|Chapter 1||Chapter 2|
|Chapter 3||Chapter 4|
|Chapter 6||Chapter 7|
|Chapter 8||Chapter 9|
|Chain of Dogs|
|Chapter 11||Chapter 12|
|Chapter 13||Chapter 14|
|Chapter 15||Chapter 16|
|Chapter 17||Chapter 18|
|Chapter 19||Chapter 20|
|Chapter 21||Chapter 22|
|Chapter 23||Chapter 24|
I saw the sun's bolt
arc an unerring path
to the man's forehead.
As it struck, the crows
converged like night
A wounded Kalam Mekhar pulls himself to shore under the Malaz City docks. To survive the swim he has been forced to discard his shirt, chain armour, and weapons. He is able to slow the bleeding in his side through concentration before making his way into the city, thankful that clouds obscure the moon, keeping the streets dark. He breaks into a dockside warehouse and secures a leather blacksmith's shirt as well as tools that can be used as improvised weapons.
Slipping out of the warehouse, he ambushes two Claw assassins hidden within a sorcerous shadow. Afterwards, he collects their gear including throwing stars, knives, a garrotte, and a cherished Claw crossbow, as well as a black hooded cloak. Now it is his turn to hunt the hunters. He soon discovers and dispatches another group of Claw. Kalam speaks to their leader's corpse and is soon communicating with the Clawmaster Topper. Kalam warns Topper that he is coming for him even as Topper sends more Hands to Malaz City through the Imperial Warren. Kalam eliminates one Hand before they even have time to adjust to their new surroundings.
Fiddler, Apsalar, Crokus, Mappo (with Icarium in his arms), Iskaral Pust, and Rellock find themselves in the Azath Warren. The ground is an endless mosaic of multicoloured stones in all directions. Pust complains that Icarium should have been left in the hands of Tremorlor while Rellock notes that the stones in the tile at his feet form a map of the Kanese coast as well as Cawn, Kartool Island, and Malaz Island. Fiddler is astonished, considering this is only one tile among many extending for leagues. How many worlds must the Azath make their homes in? And how will they find their way out?
Crokus curses when he notices that Pust has abandoned them. Then Mappo notices a ragged hole where Pust must have fallen. The mosaic tiles are revealed to be only an inch thick and the only thing separating them from an abyss. As they walk away from the hole, it fills in again without being observed.
Later, Mappo and Icarium disappear unexpectedly through a different hole nearly taking Apsalar with them. The others are able to pull her back and Fiddler quickly ties them together with a length of rope. If one falls they will all fall together. With a gust of wind, three dragons pass overhead before plunging through the ground nearby. The travelers conclude that their friends are not dead, but that the Azath will let them pass through the floor when they get where they are going.
Korbolo Dom's warriors celebrate their victory over Coltaine within sight of Aren's walls. Meanwhile Commander Blistig sets the Aren Guard to feeding and assisting the surviving refugees from the Chain of Dogs inside the city's north gate. Aren's soldiers are demoralized and anguished over High Fist Pormqual's refusal to let them assist Coltaine during his final stand.
Duiker wanders amongst the refugees seeking refugee in unseeing oblivion. The surviving Wickan youths huddle protectively around Nil and Nether. No word has been received from the Silanda with its cargo of wounded. Adjunct Tavore Paran is reported to be less than a week away and Sha'ik is said to be marching towards the city with an army twice the size of Dom's. Mallick Rel is with Pormqual formulating strategy.
Duiker is shaken out of his stupor by Blistig, who demands he report to Pormqual. It is nearly dawn and the High Fist plans to march out of the city at dawn and attack Dom's drunk and sated troops. Blistig says Pormqual has only the words of the noble Nethpara to go by, and deserves to hear the facts from a soldier like Duiker. Nethpara underreports the number of enemy soldiers and blames Coltaine's failure on his own incompetence. Pormqual plans to empty the city of its defenders during the attack while leaving the Red Bladeslocked in the city's dungeons. Only Duiker can stop a disaster.
Blistig rushes Duiker to Pormqual's presence, but the High Fist cuts him off, already poisoned against the historian by the counsel of Nethpara and Pullyk Alar. He promises to arrest Duiker and the Wickan warlocks for treachery after the battle is complete. Nethpara gloats over Duiker's fate and the historian responds with a brutal kick to the noble's throat, killing him. He promises similar treatment to Rel, who he names "Jhistal", before Pormqual orders the troops to move out taking Duiker with them.
Captain Keneb hears the word "Jhistal" and wonders why it is setting off alarm bells in his head. By the time the soldiers surge out the gate, Keneb recalls a memory from the first days of the rebellion and races to find Blistig.
Pormqual's army marches out onto the plain and Dom's army panics and breaks in front of them. The Malazan cavalry pursues out of sight beyond the burial mounds that line the Aren Way hoping to encircle the fleeing warriors. Pormqual, his spirits raised by imminent victory, and the infantry hurry to catch up. They find the enemy in a vast basin, but there is no sign of the Malazan cavalry.
Duiker is suspicious even before the "routed" troops suddenly turn to face the enemy. Soon the hills surrounding the basin are lined with Apocalypse horsemen. Pormqual's army is surrounded. Rel claims treachery, pointing at Duiker. Then he persuades Pormqual that their only option is to surrender or face annihilation. Duiker argues for a fighting retreat, but he is shouted down. Rel meets with Dom's representatives and Dom agrees to take the army prisoner with their release to be negotiated with Adjunct Tavore. They need only lay down their weapons. Pormqual agrees.
Duiker realizes what is really happening and releases his horse saying it is the least he can do for her. Within an hour the army has been disarmed and Pormqual's ten thousand men await their fate. Korbolo Dom and Kamist Reloe arrive to congratulate their ally Mallick Rel, and Rel is pleased to deliver the city of Aren to them in Sha'ik's name. Duiker laughs in Rel's face, pleased to inform him that Blistig did not follow orders and remained behind with the Aren Guard to hold the city's walls. Rel strikes Duiker in a rage, but Dom holds him back. He honors Duiker as a soldier by allowing him to share the same fate as his fellows. A confused Pormqual demands to know what is happening and a warchief cuts off the High Fist's head with a blow of his tulwar. Dom demands the presence of the soldier who killed Coltaine with his arrow, but no one has seen Squint since the deed.
Then the slaughter begins as Dom's soldiers descend on the unarmed Malazans. The dead and dying are dragged to the Aren Way where they are crucified along the road's entire three league length. Duiker is the last to be nailed to a tree at the road's northern-most extent. In unbelievable agony, Duiker recalls the friends and comrades who await him at Hood's Gate: Bult, List, Lull, Sulmar, Mincer, Kulp, Heboric, and his nameless marine. In his mind's eye the Jaghut ghost of the Vathar Crossing appears to grieve him, its eyes filled with compassion.
Then all goes dark.