Up to Sawat. Book 1. Chapter 1

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Father taught me: you should not do the vile things even to save the world. And mother used to add: you can not save the world with the vileness anyway.

Boris Akunin

All the characters and events appearing in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Images used on cover are from the authors personal archive.

BOOK 1 Staying in Morburg

Fall down seven times, stand up eight.

Japanese proverb

Chapter 1. Morburg

Tom was packing his travel bag.

“Now you can only guess what might come in handy”, he looked out of the window.

The weather was nasty. He hoped it wouldn’t rain tomorrow. So he returned to his preparations. A week ago he thought real hard about the situation and decided not to stay in Morburg for the winter.

Scrolling through the mental list of the reasons in favor of this decision, Tom zipped up his bag. Before the departure he intended to pay a visit to the commandant and maybe to have the last attempt at the boarding school.

Pulling on the windbreaker over a thick woolen sweater, Tom closed the shutters, left the bag on the doorstep and came out to the porch. The dampness hit him in face.

“I wonder how poisonous this drizzle is?” thought Tom putting prudently the hood on his head.

Colorful fallen maple leaves were covering the soaked pathways.

Leaving dirty and wet traces of his field boots on the stone stairs of the town hall, Tom entered. That day the people in the town hall were more than usual. Tom pushed past them and peered into the open door of the commandant’s office. The commandant had just got up from his table:

“Nice to see you, Thomas!” the man stretched his hand to the visitor. “We’ve got a problem here: a runaway from the boarding school. And I am in a lack of people. Your help will be more than appreciated.”

“Hope that all is not about my brother?” asked Tom anxiously. “If he did it on the day of my departure, it was just to spite me”, added he inwardly with angst.

“No-no, it’s not Stefan,” answered the commandant with understanding and then continued “now I will hold a meeting and we are moving out.”

“To be honest I am here to bid my farewells,” Tom interrupted the commandant.

The man gave the visitor an expressive glance.

“So you have preferred to return to your frontier post rather than to enroll to our guard? That’s a pity,” the commandant rubbed his chin. “Well, would you mind to help us the last time to find the runaway-girl and than to part as friends?”

Commandant Jurgen Gref was a man you could hardly deny a favor. Because he always repaid the favors. And in this case it was Tom to repay: the commandant helped him to settle Stefan at boarding school.

“Gentlemen,” addressed Gref to the men gathered in the hall, “please, come to my office, I will give you the input data and the routes.”

About five of the guardians and some mercenaries passed to the office door.

After listening the commandants explanation from the doorway, Tom sighed, crossed the threshold and took the all-points bulletin in his hands. There was only one bulletin: no chance to print the copies. But there was a photo attached.

A serious girl was looking from the card.

“Mila Vraneš, 15 years, escaped from the boarding school. Since yesterday night there is no information about her location. Identifying marks: athletic build, fair-haired, blue eyes. Holds hiking backpack. May show resistance. Speaks paneuropean dialect.”

“If she ran away yesterday night, at the moment she might be very far from here,” noticed one of the guards.

“She was moving in the dark so she was slow,” answered the commander, “anyway the advantage is still hers. Let’s take our dogs, they may find her trace”.

“Why running away?” asked one of the mercenaries.

“Well, we tried to find the reason,” took the floor commandant’s attendant Fisher. “The educator on duty says she is a kind of troubled teens, from time to time they foolishly try to bolt. Neither attacks on her nor abuses from other mates were noticed or reported. The educator also denies a romantic version… I mean when a girl bolts with a fellow,” explained Fisher slightly confused. “It seems that this Vraneš had no contacts in town, nor out of it. Though it’s hard to imagine what she has in mind, specially because she is from the nomads.

“Stupid youngster staff. Should we really go in for search?” resented the guard standing near the window. “How long has it been since we banished such tramps from our walls? Why just don’t let her go wherever her damn well please?”

The rumor spreading over the office evidenced that he was not the only one to hold this position.

“The routes?” cut it off the sullen mercenary.

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