Read Competitions Online

Authors: Sharon Green

Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #General, #Epic

Competitions (61 page)

BOOK: Competitions
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Or at least wouldn’t have minded much. His mood wasn’t likely to lighten no matter what he did, so there was no sense in not helping out a friend. Ah well, it would probably all be over soon for all of them…

Vallant waited another moment before following Holter out, having no more use for the facilities than the smaller man had. If that servant had known Vallant’s talent was Water magic, he would certainly have wondered why Vallant needed to
to the facilities. Simply knowing where they were would have been enough, but some Water magic users were too fastidious to relieve themselves the easy way. He could always have claimed to be that sort…

Taking a deep breath before stepping back into the ballroom didn’t help, but Vallant did it anyway. All he wanted to know at the moment was when they’d be allowed to leave. He wanted out of there, even if it meant leaving the ladies behind. Neither of them really needed him, especially not that particular lady, so there was no reason to feel reluctant. No, he would not be abandoning her—
, not in the least…

* * *

Delin saw Kambil making his way back to the group, and it was fairly clear where the man had been. A touch of annoyance fleeted through his mind at having been disobeyed, but maybe Kambil had had a reason to approach Mardimil sooner than he’d been told to. Delin would wait to hear what Kambil had to say before pointing out the man’s error.

“Well, my part of it is finished,” Kambil said once he stopped beside Delin. “Mardimil has changed since I knew him last, and he actually figured out what I was doing. Needless to say, he parted with no information beyond the contention that the commoners have been treating him extremely well.”

“As if we believe that,” Delin returned with a sound of ridicule. “But possibly you would have gotten a bit farther if you’d waited until later to approach Mardimil. As I suggested earlier.”

“I thought the same at first, but a moment’s consideration changed my mind,” Kambil countered with a dismissive wave of his hand. “I approached him to begin with because of the unstable state of mind he happened to be in, but it turned out to be something other than a general instability. Generally he’s gained a remarkable amount of self control, and that ridiculous stuffiness he always used to show has disappeared entirely. After speaking with him, I’m sorry we
find a way to make him a member of our group.”

“I find it hard to believe that the man has changed so much,” Delin said with a frown, partially diverted from his annoyance. “His attitude of superiority used to be unbearable, especially since there was nothing to base it on. You believe he would do more for our efforts than Selendi could?”

“There’s no doubt about it,” Kambil said, his nod very certain. “I had the impression that ‘good enough’ would never satisfy him the way it does her, and he could very well be stronger. I wonder if there’s any way we could have him transferred to us that wouldn’t arouse everyone’s suspicions. Seeing him just thrown away disturbs my habit of avoiding waste.”

“I’ll think about the problem and let you know,” Delin promised, then the last of what Kambil had said really came through. “But what did you mean about him being wasted? Being part of a challenging Blending isn’t quite the same as being thrown away.”

“In this instance it is,” Kambil disagreed, gesturing behind himself. “Didn’t you see who will be facing Mardimil’s group first? I missed the point myself to begin with, but his turning me down made me think about it. It seems that the testing authority is taking no chances with the second strongest group of commoners.”

Delin followed the gesture to see the group in gold and blue, but for a moment the sight meant nothing. Then he noticed that most of the group’s members were women, and that meant—

“It’s Adriari’s group,” Delin blurted, surprised in spite of himself. “They’re putting Mardimil’s group up against their pet Blending!”

“Which means the poor sods can’t possibly get past the very first competition,” Kambil agreed, also turning to study Adriari’s group. “The authority can’t be counting on an honest win, not with the opponents chosen for them, so they’ll be using their unmentioned edge. If Mardimil stays in that group, he’ll go down with the rest of them.”

Delin nodded, knowing Kambil spoke nothing but the truth, which probably meant there would turn out to be no possible way to shake Mardimil loose. The authority had everything arranged, and they really hated having their arrangements disturbed … unfortunately for that predoomed group…

BOOK: Competitions
12.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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