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.Breaking a new trail through these steep hills was far too much effort, and Asari wanted to stay on a known path both for speed, and to minimize chances of getting lost.They were careful to scan ahead, and always kept their eyes open for a place to hide off to the side of the trails in case they encountered troops of either country.For the next two days they made excellent time.“Just the two of them,” Luzoke agreed.“I can’t see anyone else nearby, and I can’t sense anyone using the power.”They’d come across the two guards ten minutes before.They had set up in one of the narrowest parts of the trail, between two tall smooth granite hillsides, which simply could not be easily bypassed.The road was a mere twenty feet wide where the soldiers had set up their check point.It would take several hours to backtrack to a point they might be able to find a way around, but it would take them several days to work their way through the steep mountains back to where they needed to go.That was why there was only the one trail through the mountains.It had been found a very long time before and was the only reasonable path open.“There have to be more nearby,” insisted Asari.“It wouldn’t make sense to have just the two of them out here alone.”Luzoke shrugged.“What do you want to do?”“The jump off point for the back way to the lake is only a half mile ahead.If we can get by these two and off the trail without being spotted, they will probably think the men were attacked by soldiers from Angon making a check.I’m sure they won’t be able to spot us.”As he talked he took three arrows from his quiver and pushed them into the ground in front of his feet.He positioned himself carefully, and then whispered once again to Luzoke.“Jolan wants our presence here kept as quiet as possible.We especially don’t want our interest in the lake to become known.It would be best if you don’t have to use your power.That would generate a lot of interest, and Angon mages typically don’t attack normal soldiers.I’m going to try to kill them with the bow.If something goes wrong, then you can join in.We will figure out how to cover up later.”Luzoke nodded his understanding, and watched as Asari pulled the first arrow from the ground and slipped it into place.He pulled back on the string and sighted on the two men standing unaware fifty yards ahead on the trail.Luzoke heard the soft “twang” of the string, and watched as the arrow flew swiftly toward the man on the right.The arrow struck true, passing through the man’s chest, and before the second man could react to the sudden death of his partner, Luzoke heard the bowstring sound a second time.The arrows traveled at two hundred feet per second, which meant they took less than a second to travel the short distance to the men.The heavy arrow moving at that speed could easily penetrate all the way through a man.It had taken Asari about five seconds to grab the second arrow, slip it into place, and release it.That meant in less than ten seconds the two men were dead, the second with the arrow protruding from his chest, the arrow having caught on one of the larger bones on its way through.Asari and Luzoke listened carefully for any signs of alarm.Asari had already slipped the third arrow into place on the bow, and waited ready to cock and release if needed.They heard nothing.There were no signs of alarm.Quickly slipping out of their concealment on the side of the trail, they hurried up and past the two dead men.Asari hated to leave the arrows behind, but there was simply no time to waste recovering them.He and Luzoke continued past the dead men, scanning ahead for further danger.Their luck didn’t hold, and as they made the next small turn in the trail they saw a group of five soldiers headed down the trail in their direction.One of the approaching soldiers noticed them as well, and pointed their way saying something to his companions.“Uh-oh,” said Luzoke, who’d been the first to see the approaching group.Luzoke and Asari turned and headed back down the trail, soon passing the two men they had killed a few minutes before.“Turn left off the trail at the stream,” Asari said as they ran.The stream was just around the bend from where they had ambushed the guards.They had stopped briefly for a drink and Asari remembered a place a bit up the hillside where they could make a stand.They could hear the group behind them coming at a run.They could hear they were talking, probably making plans, but couldn’t make out the words.Asari reached the turnoff first, and sprinted up the soft hillside, slipping a bit on the pine needles as he scrambled for the trees ahead.“Keep going up the hill so they can see you.I’m going to take a shot from the first tree [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]