The Black Company by Glen Charles Cook

The Black Company by Glen Charles Cook

Author:Glen Charles Cook [Ismeretlen]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: sf_fantasy
ISBN: 0-8125-3370-4
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Published: 1984-06-01T22:00:00+00:00

Chapter Five

Harden

The wind howled and flung blasts of dust and sand against our backs. We retreated into it, walking backward, the gritty storm finding every gap in armor and clothing, combining with sweat in a stinking, salty mud. The air was hot and dry. It sucked the moisture away quickly, leaving the mud dried in clots. We all had lips cracked and swollen, tongues like moldy pillows choking on the grit crusting the insides of our mouths.

Stormbringer had gotten carried away. We were suffering almost as much as was the Rebel. Visibility was a scant dozen yards. I could barely see the men to my right and left, and only two guys in the rearguard line, walking backward before me. Knowing our enemies had to come after us facing into the wind did not cheer me much.

The men in the other line suddenly scuttled around, plying their bows. Tall somethings loomed out of the swirling dust, cloakshadows swirling around them, flapping like vast wings. I drew my bow and let fly, sure my shaft would drift astray.

It did not. A horseman threw up his hands. His animal whirled and ran before the wind, pursuing riderless companions.

They were pushing hard, keeping close, trying to pick us off before we escaped the Windy Country to the more defensible Stair of Tear. They wanted every man of us stretched dead and plundered beneath the unforgiving desert sun.

Step back. Step back. So damned slow. But there was no choice. If we turned our backs they would swarm over us. We had to make them pay for every approach, to intimidate their exuberance thoroughly.

Stormbringer’s sending was our best armor. The Windy Country is wild and brisk at the best of times, flat, barren, and dry, uninhabited, a place where sandstorms are common. But never had it seen a storm like this, that went on hour after hour and day after day, relenting only in the hours of darkness. It made the Windy Country no fit place for any living thing. And only that kept the Company alive.

There were three thousand of us now, falling back before the inexorable tide that had swamped Lords. Our little brotherhood, by refusing to break, had become the nucleus to which the fugitives from the disaster had attached themselves once the Captain had fought his way through the siege lines. We had become the brains and nerves of this fleeing shadow of an army. The Lady herself had sent orders for all Imperial officers to defer to the Captain. Only the Company had produced any signal successes during the northern campaign.

Someone came out of the dust and howl behind me, tapped my shoulder. I whirled. It was not yet time to leave the line.

Raven faced me. The Captain had figured out where I was.

Raven’s whole head was wrapped in rags. I squinted, one hand raised to block the biting sand. He screamed something like, “Ta kata wa ya.” I shook my head. He pointed rearward, grabbed me, yelled into my ear.



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