Read Bone, Fog, Ash & Star Online

Authors: Catherine Egan

Tags: #fear, #Trilogy, #quest, #lake, #Sorceress, #Magic, #Mancer, #Raven, #Crossing, #illusion, #Citadel, #friends, #prophecy, #dragon, #Desert, #faeries

Bone, Fog, Ash & Star

BOOK: Bone, Fog, Ash & Star
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© Catherine Egan, 2014
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher or a licence from The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright). For an Access Copyright licence, visit www.accesscopyright.ca or call toll-free to 1-800-893-5777.
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Edited by Laura Peetoom
Designed by Jamie Olson
Typesetting by Susan Buck
Maps by Jonathan Service
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Egan, Catherine, 1976-, author
Bone, fog, ash & star / Catherine Egan.
(Last days of Tian Di ; book 3)
Issued in print and electronic formats.
ISBN 978-1-55050-593-1 (pbk.).--ISBN 978-1-55050-594-8 (pdf).--
ISBN 978-1-55050-779-9 (epub).--ISBN 978-1-55050-784-3 (mobi)
I. Title. II. Title: Bone, fog, ash and star. III. Series: Egan,
Catherine, 1976- . Last days of Tian Di ; bk. 3.
PS8609.G34B65 2014 jC813'.6 C2014-903752-X
C2014-903753-8
Library of Congress Control Number
2014938365
Available in Canada from:
Coteau Books,
2517 Victoria Avenue, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada S4P 0T2
www.coteaubooks.com
Coteau Books gratefully acknowledges the financial support of its publishing program by: the Saskatchewan Arts Board, The Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, the City of Regina, and the Government of Saskatchewan through Creative Saskatchewan.
for
James and Kieran,
with all my love
Map of Di Shang

Map of Tian Xia

BONE
Chapter
~1~
She clung to his broad, furred shoulders
with her knees, her hands deep in the feathers of his neck. She clung to him while overhead the blue sky spun and beneath them the rolling, golden dunes flashed by. She thought the joy of it would burst her chest open. The world was only sand and sky and speed, his shoulders between her knees, his feathers in her hands.
And then she let go.
She fell, plunging from the sky toward the ground. The wind roared in her ears. She stretched out her limbs, she closed her eyes, she thought of the dark wings, she thought of flight. The ground rushed closer. She opened her eyes and her heart nearly stalled. Just before she hit the ground his bony talons closed around her and she was borne up again, back into the blinding blue of the sky.
This was the third time and she’d had enough. She climbed up his legs and pulled herself expertly onto his back. She wrapped her arms around his feathered neck and shouted, “Let’s go back.”
He swooped round in a great semi-circle. Over a mountain of sand stood fifty or more peaked, brightly coloured tents: the Sorma camp. They landed by a trio of disgruntled camels.
The gryphon became a boy, tall and lean, with lively dark eyes and a laugh tugging at the corners of his mouth. As always, when she looked at him these days, she felt an odd pain she couldn’t give a name to, a longing that made it hard to speak for a moment.
“Nay our most successful flight, Cap’n,” he said.
She drew a breath. The air was bone dry.
“If you keep calling me that I’ll turn you into a toad. Permanently.”
She pulled her dark, corkscrewing hair back from her face and looked away from him at the ugly camels.
“Still no sign of them,” he said, scanning the sky. “You’re sure they’re coming?”
“I’m sure.”
“I could have gone to get her. I dinnay see why Foss has to go out of his way.”
“I dinnay know either, Charlie. It was her idea.”
The corners of his mouth turned down suddenly, changing his face. His eyebrows came together and he gave a sullen shrug.
“Lah, they’d better be here. It’s your birthday.”
She nodded and gave a half-hearted laugh. She wanted to stroke the frown away, ask him what was the matter, but he wouldn’t tell her – she knew that much.
“I’m parched, aye. Let’s see if they’ll ration me extra water on my birthday!”
~~~
Charlie had been dropping Eliza from the sky for weeks now. They wanted to see if she would turn into a raven. Every time they failed she felt rather embarrassed by the whole endeavour. After all, how absurd it was to think she might suddenly become a bird! And yet she dreamed of flying every night, and when she woke there were long dark feathers in her bed.
She had wanted to spend her sixteenth birthday in Holburg. With her best friend Nell at school in the capital and her parents in the desert with the Sorma, she hardly ever went back to the island. It was the closest thing to home she’d ever had and she missed it terribly. She came close to asking her father if they could all go back for her birthday but she knew it was impractical and, in the end, she held her tongue. Her mother was far too weak to make the journey. It would be selfish and unfair to ask her to do so. And so Eliza’s birthday party was held in the middle of the Great Sand Sea. The Sorma were midway on their journey from one oasis to another and there was not a speck of green to be seen for hundreds of miles around. There was nothing to see at all but the undulating sand dunes, changing colour with the light. Eliza felt uneasy and restless out here without trees or water or anything alive but her father’s resolute tribe. Still, it didn’t matter really. The main thing was that everybody she cared for would be here, all together in one place for once.
Eliza’s birthday was in the spring. It was more than a year since she had made the decision to leave the Mancer Citadel forever, and it had not been an easy year. In her chest, next to her heart, she bore the Urkleis, which the Sorceress Nia had Made. In taking possession of it, Eliza had been able to defeat Nia, who remained frozen in the Hall of the Ancients in Tian Xia. But Eliza felt in her chest, every minute, the limitless depth of Nia’s rage. It was a strain that showed in her face, thinner now, with hollows under her eyes.
She had continued her study of Magic with Foss, the Mancer Spellmaster and Emmisarius of Water – and the only Mancer she trusted. He came to her in the desert with books and gossip from the Citadel. He was the Mancers’ only link left to the Shang Sorceress. Eliza knew they hoped he would bring her back eventually. She knew even that the idea of bringing her back by force had been discussed and each time rejected. They needed her to be willing, but she would not budge. She wanted no part in the business of the Mancers, with their carefully guarded secrets, their desire to control her and make use of her power. Above all she swore she would not return so long as Kyreth, once the Supreme Mancer, was given asylum in spite of his crimes.
~~~
“Perhaps they’ve been held up.”
Eliza was lying in the shade outside her tent when her father, Rom Tok, came and sat down next to her. He ran a hand over her unruly hair and smiled down at her. The sun was getting lower. In an hour or two it would be nightfall.
BOOK: Bone, Fog, Ash & Star
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