There was a crack as the buck’s horn snapped off in the crazed man’s hand. The animal wailed, collapsing forward onto its knees. Bellowing, the pulver swung the horn about, fighting whatever delusion had gripped him.
Parrish was down there.
“You can’t go down there, Kir,” Een cawed, drawing the guards’ attention as he seized Gale by the arm. She had moved instinctively.
Parrish stepped up to the outside range of that pointed, swinging, horn. “It’s Bendi, isn’t it?”
The pulver bared his teeth. “Ruined all, Bendi has ruined…oh dear ones, I have failed!”
“Maddenflur,” Sapira whispered. “Has he taken…”
“Maybe someone slipped it to him,” Gale said.
Parrish’s voice carried across the plains. “On the island where I grew up, Bendi, we take in those slain by magic. Such murders are doubly tragic, because nothing lasts forever. It is a given that the scrip will be destroyed in time; that the spell will revert and the murdered person will live again. So the victims must be kept safe.”
The pulver was staring at Parrish’s lips.
“There was a young monk once, whose job was to bear corpses from the sea to the monastery of the sleeping dead. But he loved a woman whose farm lay on the route from the port. He’d stopped at her cottage, once, and a grass fire caught near his wagon. The coffin and the woman lying within were burned.”
The pulver extended his hand, splaying his inhumanly strong fingers mere inches from the boy’s throat. Nobody moved. Even the deer seemed to hold their breath.