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Authors: Frank P. Ryan

The Tower of Bones

BOOK: The Tower of Bones
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First published in Great Britain in 2012 by

Jo Fletcher Books
an imprint of Quercus
55 Baker Street
7
th
Floor, South Block
London
W1U 8EW

Copyright © 2012 Frank P. Ryan

The moral right of Frank P. Ryan to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

eBook ISBN 978 1 78087 741 9
Print ISBN 978 1 78087 740 2

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

You can find this and many other great books at:
www.quercusbooks.co.uk
and
www.jofletcherbooks.com

Frank P. Ryan is a multiple-bestselling author, in the UK and US. His other fiction includes the thrillers
Goodbye Baby Blue
and
Tiger Tiger
. His books have been translated into more than ten different languages. Born in Ireland, he now lives in England. Visit him at
www.frankpryan.com

Also by Frank P. Ryan

The Snowmelt River

For Amy

Other rumours, equally venerable, tell a different tale – that long before the age of mortals there was a great war between the dragons and a brutal race of titans. So lasting and terrible was this conflict that the bones of the slain are still scattered over the blighted lands. It is said that the titans eventually won this war to bring to an end the Age of Dragons. This ushered in the Age of Tyranny, when mortals served no purpose other than enslavement, a tyranny that was ended by the coming of the Arinn.

If such be true, deliverance surely came with a price.

Ussha De Danaan: last High Architect of Ossierel

Contents

Lost

The New Kyra

A Song of Innocence

Feed the Beast

The Council-in-Exile

The Prophecy

Slug Beast and Lizard-Dung

The Portal

The Riddle of the Way

Communication

The Fáil

The Triangular Shadow

Unwelcome News

Cat and Mouse

Anathema and Plot

Nightshade

Ghost Talk

Shiny Things

The Red Star

Scrags ’n’ Bones

The Amulet

The Sacrifice of the Dragons

A Splinter of Malice

Mysteries Still

The Gyre

A Vision of Apocalypse

Making A Stand

Preparations

The Cill

Into the Chasm

The Momu

An Unlikely Capture

Resurrection

Fears and Suspicions

An Important Journey

The City of the Ancients

A Historic Meeting

A Penitence of Blood

The Forest of Harrow

Golden Heart

Soul Stealers

Fangorath

The Dragon King

A Painful Goodbye

At Feimhin’s Grave

Lost

From her Tower of Bones the Witch’s song ravished the night. There were no words to the song but still it managed to convey a terrifying mixture of power and triumph, flowing far and wide over the blasted landscape, eliciting echoes here and there among the wolves attracted to her swamps and marshes. They howled an answering chorus, gathering about the hill of the dead, snarling and snapping at one another with hunger. The Tower was a cyclopean skull, vast as a castle in its proportions and horned and fanged like some monstrous beast. Within this terrible fastness, in a freezing dungeon that was only faintly illuminated by a pulsating red light, an emaciated young woman lay face down against the floor, her hands pressed against her ears, her auburn hair dank and tangled, mixing with the dust and spiders’ webs. But nothing she did could keep out the dreadful melody.

What was she doing here, in this alien world of
continuous nightmare? How long had she been a prisoner of the Witch?

She had no answers to these questions. She had no memory of coming here to the Tower of Bones. She hardly recalled who she was any more. But now, struggling against the invasion of her mind by the Witch’s song, she insisted on remembering her name.

I’m Kate Shaunessy. Kate Shaunessy from the town of Clonmel.

Slowly, through an impassioned effort of will, she recalled snatches of her childhood in the small town in Ireland, with just the Comeragh range of mountains separating it from the Atlantic Ocean. It was a struggle to bring to mind the street names or any clear memory of her home there. Still it comforted her to recall glimpses of the town’s meandering streets, the remnants of its ancient walls and the great river that flowed through it, with its three or four limestone bridges … and, most precious of all, the names and faces of her friends. Maureen Grimstone … Mo … Mo and her brother, Mark. And Alan …
Alan
!

I couldn’t bear it if I lost their names …

She recited the small litany again and again. Mo, with her long brown hair and her beautiful hazel eyes. The best friend she had ever had … and Mark … and Alan … Alan, the boy she had fallen in love with, who wasn’t from Clonmel, or from England, like Mo and Mark, but from America.

Even now, recalling such things, recalling Alan’s name,
her heart raced within the half-starved cage of her chest.
Please … please! Stop it! Stop stealing my memories. Stop taking everything that matters from me!

Climbing to her feet, she threw herself bodily against the wall of her cell. She smashed her fists against the hard reverberating surface that looked and felt like bone. She shrieked it aloud: ‘
I am Kate Shaunessy … from … from Clonmel!’
She must never forget its name or the … the calling. The calling had led them to gather the waters of the three rivers … the sisters.
The River!
If she could only clear her mind sufficiently to remember things. The river’s name … The river that flowed past her garden every day of her life. What was its name?

The Suir – she remembered its name.

She remembered more. All four of them had been seduced into leaving Earth. They had carried the waters of the three sisters to the portal on the mountain of Slievenamon. Through the portal they had arrived, as if by magic, into this alien world of Tír. Their coming here had been for a purpose. They had freed the bear people, the Olhyiu, from slavery in the Arctic wilderness of the Whitestar Mountains. They had sailed the Snowmelt River in the Temple Ship. But that had only been the beginning of why they had been brought here into this alien world …

Already her mind was hurting from the effort at remembering. The Witch was invading her being, stealing her mind again. The past seemed so long ago … an eternity …

With her fingers in her ears to block out the song, she insisted again:
I can’t forget … I won’t forget!

To memory, unbidden, came a beautiful morning, early, under a summer’s sky. Alan was waiting for her. He was astride his bicycle, outside the gates. With a mixture of terror and grief she held tight to that memory, that one brief moment of clarity like an island of wonder in the cloudy seas of her memories.

The memory became overwhelming. The clumsy kiss of the shy, gangly boy – Alan. And how, in that moment, she knew she loved him.

A sound of screaming in the corridor beyond her cell: the clatter of calloused bare feet in the echoing labyrinths of bone. The unmistakable snap of a Garg-tail whip. Faltana was lashing some unfortunate creature. Kate trembled with fright, struggling to recover the precious vision of something so beautiful, but already it had slipped away.

I’m lost
, she thought.
I’ve died and gone to hell – and there’s nothing that anybody can do to help me
.

The New Kyra

Across the three-mile-wide estuary of the Snowmelt River, the walled City of Carfon was ghostly in the half-light of dawn. For Alan Duval the stroll, in the company of his friend, the dwarf mage Qwenqwo Cuatzel, offered a brief respite from the despair that had set, like an iron cage, around his heart. Tall, slim, almost gaunt in his features, with his thick brown hair grown a little wild and long, he kept the sea to his right as he headed in broad sweeping strides towards the surf.

Carfon
! He spoke its name softly, as a man might speak of a fabled wonder, even when that wonder confronts him in solid stone. Carfon, pearl of the Eastern Ocean, and the last free city in the entire continent of Monisle.

No description in words could have prepared him for the reality of this vision. The walls were a vast cliff face of masoned granite, two hundred feet high on their aprons and a quarter as much again atop the towers that studded
the battlemented summit, with row upon row of bronze cannons lowering defensively over sea and landscape. Now, leaning on the heavy spear he had been using like a shepherd’s staff, its upright blade spirally twisted and warded over its cutting edges with Ogham runes, he stared across the choppy water at this brooding fortification.

Yet for all their impregnable appearance those walls were threatened. There were enemies in this strange and menacing world that would be undaunted by any protection of cannons and stone. Carfon might fall, no matter that such an eventuality was unthinkable. And uppermost in the plans of the enemy, as in his own, was the fact that deep within those ancient walls was the portal to the most powerful force of all, a force so dreadful none dared openly to speak its name.

BOOK: The Tower of Bones
10.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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