The Devil's Armour (Gollancz S.F.)

BOOK: The Devil's Armour (Gollancz S.F.)
Also by John Marco in Gollancz
The Eyes of God
The Jackal of Nar
The Grand Design
The Saints of the Sword
A Gollancz eBook
Copyright © John Marco 2003
All rights reserved.
The right of John Marco to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
First published in Great Britain in 2004 by
The Orion Publishing Group Ltd
Orion House
5 Upper Saint Martin’s Lane
London, WC2H 9EA
An Hachette UK Company
This eBook first published in 2010 by Gollancz.
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
ISBN 978 0 575 10088 6
This eBook produced by Jouve, France
All characters and events in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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 permission in writing of the publisher, nor to be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

For their commitment to freedom, for their courage, and for their ongoing sacrifice, this book is humbly dedicated to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces






Also by John Marco in Gollancz

Part One

1 The Fall

2 The Diamond Queen

3 The Bleak Territories

4 Shalafein

5 Ela-daz

6 Dreams of Fire

7 The Blind Kahana

8 Vanlandinghale

9 The Long Road Home

10 Beyond the White Wall

11 Ruana

12 Meriel’s Prayer

13 A Time For Men

14 The Defenders of Koth

15 The Scholars

16 The Richest Man in the World

17 The Battle of Andola

18 A Song Without Sound

19 Mirage

20 The Forging

21 More Than a Man

22 The Spirit in the Eye

23 Amaraz

24 Reunion

Part Two

25 The Princess and the Tiger

26 The Dove

27 Danger in Dreel

28 The Valley of the Kreels

29 City by the Sands

30 The Calm

31 The Storm

32 A Place to Call Home

33 In the Flesh

34 Nith

35 A Mission for Onikil

36 The Return of Baron Glass

37 Reunion in Koth

38 The Queen’s Messenger

39 The Audience

40 The Lovers

41 Dark Designs

42 Lukien’s Promise

43 Dark as Daylight

44 The Hunting Party

45 Seeing Stars

46 Worlds Apart

47 Vanlandinghale’s Wall

48 The Ring

49 The Rolgan Drums

50 Thunder at Sunrise

51 The Fall

52 Battle in Bronze

53 Between Two Worlds

54 In the Ruins

55 Alive Again

56 The Machine

57 A Farewell to Friends

Part One
The Fall

King Lorn the Wicked knew the knives were out. In the past days – days he knew were the last of his kingship – conspiracies were everywhere, with no one to be trusted. It was the reward for a life lived in treachery, where alliances shifted like sand in the storms kicked up by war. It was how Jazana Carr wanted him to end – alone and afraid.

Tonight, darkness fell heavy on Carlion. Soldiers milled about the castle courtyard and its many towers, keeping an uneasy eye on their foes in the distant hills. Clouds obscured the moonlight. An abrasive breeze stirred Lorn’s cape. He drew his wolf-fur collar closer to his face and squinted against the dust and sand, filth that constantly tumbled through the streets of his capital out of the crumbling mountains. From atop the wall-walk King Lorn could see for miles. The turrets of Carlion provided an excellent vantage against invaders. As he had for the past three nights, he watched as Rihards’ forces waited in the hills, their many torches glowing defiantly, announcing their numbers. They had not yet advanced on Carlion, but Lorn and his men knew time was short. Perhaps the duke awaited more of Jazana Carr’s mercenaries to bolster his own forces from Rolga. Perhaps the siege would start at dawn.

Or perhaps they were waiting for one more traitor to make a move. King Lorn’s mind turned on this as he stared into the hills. There was work to be done tonight and he had very little time. If he was to escape this trap he needed to be
sharp. Jazana Carr was clever. The bitch-queen from Hanging Man had held his stones in a vice for months now. One by one she had co-opted his barons, cooing to them with her endless supply of diamonds. Lorn wondered how much Rihards had cost to turn. Not long ago, he and the duke had been close allies. They had even been friends, though Lorn had always used that term carefully. As he continued to stare out into the hills, counting up the torches of Rihards’ massed army, he was sorry the duke had betrayed him. Yet in an odd way he was also glad. It had opened his eyes to treachery. He turned away from the hills just for a moment and looked down at his soldiers. Twenty feet below, the main gate of Carlion stood in rock-solid defiance to the army in the hills, fortified with stout beams and armed with fighting men carrying bows and lances. Among these men stood Jarrin, his Captain-at-Arms and garrison commander. Jarrin was pensive as he milled about his troops in his distinctive armour, his head topped by a falcon-faced helmet with a crest of dangling feathers. A few of the men wore their helmets back, Lorn noticed. Not so with Jarrin.

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