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   Chapter 56 No.56

The Book of Deacon By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5645

Updated: 2018-01-19 19:02

"So they were soldiers, " she said through wind-burned lips.

She searched the ground with her eyes, but there was no sign of Myn having even been there. The telltale dimples in the snow left by the soldiers' horses all led almost directly to the north. Myranda, with nowhere else to go, followed them. If Myn had not reached them before the battle had ended, then she might have met them further on.

It was not long before she found the site of a different battle. More blood spilled, and a single helmet, left seemingly out of carelessness rather than memorial. Beside the blood-spattered helmet was a deep furrow left by the spirited movements of a creature's claws. Further on, there was a deep pit in the snow, almost to the ground, that bore its own stain, though this blood was of a thicker, darker variety. Precisely the kind that was left in the wake of the elder dragon's rampage. There was no doubt. It was Myn's.

"No!" Myranda cried out.

She threw herself into the snow, digging her fingers into the windblown flakes just as the first crystals of the long impending storm began to fall. Myranda stood. The pit was empty. Squinting, she made out a tiny speck of red, followed by another, and another. She followed the trail of drops to its end. There she found the prone, motionless form of the little dragon. She was cold to the touch, nearly as cold as the snow that half buried her. Two vicious injuries marred her hide, clearly the cause of her collapse. Myranda dropped to her knees and placed her ear to the dragon's chest. There was the weakest thump of a struggling heart to be heard. The tiniest whisper of life, the smallest glimmer of hope.

Myranda analyzed

he certainty, that Myranda. . . that the target had been in possession of the weapon when she left the weapon shop, but not when she had arrived in the town of Nidel, and certainly not when she had been captured.

It was here that things had ceased to fit together. There was the church. Trigorah knew her target tended to visit places of worship when seeking shelter. There had been a church, burned, and four soldiers killed. That didn't make sense. Why burn the church? To hide evidence? Perhaps, but the remains of the soldiers, some of Demont's men, were left for all to find, when they could easily have been thrown among the flames. If evidence was being destroyed, it was evidence of some other crime.

From the descriptions of her target, it seemed highly unlikely that she would have been capable of defeating four soldiers. And then there was the fact of her escape. The carriage was burned. More fire. . . but this time well-used. Aside from requiring that the girl be captured as well as the sword, the escape made it clear that she could not have been working alone. No, there was another hand at work here.

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