the tale of three warriors brothers.... With the Great War over, the Renshai have won back the Fields of Wrath. As the survivors limp homeward, Tae Kahn—Subikahn’s father—fears that a far larger and fiercer wave of enemy soldiers is headed toward them. One Kjempemagiska and an army of their man-sized servants nearly defeated the entire Continent. This time, Tae is certain the ranks will include hundreds of these strong, magical, island-dwelling giants. The only hope for the peoples of the Continent is to regather their war-weary troops and convince the few magical beings of their own world to assist them. It becomes a race against time as Tae, his friends, and his family struggle to convince the Continental generals of the danger; attempt to turn reluctant, antagonistic mages and elves into allies; spy on the giant Kjempemagiska sorcerors; and seek some means to defeat an enemy powerful beyond contemplation.
Release date: February 24, 2015
Print pages: 592
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Fields of Wrath
Mickey Zucker Reichert
Mistri toddled toward a wall of shale. Though only a head shorter than her playmate, her thick limbs and proportionately large head aptly demonstrated her youth. She was half his weight but seemed not to notice, dragging him around like a favorite stuffed toy. Bobbin did not quite understand his place in the world, but he never doubted his mistress’ love. She clutched him more fiercely than she did her dolls and insisted on having him beside her every waking moment.
Bobbin glanced toward Mistri’s nursemaid, who perched on the root ball of a fallen tree, alternately peering thoughtfully and writing feverishly on a scrap of parchment. She seemed gigantic compared to her charges, half again as tall and at least twice as broad as Bobbin, though well-proportioned and feminine. He knew humanity came in two distinct sizes: the Masters, like Mistri’s nursemaid, and the Servants who resembled him in size and breadth. Bobbin, however, did not fit in with either.
A movement on a large rock over the shale slope caught Bobbin’s attention. He peered through the checkered light, trying to make out a shape poised above Mistri. Only rocks, it seemed, yet Bobbin still thought he had seen a glimpse of motion. He had just decided to dismiss it as the flutter of loose leaves in wind, when he saw another movement. Gradually, his gaze carved out a dark creature crouched on a huge stone over Mistri’s head.
Suddenly, it pounced.
“No!” Bobbin dove for Mistri. His hands struck her, driving her forward with a gasp of breath. The girl staggered a few steps, lost her balance, and crashed to the ground, wailing. The creature slammed into Bobbin with a force that rattled his teeth, hurling him to the ground. Enormous, curved claws ripped through his clothes to draw a line of blood along his spine. Teeth scored his scalp, and he sensed a jaw powerful enough to crush his skull if he allowed it to close.
Bobbin rolled, throwing off the creature. It dropped back to a crouch, utterly still. Rich brown hair covered its stocky muscular body, and stripes of creamy gold ran from each shoulder, along its flanks, to the base of its short bushy tail. It was smaller than its strength suggested, a quarter to a third of Bobbin’s weight, its length perhaps half his height. Its tail was low, its back seemed slightly arched, its snout pointed and short, its head blunt, broad, and flattened. Widely-set eyes studied Bobbin as it snarled and hissed at him, otherwise unmoving.
Bobbin growled back at the creature, mock lunging with his arms spread wide to increase the appearance of his size. Rather than frighten it, the feigned attack seemed to enrage it, and it sprang at Bobbin again with a speed that belied its previous immobility.
“No, jarfr!” Mistri screamed through tears. “No hurt Bobbin!”
The nursemaid scooped up Mistri and carried her safely away.
This time, Bobbin ducked, and the animal sailed over him. Its scent filled his nostrils, chokingly musky, strong and horrible. The instant its short legs hit the ground, it bunched them again and flew toward him.
Bobbin dredged at the ground with his fingers. He caught up dirt clods and weeds, nothing solid enough to harm the creature. Nevertheless, as it careened toward him, he hurled both handfuls at its face. The debris proved enough to throw off the attack, and its sharp-nailed claws barely grazed his ear as it soared past him again. Wholly fearless, it gathered itself for another attack.
Blood trickled down Bobbin’s back, and cold air seeped through the opening in his undertunic. His head ached. He knew he could not keep this up forever; the beast’s endurance would last far longer than his, especially wounded as he was. He dug up more ground, this time rewarded by a fist-sized rock. He yanked it free, his hesitation nearly his downfall. The thing Mistri had called a jarfr flew at him again. This time, Bobbin had no choice but to catch it, to embrace it like a lover. The claws raked his sides. The teeth snapped wildly at his face. The foul odor emanating from it seemed to fill his head and made his eyes water. Struggling with its weight and momentum, Bobbin found himself hard-pressed to raise the rock. It slipped in his grip, forcing him to make a desperate choice. He could grapple fully with the creature while the stone fell or grab for the rock and risk losing track of the jarfr for the instant he did so.
Bobbin looked away just long enough to snag the rock out of the air. The beast took full advantage, seizing Bobbin’s other wrist in its jaws. He could feel the teeth settling into place, prepared to shatter bone. He raised the stone, driving it against the jarfr’s skull between its small and wide-set eyes. The thing barely flinched, but the teeth did ease on his wrist in sudden surprise. Using all his strength, Bobbin slammed the rock against it again, in the same place. This time, something gave. Blood spurted from the wound, and the creature’s hiss became a howling snarl.
Bobbin expected it to release him, but the jaws clamped tighter on his wrist. The claws flailed relentlessly, the hind ones tearing at his thighs, the forelimbs ripping through air to catch and tear his sleeve. Bobbin felt something collapse in his wrist, and agony speared through his entire arm. He could think of nothing except the pain; it consumed him fully. Yet his other hand acted with mindless instinct, hammering the rock repeatedly against the jarfr’s forehead until a hunk of skull detached, and the eyes drifted inward to touch in the center. The jarfr stiffened, then went limp in his arms.
Bobbin sank to the ground as well, focused entirely on his wrist, his vision an empty white plain. He barely heard Mistri’s voice in his ear, sobbing, “Bobbin, Bobbin.” The nursemaid tried to pull her off, then abandoned that job to free the jarfr from Bobbin’s sagging arms with a broken branch. She poked the beast, apparently making certain it was dead. The blood of man and beast smeared all three of them.
The nursemaid did her duty. “Mistri, are you hurt?”
“No.” The girl tightened her grip. “Bobbin hurt. Help Bobbin?” she pleaded, looking up at the woman, teary-eyed.
Bobbin rocked back and forth, trying to divert his attention from the pain. It was diminishing slightly, just enough so that he was becoming aware of the words and actions around him.
The nursemaid crouched beside them, sighing. She clearly saw little reason to assist the man, aside from the frantic entreaties of his mistress. “Where’s he hurt?”
Bobbin held up his injured hand, wrist flopping.
“Ah.” The nursemaid reached for Bobbin.
His first instinct, to pull away, passed quickly. He doubted she could make things much worse.
In fact, she cradled his wrist with such gentleness and warmth that the pain started to noticeably recede. Then, she made a few guttural noises, tossed her head, and normalcy slid quietly back into place. By the time she released him, Bobbin felt only a throbbing ache in a wrist that, only moments before, had felt on fire.
Bobbin stared at his wrist, moving it gingerly to assure himself it worked again. He had seen the Masters use magic before, and it never ceased to amaze him. He knew he had no such powers, nor did the Servants, and it seemed to him as if magic should not exist at all. Yet, clearly, it did. And now, he knew, it worked on him as well.
Mistri tore a piece off Bobbin’s tattered tunic and awkwardly bound the wrist. Her sweet, childish touch felt as soft and harmless as butterfly wings, and a chill of delight fluttered through him. There was something inherently remarkable about a child’s ministrations that made everything feel acutely sensitive and innocently special. He smiled at her, and she patted his head.
The nursemaid examined Bobbin’s torn back, touching here and there, muttering a few syllables, and the pain faded. Bobbin had not worried about the scratches, despite their depth. Their sting had disappeared beneath the all-consuming agony of his wrist. Finally, she took Mistri’s hand and rose, pulling the girl up with her. She brushed the dirt from her clothing, frowning at the blood smeared across her frock, but clearly realized the girl was not the source of any of it.
“Come, Mistri. Time to go home.”
Mistri nodded, pulling free of her nursemaid’s hand to take Bobbin’s instead. She tugged at his arm.
Worried about the stress on his wrist, Bobbin rose quickly, using only his own power. He looked at the jarfr’s corpse.
Mistri followed his gaze with her own, and the nursemaid looked as well. “Very well, Mistri. We’ll take it with us.” She ran a hand through the pelt, then sniffed her palm and grimaced. “We can wash out the scent, and it’ll make warm scarves and gloves.” She hefted the carcass and easily slung it over one shoulder. It looked small there, despite the wickedly curved claws drooping from its limp paws, its dead lips locked into a permanent snarl.
Thus far, the nursemaid had done everything with a calm manner that suggested nothing out of the ordinary, but a trembling in her fingers, a wobbliness to her steps told Bobbin the attack had shaken her at least as much as him. Only Mistri seemed unaffected, skipping along at his side, his hand clutched fiercely in her pudgy, sticky fist.
As they walked toward the massive, castlelike dwelling that served as home to Mistri’s parents, the girl sang softly to herself, a repetitive tune that Bobbin had come to know well. Along with Mistri, he was learning to speak in stages, though he had not yet done so in the presence of Masters other than Mistri and, now, the single syllable “no” for her nursemaid when the jarfr had first attacked. He knew a slew of nouns and verbs, and even syntax was oozing slowly into his base of knowledge. He had a strange sense that he had once spoken fluently, oddly impossible; and in his dreams he had no trouble communicating freely in a language he did not recognize.
Yet, even as he learned, Bobbin often felt as if he were missing huge parts of conversation, sometimes even the entire thing. Apparently, the language of both Masters and Servants contained a component he had not yet discovered: hand signals, perhaps, tone or timbre, inflection, or facial expression. Despite careful observation, he had not come close to unearthing the method. As a result, they classified him as animal rather than human.
And Bobbin knew he looked the part. Though he closely resembled the Servants in height and general shape, no one would mistake him for one of them. To a man, they had fine reddish hair and green eyes, their figures sleeker and more elegant than his. He had yet to meet one who stood quite as tall or broad as he did, though their size differential was barely noticeable compared to the enormous Masters. Coarse, black hair covered Bobbin’s head in thick curls; and, though he believed himself quite young, he already had to scrape off facial hair every day. It seemed to grow faster and thicker than theirs as well, as though furry was his natural state. His chest sported clumps of inky hair, much darker and thicker than the Masters’ or Servants’, and it even coated his limbs. Mistri clearly liked his fur, grooming it with soft brushes and decorating it with ribbons that made him look silly but never failed to earn a smile from the Masters.
The tiny forest gave way to tightly packed cottages where the Servants lived, all huddled together like sticks in a bundle. Bobbin knew open places like the one they had just left were few and sparse, treasures to savor. Though he had little experience with wild animals, he knew they rarely attacked humans, especially in broad daylight as the jarfr had. He did not know how he knew this, but he suspected the dwindling woodland played a part, forcing the creatures onto smaller and smaller ranges with more competition for prey.
The villagers ceased their normal activities to bow to the nursemaid and her charge and stare curiously at Bobbin. He was a singularity or, at least, something quite rare. He had never met, or heard about, another of his kind. Mistri had discovered him on the shore, bedraggled and all but dead. She had insisted on bringing him home; and her parents had obliged her, as they usually did. The adults never hesitated to speculate in Bobbin’s presence, but he had only recently managed to understand what they said about him. They seemed to place him in the category of relatively intelligent animal, a distant and primitive relation to the Servants.
The threesome soon reached the mansion, with its inordinately high latches and massive construction. Four Servants on the stoop snapped to attention as they arrived, and Bobbin wondered why his mind always conjured images of swords and spears where there were only rags and brooms. Struggling together, the tiny Servants managed to shove open the massive door for the burdened nursemaid, who nodded her thanks with a friendly smile. The moment they entered the entryway, voices emerged. Three women chatted over tea and honey bread.
Mistri’s mother, Hortens, shared her daughter’s straw-colored hair and bright blue eyes. The other two women wore their reddish locks in tight buns. One was speaking, “… one never knows when the tamest animal might turn on you. I wouldn’t trust my precious daughter—”
Stunned by the words, Bobbin acted without thought. He ran to Mistri’s mother, seizing the gigantic hand resting in her lap. “No! Love Mistri. Not hurt Mistri never never.” Frustrated by the limitations of his vocabulary, Bobbin went silent. Only then, he realized he still wore tattered clothing steeped in blood.
Hortens leaped to her feet, screaming. The teacup dropped from her fingers, splashing its hot contents over both of them and smashing on the chair. Shards of crockery skidded across the floor.
Suddenly scalded, Bobbin sprang backward.
“Bobbin save me, Mummy!” Mistri said.
Every eye went suddenly to the child, then to the nursemaid. Apparently, the nursemaid had used that as yet undiscovered form of communication that always confounded Bobbin. Although no words emerged from her mouth, she did a swift acting out of the events, using the corpse to illustrate such points as the creature leaping at Mistri and whirling around Bobbin. Finally, she let it slip to the floor, dangling her wrist as if broken.
Bobbin found himself at Mistri’s side, having apparently retreated there for comfort, without conscious intent. Mistri wrapped her arms around him.
Mistri’s father, Kentt, came running into the room from one of the four doorways. Though not present for the nursemaid’s playacting, he somehow seemed to know what she had communicated to the other women.
Kentt went straight to his daughter, ruffling Bobbin’s hair before lifting Mistri in his arms. “Are you all right?”
Mistri beamed. “Not hurt, Poppy.” She looked down at Bobbin. “Bobbin save me. Save me jarfr.” She made a swooping gesture to indicate the animal’s attempt to pounce on her. “It want eat me.” She opened and closed her mouth, hands raised, fingers curved and separated to indicate claws.
Kentt stuck his face in hers. “Well, it’s a good thing it didn’t eat you.” A mock snarl twisted his features. “Because then I wouldn’t get my dinner.” He feigned biting at Mistri, making exaggerated chewing noises.
She giggled, planting her hands on his face as if to stop him.
Kentt reached for Bobbin. Bobbin stiffened, uncertain what to expect; but the giant merely hefted him with his free hand, so that he now held them both aloft. “What a fine and loyal pet you have here, Mistri. Can I have him?”
“My Bobbin.” Mistri grabbed him fiercely, arousing pain in his partially healed back. Fresh blood oozed along his spine.
One of the women, Bobbin could not see which, let out a noise of revulsion. “Kentt, please. It’s hard enough to get blood out of clothing, you have to share it? If you’re going to allow Mistri to romp with animals, at least have the decency to keep it a clean one.”
Kentt lowered Mistri and Bobbin to the ground, only then looking at his tunic, now smeared with rust-colored lines. The freshly reopened wound had not touched him, but it currently dripped on the floor. “Your Aunt Floralyn’s right, Mistri. Time you and Bobbin both got baths.”
Mistri skipped happily toward the bathing room, the nursemaid chasing after her.
Hortens swept the crockery bits and tea from her chair. “Kentt, he spoke. Bobbin actually talked.”
Bobbin turned his gaze to Kentt, worried. He had no idea whether revealing his ability to speak helped or harmed him.
To his relief, Kentt grinned. “Well, why not? His throat looks much the same as the Servants, so we always knew he had the capacity. What exactly did he say?”
“Well…” Hortens looked at her female companions for assistance. “It was crude and broken, but I believe he essentially said he loved Mistri and would never hurt her.”
The third woman glanced at the ceiling, then quoted Bobbin exactly, though in a dull monotone. “No. Love Mistri. Not hurt Mistri never never.”
Kentt shrugged. “Well, that’s clear enough. Discarding the double negative, which was surely spoken from ignorance, I think we can safely say he intends to continue protecting Mistri.”
Though he did not understand every word, Bobbin caught the gist of Kentt’s pronouncement and nodded.
Kentt’s hand fell to Bobbin’s head and tousled his hair fondly. “Every child should have a Bobbin.”
Floralyn pursed her lips but gave some quarter. “Well, Bobbin does seem worth keeping. But I wouldn’t trust something strong enough to do that …” She indicated the dead jarfr. “… with the life of my child, if I had one.”
“Bobbin’s safe,” Hortens said firmly, sweeping the last bits of teacup into a pile. “I think that’s abundantly clear. Now, if another one, another Bobbin, came along, it would have to prove itself. But I think Bobbin himself has done enough.”
Kentt smiled at Bobbin. “Good ol’ boy.” He patted Bobbin’s cheek. Though he clearly did not intend to harm him, a tap of that huge hand felt more like a slap. “Let’s get you cleaned up and rested. Then we’ll work on teaching you a few more words, eh?”
Bobbin returned the smile. He could not remember feeling so contented and right. Then, again, remembering was not his virtue.
Involving oneself in the affairs of wizards should never be done in ignorance.
SAVIAR RA-KHIRSSON TOOK the castle stairs two at a time, rushing past servants and guardsmen, a sword on each hip. Strawberry-blond hair, still wet from his bath, streamed wildly around his young features. He had doffed his blood-soaked battle clothes for a fresh tunic and breeks, had slept off the exhaustion of a hard-fought war, and finally felt clean enough to face his darling.
In his haste, Saviar nearly skidded into two Béarnian guardsmen who stood, spears crossed, in front of Chymmerlee’s door. To their credit, they remained firmly in place despite the muscular Renshai careening toward them, their expressions grim. Both wore standard blue and gold, with the rearing bear symbol of the high kingdom on their tabards. Saviar thought he saw a hint of fear in one’s deep brown eyes.
An instant before collision, Saviar rescued himself with an agile sidestep. “Sorry,” he said, smiling to put them at ease. “I just came to see Chymmerlee.”
“We’re under orders,” the larger one said. “You cannot enter.”
Saviar accepted the formality easily. As the son of a Knight of Erythane, he had become accustomed to much more extensive and oppressive decorum. Only the Knights knew how to turn even the most marvelous feast into tedium. “Tell her it’s Saviar. She’ll see me.”
“Begging your pardon.” Though smaller than his fellow, the other guard still had greater mass than Saviar and the majority of men in the Westlands. Most Béarnides did. “But you, specifically, cannot enter.”
“Me? Specifically?” The words caught Saviar completely off his guard. The united armies of the continent had just won a massive war, in no small part because of Chymmerlee’s magic and his own sword arm. She had doted on him since the moment his twin had led her to him, comatose, blood poisoned by a festering wound. She had saved his life and nursed him through his recovery. Later, they had held hands, laughed together, even kissed. She alone of her people had accompanied them to the war, the only mage who had assisted in a battle of epic proportions. It made no sense for Chymmerlee to turn her back on him now. “You must be mistaken. Can you please just tell her I’m here? She’ll see me.”
The Béarnides glanced at one another, the somberness of their expressions never changing. Their spears remained in place. The first speaker cleared his throat. “There is no reason to ask. It is by Chymmerlee’s own orders that we are barring you … and your twin.”
Saviar’s hands drifted instinctively to his hilts. Renshai resolved most problems in a wild flurry of swordplay.
Apparently, the guardsmen had noticed Saviar’s movement. Though they stayed in place, they clearly looked alarmed. The smaller one’s voice cracked slightly as he explained, “We know you’re Renshai, Saviar. You can probably gut both of us without breaking a sweat, but we hope you won’t.”
The first added, “We’re only doing our jobs and protecting a woman you clearly care about.”
Saviar deliberately took his hands from his hilts. Renshai trained to the sword from infancy, with both hands and in all conditions. Little mattered in their lives besides dying in glorious combat, thus earning the exquisite and violent afterlife of Valhalla. “I’m not going to attack you.” Saviar saw little sense in doing so. He could kill them with a few lazy sword strokes, but he would bring the wrath of Béarn down upon him, make the Renshai even more hated, if possible, and dishonor his knightly father and grandfather. “I wouldn’t do that.”
Well-hidden relief barely changed the guards’ stances, just a nearly imperceptible loosening of sinews.
To Saviar’s surprise, tears pressed against his eyelids. He knew he had to leave as quickly as possible or risk embarrassing himself. Turning on his heel, keeping his head high, he went back down the steps and into the courtyard.
Once there, Saviar found himself more angry and confused than sad. He forced back the tears and pounded a fist on the natural granite wall of the castle. Pain flashed through his hand, but did little to distract him. He punched the wall again, harder.
A familiar voice wafted to him. “Not enough bruises from the war, Savi? You need to break a few fingers, too?”
Saviar spun, drawing his sword, glad for a target on which to sate his rage.
His twin, Subikahn, did not respond to the challenge. He stood near a neat hedgerow, watching Saviar curiously, his black hair in its usual disarray, his small wiry form a stark contrast to his brother’s powerful one. Though born of the same pregnancy, each resembled his different father more than either of his brothers. “Sheathe it, Savi. We have no enemies in Béarn’s courtyard.”
Saviar blinked, suddenly realizing he stood in broad sunlight amid the numerous gardens that characterized Béarn’s courtyard. So focused on his own problems, he had not noticed the myriad blossoms and shrubs, the neat rows of vegetables, or the many stone statues, with bears predominating. The sweet aromas of petals and pollen surrounded him. Feeling a smile edging onto his features, Saviar forced it down. “Renshai spar anywhere, anytime.”
Subikahn could hardly deny it. “And Béarn supplies us with the best sparring room in existence. Don’t we owe it to her not to trample her beautiful grounds and crops now that the war has ended?”
Saviar slammed his sword back into its sheath. Uncertain what to say or do, he spoke simple fact. “I’m angry.”
“I noticed.” Subikahn stepped around the hedge to sit on one of the whitestone benches. He patted the space beside him. “Besides having just fought the war of a lifetime, having slept what seemed like months, and attending myriad feasts, what’s bothering you?”
Saviar did not move. “Chymmerlee refuses to see me.”
Subikahn’s grin wilted, and his brow furrowed. “Chymmerlee? Really?” He shook his head. “You were all over each other before the war.”
Saviar made a wordless noise. It was not like Subikahn to repeat things they both already knew.
“Did she give you a reason?”
This time, Saviar twisted and slammed the bottom of his boot against the castle wall. “She wouldn’t even see me. How could she give me a reason?”
Subikahn rose and walked to his brother. “You’re strong, Savi; but I don’t think even you can topple a castle formed from a mountain.”
Saviar whirled. “What?”
Subikahn studied the muddy boot print on the wall. “If you’re trying to shake her out the window, I don’t think you can. Besides, someone else might get hurt.”
Saviar was in no mood for humor. “You’re not helping,” he said through gritted teeth.
“Fine. Why didn’t you ask whoever told you she wouldn’t see you for the reason?”
“Because I—” Saviar had no good answer. He would never admit he had almost cried. “Because I didn’t, that’s all. I didn’t.” Something Subikahn had said stuck in his mind.… shake her out the window … Saviar glanced sidelong at his swarthy brother. “Your father taught you how to climb buildings, didn’t he?”
Subikahn chuckled, though it seemed a bit forced. He had reconciled with Tae Kahn, his father, only the previous day. The rift was still healing. “Your father teaches you manners and honor and responsibility, mine swinging on chandeliers and slide-racing down banisters. King Tae and his courtly lessons on … the thrill of being shot by one’s own guards breaking into one’s own castle.”
Saviar walked carefully around the subject. He knew the king of Stalmize from their family’s once-a-year visits when they were children. Saviar had looked forward to it, eagerly, for months. The journey was grueling, but well worth it. Tae had always frolicked with the boys, more playmate than adult.
Now, however, it seemed wrong to joke about the childlike behavior of Subikahn’s father. Tae had volunteered for a wartime spying mission that had left him so near death no one had expected him to survive. Though his recovery now seemed certain, he still suffered from the ordeal. “I’m just thinking… if someone climbed up to Chymmerlee’s window…“He measured Subikahn’s reaction as he spoke. For the moment, his twin half-brother seemed to be listening. “… he wouldn’t have to deal with the guards …”
Still no sign from Subikahn.
“… and she might talk?” Now, Saviar went silent, wishing Subikahn would give him something, some sign that he was listening.
Subikahn looked back, brow furrowed. “Sounds like a reasonable idea to me. Why don’t you try it?”
Saviar took a backward step. “Me?” He made a grand gesture that outlined his large physique. “Do you really think I could climb a wall?”
Subikahn shrugged. “You’re as competent as I am.”
Saviar snorted. “At Renshai maneuvers, maybe.” Then, worried he might have offended his brother, he added more forcefully, “Maybe.” Saviar had lost some recent memory when he had awakened from his near-fatal injuries. Subikahn had once claimed Saviar had won a spar between them that he could not recall fighting. Saviar did not know the details of that battle, nor would Subikahn further enlighten him. Saviar assumed he had used a trick Subikahn did not want repeated. “But I’m clearly not built for climbing. My fingers and toes might just bear my weight, but I doubt I could find room for my massive hands and feet on tiny ledges. And the ledges would likely crumble beneath me.”
“Ah.” Subikahn’s dark brows rose in increments. “So you really were trying to punch down the castle. You seriously believe solid granite can’t hold you?”
Saviar studied his abraded fist. Tiny spots of blood had developed, but nothing worse. “I’m not applauding my own strength. I’m just saying the weakest part of stone is the tips of ledges. I weigh a lot more than you, and I don’t move as quickly.” The fact that he had to explain what seemed painfully evident further fueled his irritation. “I’m sick to death of discussing this. Will you do it for me, or not?”
“Not …” Subikahn said.
Saviar’s hands balled to fists, though he had no intention of using them.
“… for you. But I will do it for Chymmerlee.”
Saviar breathed a sigh of relief and finally came over to sit beside his brother. Subikahn’s reasons did not matter, so long as the job got done. “Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me yet.” Subikahn’s gaze rolled over the castle wall, measuring its height and its windows. “Just because I can climb doesn’t mean I’ll have the words to fix whatever blundering mistake you made that has her unwilling to even talk to you
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