|House of Chains|
|Faces in the Rock|
|Chapter 1||Chapter 2|
|Chapter 3||Chapter 4|
|Chapter 5||Chapter 6|
|Chapter 7||Chapter 8|
|Chapter 9||Chapter 10|
|Chapter 11||Chapter 12|
|Chapter 13||Chapter 14|
|Chapter 15||Chapter 16|
|Chapter 17||Chapter 18|
|House of Chains|
|Chapter 19||Chapter 20|
|Chapter 21||Chapter 22|
|Chapter 23||Chapter 24|
|Chapter 25||Chapter 26|
At night ghosts come
In rivers of grief,
To claw away the sand
Beneath a man’s feet
Kalam Mekhar is browsing the wares of shop in a sparsely crowded marketplace in G'danisban. Among the items of questionable provenance are looted tomb decorations, weapons, and various Decks of Dragons. The shopkeeper tells Kalam about the recent changes to the Deck, including the new Unaligned card known as the Master of the Deck as well as the rise of a previously unknown House of Chains with the Crippled God as its King. The old man shows Kalam several knives he says are booty from the Chain of Dogs. One is a Wickan blade alloyed with Otataral and the other is invested with Elder magic and a stamp Kalam recognises. He buys the knives with some of Cotillion's diamonds and the shopkeeper notes the strange darkness inside them. Before Kalam leaves, the shopkeeper laments the loss of trade during the rebellion. He says many of the city's residents are over at the nearby B'ridys fortress holding the Malazan soldiers there under seige.
Kalam arrives at the fortress by mid-morning, noting that the five hundred or so besiegers have lost their patience and are readying an assault. He spots a group of soldiers and, playing the role of an Army of the Whirlwind veteran, says he wants to join them in the attack. The soldiers are mostly former members of the Ashok Regiment—a Malazan auxiliary unit made up of Seven Cities residents. Their commanding officer identifies himself as Captain Irriz, although Kalam notes he wears a Lieutenant's uniform. The self-promoted Captain tells Kalam that a mage, Sinn, has just arrived who says she can blow a hole in the fortress and end the siege with one last assault. It will commence at first light. When Kalam asks who commands the besieged Malazans, he is told it is Captain Kindly. Irriz has a personal grudge against the man and hopes to capture him alive.
Kalam wakes up in the middle of the night and sneaks toward the fortress. He sees Sinn at the base of the fortifications using sorcery. She notices his approach when his otataral blade interferes with her magic. They both realize that neither is on the side of the besiegers and both plan on helping the Malazans in the fortress. Sinn tells him that she has already taken care of Irriz and his soldiers by poisoning the water with Tralb, thinking it would only incapacitate them. Kalam asks how much she used and realizes that it is enough to kill anyone who drank horribly. Fortunately, only three guards had drank the poisoned water, and Kalam leaves Sinn for a moment to kill them mercifully. Some Malazans from the fortress descend the wall with ropes, and Kalam realizes they were being watched. He notices the besieged Malazans do not look hungry or parched. They inform Kalam that they can leave anytime they want via back routes, but have nowhere to go, as the entire land is out for Malazan blood. Kalam agrees to accompany the Malazans into the fortress with Sinn.
Before he joins them, he pulls out one of the diamonds Cotillion gave him and blows on a bone whistle to summon the Azalan demon from inside it. He instructs the demon to retrieve Irriz alive and join him at the rope. As Kalam starts to climb he hears screams in the camp behind him. Soon he is passed climbing the wall by the demon carrying Irriz. Once inside the fortress, the Malazans eye the demon warily until Kalam tells them his real name. They introduce themselves as Sergeant Cord, Corporal Shard, Bell, and Ebron. Shard is Sinn's half-brother. Kalam asks to see Kindly, only to be informed that he and a lieutenant were lost when they both fell down a well and drowned. At least that is the assumption. When the bottom of the well was checked, only a fast underground river was found—the bodies must have been swept away. Cord and Kalam share a few tense words as the Bridgeburner advises them to leave the fortress now that the demon has killed all the besiegers below. But Cord pulls rank and Kalam agrees to follow his orders for now.
A storm breaks upon Drift Avalii as Cutter and Apsalar's boat nears the shore. Apsalar has not spoken to him much during the trip, upset by his change in name and by his decision to serve as another of Cotillion's minions. Cutter is surprised, he thought the move would bring them closer together. The island drifts in the current, unmoored to the seabed and making landing difficult. They make for a flat shelf of rock amidst the rugged coast. Cutter jumps to shore thinking to tie up the boat, but the shelf shatters under his weight and he is dragged under the island. Their boat overturns and is wrecked along the rocks.
Before he drowns, Cutter resurfaces in a lightless pool somewhere under the island. He is too weak to climb out and is about to sink under when he is pulled to safety by an old Tiste Andii named Darist. Darist says there is only one safe path to the pool, so Apsalar must have drowned. The Tiste Andii leads Cutter up a flight of stairs to an ancient hallway lined with pillars. They shall go no closer to the surface because the island is under attack. Cutter asks if they have come for the Throne of Shadow, drawing Darist's suspicion. The Daru quickly dissembles his true motive for being on the island, aware that the Tiste Andii and the new rulers of Shadow are not allies. He says he has been sent by the scholar Baruk, to determine if the Tiste Edur have returned to claim the Throne for themselves. Darist sees through the ruse and accuses him of working for Anomander Rake before continuing their journey through Drift Avalli's underground. Cutter asks again if Darist can sense Apsalar, but Darist replies that he can only sense the Tiste Edur. When Darist tries to convince Cutter that loss eases the pain of one's own impending demise, Cutter calls him a damn fool for surrendering to despair.
In the Nascent, howls of rage from the spirits trapped within two of the statues reverberate through Onrack's bones. Trull Sengar hears nothing. They assume the spirits to be two of the Hounds of Shadow, as the statues do not cast shadows. Onrack finds it unfortunate that there are only five Hounds of Shadow left as it diminishes his chances of killing one, but Trull doubts his ability to walk away from a violent encounter with a Hound. Onrack cracks one of the statues with his sword, and it explodes into a cloud of dust obscuring a dark shape within. The second statue shatters on its own. The two Hounds attack and quickly overpower Onrack, tearing his left arm away from his body before departing together. Trull stands over a motionless Onrack and says, "Those were not the Hounds of Shadow. They were the real ones. The Hounds of Darkness," and voices concern for what they had just unleashed.
As a consequence of being so badly damaged in the attack Onrack is now shorn from the Ritual of Tellann. He describes to Trull what his kin would do to complete the rites deemed necessary for someone who is shorn. It would include cutting off his head and finding for it a suitable place so that he might look out upon eternity, dismembering his corpse and scattering the limbs, and returning his sword to his place of birth. But since Trull can not do any of that, Onrack must continue on despite his present condition. Onrack laments that his existence is now meaningless. Trull assumes he himself survives only because the Hounds did not notice him.
They enter the rubble-littered streets of a ruined city and reach a bridge over a river filled with silt and detritus. Amongst the flotsam they find a box of clay pots which Onrack recognises as Moranth munitions. Nearby is an arch, the portal they have been seeking, but it is warded and seethes with scalding heat. Onrack suggests defeating the ward by shattering the pattern of its sorcery with a munition. They step back and Trull throws one of the clay spheres resulting in a coruscating conflagration of white and gold fire. The ward is broken, but Onrack does not recognise the warren beyond. Onrack tells Trull to flee, as he can feel the brutal and alien power of the ones on the other side of the gate. He also senses outrage for the destruction of the ward.
Trull crosses the bridge to hide while Onrack stays behind, expecting to be destroyed while buying his companion some time to escape. Four tall, pale men with silver hair appear through the gate riding white horses. They wear white enamel armour and carry curved ivory scimitars. The four horsemen (Jorrude, Enias, Orenas, and Malachar) attempt to ride Onrack down, but the T'lan Imass has learned from his time in service to the Malazans and stands his ground on the narrow bridge so only two can charge him at once. He survives both pairs of attacks, wounding one of the riders but not before the side of his face is sheered off by a blow. Now on the other side of the bridge, the four riders turn around to face him and identify Onrack as a servant of Death, who must be annihilated. But the wounded man, Seneschal Jorrude, delays further attacks saying he needs healing and Onrack is not one of the trespassers they seek.
Through brief conversation, Onrack deduces that these four are Tiste Liosan. They ask if their are others of his kind in this realm, but Onrack brusquely refuses to answer. Jorrude grows impatient and tells Onrack if he does not tell them what they wish to know they will destroy him, and they all draw swords. Before the fight begins anew, Trull appears, surrounded by four T'lan Imass, two of whom Onrack greets as Bonecaster Monok Ochem and clan leader Ibra Gholan. Monok says Onrack has failed the ritual and needs to be destroyed, but Onrack tells him that privilege will be contested as the Tiste Liosan view him as their prisoner. Jorrude releases Onrack from their custody, saying they have no quarrel with the T'lan Imass. As he readies to depart, he invites Trull to join them, saying they are in need of a servant. Trull declines and suggests they alternate the role amongst themselves as he senses they could use a lesson in humility. Jorrude says he will remember the slight.
The Liosan plan on departing, but Monok says it will be difficult as the warren is a shattered fragment of Kurald Emurlahn and that the Liosans have been isolated too long and know nothing of other realms and nothing of the Ascendants and their wars. When Jorrude snaps that they serve but one Ascendant, Osric, Monok Ochem reveals that their lord is lost and unable to return to their homeland. He suggests they all work together to weave a ritual to fashion a gate, using the warrens of Tellann and Liosan as well as the blood of a Tiste Edur. The Bonecaster tells the wary Trull they will not use all of it.