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Law Links 2
THE SWORD
 

CHAPTER ONE

The twelfth day of October in the 940th year a.g.l.

I am in the mountains now, camped along the pass to Emor, beside a prickly mountain bush. It is dawn, and I have just finished eating some of the food that I bought yesterday. Ever since my last journal entry, I have been hurrying to escape Koretia, lest my blood kin discover what I have done and track me down. But I had to stop at Blackpass in order to buy more food and to wait until dark before crossing the border. I had no fears that I would meet anyone I recognized in Blackpass; it is a big town, nearly as big as Koretia's capital, I have been told.

I had only been to Blackpass once before, and that was several years ago. My father brought Hamar and me along when Blackwood summoned the priests and noblemen of the borderland – all of them, no matter what their kinship – to a full council about the changes King Rawdon was making to the gods' law. Since Hamar and my father were busy at the council meeting during most of our visit, I was free to wander the streets and marvel at how people could stand to live jammed so close together.

On that visit, I remember, I was struck by the fact that so many people in Blackpass spoke Common Koretian. Most of the people in our village know the language, of course, since we deal with so many tradesmen and peddlers from Koretia proper. But I had always assumed, without thinking about it, that Common Koretian was the language everyone used to make bargains in, while Border Koretian was the language that everyone talked the rest of the time. It was not until I visited Blackpass that I realized that most Koretians never even learn Border Koretian; it is as foreign a language to them as Emorian is to me.

Blackpass is in the borderland, I feel obliged to note for my Emorian reader, but it is visited by many Koretians from the rest of the land. Fenton did not accompany us on that trip, since he was living in the priests' house at that time, but when I told him last year about the trip, he had me compare some sentences in Border Koretian, Common Koretian, and Emorian, so that I could see how Common Koretian and Emorian are both descended from Border Koretian. I learned from Fention that it is mainly the borderland accent that makes Border Koretian hard for others to understand; otherwise Emorians and Koretians alike could probably understand Border Koretian to a certain extent, and it might become a trade language.

It is still hard for me to write about Fenton in this journal. A question arose in my mind a moment ago about whether Border Koretian is ever written down; all the documents I have ever seen have been written in Common Koretian or Emorian, which use the same alphabet. I found myself thinking that I must ask Fenton when I saw him again. Then I remembered, and it was as though I was watching him die again.

On this trip, it is the Emorians that I found myself watching and listening to. I met a group of them on one of the Blackpass streets, visiting Koretia on business, and I shamelessly tracked them halfway across town, eavesdropping on their conversations. I was delighted to find that I could easily understand what they were saying, which is not surprising, since I had Fenton to teach me the language. I did realize, to my embarrassment, that Emorians use many contractions in their speech, whereas I have been using almost none in these journals. For some reason, I had assumed that Emorians were always stiffly formal in the way they talked. Now I am— Now I'm going to try to write this journal closer to the way I heard the Emorians speaking.

At the end of my hunt, I went up to the Emorians and greeted them casually, as if I were simply interested in welcoming visitors to my land, though in fact I wanted to see whether they could understand my Emorian.

They could, though I thought for a moment that they would ignore me altogether. But one of the men noticed the silver edging along my tunic and muttered something about this to the others, so that they all ended up giving me a stiff version of the free-man's greeting. It so happens that they were noblemen, but I don't see why that would have made a difference as to whether they answered a friendly greeting. But perhaps they come from the Emorian capital. I understand that city dwellers are more careful about matters of rank.

This did remind me, though, that my tunic was too obvious a clue as to who I was, so I spent the last of my money to buy a lesser free-man's tunic, one that was black, so that I would blend in with the mountains.

The tunic came in handy when I crossed the Koretian border a few hours ago. I stood for a while near the border yesterday, watching the guards at the entrance to the mountain pass. I soon came to the conclusion that they posses no authorization to do anything except stop people travelling along the pass, so it was easy in the end to cross the border. I simply waited until after dark, and then I climbed over the side of the mountain next to the pass. I could see the guards in the moonlight below, and they gave no indication that they heard me, even when my foot slipped and I sent a shower of rocks down the mountainside.

I wish I could believe that getting past Emor's border mountain patrol will be that easy.

o—o—o

It's nearly dusk, and I must hurry to finish this entry before the sun sets, for I dare not build a fire yet, though my flint-box will come in handy if it grows unbearably cold in the mountains. So far it feels pleasant; it's warm here, like at home.

It's very quiet here, aside from the winds and the mountain birds that travel the winds, sending their cheerful chirps down toward me. I've seen only one beast since I arrived here – a jackal that had strayed from its usual territory – though I've seen a large number of birds and insects. The blood-flies are growing lesser in number the further north I go; Fenton once told me that Emor is too cold a place for the flies to survive. I hope that Emor isn't too cold a place for a homeless Koretian to survive.

But first I must worry about the border mountain patrol, and since there's nothing else for me to do as I walk, I spend my time practicing softly the whistles Fenton taught me. I don't think that I've forgotten any of them. I've also been remembering everything Fenton ever told me about the patrol, and have been trying to use that information to formulate a plan.

The patrol is made up of a single unit of twelve men, I remember, and this is divided into a night patrol and a day patrol. The night patrol is led by the lieutenant of the unit; the day patrol is led by his sublieutenant. I spent a while debating with myself whether to try to breach the Emorian border in daytime or nighttime. Obviously, I would have the advantage of surprise in the nighttime, since it's likely that most of the Koretians that the patrol encounters aren't as good as I am at moving through the mountains at night. On the other hand, Fenton said that the patrol tracks border-breachers mainly through sound, so a lack of light wouldn't give me any advantage. I finally decided that it would be better to try my skills against the sublieutenant, who would be less of a challenge than the lieutenant.

Then there's the question of where I should travel. If I stay along the pass, I'm sure to be sighted by the patrol eventually, but if I travel along the mountainsides next to the pass, it will take me weeks to reach Emor, and I don't have enough food to last that long. In addition, the sound of my travel along the rocky slopes will probably alert the patrol to my presence in any case.

I rejected without inner debate the idea of going further into the mountains. I have Fenton's example to dissuade me against that idea.

I'm beginning to understand why so few people make it past the patrol. Obviously, the only way in which to do so is by a trick. One idea I have is to try to pass the patrol while the guards are busy pursuing another border-breacher, but I suspect that in such a case, the guards would simply split into two parties.

I have another day in which to think before I reach the first of the patrol points that Fenton told me of.

o—o—o

The thirteenth day of October in the 940th year a.g.l.

It's dawn again. I awoke in the middle of last night covered in sweat, as I have every night since I left Cold Run.

The dream is always the same – always vivid, like a memory. I see Fenton, and he is standing next to the altar, his back naked to Cold Run's hunter. I cry out to him and try to warn him, but when he turns to me, his face is already afire, being eaten by the Jackal.

The image fills me with such horror that I fall to my knees, gasping. Then I become aware of dark shapes around me – trees, I think at first, but then I realize they are hunters. Not Cold Run's hunters – Mountside's hunters, seeking me. I try to stand, and then I realize that my hands and feet are bound. I am already captured, and the priest is pronouncing the curse over me.

Then I hear my father's voice; he is kneeling behind me, speaking to me. I feel a rush of relief, but before I can beg him to help me, I feel a cold blade touch my throat. The blade is my father's.

That is when I awake. I only wish that I could believe that the dream is an imagining rather than a shadow of the future.

o—o—o

I reach the patrol tomorrow, so all day I've been frantically trying to think of a new plan. Just when I was about to give up, one came to me, as though sent by the gods.

I'd been thinking of myself as the prey until now, pursued by six jackals, which is not good odds. But what if I were to reverse the picture? What if I were to become the jackal and pursue one of the guards? Two of the guards, I mean; Fenton said that the guards patrol in pairs. If I stayed close to my prey, the other guards would attribute any noise they heard from me to the guards I was following. As for my prey, they would assume that I was a wild animal, for they couldn't imagine that any Koretian would be bold enough to follow closely behind them.

Fenton says— Fenton said that the guards patrol up and down the pass in an area close to the border. Thus, if I follow a pair of guards on their patrol, and if we aren't interrupted by another border-breacher, I will be able to come close enough to the border to make my break.

Tomorrow I see whether my plan works. I must remember to pray to the Jackal for my safety tonight.

o—o—o

I had closed my journal and placed it in my back-sling before I realized what nonsense I had written above. I'm going to Emor to get away from the Jackal and the other gods. In any case, I imagine that I'm too close to Emor now for any prayers to reach the god.

o—o—o

The fourteenth day of October in the 940th year a.g.l.

My plan fell to pieces before I could even try it, for the simple reason that I miscalculated how far I had travelled, so the patrol guards heard me before I heard them. I will never forget – assuming I live long enough to have any memories of this – the chill that went through me when I heard the faint sound of the Hunted is Heard whistle and knew that I was the hunted.

I'm still on the run, and have paused only long enough to eat and rest, as I mustn't grow exhausted. Thus I will not record in detail here my efforts to dodge the patrol, and my realization that the efforts were not working when I heard the signal for Form the Circle.

There are many more whistle-codes than Fenton taught me, but the ones he did teach me seem to be the important ones, and they helped me to know what was happening. Even more important, I knew where it was happening, and when I heard the Acknowledgment whistles for the sublieutenant's order, it was easy enough for me to identify the gap in the forming circle and to race through it. That's how I was able to escape, at least momentarily.

All of my running was back and forth along the mountains, so I'm no nearer to Emor than I was when I was sighted. Now I'm going to see whether I can tell where any of the guards are and try again to carry out my plan.

o—o—o

A second failure, this time a more dangerous one, for the guards reached the point of closing the circle on me. As I saw them coming forward, I was greatly tempted to draw my blade, but I remembered what Fenton had told me and instead identified the weakest guard along the chain closing in on me. He was about my age, and it was easy enough to get past him; he was no better than Drew at his hunting.

The other guards are considerably better, though I'm surprised by how young they are. The eldest is the sublieutenant, and he looks only a few years older than me. I didn't come close enough to him to see any identifying mark of his rank on his uniform, but I could tell that he is the sublieutenant because he gave a brief whistle as we came forward. I have been hearing his whistles all day, and I'm beginning to realize how distinctive a man's whistle can be.

So now the patrol has seen me, and there's no chance of my being able to go up to the guards now and pretend that I have legitimate business in Emor. I'm closer to Emor than I was, but I still have—

o—o—o

I broke off the last entry because I was able to identify for the first time where a pair of guards was located. For most of today, I haven't been able to do this, for the guards climb the mountains as quietly as I do, except when they are in pursuit.

I tracked the noise, and found to my delight that I had located the sublieutenant and another guard. Nothing could be better, for no Koretian in his right mind would try to hunt the sublieutenant of the border mountain patrol. (Whether I am in my right mind in trying all this is a matter I will leave to my Emorian reader to decide.)

I hid in a hollowed-out area next to a ledge where the two guards were standing. The hollow was easy to hide in, for it was screened by one of the mountain bushes that grow to a man's height and are thick with twigs and needles. I have scratches all over me now. I was in a shadow so dark that I could barely see myself, but I could catch glimpses of the sublieutenant and the other guard, who were standing on the side of the mountain, trying to listen for me.

It was my first close view of Emorians, aside from the ones I saw in Koretia. They don't look much different from Titus and Fenton, except that the Emorians I've seen before this all shaved their faces, and these men had beards. I suppose that it's hard to find time to shave yourself if you are a soldier. The sublieutenant is a red-haired man, so white of skin that I wondered briefly whether he was sickly, but he has given no indication of illness during his pursuit of me. He has a very odd smile, one that looks as though he's uncertain whether to smile, but his laugh, which I heard briefly, is quite energetic. He is light-framed, but I had already learned that this allows him to run faster than any of the other guards, and the muscles in his thighs and arms are hard. His voice, which I've only heard talking softly so far, is pleasant in timbre, and is less distinctive than his whistle, which has an emphatic tone to it.

The other guard, whose name is Fowler, is less remarkable in appearance. He appears to be about a year younger than the sublieutenant, and he has sandy-colored hair. He seems to be on friendly terms with the sublieutenant, for he addresses him by his name, without his title.

I was interested in overhearing their conversation, not only so that I would be able to find out how they planned to hunt me, but also in hopes that they would mention the man named Quentin whom Fenton thought might have joined the patrol. But though they mentioned the names of several other guards, that name never passed their lips.

Eventually, Fowler went off to the other side of the mountain, while the sublieutenant remained on the ledge, listening. I stayed very still during this, and apparently succeeded in making no noise, for when Fowler returned and said, "Any luck?" the sublieutenant shook his head.

"I surrender," he said. "We're going to have to bring the expert in on this." Without any more words, he let out a whistle.

It was a name-whistle, I knew; whenever the sublieutenant sends an order to a particular guard, he precedes it by a whistle that always begins with a trill. I identified these trilled whistles eventually as names, and by now I know the whistled names of every guard in the day patrol. But this was a whistle I hadn't heard before.

The acknowledgment came immediately, though it was faint. Fowler said, "By the spirits of the dead Charas, I'm tired," and he and the sublieutenant sat down on some rocks overlooking the slope and began chatting. Their backs were to me.

I was intent on hearing when the so-called expert arrived, but I never did. I saw him first, sliding along the side of the mountain so quietly that not even the two guards heard him coming. As I shrank further back into the hollow, I caught a glimpse of his face: it was light brown, and set into it were two sky-blue eyes.

For a moment I was simply confused. This could not be an Emorian, not with skin that dark. Then I remembered, and nearly laughed aloud at my puzzlement. Of course – this man was from the borderland, just like me. Not the Koretian borderland, but the Emorian borderland, where Emorians and Koretians intermarry, just like at home.

He was immediately behind the two guards now, but they were still unaware of his presence. He had a way of putting his feet down as gently as a mountain cat lowers its velvet paws; if I had closed my eyes, I would not have known that he was there. Yet there had been no tentativeness to his climb around the mountain; he had placed his feet with decisiveness and accuracy, exactly on the rocks that wouldn't give way under him. He hadn't been running, but he had moved almost as quickly as though he had been doing so.

I felt my heart beat inside me. The guards who had been hunting me were skilled, but until now, I had been certain that I was the best jackal here. Now I knew that I had met my true rival.

"What is the problem, sublieutenant?" The man had the softened vowels of a borderlander, but his words were spoken with an Emorian accent to them; he sounded like Fenton. The other guards stood and turned, but did not appear startled. Apparently they were used to being crept up on by this man.

"I apologize for disturbing your sleep, sir," said the sublieutenant. "We have a stubborn breacher on our hands – we have been chasing him all morning."

The lieutenant paused before replying. His face was very serious, with no trace of a smile to greet the two men smiling at him. He had a scar down his left temple and another along his neck – once I started looking, I could see that he had scars over most of his body. He appeared to be in his mid-twenties.

"Are you seeking my advice, or do you wish me to take over the mastership?" he asked. His voice was so quiet that it blended in with the wind, and I had to watch his lips to tell what he was saying.

"I would be grateful if you could take over the day patrol for this hunt, sir," replied the sublieutenant. "It is not a serious enough matter yet to justify calling out the night patrol, but the breacher has escaped us twice, and I fear that he is beyond my abilities."

The lieutenant nodded, then sent out a piercing whistle containing his name and another signal I could not identify, but that I tentatively labelled according to what the sublieutenant had said.

Four acknowledgment whistles chirped back; this has been occurring all day in the exact same regular manner, and so I've concluded that the guards are trained to respond in a particular order, though why this should be so is not clear to me.

"Now," said the lieutenant, "report."

The sublieutenant began telling him what had been happening all day. I was surprised when Fowler simply stood by, listening silently, but at the end the lieutenant said, "Report, Fowler," and I realized that this was a set routine known to the soldiers. I would have thought that it would have made more sense for Fowler simply to interrupt the sublieutenant's report whenever he had anything to add, but I reminded myself that Emorians probably have their own ways of doing things. It would be a great mistake for me to assume that Emorians always act like normal people; they are foreigners, after all.

(No, I am the foreigner now, I realized after writing the above sentence. I must adopt the Emorians' way of thinking and acting if I want to learn about their law.)

After Fowler had added his brief comments, the lieutenant said, "It sounds as though the breacher knows our signals."

"One of the King's spies, then?" Fowler said, lifting an eyebrow.

"Perhaps. It is too early to say." The lieutenant turned toward the slope overlooking the pass, and stood motionless, with his back toward me. Like all of the patrol guards, he wore a back-sling. These appeared no different from my own except that a leather strap hangs part of the way out of them; I had not yet figured out its purpose.

The lieutenant added, "He did not draw his blade, you say."

"No, though he had a chance to do so when we closed in on him," the sublieutenant replied.

The lieutenant nodded and turned back to look at the others; I caught another glimpse of his azure eyes. "Very well, then, we capture on sight. Every guard to stay with his partner at all times. We communicate by words only from this point on. If the hunted shows signs of drawing his blade, do not try to capture him by yourselves; retreat and call for help from the rest of the day patrol. Understood?"

The others nodded. Fowler said, "Our first problem will be finding the breacher, sir. He is as silent as a hibernating burrow-bird at the moment."

"I will take care of that," replied the lieutenant. "Spread the word to the others – and for love of the Chara, remember to stay with your partner. Just because this Koretian has refrained from drawing his blade yet, that does not mean he will refrain from changing his mind. I do not want any of you ending up like Byrd."

The sublieutenant gave one of his half-smiles, drew his sword, and held it flatwise against his face. I'd seen the soldiers at Blackpass make this gesture, so I knew it to be a salute. Then he sent out a series of whistle-signals to the other guards, none of which I could identify except for a request for locations. These locations the guards evidently gave, for the sublieutenant and Fowler were soon headed down the mountain in the direction of one pair of the guards.

The lieutenant resumed looking over the pass. His head turned slowly from one side to the next as he did so; after a moment, I realized that he was listening for the hunted. The sublieutenant had done the same thing not long before this, but something made me take shallower breaths and stay absolutely still.

He was a long time listening. It was hard staying still, and I could feel my nose beginning to drip. (I caught a cold last night, having finally reached a point in the mountains where the autumn air has already arrived.) I reached up and wiped the moisture from my nose, sniffing as I did so – then froze as the lieutenant's hand went to his sword hilt.

There was little sound as he drew his blade, for the sheath was made of leather. For a moment more, he and I stood fixed in our positions. Then he turned with a suddenness that made me jump, and walked swiftly and unerringly up to the bush.

"Come out," he said sharply in Common Koretian.

There was no use in pretending I wasn't there; he was close enough to see me now. I considered staying where I was and making him come in after me, but fighting amidst those thorns would do as much damage to me as to him. Better to appear to be a compliant prisoner.

I slid past the twigs, bowing my head, and trying to appear as much as possible like Siward in the moments after I bound him. I didn't look up at the lieutenant. All that I could see was his sword, pointed my way. I said in a trembling voice – it was not hard to produce such a tone – "Please don't hurt me."

My act worked; the lieutenant's voice was gentler as he said, "Turn around, sir."

He spoke this time in Border Koretian, having identified my accent from my few words, and it was clear from the ease with which he spoke that this was his native tongue as well. I was standing with my back against a cliff wall. Slowly I turned away to face the wall, but not before allowing a few tears to drip from my eyes – again, this effect was not hard to produce.

I even managed to tremble as he took my limp wrists and pulled them back behind me crosswise. He did so firmly but without any harshness. I felt the touch of leather against my wrists; this was the meaning of the strap in the back-sling.

A cold touch against my wrist told me that he was still holding his sword, but I knew that he would be doing so lightly, now that he was absorbed in binding his passive prisoner. I waited for the moment at which he began to draw the first knot together; then I brought my right elbow back hard against his stomach. In the same moment, I grasped the blade of his sword with my left hand.

I cut my palm in the process, of course, but I succeeded in wrenching the sword away from the lieutenant. I swung my left side around in order to force the lieutenant to back up to avoid being sliced open by his own blade. For a moment I caught sight of him; he was bent over from the pain of my jab, but his eyes had turned hard, and he did not appear frightened at what I had done. Then I threw the sword high and heard it clatter down the mountainside. I had no interest in harming anyone in the patrol; I simply wanted to disarm this guard, above all the others.

By the time the sword fell, I was already at the edge of the ledge, preparing to climb further down the slope. At the moment of my descent I looked back to see where the lieutenant was. He was standing where I had left him, still panting to regain his breath, but his right hand was raising the edge of his tunic with a smooth motion. Something brown was wrapped around the top of his right leg, and his hand touched it; then he withdrew his hand, and afternoon sunlight flashed off of a tiny object in his palm.

I had never before seen a thigh-dagger, but I had heard what injuries it could inflict. For a fleeting moment, I wondered whether I had been wise to strip the lieutenant of his sword.

Then there was no time to think, for I was scrambling down the mountain with the lieutenant in close pursuit behind me. He did not whistle to his men, but I knew that the sound of the hunt would alert the other guards to where we were. Somehow I had to find a hiding place before the others caught up.

I nearly discovered the place by falling into it. I had encountered this sort of ravine before, though, while travelling through the mountains near Mountside. Everything in the border mountains is black, but nothing is blacker than these fissures that occasionally occur between two mountains. If you aren't on the lookout for them, it is easy to fall straight into them, and Hamar and I had found pleasure in tossing pebbles down them and seeing how deep they were. Some were so deep that we never heard the pebbles strike the ground.

These clefts are deep, but they're also very narrow. As a result of some experimentation (and lots of dares), Hamar and I learned that it was possible to go down into these ravines by bracing our backs on one side of the cleft wall and propping our stretched legs against the other side; with a narrow enough ravine, we could work our way up and down without trouble.

I used this fact to my advantage to plan an elaborate practical joke on my brother one day: I ran straight into the path of a cleft and disappeared into the hole with a cry, leaving Hamar to surmise my death. Actually, I had caught the edge of the ground at the last minute and jammed myself into position, but it's impossible to see far into these ravines, even when you're standing straight over them. I nearly killed myself trying to keep from laughing when Hamar came forward to peer into the hole . . . until I looked up and saw his face turned moon-white. When I emerged from the hole, Hamar gave me the worst fist-beating of my life, but I never grudged him it.

Now I gave no elaborate thought to what I was doing, having done it before. I stripped off my back-sling, since I needed my back bare for this feat, and flung the sling under a narrow overhang at the foot of the mountain. Then I ran back around the curve of the hill to see where the guards were.

The lieutenant was very close behind, so close that I could see the razor-edged dagger in his hand. Not far behind him were the sublieutenant and Fowler; the rest of the guards were beyond sight, but I could tell from the sound of their footsteps that they were closing in fast.

I waited until I was sure that the lieutenant could see me; then I turned and began running around the mountain, toward the ravine. I heard the lieutenant shout something behind me, but I paid no heed to his words, for I was concentrating on the difficult task of sliding, jumping, screaming, catching, jamming, and – hardest of all – freezing.

The panting of my breath nearly obscured the thunder of steps. I forced myself to take longer and shallower breaths and then looked up, despite the fact that I knew I shouldn't allow my reflective eyes to chance catching a bit of light.

The lieutenant was staring down the ravine; he was joined in the next moment by the sublieutenant and Fowler. Fowler took a long look at the black pit below, then backed away. I heard him say something to a pair of guards who had just arrived. The sublieutenant looked over at the lieutenant and said, "Anything?"

I resisted the temptation to hold my breath; any change in sound might alert the lieutenant to what had happened. The lieutenant was standing motionless. His thigh-dagger was now in his left hand, and his right hand was curled in a ball. After a moment he said quietly, "He's breathing – but it makes no difference. These ravines are too deep; we will not be able to get him out of there."

The sublieutenant glanced down at the lieutenant's hand, then reached into the lieutenant's back-sling and took out a face-cloth. He handed it to the lieutenant, who absentmindedly wrapped it around his right hand. As he opened his palm, I saw that it was covered with blood; he must have accidentally cut himself with his thigh-dagger during his final effort to reach me before I fell.

"Shall we call down to him?" asked the sublieutenant.

"No." The lieutenant's voice had turned flat. "There is nothing we can do for him. He has his dagger; he will use it when he realizes his situation."

"If he has the courage to do so." This comment came from Fowler, still standing beyond my view.

"He has it." The lieutenant's voice was clipped short. He glanced over to the side as another pair of guards arrived, their voices raised with queries. He cut short their questions with a decisive whistle.

It was an End of Hunt whistle that Fenton had taught me . . . although, he has explained with a half-smile, I would never hear it used if the hunt for me ended this way. The whistle means, "The hunted is captured dead."

"Return to patrol," the lieutenant added, and turned his head back to look down the hole. His face was in shadow, but what little I could see of it appeared to hold no expression.

There was soft murmur as the guards began to depart. Soon only the sublieutenant remained, still standing beside the lieutenant.

The latter said, without looking his way, "I said, Return to patrol."

"I was wondering whether you needed help in finding your sword, lieutenant," the sublieutenant replied in a matter-of-fact voice.

After a moment, the lieutenant said, "Thank you, yes. He dropped it down the north side of Mount Skycrest; I will be there to search in a minute."

The sublieutenant nodded; then he disappeared from my view. I heard his retreating footsteps and his whistle as he signalled something to his partner. The lieutenant remained where he was, staring down at me – to his knowledge, he was now alone. So only I saw his eyes close and his hands form into fists, and only I heard him whisper, "May I die a Slave's Death."

Then he walked away.

o—o—o

I've written all of this in my latest hiding place. When I worked my way out of the ravine and went over to place where I'd flung the back-sling, I found that the narrow opening between the rocks led to a tiny hollow that could barely be dignified with the title of cavern; it seemed to be the sole chamber of a cave. I've spent all afternoon here, at first because I needed to bandage my cut hand, then because I was too shaken by my experiences to move, and finally because I realized that I couldn't make it to the border before sunset, and I didn't want to be on the move when the lieutenant led his night patrol out.

Tomorrow morning I think I will have a good chance of reaching the border. Everyone here thinks I'm dead; as long as I remain quiet, I doubt that they will ascribe to me any sounds that they hear. So tomorrow I will be in Emor.

I haven't yet thought about what I will do when I get there. I will need food while I'm searching to know about the law, and that means I will need to seek out some sort of work. The obvious place to look for a job is in the Emorian borderland, where I won't be conspicuous, but I'm not sure whether the law is to be found there. Perhaps I should go to the capital city. I know that it isn't far from the border, and perhaps many visiting Koretians go there.

It seems too much to hope for: that I should make it past the patrol without being harmed, that I should reach Emor, and that I should actually have my chance to learn what the law is.