Safe Passage [Darkover series]
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by Joan Marie Verba
Category: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Description: Encountering bandits once is bad luck. Encountering them twice means you're having a really bad day.
eBook Publisher: Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, 1994 Snows of Darkover
eBookwise Release Date: February 2007
32 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [19 KB]
Reading time: 8-12 min.
Orain wiped his mouth with his hand. Yes, that was blood on his lip. Touching his forehead gingerly, he felt an egg-shaped bruise beginning to grow. Bending stiffly, he scooped up a handful of snow and held it to his head. He staggered to a tree and sat between two 1arge roots, resting his back against the trunk.
Mhari, his chervine, nosed out grass from underneath the snow nearby. One look at her told him that the bandits had indeed taken everything--his pots, his food, his bedroll, his extra clothes, and, most important of all, the money he had accumulated all summer walking from one village in the Hundred Kingdoms to another. For many years, he had made an adequate living selling wares to farmers, hunters, and craftspeople in the summer, and returning to his home town of Nevarsin in the winter when the roads became impassible. He loved the wandering life and made many friends on his travels. But through luck or chance, never before had he met bandits that had stripped him of everything. Maybe he was getting too old for traveling, he thought as he touched the bump on his head. Maybe he should have gone off the road when he had heard others approaching, as he had done for safety many times before. But the sun had been shining, his spirits had been high, and he had thought that surely nothing bad could happen on such a fine day.
Now clouds covered the sun. Snowflakes began to flutter down. Painfully, Orain got to his feet. He walked over to Mhari and took her halter, the only thing that the bandits had left. He stepped back on the road.
Which way to go? This was an unfamiliar road, recommended to him by friendly villagers in the last place he had sold his wares because of rumors of fighting--an old blood feud--on his familiar path home. To his left was the way back to the village, more than a day's walk. The other way was completely unknown, except that he had been assured it would eventually meet up with the main north-south road to Nevarsin. He knew there was no shelter for a long way on the stretch of road he had just traveled, so he gambled on finding shelter soon and took the unknown path.