Read Valour Online

Authors: John Gwynne

Valour (2 page)

BOOK: Valour
10.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: UTHAS

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR: CORBAN

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE: CORALEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX: CYWEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN: CORBAN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT: FIDELE

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE: VERADIS

CHAPTER THIRTY: UTHAS

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE: CORBAN

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO: MAQUIN

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE: CAMLIN

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR: CYWEN

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE: EVNIS

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX: VERADIS

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN: CYWEN

CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT: CORBAN

CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE: FIDELE

CHAPTER FORTY: CORALEN

CHAPTER FORTY-ONE: UTHAS

CHAPTER FORTY-TWO: MAQUIN

CHAPTER FORTY-THREE: LYKOS

CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR: MAQUIN

CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE: LYKOS

CHAPTER FORTY-SIX: CORBAN

CHAPTER FORTY-SEVEN: VERADIS

CHAPTER FORTY-EIGHT: CORBAN

CHAPTER FORTY-NINE: UTHAS

CHAPTER FIFTY: CORBAN

CHAPTER FIFTY-ONE: EVNIS

CHAPTER FIFTY-TWO: MAQUIN

CHAPTER FIFTY-THREE: CORBAN

CHAPTER FIFTY-FOUR: VERADIS

CHAPTER FIFTY-FIVE: FIDELE

CHAPTER FIFTY-SIX: CAMLIN

CHAPTER FIFTY-SEVEN: MAQUIN

CHAPTER FIFTY-EIGHT: CYWEN

CHAPTER FIFTY-NINE: TUKUL

CHAPTER SIXTY: CORBAN

CHAPTER SIXTY-ONE: MAQUIN

CHAPTER SIXTY-TWO: FIDELE

CHAPTER SIXTY-THREE: CORBAN

CHAPTER SIXTY-FOUR: VERADIS

CHAPTER SIXTY-FIVE: CORALEN

CHAPTER SIXTY-SIX: TUKUL

CHAPTER SIXTY-SEVEN: CYWEN

CHAPTER SIXTY-EIGHT: CORBAN

CHAPTER SIXTY-NINE: MAQUIN

CHAPTER SEVENTY: CAMLIN

CHAPTER SEVENTY-ONE: VERADIS

CHAPTER SEVENTY-TWO: CORBAN

CHAPTER SEVENTY-THREE: VERADIS

CHAPTER SEVENTY-FOUR: CORBAN

CHAPTER SEVENTY-FIVE: CORALEN

CHAPTER SEVENTY-SIX: CORBAN

CHAPTER SEVENTY-SEVEN: LYKOS

CHAPTER SEVENTY EIGHT: CORBAN

CHAPTER SEVENTY-NINE: VERADIS

CHAPTER EIGHTY: MAQUIN

CHAPTER EIGHTY-ONE: CORBAN

CHAPTER EIGHTY-TWO: FIDELE

CHAPTER EIGHTY-THREE: CORBAN

CHAPTER EIGHTY-FOUR: CYWEN

CHAPTER EIGHTY-FIVE: CAMLIN

CHAPTER EIGHTY-SIX: MAQUIN

CHAPTER EIGHTY-SEVEN: CORBAN

CHAPTER EIGHTY-EIGHT: TUKUL

CHAPTER EIGHTY-NINE: CORBAN

CHAPTER NINETY: CORALEN

CHAPTER NINETY-ONE: TUKUL

CHAPTER NINETY-TWO: CORBAN

CHAPTER NINETY-THREE: LYKOS

CHAPTER NINETY-FOUR: CORBAN

CHAPTER NINETY-FIVE: VERADIS

CHAPTER NINETY-SIX: MAQUIN

CHAPTER NINETY-SEVEN: CYWEN

CHAPTER NINETY-EIGHT: CAMLIN

CHAPTER NINETY-NINE: CORBAN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED: MAQUIN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND ONE: VERADIS

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND TWO: UTHAS

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND THREE: TUKUL

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND FOUR: FIDELE

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE: CYWEN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND SIX: CORALEN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN: MAQUIN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT: CORBAN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND NINE: UTHAS

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND TEN: CYWEN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN: MAQUIN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND TWELVE: CORBAN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN: CAMLIN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND FOURTEEN: CYWEN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN: MAQUIN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN: CAMLIN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTEEN: CORBAN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTEEN: CYWEN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND NINETEEN: CORBAN

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY: CORBAN

BY JOHN GWYNNE

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

CHAPTER ONE
UTHAS

The Year 1142 of the Age of Exiles, Birth Moon

The cauldron was a hulking mass of black iron, tall and wide, squatting upon a dais in the centre of a cavernous room. Torches of blue flame hung on the walls of the chamber,
pockets of light punctuating the darkness. In the shadows, circling its edges, long and sinuous shapes moved.

Uthas of the Benothi giants strode towards the cauldron, his shadow flickering on the walls. He climbed the steps and stopped before it. It was utterly black, appearing to suck the torchlight
into it, consuming it, reflecting nothing back. Just for a moment it seemed to shudder, a gentle throb, like a diseased heart.

A muffled request from the chamber’s entrance reached him but he did not move, just continued to stare.

‘What?’ he said eventually.

‘Nemain sends for you, Uthas. She says the Dreamer is waking.’

The giant sighed and turned to leave the chamber. He brushed his fingertips against the cauldron’s cold belly and froze.

‘What is it?’ his shieldman Salach called from the chamber’s doorway.

Uthas cocked his head to one side, closing his eyes.
Voices, calling to me
. ‘Nothing,’ he murmured, unsure whether he heard or felt the whisperings from within the cauldron.
‘Soon,’ he breathed as he pulled his fingers from the cold iron.

A shape slithered from the shadows as he walked towards the exit. It blocked his way, gliding about him. A wyrm, white scales glistening as it raised its flat head and regarded him with cold,
soulless eyes. He stood there, still and silent, let it taste his scent, felt an instant of unease as he waited, then the snake slithered away, its huge coils bunching and expanding, back to the
shadows to rejoin its brood. He let out a breath.

‘Come, then,’ he said as he strode past Salach. ‘Best not keep Nemain waiting.’

He glanced at the chamber’s dour-faced guards, all wrapped in fur and iron, as he marched past them. Salach’s footfalls followed him. In silence they passed through the bowels of
Murias, the last stronghold of the Benothi. It was nestled deep in the highlands of Benoth, carved into and beneath the grey, mist-shrouded land.

In time they reached a wide staircase that spiralled up into darkness and soon Uthas was muttering under his breath, the old pain in his knee gnawing at him as he climbed higher and higher.


Bitseach
,’ he swore, thinking of Nemain waiting for him at the top of this high tower. Salach chuckled behind him.

Eventually they were at a doorway. Salach nodded to the warrior standing there, Sreng, Nemain’s shield-maiden. She opened the door for them.

The room was sparsely decorated, with little furniture apart from a large, fur-draped bed at its centre. A woman lay upon it, slender, sweat-soaked, her limbs jerking and twitching. A
white-haired man sat beside her, his huge bulk crammed into a chair, holding her hand. He looked over as Uthas and Salach entered the room and stared at them, a ruined, scar-latticed hole where one
of his eyes should have been.

‘One-Eye.’ Uthas nodded. ‘How is she?’

Balur One-Eye shrugged.

‘Where is Nemain?’

‘I am here,’ a voice said, drawing Uthas’ gaze to the far end of the room. A figure stood in an arched doorway, framed by the pale day beyond.

Nemain, Queen of the Benothi. Ravens gathered on the balcony beyond her. One fluttered onto her shoulder.

‘My Queen,’ Uthas said, dipping his head.

‘Welcome back,’ she replied, hair the colour of midnight framing her milky, angular face. ‘What news?’

‘Events are stirring in the south,’ Uthas said. ‘Narvon wars with Ardan, and the warriors of Cambren are marching east.’ He paused, breathing deep, his next words frozen
on his lips. He feared the answer he expected. ‘Our enemies war amongst themselves. It would be a good time to strike and reclaim what was ours.’
Please, Nemain, give the order. Save
me from what I must do if you refuse.

Nemain smiled, though there was little humour in it. ‘Strike south? We are a broken people, Uthas – you know this. Too few to fill this fortress, let alone the south that once was
ours. Besides, we are set a different task, now.’ She walked out onto the balcony.

He sighed and followed her onto the balcony’s edge, where cold air stung his skin. A cliff face sloped steeply down, wreathed far below in mist, a sea of dark granite and snow and wiry
heather rolling into the distance. Ravens swirled about the balcony, riding the updraught. One cawed and veered to land besides Nemain. Idly she reached out and scratched its head. It clacked its
beak.

‘What of the west?’ she said. ‘What of Domhain?’

Uthas shrugged. ‘There we know little. I suspect that Eremon grows older, content to do nothing in his dotage. That
bandraoi
Rath keeps us out,’ he spat. ‘He does not
rest. He hunts our scouts, raids our land, him and his giant-hunters. There have been some casualties.’

‘Ach,’ Nemain hissed, eyes flashing red. ‘I would like nothing more than to march out and take back what we have lost, remind Rath why he hates us.’

‘Then let us do it,’ Uthas urged, feeling his blood surge, hope flaring.

‘We cannot,’ Nemain said. ‘The cauldron must be guarded. Never again can it be used. It must not fall into the wrong hands.’

Uthas felt the words like a hammer blow, her words sealing his future.

‘But we must know of what is happening beyond our borders. Domhain cannot remain closed to us. You will lead a company south, learn what you can of Eremon’s plans.’

‘As you command, my Queen,’ Uthas said.

‘Choose who you will, but not too many. Speed will serve you better than strength in numbers. And avoid Rath’s notice.’

‘I will do as you say.’

A sharp cry rang out from the chamber behind them. The woman on the bed was sitting upright, sweat-darkened hair clinging to her face, eyes wild and bulging. Balur gripped her hand, murmuring to
her.

‘Ethlinn, what have you seen?’ Nemain asked.

The pale-faced woman took a shuddering breath. ‘They are coming,’ she whispered. ‘The Kadoshim draw ever closer. They
feel
the cauldron. The Black Sun, he is coming to
make them flesh. He is coming for the cauldron.’

CHAPTER TWO
CYWEN

Cywen woke slowly, like the tide creeping in.

First she felt. A dull throbbing in her head, her shoulder, her hip. She ached everywhere, she realized, but worse in those places. Then she heard. Groaning, low voices, the thud of footfalls, a
dragging, scraping sound, and behind it the cry of gulls and the distant murmur of the sea. She tried to open her eyes; one was crusted shut. Daylight felt like a knife jabbing into her head.
Where am I?
She looked about and saw warriors in red cloaks dragging bodies across the stone-paved courtyard, leaving blood-smeared trails across the cobbles, piling them onto a heaped mound
of corpses.

Suddenly it all came flooding back, memory upon memory tumbling together: talking on the wall with Marrock, Evnis in the courtyard, the black-clothed warriors within the walls, the gates
opening,
Conall
. . .

There was something soft beneath her. She was sprawled upon a body, a female, staring at her with lifeless eyes. Staggering she climbed upright, the world spinning briefly before it settled.

Stonegate was wide open, a trickle of people passing in and out of the fortress, most in the red cloaks of Narvon. Columns of black smoke marked the pale sky, a soft breeze from the sea tugging
at them, blurring where smoke ended and sky began.

The battle is lost, then. Dun Carreg is fallen.

Then another thought cut through the fog filling her mind.
My family.

BOOK: Valour
10.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Ghost at Work by Carolyn Hart
Mating Call by Martha Bourke
Life Without Hope by Sullivan, Leo
Having Patience by Debra Glass
A Singular Woman by Janny Scott
The Island by Bray, Michael