Read Myrren's Gift Online

Authors: Fiona McIntosh

Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #General

Myrren's Gift

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Myrren’s Gift

The Quickening Book One

Fiona McIntosh

For my own special trilogy…

Ian, Will, and Jack

Contents

Map

Prologue

He knew the injury would be fatal. Accepted it at…

Chapter 1

Gueryn looked to his left at the solemn profile of…

Chapter 2

In the end it was her eyes that gave them…

Chapter 3

Celimus was frustrated. He paced the courtyard angrily awaiting a…

Chapter 4

The column of people scrambled out of the city to…

Chapter 5

Alyd Donal could not keep the smile from his face.

Chapter 6

Wyl sat in a tiny, elevated courtyard known as the…

Chapter 7

The day of the tournament dawned sharp and bright over…

Chapter 8

A reckless mood had hit Alyd and Wyl that evening. With…

Chapter 9

Fynch was four when his father first pressed him into…

Chapter 10

Magnus died in an opium-induced stupor as he gazed absently…

Chapter 11

The company moved out of Stoneheart’s eastern gate in a…

Chapter 12

Later, when valor’s chancellor met with Wyl and Romen he…

Chapter 13

The Briavellian guards died swiftly. The attack, as violent as…

Chapter 14

Wyl and Romen fought in frigid silence.

Chapter 15

Wyl took cover in a small grove of trees he…

Chapter 16

Wyl allowed the king’s physic to see to his wound.

Chapter 17

Wyl expected to be fine at his own funeral but…

Chapter 18

Wyl and knave navigated their way to a little-used courtyard…

Chapter 19

Fynch and knave made it back to Briavel on foot…

Chapter 20

For the first time in many days Wyl felt his…

Chapter 21

This time when Wyl regained his senses he was lying…

Chapter 22

Elspyth came up behind the man who had been described…

Chapter 23

Celimus was bored with the woman and her fawning manner…

Chapter 24

Elspyth regained her wits first.

Chapter 25

They were shown to separate guarded chambers. The rooms were…

Chapter 26

Wyl took advantage of the afternoon to sleep. His dreams…

Chapter 27

They gathered in the mountain hall, a vast cave over…

Chapter 28

An observer might be forgiven for assuming that the king…

Chapter 29

Gueryn left his companions, trailing their horses behind him. Wyl’s…

Chapter 30

Gueryn moved in and out of his dreamlike state, never…

Chapter 31

The three of them trudged higher. Lothryn had been right…

Chapter 32

Wyl worried at not finding Elspyth. By nightfall his anxiety…

Chapter 33

Wyl pushed his horse hard. Once again he relied on…

Chapter 34

Fynch buried his small hand into the raff of fur…

Chapter 35

Valentyna left instructions for Romen Koreldy with her chancellor before…

Chapter 36

Alight breeze carried the scent of mint and basil and…

Chapter 37

Celimus had never felt more sure of himself. Here he…

Chapter 38

Heralds in full regalia blew brightly on their instruments to…

Chapter 39

He was flattered by her genuine admiration of the stallion…

Chapter 40

Liiyk was impressed by how many Briavellians had made the…

Chapter 41

Celimus stepped forward, keenly feeling the triumph, and ripped back…

Epilogue

Wyl sensed the regret in Liiyk, who joined the four-man…

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

PRAISE

BOOKS BY FIONA MCINTOSH

CREDITS

COVER

COPYRIGHT

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER

Prologue

He knew the injury would be fatal. Accepted it at the very moment he caught the sword’s menacing glint as it slashed down.

Fergys Thirsk, favorite son of Morgravia, began the last part of his journey toward death as a gray dawn sluggishly stretched itself across the winter sky. He faced his end with the same courage he had called upon for all of his life as General of the Legion.

It had been the King’s idea to attack the Briavellians gathered on an opposite hillside under the cloak of night. To Fergys it had seemed somehow ignoble to interrupt the traditional night’s peace in which men sat quietly around small fires, some singing, others deep in thought as to whether they might live through another day of battle. But the King had fixed his mind on this bold plan to take his enemy by surprise on a night had already run red with the blood of both armies earlier that day and Fergys had been reluctant to put the men to the sword again so soon. But his sovereign had persisted and Thirsk had accepted the challenge.

There had been no sense of foreboding as he carried out his monarch’s wishes and led the attack. He simply did not like the plan. Fergys was a man of honor and tradition. War had a code that he preferred to observe rather than flout.

Nevertheless he had fought ferociously but had been disturbed when Magnus, his friend and king, going against his wishes, had joined the fray. Without further thought Fergys had planted his feet and grimly dispatched three Briavellians before he was able to make a move toward protecting his sovereign.

“The white cloak’s suitably inconspicuous?” he had yelled above the din toward his oldest, dearest friend.

Magnus had ignored the sarcasm and even had the audacity to wink back. “Got to let Valor know I was here when his army was beaten into submission.”

It was a reckless act and more dangerous than the King could have suspected. They were fighting on Briavel’s side of the river and once the element of surprise had passed, both armies had gotten down to the business of slaughtering one another. Valor’s men were no cowards and had worked with a newfound passion to repel Morgravia.

Fergys had noticed Briavel’s standard—signaling that Valor too was in the thick of the fighting—and remembered now, as lifegiving blood leaked from him, how he had feared for both Kings.

With Briavel having the advantage of higher ground, Fergys had made the decision to pull back. His army had already inflicted a terrible price on its enemy; no need for either of these sovereigns to die. He knew by daybreak and the inevitable clash that would come later that day Morgravia would overcome its enemy once again. So he had given the order and his men had obeyed immediately.

All except one.

And it was that one man whom Fergys Thirsk had sworn to protect. The one he would give his life for.

As with the Thirsk Generals who had gone before him, Fergys had lived long, so the only regret that surfaced as the killing blow came was his absence from the family he loved. Fergys was not at all used to losing but it seemed Shar had asked more of him on this occasion; his god had asked for his life and he had given what had been requested without hesitation. He had fought so many battles and rarely returned with more than surface wounds.

And this battle had looked to be no exception until he had seen the danger, heard the man’s battle cry, and deliberately stepped in front of that slashing sword. Up to that fateful moment only a thin line of dried blood across one cheek marked the closest a blade had come to threatening him. Duty, however, came first.

Fergys had not even paused to consider the implications of pushing aside King Magnus, knowing he would have no time to block the inevitable blow. The only thing standing between the King and certain death was Fergys’s own body. The blade struck, fate guiding it ingeniously beneath the breastplate.

He cried out at the pain from the sucking wound in his abdomen but did not falter, too intent was he on dispatching the Briavellian and ensuring the life of his King. Only then did Fergys Thirsk fall, not yet dead but commencing the longest journey of all.

As they had hurried him from the battleground and back over the Tague, he was still calling orders to his captains. Once he had heard the full retreat sounded, he lay back on the canvas that would bear him back to Morgravia’s camp. This journey seemed endless and he now used the time to reflect on his life.

There was little to complain about.

He was loved. That in itself should be enough for any man, he reasoned, but then there was so much more. He commanded respect—had earned it too—and he had walked shoulder to shoulder with a King whom he called friend. More than friend…blood brother.

That brother now walked in shock by his side, giving orders, fussing for his care, whispering to himself that it was all his fault; his stupidity and recklessness had seen the great General felled. It was all pointless. Fergys tried to tell the man this but there was insufficient strength in his voice to speak above the din of the retreat. If he could have he would have hushed his blood brother and reminded him that Shar’s Gatherers had spoken and whether any of them liked it or not he must now answer that call. No regrets. Duty done.

Men were bowing their heads as the stretcher passed by. Fergys wished he could somehow convey his thanks to each. The Legion produced exceptional soldiers, loyal to a man to his command. He spared an anxious thought for how they would accept the new General, yearned for a last opportunity to beg their tolerance. “Give the boy a chance.” he would beseech. “He will be all that I am and better still.” And he hoped it would be true.

He thought of the youngster. Serious and a firm follower of tradition. Tarred by the same brush, as they say, especially in looks. They were plain, stocky, fearless men, the Thirsks, and this boy was already shaping up as a leader. The Morgravian Legion followed a curious tradition of handing down leadership from father to son. Fergys wondered if it could last. The lad was so young. Would he have time to sire his own heir to continue the Thirsk tradition or would a new family vie for the right to lead the army?

Thirsks had led the Legion through two centuries now. It was an extraordinary history for one family that bred sons with warrior capabilities, tempered with intelligence.

The dying man’s bearers were nearing the tent that he knew would be his final resting place. Once he was laid down he would have to concentrate on his King for as long as his heart held out. He wanted time to think about his beautiful wife. Helyna. of whom so much lived on in their son. Not her looks, mind. Those exquisite features belonged to their daughter alone. Fergys grimaced, not from pain so much as grief. His daughter was so young…too young to lose both parents.

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