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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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My heart was a rock in my chest, as if I were dead already. He looked at me, and I saw my frozen reflection in the glass of his eyes. He roared again, baring his powerful fangs. He couldn’t frighten me any more than I already was. I opened my mouth, but my tongue was so dry no sound would come out beyond a weak hoarse whisper, “Go away.” His whiskers twitched, his tail flicked, and he turned, disappearing into the forest.

For several more seconds, I stood there trembling, still too frightened to move—but then I couldn’t move fast enough. I rushed to gather my bedroll and bag. Neither the monkeys nor the tiger had bothered the horse—maybe only I seemed like an easy meal. Was it my simple whispered command that made him leave? I wasn’t going to question my good fortune now. I was getting out while I still could.

I left the way I’d come, finally inhaling a deep breath when I was free of the hellish forest. I stayed close to its border, seeing that the horizon was already pink, and pushed my horse at full gallop. The sun would be up soon, and I’d be easy to spot out on the savanna.

Where the forest ended, an outcrop of boulders appeared, and I ducked down a path that wound through them, thankful for the cover, but it proved to be a shallow dead end. They immense scattering of boulders only opened onto jutting plateau that nearly split the valley below in two. I saw what looked like a well-traveled path winding through it. I dismounted and stepped out on the rocky ledge, wondering if I could make my way down to the valley floor. The updraft was strong and whipped at my hair and skirt. I spotted something in the distance, dust like another stampede, but this one moved slower. And then it shot through me. Soldiers. Not just a small patrol but a miraculous, enormous battalion of them!

As they got closer, I could tell they numbered at least two hundred, but I still couldn’t see their banner. Or maybe they weren’t flying one? Was it Morrighan or Dalbreck? I’d settle for either right now. I searched for a path down to the valley, but on this side the ledge was a sheer drop. I scrambled to the other side of the point, searching for another way down, and saw more soldiers coming from the other direction, but they were only a small company of no more than thirty. I squinted, trying to see their colors, and caught glimpses of red. Morrighan! And then their horses came into focus, a distinct white and chestnut tobiano leading them. Walther. A flash of ecstatic joy swept over me. But the joy was just as quickly quashed. Then who were the—

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