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Authors: Brian Ruckley

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Winterbirth

BOOK: Winterbirth
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Winterbirth

Brian Ruckley

Copyright © 2006 by Brian Ruckley
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Orbit
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Visit our Web site at
www.HachetteBookGroup.com
First eBook Edition: 2008
Orbit is a trademark of Little, Brown Book Group Ltd.
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
ISBN: 978-0-316-06831-4
IT IS A WORLD OF ICE.
IT IS A WORLD OF BLOOD.
IT IS A GODLESS WORLD.
H
e felt no pain, just a solid blow in the square of his back as if someone had thrown a stone. No pain, yet his legs were no longer his own and he sprawled face-down into the damp leaf litter. He clawed at the earth, struggling to rise. His legs would not obey him. He reached behind to finger the arrow buried in his back. He felt something rising in his throat.
Then there was a powerful grip upon his arm and he was turned over. The arrow snapped and sent a lance of pain clean through him, transfixing sternum and spine. He cried out and crushed his eyes tight shut against it. When he opened them again, blinking through the mist of tears, there was one last surprise. It was not into the pale face of a Kyrinin that he looked, as he had expected. Instead, he met the gaze of one of his own kind: a black-haired woman, clad in dark leather, with a sword sheathed crossways on her back. . . .
“You should know why you die,” she said, “so know this: the Children of the Hundred have come for you, for all of you. The Bloods of the Black Road will take back that which is ours, and where you go now, all of Lannis-Haig will follow.”
Lekan’s mouth moved. There was no sound. The blow fell, and he plunged toward the Sleeping Dark.
PRAISE FOR
Brian Ruckley
“A gripping story that builds to a grim climax. No one who enjoys heroic fantasy should miss this.”

T
IMES
(L
ONDON
)
“An epic tale of revenge, betrayal, and greed . . . an intriguing and imaginative story.”
— D
REAMWATCH
For my parents, who, in all senses, have made everything possible
C
AST OF
C
HARACTERS
T
HE
T
RUE
B
LOODS
Haig
Lannis-Haig
Kilkry-Haig
Dargannan-Haig
Ayth-Haig
Taral-Haig
Haig Blood
Gryvan oc Haig
The High Thane, Thane of Thanes, on campaign in Dargannan-Haig lands
Kale
Gryvan’s bodyguard and Captain of his Shield, on campaign in Dargannan-Haig lands
Aewult nan Haig
Gryvan’s first son, the Bloodheir
Mordyn Jerain, the Shadowhand
Chancellor of the Haig Blood, a Tal Dyreen
Tara Jerain
The Chancellor’s wife
Torquentine
A man in Vaymouth
Magrayn
A woman in Vaymouth, Torquentine’s doorkeeper
Behomun Tole
Gryvan’s Steward in Anduran
Lagair Haldyn
Gryvan’s Steward in Kolkyre
Lannis-Haig Blood
Croesan oc Lannis-Haig
The Thane, lord of Castle Anduran
Naradin nan Lannis-Haig
Croesan’s son, the Bloodheir
Eilan nan Lannis-Haig
Naradin’s wife
Taim Narran
Captain of Castle Anduran, on campaign with Gryvan oc Haig in Dargannan-Haig lands
Kennet nan Lannis-Haig
Croesan’s brother, lord of Castle Kolglas
Inurian
Counsellor to Kennet, a
na’kyrim
Anyara nan Lannis-Haig
Kennet’s daughter
Orisian nan Lannis-Haig
Kennet’s son
Rothe
Orisian’s shieldman
Kylane
Orisian’s shieldman
Lairis
Kennet’s wife (deceased)
Fariel
Kennet’s elder son (deceased)
Kilkry-Haig Blood
Lheanor oc Kilkry-Haig
The Thane
Ilessa oc Kilkry-Haig
Lheanor’s wife
Gerain nan Kilkry-Haig
Lheanor’s first son, the Bloodheir
Roaric nan Kilkry-Haig
Lheanor’s second son, on campaign with Gryvan oc Haig in Dargannan-Haig lands
Dargannan-Haig Blood
Igryn oc Dargannan-Haig
The Thane, in revolt against the authority of Gryvan oc Haig
T
HE
B
LOODS OF THE
B
LACK
R
OAD
Gyre
Horin-Gyre
Gaven-Gyre
Wyn-Gyre
Fane-Gyre
and The Inkallim
Gyre Blood
Ragnor oc Gyre
The High Thane, Thane of Thanes
Horin-Gyre Blood
Angain oc Horin-Gyre
The Thane, lord of Castle Hakkan
Vana oc Horin-Gyre
Angain’s wife
Kanin nan Horin-Gyre
Angain’s son, the Bloodheir, campaigning south of the Vale of Stones
Wain nan Horin-Gyre
Angain’s daughter, campaigning south of the Vale of Stones
Igris
Kanin’s shieldman, campaigning south of the Vale of Stones
Aeglyss
A
na’kyrim
in the service of the Horin-Gyre Blood, campaigning south of the Vale of Stones
Inkallim
Theor
First of the Lore Inkall
Nyve
First of the Battle Inkall
Avenn
First of the Hunt Inkall
Cannek
A Hunt Inkallim, campaigning south of the Vale of Stones
Shraeve
A captain of the Battle Inkall, campaigning south of the Vale of Stones
O
THERS
Huanin
Kyrinin
Na’kyrim
Huanin
Edryn Delyne
Captain of a Tal Dyreen trading ship
Tomas
First Watchman of Koldihrve
Kyrinin
Ess’yr
A woman in the
vo’an
of In’hynyr
Varryn
Ess’yr’s brother, a warrior
Na’kyrim
Yvane
A
na’kyrim
living in the Car Criagar
Hammarn
A
na’kyrim
living in Koldihrve
Cerys
A
na’kyrim
, the Elect of Highfast
Tyn
A
na’kyrim
, the Dreamer in Highfast
Eshenna
A
na’kyrim
in Highfast, originally from Dyrkyrnon

Preface

THEY SAY THE world has fallen far from its former state.

In the beginning there was but one race. It failed the Gods who made it and, though it wounded their hearts to do so, they destroyed it. In its place they fashioned five which they put in the world to inhabit it, and these were the races of the Second Age: Whreinin and Saolin, Huanin and Kyrinin, and Anain.

The sky turned a thousand thousand times and beneath the gaze of the Gods their children prospered.

Cities, empires, rose and fell. But at last the Huanin and Kyrinin wearied of the cruelties of the wolfenkind, the Whreinin. Despite the will of the Gods they made war upon that race, and they destroyed it utterly and it passed out of time and history. For this deed are the Huanin and Kyrinin named the Tainted Races. And upon that deed were the hopes of the Gods broken, for they saw that what they had made was flawed beyond mending, marred by an unyielding vein of discord and hubris. The Gods took council upon the highest peaks of the Tan Dihrin, where the rotating firmament grinds sparks from the mountaintops, and they chose to look no longer upon the failure of their dreams and to suffer no longer the rebellions of their children. They left the world, departing to places beyond the thoughts or imaginings of any save their own kind, and with them went much that was best in the peoples they abandoned.

BOOK: Winterbirth
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