Read Queen of the Dark Things Online

Authors: C. Robert Cargill

Queen of the Dark Things

C
ONTENTS

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Chapter   1
    
Shadows of the
Batavia

Chapter   2
    
The Missing Man March

Chapter   3
    
The Stacks

Chapter   4
    
The Billboard Psychic

Chapter   5
    
Keepsakes and Memories

Chapter   6
    
On Disbelief

Chapter   7
    
Beatriz

Chapter   8
    
The Pretty Little Girl in the Purple Pajamas

Chapter   9
    
On Kutji

Chapter 10
    
Austin

Chapter 11
    
On Genius Loci

Chapter 12
    
Back to the Cursed and the Damned

Chapter 13
    
Business

Chapter 14
    
Orobas and Amy

Chapter 15
    
The Seventy-two

Chapter 16
    
A Field of Bad Choices

Chapter 17
    
City of the Damned

Chapter 18
    
Hair of the Dog

Chapter 19
    
Dreamtime and the Land of Dreams

Chapter 20
    
The Cleverest Man in Arnhem Land

Chapter 21
    
The Clever Men

Chapter 22
    
Rocks and Throwing Stars

Chapter 23
    
On Djang

Chapter 24
    
Fishing

Chapter 25
    
The Rum Thief

Chapter 26
    
Night of the Bunyip

Chapter 27
    
A Break in the Siege

Chapter 28
    
The Orphan Story

Chapter 29
    
Beside Herself

Chapter 30
    
Cut the Cord

Chapter 31
    
The Other Side of the Tree

Chapter 32
    
The Night the Demons Came

Chapter 33
    
Four Men Singing in a Truck

Chapter 34
    
Songlines

Chapter 35
    
The Swamps Just South of Arnhem

Chapter 36
    
Queen of the Dark Things

Chapter 37
    
The She-devils of Nanmamnrootmee

Chapter 38
    
The Hell Outside

Chapter 39
    
The Gwyllion Over the Hill

Chapter 40
    
The Duke at the Foot of a Rock

Chapter 41
    
The Five Dukes of the
Batavia

Chapter 42
    
Solomon the Wanderer

Chapter 43
    
The Favor of Orobas

Chapter 44
    
The Angel on Horseback

Chapter 45
    
The Leopard

Chapter 46
    
Meatpuppet

Chapter 47
    
The Second Pressed into Service

Chapter 48
    
The Stale Room and the Grave at the Edge of the World

Chapter 49
    
The Fool's Gambit

Chapter 50
    
Dreamspeaker

Chapter 51
    
As Shadows Fade

Chapter 52
    
Winter of Discontent

Chapter 53
    
The Pageantry of Queens

Chapter 54
    
The Bearded Hunter

Chapter 55
    
The Master of the Parade

Chapter 56
    
The Weight of Things

Chapter 57
    
The Snakehandler

Chapter 58
    
High Moon

Chapter 59
    
With This Ring

Chapter 60
    
The Burden of Solomon

Epilogue

About the Author

Also by C. Robert Cargill

Credits

Copyright

About the Publisher

D
EDICATION

F
OR
J
ESSICA
,

 

BUT THEN, THEY'RE ALL FOR
J
ESSICA

A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS

M
y editor, Diana Gill, once told me that the second book is the hardest of them all to write. She wasn't lying. The book you hold in your hands now comes after the longest, hardest literary slog of my life. It isn't the book I set out to write, but it is the book I wanted to write all along. And it couldn't have fought its way to you without the efforts and support of a number of amazing people. Everyone should be so lucky as to be surrounded by the likes of these, each of whom I would like to thank now.

First and foremost, I have to thank Diana, whose near psychic ability to steer me in the right direction without directly telling me where to go continues to mystify me. She is my Mandu. And I never would have found this book without her. She also knows how to find the very best food in the world, regardless of what city she finds herself in. So trust her on that if you ever get the opportunity. And, of course, I have to thank Simon Spanton, my Diana across the pond. His passion for the written word and his faith in me always give me something to aspire to when I find myself on the darkest, toughest nights. I've said that before, but it bears repeating.

Thanks to my tireless publicist, Jessie Edwards, who I learned, only hours before this writing, fought for the chance to work on my books. That requires a level of thanks that I do not yet quite have the words to express. Her patience and devotion to answering e-mails within minutes helped guide this first-time author through the terrifying trial of a first release and book tour. And to the Weirwolf Jon Wier, who did the same for me with gleeful abandon overseas. Thanks to the outstanding team at Voyager: Kelly O'Connor, Shawn Nicholls, Dana Trombley, et al. And with equal measure thanks to the team at Gollancz: Sinem Erkas, Charlie Panayiotou, Jenn McMenemy, and all the rest. All of you folks make this more fun than it has any right to be.

Thanks and much love to my agent, Peter McGuigan, who continues to be a rock star, doing things that you think only half-crazed, angry agents can do, but with swagger and a genuine smile that earns the trust he so richly deserves. He's the real deal. As are Kirsten Neuhaus and the amazing team at Foundry. Thanks to my manager, David McIlvain, whose voice guides me through the hardest decisions, but who always seems to call with good news. He was the first person in my career who believed in me before he really knew me, and I'll never, ever forget that. And, of course, his confidant, Mac Dewey, another early believer.

Thanks to my readers: Jason Murphy, Rod Paddock, Will Goss, Paul Gandersman, Peter S. Hall, Luke Mullen, and Brian Salisbury. The value of your brutal honesty is matched only by the warmth of your friendship. I love you guys. So drinks. Friday. Salisbury and Mullen's house. I'll bring the scotch.

Thanks to Lee Zachariah, my man from Oz, who helped with the lingo and the research on the little bits that were vital to get just right. Thanks to all my friends in the industry, too numerous to name, who have ever sat me down, gifted me with advice, shown me the ropes, and tweeted or talked about my work. You know who you are. Thanks to Tim and Karrie League and the staff of the Alamo Drafthouse who not only supported my book and movie but have also provided the venue for many of the greatest nights of my life. And thanks to my partner in crime, Scott Derrickson. He makes me a better writer every day. The world has yet to see the full extent of his talent. But it will. It will.

Thanks to my wife, my life, my breath—Jessica. She believes even when I no longer have the strength to. Every love story I write is really all about her. And for good reason. She is everything.

Thanks to everyone who came out for my first tour, who bought the book sight unseen, or who followed me from my previous endeavors. Thanks to those amazing people who have approached me at signings with copies of the book they bought after having borrowed it first from a library or on loan from a friend. Thanks to everyone who reviewed, tweeted, or blogged about it, and especially to the booksellers who put it in the hands of their customers with an eager gleam in their eyes. All of you make my heart swell with joy with every kind word you share.

And you. Yes, you. This is a second book. If you're reading this, then odds are good that you read the first one. Taking a chance on a first-time author is a grand thing, particularly to the author. But giving them a second chance is something else altogether. You are the people this book was written for. So thank you. I hope I don't (or didn't) let you down.

And lastly, thanks to Deputy So-and-So of the local police department, whose research made this book possible.

C
HAPTER
1

S
HADOWS OF THE
B
ATAVIA

O
CTOBER
2, 1629

J
eronimus Cornelisz didn't believe in the Devil, but the Devil sure as hell believed in him.

How he, an apothecary by trade, found himself working as an undermerchant aboard the
Batavia
in the first place was something he cared not to discuss. It was a tale of woe involving a dead child, bankruptcy, and the jailing of a close confidant whose radical ideas had taken root in a few too many prominent hearts. But Jeronimus did talk. A lot. He was of fair complexion, with dark hair and darker eyes that, coupled with his charisma, made it hard to break loose of his gaze. So when he talked, you listened, whether you cared for what he had to say or not.

“God does not mock us,” he said, staring off into the crystal blue sheen of the sea. The sun was high, the sand warm across the top of his feet as he and six of his fellow sailors shuffled across the beach. The seabirds cawed in the air around him, the waves lapping the shore. It was as beautiful a day as ever there was. He nodded, squinting in the sun. “He smiles upon us. Loves us. Wants us to be happy. He demands not servitude, but experience. Gifts us with urges. Rewards us with pleasure. Satisfaction. Wholeness. Why is it that a man feels no ecstasy when he prays? There, on his knees, in congress with his maker, he feels nothing but what he pretends to. But a man on his knees, in congress with a woman, feels more alive than ever. Every inch of his body sizzles with joy, and when he explodes, he becomes one with the whole. In that moment, and only that moment, a man knows absolute peace, free of want, free of fear.

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