Read Dark Vengeance Online

Authors: Ed Greenwood

Dark Vengeance

BOOK: Dark Vengeance
12.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

D
ARK
V
ENGEANCE

 

 

Tor Books by Ed Greenwood

Dark Warrior Rising

Dark Vengeance

BAND OF FOUR NOVELS

The Kingless Land

The Vacant Throne

A Dragon's Ascension

The Dragon's Doom

 

The Silent House

A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK
New York

The author and publisher have provided this e-book to you without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied so that you can enjoy reading it on your personal devices. This e-book is for your personal use only. You may not print or post this e-book, or make this e-book publicly available in any way. You may not copy, reproduce or upload this e-book, other than to read it on one of your personal devices.

Copyright infringement is against the law. If you believe the copy of this e-book you are reading infringes on the author's copyright, please notify the publisher at:
us.macmillanusa.com/piracy
.

 

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

DARK VENGEANCE: A NOVEL OF NIFLHEIM

 

Copyright © 2008 by Ed Greenwood

 

All rights reserved.

 

A Tor Book

Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC

175 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10010

 

www.tor-forge.com

 

Tor® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

 

Greenwood, Ed.

Dark vengeance / Ed Greenwood.—1st ed.

p. cm.

“A Tor Book”—T.p. verso.

ISBN-13: 978-0-7653-1766-7

ISBN-10: 0-7653-1766-4

I. Title

PR9199.3.G759 D36 2008

813'.54—dc22

2008022148

 

First Edition: August 2008

 

Printed in the United States of America

 

0   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

To Brian,
Who deserves much, much more than this

 

 

 

From the Land of Light to the Dark Below, Orivon Firefist descended.

Not as a child in chains, this time, but as a grown man, hardened by years of slavery and forge-toil, and warmed by the flame of his own anger. He had escaped Niflghar enslavement, and shed blood in doing so, but now sought to rescue other slaves—and take his vengeance.

—from
The Deeds of Orivon,
penned by Elmaerus of Orlkettle,
(date unknown)

 

 

From the slave pits of the Dark Below, spoken in hushed tones:


He fought back!


He slew his overseers!


He escaped!


Maybe he will return. Maybe he will lead us all to freedom!

For the first time there is a new companion for the oppressed of the slave pits of the Dark Below.

That companion is hope.

 

From the bedrooms of young princesses and priestesses of the Dark Below, said breathlessly:


The Hairy One dared to escape!”

“Our warriors could not defeat him!”

“One of our own aided him!”

“She was mangled and grotesque. She allowed herself to be crippled in combat—yet suffered herself to live.”

“She allowed herself to become a
monster!”

“She used to be one of us . . . and she still lurks in the shadows.”

“We are not safe. None of us! Not from our slaves, or our own kind—or even ourselves.”

“Remember, she used to be one of us!”

For the first time a blemish on Dark Below society has managed to survive, and its taint is felt by all.

A taint, and fear!

D
ARK
V
ENGEANCE

Prologue

Fair words should be first spoken,
but are no more than false, weak noise
if backed by no skilled and ready sword
and alert, firm resolve.

—
saying of the priests of Thorar


S
ister,” Jalandral Evendoom purred, “I've been hunting you for a long time.”

Taerune stared at him, her mouth dropping open in astonishment.

Jalandral?

Here?

In this small, damp cavern so close to the Blindingbright, the realm of the Hairy Ones?

Her brother took a slow, smiling step toward her. Behind him, Old Bloodblade stepped silently out of a dark side-cleft, sword and dagger raised.

Tall, dark, and lithe, Jalandral smiled confidently, a smile that told all eyes he knew he was as deadly, fearless, and handsome as Olone ever made any Niflghar rampant. His sword looked as long and whisper-sharp as he did.

To any eye, Taerune and Jalandral Evendoom looked like blood-kin; she was as tall as he, and—even in her weariness—every whit as fluid in her movements. Yet her left forearm ended not in an elegant long-fingered hand, but in a wickedly curved sword
blade. Her other hand was now moving along her belt, seeking a dagger.

Jalandral's smile widened, and grew wry. “You think you've any hope of keeping your life, sister, if I want to take it?”

“Do you want to take it, Dral?” the maimed, outcast Evendoom asked, her whispered words a challenge.

“Why should I not? You are an outcast, your life forfeit. Your maiming shames us before Holy Olone, and you are
insane
—besotted with love for the Hairy One, the forgefist who is the valuable property of our House, and whom you helped to escape.”

“You are wrong,” Taerune told her brother coldly. “As ever, brother, you conceal or ignore your misjudgments with style and loud overconfidence. I
am
outcast, so it matters not to you or any Nifl of Talonnorn
what
I am—when I am far from Talonnorn, in lands Talonar don't control. No one rules these caves but the Ravagers, who rightly care nothing for the laws—and opinions—of Talonnorn.”

“Yet behold,” Jalandral purred, taking a step closer. “Talonnorn reaches out for you, even here.”

“Talonnorn? Or just you? Brother, does our House survive in Talonnorn?”

“Evidently,” Jalandral sneered, taking another step and hefting his long spellblade menacingly.

Then, swift as any striking cave-snake, he spun around, a second, shorter sword thrusting point-first out of one of his sleeves to menace Old Bloodblade, who'd been creeping up behind him.


Yes
, fat old half-gorkul, I knew you were there,” the Evendoom lord said softly.

Old Bloodblade snorted. “And so? You used the time that gave you to think up a clumsy insult and offer me warsteel so woefully slowly? No wonder we Ravagers slay proud Talonar lords with such ease!”

Despite that “we,” the longtime Ravager war captain led no one, now; his band had perished to the last Nifl. He was fat—
very
fat, for a Niflghar—and wore a none-too-clean patchwork of belted-together
scraps of old, salvaged armor that bristled all over with the hilts and grips of heavy, well-worn weapons. He bore a broad, well-used sword in one hand, and a dagger in the other. Jalandral's spellblade flared with awakened magic, and the dagger in the Ravager's hand glowed in magical answer.

“You are what you always were, buffoon,” Jalandral told him coldly. “Beneath my notice.”

The old Ravager shrugged and strode right past the Evendoom lord, turning so as to stand between Jalandral and his sister, facing Jalandral.

“So much is my gain,” he said gruffly. “Sadly for you, would-be kinslayers are not beneath mine.”

Jalandral's reply was a sneer as he stalked purposefully forward, sword gleaming.

Bloodblade rolled his eyes, contorted his face in a broadly exaggerated imitation of Jalandral's sneer—and struck aside the Evendoom lord's sudden thrust.

Jalandral hissed and slashed at the fat Niflghar, their swords clanging together. Sparks flew as both blades sang off each other in sudden blurred haste—intricate thrusts, parries, and lunges that skirled very briefly before Bloodblade flicked Jalandral's sword up and out of his hand, disarming the young Evendoom lord with seemingly effortless ease.

The long, slender Evendoom spellblade rang off the cavern ceiling—and fell with a crash to bounce on the stones in front of the old Ravager's worn, scuffed boots.

BOOK: Dark Vengeance
12.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Heartbreak Cafe by Melissa Hill
On the Edge by Mari Brown
The Angry Hills by Leon Uris
Private Practices by Linda Wolfe
Polity Agent by Neal Asher
Discovered by Kim Black
Las trece rosas by Jesús Ferrero