The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons: Chapters 10 and 11

Debut author Jenn Lyons has created one of the funniest, most engrossing new epic fantasy novels of the 21st century in The Ruin of Kings. An eyebrow-raising cross between the intricacy of Brandon Sanderson’s worldbuilding and the snark of Patrick Rothfuss.

Which is why Tor.com is releasing one or two chapters per week, leading all the way up to the book’s release on February 5th, 2019!

Not only that, but our resident Wheel of Time expert Leigh Butler will be reading along and reacting with you. So when you’re done with this week’s chapter, head on over to Reading The Ruin of Kings for some fresh commentary.

Our journey continues…

 

 

10: Demon in the Streets
(Talon’s story)

 

The sights, smells, and sounds of the City assaulted Kihrin the moment he and his father left the shaded comfort of the Shattered Veil. The late afternoon sun was a red ball of fire in the summer sky, heating the white stone streets of Velvet Town to an oven’s warmth.

Those streets were empty. The afternoon was too hot for whores and drinking. Anyone with sense was sequestered in whatever shade they could find. Wispy clouds teased the teal sky, but it would be months before those clouds exploded into the monsoon season’s fury. Until then, the Capital City roasted in its own juices.

Kihrin enjoyed the heat himself, and he preferred to travel when few people were about: early morning before the dawn or late afternoon when everyone napped. In the first case, it meant less chance of witnesses to Kihrin’s burglaries, and in the second case, the empty streets made navigating with Surdyeh easier.

Surdyeh was quiet as they turned down Peddler’s Lane, a shortcut to Simillion’s Crossing,  where their patron Landril kept his penthouse and his mistresses.

Kihrin knew something was bothering his father, but he could only guess at the cause. Surdyeh did hate it when he thought Kihrin was spending time in velvet-girl cribs. He always made a point of reminding Kihrin that the girls at the Shattered Veil Club weren’t there of their own free will. Surdyeh would then follow that by stating—with a significant look in Kihrin’s direction—that any man who exploited such circumstances for his own pleasure was no man at all.

Surdyeh was a hypocrite. His father had no problem taking Ola’s metal or performing in front of the men who came to the brothel. He passed judgment on every customer without giving any consideration to the fact the velvet girls and boys needed that business to earn their freedom. And Ola was even worse: for all her talk about how she had been a slave herself once, she still bought slaves and she still whored them out to anyone willing to put enough metal in her pockets.

And Butterbelly had wondered why Kirhin wanted to get out.

Kihrin scowled as he remembered his father’s taunt, that Ola spoiled him like a prince. Kihrin couldn’t be Ogenra. It wasn’t possible. He knew it wasn’t possible because he didn’t look Quuros, which meant he didn’t look like Quuros royalty either. He knew it wasn’t possible too because someone—a friend, or enemy of his “royal” family—would have come looking for him.

Mostly, it wasn’t possible because if Ola had had the slightest inkling he originated from a Royal House, she’d have turned him in for the reward years ago. She may have helped raise him; she may have taught him everything he ever knew about tricking a gull; she may have been his introduction to the Shadowdancers; she may have been his closest thing to a mother—but he would never underestimate her greed. Ola Nathera’s number one priority in life was Ola Nathera, and anyone who failed to remember that deserved everything they got.

He wished he were Ogenra though, if just for Morea’s sake.

Kihrin cringed when he thought of Morea. He hadn’t wanted their conversation to turn out like that. He’d meant to be suave, to be charming. Instead, he’d turned on her at the first sign her interest was in any way ulterior. He’d lashed out at her when he liked her. He really liked her.

She hated him now and he deserved it.

He snapped back to awareness as he felt his father release his arm. He turned to see what was wrong. Had a pickpocket been foolish enough to try something? As he turned, he continued walking—and slammed into a wall.

A wall? In the middle of Peddler’s Lane?

Kihrin heard shocked gasps from the few pedestrians still on the streets. His eyes focused on the white wall suddenly before him. Its stone bricks were rounded from age and tinged with green moss. Kihrin stared, not understanding how a wall had materialized in the middle of his shortcut. The wall stank too: seaweed and sulfur and old, stale sex.

A purple vein throbbed over the surface of a brick, pulsing where the rock burrowed in to form a small round recess. Then the stone rippled.

He inhaled sharply and looked up. He wasn’t looking at a wall; he was looking at a stomach.

A demon’s stomach.

The demon was enormous, twice as tall as Kihrin himself. Along his stomach (and the demon was clearly a “he” ), the demon’s flesh was white. This turned to a sickly yellow-green along his massive bulging legs. His arms were bright red, slick and shining as if the creature had just plunged them to their pits in a vat of blood. The demon’s face featured a wide grinning mouth that stretched from ear to pointed ear. The eyes were black voids with no whites, and it lacked a nose. The creature’s hair was long, glowing white, but the ends had also turned scarlet as if they too had fallen into gore. A thick purplish-green tail, much like a crocodile’s but longer and more flexible, thumped and twitched on the cobblestones with a mind of its own.

But more importantly than any of that, Kihrin recognized him.

It was the demon from the Kazivar House burglary.

“PAPPA, RUN!” Kihrin shoved his father into an open doorway.

The demon looked down at the teenager and grinned. His white teeth were sharp and jagged and there were far too many of them: they jutted from the demon’s mouth like maggots escaping a wound.

***HAIL TO THEE, LAWBREAKER.***

“Oh Taja …” Kihrin prayed under his breath. He slid his knives into his hands even though he was certain they would be useless.  There was no question Pretty Boy had sent this demon after him, no question the demon had found him, and no question Kihrin was about to die. That thing looked big enough to bite off his head.

***HAIL TO THEE, THIEF OF SOULS***

Kihrin decided his only chance was to run for it. He feinted right, dodged left, ran, and kept running. And for a few seconds, he thought he might make it, but then he felt a sharp slap against his ankles. He looked down to see the demon’s purple-green tail wrap around his feet and lift him into the air.

He did what anyone would do when lifted into the air by a rampaging demon about to tear them apart on a public street: Kihrin screamed his head off.

***HAIL TO THEE, PRINCE OF SWORDS***

“Let me go! Let me go! FUCK! Let me go!” Kihrin tried cutting the tail with his knife, but as he suspected, he might as well have been trying to chip stone with a silk handkerchief.

The demon lifted his whole body as easily as Kihrin might have lifted a kitten by its scruff, and held Kihrin high in the air. This left Kihrin close to the demon’s face, and far too close to that enormous maw. It was all too similar to a pose he might have struck before popping a grape in his mouth.

Just as Kihrin decided that he had nothing to lose by sticking a shiv in the demon’s eye, the creature grabbed both his arms, holding them outstretched and helpless.

The demon laughed, a sound that would haunt Kihrin’s nightmares for months afterward. He dangled close enough to the beast’s mouth to see it was not empty, but filled with a writhing red tongue and white, crawling grubs. The stench was beyond description, a combination of blood, offal, and rotted sexual fluids that made Kihrin fight to keep from retching. The demon shook Kihrin by the feet.

Kihrin’s tsali stone slid out from under his cloak and caught on his chin. The stone felt cold.

***LONG DID I SEARCH FOR THE LION, BUT NOW I HAVE FOUND THE HAWK.***

The demon’s mouth drew close, and Kihrin closed his eyes rather than see what was about to happen. He tensed in expectation of his death.

There are some who would claim what came instead was more horrible. It was certainly more lingering.

He felt the demon’s tongue move against his face, touch his cheek, the necklace, the indigo stone. As the demon did this, thoughts flowed into Kihrin’s mind.

***I OFFER THIS TO THEE, MY KING: A SMALL TASTE OF HORROR TO WHET THY APPETITE FOR THE FEAST OF SUFFERING.***

The mental images grew more intense: Kihrin with his old teacher Mouse, with Morea, with any number of girls and boys from the Veil velvet house. Kihrin saw himself doing things to them—terrible, nonconsensual things. The demon showed Kihrin image after image of himself as a cruel, sadistic monster of a man, a demon clothed in human skin who delighted in the pain and terror of those around him. He fed on it the way crocodiles feed on anyone foolish enough to come too close in the river. The demon dove deep into Kihrin’s mind and pulled up the memories of everyone he’d ever known and loved, and then had Kihrin tear them apart—-or murder, torture, and rape them. Even in the Copper Quarter, even for a boy who had grown up in Velvet Town, sins still existed beyond his experience or comprehension. The demon emptied one atrocity after another into the boy’s head until he had seen them all.

Kihrin screamed and screamed.

He had no way to gauge how long he hung there while the demon poured horrors into his mind, a seemingly unending orgy of filth and perversion.

Too long, by any account.

When Kihrin’s voice tore and collapsed into gasping sobs, the pressure on his mind vanished, and he heard footsteps running toward him. He looked down the street. Fear warred with relief as he saw the Watchmen running toward them, swords drawn.

The demon threw back his head and roared, the sound of a lion accompanied by a thousand screaming cats. The demon let go of Kihrin’s arms and let the boy dangle upside down from his tail. Then the demon picked up Surdyeh’s harp.

“No—!” Kihrin’s throat was rough and broken; the protest barely more than a whisper.

The demon grinned and swung the harp, case and all, down on the first Watchman to come within reach. Rather than braining the soldier, the man’s head broke through strings and case fabric while the wooden frame trapped his arms. Had the demon let go of the harp at that point, the man would have spent the next five minutes freeing himself from the tangle of wood and string, but the demon did not let go. Rather, in one smooth, fluid motion, the monster pulled the struggling man closer. The demon opened that impossibly wide mouth wider still.

Kihrin flinched and looked away as the demon bit off the man’s head with no more difficulty than Kihrin might bite into a mango. The dead man’s blood splashed over Kihrin even as the body fell to the city street.

“Xaltorath. Your presence here is unwelcome,” a loud voice proclaimed.

Kihrin thought that was a profoundly unnecessary statement of the obvious. He turned his head to see who would die next.

His perspective was skewed because he was upside down, but Kihrin didn’t think the man was a member of the Watch. The newcomer was older, in his forties, with peppery hair and beard. A bear of a man, he was almost as wide as he was tall—and all of that shoulder, sinew, and hard muscle. He looked none too happy to see a demon prowling the City streets.

That made two of them.

Kihrin had never paid much attention when Surdyeh had lectured him about Quuros military ranks, but the man wore armor. The shiny metal cuirass on his chest glittered and flashed in the orange light of the sun. Behind him, a veritable legion of City Guard and military soldiers hung back to let the newcomer take point.

Xaltorath snarled and whirled on the man, while Kihrin swung from his tail like a lantern in monsoon season.

***IMPUDENT MORTAL, YOU DARE TO CHALLENGE MY RIGHTS? I AM XALTORATH. I AM THE RAGE OF BATTLE, THE SIN OF LUST. I AM THE MOAN ON THE LIPS OF THE DAMNED.***

The demon’s mental “voice” raised to a cacophonous howl as he grew, literally grew, larger and more menacing.  Fresh wet blood ran down the sides of his mouth, painting his white torso crimson.

“Go on. Keep talking.” The soldier glanced at Kihrin only long enough to frown and note his presence before he returned his attention to the demon.

Unexpectedly, the demon’s fury abated, although his grin was worse. ***I KNOW YOU.***

“Yes,” the soldier agreed. “We’ve met before. You hid behind a child then too. Will you do so now as well?”

***THIS BOY MEANS NOTHING TO YOU, BUT SHE WAS EVERYTHING.*** The demon chuckled. ***HER SCREAMS WERE SWEET TO MY EARS.***

The soldier’s knuckles whitened around the pommel of his sword, but his voice stayed even. “Why this young man? Tired of hurting little girls?”

***HIS TERROR TASTES AS SWEET AS THE HONEY FROM YOUR DAUGHTER’S THIGHS.***

A tick started up on the soldier’s face. He circled, never moving his eyes from the demon. “You weren’t freed from your prison to molest little boys. Why are you here, Xaltorath?”

The demon’s expression turned contemplative, as if he were catching up on old times with a friend he hadn’t seen in years. ***I AM HERE BECAUSE I MUST BE. I AM HERE BECAUSE THE ANCIENT BINDING STILL HOLDS ALL MY KIND. I AM HERE FOR AS LONG AS YOU FOOLS CONTINUE TO SUMMON ME, UNTIL THE DAY ALL OATHS ARE BROKEN, THE DAY ALL SOULS ARE FREED.*** He grinned. ***SOON NOW.***

“And which fool summoned you this time?”

***WHY, THE—*** The demon stopped. ***WHY DO YOU TALK, AND NOT FIGHT?***

“I’m content to let you do the talking. You enjoy it more.”

***YOU SEEK TO DISTRACT ME!***

“No, rot-breath, I seek to delay you.” With that, the soldier closed in, the sword in his hands a glowing bar of reflected sunlight.

Xaltorath grinned wide, swung his deadly clawed arms back for the attack—and screamed as Kihrin shoved his knife up to the hilt in Xaltorath’s left eye.

Kihrin missed the rest of the fight. Xaltorath’s tail flicked out and tossed him aside like a broken doll. He crashed headfirst into the whitewashed wall of a local store.

Everything was fuzzy after that.

He heard Xaltorath’s roaring bellow, the clanging clash of weapons, the screams of men, and the low chanting of a clear tenor voice. It all came from a faraway place.

Shaking, shuddering, Kihrin climbed to his feet. His eyes wouldn’t focus. His hair felt wet and sticky. The blood on his face was his own. He was burning up too—the sapphire around his neck felt scalding.

He knew (in a distracted it’s-somebody-else’s-problem kind of way) that he was injured, maybe mortally injured. Part of him wanted to sleep. Another part of him wanted to throw up. The rest of him though—the rest of him was filled with a kind of searing white-hot rage that Kihrin had only experienced once before in his life. The desire for vengeance was so strong it overrode all other instincts. That anger gave him the strength to stand and the strength to stagger back to the intersection where he had been attacked.

The soldier was still there, along with lots of guards and a newcomer: a man in a patchwork brown sallí cloak. He looked as out of place as a Shadowdancer thief at a Watchmen retirement party. Kihrin had no idea who the newcomer was, but since he wasn’t a demon and he wasn’t a guard, Kihrin decided to ignore him until he became important.

There was no sign of the demon but lingering traces of unnatural red light and the odor of filth.

“How did you make it here so quickly?” The large soldier with the sword asked the man with the patchwork cloak, as Kihrin staggered toward them. “I only just dispatched a man to find you.”

“Taja was smiling on us. One of my agents alerted me—dear Tya, are you all right, young man?” The newcomer turned toward Kihrin as he approached.

Kihrin ignored the question. It was a stupid question. He would never be all right again. He blinked at the fellow in the patchwork cloak. The newcomer was a plain-looking man in his twenties, although he had the chestnut skin and high cheekbones of a Marakori to provide a small amount of exotic flair. He had dark eyes and straight black hair that wanted to wander in every direction, kept in check by a plain brass circlet worn on his forehead. Kihrin wondered if he was with the Revelers Guild, and if he attracted much work with a cloak so threadbare. He seemed more like a farmer than a performer. Kihrin decided he was probably some kind of servant or valet of the soldier. “Is he dead?” Kihrin ground his teeth together to keep from listing.

“Qoran, catch him. He’ll fall,” said the smaller man.

The soldier reached for Kihrin, put a hand on his shoulder, and Kihrin jerked himself away, fighting the most awful flashbacks. “Don’t touch me!”

The soldier sheathed his sword and held up his hands in a way he no doubt meant to seem nonthreatening. “Son, you need to calm down—”

“Don’t call me son,” Kihrin hissed. “Is he dead?”

The two men blinked at him, surprised. The soldier glanced back at the gory mess that used to be one of the guards, the shattered remains of a double-strung harp wrapped around his upper torso. “Very.”

“Qoran, he means the demon,” the smaller man corrected. His gaze lingered, eyes still narrowed, on Kihrin, as if the young man reminded him of someone he couldn’t quite place. “Xaltaroth isn’t dead, no. You did, however, help send him back to Hell for a while.”

The soldier stepped forward, although he didn’t make a move to touch Kihrin a second time. “We need to know what Xaltaroth said to you, young man. Every detail, every word could be of vital importance. How much can you remember? What did he want from you? Why did he let you live?”

“He ruined my knife.” Kihrin saw it lying in the middle of the street, twisted and warped as if someone had returned it to the forge and left it there. Ruined my knife. Ruined my life. He laughed out loud at the rhyme, but then he quieted again. Stupidly, all he could think of was how upset Landril Attuleema would be when they didn’t show up for their scheduled performance.

The soldier was less amused. “Argas take your knife! Do you have any idea how many will die if some fool summoner starts another Hell-march? When demon princes get loose from Hell they don’t just throw a party. They summon more demons! Answer my questions, boy.” The soldier reached out to grab him, but let his hand fall short at the last second.

Kihrin flinched back anyway, but his jaw clenched in a stubborn line. Something snapped inside him, some better sense that might have kept him from saying something stupid to a man who could have him thrown into a pit—just by snapping his fingers. Kihrin drew himself up without wobbling, without listing, without throwing up, even though the need to do all those things lurked in waiting ambush. “That monster destroyed my father’s harp. How are we supposed to make a living? How are we supposed to eat? That may mean nothing to you, but it means a lot to me.”

“General, wait.” The man with the patchwork cloak held up a hand before he focused his attention on Kihrin. “That was your father’s harp? You’re Surdyeh’s son?”

Kihrin meant to keep yelling, but the soft question cut the strings of his anger. “How did you know …” He blinked. “You know my father?”

“Indeed.” Fond remembrance wrestled with old pain behind the man’s eyes. “We were friends, once.” He examined Kihrin, his expression unreadable.

“Wait, my father! Where is he? He was right here—” Kihrin hadn’t seen him since he pushed Surdyeh through the doorway. He hadn’t been injured, had he? Kihrin could imagine his father slumped up against some alcove, leaking his life away into a gutter while no one paid him the least attention. He turned back to the soldier—wait, general—who seemed like the one with the authority to help. “You have to find him. He’s blind. He probably didn’t get very far.”

The General stared at him, unfriendly and hard as drussian. Then he snapped his fingers and gestured to one soldier nearby. “Captain Jarith, have your men search the area. See if they can find a blind man, possibly hiding, named Surdyeh. Please escort him back with every courtesy. We must reunite him with his son.”

The young soldier saluted. “Yes, General. Right away.”

“Thank you,” Kihrin said. “Thank you.” He closed his eyes in relief.

Closing his eyes was a mistake, however. The anger that had been keeping him conscious retreated. His world tilted as darkness wrapped around him.

“Quickly—” He heard the General say.

Kihrin might have paid more attention to what happened next, but he was too busy fainting.

 


11: The Coming Storm
(Kihrin’s story)

 

Eventually, I went up on deck. Staying in our room felt like being trapped in a wooden crate: the passenger cabin onboard The Misery was smaller than a water closet. It fit four people, in theory.

I was in a mood to find whoever had come up with this “theory” and beat their head against the railing.

A bulky, Zheriaso-built ship, The Misery shuttled slaves bought in Kishna-Farriga and Zherias to Quur, where the good citizens of the Empire bought them for a variety of unsavory uses. The ship possessed the usual number of masts and sails, and a deck of slave-rowers in the bowels— to speed passage in poor wind or navigate tricky port dockings.

I am more familiar with the rowers’ galley on The Misery than I care to remember, even now.

The slave holds were further divided into levels, or ’tween decks, by thick iron gratings. These quarters housed the majority of the slaves with ceilings so low that a small woman wouldn’t have room to stand. The ’tween decks made our passenger cabin seems like the height of grand privilege.

The cargo deck had been emptied of all but trade goods (maridon tea, sugar, barrels of sasabim brandy, Eamithon pottery) when The Misery had brought me to Kishna-Farriga as a slave, but no longer. Captain Juval had stayed in port only for as much time as was necessary to drop off his cargo and pick up the next batch of victims. He probably planned to buy more in Zherias  before the trip across the Galla Sea to Quur. I wondered how many times he’d made the trip, how many lives he had bought and sold.

I took perverse pleasure in putting myself where the Captain could see me. Watching his eyes slide right past me without recognition helped smooth the occasional impulse use a dagger to sever his spine. Juval was in a sour mood too, growling and snapping at every crew member who came near.

Perhaps he’d heard the news of my final sale price. He’d been in such a hurry to get rid of me that he’d taken a flat fee instead of staying in Kishna-Farriga for a percentage. Juval didn’t realize he’d gotten the better end of the bargain.

Teraeth sat on one of the grates covering the slave holds, fingers laced around the iron bars as he stared down. The sailors gave him a wide berth.

I wasn’t surprised. He might look like a Quuros and sound like a Quuros, but the illusion wrapped around him couldn’t hide his menace. Teraeth looked up and saw me watching.

We stared at each other for a few moments. He motioned me over.

I avoided looking into the hold.

“I’m sorry when I said you were nothing but a slaver. Khaemezra explained things, and—”

“Look.” He pointed through the grating.

I felt no compulsion to follow his orders; a reminder his mother carried my gaesh. “I know what slaves look like, thanks. I just wanted to say—”

“Look, damn you!” He reached up, grabbed the corner of my robe, and dragged me to his level. “This is what you are.”

I pulled at his fingers with my hands. “You don’t need to remind me I’m a slave.”

“You think I mean you’re a slave?” He scoffed with a whispery sharp voice. “They don’t care that you’re a slave. Look at them. Really look. Do you see them? Men, women, children. Some of them won’t live to see the end of this journey. Others will start their lives of concubinage early and rough. They come from a dozen nations, some from villages so small they didn’t know they had a ‘nation.’ Most of them don’t speak Guarem, or any language you know. They would gladly give their souls to be where you are, too valuable to be thrown in a cell like rotting meat. Instead they’ll die of starvation, or flux, or not have enough air to breath during a storm. Look at them. There is no hope in their eyes. They don’t even have the strength to cry, or ask why this has been done to them. They can only whisper the question, the way a madman shouts the same phrase over and over, growing soft and quiet until there is only silence …”

I choked off a sob and tore his hand from me. “I don’t need—”

“You’re Quuros. This is your legacy. This is your gift to the world: ship after ship of pain, sailing the seas to sate your people’s lust and cruelty and your thirst to conquer everything. Don’t you dare look away from your birthright. This is what the wizard Grizzst created when he bound the demons. This is what your Emperor Simillion brought to the world when he claimed the crown and scepter. This is the way of life Atrin Kandor died to save.”

I sat down on the grating, numb.

“How many slaves have you known? How many have you taken for granted, dismissed as just another unchangeable facet of Quuros life?” Teraeth settled back on his heels, fingers pressed against the bars to balance himself. “You asked who we are, and I will tell you who we are not. We are not people who would ever do this.”

I didn’t answer for a long time.

Finally, I whispered, “That doesn’t make what you do right.”

“No, but for every life I take, I give others their lives back. When I meet Thaena in the Afterlife, my head is held high and my conscience is clean.”

“I can’t do anything to free these people.”

“That’s true if you believe it, but make no mistake—it is only true because you believe it.”

I stared out at the sea. Seagulls had followed us from Kishna-Farriga. They would stay with us for a few miles yet before they decided the scraps weren’t coming fast enough. The salt air filled my nose and the sound of rigging stretched and groaned against my ears. If I listened, I could just make out the muted sound of crying. The ship didn’t smell of anything but salted wood and tar. More awful smells would come later.

I thought long and hard on the irony of being lectured on freedom by the assassin who owned me.

“Juval used a cat-o’-nine-tails on you, didn’t he?” Teraeth asked after a long silence.

“He had questions. He got all cranky on me when I wouldn’t answer them.”

“Do you want me to kill him?”

I looked sideways at the vané. “Don’t you think that might delay our arrival in Zherias, just a little?”

“His first mate looks capable enough.”

The idea made me shudder. If I had nightmares anymore, first mate Delon would haunt them. “Delon’s worse than Juval. Much worse.”

Teraeth stared at me. The line of his jaw turned rigid and he looked away. “I’ll remember that.” “Besides, Tyentso will take it personally if you start killing off her crew. Even you might have a problem with her.”

“Tyentso?”

“The ship’s sea witch. Remember how you wanted to know if the Captain keeps one? The answer’s yes. Tough as drussian. She’s the one who gaeshed me. I haven’t seen her yet, but she’s around here somewhere. She spends most of her time by herself. She’s like a hermit in a cave, except her cave is on a ship.”

Teraeth smiled in a way that reminded me of tigers scenting the air for prey. “If my mother can handle Relos Var, I don’t think a hedge witch will be much problem.” He flexed his fingers around the bars.

“Show me around the ship,” he said after a pause. “I want to be familiar with the deck plan when things go wrong.”

“Why? You think something’s going to happen?”

“I think Relos Var gave up on you too easily.” He turned to stare out at the water. “That’s not his reputation.”

“So, he’ll make another attempt?” I didn’t need to ask. In my heart, I knew Teraeth was right. Relos Var wasn’t finished with me yet.

He chewed on the end of a finger. “He’d have to know where we are. My mother shields us both against scrying, and you’ve always been hidden from magical attempts to locate you. No one is tracking you down using magic.”

I scowled. “It’s been done.”

“Not easily.”

“They had to summon a demon prince to do so, so yeah. We should be fine. Unless Var’s into that kind of thing.”

“He’s been known to dabble.” Teraeth looked nervous.

That made me nervous. If there was going to be trouble, the last place I wanted to be was trapped on a slave ship, a thousand miles out at sea.

As Taja would have it, that’s exactly where trouble found us.

 

Excerpted from The Ruin of Kings, copyright © 2018 by Jenn Lyons.

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