Khar looked at the little scraps of metal and decided he'd finally found enough.
Gold. Utterly worthless for anything but pretty, here. And from the color, it's got a fair amount of copper in it. But for what I want, that actually a good thing.
He looked over at Tatyana, quartering the meadow for dandelions, colts foot, and wild onions.
Why did I ever think Lada was so beautiful? Why did I fixate on a snooty servant's bastard, who, because her Old Mentalist father doted on her, looked down on a True Man, a Lord who'd passed his challenge, because he was poor.
Or could it possibly be that she simple disliked me? I don't think I was all that snobby . . . but I did get angry, when she wouldn't listen, wouldn't accept that a wife's chip was the best she'd ever get.
I ought to have shrugged her off and bought better clothes, tools, a vehicle . . . none of which I'd have, so forget that too.
I have my brains, my Mentalist abilities, my knowledge of a million things that will give the two of us a good life.
He looked over and caught he looking at him. She blushed at looked away, and he had a feeling he might be blushing too.
A woman who likes me. A friend. A woman who came to my bed, who asked me if she was welcome there. A woman I have fallen completely and totally in love with.
He looked back at the scraps of gold. Enough for a pair of wedding rings.
Forty-nine stayed close. This is getting to the dangerous stage. The rebellion against the now-powerless Family Heads.
"You think Berezin . . ." Klim sounded like he couldn't breathe.
"Poisoned the strongest, best trained, True Men? To put himself squarely on the top of the Heap."
"I refuse to believe . . ." Klim shook his head. "No. It couldn't be."
Inno laughed, swept a thoughtful look around the camp, then turned and walked away.
Olga growled faintly. "I don't like the way he looked around . . ."
"Like he was looking over a target." Klim nodded. "This is not a good sign . . . I wonder if he's right about the poison."
Olga edged closer and leaned on him. "And whether it will wear off, eventually."
He hesitated, then put an arm around her. "I hope, but I never heard of any such thing, in all the rumors of the plague."
Olga was so very lucky, to have been married off to one of the few tolerable Old Mentalists. And there are early signs that he might adapt, rather than strike out.
I am almost sorry there was no way to not dose him. Almost. Getting the strongest alone like that, and dosing them? Not harming the youngsters, the halfer servants, all the children who can grow up free and magical?
And the "healing potion" that dissolves the wires? Incredible.
I need to figure out how to make wine. I wonder what native fruits are around here?
He glanced back at the road in, and thought about that assessing look Lord Innokenty Ignatov had given the Camp. Lord Klim and Olga both saw it. He lagged behind as they walked away, and veered to talk to Eighty-seven Four.
Ten more sets of charms, the False-Khar said.
Forty-nine reached into his pocket and touched the three charmed coins. In his pocket it made him feel free of being controlled. With skin contact, that faint feel of others around him snuffed out altogether. False-Khar said it wouldn't keep the strongest Mentalists out, but it's still impressive. I'll get the other sets and hand them out to the people I trust.
They came just after midnight.
Sneaking up the river, and forming a line to charge up the river bank.