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Электронная библиотека .: Фантастика .: Гудкайнд, Терри .: Восьмое правило волшебника, или Обнаженная Империя(engl)


Гудкайнд, Терри

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Терри Гудкайнд. Восьмое правило волшебника, или Обнаженная Империя(engl)

CHAPTER 1





You knew they were there, didn't you?" Kahlan asked in a hushed tone as
she leaned closer.
Against the darkening sky, she could just make out the shapes of three
black-tipped races taking to wing, beginning their nightly hunt. That was
why he'd stopped. That was what he'd been watching as the rest of them
waited in uneasy silence.
"Yes," Richard said. He gestured over his shoulder without turning to
look. "There are two more, back there."
Kahlan briefly scanned the dark jumble of rock, but she didn't see any
others.
Lightly grasping the silver pommel with two fingers, Richard lifted his
sword a few inches, checking that it was clear in its scabbard. A last
fleeting glimmer of amber light played across his golden cape as he let the
sword drop back in place. In the gathering gloom of dusk, his familiar tall,
powerful contour seemed as if it were no more than an apparition made of
shadows.
Just then, two more of the huge birds shot by right overhead. One,
wings stretched wide, let out a piercing scream as it banked into a tight
gliding turn, circling once in assessment of the five people below before
stroking its powerful wings to catch its departing comrades in their swift
journey west.
This night they would find ample food.
Kahlan expected that as Richard watched them he was thinking of the
half brother that until just recently he hadn't known existed. That brother
now lay a hard day's travel to the west in a place so naked to the burning
sun that few people ever ventured there. Fewer still ever returned. The
searing heat, though, had not been the worst of it.
Beyond those desolate lowlands, the dying light silhouetted a remote
rim of mountains, making them look as if they had been charred black by the
furnace of the underworld itself. As dark as those mountains, as implacable,
as perilous, the flight of five pursued the departing light.
Jennsen, standing to the far side of Richard, watched in astonishment.
"What in the world ... ?"
"Black-tipped races," Richard said.
Jennsen mulled over the unfamiliar name. "I've often watched hawks and
falcons and such," she said at last, "but I've never seen any birds of prey
that hunt at night, other than owls---and these aren't owls."
As Richard watched the races, he idly gathered small pebbles from the
crumbling jut of rock beside him, rattling them in a loose fist. "I'd never
seen them before, either, until I came down here. People we've spoken with
say they began appearing only in the last year or two, depending on who's
telling the story. Everyone agrees, though, that they never saw the races
before then."
"Last couple of years ..." Jennsen wondered aloud.
Almost against her will, Kahlan found herself recalling the stories
they'd heard, the rumors, the whispe



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