Adventure, Love and Legend (2)

Another little plug today for my paperback novel, The Gammadion.

The envoy shivered. It was only a month till the solstice and, though no snow had fallen, the sharp mountain wind chilled his bones. It was true he had known colder winters, but the circumstances of this journey were exceptional. Fear played a part in his discomfort as much as the temperature.

He wondered what his reception would be like – a polite audience, immediate death by the sword, or a slow, bloodless execution in what he had been told was the traditional Mongol manner, suffocation beneath a pile of carpets. Khan Hulegu’s reputation for savagery equalled that of his grandfather Genghis, but the new ruler of Persia did not seemingly have the Great Khan’s patience.

The envoy drew his camel-hair shawl more tightly around his shoulders and urged his pony into the gully. A few stones dislodged by its hooves clattered onto the rocks below. At least he was away from the grim mountain-top fortress and breathing the free air again. Whatever awaited him below, it could scarcely be worse than the stifling of his intellect as a Nizari slave. Perhaps a quick death would be preferable to the slow destruction of his soul.

He glanced at his three-rider escort. They were well wrapped against the cold but, unexpectedly, no armour was visible. Instead, they wore felt coats with fur-trimmed sleeves and collars. There was also fur on their boots, and on the ear flaps of the helmets worn by two of their number. The third man wore a Persian hat and a thick scarf to protect his ears and lower face from the wind. The envoy could see none of the faces clearly but he could picture the pale skin, prominent cheekbones and narrow eyes that marked the Mongols as a race apart.’

***

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