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He wasn't supposed to win,” Master Renn hissed. Siris could hear them talking in the other room of Renn's hut. Siris sat quietly, holding a small bowl of soup in. Infinity Blade Awakening. Brandon Sanderson PDF - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online. Download Infinity Blade Awakening. Brandon Sanderson PDF Infinity Blade: Redemption · Awakening · Brandon Bays - myavr.info


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Hed never just sat down and swung. What is wrong with me, he thought, continuing forward with clanking steps. Why didnt I ever try it, even once? He reached the side gate to the castle, and a daeril stepped out. Long of limb, with red-orange skin and a skeletal cast to the arms and legs, the daeril had a horrifically twisted face.

Siris raised his sword with a sigh. Hed have to fight his way in again, it appeared. Great master!

It jumped forward, and Siris stumbled back, wary. The creature didnt attack, but threw itself at Siriss feet. Great master, you have returned! State your purpose, daeril! We live to serve you, master. I am Strix, and I obey. The castle is yours, now! The kingdom as well. The kingdom.

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He almost laughed. Hed never be able to stand against the forces of the other gods, even if this creature were telling the truth. Which he found suspect. What am I supposed to do with a kingdom? Siris said, walking around the daerilkeeping an eye on itand crossing the bridge to enter the palaces outer court.

The court seemed strikingly familiar to him, though hed only passed this way that one time. Great master Strix began. Dont call me that, Siris said. Greatest lord of all that is powerful and Thats really not any better.

The daeril fell silent. My lord. Let us serve you. Remain here and rule us. Do not leave us again. How many of you are there in this place, still? Perhaps two dozen, master. And you will all serve me? Yes, great master.

Yes indeed! You have slain our ruler, and in so doing have become our leader. Who led you before I returned? Kuuth, master, Strix said. He is ancient and wise, a troll nearly forty years old. Send for him, Siris said. And gather the other daerils.

Every one of them in the castle. Bring them to the throne room. He didnt trust these creatures, not for a moment. But perhaps he could use them. Finish what you began. Siris sat on the God Kings throne. What had his mother meant by that?

Surely she hadnt meant to imply that he should take the God Kings place. That would be suicide. The God Kings throne wasnt very comfortablethough Siris was wearing armor, which never made sitting particularly comfortable. Hed removed his helm and set his shield to the side, though he kept the Infinity Blade close.

Seeing his face unnerved the daerils. That seemed a good enough reason to him to keep the helmet off, for now. He inspected the Infinity Blade as he waited. The blade had some kind of magic that had let the God King summon it, making it appear as if out of nothing in a flash of light. So far, despite a week of tinkering, Siris hadnt been able to figure out how that magic worked. Something chirped beside him. Siris jumped, glancing down. Only then did he remember the little mirror built into the armrest of the throne.

He poked at it. The thing had done. It was magical. Poking at the thing made it speak, which chilled him. What is your command? Id like to know how the God Kings sword works. Answer pending. Please enter the pass phrase. Pass phrase? I dont know it. Would you like to retrieve it? Very well. Please answer this security question: In what kingdom did you first meet the Worker? So it was a riddle. His mother had told him stories of magic mirrors that asked riddles.

In the kingdom of night and dawn, at the break of the day, he said. It was the answer to one of the riddles from the stories. Answer incorrect, the mirror said politely. Security question two: What was the name of your first and most trusted Aegis? It was a word for a master duelist, after the classical ideal. The daerils that guarded the castle had all followed the old precepts. Horrific and terrible though they had been, they had each shown that much honor.

Old Jake Mardin, Siris said, saying the name of the first man who had trained him in the sword, a retired soldier. Answer incorrect, the mirror said. Your riddles make no sense, mirror, Siris said.

Am I supposed to answer as myself, or as the God King? Im sorry, the mirror said. I dont understand that query. Security question three: How many days passed before your first reincarnation?

Answer incorrect. Damn it, mirror! Please, just tell me how I make the sword come at my will. He was silent for a moment. Even better, he whispered, how can I find freedom? Can you answer that for me, mirror? Can you tell me how I can be free of all this and live my life?

A rope swing from a tree, he thought. Hed write that in his book tonight, beginning a list of things he would try, once he didnt have to worry about being hunted. I am not authorized to speak further. The waiting period is one day before the next access attempt. The mirror grew black. Hell take me, Siris said, leaning back in the horrid throne.

Honestly, couldnt someone who called himself the God King get a decent cushion? The deadminds will not speak to you, slayer of gods, said a deep, tired-sounding voice. Siris sat up, turning toward the back of the room. Something moved in the shadows, where a doorway led to the servants quarters.

The shadow lumbered forward, entering the light and revealing itself as a massive troll. It leaned on a staff as thick as Siriss leg, and wore bandages covering its eyes. White hair fell around the things animal face, a face furrowed with wrinkles that were sharp and distinctlike the scars left by an axe chopping at a tree.

Kuuth, I assume? Siris said, standing up. Yes, great master, the beast said, lumbering forward. The other daerils parted for him, and a younger troll helped the elder, looking concerned. This younger beast moved like an animal, with quick steps, testing the air with its snout, walking in a crouch. The aged one, however, had an unexpectedly civilized air.

Whats a deadmind? Siris asked Kuuth. Even stooped with age, the beast towered a good ten feet tall. Kuuth wore a strange robe that had the right shoulder cut out, exposing a wicked scar on his shoulder and neck.

It is a soul without life, great master, the troll said. The God King instilled these souls into objects. They are knowledgeable about some things, but cannot make choices for themselves. They are like children, and must be instructed. Brilliant children, Siris said. He shivered. Had the God King used the souls of children themselves to create these things?

The legends said that he feasted upon the souls of those who fell to him. Siris scooted a little farther away from the mirror. I summoned you because I hoped youd be able to answer questions for me. Unlikely, great master, the ancient troll said, then coughed into his hand. I know more than most here, but a cup with two drops instead of one still will not quench a thirst. Ill start easy then, Siris said, walking down the steps to the throne.

The God King spoke of greater evils. And then, after that, I met a man in the dungeon who claimed to be my ancestor. He said that someoneor somethingwould come hunting me. Am I to assume that they referred to other members of the Pantheon? Perhaps, Kuuth said. Ashimar, the Sorrowmaker. Lilendre, Mistress of the End. Terrovax, Blights Son. Others whose names I do not know. Each will be angered by what you have done. As I feared, Siris said, speaking loudly, so the other daerils could hear.

I will need allies, troll. Do you know where I should search for them? Master, Kuuth said, sounding confused. These are not questions I can answer for you. Surely the Deathless have enemies, Siris said. I suppose. That was a myth even Siris had heard of.

He doubted the Worker was real, but hunting him was a perfect way to start laying down a false trail. Where can I find this Worker? He is imprisoned, Kuuth said. But, master, I do not know where. It is said that nobody knows. Surely there are rumors. Im sorry, master, Kuuth said. I know of none. Fine, then. I wish to attack one of the other Deathless.

One who is very powerful, and also very cruel. Whom would you suggest? This is an odd request. It is the one I make nonetheless. Kuuth frowned. A Deathless who is close but powerful.

Perhaps the Killer of Dreams? You travel to the north, across the ocean, to find him. He is not part of the Pantheon, and has of late been very antagonistic to our former master.

There were Deathless who werent in the Pantheon? Well, perhaps thats what I killed, in the dungeon, he thought. But then, there had also been Siriss ancestor. He wasnt certain what he believed of what that man had said. When Siris had taken off the mans helm, he had found a youthful face beneath it. Perhaps serving the Deathless granted men immortality? Was that why one who had come to kill the God King would instead choose to serve him?

Siris knew so little. Do you know how the God King made the magic of his sword and shield work, Kuuth? He asked it in a softer voice, no longer for the show of the watching daerils.

I may be able to guess, great master, Kuuth said. I believe it had something to do with his ring. Siris fished in his pocket, taking out a silvery ring. Hed pried it from the finger of the God King. Its a healing ring. I have others, taken from the bodies of Aegis I slew.

He slipped it on; he could feel its healing magic tingling on his finger. That one is more useful than the others you found, Kuuth said. It somehow let him summon his sword to him.

Siris asked. I do not know.

Before I lost my eyes, I saw the God King use it to sling fire as well. Siris frowned, then extended his hand to the side and attempted to summon fire. It didnt work. Once hed defeated the God King, all of his rings save the healing rings had stopped functioning. It cant do that anymore. All right, then. What were those creatures in the dungeon? They seemed. I never saw them, master. Why did the sword flash when I slew them, and why did the God King have them imprisoned?

He still worried that hed killed what could have become his allies. Yet, each one had fallen into the Aegis stance and then attacked him. I do not know that either, Kuuth said. Do you know anything, fool creature? Siris froze. Where had that outburst come from?

It had been many years since hed lost his temper; his mother had trained him to deal with that as a child. He immediately took a grip on his frustration and shoved it down.

The ancient troll stood quietly, then sniffed the air a few times. Hes blind, Siris reminded himself, looking at the bandaged eyes. Do you mind if I sit, great master? Kuuth asked. I dont. The great beast tested with his large staff until reaching the steps to the throne, then settled down quietly.

Thank you, great master. It is growing difficult to stand in my age. What happened to your eyes, Kuuth? Siris asked, sitting on the lip of the throne dais, hands clasped before him.

I put them out. Why would you do that? Among the kavrethat is what we call ourselves, great master, though many just call us trolls. Among the kavre, the most powerful lead. I was wounded many years ago, when. I fought him, and I lost.

My wound was great, and I should have been slain by my kin in mercy. That would stop a younger troll from killing me and taking my honor, you see. However, the blind and the mute are not to be killedthey are left alone in the wilderness to die, as they are marked by the gods.

So you. Blinded myself, Kuuth said. So that my kin would exile me rather than killing me. It also made the younger trolls see me as lame and blemished, to be left to rot, rather than to be slain as a rival.

Thats horrible, Siris said. Kuuth chuckled. And our way. At times, I wonder at what I did. A troll is not meant to reach ages such as I have. Still, now that I am of this great age, the others have begun to respect me.

In another two years, the troll said, shaking a long-snouted head. But, great master, my concerns are not yours. I wished to speak more softly with you. Most of the denizens of this castle do not think about the future, and I do not wish to make them question. Over the years, Kuuth said, his voice quiet, I have seen many things. I have thought many things. Perhaps these thoughts will be of use to you.

You see, this castle has no servants. No maids, no groundskeepers, none of the things that are kept by the lesser lords beneath the God King. Ive noticed that, Siris said. I would have assumed that the God King would want comforts for the place where he lived. You see, Kuuth said, he did not live here. He only came to the castle on occasion, usually when there was news of a warrior of note fighting his way through the wilds. Siris fell silent. So this place was a trap.

I do not know that Id say that, great master. But a destination. Like a metal pole set up high to draw the lightning when it comes, this castle was placed here to draw the warriors who sought to kill the God King. He dueled them, Siris said. He could have just used his magic to kill them, or overwhelmed them with his forces. Instead, he faced them in person. What do you know of the Deathless? Not much, Siris said.

Seven lords, ruling together, with the God King above them all.

Yes, though that is mostly just the illusion they give to others in the land nearby. The God King was but one of many who name themselves Deathless. They are immortaltruly immortal. They need neither food nor water to live. They do not age, and their bodies heal if wounded. Chop them to pieces, and their soul will seek out a new receptacle to be reborn.

Often they are reborn into what the God King called a bud, a replica of themselves, prepared ahead of time. Yes, Kuuth said. But even without a bud, the soul of a true Deathless will find a new home.

Infinity Blade: Awakening

The God Kings sword. You mentioned its magic before. You have the weapon? Siris reached to the side, fingers resting on the blade. The Infinity Blade, Kuuth whispered. Crafted by the Worker of Secrets himself.

But hes just a myth, isnt he? What better creator of a sword that should not be, a sword to kill the unkillable? Great master, that weapon is designed to slay the Deathless. It is a terrible and wondrous thing. The Deathless have lived for thousands of years, and have come to see themselves as eternal. But if one of them were to gain access to a weapon which could finally threaten them. Hed be a God, Siris whispered. God among gods, Kuuth said. King among kings.

First of immortals. Siris ran his fingers along the blade. They will chase me. Theyll hunt me, for this. He gripped the sword by the hilt. I should throw it away. And they would still hunt you, Kuuth said. Because you know the secret. Because youve done the unthinkable. Youre dead too, Siris whispered, realizing the truth.

Everyone in this castle. Each Aegis or daeril who knows that a mortal slew one of the Deathless. You see why I needed to whisper this to you, Kuuth said. No need to inspire a panic. Many of the Aegis in this castle are golems with deadminds controlling them, but many are not. All will likely be destroyed. Just in case. You dont seem afraid. Ive lived many years beyond my lifespan, Kuuth said. I believe my death will be a nice rest. The others. They will consider it an honor.

Hell take me, Siris said, looking at the creatures bandaged eyes, then at the gathered daerils at the back of the room. Youre all insane. We are what we were created to be, great master, Kuuth said.

Though, the rebel inside of me tells you all of this to perhaps. My kind were created to die and to kill. He raised his head, blind eyes looking toward the ceiling.

But they are the ones who created us this way. Siris nodded, though the beast couldnt see him. Great master, Kuuth said hesitantly. If I may ask a question.

Why do you say that phrase that you did? Hell take me? It is a saying from my village and the region about, Siris said, standing up, taking the Infinity Blade. These Deathless are the gods; they claim to rule the earth and the heavens. And so, when we die, we wish for a place where they are not. Better the pains of hell than living in heaven beneath the Deathless.

Kuuth smiled. And so, we are not so different, are we? No, Siris said, surprised at the answer. No, I suppose we are not. Then I must ask you, Kuuth said, as one warrior to another. Will you stay? Rule here, make your stand here. Together, the two of us may be able to decipher the secrets of the God Kings deadminds. We might be able to face the others. He raved and ranted, pointing. Then he cut off, stumbling back as the stranger grabbed a chain and pushed forward, swinging up and landing with a thump on the wagons.

The purpleskinned daeril struck with a thick-headed mace, but the God Kings weaponthe Infinity Blade itselfflashed in the air. The daeril looked with befuddlement at the stump of his mace. The head thumped to the floor of the cart. The daerils corpse followed a moment later. Weallix tried to leap from the cart, but fell to his knees as the vehicle shook. As he rose, he found the blade at his neck. Call them off, the stranger said in a soft voice. Weallix cried. Release the people and stand back!

Stand back! The strangers hood had fallen behind, revealing a silvery helm that covered his entire face. He waited as the monsters retreated to the edge of the clustered townsfolk. Then he raised his bladedripping with blood from the monsters hed slainand pointed toward the mouthlike opening into the town. Never return. Weallix obeyed in a scramble, falling to the ground as he climbed from the cart, then dashed at a full run out of the cavern, his daerils falling in around him.

The cavern fell silent. The stranger finally reached up and peeled his helm from his head, exposing sweaty, brownblonde hair and a youthful face. The Sacrifice. The man who had been sent to die. I have returned, he told the townspeople. Chapter One He wasnt supposed to win, Master Renn hissed. Siris could hear them talking in the other room of Renns hut.

Siris sat quietly, holding a small bowl of soup in one hand. Fenweed, a very healthy soup. A warriors soup. It tasted like dishwater. Well, Master Shanna said, we cant exactly blame him, can we? For living, I mean? He went to fight the God King, Master Hobb said. We sent him to fight the God King. And Siris had gone, just as his father and his grandfather had gone.

Dozens had been sent over the centuries, always from the same family. A family sheltered, protected, and hidden by the people of the land.

The Sacrifice, it was called. It was how they fought back.

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The only way. Theyd live beneath the oppressive thumb of the God King. Theyd pay nearly all they had in tribute, would suffer the brutality of men like Weallixwho, up until his power grab, had been only a simple tax collector. But they would make this one act of rebellion.

One family, hidden. One warrior each generation, sent to show that the people of this land were not completely dominated. The Sacrifice didnt need to win.

He wasnt expected to win. He wasnt supposed to be able to win. Hell take me, Siris thought, looking down at his bowl. Even I didnt expect to defeat him. Siris had gone in with the dream that maybeif he were incredibly luckyhed get a single cut on the God King, make the tyrant bleed. Instead, hed slain one of the Deathless. The other room fell silent, then the whispers continued, softly enough that he couldnt hear.

I really did it, Siris thought. Im alive. It was only now beginning to sink in. He looked down, then pointedly set the bowl aside. And that means I never have to drink this dreck again! He stood up, smiling. He had dreamed of what might happen if he actually killed the God King.

He hadnt dared hope, but he had allowed himself those dreams. Hed imagined triumph, celebrations. Hed imagined exulting in his victory. Oddly, he didnt feel exultant. Instead, he just felt free. Being the Sacrifice had dominated everything hed ever done. But that was done with.

Finally he could figure out who he wasthe person he could be when he didnt have this terrible duty weighing him down. He hesitated, then fished a small woodbound book out of his pocket. His mother had given it to him and told him to record his thoughts each night as he traveled to the God Kings castle. His mother and he were among the few in the town who could read. The Sacrifice had to be literate.

Siris wasnt certain whyit was merely tradition. He hadnt considered it an arduous requirement; reading and writing had come easily to him.

The logbook was empty. Siris had never written in it, and felt foolish for ignoring his mothers suggestion. He hadnt been able to force himself to do it. Hed been marching to his death, determined to avenge his fathers who had fallen to the God Kings blade. Not by killing the creature, but by fighting him, by proving thatdespite what he may think the world was not completely his. Siriss mother had included a charcoal pencil with the book. Siris raised it and turned to the first page. There, in bold letters, he wrote one sentence.

I hate fenweed soup. The door opened, and Siris turned to face the towns elders. Master Renn stood at their forefront, a short, bald man with a round face and red ceremonial robes now faded with age. Siris, Master Renn said. We were wondering. Siris thought for a moment. I intend to visit my mother, he said.

Id assumed shed be in the town, as its midday. I should have gone to her hut first. She lived outside of the main cavern, in the open air. Yes, yes, Master Renn said.

But after that. Ive given that a lot of thought, master, Siris said, tucking away the book. Im going swimming. Master Renn blinked in surprise, then turned to the other elders. After that, Siris continued, Im going to eat an everberry pie.

Do you realize Ive never tasted everberry pie? I was always on too strict a diet to eat the pies during feasts. A warrior cannot afford such frivolity. He rubbed his chin. Everyone says everberry is the best type of pie. I hope I like it, he thought. Id hate to have spent all of these years envying everyone else for nothing.

Siris, Master Renn said, stepping closer. His eyes flickered toward the corner of the small room, where Siriss armor lay piled, bundled inside his cloakwhich doubled as a pack.

The Infinity Blade rested against the pile. Did you really do it? You didnt. Siris said. Of course not! The fight flashed in his mind. Sword against sword. The God Kings voice, commanding, dismissiveyet surprisingly honest. It had been an unexpectedly honorable dual, after the ancient ideal. And the others? Master Renn asked. The other six members of the Pantheon? You killed their king. Did you face the others?

I dueled some captives in the dungeon, Siris said. I think they might have been important, but they didnt look like members of the Pantheon. I didnt recognize them, at least. Master Renn glanced at the other elders. They began shuffling, uncomfortable. Siris demanded. Siris, Master Renn said, you cant stay here.

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Why not! Theyll come hunting you, son, Master Renn said. Theyll come hunting for that. He looked toward the sword again. Everyone knows that. Theyll be angry, Master Hord said.

Angry at you, for what youve done. We cant let you remain in the town, Master Renn said. For the good of us all, you have to go, Siris. Youre exiling me? Hell take me.

I saved you. I saved all of you! We appreciate that, Master Renn said. Several of the others didnt look like they agreed.

Just a week before, these people had toasted his bravery. Theyd sent him off with a feast and fanfare. Theyd praised him and lauded him. They didnt want me to win, he thought, looking into those hostile eyes. Theyre afraid. They spoke of freedom, but they dont know what to do with it. You should go quickly, Renn said. Weve sent word to Lord Weallix, inviting him back.

Youd serve that rat? Our best hope now, Master Hord said, is to look cowed, placated. When the other gods come searching, they must not find a town in rebellion.

It is the best way, Siris, Master Renn said. Youve been slaves so long, Siris spat, you dont know how to be anything else. You are fools! He was shouting, he realized. After all of these centuries, time after time feasting and dreaming, now you throw it away! Now you throw me away! The elders shied back before his rage. They seemed frightened of him. Siris formed fists, but then found his rage evaporating. He couldnt be angry at them. He could only pity them. Fine, he snapped, moving to pick up his gear.

Fine, Ill go. An hour later, Siris lifted up an old, worn axe. Its blade was chipped, the haft grayed and weathered with time. He hefted it, judging its weight, and tried to ignore the tempest of emotions inside of him. His training let him banish all of that for a moment, as he stared at the axe. In his mind, he saw the ways he could use it to win a fight.

Smash his foe at the knees, then bury the axe into his chest as he fell. Hack at the neck, coming in furiously, using the long haft for additional reach. Bash the axe against an opponents shield time and time again to throw him off balance, then step back and strike unexpectedly from the right.

He raised the axe.

He hit the log off-center, and the axe bounced away, as if the wood were stone. Siris growled and swung again, but this time only managed to hack a chip off the side. Damn, he said, resting the axe on his shoulder. Chopping wood is a lot harder than it looks. He looked up. A middle-aged woman stood on the pathway up to the forested hut, clutching a bucket of water.

Her hair was starting to silver, and her clothing was of the simplest wool. His mother, Myan. His mother would know what to do. Myan was solid, in the same way that an ancient tree stump was solid, or the balanced boulder outside of town was solid. Hed tried to push that over as a child. Though it seemed delicate, he hadnt been able to shove it an inch. Mother, he said, lowering the axe. She hadnt been in the hut when hed arrived a half hour ago.

Fetching water. He should have known. That task hed always done for her, as the jog to the river and back fit well with his training. She hurried to him, stepping with a limp from her fall ten years back. She took his arm tenderly. You saw reason, then?

You actually refused to go to the God Kings castle? Oh, lights in the heavens, boy! I never thought youd come to your senses. Now we. She trailed off as she saw the object that Siris had set down beside the woodpile.

The Infinity Blade. It almost seemed to glow in the sunlight. Hell take me, Myan whispered, raising her hand to her mouth. By the seven lords who rule in terror. You actually did it? You killed him? Siris swung the axe down again on the log. He hit it off- center again.

Its the grain, he thought. Im trying to hit it across the grain, instead of with the grain. He could kill a man seventeen ways with this axe. He could imagine each one in perfect order, could feel his body moving through those motions. Yet he couldnt chop wood. Hed never had a chance to try.

So you didnt see reason, Myan said. No, Siris replied. His mother had never wanted him to go. Oh, she hadnt been overt about her displeasure. She hadnt wanted to undermine what the rest of the townthe rest of the land itselfsaw as his destiny and her privilege. Perhaps shed sensed, in some way, that it had been his destiny. Hed never given serious thought to fleeing. That would have been like.

No, she hadnt tried to undermine his training. But what mother would want her son to go off to certain death? Shed tried to talk him out of it the night before the Feast of the Sacrifice, the most forward of her attempts. By then, it had been too late. For both of them. We have to take you to town, she exclaimed. Talk to the elders. There will be celebrations! Dancing and.

And what is that look on your face, my son? Ive been to town, he said, pulling his arm from her grip. There will be no celebrations, Mother. They sent me away. Sent you away. Why would they. She paused, studying him. Those small-minded fools. Theyre afraid, arent they? I guess they have reason to be, Siris said, putting the axe aside and sitting down on the stump. Theyre right. People will come looking for me. Thats nonsense, she said, crouching down beside him. Son, Im not sending you away again.

Im not going through that again. He looked up, but said nothing. Perhaps with the support of the town, hed have stayed. But with just his mother. He wouldnt endanger her. Why had he even come to her, then? Because I wanted her to know, he thought. Because I needed to show her that Im alive. Perhaps a greater kindness would have been to stay away. Youre not going to let me choose, are you?

He hesitated, then shook his head. Her hand tightened on his arm. Ever the warrior, she whispered. Well, at least let me feed you a good meal. Then perhaps we can talk further. He felt immeasurably better with a good meal in his stomach.

His mother hadnt had any everberries for a pie, unfortunately, but shed fixed him some peach cobbler. He carefully noted in his logbook: I like peach cobbler. Definitely like peach cobbler. How many times did I try to feed you that when you were growing up? Dozens, he said. And you refused every time. It was hard to explain. Hed known his duty, somehow. Even from childhood, hed known. The towns expectations had held him to high standards, but the truth was that hed held himself to them as well.

You always were an odd child, she said. So solemn. So dutiful. So focused. Sometimes I felt less like a mother to you, and more like a.

Even when you were young. It made him uncomfortable when she talked like that. You never speak of Father. Was he the same? I didnt know him long, she said, looking wistful. Isnt that odd to say? We met like it was a dream, married in under a month. Then he was gone, off to be the Sacrifice. He left me with you. Shed come here to Drems Maw in order to get away from her old life. She had cousins here, though shed never really fit in. Neither had he, even though the townspeople had claimed to be proud of being the ones to raise the Sacrifice.

He did have a sense of purpose, she said, nodding. The same as you. I wish I had that still, Siris replied. He looked down at his empty plate, then sighed and stood. I had hoped that now. I could go about being myself. Whoever that is. Must you go, Siris? You could stay, hide here. We could make it work. No, he said. I wont bring this down upon you.

I cant make you stay, I suppose. She didnt seem pleased about that. But where will you go? I dont know, he said, gathering the cloak, wrapped like a pack with his armor inside of it. Are you at least willing to listen to a little advice? From you? I wished to the lights of heaven that you hadnt set your feet on this path.

But you did, son. I didnt have a choice. Thats foolishness, she said. You always have a choice. Foolishness or not, it was still how he felt.

You set your feet on this path, she continued. So now you need to finish what you began. I did finish it, he complained. I killed the God King! What more could they ask of me? Its no longer about what people are asking of you, son, she said. She reached over, taking his hand. Im sorry, she said more softly. You dont deserve this. It is true. He looked down. Dont despair. She rose, taking him by the arms. Youve done something wonderful, Siris. Something everyone thought impossible.

You have fulfilled the dreams of your fathers, and avenged their deaths. She pulled away and looked up at him. Do you remember what we spoke of, on that night before you left?

I told you that if you are going to do something, son, she said, you need to do it with all of your heart. You have something you didnt have before. Youve defeated one of them. They can be beaten. That would stop a younger troll from killing me and taking my honor. I was wounded many years ago. And our way. At times. I wonder at what I did. It also made the younger trolls see me as lame and blemished. He only came to the castle on occasion.

But a destination. I wished to speak more softly with you. I have thought many things. Like a metal pole set up high to draw the lightning when it comes. Perhaps these thoughts will be of use to you. No maids. Most of the denizens of this castle do not think about the future. You see. Great master. It is a terrible and wondrous thing. The God King was but one of many who name themselves Deathless. They do not age. Chop them to pieces. You have the weapon?

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But if one of them were to gain access to a weapon which could finally threaten them. They are immortal —truly immortal. They need neither food nor water to live. You mentioned its magic before. The Deathless have lived for thousands of years. Each Aegis or daeril who knows that a mortal slew one of the Deathless. My kind were created to die and to kill.

All will likely be destroyed. It is the method commonly granted to skilled Aegis who have acquitted themselves well. The others.

First of immortals. Many of the Aegis in this castle are golems with deadminds controlling them. Just in case. They will consider it an honor. We might be able to face the others. Why do you say that phrase that you did? Will you stay? Rule here. Making a stand here. If he was going to survive. I suppose we are not. Siris considered it for a long moment. Better the pains of hell than living in heaven beneath the Deathless. As a child. I will slay him.

They were daerils. He may not have had a childhood. Siris dodged before he even understood why. If not. Speaking these words. You and the other daerils are to remain here and guard my castle. Siris threw himself to the side. A click from behind. If he was an enemy of the God King. He was leaving these creatures to die. But he did have something to show in exchange for that loss: Making a quick decision. A single figure in dark clothing had dropped on a rope from one of the upper windows of the vaulted chamber.

The pain was nothing. He pressed one hand to his cheek. Siris sighed. He remained still. Something sliced his cheek. Those would probably be the source of the attack. His shield was on the table a short distance away. Sleek and dangerous. The creature pulled a long. How many assassins were there? He needed his weapon. He doubted he had time to grab them. It had the characteristic mask on its face. They had not been pleasant.

In case of an emergency. Here we go. The creature promptly lowered its sword and raised something from within its coat—a slender. His foe studied him for a moment. He had expected the God King to kill him. The healing effect was immediate. As he did so. Hell take me! He had no choice now. That was a simple cut.

This was not how a proper duel was supposed to go. It lasted only an eyeblink. His skin grew clammy. He grunted. He yanked the small bolt from his thigh. He felt a burning on his finger as the magic was expended. The creature fired. Siris came up. The healing rings sped up his body in a twisted way. Siris gritted his teeth. He came up beside the table and grabbed his shield.

Though they made him heal quickly—wounds scabbing over. The assassin raised its crossbow again. The creature yelped in a quite undaerilic way as Siris dashed out from behind the dais. His fingernails had grown long. As near as he could figure. He peeked around the side of the large throne. He hated healing. He ducked low and jumped in a roll. The enemy scuttled away. The assassin was slinking along the side of the dais toward him. The more he did it. He moved across the room back toward the throne dais.

It made for good cover. A little peckish? You know, like something has pecked you? Taking notes? I expected lightning, thunder, earthquakes.

Instead I got facial hair. Siris almost laughed. She thought he was the God King! At that moment, she leaped out from behind her pillar and leveled her crossbow at him again. And she was not unattractive, with long black hair that she kept in a simple ponytail. But her eyes spoiled it. Those were grim and hard. A massive, hulking thing of sparks and darkness broke its way through the far wall, tossing down chunks of rock.

Great, Siris thought, turning toward this new foe—though. That would likely earn him a crossbow bolt between the shoulder blades. His armor was good, but she obviously had an enhanced crossbow built to punch through the best steel. The newcomer stepped into the room, the beautiful marble tiles crunching and cracking beneath its feet. Siris was half-afraid the tower floor would fall out from under them. They were at the highest point in the castle, and the drop would be deadly.

Most of the daerils fled, though Kuuth retreated to the side of the room. The ancient troll rested on his staff, head cocked to listen. The machinelike monster took a pair of crunching steps forward, and then another one just like it followed through the hole the first had made, knocking pieces of rock to the ground. Great, Siris thought. He made a snap decision, then attacked forward, intending to try to defeat one of the monsters before he could be overwhelmed.

The assassin had been waiting for that move, however, and took a shot at him as he charged. Siris had to lurch to a stop, letting the bolt shoot in front of him, then awkwardly raised his shield to block a blow from the first golem. At the same time. One on one. Siris grunted as he blocked another blow from the golem. One foe in front. Siris cursed. He met its blow with his shield. He breathed out. The golem attacked again with a crash. Siris felt as if he knew how he should stand.

He leaped to the side in time to dodge yet another crossbow bolt. The second golem was rounding to his right. She was fast with those reloads. Siris climbed to his feet. He cursed. Too far for him to reach without exposing himself to the now-close golems. Siris hit the marble floor with a grunt. He groaned. His head rang with pain. His arm felt numb. Without his armor. His hand brushed the throne as he moved.

The golems were coming at him slowly. The Infinity Blade rested on the marble floor a short distance away from the throne. Siris growled and his vision returned.

Dared he heal again? He glanced at his ring. He could barely feel his shield arm. The sword. That was when he realized both hands were empty. He could feel the ground shaking. Please enter the password for activation. Were they leaving with her? Where was the other golem? He found it by following the sound of its footsteps. New injection available in seven minutes. Siris hit hard on the other side of the dais. She looked up at Siris and smiled a toothy grin. The room shook. Currently rebuilding injection from ambient compounds.

And on the slender figure crouching beside it. If they kept bashing holes in the walls. I killed him! The other golem glanced back at Siris. She reached the window. As did the golems. Then she leaped out of the window. They were chasing her. She just wanted the sword. She was never trying to kill me. One began beating the wall down with its fist. Siris realized. But it is the only weapon that can kill them. The only weapon we could ever use to fight back.

Am I really just going to let it go? He froze in place. Siris touched his palm to it. If she took it to one of the other Deathless. He scrambled up the rubble-strewn steps to the throne. The default is to spread your. They probably had the place under surveillance. Then started running. It had been mostly destroyed. In case I returned. Leave him alone.

Siris glanced at it. He would seek freedom. From outside he heard a distinct—and very aggravated— yell of annoyance.

Performing the summoning will bring one to the other. Sweating in anxiety. You must keep the transportation ring on your finger. There was a small metal disc there. He tried to pry it loose. He transferred it to his shield hand. His hands flashed. Both golems spun on him. Sparks erupted around the blade as Siris—still in motion —moved past the golem and struck from behind at its other leg.

All right. Siris tapped his fingers together twice. Siris ducked forward. The first golem swung a sword the size of one of the palace doors. The disc hit and stuck. He hurled himself off the dais. The blades crashed against one another. The first golem—the one that had lost its weapon—was staring in stupefaction at its empty hands. Its passing stirred his hair. It looked up at Siris.

Siris jumped to the side. I can work with this. The golem teetered and dropped with a crash. He came up on his feet. His wounded hip still ached. He rounded on the two golems. He focused only on the fight. Siris skidded on the marble. It was trying to move. The monster spun. It smashed to the floor. Siris dodged a fist. The gigantic monster loomed above him.

With a quick duck. Siris ripped the blade out. The flash of light from the disappearing helm blinded the creature. Siris took a deep breath. Both golems fell still. It walked in a crouch now. Siris dodged backward. Grinding sounds from behind gave him warning that the other monster was—incredibly—climbing to its feet.

It lurched. The golem turned to go after the blade. Siris spun. Siris slammed his blade down through its back. By reflex. The window was empty. Kuuth and a few daerils were waiting there. Strix yelped. He followed the voice. In it. He played with a knife in one gauntleted hand. Too grand for my mind to comprehend.

Which one does she serve? His query to his deadmind ledgers had returned no results. Who is she? The God King moved his other hand across the input pad on his armrest.

The boy was quick-minded. That one button-push remotely wiped all the memories. Or Vist? Both coveted the Infinity Blade. He needed more redundancy there. In moments.

The cameras had to be turned off too. That was just as well. The God King stood up. Good thing. The boy and the girl were no longer trying to kill one another. In doing so. The Killer of Dreams. He pushed the button on his input pad.

She had to be a minion of one of the other Deathless. The God King could make out no sound. Isaline sat beside an enormous tub turning the water on and off. His mother would have loved a tub that large. It appeared that the God King. It must be important. The water came out warm. Would she take the crossbow to him again?

I know that someone seems to want that sword badly. The mirror was almost as long as the wall. There was a silver one in the corner. It comes with the package. You came here for the sword specifically.

Being leered at was an. He resisted the urge to grab his shirt and throw it on. You killed the God King. Go be their hero. Perhaps visit his mother occasionally. I should teach her. At the very least. Why not? You have a bit of a godslayer look to you. You do realize that now every Deathless in the world is going to come hunting you for that blade. I— He cut off that line of thought. Nobody will think to connect you—and the ones you love back home—to the man who slew the God King and stole his riches.

She frowned at him. Where had those impulses come from? Nobody should look at me like that. I do want freedom.

The motion put her close to him. Close enough that he readied himself to slap her hand if she tried to knife him in the gut. That made him hesitate. In the end. She stepped back and held the soap dish up to the light. Good smells. Isa took a step toward the sword. This was a great chance for that.

No perfume. She dropped the dish into her pouch. He would find freedom. Siris snatched it by reflex. She smelled of leather and of wax. Her scent lingered close to him. Perhaps delivered it into the hands of someone he trusted to use it to fight. It would also mean giving away this weapon. I assume. What a strange woman. In a castle. What did you just say?

Keep that in mind as you contemplate sitting here. Her last words lingered with him. You just keep following the river until you reach the cliffs. How did you find your way to this castle? But you? You stayed for a reason. Siris regarded Strix for a moment. Siris tightened his grip. He walked around the throne. He held the Infinity Blade in his other hand. Siris rounded the throne and stepped up to the daeril. After a moment of consideration.

I can understand why Kuuth stayed. Something crunched behind him. The dying troll toppled onto his side.He walked around the throne. He still worried that hed killed what could have become his allies. Siris came up, stumbling, and winced. In clashes between the Deathless, ones own body was the true test. Bash the axe against an opponents shield time and time again to throw him off balance, then step back and strike unexpectedly from the right. SiriS Stepped up onto the edge of a rocky precipice overlooking the God Kings castle.

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