Every victory has a price. “More than evil” by Ewelina Stefańska

A crippled old man who claims to be a traveler.

A crippled soldier with a passionate sense of mission.

The young son of a tribal leader still lives in the shadow of his late father.

A beautiful dancer who creates charm as easily as the looks.

Their destiny will be united in a village forgotten by the gods and people at the edge of an impassable forest.

The mystery of brutal killings, the dream of war, the deadly instincts of the local tribes, and, finally, the filthy, deadly magic – all of this will be met with people who know each other with difficulty, who sincerely hate each other and do not say a word to each other. from the truth. And they will still have to trust each other.

To read a novel More than evil Ewelina Stefańska invites you Word factory. Today you will read the premiere fragment of the book on our pages:

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When the full moon was born over the forest, he reached the village in the evening.

The evening of August did not bring any coolness, so the old man walked slowly and hard, sweating from the furrows on his forehead, watering his eyes and dripping from his nose. The road now led to a hill fortified with gravel. The traveler cursed and fixed the bag on his back. He increased his speed with the calls of the guards. The door was just closing, and the old man swung through his wings at the last moment.

Heat baskets near the gate lit up the trampled yard. A watchtower was visible nearby. The body of the rectangular balcony was clearly visible from the darkening sky. The guards did not ask any questions, so the old man continued on his way until he fell into a square surrounded by wooden huts. There was silence around him, sometimes interrupted by the barking of a dog. There was no one outside, at least not here.

And good. He was not looking for companionship, but only for rest, perhaps for food, and for wine. The heat lasted more than a week and began to hurt. Her legs were difficult to move. Yes, breathe, then continue.

Behind the square he saw a ruin lit by torches and oil lamps. Two short walls and one-third of the stumps separated the space for tables and benches from the night. The canvas roof stretched over the poles. With each wind, the material fluctuated rhythmically, but now it was as if music, not wind, was moving it. Short, measured drum sound. And calls.

The old man sat down at a table by the side of this temporary winery. He relaxed, put down his bag, rolled up his long tunic, and stretched his legs under the table. Nobody paid attention to him. People were sitting at two mixed tables, young and old, mostly men, looking ahead.

He looked where they were.

He saw a sea of ​​dark, stormy curls that turned into individual waves with each jump, leg, and spin of the dancer. A little to the side, a bearded man was measuring the steps of his bare feet and tapping the eardrums. The calls on the girl’s ankle echoed. He turned again, twisted his hips and clothes, and suddenly looked under the thick lashes at the edge of the winery. Only he saw the new guest, saw, pursed his lips, then stood up and turned again.

And the air turned with him. Warmer than the gate on the way, sticky with the smell of sweat, wine and thirst. And something else, something that made my nose tingle. The old man took a deep breath – he recognized love and rosemary. There was a third note lighter than the fog, so he considered it insignificant.

– Of course, herbs. Not just a mamish dance – he muttered and sat back and waited for the show to end.

The Filigran girl danced gracefully. His steps were firm, he practiced his movements until he decided to use grass. People already looked at him with fat eyes, as they do now, from teenagers to white-haired old men. Also, the dwarf, disproportionate, humpy little man stopped emptying the remains of the forgotten cups and looked at the girl with one eye.

However, the young people who were closest to the dancers and sat in chairs in front of the table enjoyed the performance. He paid close attention to them. He crawled, flowed, and turned his hand in front of their faces. Even now, the red ribbon on the girl’s wrist would almost touch the crooked nose of one of the young men. She smiled wider and encouraged him to follow the dancer, who took small steps back.

The old man looked again.

A sea of ​​curls divided into single waves with each jump, seal and twist. The air turned again and he thought about it.

Lovage, rosemary and a look under thick lashes.

Heat. Bells and legs, bare, light as butterflies.

Lovage, rosemary and hot.

Wet stars are shining on the neckline. They come and go. They fall. They run down, down disappear in the hills. It’s swollen.

Lovage, rosemary and anything else.

Damn it, no!

She woke up, almost jumped, and quickly turned her gaze away from the dancer so as not to fall again. in the arms of gravity. The heat spread to my lower abdomen.

witch When he rejected the most important thing, he deceived her with love and rosemary at the beginning. The third smell is as seductive as the smell of honey and at the same time as disgusting as the sweet smell of rot and decay. Promise of strength, promise of action. The smell of magic.

He pursed his lips. He stifled the desire to escape.

He needed to know immediately, even before he sat down. And you have to be more careful. There has never been anything noble behind the hidden attraction. Saw more than once.

Soon the witch will choose one of the men, make him dance, go into the night and wake up tomorrow with an empty purse. The old man felt for a moment that he would interrupt the girl, but finally he waved his hand. He would leave again early in the morning, and he would probably disappear, so if he didn’t attract attention. A young man with a crooked nose has to deal with this problem alone.

The young man smiled sympathetically as the dancer swam back to him. Nagan’s beat is accelerating, and so is the girl. Weaves magic with smooth movements. He spins faster and faster, extending his arms, adorned with ribbons, and approaching.

Lovage, rosemary and power scent.

The girl smiles innocently, her crooked nose shines, she stands up. The dancer pulls her, now she gets up, wants to dance with her and … She loses her footing!

The rhythm is disturbed, the air melts, the charm is disturbed.

The man is limping. Even if he wanted to, he would not follow the girl, jump to the rhythm, do not turn. The dancer bit her lip and frowned angrily.

– And good! The old man clapped his hands happily, as if he himself had just escaped from this spell.

Lame smiled apologetically, then bowed gently to the girl. He shook his head slowly and motioned for the drummer to change the melody. She will dance today, but she will no longer be enchanted. He seemed tired of using force and lost the attention of all the audience. People relaxed, drank, played dice, and pushed the dwarf. The magicians had to finish the play and pick up what they were going to throw.

The man who escaped from the magic did not join in drinking any more. He tapped his comrades on the back, picked up his glass, and set off.

He was about twenty years old. Her delicate, short hair clung to her sweaty forehead with sticks. He wore a knee-length tunic with a string strap. A scarf hung around his neck, making him sweat profusely. Only good quality leather sandals with a thick sole decorated with sprouts looked well-groomed.

He had already passed the old man, but suddenly he turned and looked at the large bag on the bench.

– Tired day? he asked.

“Now yes,” the wanderer agreed. If he wanted to disappear in the morning, the conversation was there the last thing he needs.

The man raised his eyebrows at first, but then smiled.

“Fuh, and I was afraid we would have to rely on my sense of humor,” he chose very skillfully.

The old man appreciated the answer and took the game:

“Yeah, it would be hard if you enjoyed playing stupid.” For better effect, he extended his silence, then pointed to the other’s sandals. – The guards at the door wear the same. Either you have contact with them, or the local commander allows you to pledge your equipment.

Now the young man not only frowned, but even frowned, his smile wrinkled, not to surprise or irritate. He reached under the scarf around his neck and pulled out a piece of chain. He didn’t have to do much more. Such a chain and a steel plate with the embossed emblem of the unit on it is the emblem of an imperial soldier.

“You saw me quickly,” he said. – Smart …

– For a runaway slave or bandit? The old man spoke and stroked the large bag. – I also noticed it.

The soldier looked embarrassed. The old man could not deny himself a complete victory.

– Did you want to look for me and ask? Instead of playing stalking, it was necessary now. I have nothing to hide. – He bent the truth smoothly. – I am a herbalist. I usually travel for hospitality and help as much as I can. But lately, with a candle to look for him, right?

“That’s right,” replied the young man unexpectedly quickly and conciliatory, holding out his hand. “Nightingale.”

The old man knew that he would continue to insist on unnecessary doubts. So he wiped his hand on the tunic and held it out. The three middle fingers were half the length.

“Eustace” lied.

They shook hands. The herbalist took out his bag and pushed himself on the bench. The nightingale sat down eagerly and pointed to a short, round man. The other jumped to his feet. Although he had no sign of slavery, he bowed very obediently.

– We have a new guest in the village … Herbalist. – Bulbul doesn’t know why he underlined this word. – What can we buy for him?

The fat man turned pale, then blushed, and sweat dripped from his bald head.

“Only cereal, cabbage, cold,” he replied, squeezing his hands together and adding in a whisper, “It’s late, they’ve eaten almost everything …”

“A traveler’s grain is a paradise in your mouth,” said Justsey. The landlord looked at the soldier to make sure.

“You heard,” said Bulbul. “Throw some more wine at my expense.”

The fat man ran to the skinny shelter, which protected the oven, which was still toasted and sweaty, and the fire, which had already been extinguished. After a while he returned with a jug, a bowl full, and an extra piece of bread. He solemnly handed the food to the herbalist, who found a wooden spoon and a cup in his bag.

“It was exciting, as if serving the emperor himself,” Eustace said when the bowl was almost empty.

The nightingale smiled again and poured wine into glasses.

– Barybiusz? You should be surprised when trying to rebuild a business. And someone else’s. He gave … People gave him a chance, because before he only served pigs.

Eustace would almost drown. The soldier shrugged.

“The previous winery burned down,” he said. It will be difficult to find another. They all go north or south to the cities or to the west, you know, to the richer provinces. Need a game angle. And good wine. If you, a herbalist, are looking for other pleasures, then …

– You have already found one. Eustace pointed to the dancer. He looked inside the bowl.

– I do not know? He has been here since yesterday. She dances in the evenings and tries to keep herself among the women during the day … the quiet ones. He is a quiet drummer and secret like you at the same time. But calm people.

The herbalist closed his eyes. Magic and peace seldom went hand in hand. He didn’t say a word, filling his mouth with the leftover cereal. He agreed and breathed a sigh of relief.

– Will there be accommodation here other than in the open air? he asked sleepily.

The nightingale did not hesitate for a moment:

“Of course we’re not as hospitable as we seem.” In the Watchtower itself, of course you are I will not place it, but in the stable, in the fire and in silence. If you are not accustomed to the comfort of the emperor …

Eustace began to laugh. It was only after a long time that he wiped his face with his hand and looked at the soldier quite seriously.

– Doesn’t the commander object?

– Captain? The nightingale smiled to herself. – Well, I will be the first to know about it. are we going

Throwing the bag on his back, Eustace followed the soldier. After a few steps, he turned around and suddenly saw a witch. He was sitting at the same table as before, his eyes black as charcoal on his pale face in the dim light of the lamps. He stared greedily at the lame man. The girl was beautiful, but she did not look at all.

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