Fallen Blade 04 - Blade Reforged

Fallen Blade 04 - Blade Reforged by Kelly McCullough Read Free Book Online

Book: Fallen Blade 04 - Blade Reforged by Kelly McCullough Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kelly McCullough
them felt,
     and the seamstress had promised me another set in silk, as well as a heavier woolen
     version with a matching poncho to be delivered in the next few days.
    It made my teeth itch, and I couldn’t help but long for a steaming pot of efik to
     soothe my nerves. I’d been able to keep a pretty good grip on my drinking the last
     few weeks, but the more time I spent sober the more the older craving had grown stronger.
     I shuddered briefly and forced myself to once again picture the sleepwalkers that
     used to haunt the alleys of Emain Tarn in Varya, the open slashes on their arms packed
     with ground efik and covered in flies as they slowly grinned their way into the grave.
     I was going to beat this.
    *
    “I hate wearing this.” I tugged at the loose jade green sleeve that covered my left
     arm.
    “Then don’t come,” replied Maylien. “You said yourself that you don’t think we’re
     going to be in any danger this morning.”
    Heyin nodded. “The king won’t dare make a moveagainst Maylien at a meeting of the Council of Jade, no matter how much he wants to.
     That’s why we decided to wait to deliver the declaration of Maylien’s legitimacy to
     the chancellor until today at the Winter-Round court. It’s afterward, when we’re on
     our way back to Marchon House and in the days that follow that we’ll be in the most
     danger. That’s why I suggested you wait for us outside the great gate and shadow us
     back here.”
    I shrugged. They were both right, and I really did hate wearing the green and gold
     uniform of Maylien’s baronial guard. Pretending to be part of the very sort of hierarchy
     my goddess had so often sent me to decapitate always made me twitchy. I’d done it
     on missions in the past, but somehow this felt very different. I didn’t mind killing
     Thauvik. Removing corrupt rulers was the work I had been born for. But putting Maylien
     in his place ventured into territory that my goddess had always avoided—the politics
     of succession. The role of the Blade was to act as a threat, never a promise. We didn’t
     choose sides.
    “I know,” I said after a moment. “I even mostly agree with you. But what if we’re
     wrong and he’s even crazier than he seems? I want to be in the chamber when Maylien
     delivers her papers.”
    Now Heyin shrugged. “If you insist, I won’t oppose you. Gods know, I’ve no one better
     to guard her back.”
    The sky was still dark as our small troupe left the gate of Marchon House. Heyin walked
     in front with a pair of his lieutenants. Maylien would come immediately behind on
     an open-work ivory chair set in a palanquin with the silk curtains in the green and
     gold Marchon colors pulled aside—the baronial seat on its way to sit before the throne.
    “I wish I could walk,” she said to me as they were affixing the narrow chair to the
     palanquin. “It’s a terrible way to travel, but the tradition’s a thousand years old,
     and so’s the damned chair. Whatever Marchon it was originally made for must have been
     three feet tall and knife-edge skinny.”
    “Do you ever wish you could just step away from all this and go back to the Rovers?”
    “Every damned day. When I first set out to take the baronial seat from my sister,
     there were things I hated to lose about that life and things that I didn’t mind giving
     up. How could I not miss walking under a clear blue autumn sky with an open road and
     nowhere to be? These days I even miss the icy winter rains of Radewald and slogging
     through ankle deep mud in hopes of finding an inn. I hate this role and I hate the
     choices it forces on me.”
    She looked longingly back at the house where Bontrang had been placed in a cage to
     prevent him following her to the palace. Her magery was deeply troubling and bordering
     on criminal as far as her fellow nobles and the law of Zhan were concerned. That had
     made her challenge of her sister and assumption of the baronial seat almost

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