Read Kathir's Redemption (Book 6) Online

Authors: Kristian Alva

Tags: #YA fantasy, #epic fantasy, #dark fantasy, #fantasy, #dragons

Kathir's Redemption (Book 6) (3 page)

BOOK: Kathir's Redemption (Book 6)
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She gestured for Tallin to step forward, and he went, stepping cautiously over the still-quivering tiles.

Now, the High Priest wishes to speak with you, and I shall not keep him waiting any longer.

She pointed to a black spot before the door.

Kneel  here in front of the door, with your eyes down.

Tallin shook his head.

No. As I told you before, I don

t kneel to anyone.


Don

t be a fool,

she snapped. 

You know that we can force you to do anything we want, right?


You

re certainly welcome to try.

Skera-Kina glared at him briefly, then buried a curse under her breath. They were interrupted by a clicking sound. Skera-Kina paused and looked expectantly at the door. After a few moments, a stick-thin old man appeared in the doorway, surrounded by armed guards in brightly-colored clothing.

Skera-Kina bowed deeply.

Your Grace.

The High Priest had been tall once, but was now stooped. His dark robes hung loosely from his withered frame. The priest

s eyes were a piercing blue, and his face and neck were creased like an old map.

At first, Tallin assumed that his skin was naturally dark, like a desert nomad

s, but upon further inspection, he saw that it was simply the effect of his warding tattoos. They were extensive and were even darker than Skera-Kina

s.


Your prisoner isn

t kneeling, Skera-Kina.

Given his frail appearance, his voice sounded surprisingly strong. The rebuke reverberated in the open space.


Begging your pardon, Your Grace,

she said.

This prisoner is obstinate. He refuses to kneel and claims that he doesn

t kneel to anyone

not even his own king.

The High Priest raised one eyebrow.

Is that so? Why is that? Are the Dragon Riders considered gods now?


No,

replied Tallin.

The Dragon Riders do not purport to be gods or kings. We are independent of any political leadership.

The old man chuckled. He sounded amused, rather than angry.

Heh, heh! Such lively talk for someone in your position.

Skera-Kina spread her hands.

I

m sorry, Your Grace. He is impertinent and bad-tempered, even more so than the other prisoners.

The High Priest looked thoughtful for a moment.

That reminds me

what about the other captives

the elves and the old woman? Have you questioned them?

Skera-Kina shook her head.

We tried, Your Grace. The dwarf-woman is uncooperative, and the elves have been subdued through iron poisoning. They cannot speak.

The High Priest nodded and stepped back.

Fine. I shall question them myself. Bring them to me. They are more likely to be cooperative when their friends are present, don

t you think? I can use various forms of

persuasion with the others. You may leave this one here with me.

Skera-Kina looked alarmed.

Are you sure, Your Grace? This prisoner is very powerful. I would advise that you wait
—”


No one asked for your advice, Skera-Kina,

the old man sneered.

I

ve considered the matter. I shall use these four prisoners as bait

to lure other dragon riders to Balbor. When they arrive, their dragons will be captured and bred. We will finally have Balborite dragon riders again, as it was in the ancient days. This has always been my plan. It is time for Balbor to return to its former greatness.


Your Grace,

Skera-Kina implored again.

I understand your plans, but the prisoner...

The High Priest

s voice was cold when he spoke again.

Do not question me, Skera-Kina. Fetch the other prisoners. Leave this one here. My personal guards are with me. They can handle him.

Tallin felt Skera-Kina

s hand tighten reflexively on his shoulder. He swiped an errant red lock behind his ear and lowered his head, suppressing a smile. This old fool was so used to everyone hanging on his every word that he ignored even sound advice!


Please be careful with him, Your Grace,

Skera-Kina warned one last time.

The priest looked Tallin and down and, when their eyes met, Tallin could see boredom in the old man

s eyes. 

Somehow I don

t think he

s going to be much of a threat. Now go. You risk my displeasure if I have to ask you again.

She cleared her throat and bowed.

I hear and obey, Your Grace.

Reluctantly, she exited the chamber. Once she left, the High Priest smiled and turned around. A casual flick of his hand indicated that Tallin should follow him. A guard sealed the metal door behind them.

Tallin and the High Priest walked together through a large chamber lined with slender white columns, each lit with a giant red candle. Dozens of armed guards lined the walls. They stood and watched, with bored expressions on their faces. One of them even yawned as Tallin passed by.

Tallin and the High Priest continued down an ivory-colored carpet and stopped in front of a huge, elevated dais with a gilded chair. The same swirling tiles were underneath Tallin

s feet. The tiles stretched far into the shadowed corners of the room.

The High Priest went up the steps and sat down in his chair. He saw Tallin staring down at the tiles.

Ah, so Skera-Kina told you about the spirit tiles, didn

t she? It

s quite an clever spell, isn

t it?


No. Spirit-magic is evil and unnatural.

The High Priest chuckled. His eyes danced with wicked glee.

You are too soft, dwarf! The spirits serve an important purpose. They protect me as well as anyone else inside my chambers. Even the smallest spell upsets them, and any spell cast directly against me would mean instant death. I

ve seen them in action several times

it

s really quite entertaining.

Tallin wondered what kind of man would find the sight of spirits devouring someone alive
entertaining
. But then, what kind of man was the High Priest of Balbor? The High Priest was not mageborn and had simply inherited his position from his father. He probably didn

t understand the consequences of such a dark spell.


How long have spirits been trapped inside these floors?

Tallin asked.

The High Priest shrugged.

I cannot say. The tiles have been there for the entirety of my tenure, that of my father, and of his father before him.

Tallin

s eyebrows shot up.

These souls have been trapped inside this floor for hundreds of years?


Yes

much longer than that, I suppose,

he grunted.

Why does it matter?

Tallin paused, forming a plan. It was a gamble, but he had to take it.

It matters

because spirit prisons become increasingly unstable over time. They eventually falter if the spirits aren

t fed regularly or released.

The old man laughed and pointed a bony finger in Tallin

s direction.

You

re lying, trying to frighten me! It's not going to work though.

Tallin shrugged.

I

m not lying, and today you

re going to find out why this type of magic is so dangerous. These shadow-spirits are going to blot you out of existence.

The old man

s eyes narrowed dangerously.

You

re trying to unsettle me, but it

s not going to work. I think it

s time for you to kneel. Guards! Help this prisoner to his knees!

The guards closed in on Tallin from all directions. He raised a glowing hand defensively.

The priest wagged a bony finger at him.

Don

t try it! Remember, to attack me with magic inside these chambers means instant death!

Tallin looked down. The tiles were already swirling wildly at his feet, vibrating underneath him. Tallin lowered his hand and snuffed out his magical bolt. The tiles stopped moving. The priest wasn

t lying about that

the spirits were agitated by any type of spell. Tallin lowered his body into a fighting stance, ready to do things the hard way.

The old man cackled.

Ready for violence then? Good, that is the Balborite way! The god of death can call for us at any time! Only through our strength do we feed him the blood of others and appease him. For you, the god of death is near!

A single guard advanced toward him. The guard was younger than Tallin but he had a protruding belly that suggested overindulgent drinking.

Show some respect, prisoner! Kneel before His Grace with your head bowed!

The guard reached out, grabbed Tallin roughly and tried to wrench him to the floor. Tallin jerked his arm away and stepped back. The guard swung wildly, aiming for his face, but Tallin ducked before the guard

s fist could make contact.

Tallin heard the other guards laughing behind him. It was obvious they didn

t get much excitement in their daily lives.

Suddenly, Tallin

s felt his dragon stone grow warm against his chest. His fingers fluttered upward to touch it, and he heard the faintest whisper of Duskeye

s voice. From somewhere far away, he heard his friend

s frantic voice.


Hold on, Tallin! We are near! We

re coming to save you!

The shock of hearing Duskeye

s voice left Tallin distracted long enough for the guard to twist himself around and hit him on the back of the head with his fist. Tallin stumbled and fell forward. The priest

s sneering laughter sounded behind him.

Don

t fight it! Just kneel, dwarf!

The guard grabbed the back of Tallin

s shirt and dragged him across the floor.

Four more guards stepped forward to subdue him. Tallin knew that he was physically outmatched. Without his defensive spells, there was no way he could defeat all the guards inside the chamber. His strength was failing, and he had only just begun to fight.

Still, there was one thing he could try. Did he dare risk it? His mind raced. Skera-Kina said that the spirits would strike if anyone attacked the High Priest. But what if the spirits were freed? Would they react differently?

Tallin said a silent prayer and hoped that his faded recollection of his dark magic classes at Aonach Tower were correct. If the spirits did not react as he expected them to, he was a dead man. The gamble was desperate, but so was his situation.

BOOK: Kathir's Redemption (Book 6)
13.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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