Cover image – The Sapphire Rose. ENLARGE BOOK COVER. Elenium, Book #3. The Sapphire Rose. by David Eddings. On Sale: 25/05/ Format. Sparhawk now has possession of the Bhelliom, so he returns to Cimmura and uses it to cure Queen Ehlana. Unfortunately, when returning the symbolic ring of . Eddings should satisfy his many fans with the final volume of his Elenium fantasy trilogy, an adroit mixture of the exalted and the mundane. (Jan.).
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A soft, silvery drizzle sifted down out of the night sky and wreathed around the blocky watchtowers of the city of Cimmura, hissing in the torches on each side of the broad gate and making the stones of the road leading up to the city shiny and black. A lone rider approached the city. The traveller was a big man, a bigness of large, heavy bone and ropy tendon rather than of flesh.
Spphire hair was coarse and black, and at some time his nose had been broken. He rode easily, but with the peculiar alertness of the trained warrior. His name was Sparhawk, a man at least ten years older than he looked, who carried the erosion of his years not so much on his battered face as in a half-dozen or so minor infirmities and discomforts and in the several wide purple scars upon his body which always ached in damp weather.
Tonight, yhe, he felt his age and he wished only for a warm bed in the obscure inn which was his goal. Sparhawk was coming home at last after a decade of being someone else with a different name in a country where it almost never rained—where the sun was a hammer pounding down on a bleached white anvil of sand and rock and hard-baked clay, where the walls of the buildings were thick and white to ward off the blows of the sun, and where graceful women went to the wells in the silvery light of early morning with large clay vessels balanced on their shoulders and black veils across their faces.
The big roan horse shuddered absently, shaking the rain out of his shaggy coat, and approached the city gate, stopping in the ruddy circle of torchlight before the gatehouse.
Sparhawk gave him a long stare, then opened his cloak to show the heavy silver amulet hanging on a chain about his neck. He smiled ingratiatingly up at Sparhawk. Can we serve you in any way? The district near the gate was poor, with shabby, run-down houses standing tightly packed beside each eapphire with their second floors projecting out over the wet, littered street.
Crude signs swung creaking on rusty hooks in the night wind, identifying this or that tightly shuttered shop on the street-level floors. A wet, miserable-looking cur slunk across the street with his ratlike tail between eddinhs legs. Otherwise, the street was dark and empty. A torch burned fitfully at an intersection where another street crossed the one upon which Sparhawk rode. A sick young whore, thin saapphire wrapped in a shabby blue cloak, stood hopefully under the torch like a pale, frightened ghost.
Her eyes were wide and timid, and her face gaunt and hungry. He stopped, bent in his saddle, and poured a few small coins into her grimy hand. He turned down a narrow side street clotted with shadow and heard the scurry of feet somewhere in the rainy dark ahead of him. His ears caught a quick, whispered conversation in the deep shadows somewhere to his left. The roan snorted and laid his ears back. It was the kind of voice people turned to hear. Then he spoke more loudly, addressing the pair of footpads lurking in the shadows.
There was a quick, startled silence in the dark street, followed by the rapid patter of fleeing feet.
The Sapphire Rose (The Elenium, #3) by David Eddings
The big roan snorted derisively. A few forlornly hopeful enthusiasts remained open for business, stridently bawling their wares to indifferent passersby hurrying home on a late, rainy evening. Sparhawk reined in his horse as a group of rowdy young nobles lurched unsteadily from the door of a seedy tavern, shouting drunkenly to each other as they crossed the square.
He waited calmly until they vanished into a side street and then looked around, not so much wary as alert.
The man was of medium height and he was rumpled and unkempt. His boots were muddy, and his maroon cape carelessly caught at the throat. He slouched across the square, his wet, colorless hair plastered down on his narrow skull and his watery eyes blinking nearsightedly as he peered about in the rain. Sparhawk drew in his breath sharply. His face was grayer and more pouchy-looking, but there could be no question that it was Krager.
Just take the pay and forget about trying to steal the horse. The herring kegs are bound with wire. The past years, the blasting sun, and the women going to the wells in the steely light of early morning fell away, and quite suddenly he was back in the stockyards outside Cippria with the stink of dung and blood on him, the taste of fear and hatred in his mouth, and the pain of his wounds making him weak as his pursuers searched for him with their swords in their hands.
He pulled his mind away from that, deliberately concentrating on this moment rather than the past. He hoped that the vendor could find some wire.
No noise, no mess, and with a little time it could be made to look exotic—the kind of thing one might expect from a Styric or perhaps a Pelosian.
Krager had never been more than a dim, feeble adjunct to Martel—an extension, another set of hands, just sapphie the other man, Davi, had never been more than a weapon. He snapped the rusty strand taut between his hands. The horse bared his teeth evdings him. Sparhawk laughed softly and moved out into the square, some distance behind Krager.
If the nearsighted man were found in some shadowy doorway, bowed tautly backward with the wire knotted about his neck and ankles and with his eyes popping out of a blackened face, or facedown in the trough of some back-alley public urinal, that would unnerve Martel, hurt him, perhaps even frighten him. It might be enough to bring him out into the open, and Sparhawk had been waiting for years for a chance to catch Martel out in the open.
Carefully, his hands concealed beneath his cloak, he began to work the kinks out of his length of wire, even as he stalked his quarry. His senses had become preternaturally thr. He could clearly hear the guttering of the torches along the sides of the square and see their orange flicker reflected in the puddles of water lying among the cobblestones.
That reflected glow seemed for some reason very beautiful. Sparhawk felt good—better perhaps than he had for ten years. Can that be you? The man who had accosted him had long, elegantly curled blond hair. He wore a saffron-colored doublet, lavender hose, and an apple-green eddungs. His wet maroon shoes were long and pointed, and his cheeks were rouged. The small, useless sword at his side and his broadbrimmed hat with its dripping plume marked him as a roe, one of the petty functionaries and parasitic hangers-on who infested the palace like vermin.
Krager was nearing the entrance to a street that opened into tthe square, and in a moment he would be out of sight. It was still possible, however. One quick, hard blow would put this overdressed butterfly before him to sleep, and Krager would still be within reach. There was no way now to dispose of this rode popinjay without attracting their davjd. The look he directed at the perfumed man barring his path was flat with anger. The courtier stepped back nervously, glancing vavid at the soldiers who were moving along in front of the booths, checking the fastenings on the rolled-down canvas fronts.
The other man looked quickly at the soldiers again, seeking reassurance, then he straightened boldly. I demand that you give an account of yourself. Now get out of my way. I have powerful friends. Then an idea came to him. It was petty—even childish—but for some reason it seemed quite appropriate. He stopped and straightened eddinvs shoulders, muttering under his breath in the Styric tongue, even as his fingers wove intricate designs in the thf in front of him.
He hesitated slightly, groping for the word for carbuncle. He finally settled for boils instead and completed the incantation. He turned slightly, looked at his tormentor, and released the spell. Then he turned back and continued on across the square, smiling slightly to himself. It was, to be sure, quite petty, but Sparhawk was like that sometimes. He handed the food vendor a coin for minding Faran, swung up into his saddle, and rode across the square in the misty drizzle, a big man shrouded in eddinsg rough wool cloak, astride an ugly-faced roan horse.
Once he was past the square, the streets were dark and empty again, with guttering torches hissing in the rain at intersections and casting their dim, sooty orange glow. Sparhawk shifted slightly in his saddle. The sensation he felt was very faint, a kind of prickling of the skin across his shoulders and up the back of his neck, but he recognized it immediately.
Eddnigs was watching him, and the watcher was not friendly. Sparhawk shifted again, carefully trying to make the movement appear to be no more than the uncomfortable fidgeting of a saddle-weary traveller. His right hand, however, was concealed beneath his cloak and it sought the hilt of his sword. The oppressive sense of malevolence increased, edeings then, in the shadows beyond the flickering torch at szpphire next intersection, he saw a figure robed and hooded in a dark gray garment that blended so well into the shadows and wreathing drizzle that the watcher was almost invisible.
The roan tensed his muscles, and his ears flicked. They continued on along the cobblestone street, passing through the pool of orange torchlight and on into the shadowy street beyond. The sense of being watched was gone, and the street was no longer a place of danger.
Faran moved on, his hooves clattering on the wet stones. It was gated at the front of its central courtyard with stout oaken planks. Its walls were peculiarly high and thick, and a single, dim lantern glowed beside a much-weathered sappbire sign that creaked mournfully as it swung back and forth in the rain-filled night breeze.
Sparhawk pulled Faran close to the gate, leaned back in his saddle, and kicked the rain-blackened planks sap;hire with one spurred foot. There was a peculiar rhythm to the kicks.
Then the gate creaked inward and the shadowy form of a porter, hooded in black, looked out. He nodded briefly, then pulled the gate wider to admit Sparhawk.
The big knight rode into the rain-wet courtyard and slowly dismounted. The porter swung the gate shut and barred it, then he pushed his hood back from his steel helm, turned, and bowed. Your man, Kurik, is here.
Will you want supper? Faran opened his eyes and gave him a flat, unfriendly stare. Would you like to tell us about a lower price?