Abhorsen

Abhorsen by Garth Nix Read Free Book Online

Book: Abhorsen by Garth Nix Read Free Book Online
Authors: Garth Nix
them moving and shaking, as if they were trying to break free.
    “The bells!” she gasped. “They’re shaking. . . . I don’t know what . . .”
    “The pipes!” cried Sam, and Lirael heard a brief cacophany as the panpipes sounded with the voices of all seven bells, before they were suddenly cut off.
    “No!” shouted a voice that was not instantly recognizable as Mogget’s. “No!”
    “Run!” roared the Dog.
    Amidst the shouts and yells and roaring, the Charter light above Lirael’s head suddenly dimmed to little more than a faint glow.
    Then it went out.
    Lirael stopped. There was some light from the marks on Nehima’s blade, but these were fading too, and the sword was twisting strangely in her hand. Undulating in a way that no thing of steel could ever move, it had become alive, not so much a sword anymore as an eel-like creature, writhing and growing in her grasp. The green stone on the pommel had become a bright, lidless eye, and the silver wire on the hilt had become a row of shining teeth.
    Lirael shut her eyes and sheathed the sword, ramming it hard into the scabbard before she let go with relief. Then she opened her eyes and looked around. Or tried to. All the golden Charter light was gone, and it was dark. The total darkness of the deep earth.
    In the black void Lirael heard cloth tear and rip, and Sam cried out.
    “Sam!” she cried. “Over here! Dog!”
    There was no answer, but she heard the Dog growl, and then there was a soft, low laugh. A horrible, gloating chuckle that set the hair on the back of her neck on edge. It was made worse because there was something familiar in it. Mogget’s laugh, twisted and made more sinister.
    Desperately Lirael tried to reach for the Charter, to summon a new light spell. But there was nothing there. Instead of the Charter she felt a terrible, cold presence that she knew at once. Death. That was all she could feel.
    The Charter was gone, or she could not reach it.
    Panic began to flower in her as the gloating chuckle deepened and the darkness pressed upon her. Then Lirael’s eyes registered a faint change. She became aware of subtle greys in the darkness, and she felt a momentary hope that there would be light. Then she saw the barest fingernail scraping of illumination spark and fizz and steadily grow till it became a pool of fierce, bright, white light. With the light came the hot metal stench of Free Magic, a smell that rolled across in waves, each one causing a reflex gag as the bile rose in Lirael’s throat.
    Sam moved with the light, appearing at Lirael’s side as if he’d flown there. His backpack was open at the top, ragged edges showing where something had cut free. His sword was sheathed, and he was holding the panpipes with both hands, fingers jammed on the holes. The pipes were vibrating, sending out a low hum that Sam was desperately trying to stifle. Lirael had her own arm pressed along the bell-bandolier, to try to still the bells.
    The Dog stood between the pool of white fire and Lirael, but it was not the Dog as Lirael knew her. She still had a dog shape, but the collar of Charter marks was gone, and she was once more a creature of intense darkness outlined with silver fire. The Dog looked back and opened her mouth.
    “She is here!” boomed a voice that was the Dog’s and yet not the Dog’s, for it penetrated Lirael’s ears and sent sharp pains coursing through her jaw. “The Mogget is free! Run!”
    Lirael and Sam stood frozen as the echoes of the Dog’s voice rolled past them. The pool of white fire was sparking and crackling, spinning counterclockwise as it rose up to form the shape of a spindly, too-thin humanoid.
    But beyond the thing that was Mogget unbound, an even brighter light shone. Something so bright that Lirael realized she had shut her eyes and was seeing it through her eyelids, eyelids seared through with the image of a woman. An impossibly tall woman, her head bowed even in this high tunnel, reaching out her arms

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