Assassins Apprentice: The Illustrated Edition | Chapter 29 of 53

Author: Robin Hobb | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 247284 Views | Add a Review

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The red-ship raiders were a misery and an affliction to their own folk long before they troubled the shores of the Six Duchies. From obscure cult beginnings, they rose to both religious and political power by means of ruthless tactics. Chiefs and headmen who refused to align with their beliefs often found that their wives and children had become the victims of what we have come to call Forging, in memory of the ill-fated town of Forge. Hard-hearted and cruel as we consider the Outislanders to be, they have in their tradition a strong vein of honor and heinous penalties for those who break the kin rules. Imagine the anguish of the Outislander father whose son has been Forged. He must either conceal his son’s crimes when the boy lies to him, steals from him, and forces himself upon the household women, or see the boy flayed alive for his crimes and suffer the losses of both heir and the respect of the other houses. The threat of Forging was a powerful deterrent to opposing the political power of the Red-Ship Raiders.

By the time the Red-Ship Raiders began to seriously harry our shores, they had subdued most opposition in the Out Islands. Those who openly opposed them died or fled. Others grudgingly paid tribute and clenched their teeth against the outrages of those who controlled the cult. But many gladly joined the ranks, and painted the hulls of their raiding vessels red and never questioned the rightness of what they did. It seems likely that these converts were formed mostly from the lesser houses, who had never before been offered the opportunity to rise in influence. But he who controlled the Red-Ship Raiders cared nothing for who a man’s forebears had been, so long as he had the man’s unswerving loyalty.

I saw the lady twice more before I discovered who she was. The second time I saw her was the next night, at about the same hour. Molly had been busy with her berries, so I had gone out for an evening of tavern music with Kerry and Dirk. I had had perhaps one or at most two mugs more of ale than I should have. I was neither dizzy nor sick, but I was placing my feet carefully, for I had already taken one tumble in a pothole on the dusky road.

Separate but adjacent to the dusty kitchen courtyard with its cobbles and wagon docks is a hedged area. It is commonly referred to as the Women’s Garden, not because it is exclusively their province but simply because they have the tending and the knowing of it. It is a pleasant place, with a pond in the middle, and many low beds of herbs set among flowering plantings, fruit vines, and green-stoned pathways. I knew better than to go straight to bed when I was in this condition. If I attempted to sleep now, the bed would begin to spin and sway, and within an hour I would be puking sick. It had been a pleasant evening, and that seemed a wretched way to end it, so I took myself to the Women’s Garden instead of my room.

In one angle of the garden, between a sun-warmed wall and a smaller pond, there grow seven varieties of thyme. Their fragrances on a hot day can be giddying, but now, with evening verging on night, the mingling scents seemed to soothe my head. I splashed my face in the little pool, and then put my back to the rock wall that was still releasing the sun’s heat back to the night. Frogs were chirruping to one another. I lowered my eyes and watched the pond’s calm surface to keep myself from spinning.

Footsteps. Then a woman’s voice asked tartly, “Are you drunk?”

“Not quite,” I replied affably, thinking it was Tilly the orchard girl. “Not quite enough time or coin,” I added jokingly.

“I suppose you learned it from Burrich. The man is a sot and a lecher, and he has cultivated like traits in you. Ever he brings those around him down to his level.”

The bitterness in the woman’s voice made me look up. I squinted through the dimming light to make out her features. It was the lady of the previous evening. Standing on the garden path, in a simple shift, she looked at first glance to be little more than a girl. She was slender, and less tall than I, though I was not overly tall for my fourteen years. But her face was a woman’s, and right now her mouth was set in a condemning line, echoed by the brows knit over her hazel eyes. Her hair was dark and curling, and though she had tried to restrain it, ringlets of it had escaped at her forehead and neck.

It was not that I felt compelled to defend Burrich; it was simply that my condition was no doing of his. So I made answer something to the effect that as he was some miles distant in a different town, he could scarcely be responsible for what I put in my mouth and swallowed.


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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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