Read Banewreaker Online

Authors: Jacqueline Carey

Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Epic

Banewreaker

 

Color

1-
-2-
-3-
-4-
-5-
-6-
-7-
-8-
-9-

 

Text Size
10
--
11
--
12
--
13
--
14
--
15
--
16
--
17
--
18
--
19
--
20
--
21
--
22
--
23
--
24

BANEWREAKER
The Sundering 1
By
Jacqueline Carey
Contents
PROLOGUE

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

CHAPTER FOUR

 

CHAPTER FIVE

 

CHAPTER SIX

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

 

CHAPTER EIGHT

 

CHAPTER NINE

 

CHAPTER TEN

 

CHAPTER ELEVEN

 

CHAPTER TWELVE

 

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

 

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

 

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

 

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

 

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

 

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

 

CHAPTER NINETEEN

 

CHAPTER TWENTY

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

 

CHAPTER THIRTY

 

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

 

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

 

 

ALSO BY JACQUELINE CAREY

 

Kushiel's Dart

Kushiel's Chosen

Kushiel's Avatar

 

 

 

BANEWREAKER

 

 

Volume One of The Sundering

 

 

Jacqueline Carey

 

 

 

 

TOR®

 

A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK NEW YORK

 

 

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or are used fictitiously.

 

BANEWREAKER: VOLUME ONE OF THE SUNDERING

 

Copyright © 2004 by Jacqueline Carey

 

A Tor Book

Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC

175 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10010

 

www.tor.com

 

Tor® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

 

ISBN 0-765-30521-6 (acid-free paper) 

EAN 978-0765-30521-3

 

First Edition: November 2004

 

Printed in the United States of America

 

 

 

So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear,

Farewell remorse: all good to me is lost;

Evil be thou my Good.

John Milton,
Paradise Lost

 

PROLOGUE

THE PLACE WAS CALLED GORGANTUM.

Wounded once more, he fled there; and having fled, seethed. It was not a defeat, not wholly. No one could say such a thing while he yet lived and held Godslayer in his possession. He was Satoris Third-Born, and from this place, this vale, to the Sundering Sea, the west was his. Two of his Elder Brother's three Counselors were slain, their weapons lost or scattered. The high Lord of the Rivenlost was slain and his son with him, and many others, too. The number of Ellylon who remained would fill no more than a city. There were Men, of course, in ever-increasing numbers, but such discord had been sown on the battlefield as would make for bitter blood between the two races.

It would be long ages before another attempt was made.

But it would happen.

He knew his Elder Brother.

There had not always been enmity between them. Once, the Seven Shapers had dwelled in accord, in the beginning, when Uru-Alat, whom Men called the World God, died to give birth to the world, bringing them forth from the deepest places and giving power unto them.

First-Born among them was Haomane, Lord-of-Thought, for he was brought forth at the place of the Souma, the bright gem, the Eye in the Brow of Uru-Alat.

Second came Arahila the Fair, Born-of-the-Heart, and there was grace in all her ways, and compassion in her fingertips that Shaped the emerging world.

Satoris, once called the Sower, was Third-Born at the juncture of the loins, and in the quickening of the flesh lay his Gift.

Fourth came Neheris, from the northern forelimb, Neheris-of-the-Leaping-Waters, and the high, cold mountains with their sparkling rivers would be her demesne.

From the deep seas came Meronin, where the southern forelimb made harbor, and the Fifth-Born was deep and kept his counsel.

Sixth came Yrinna-of-the-Fruits, Lady of the southern aftlimb, and abundance was in her touch.

Last-Born and seventh was Oronin, the Glad Hunter of the northern aftlimb, and not least, for death rode in his train.

And also, there were dragons.

In those days, the Seven turned their thoughts to the emerging world. Oronin the Youngest gave Shape to wild forests as Yrinna, his sister, brought forth orchards and fields, and Meronin gave form to gentle harbors and deep seas even as Neheris made to rise mountains and rivers. In the Souma dwelled their power, and each drew upon it according to his strength or hers. Haomane First-Born took the brilliance of the Souma itself, the Eye of Uru-Alat, and gave Shape unto light. And the sun shone with bright radiance as it passed; but the night was black, and Arahila took pity upon it, and did Shape a second light called the moon, pale and beautiful, and thousands upon thousands of stars.

This world they called Urulat, after the World God whose death had given birth to it.

And still life emerged from the death of Uru-Alat, those races known as the Lesser Shapers, and each of the Seven did claim a race and Shape their Children according to their strengths and desires.

All save Satoris, who spent his time walking to and fro in the earth, and conversing with dragons; for they came forth from the very bones of Uru-Alat and there was wisdom in them, and cunning, too. Alone among the Seven, Satoris hungered for their knowledge. But his Gift lay in the quickening of the flesh, and he gave it gladly for the asking. Neheris did ask, and Meronin and Yrinna and Oronin, and thus were the children of their Shaping quickened, and the lesser races did increase; Fjeltroll and fish, Were and stag, Dwarf and rabbit alike. Where death entered the world with Oronin's presence, it was countered with Satoris' Gift, and the races did continue.

For the Ellylon, Haomane sought it not, for he had completed their
Shaping before the final throes of Uru-Alat's death and time touched them not. He was First-Born, and he drew upon the fullest power of the Souma and wrought his Children of pure thought. Only Arahila's touch did Haomane suffer upon their Shaping, Second-Born and nearest to him of all his brethren. No lesser touch would he abide. Thus did Arahila Shape love into the being of the Ellylon.

In turn, Haomane Lord-of-Thought did place his Shaping on her Children, and those were Men, second among the Lesser Shapers. And they were mightier than all save the Ellylon for they turned the emergent world to their own ends; but they were not outside time and death's touch. Thus did Arahila the Fair seek Satoris' Gift for her children, and Satoris granted it, for he loved her well.

And Haomane was displeased.

For Men were not content, but made war upon the Ellylon, in ever-increasing numbers. And it came to pass in the Fourth Age of Urulat that Haomane First-Born asked Satoris to withdraw his Gift from the race of Men.

Three times, he asked.

Three times, Satoris refused. Out of love for Arahila, he refused; and out of knowledge, the deep and dire knowledge gained from congress with dragons. And, in the discord of his refusal, the Souma, the Eye in the Brow of Uru-Alat, was shattered. In that shattering, a single shard cracked loose from the whole, a shard shaped like a dagger.

Godslayer.

It was Oronin Last-Born who seized the shard and planted it in Satoris' thigh, wounding him so the ichor flowed like blood. Not until then did Satoris call upon the dragons, summoning them to his aid.

So began the Shapers' War.

Though many dragons died and Satoris was held at bay, he might have prevailed in the end, had it not been for Haomane First-Born. The Lord-of-Thought struck the earth a mighty blow, severing the head from the body of Urulat. And, in accordance with the will of Meronin the Deep, the Sundering Sea rushed in to fill the divide.

The Six Shapers were islanded, on that island later called Torath, and the power of the Souma was broken; but Satoris was cast out on the far side of the Sundering Sea, bereft and wounded. The dragons abandoned him, having paid too high a toll for his friendship. This Haomane saw. and the Lord-of-Thought drew upon the might of the shattered Souma. Though he could not Shape the land, he caused the sun above to blaze like a terrible Eye, and Satoris was scorched by the heat of it, and his skin darkened and parched, and the earth did also, until Arahila begged Haomane to relent for mercy's sake.

Northward, Satoris fled, where the mountains cast shadows over the land, and he sought shelter from Haomane's wrath in the deep caverns of the Fjeltroll, Neheris' Children, brutish and strong as mountains, and as solid, too. There he spoke gentle words to them and the Fjeltroll gave an oath to aid him, for they knew naught of the Shapers' War, only that he repaid them in kindness; a kindness Haomane in his pride had never shown them. He sought to heal himself, but ever after his skin bore the mark of Haomane's anger, and the wound dealt by Oronin was unhealed, but ever wept tears of ichor.

And Satoris' Gift was no more.

Still, Haomane would not leave him in peace, but lurked on the isle Torath, and breathed distant rumor into the ears of all on Urulat who would hear. Ellyl and Man were reunited in hatred of Satoris and gave new names to him: Banewreaker, Sunderer and Prince of Lies. And it came to them through Haomane's whispers that if Satoris were defeated, Urulat could be remade, and all would bask in the light of the Souma.

They made war upon him, and when the loyal Fjeltroll honored their pledge and defended him, they made war upon the Fjeltroll.

They made war until Satoris grew weary and bitter and angry, and raised an army of his own; of Fjeltroll, with their brute strength, and the grey Were, Oronin's hunters. All those who felt abandoned by the Six Shapers heeded his words, and he Shaped their will to his and marched against his enemies. What Haomane had named him, he became. Banewreaker, Bringer-of-Doom.

For a time, they laid waste to Urulat, pressing toward the west.

But his Elder Brother was cunning.

Haomane First-Born took three ruby-red chips of the Souma, smoothing them into gems of power: the Soumanie. Three Counselors he Shaped to bear them: Ardrath, Dergail and Malthus. Three weapons he gave them to wield: the Helm of Shadows, the Spear of Light and the Arrow of Fire. And he sent them across the Sundering Sea to raise an army of Ellylon and Men loyal to the Six Shapers to do battle with Satoris.

It had been a near thing.

Not a defeat, no. Not a victory, either.

He was alive and Godslayer was his. Still, he had been wounded anew, twice over, and forced to flee the field. But his enemies, Haomane's Allies, had taken grievous blows. Two Counselors slain, the Arrow of Fire lost, and the Helm of Shadows in Satoris' possession. The war had not ended, but there would be a reprieve, while ages passed and Haomane conceived his next move.

All Satoris could do was make ready for it.

First, he healed the mortal wound. The Ellyl blade that struck him from behind had cut deep, severing the tendons behind his knee. It had surprised him, that; so much so that he had dropped the dagger. And without Godslayer, he was—what? A Shaper, but powerless.

Sundered.

There had been his Gift, once. He smiled with bitter irony as he healed himself, drawing on the power of Godslayer to splice his sinews and knit his flesh. Even if it had not been stripped from him, his Gift would have availed him nothing in this struggle. That time had come and gone in ages past, vanished in an eyeblink.

He had offered his Gift to Haomane's Children.

Haomane had refused it.

The second wound was more difficult, for it had been dealt by a weapon Shaped by his brother. If the first had been a surprise, the second had been a shock. He could see it, still; the Spear of Light, its shaft gleaming under the sullen skies. It extended in a straight line from the place where agony flared, where the shining, leaf-pointed blade was buried in his side. And at the other end, both hands locked fast on the haft, was the last Counselor; Malthus, his brother's final emissary.

It had hurt, a hurt second only to one, as he tore himself loose, a gaffed fish fighting the hook. Such indignity! It was almost worth it to see the Counselor's dumbstruck face. There was only one weapon capable of killing Satoris.

Godslayer.

They had both reached for it at once. The dagger, the shard of the shattered Souma. He grimaced in remembrance, pressing its blade to the ragged lips of the wound in his side. It pulsed there, and light kindled in its rubescent depths. So it had pulsed between their joined hands. Closing his eyes, he called upon its power. Somewhere, beyond the Sundering Sea, the light of the Souma flickered in distant sympathy. His kindred would wonder what he did with it.

Let them wonder, and fear. He drew upon its power for this second healing, so much more difficult than the first. Inch by slow inch, he sealed the wound. It left a scar that shone with a pale light, another memento of his brother's wrath.

When it was done, he was weary.

Not all wounds could be healed.

Always, there was the third wound, the immortal one; there, in the hollow of his thigh, where Oronin had struck him with Godslayer itself. It festered with deep poison and wept unceasing tears of ichor, and where they fell, the land itself was blighted and
changed
.

So be it, he thought. I have fled my brother's wrath, and he has found me. I have challenged his might, and he has thwarted me. My siblings have forsaken me; even Arahila, though her memory makes me weep. Yet I do not regret my choice. If Haomane asked a fourth time, I would refuse him anew. In his pride, the Lord-of-Thought does not see the Shape of what-would-be if my Gift were forever uncoupled from his. I see; all too clearly, I see. Thus in my pride, I name myself my brother's enemy, and not his victim. I did not seek this role, though it has been thrust upon me. Loathe it though I may, it is my lot. I am what I am. I cling to such honor as is left to me. Here I will abide, and make of this place a sanctuary; a stronghold. And when I am done, I will place Godslayer at the heart of it, where no other hand may touch it.

Being whole, or as whole as he might be, he summoned the Fjeltroll.

There, in the vale of Gorgantum, he flung up jagged peaks to surround his place of hiding. He brought forth great slabs of marble from the earth and Shaped them, black and gleaming. And he showed them his plan, the vast citadel with its high towers, its encircling wall, and the secret heart of it like a twin-chambered nautilus. There the Fjel labored, honoring their ancient oath. Strong and high they built its walls—and deep, deep below it they delved, in Gorgantum, the hollow, where the earth's strong bones conjoined.

When they reached the Source, he sighed to see the marrow-fire.

Godslayer would be safe.

It was a lingering essence of the blazing godhead of Uru-Alat; a blue-white fire that ran through the bones of the earth, the spark of which fueled the dragons' fiery bellies at their emergence. Here, at the Source, it gathered. Nothing mortal could withstand its touch. He had enough of a Shaper's power yet to Shape the marrow-fire. It took delicacy, tapping just enough to lace the veined marble of his citadel, to light the unfaltering torches. For the first time, he understood the joy his siblings had taken in Shaping the emerging world, and wondered what it would have been like to do so in the fullness of power before the Souma was shattered.

No matter. This would have to be enough.

Of its smoke, he wrought a pall of darkness, and this he flung like a cloak over the vale of Gorgantum, until the very skies were shrouded. And at this, too, he smiled, for it veiled his Elder Brother's prying eyes and sheltered him from the sun's wrath that had scorched his form to blackness.

The Source itself, he dared not alter, but from it he drew a steady flow, a Font in which the marrow-fire danced in an endless coruscation of blue-white flame. In the Font, where no mortal hands would dare reach, he placed the dagger, Godslayer. And there it burned, throbbing like an angry heart; burned, yet was not consumed.

His citadel was complete, and he was pleased.

And he was alone, and lonely.

There were the Fjeltroll, always, faithful to their oath. He had never lied to them. It was true, he treasured them for their very simplicity. But oh, how quickly their lives flickered past, measured against his own! Generations passed in the building of his sanctuary. And in the brute simplicity of their very fidelity, they served as a stark reminder of his complicated, solitary existence. To whom could he turn, when first he heard the whispers of his brother's new Prophecy? It was a cunning plan.

Other books

Time Tantrums by Simpson, Ginger
Swords of Exodus [Dead Six 02] by Larry Correia, Mike Kupari
Dorothy Garlock by A Gentle Giving
As You Desire by Connie Brockway
Steeped in Blood by David Klatzow
The Housemistress by Keira Michelle Telford
Catch My Fall by Ella Fox
The Donzerly Light by Ryne Douglas Pearson