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.The empire city was far enough without wasting time.He prayed to Paladine and Kiri-Jolith that nothing terrible had happened to Helati's brother.If Hecar was harmed however, Kaz would see to it that the perpetrator regretted his act for the short time he still lived.Kaz had not become so peaceful that he was above meting out justice in time-honored minotaur fashion.By nightfall Kaz had to admit that it might be better to bed down than continue on.It was an oddly starless evening, so dark that he could barely see even the shadow of his hand in front of his face.He found a reasonable site two intertwined trees that would give him some concealment and allow him room to fight if the need arose, then set about taking care of the horse and building a camp.It had been a good day's journey.As he settled down by his small fire, Honor's Face beside him, Kaz hoped that for the next several days he would be able to make similar progress.Near the lands of the twin kingdoms the going would be slower, but he saw no reason why the trek to that point should not proceed smoothly.The landscape consisted mainly of wooded areas until the extensive mountain range running along the upper half of the eastern edge of Ansalon.Fortunately, one could ride on the east or the west slope and avoid having to cross the heights.Only when he reached the southern borders of his people's self-proclaimed empire would the peaks cause him some difficulty, but Kaz, like most minotaurs, knew the best paths.Kaz only hoped Hecar was not in any immediate trouble.He stared at the fire, wondering what it would be like to return to the homeland.When he started to doze, he could not say.It was only when he saw that the fire was about to go out that Kaz realized he had fallen asleep.His hand gripped the shaft of the axe, but there was no obvious sign of danger.Kaz snorted in annoyance at his own jumpiness and started to work on the fire.He had just finished rekindling the fire when he heard a branch snap.Kaz eased his way to Honor's Face, clutching the axe and slowly bringing it to hand.Having wandered for several years before settling down with Helati, the minotaur was more than familiar with night visitors.It was the best time for beasts and bandits to ply their trade, and he had met more than his share of both during his various travels.Once he had even faced a scaled abomination resembling a dragon, the result of a mad mage's effort to create the perfect warrior for the Dark Queen.That had been the worst of the lot, as far as Kaz was concerned.Abomination or bandit, I've no time for such games anymore, Kaz thought as he peered into the darkness.If it won't come to me, I'll go to it.He really had no evidence that it was anything more than an animal, but Kaz had discovered long ago that he had some sort of instinct, a sixth sense, that more often than not differentiated between what was simply a deer or raccoon and what was worse.It might not be a threat, but then again…His horse, too, was alert, though from long training it did not budge.Kaz stepped away from the fire, trying to determine exactly from which direction the noise had come.To his left, he decided.Cautiously, the seasoned warrior started that way, moving with surprising silence for one of his bulk.Most assumed a minotaur relied on brute strength and was therefore neither swift nor cunning.Being underestimated by his adversaries had proven to Kaz's advantage more than once.As he stepped between two trees, he heard another twig snap, this time from his right.Kaz immediately turned, holding the axe close in order to avoid snagging it on a branch.The woods were not too thick here, otherwise he would have resorted to his knife.Honor's Face was his weapon of choice, but Kaz was expert with blades long and short, thick and thin, not to mention a variety of other weapons that were all a part of his training.The source of the noise had to be only a few feet from where he now stood.Kaz readied the axe, gauging the limitations created by the various trees and shrubs he could only vaguely make out in the darkness.It would be close quarters if it came to fighting, but not too close.He had made excellent use of the axe in cramped battle conditions before.Another branch cracked… from behind him.Paladine's sword! Is the creature that swift or am I surrounded? Kaz turned cautiously this time, not wanting to make the obvious move and leave himself open to an attack from behind as he shifted in the new direction.No attack came.Exhaling quietly, Kaz moved again heading back to his campsite.His heart beat faster as he wondered if he had been so naive as to have fallen for a ploy leading him away from the fire so that bandits could plunder his belongings.If so, they were about to learn what the fury of a minotaur was like… for the few seconds that remained of their foul lives.Throwing caution to the wind, Kaz charged toward the camp, the flickering flames his beacon.In the light of the fire, he first noted the smaller mount tied not too far from his own.Then his gaze alighted on the short, cloaked figure squatting in the exact location the minotaur had vacated moments earlier.The hood of the other's travel cloak was pulled forward, obscuring any glimpse of the face within.Positioned as the newcomer was, it was hard to tell the race.An elf, perhaps, albeit a fairly short one.Slim for a dwarf, but not for a gnome, though what a gnome would be doing here was beyond Kaz.A human was a likely bet, Kaz thought as he edged closer, axe gripped tight, but the size was more that of an adolescent, not an adult.That really left only one other race…No, it couldn't be…From within the hood came a booming voice."Greetings, O Great Warrior-" The voice broke off, then became a higher, merrier one unable to control itself."That was a fun game, wasn't it?"Slim, tapered fingers fit for a pickpocket reached up and pulled back the hood, revealing a dark-haired, handsome, yet childlike face.The figure stood, revealing that he was no more than an inch or two over four feet-tall for his kind, but unmistakably a member of the most annoying race ordained by the gods on Krynn.A kender [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]