The Old Grey Wizard
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A Mortal Life: 10. Something Left Behind
Chapter 9 Something Left Behind
Jarek had been one of the first to fight his way out of the circle of half-crazed men. He'd watched in terror as Morgo fell dead to the ground. He had smelled the stench of burned flesh and scorched clothing. His bowels had emptied into his own trousers and he had fled. He'd ridden as fast as his horse would carry him into the night and he hadn't looked back.
He couldn't shake the awful image of his cousin sitting next to him on his big dapple grey, swinging that chain at the sorcerer's head one second and lit up by blue fire in the next. Morgo's eyes opened wide. His mouth gaped for a scream that never came.
He wandered for a while. He wasn't sure where to go, what to do. He didn't want to return to Arlindon, not after this disaster. No one would be cowed by him once news of the battle got back north. And besides, he and Morgo hadn't paid those men more than a quarter of what they were promised. They had told them they would receive their full due once the sorcerer was dead and the slaves were back at work on the Bramblewood estate. Whoever had survived would be looking for him. He couldn't go back.
Jarek relived those first few seconds over and over, before everything had gone horribly wrong. He could feel the thrill as the whip sang and flew. What an accurate slice it would be! Right across his scornful face, and that would be just the first. Then, sudden confusion as he lost his hold on the leather handle of the whip. What happened? Who took it? That damned sorcerer, that's who! And rage rose in him again and again.
But rage was followed by fear: dreadful, ice cold fear that flashed into the core of him like a bolt of blue light. They had underestimated this one. They were outmatched, even fifty together. Who could withstand someone who commanded wind and lightning? How could you kill a man who could rise from the dead?
As the days passed and Jarek wandered, he could think of nothing but rage and fear. He wanted revenge. Not for Morgo; he was a greedy, lazy fool. No, for himself. He had imagined it in his head so many times on the road south, before the battle, that he could hardly believe it hadn't happened. He'd planned it, payment for his humiliation in front of the whole of Arlindon. You could kill a man with a whip. He'd seen it done, taken his turn when the others got tired. It took a long time--days, sometimes. Jarek had it planned.
And nothing of the sort had happened. Jarek had been humiliated again, and Morgo was dead, half a dozen other good lads, dead. All of them, beaten by one damned sorcerer. He shivered. One dreadful sorcerer. And he couldn't do a thing about it. Revenge wasn't worth dying for.
Unless! Unless he could get back at him another way. He was off with those wagonloads of slaves, taking them who knew where. It didn't look like he was coming back anytime soon. Hadn't he left something behind?
One morning Jarek quit wandering. He squinted into the sun, and tried to count the number of days he'd been on the road. He started riding north.
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