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“Remember,” she said. “I’m not unfamiliar with magic.” She grinned. “And one of your tailors happens to be with us and showed me his work.” “I hope you’ve told no one,” I said. “Those who even know about my planned sortie imagine we’re going north, after Tenedos.” “I’ve told my three advisers,” Cymea said. “All keep secrets well.” “Your people do that,” I agreed. “Yes. I’m going south.” “Toward the Maisirians.” I made no reply. “Could I ask what you intend?” “No. You may not,” I said, not sharply. “I wish no one even speculating about that. I don’t think there’s a sorcerer about who can read minds, but I’d rather not take the chance.” “It’s good to be cautious,” Cymea said. “Which is why you’re taking not only a Tovieti, but a wizard as well.” “You propose?” I said, already knowing the answer. “Myself. I’ve as much power as anyone else here, except Sinait possibly, perhaps more.” I could have said something damned foolish, such as she was too young, or a woman, or something equally idiotic. But there were soldiers in the ranks far younger than she was, and while we had no women as warriors, there were jewelry shop many hangers-on, sutlers, “companions,” and tiffany jewellery uk such, and many of them knew which end of a dagger or sword should be put to work. “I would think your people might object costume jewellery to possibly losing you,” was all I did say. “As I’ve heard you say, no one is indispensable. I choose to go, and my brothers and sisters found no good cause to object. Do you?” “Why should I?” “You seemed to hesitate,” she said. “No,” which was a lie. I still feared and hated the Tovieti, and its evident leader more than most. Cymea was looking at me very directly. I tried to turn tiffany and co jewelry her attention. “So you were able to winkle out my intent that easily. I’m impressed, and wouldn’t want to be the friend or lover who tries to tiffany earrings uk hide anything from you,” I went on, trying to make a small joke. “Friends? Lovers? How odd,” she said thoughtfully. “I don’t think I’ve thought a lot about either, not for a long time. I guess the order’s been all I need. Just as the army’s everything you need.” “It wasn’t always like that,” I said, saw her expression harden. “I thought we agreed to forget,” she said, voice cold. “I’m sorry,” I said hastily. “I didn’t mean that the way it came out. I just meant… one time I had something of a life beyond carrying a sword around.” It was my turn to be overtaken by my thoughts. Cymea started to say something, then stopped. I wasn’t really aware of her. “Maybe,” I said, musing aloud, “maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I never did have a real life. Maybe the whole time it was nothing but soldiering, and what I thought was my private life was just a spare moment here and there.” I dragged myself back. “Sorry. Talking about yourself is always a bore. My apologies.” “None needed,” she said. “So I’m to be ready when?” “Two days hence, at the beginning of the last watch.” I shouted for Svalbard and ordered him to help Cymea get ready. She left the tent, looked back through the flap for an instant, then went on. I poured a glass of now-cold tea, sat, deep in thought. How odd. What life had I really had, even before? Certainly I was married to Marin, had palaces, went to dances and feasts. But what part of my life could I say I truly owned? When the emperor called, I came running, and served jewelry shop well and hard, as my family had before me, regardless of holidays, days of birth, or personal importance. Those palaces, perhaps even my now-dead wife, all these fashion rings were the rewards of duty well done, not a real life, such as most men build as the years pass. I was given riches easily, and they were taken away by the emperor, claddagh ring by the gods, just as easily. I had no children, now no family at all. All I had was Numantia. For an instant, I felt childishly sorry for myself, then pushed the absurd mood away. That was as it was supposed to be, wasn’t it? My family motto, tiffany uk We Hold True, meant we held to some?thing, we served something antique tiffany jewelry , emperor and country. What more was there? What more could there, should there be? The day after, in driving rain and predawn blackness, we slipped out of camp and rode south. Toward the armies of King Bairan. I kept away from the Latone River, marching almost due south on a caravan route that ran from Polycittara to a ferry landing across the Latane from Renan. It was slow going—the rains seemed heavier this season, but per?haps it was only because I was out in them, still brooding a bit over my defeat. The mucky track, its paving not maintained for years, slowed our horses, and there was no need to exhaust them—or ourselves—before we came on the Maisirians. At first, there were few travelers abroad, and most fled into the surrounding country as they saw the column, having learned soldiers seldom bring good with them. We were scrupulous about paying for supplies and fodder in the villages and farms we passed, even though we paid in scrip, which would only be good if we won the war. I was a bit sorry there were so many of us, because we mostly were forced to sleep outside, only occasionally find?ing an unoccupied barn to crowd into. When we came to a village, generally one of the elders would suggest my officers would be gladly quartered in the people’s houses. The men could use a field to pitch their scraps of canvas in. It might have been tempting, but I remembered a certain banquet on the long retreat from Jarrah and how sodden warriors had watched as their lead?ers ate dishes the common men hadn’t seen for weeks, from gold and silver plate. When we crossed into Urey, there were more and more people about, refugees fleeing the Maisirians to the south. They’d been moving long enough for the old and feeble to fall by the wayside and to discard the odd bits and pieces people take in hasty flight. These people didn’t run when they saw us—they were too worn, too tired, and bandits had probably combed their ranks and taken the best, living and material. Muddy faces looked up when we came on them, showed a moment of fear, then dully looked back at the endless mud they traveled through. Once or twice we were cheered, although no one could tell whether we were rebels, Guardians, or Tenedos’s army. I wondered what I would do if I were ever in their posi?tion. Was it better to flee with what little you could carry into the unknown or stay where you were and hope the invaders wouldn’t be too-harsh? It was a choice I hoped I’d never have to make. Then we came on ruins, recent ones from this invasion, older ones from the last time. Ironically, in this battered, forlorn land, we were able to get out of the weather more often, sometimes taking over an entire abandoned village or one of the great barns the farmers had built for their vanished cattle. The highway turned west until we were in sight of the river, then ran south beside it, generally no more than half a league away. One night, we saw a ruined pavilion on the river. It was huge, and I wondered who’d dreamt half the people of Renan would need a single dance hall. The outbuildings were collapsing or burned, and the main hall had sagged into collapse as the years pulled at it. Some walls had collapsed, but the roof still stood on its sturdy supports. I was afraid to bring the hor where can you buy tiffany jewelry ses inside, because the flooring was musty, rotten, barely strong enough to support a man, but there were sheds enough around the main building for most, and we tied our canvas betw replica tiffany een them and gave overhead cover to the others. I was glad for the shelter, because it’d been raining steadily all day and now, near dark, the storm was building, wind whipping, rain tearing. There’d been fireplaces here and there along the walls, for cooking and warmth, and there was plenty of wood scattered around. I wasn’t worried about the smell of smoke attracting attention. We were still days beyond Renan, Cymea’s magic said there was no danger, and the pavilion was half a league away from the road. It was chill, and we crowded around the fires making our supper. At least we weren’t starving or thirsty. We’d bought and had slaughtered five beeves two days ear?lier, and everyone had meat in his pack. We’d passed a field of potatoes the refugees hadn’t completely dug up, and a handful of men shoveled productively for a few minutes. Beef, potatoes, herbs the more talented carried, garlic, water, other vegetables not entirely desiccated, a splash of the wine we’d gotten two villages ago, and there was a tasty stew. I allowed an extra tumbler of wine for each man who wished it, and we lined up before the pots, officers last, filled our tin plates, and found a place to sit. Cymea asked if I wished company. I did—in spite of the meal, my mood was a bit gloomy in this moment to dead peace and dreams. My soldiers were also quieter than the circumstances warranted, mostly eating in silence. We finished our meal, I went to the river, washed the plates in sand, rinsed them and came back. “A pity we can’t chance some singing,” I said. “Cheer things up a trifle.” “There are ways,” Cymea said. “I could set wards out, so no one could hear us.” “Excellent,” I said. She opened her saddlebags, took out herbs, lit a brazier, and whispered a spell. “There. No on man jewelry e can hear the loudest bellower now. Nothing will carry beyond the sentry line.” I was about to call for the men I knew had the widest and bawdiest repertory, when another idea came. “We always depend on our own,” I said. “Sorcerer, can you bring up the past? If it doesn’t attract attention from any other wizard.” “Perhaps,” she said cautiously. “What sort of past do you want?” “This arena. I wonder what it was like, before it failed, back in peacetime.” “A long time ago, I sense,” she said. “Perhaps before I was born. But your idea’s interesting. And I shouldn’t worry about any Maisirian wizard seeing my efforts. This isn’t very high-grade magic.” Again, she rummaged

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