Read The Silent Army Online

Authors: James A. Moore

Tags: #epic fantasy, #eternal war, #City of Wonders, #Seven Forges, #The Blasted Lands, #Sa'ba Taalor, #Gods of War

The Silent Army (26 page)

BOOK: The Silent Army
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“In some of the stories of the kings, they are reborn from their broken bodies. According to some of the legends, Durhallem raised Tuskandru from the dead.”

“Do you believe that?”

Drask shook his head. “No. I know that they can raise the dead, but I have never heard of it happening.” He tilted his head. “They have come close. Swech died. She sacrificed herself to Wrommish to hide among the Fellein. She died there, but they have only recently given her back her old body.”

“So they raised her from the dead?”

Drask shook his head. “More like they put her back in her own form. It is hard to say, I am only just learning of this.”

“How are you learning?”

“Tega and Nolan and I have been changed, Andover. I think we have bathed in the blood of the gods and been transformed.”

“I thought the blood of the Daxar Taalor was the metal in their hearts.”

“A different type of blood, perhaps. It is hard to say. All I know is that we are changed. We are changing. You ask if gods can raise the dead. I raised Brackka. Does that make me a god?”

“You raised
Brackka
? From the
dead
?” Andover’s voice was soft with surprise. He looked past Drask to Tega. She stared directly in his eyes and nodded her confirmation.

“Yes, I did.”

“Could you raise Delil?”

“I think so, but I see no reason.”

“What do you mean?”

“Delil lived the life she wanted, Andover. She fought for her gods, she lived well and served the Daxar Taalor. She was happy. If I bring her back that might not be the same.”

Andover stared hard at the man who had been his mentor. “I don’t understand. Why would you hesitate?”


You
would not hesitate, Andover. She is important in your world and you wish to be with her. But she is not important to me. She was my friend, but death is part of the world, even for gods. If I brought her back, it would not be for me or for her, it would be for you.”

“Would that be such a bad thing, Drask?”

Drask looked at him, stared deeply into his eyes. “You have already made a bargain to have her back, Andover Iron Hands. It is not my place to reach between a man and his gods.”

“But if I do not keep that bargain, if I should fail…” Guilt swept through him.

“Then your desire for Delil is not strong enough for you to test your faith.”

“Do you know what the gods want of me?” His voice broke momentarily.

“I have not listened to the gods since leaving the Blasted Lands.” Drask looked forward again. “They have been trying to speak to me, trying to get my attention. I suspect they would like their power back.” Drask looked his way again and raised his right hand. The silver there had grown, was sweeping up his arm all the way to his shoulder. “I imagine they want you to convince me to talk to them. Or they want you to kill me, Tega and Nolan.” There was an edge of menace in the man’s words that made it clear he would not die easily. “I will understand if you try. I have killed more than a few people I considered worthy of friendship because the gods demanded it. I will defend myself, Andover. If you attack me, I will kill you. Know that.”

They rode in silence for a long while. Tega stared at Andover as if she did not know him any longer. Perhaps that was true.

When Drask spoke again, his voice was calm. “You have met all of the Daxar Taalor, as have I, Andover. That is rarer than you know. There are fewer followers of Ydramil than you might think, because to truly be Ydramil’s follower, you must visit with all of the gods.”

Drask studied his own hand for a moment. “I do not ignore the gods because they have offended me. That is what you must understand. I do not ignore the gods at all. I am merely doing what Ydramil has always said to do.”

“And what is that, Drask?”

“Ganem is the Mirror King. Ydramil is the God of Silver, the God of Reflection.” Drask looked his way. “I am considering what my options might be. I am reflecting on the changes in my life as Ydramil has always asked of me.

“It is not all of the gods that have made an offer to you. Ydramil would not. Ydramil understands my heart.”

“Then why would the other gods ask me to kill you?”

“They are war gods, Andover. They will always ask for blood. It is their way.”

“Then perhaps if I offered them something else?”

“You can ask. I do not expect you will like the answer.”

Tega left her body, as she had done before her transformation, and dreamt herself a new form as her master had taught her to do.

The storm crow soared high, indeed, as high as the mountaintops, and then moved over the City of Wonders.

It was not hard to find Desh Krohan. He was in his chambers as she suspected he would be. It is not always easy to know a wizard, but it is far easier to know a man.

He did not need to look hard to know who she was.

Desh smiled and held out an arm. “Tega! I’d feared you dead. You have not responded in a very long time.”

Rather than land on his arm as she might have in the past, Tega took her own shape and settled on the ground beside him.

He was still looking surprised by her transformation when she hugged him fiercely. She’d had no plans to cry. She’d meant to merely let him know all that had happened but instead she found herself burying her face in his robes and wrapping her arms around his lean chest.

He said nothing. Instead he merely held her and let her grieve as she needed.

“They are all dead and it is my fault. I failed you a thousand times, Desh.”

“You are alive, Tega. You have not failed me. I have failed you. I should have never sent you to that miserable place.” He spoke into her hair and placed a dozen paternal kisses on her scalp.

After a time she could breathe again and pulled back from him.

Words were not enough sometimes. Instead of trying she touched her fingers to his head and showed him what had transpired. He seemed far less surprised than she would have expected. Then again he was on a floating city and an army of statues was moving about. Some events make the impossible less outrageous.

He showed her as she had shown him, and Tega burst into tears anew to learn that one of her teachers and friends, Goriah, was dead.

She was not alone. When Tega cried her grief out, Desh Krohan joined her. They held each other through the emotional storm and when it was mostly over Tega looked at him and said, “We could bring her back.”

“I’ve thought of it. I’ve considered it often. I have preserved her body for the possibility, because I do no want to bury her and I do not want to burn her. I do not want to lose any of my Sisters any more than I would ever want to lose you.”

“We could. The Daxar Taalor brought Swech back from the dead. That’s what Drask said.”

“How?”

“They are gods.”

Desh shook his head. “Even gods have their limits. Or at least they should.”

“There was something about her body. She was not in it and they cared for it. So bringing her back was not so hard for them.”

“Resurrection is almost impossible. To heal a wound is one thing. To put a spirit into a body and bind it is another.”

Tega shook her head. “You are thinking like a sorcerer, not like a god.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean a sorcerer must find the energy to do these things. Magic has a cost. You have always said this. The cost is the energy. Or the ability.” She waved her arms around. “This city, the Silent Army, they exist because you could draw on the deaths of thousands to rebuild, yes?”

“Yes, of course.” Desh looked at her carefully, like a parent looking for signs of a fever. “What is your point, Tega? I’m not going to kill a dozen people, even my enemies, in order to bring Goriah back. That is why those magics are forbidden. The temptation is strong, always, but it’s the wrong approach.”

“Desh, I have the power. It is inside me. Drask has the power inside him. Whatever we were supposed to find or not find in the Mounds, the power is in us.” She paused and thought of Drask recreating the Blasted Lands and bringing Brackka back from dust and ash.

“I have the power of the gods inside me, Desh. All three of us do. It is wondrous and terrifying.”

“Have you used this power?” He was calm as he asked, but he was also cautious.

“No. Of course not. I have already caused disasters without the power I have now.”

Desh nodded.

“That is why I am here. I wanted to give it to you. I think I can do that.”

Had she scalded him with boiling oil he could not have reacted as deeply.

He did not scream. He did not rail. Instead Desh looked at her as calmly as he could and shook his head. “I would not want it.”

“Why not?”

“Because I would want to use it.”

“But shouldn’t you?” Tega stepped closer to him, only vaguely aware that he had stepped back. “You could bring Goriah back. You could end this war.”

“No, Tega.” He placed his hands lightly on her shoulders. “Once upon a time I think that was what ruined Korwa. Too many people with too much power fought against each other and destroyed that place. Do you see? The power of the gods should not be wielded lightly.”

Tega frowned. “But the gods have cheated! They bring back the dead of the Sa’ba Taalor!”

Desh smiled. “How about we come to a compromise, then. We could bring back Goriah, if you truly want. But nothing else. Instead I would ask that you refrain from using any more of this power, in case, as I suspect, it could cause too much damage.”

There was no hesitation on her part. Tega smiled and nodded and once again hugged her instructor and friend. He hugged her back and she felt, for the moment, happier than she had in months.

“There is someone I need you to meet first, Tega. He has spoken with Goriah. He has asked her many questions.”

“I thought that forbidden, Desh.”

“Not to an Inquisitor.”

Within the hour they met. Tega looked at Darsken Murdro and was intrigued. She had never met a man with darker skin or eyes and no man she had ever seen wore his hair in so many braids. Even the Sa’ba Taalor she had seen, many of whom braided their locks, had never managed so many braids of varying lengths, all tied together.

When he smiled his face lit up like a child’s. She liked him.

Pella and Tataya were there, along with a small, muscular woman introduced as Cullen. Cullen had a ghost. She also had something hidden within her that felt like it had all the power of a tidal wave locked in a bottle.

Desh explained enough to let Darsken know that bringing Goriah back was possible without sacrifices.

Not far away Tataya and Pella were still mildly shocked to see Tega, but happy for all that. After everything that had happened they’d feared she was dead and that they had lost another of the family.

Jeron was missing. Tega knew of his name but that was all. He was not in the city that they could see and there was no word from him. The sorcerers had lost enough for now.

“You can bring her back?” Tataya spoke softly and moved to Tega, her arms moving around Tega’s shoulders and her body pressing to her from behind. She leaned into the embrace, taking comfort from the Sister. Pella looked closely at Tega and frowned in concentration.

“I cannot,” Tega shook her head. “But Desh can. I can only provide a means.”

Pella nodded but said nothing. Half of sorcery is understanding how the world functions. Pella looked at Tega and understood.

Desh looked at Darsken Murdro and asked only one question, “Would Goriah want to come back to us if she could?”

Darsken looked carefully at each of them. “Yes. But she knows the rules of sorcery and necromancy and would want no sacrifices to bring her back.”

“Then she will have none.” Desh nodded. “We will try once and only once.”

Tega smiled. “I have to leave soon. I have to get back before I am missed. I think there are things that still need to be done from down below. So we should work quickly.”

“What are they doing?” Deltrea looked at the gathered people and worried at a spectral fingernail. She was always curious, but now she seemed more concerned than anything else.

“They try to bring back the dead.”

“Not me I hope. I don’t think I’d like the shape of my body after all this time.”

“No. One of the other sorcerers.”

“Hmmph. Just as well. I wouldn’t want to be alive again.”

“Liar.”

“Maybe so. Still, no one has asked me.”

The short blonde woman who clung to Desh Krohan like an infant with her father looked their way for a moment and smiled timidly. Cullen smiled and nodded. Deltrea realized she could be seen by the girl and immediately waved and smiled as well.

“See? That one I like. Not nearly as rude as the wizard.”

“I think they are all wizards.”

Deltrea moved closer. “Is that the one they’re bringing back?”

There was only one body on a table. The corpse was pretty as corpses go, but still only one more corpse as far as Cullen was concerned. She couldn’t imagine wanting to be reborn into the world after all that had gone wrong. Trecharch was gone. Her home, her people, almost all of them destroyed and instead of trying to stop the enemy, the group here worried about bringing back one person. She wondered idly what made that one so special but decided not to dwell on it.

She didn’t really know what to expect but it was a simple enough affair.

Desh Krohan made markings on the body of the dead girl. Some might have seen his caressing of flesh as obscene, but he obviously took no pleasure from it and he broke a sweat as he concentrated. The little blonde girl stood beside him, and he reached for her at one point and their hands clutched together.

Then the lights came. Cullen felt like she was seeing the sun for the first time. The lights were warm and bright and comforting even though their intensity scared her a bit.

The lights ran from the girl to the sorcerer to the corpse and there they danced along each and every mark that the sorcerer had made before they sank into the cold, dead flesh.

After a moment the corpse shook and took in a breath before groaning and sitting up.

She was lovely. She had cold features, but they were structured well. High cheekbones, full lips, blue eyes and hair so blonde it bordered on white.

BOOK: The Silent Army
10.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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