[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.But they are restless, his eyes, and while helistens and waits somewhat impatiently, his gazedarts this way and that, alighting on a face here,the pale flash of a hand there.For a moment, heobserves a man with eyes like olives and blackcurling hair so long that it covers his shoulders,until he is met by another man and they depart.The scarred man's head cocks at the thumpingsounds of running feet, shouts echo and diminishas a body rushes past outside, elbowing throughthe crowd.He turns away.He asks the wineseller,now free, for a cup of spiced wine, downs it in one4 Eric V.Lustbaderswallow.It is not the rice wine of the region,which he finds too thin for his taste, but theheartier burgundy of the northern regions.Hepurchases a flagon.The sunset is fading, the sky above Sha'angh'seiturning mauve and violet as night approachesboldly from the east.The scarred man leads his stallion left into anarrow alley, crooked and filled with refuse andexcrement.There must be bones here, hiddenperhaps in the high dark mounds heaped againstthe sides of the building walls.Human bonesstripped of all flesh, all identity.The stench isappalling and he breathes shallowly as if the airitself might be poisonous.His mount whinniesand he pats its neck reassuringly.The alley gives out at length onto GreenDolphin Street with its dense tangle of shops anddwellings.Again the air is filled with the singsongcacophony of the city and spices blot out themore noxious odors.Half a kilometer away, thescarred man finds the straw-filled sanctuary of astable.Leading his mount to a stall, he reachesup, removing his saddle bags, slinging them overhis left shoulder.He places two coins in the darkpalm of a greasy attendant before venturing outonto Green Dolphin Street.He walks for a timedown this wide avenue meandering, pausing fromtime to time to peer into shop windows or turnover a piece of merchandise at a street stall.Heturns often to peer behind him as he moves fromone side of the street to the other.At last he comes upon a swinging wooden signcarved in the shape of an animal's face.TheScreaming Monkey, a dark and fumey tavern.Heenters and, skirting the multitude of jammedtables and booths, speaks to the tavernmaster forjust a moment.Perhaps it is the din of the placewhich causes him to put his lips against the otherman's ear.The tavernmaster nods and silver isexchanged.The scarred man crosses the roomand mounts the narrow wooden staircase thatfolds back upon itself.On the landing, midwayup, his gaze sweeps across the smoky roombubbling with noise and movement.Natives of theSha'angh'sei region do not interest him;outlanders do.He studies them all most carefullyand covertly before he completes his ascension.He walks silently down the darkling corridor,meticulously counting the number of closeddoors, checking to see if there is a rear egressbefore he opens the last door on the left.Inside the room he stands for long momentsjust inside the closed door, perfectly still, listeningintently, absorbing theBENEATH AN OPAL MOON 5background drift of sounds, setting it in his mind sothat, even if he is otherwise occupied, he willautomatically hear any deviation.Then he crosses over the mean floorboards,throws his heavy saddlebags onto the high down bedwith its pale green spread, moving ilTunediately tothe window, drawing the curtains.When they stopmoving, he pulls one side carefully back in the crookof one forefinger, gazing out onto a heavilyshadowed alley perpendicular to Green DolphinStreet.He is, he knows, within the heart of the city,far from the long wharves of the Sha'angh'sei delta.Still, if he strains, he can hear the kubaru's plaintivehypnotic work songs filtering through the hubbub.Peering sideways, he can just make out a slendersection of the far side of Green Dolphin Street.Aseller of herbed pork and veal is closing his shopand, immediately adjacent, the lights areextinguished in a dusty carpet shop as threebrothers, pear-shaped and identical down to theirembroidered saffron robes, shutter the windows.They are rich, the carpet merchants, thinks thescarred man, letting the curtains fall back into place.The more prosperous they become, the heavier theyseem to weigh, as if they have been magicallytransformed into living embodiments of the taels ofsilver which they hoard [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]