- Author: Isabel Cooper
Read book online «The Nightborn by Isabel Cooper (good english books to read .TXT) 📕». Author - Isabel Cooper
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Books. Change. Lives.
Copyright © 2021 by Isabel Cooper
Cover and internal design © 2021 by Sourcebooks
Cover art by Kris Keller/Lott RepsInternal art by NataliaBarashkova/iStock
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Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks
P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567-4410
Excerpt from the Epic Conclusion of the Stormbringer Series
About the Author
To Pedro Wrobel, who once played my inspiration for all good-hearted noblemen in fancy clothes.
Call: What was the First Betrayal?
Response: Gizath, secondborn of the younger gods, slew his sister Letar’s mortal lover by ambush and deceit.
Call: How many times was he a traitor in that action?
Response: Three, for he was false to Veryon in the attack, to Letar in believing himself right to do so, and to the better self he had been before he struck the blow.
Call: What was his fate?
Response: He was cast out beyond creation, where he nurses his hatred for mortals.
Call: Does he still seek to harm us?
—Litany of Letar’s Blades, Part I
No, I must dispute the conclusions of my learned—I will not say biased, though it’s known to all that his mother was from Criwath—colleague. It is true that we in Heliodar, by good fortune and geography, were able to preserve ourselves from the worst of the storms: it is a fact that my countrymen thank the Lord of the Wild and the Golden Lady for each day. Nor would I wish to be thought unsympathetic to the great devastation others faced. Letar has taken many souls into death, and each is mourned. But I will maintain that it is good fortune, nothing more. Thyran, the creator of those storms, may be the foulest blot on our fair city’s history, but nobody can imagine that he bore any love for the land that bore him. I submit this: he had no scruples when it came to killing his bride, her paramour, and ten servants. Why would he be more merciful to his city than to his own house?
—The Honorable Baniki Yansyak, speaking at the
Midsummer Debates, Year 55 after the Storms
She was going to die.
Yathana would have reminded her that everyone was going to die. But Yathana was leagues away, where the spirits that charged the magic of each Sentinel’s sword-spirit went to rest after exhausting themselves channeling the gods’ gifts. That burst of magic had left Branwyn with temporary metal skin and an absence at the back of her mind—which was normal—while facing a horde of malformed, malicious creatures.
That had become normal, too, over the last few days.
Now the twistedmen came on, pouring through the shattered gate of Oakford. They swarmed past the colossus of warped bodies that shambled across the yard, a moving charnel construction that held their leader, Thyran.
Branwyn knew the name, a shadow from the past given horrible life. She’d glimpsed the man himself, but her more immediate concern was his army.
Together, they formed a writhing mass of oversized claws and skinless-seeming red flesh. Some looked as though their faces were melting. Others had the beaks of birds, full of teeth and traps for the unwary who viewed them too closely.
She threw herself at them. Talons screeched as they ran along her arms. Black blood hissed in the air. The enemy never became individual bodies, simply one entity with lines of vulnerability: a leg here, a neck there. Branwyn carved a path through the shifting wall of flesh, Yathana slicing away what obstructed her.
Hallis’s voice rose above the shrieking of Thyran’s troops, yelling the signal that Branwyn had been waiting for.
One of the beaked creatures had caught her by the wrist when the word reached her. It yanked her forward, opening its mouth too wide. The shifting gray presence within had entranced more than one of Branwyn’s companions to their death—but now the sigil on her forehead let her mind turn the charm as easily as her metal skin turned claws. She spun into the monster’s grip, let Yathana’s edge take its head from its shoulders, and then, when she’d made a half circle, started running.
She wasn’t alone. A dozen others, soldiers stationed at Oakford and half-trained peasants who’d stayed to face the siege, kept pace, leading Thyran’s troops on. They raced for the middle of the shattered town, where archers hid behind piles of rubble and the ground concealed a dozen sinkholes.
The twistedmen followed. Arrows did take some, and others stumbled, becoming easy marks for the archers’ second volley or simply having to slow down, letting Branwyn and her companions gain a few precious feet of space.