|Memories of Ice|
|The Spark and the Ashes|
|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 14||Chapter 15|
|Chapter 16||Chapter 17|
|Chapter 18||Chapter 19|
|Memories of Ice|
|Chapter 21||Chapter 22|
|Chapter 23||Chapter 24|
If you can, dear friends, do not live through a siege.Ubilast (the Legless)
Gruntle waits for the siege of Capustan in a local bar. He notices how half of the clientele seem sullen and listless while the other half is living recklessly in the face of impending death. The Pannion Domin have waited for several days while more and more Tenescowri arrive. The city is now surrounded by more than a quarter million Pannion soldiers. Buke arrives, disappointed at Gruntle's presence in a bar, though he thanks him for delivering the bird that Keruli gave him. The elders in the camps had initially wanted to go to the Prince when informed by Buke about the danger Korbal Broach posed, but took to keeping the streets clear of victims instead. Gruntle applauds their efforts at keeping the panic in the city down, but is convinced they'll all die anyway. Buke mentions that Stonny Menackis is still planning on fighting, and that Gruntle would do well to guard her back. Gruntle insists that this isn't their fight, and that Stonny is free to make her own choices and live with the consequences. Gruntle goads Buke by implying he, Gruntle, would join the Tenescowri and eat human flesh to escape.
Itkovian watches Hetan and Cafal speak with their spirits through arcane arts. He thinks about Brukhalian's orders to discover how they plan to move the remains of their ancestors "by whatever means", even if it means breaking his vows of chastity. He's interrupted by Prince Jelarkan, who presses him for information about the T'lan Imass and the army led by Caladan Brood and Dujek Onearm. Itkovian admits that the Grey Swords kept information from him, but only because they deemed it unimportant: the Malaz 2nd Army numbers only 10,000 and Brood's mercenaries number 30,000, and they are still five weeks distant. With the fall of Capustan inevitable, Jelarkan suggests they take the citizens and flee. Itkovian assures him that any attempt to escape would fail. Jelarkan leaves, but not before angrily telling him to keep him informed.
Hetan notices Itkovian, who makes an abortive attempt at seducing her. He flees to the roof of the barracks and meets with Karnadas to whom he admits he is struggling with the vows he made to Fener. Karnadas reveals to him that Fener required no vows of abstinence, rather Itkovian needed something to chain him to his beliefs. Karnadas makes a few bawdy jokes at Itkovian's expense, but is interrupted when they see movement in the Pannion camps. Itkovian summons his messenger corps and remains on the roof while Karnadas goes below.
Gruntle finds Buke in a walled off camp. They discuss their attempts at keeping Korbal Broach at bay, and both realize that it's only a matter of time before he or Bauchelain begin to question the sudden lack of victims. Buke makes another attempt to get Gruntle to look after Stonny, but they're interrupted with the sounds of ballistae striking the walls. Gruntle leaves, maintaining it's not their war. As he leaves, a flaming projectile strikes the camp. Buke tells him to run and hide. Gruntle leaves, reluctantly heading to where Stonny was stationed with the Grey Swords. The flaming projectiles are hitting the middle of the city, and Gruntle hears battle all around him. He comes to a crossroads and finds a street littered with corpses from both sides of the battle. Joining with the Grey Swords temporarily, he runs into Stonny Menackis who is covered in gore, her rapier broken and her armor in tatters. She vaguely recounts the breach of the walls, and Gruntle realizes she was raped by a Seerdomin. He comforts her and carries her to his room, saying he'll guard the door. He thinks how killing a thousand Seerdomin won't be enough after this.
Itkovian remains on the barracks rooftop, commanding the defense of the city through a corps of messengers. Things seem to be unfolding as he had predicted: the defense is causing the Pannions to lose thousands of soldiers, but they still breach the walls by sheer weight of numbers. Upon breaching the walls, Itkovian's strategy of street-by-street contraction works with brutal efficiency, but he knows it's only a matter of time before they're overrun. Karnadas appears and tells him that Brukhalian has been summoned to the Thrall to give a report to the Mask Council on the state of the battle. Karnadas heals Itkovian of his fatigue, saying the poison in the warren will soon be more than he can handle. He asks Itkovian if he's made any progress in finding out what the Barghast plan to do with their ancestors' remains. Itkovian admits he hasn't, and probably won't get a chance. Karnadas leaves for the Thrall while Itkovian maintains his vigil over the battle.
Karnadas arrives at the Thrall and meets Brukhalian, but they are preceded by a priest, Keruli, who demands to be allowed onto the Mask Council as Rath'Krul. The council reacts strongly, some saying the age of K'rul has ended. Keruli tells them they have no choice, saying that he finds their representation of the gods to be inadequate. He warns that someone on the council will betray them all. Karnadas cannot help but suspect Rath'Fener.
Gruntle comforts Stonny in his room. She tells him to go and fight the Pannions, calling him the best fighter she's ever seen. He puts on his armor and his large twin cutlasses and sets off.
Itkovian watches the battle and concludes it's not going well. Through the fires plaguing the city, he notices that the stone of the Prince's palace is somehow resisting the projectiles thrown at it and the Pannions seem eager to take it level by level. One of his veteran commander arrives, and he orders him to take his troops outside of the city walls to neutralize the enemy's catapults. Itkovian thinks that while the commander needs no inspiring words before embarking on a likely suicidal mission, Itkovian yearns for such reassurance. A messenger appears and tells him that the Urdomen who had taken the North Gate are all dead, wiped out by a militia led by a citizen. The Grey Swords were making repairs when the survivors of the militia went off to engage more Urdomen. Itkovian sends a platoon to aid him, then the veteran commander leaves.
The members of the Mask Council accuse Keruli of sowing mistrust. Keruli reassures them, saying that the traitor will doubtless be dealt with by his own god. Hetan asks him if he will truly aid them, and Cafal volunteers to be put into a magical sleep by Keruli, who warns all present not to wake him. Brukhalian and Karnadas excuse themselves to rejoin Itkovian.
Gruntle now leads twelve fighters, aided by a guard from Lestari House, a well-fortified private residence that has become a strongpoint of resistance against the invaders. They had just finished wiping out a mob of Scalandi soldiers when the Lestari guardsman points to the Thrall which is now glowing with sorcery. Gruntle sees that whilst the North Gate is being held by the Grey Swords, the West Gate has fallen, meaning the chain of command has probably broken down. He tells his remaining troop that they're all sergeants now, and that the Lestari guardsman is a lieutenant. He tells them they're going to take command of the defense.
The battle seems to be diminishing, but Itkovian notes that the West Gate is open, with enemy troops pouring in. However, the defense suddenly stiffens and the enemy is stopped. A messenger arrives, horribly burnt, and explains that when he arrived at the West Gate, the defense was in tatters. He was going to report back when a foreigner (Gruntle) appeared and rallied the nearby camps. The foreigner held the remains of a child who had been partially eaten by the Pannions. Making a standard out of the child's tunic, he led around 500 camp-dwellers and rallied the defenders. The last the messenger saw of him, the foreigner was leading a sortie to meet a troop of Beklites. He says that the foreigner wields two cutlasses and fights like a boar. Another messenger arrives and tells him that the Tenescowri are on the move. Itkovian orders Karnadas to open a series of tunnels which they constructed (without the Mask Council's permission) to hide the citizens of Capustan. Karnadas notes the protective sorcery surrounding the thrall, and tells Itkovian that Keruli, the merchant Itkovian rescued on the plains, was responsible. He recalls healing his caravan guard, a large man wielding cutlasses. Itkovian says that Brukhalian and the foreigner need to be warned about the Tenescowri
Gruntle's militia has just finished crushing the Betaklite company. The Lestari sergeant warns him that a cavalry charge is coming, but Gruntle tells him they're simply masking the Tenescowri. They strip armor from the Betaklites and fall back behind the city walls.
As his company arrives, Gruntle notices how all the Grey Swords - busy repairing the walls - fall silent as he arrives. One soldier comes forward and offers the services of weapon smiths to sharpen and repair his cutlasses, which she calls "Tusks". When she is offended by his jokes on that, he tells her to call them "tiger-claws". Another solider comes forward (Itkovian in disguise) and warns him, unnecessarily, about the Tenescowri. He tells Gruntle about the tunnels, and asks where Gruntle and his militia would like to fight. Gruntle chooses to fight near the tenement where Stonny is residing, saying he'll fight room by room once the streets are overrun. Itkovian agrees to send him food, but flinches when he hears the Lestari lieutenant refer to Gruntle's cutlasses as "tiger-claws". Itkovian realizes that Trake walks in Gruntle's shadow, and can't help but think that the ascension of Trake might bode ill for Fener. He mutters a prayer and rides to meet the Tenescowri.
Buke is at the compound with Bauchelain, Korbal Broach, and Emancipor Reese. He notes how Pannion troops made it to the house while he was helping camp-dwellers to the tunnels, but were killed by Capustan's defenders. He is just about to leave - for good, he thinks - when Bauchelain steps out. As they chat, Buke looks at the scattered remains of an Urdomen troop clearly killed by sorcery. Bauchelain says this is a good thing, and reveals he knows about Buke's attempts to keep Korbal Broach from killing. He also notes Keruli's sorcery now flowing in Buke's body, but tells him not to use it as they don't enjoy company when in their Soletaken forms. The dead Urdomen stand, and Emancipor Reese comes out, babbling that Korbal Broach had taken their hearts and sewn them together in his laboratory. Bauchelain tells Buke he now has guards to command. He also mentions the Children of the Dead Seed, and how Korbal Broach wants to experiment on Anaster. They intend on reaching him by veering into two rooks. Buke, after having drunk Keruli's gift, can now veer into a sparrow hawk, and is able to fly much more quickly and with more agility than the two rooks. Emancipor Reese thinks he's a fool for assuming he's safe.
Buke veers and follows Bauchelain and Korbal Borach who attack Anaster's company with sorcery. They are fought off with chaotic magic, causing Buke to screech in triumph. He races back to the compound and orders the guards into position. Bauchelain and Korbal Broach arrive with their clothes still smoking from the conflict. Buke allows himself a small laugh. Bauchelain goes inside, somewhat at a loss, while Korbal Broach continues to stamp at his smoldering clothing.