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Pearson Mary E, “The kiss of deception”, public translation into English from English More about this translation.

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“No,” Tavish said. “It’s for his face—to clean the wound.”

Sven started to protest, and I shoved the strap back into his mouth. He would rather suffer infection that see his precious spirits spilling from his cheek to the ground. Tavish shoved the needle in one last time and closed off the wound. Sven groaned, and when Tavish poured the strong draft over the sewn gash, his whole body shuddered with pain.

He spit the strap out. “Damn you,” he said weakly.

“You’re welcome,” Tavish answered.

We were two miles from the Great River on the only path that led into the Vendan kingdom. We’d been hunkered down in a rocky encampment that faced west, the direction we knew they’d be coming from. It was at a juncture above the route where they’d have to pass, but we’d been here for two days now with no sign of them. They couldn’t have beaten us here. We had ridden until both we and our horses were at the point of collapse. Today we only left our position to scout out a better vantage point farther from the border, but we ran into the patrol. After throwing their bodies into a ravine, we took their horses with us and hoped they weren’t expected to return anytime soon.

Tavish put his needle away and surveyed his handiwork. He patted Sven’s shoulder. “Trust me. It’s an improvement.”

“I should have let him go first then,” Sven said weakly gesturing to me.

“You’ll be fine, old man,” I answered, knowing he hated that moniker. I hadn’t even realized how deftly Sven always positioned himself just ahead of me. I wouldn’t let him do that again.

He and the others slept while I took first watch. We didn’t expect to encounter a patrol up here in the rocks, but then we hadn’t expected to encounter one down below either. The barbarians were lawless unpredictable sorts, with little regard for any life, even their own. I had seen this trying to flush out rogue bands while on patrol. They charged you with violent wild cries and crazed eyes, even in the face of forces they couldn’t hope to overcome. Death over capture was always their choice. I hadn’t pegged Kaden as one of them. I had known there was something about him I didn’t trust, but I never would have guessed he was a barbarian.

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