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Full black hair framed a stern face that reflected her experience on the battlefield. Ten years older than Smoke, she was used to command and would become Trenchant, charged with the defense of the Puzzle Lands, when their father Dehan passed from the world. Takis turned to Smoke, her head cocked and her gaze suspicious. So I thought.
Then I saw she carries your coin purse, the one I gave you after you lost the other. When I asked how she got it, she begged for a chance to return it to you. Smoke was more a spirit creature than any of his Bidden kin. On that morning, very early, Smoke had ridden with the irregulars, following Rennish deep into the Borderlands.
It was a bad time to be a farmer in the Borderlands and many had fled south. More should have. He materialized in the farmhouse, to find the soldiers there still asleep, six on the kitchen floor and nine more in the sitting room.
Only a faint light seeped through the shutters. Outside, a single man kept watch, his footsteps a slow rhythm as he paced the porch. Smoke stood in the doorway between the two rooms, his sword in hand, listening.
When his keen hearing picked out a distant rumble of hooves, he knew the rest of the irregulars would soon arrive. So he set to work.
He saw well in the dark, and his first stroke neatly removed the head of one of the sleepers in the sitting room. There was no outcry, only the thump of the sword and wet splatter of blood against the walls. His next stroke opened the throat of a man who had just begun to rise, and then he cut down two more before the others were sufficiently awake to arm themselves. By their look and their plain clothing these were the farmers—not that it mattered to him.
As they vaulted from the window, he reached for the threads, passing as vapor through the wall. Behind the house was a grassy farmyard overrun with worried geese and chickens. Two sheds squatted beside a stable, with several cow pens close by. Farther out, a grove of broad-leafed trees, no doubt kept for firewood, stood dark against a brightening sky. Smoke materialized in the middle of the yard, right in front of the farmers as they ran. Despite this evidence of a recent beating, she was dressed neatly in a pale linen blouse and a full skirt that reached her knees, with her heavy, dark hair pulled back and tied behind her neck.
Too soon, a horse came cantering around the farmhouse, carrying Chieftain Rennish on its back. She held in her hand a burning torch that trailed an ugly gyre of black smoke.
The young Lutawan woman fled.
Smoke waited several beats of his racing heart to see where she would go. Holding her skirt above her knees, she sprinted hard for the shelter of the stable.
Smoke grinned. Smoke bared his teeth, offended at her suspicion. He caught it. With his bloody sword in one hand and the torch in the other, he strode across the farmyard, a flock of confused chickens fleeing before him. They tossed their heads and snorted, circling in their stalls. The young Lutawan woman stood beside the farthest stall. The mark on her cheek soaked up shadow, looking darker, grimmer, as she faced Smoke with defiant eyes.
I have heard the stories, and I prayed for you to come avenge me, but you would not. You had to know we would kill you too. But my daughter. He called her cursed and he took her away from me. He took her away! He strangled her.
I know he did. He turned to touch the torch to dry hay piled in a manger that was shared between the stalls. Flames crackled and the young wife backed away, looking frightened at last, while the horses threw back their heads and whinnied in panic. With shaking hands she did it and the horses bolted free. Very quickly the fire consumed the hay and then turned its greedy flames to the stalls and the post that held up the ceiling.
Gray smoke boiled up, sending small birds fleeing from the rafters. The air became thick and she raised her arm to cover her mouth and nose.
Smoke took his coin purse from his pocket, tossing it to her.
She caught it. She was outside with me, but she ran to hide. Finish it now! Your sister is dead. Go now, before you die too. Maybe she saw it in the green glitter of his eyes, because she moved at last, lunging for the closest window. Smoke walked outside, igniting more hay on the way.
The farmhouse had been set afire, the cattle let out of their pens. Another one! Two swords flashed in the dawn light, and the screaming stopped. Smoke tensed, reaching out along the threads, seeking for the farm wife while Rennish glared down at him from the saddle. He took a cloth from his pocket to clean the blade of his sword, thinking on the woman he had saved. The threads told him she remained safe, crouched in the brush behind the stable.
He looked up again at the sound of running footsteps.
Her bloody prayer had been granted and it was over—but not for her. More lightning flickered in the night, though now it was far away. The misty rain faltered, then ceased altogether, leaving everything outside the tent damp and glistening in the torchlight: the grass, the brush, the two silver coins that had spilled from the purse. The Lutawan farm wife got onto her feet, but she was hurting.
She stood hunched, wheezing for breath, her hateful gaze bright above the dagger-shaped mark on her cheek as she glared at Smoke. Chieftain Rennish stepped up beside him. Smoke recoiled as Dehan the Trenchant came to stand at his other side. The Trenchant was a powerful man, both in the world and in the world-beneath. Like this document?
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This all new expanded sixth edition is a candid, humorous guide to everything there is to see and do on the island. Explore with him as he reveals breathtaking trails, secluded beaches, pristine reefs, delicious places to dine, relaxing places to stay, exciting waterfalls, colorful valleys and so much more.
Every restaurant, activity provider, business and resort is reviewed personally and anonymously. This book and a rental car are all you need to discover what makes O'ahu so exciting.