Seymour observed his charges as he guided the corpse-cart along the corridor. They were very convincing in their acting; aside from the slight rise and fall of their sides, he could have sworn that they too were dead. Their appearances helped, of course—both were terribly pale and dirty, their hair matted and louse-ridden, their faces unshaven. Plus, they were thin, dangerously so, except for their bellies, which were swollen, probably full of worms. Seymour’s stomach twisted in empathy, and he suppressed the urge to gag.
It hadn’t been particularly difficult to steal the cart. He had taken it from another Aechyed, a young female slave, and locked her up in the same cell as the guard from whom he had stolen the keys. He felt a bit badly about it, but he couldn’t risk adding extra variables into the equation. Now all he had to do was to get the cart past the guards at the gate without its living passengers being observed. No, he amended. That wasn’t entirely true: he also had to cross an open field on foot, and these two didn’t look to be in any state to complete a long sprint. They would slow him down.
He came to a halt at the gate, though which the world outside shimmered as if underwater—an affect of the wards.
“Who goes there?” a guard asked him gruffly.
“Marka, sir,” he replied, repeating the name of the slave he had thrown into the cell. He took care to keep his face from view, in case the guards were familiar with the true owner of the name. “I come to bear de deads to de cray-mat-or-ium,” he explained, imitating Marka’s accent and inflection.
“You may pass,” grunted the guard, scarcely sparing a glance at Seymour or the cart.
Seymour waited until he was well past them before allowing himself to smile in victory. The end was in sight. All was going according to plan.
“Keep still until I tell you otherwise,” he told his two living passengers, and he continued to push the cart along the road to the crematorium, which belched black smoke from a squat tower in the middle of an empty field. Beyond it, further in the distance, the Waelyngar Forest waited, vast and dark, at the field’s edge. The river, which crawled by on his left, vanished into it, forming a nearly perfect ninety-degree angle. Near there, he remembered, Henry’s mare, Wyrinther, would be waiting for them.
Seymour grimaced and narrowed his eyes, considering his next move.