The Dying Goddess "So?" Tygg smiled "So..." "She comes upon the waves, She drowns upon the sands, She kills a demon born, She robs him of the land," III -Songs of the Dread S he lay upon her cot steeped in sweat. The air was thick. A thin blanket and nothing else covered her. She dropped in and out of consciousness with the regularity of the waves. But the passage between one state and another did not matter, as she did not move when awake nor rest when asleep. She simply suffered. Above her taking pains equally endless was a mute woman who changed the compress on her head and checked her pulse. The second thing was merely an afterthought. The mute had seen her mistress through this fugue of death more than once. She had learned to read the signs of it. It was coming to a head, and soon... Heavy steps trampled down the stairs. The mute looked up to see Harldr, the sailing-master, flanked by two redbearded Hagroners with cutlasses. They came to the cot and looked at the trembling patient. Awe and deceit mingled on Harldr's face. He had been a pirate, commanding a fearsome crew, before encountering the Dread. "No change, Caraca?" asked Harldr. The mute shook her head. "A ship with no captain," said the sailing-master, "and no mate, and no sign of seeing either. And a damned ship besides. How long are we supposed to let men wait in harbor, while the stores run low, a rich port in front of us? Answer me that." Caraca stared at him to no effect. "Put not your false hex on me, mute. The slaves on this ship may fear you, but I know a slashed throat when I see one. You have no powers but silence." Haraldr walked past Caraca and opened the cabinet on the far side of the cot. He took out a cutlass made of folded steel and a heavy brooch containing a purple cats-eye gem inlaid in gold with a brass chain. He put the brooch around his neck and strapped the cutlass to his belt and went over again to the cot. "Captain," he said, and when he received no response, "Mistress," and then finally "Drea". The woman just lay upon the cot, breathing. Harldr snorted and signaled for the two Hagroners to come to the cot. They stepped past Caraca and, at another signal from he sailing-master, lifted the ailing woman off of it. "I know you for loyal, Caraca, but..." said Harldr, but then stopped when he noticed the cabin was empty. The mute had vanished.