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Milva held her breath. At last. Chackerchacker, called the magpie. Another twig cracked. Milva adjusted the worn, polished leather guard on her left fore arm, and placed her hand through the loop attached to her gear. She took an arrow from the at quiver on her thigh.
Out of habit, she checked the arrowhead and the etchings. She bought shafts at the market choosing on average one out of every dozen offered to her but she always etched them herself. Most readymade arrows in circulation had tooshort etchings arranged straight along the 8 shaft, while Milva only used spirally etched arrows, with the etch ings never shorter than ve inches.
She nocked the arrow and stared at the mouth of the ravine, at a green spot of barberry among the trees, heavy with bunches of red berries. The chafnches had not own far and began their trilling again. Come on, little one, thought Milva, raising the bow and drawing the bowstring. Come on. Im ready. But the roe deer headed along the ravine, towards the marsh and springs which fed the small streams owing into the Ribbon.
A young buck came out of the ravine. A ne specimen, weighing in she estimated at almost four stone. He lifted his head, pricked up his ears, and then turned back towards the bushes, nibbling leaves.
With his back toward her, he was an easy victim. Had it not been for a tree trunk obscuring part of the target, Milva would have red without a second thought. Even if she were to hit him in the belly, the arrow would penetrate and pierce the heart, liver or lungs. Were she to hit him in the haunch, she would destroy an artery, and the animal would be sure to fall in a short time.
She waited, without releasing the bowstring. The buck raised his head again, stepped out from behind the trunk and abruptly turned round a little. Milva, holding the bow at full draw, cursed under her breath. A shot faceon was uncertain; instead of hitting the lung, the arrowhead might enter the stomach. She waited, holding her breath, aware of the salty taste of the bow string against the corner of her mouth. That was one of the most important, quite invaluable, advantages of her bow; were she to use a heavier or inferior weapon, she would never be able to hold it fully drawn for so long without tiring or losing precision with the shot.
Fortunately, the buck lowered his head, nibbled on some grass protruding from the moss and turned to stand sideways.
Milva exhaled calmly, took aim at his chest and gently released her ngers from the bowstring. She didnt hear the expected crunch of ribs being broken by the arrow, however. For the buck leapt upwards, kicked and ed, 9 accompanied by the crackling of dry branches and the rustle of leaves being shoved aside.
Milva stood motionless for several heartbeats, petried like a marble statue of a forest goddess. Only when all the noises had sub sided did she lift her hand from her cheek and lower the bow.
Having made a mental note of the route the animal had taken as it ed, she sat down calmly, resting her back against a tree trunk. She was an experi enced hunter, she had poached in the lords forests from a child. She had brought down her rst roe deer at the age of eleven, and her rst fourteenpoint buck on the day of her fourteenth birthday an exceptionally favourable augury.
And experience had taught that one should never rush after a shot animal. If she had aimed well, the buck would fall no further than two hundred paces from the mouth of the ravine. Should she have been off target a possibility she actu ally didnt contemplate hurrying might only make things worse. A badly injured animal, which wasnt agitated, would slow to a walk after its initial panicked ight. A frightened animal being pursued would race away at breakneck speed and would only slow down once it was over the hills and far away.
So she had at least half an hour. She plucked a blade of grass, stuck it between her teeth and drifted off in thought once again. The memories came back. When she returned to Brokilon twelve days later, the Witcher was already up and about. He was limping somewhat and slightly drag ging one hip, but he was walking. Milva was not surprised she knew of the miraculous healing properties of the forest water and the herb conynhaela.
She also knew Aglass abilities and on several occasions had witnessed the astonishingly quick return to health of wounded dryads. And the rumours about the exceptional resistance and endurance of witchers were also clearly no mere myths either.
She did not go to Col Serrai immediately on her arrival, although the dryads hinted that Gwynbleidd had been impatiently awaiting her return. She delayed intentionally, still unhappy with her mission and wanting to make her feelings clear. She escorted the Squirrels back to their camp. She gave a lengthy account of the incidents on 10 the road and warned the dryads about the plans to seal the border on the Ribbon by humans. Only when she was rebuked for the third time did Milva bathe, change and go to the Witcher.
He was waiting for her at the edge of a glade by some cedars.
He was walking up and down, squatting from time to time and then straightening up with a spring. Aglas had clearly ordered him to exercise. What news? The cold ness in his voice didnt deceive her. The war seems to be coming to an end, she answered, shrug ging. Nilfgaard, they say, has crushed Lyria and Aedirn. Verden has surrendered and the King of Temeria has struck a deal with the Nilfgaardian emperor. The elves in the Valley of Flowers have established their own kingdom but the Scoiatael from Temeria and Redania have not joined them.
They are still ghting. That isnt what I meant. Oh, I see. Well, I stopped in Dorian, as you asked, though it meant going considerably out of my way. And the highways are so dangerous now. She broke off, stretching. This time he didnt hurry her. Was Codringher, she nally asked, whom you asked me to visit, a close friend of yours? The Witchers face did not twitch, but Milva knew he understood at once.
Thats good, she continued easily.
Because hes no longer with us. He went up in ames along with his chambers; probably only the chimney and half of the faade survived. The whole of Dorian is abuzz with rumours. Some say Codringher was dabbling in black magic and concocting poisons; that he had a pact with the devil, so the devils re consumed him.
Others say hed stuck his nose and his ngers into a crack he shouldnt have, as was his custom. And it wasnt to somebodys liking, so they bumped him off and set every thing alight, to cover their tracks. What do you think? She didnt receive a reply, or detect any emotion on his ashen face. So she continued, in the same venomous, arrogant tone of voice. As if someone had guessed that Codringher knew something about the disturbances and would be asked for details.
As if someone wanted to stop his trap up good and proper in advance, strike him dumb. The Barefoot Investor: The Battlemage: The Big Secret for the Small Investor: The Birth Mother: The Bonfire of the Vanities: The Boy: The Christmas Rose: The Complete Mars Trilogy: The Complete Sherlock Holmes: The Core: The Desert King: The Echo of Broken Dreams: The Eczema Diet: The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm: The Four Agreements: The Gifts of Imperfection: The Girl in the Spider's Web: The Girl Without a Voice: The Goldfinch: The Heroes of Olympus,Book Five: The Inquisition: The Man from St.
The Martian: The Monogram Murders: The Nightingale: The Novice: The Obesity Code: The Other Miss Bridgerton: The Outsider: The Plant Paradox: Steven R. Gundry, M. The Power of Now: The Pregnancy Shock: The Prodigal Prophet: The Racketeer: The Red Ledger: The Seduction Bid: The Silver Linings Playbook: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. The Sugar Planter's Daughter: The Sultan's Bought Bride: The Third Angel: The Third Bullet: The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: The Trials of Apollo, Book One: The Trouble With Vampires: The Underground Girls of Kabul: The Walking Dead Vol.
The Walking Dead: The Way of Kings: The Whisperers: A Charlie Parker Thriller: The Whistler: The Witch of Lime Street: The Wrong Highlander: The Year of the Locust: Tiamat's Wrath: To Kill a Mockingbird: Warhammer 40, What If?: What to Expect When You're Expecting: Whiskey Undone: Wild Cards IX: Jokertown Shuffle: Word Power Made Easy: Words of Radiance: Peterson 21 Rituals to Change Your Life: Myers Age of Swords: Roth Arjun: Shinde Sweety Artemis: Malone Assassin's Fate: Claire Batman: Daniel Batman: Paris Betrayed: Lovecraft Connections in Death: Equipped with silk-hemp string and velvet accurately stretched over the protruding handles twenty-four inches, to give the tension precisely fifty-five pounds of power.
True, there were arches which gave even eighty, but Milva considered this to be an exaggeration.
Fired from her bow, an arrow penetrated two hundred feet within a heartbeat, and at a hundred paces had more than enough momentum to effectively strike a deer and a man if he wore no armor, pierced through.
Milva rarely hunted animals larger than deer, or men in heavy armor. The butterfly flew away. Finches still rustled in the bushes. And still nothing came into shot. Milva leaned against the trunk of the pine, and began to remember. Just to kill time. Milva returned to Brokilon after a few days absence, bringing with her the remains of a group of Scoia'tael commandos, who had been stranded in Temeria while trying to enter territory under Aedirn which was already involved in the war.
The Squirrels had wanted to join the uprising of elves in Dol Blathanna. They had failed, and if it wasn't for for Milva, they would have been killed. Milva had helped them by offering asylum in Brokilon. Immediately after her arrival she was informed that Aglais urgently awaited her in the Col Serrai. Milva was truthfully a little surprised by this.
Aglais was the prioress of healing in Brokilon, and the deep, full, hot springs and caves of Col Serrai valley was a place of healing. However, she obeyed the summons, convinced that it was some elf being treated who wanted contact with his detachment through her.
When she saw the wounded witcher and found out what he wanted, she flew into a veritable frenzy, running out of the cave with her hair wild and unloaded all of her anger onto Aglais.
He saw my face! Do you even comprehend what that threatens me? There are fourteen days from the new moon. It will be some time before he can get up and walk normally. He wants news of the world, news of his loved ones. Only you can deliver it to him. I think you have lost your mind, dryad! Do you know what is happening now in the world, beyond the boundaries of your quiet forest?
The war continues in Aedirn! In Brugge, in Temeria and Redania. There is chaos, hell, great persecution!
Those who launched a rebellion on Thanedd, are wanted everywhere! Breathe a single word at the wrong time to enlighten them and you'll be with the executioner and his red-hot iron in the dungeon!
And I have to go to spy, to inquire, to gather news? Risk my neck? And for whom? For some half-dead witcher? And you say he's not a stranger to me, but a friend? You truly have lost your wits, Aglais! He needs tranquility. Handsome, she thought instinctively, though thin as a stick A white head of hair, but the flat belly of a youngster, the kind associated with labour, not bacon and beer The rest is not my business. The healer was known for her reluctance to talk. But Milva had already had time to hear the accounts from excited Dryads on the Eastern borders of Brokilon, about the events that had occured two weeks before.
About a chestnut-haired sorceress who had appeared in Brokilon in a flash of magic with a wounded man, his arms and feet broken, clinging to her. The wounded man was the witcher, known as Gwynbleidd, White Wolf. Initially, the dryads had not known what to do. The bleeding witcher screamed and fainted, as Aglais applied makeshift dressings to his wounds. The sorceress who had brought him, looked on, swearing and crying.
Upon hearing this, Milva was greatly shocked — has anyone ever seen a sorceress mourn? The Sorceress read the order from the ruler of the Forest Dryads. The witcher was to be cared for here.
They healed him. Milva had seen with her own eyes. He lay in the cave, in a trough filled with the water of magical Brokilon essences, his immobilized limbs lay in rails and his legs were enveloped in a thick sheepskin and healing vines called conynhael, or purple comfrey. His hair was white as milk. He was conscious, and though people treated with conynhael usually raved senselessly, magic could also speak through them What should I tell him? I cannot force you.
She did not look back. She was furious. Milva knew of the events that took place during July's first new moon on Thanedd, the Scoia'tael talked about it incessantly. During the congress of sorcerers on the island there had been a rebellion, blood was shed and heads had rolled.
The armies of Nilfgaard, as if right on cue, struck Aedirn and Lyria, the war had begun.
In Temeria, Redania and Kaedwen, all blame fell on the Squirrels. Firstly, being because apparently the Scoia'tael had come to the aid of the rebels and sorcerers on Thanedd isle.
Secondly because Vizimir, the king of Redania, murdered with a stylus, was killed at the hands of an elf or a half-elf.
So humans hated the Squirrels. Everywhere seethed like a cauldron, and a river of elven blood flowed Ha, she thought, maybe it's true, what the priests ranted, that the end of the world is nigh and the Day of Judgement is upon us?
The world is in flames, and men have become like wolves, not only to elves, but to other men. Brother against brother And a witcher, mixed up in this political rebellion. A witcher, who after all is there to protect humans against the monsters that hurt them! Since the world began, never has a witcher involved himself in politics or war. Why, there is even a story of a foolish king, who carried water in a colander, fancied a rabbit as a messenger, and a witcher as a governer.
But here you have it, a witcher badly wounded in a rebellion against kings, escaping his punishment in Brokilon.