The Living God [A Handful of Men #4]
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by Dave Duncan
Description: War had engulfed the whole world. The imposter Imperor ruling in Hub was the tool of the paranoid and almighty sorcerer Xinixo, who wielded the combined power of thousands of sorcerer slaves. And yet, despite his seeming omnipotence, the pathetic few who resisted him were still at liberty, even making a little progress. Xinixo's prime foe, Rap of Krasnegar, had rallied troll sorcerers to the cause and was about to try enlisting the incomprehensible elves. Fortunately for his sanity, he did not know that his daughter Kadie had been carried off by goblin invaders, or that his son Gath was heading for stark Nordland to deal with the fearsome jotnar. Or that his wife, Inos, was in Guwash, negotiating with gnomes. Shandie, the rightful Imperor, was with her, unaware that his wife, Impress Eshiala, believed him dead and had fled with Signifer Ylo, that notorious rake. And none of them knew about the sorcerers of Thume, especially the rebel pixie girl, Thaïle, who chafed against the secret binding of a thousand years. But the odds were still impossible and Longday was fast approaching. The sorcerers of the world foretold blood on Longday.
eBook Publisher: E-Reads, 2005
eBookwise Release Date: June 2005
87 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [673 KB]
Reading time: 441-618 min.
The ancient house was hot in the summer night, holding the heat of the day behind windows long sealed. Its many rooms and corridors were stuffy and airless, smelling again of dust as they had before the visitors had come. They had all gone now, the visitors. The people had departed, lords and ladies, maidservants and manservants. Fireplaces had cooled, doors had been locked again, stillness had returned. For barely half a year the house had been a dwelling and now it was a tomb once more, a monument to its own long past.
The old woman wandered the halls and passageways, needing no more light than the beams of summer moonlight angling down from dusty casements. The Voices were upset tonight and her antique bones could not rest.
"What ails, Ghosts?" she called. "Why do you fret?"
No words answered. No wind rattled and wailed tonight, but the little creaks and groans told how the old house was cooling after the long, hot day, and in those tiny sounds she heard the Voices complaining.
"I do not understand!" she cried. "Speak louder."
Pale blue light made angular puddles on the floors. Rafters settled, beams creaked.
Again she called out. "He is gone. He stole away his lady, as you said he would. He took her away, and her child, also. They escaped. The others have departed. Those who came later asking questions have departed, too. There is only me. What ails, Ghosts? You can speak now."
Clicks and creaks and tappings...
"Danger? Is that it, then? He is in danger, or his lady? Speak louder. The child? Her child? What is her child to him?"
The old woman stood in darkness beside a patch of moonlight, her head cocked, straining to hear.
"What danger? That one they called Centurion? He is the danger? The one I shut in the cellar? I never trusted that one. Yes, you told me to beware of that one. Nasty, violent man. Shut him up in the cellar, we did, and let them escape."
Suddenly she cackled shrilly.
"Child? Another child? Well, that's different, isn't it? That's what love brings, isn't it, children?"
Chortling, she turned and wandered back the way she had come, slippers shuffling on the threadbare rugs.
"Nothing you can do about it, Ghosts. Nothing I can do. They're far away now, Ghosts. Have to handle the danger by themselves, won't they?" She chuckled hoarsely. "Another child! Well, what would you expect?" Floorboards creaked as she shuffled to the stairs.
"Going to be a problem, that one, isn't it?" she muttered.