A sword of wrath book i.., p.28
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       A Sword Of Wrath, Book I: Blood And Dust, p.28

           K. E. MacLeod
 

  ***

  Juko sat on his bed, staring at the floor in thought. T'tembo watched him from his own bed until he could stay silent no more, "I am... afraid, my friend."

  He looked up at the undefeated champion with a surprised look on his face.

  T'tembo continued, "What if things don't go according to plan?"

  "Whatever happens three days from now will be the plan."

  His wide face relaxed, "I wish I could be as confident as you."

  Juko smiled slightly, "Can I ask you something?"

  "Yes, of course."

  "What will you do with your freedom?"

  He grinned broadly, "I hope to go to the North. I want to buy land and become a farmer."

  Then, for the first time since he'd arrived in Lycania, Juko laughed. It started as a small chuckle and then progressively grew into a large guffaw that wracked his entire body as he pictured the large man before him sowing a field in a farming tunic. "A farmer?"

  T'tembo began to laugh, too, until they both laughed so hard that tears streamed down their faces. Eventually, Juko stopped to catch his breath and T'tembo took the chance to ask him the same question.

  His eyes saddened slightly, "I will not leave here with my freedom and, in all probability, I will not leave here with my life."

  "But your father?"

  He shook his head, "He will never know. It is better for him to think that his two sons are living a carefree life in the Lycanian capital together than it will be for the reality." He nodded as if convincing himself, "It is better this way."

  "Your brother was a good fighter. The crowd loved him and he loved the crowd."

  "He was happy here, wasn't he?"

  "He was," T'tembo nodded, "very much."

  Juko smiled solemnly, "I am glad to know that at least."

 
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