Ghost in the Cowl

Ghost in the Cowl by Jonathan Moeller Read Free Book Online

Book: Ghost in the Cowl by Jonathan Moeller Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jonathan Moeller
with those words. The spirit of Horemb had told them to her, after Corvalis had died and the Moroaica had been vanquished. What did they mean? Were they a riddle? A warning? A prophecy?
    “I believe,” said Sulaman, “they are the words from a poem.”
    Caina blinked. “A…a poem?” Her voice caught a bit. “What poem?”
    “A newer epic, only a century old,” said Sulaman. “It describes the ill-omened day that the Master Alchemist Callatas used his sorcery to destroy Iramis in a single instant. It is the refrain of the poem, I believe. Though I do not know what it means.”
    “A poem?” repeated Caina. “That’s all? A poem? That’s it?” 
    Caina had killed the Moroaica, had seen the man she loved die, and Horemb’s spirit had quoted a poem at her? Had that been a joke? A final cruel mockery? The room seemed to spin around her, and Caina wanted to scream, wanted to strike something, to kill someone, to collapse the floor and weep until her lungs gave out. 
    The shadows in her mind seemed to choke her vision. 
    Mazyan’s perpetual scowl depended. “Have the poet’s words offended you, foreigner?”
    “No,” said Caina. “I thought it meant something else. That is all.” 
    “Are you all right?” said Damla. “Forgive me, Master Marius, but you look…rather ill.”
    “Come to think of it, I am,” said Caina. She made herself smile, and Mazyan’s hand tightened further against his dagger. “I…think I need some fresh air. Pardon me, sirs.” She dropped a few more coins into the bowl. “Master poet, thank you for your words.”
    “The Living Flame go with you, Master Marius,” said Sulaman. There was pity in his eyes, and for some reason that enraged Caina further. 
    She walked from the House of Agabyzus without another word.

Chapter 4 - Breaking
    A few moments later Caina staggered into the Sanctuary, her heartbeat thundering in her ears. The dim glow from the iron stands illuminated the tables, the cabinets and shelves, the brickwork walls. The faint splash of the aqueduct came to her ears, soft and quiet.
    She walked to the table holding tools and leaned upon it, breathing hard. Her fingers tightened against the wood, so hard the knuckles shone white against the skin. 
    She had lost everything. 
    It had happened to her before, when her mother had murdered her father and sold her to Maglarion. But Halfdan had rescued her, and for years rage had driven Caina, rage and grief. But one could not live on rage forever. She had met Corvalis. She had started the House of Kularus. She had hoped to settle down with Corvalis and move on.
    And all that was gone now.
    Caina felt herself shaking, her eyes burning.
    Now she was alone. Halfdan was dead, murdered by Sicarion, and she could not turn to him for help. Caina wanted to talk to Theodosia, to Ark and Tanya, but they were in Malarae, and she had been banished to Istarinmul. Sent to rebuild the city’s Ghost circle, to spy on the Istarish for the Emperor.
    But to what end? Istarinmul had been a cruel and brutal place long before Caina had been born, and would be long after she was dead. Nothing she did would change that.
    Useless, useless, useless.
    A sob ripped out of her, almost against her will, and her legs buckled beneath her. Caina slumped against the table, her body shaking with the tears. For a long time she could do nothing else, her chest hitching with the draw of her breath. At last it trailed off, and she felt a little more in control of herself.
    But the shadows still danced in her mind. 
    A poem. A line from a poem.
    A damned useless line from a damned meaningless poem about dead men. Again the fury rose in Caina, mingled with grief, and she started to think about veins.
    Distraction. She needed to distract herself. 
    She got to her feet, threw off her coat, and started to work through the unarmed forms. 
    High block, low kick, middle punch, backward throw, all the moves she had practiced over and over again until they were

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