|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|
The birth of the Barghast gods rang like a hammer on the anvil of the pantheon. Primordial in their aspect, these ascended spirits emerged from the Hold of the Beast, that most ancient realm from the long-lost Elder Deck. Possessors of secrets and mysteries born in the bestial shadow of humanity, theirs was a power wreathed in antiquity.
Indeed, the other gods must have felt the tremor of their rising, rearing their heads in alarm and consternation. One of their own, after all, had just been abandoned in the mortal realm, whilst a First hero assumed the warrior mantle in his place. More, the Fallen One had returned to the game in dire malice, corrupting the warrens to announce his deadly desire for vengeance and, it must be said in clear-eyed retrospect, domination.
Burn's sleep was fevered. Human civilization floundered in countless lands, drowning in the mire of spilled blood. These were dark ties, and it was a darkness that seemed made for the dawn of the Barghast gods...
Imrygyn Tallobant the Younger
Quick Ben wakes up in his tent, where Talamandas greets him with news of the retaking of Capustan. Quick Ben has been sleeping for several days, talking in his fevered sleep all the while. Talamandas knows that Quick Ben plans on fighting the Crippled God, and applauds his boldness. The gods of the Barghast have been awakened and know the threat the Crippled God poses. They wish to help Quick Ben in his fight, and Talamandas says he will be Quick Ben's shield, allowing him access to his warrens without being hurt by the Crippled God's poison. Talamandas reveals that the White Face nation will accompany the Malazans and help put an end to the Pannion Seer. Quick Ben, not revealing his plans to Talamandas, moves to a private place to try his warren.
West of Capustan
Whiskeyjack and Dujek Onearm are overseeing the battle between Onearm's Host and the remaining Pannion Domin forces. Malazan discipline and tactics win the day, and Septarch Kulpath is killed in the process. Korlat arrives and asks him to accompany her to Dujek's command tent. As they travel the warren of Kurald Galain, Korlat mentions that the Crippled God's poison is beginning to assail even the elder warrens. When they arrive, Whiskeyjack finds a ghostly projection of Quick Ben, who gives him a report on Humbrall Taur and how the White Face Barghast intend on marching south to fight the Seer. Whiskeyjack and Quick Ben argue about what to do with the Tenescowri; Whiskeyjack doesn't wish to kill them all, and wants to give Anaster a trial under Malazan military law. Quick Ben thinks that the survivors of Capustan would want some say in the sentencing. Quick Ben departs.
Korlat and Whiskeyjack argue further about the fate of the Tenescowri and the Pannion Army. Whiskeyjack explains that the Malazans' goal is to neutralize the Pannion Seer, not to annihilate an entire people. Indeed, the very liberation of the various cities is incidental. When Korlat presses Whiskeyjack about the Malazan way of conquering and occupying a city, Whiskeyjack maintains that their army is outlawed. He realizes that Korlat already knew the outlawry is false, and his willingness to lie to her face has wounded her. She leaves the tent, and Whiskeyjack remains. He thinks, anguished, that imperial agents are still present to make sure the charade is maintained. Dujek arrives, and Whiskeyjack tells him that their allies know about the false outlawry. The two Malazans discuss the precarious situation they're in, when Artanthos announces a meeting with Caladan Brood.
The Mhybe lies in her wagon, thinking on how the wooden slats resemble the inside of a coffin. Every time she sleeps, she's terrorized by wolves chasing her. She's being attended by a woman who, upon being kicked in the head by a Bhederin, hasn't spoken to or looked at anyone. The Mhybe thinks on how they're both imprisoned in their bodies. As the woman combs her hair, the Mhybe's head is pulled back painfully. When the Mhybe glares at her, the woman is staring into her eyes.
Kruppe sits with Silverfox and they discuss how they feel a tremor in the alliance between the Malazans and Caladan Brood's army. Silverfox asks after her mother, and muses that while the Mhybe still has a journey to make, her own journey is over. Kruppe disagrees. They both plan on attending the meeting in Brood's tent, to see if they can't heal the rift that's forming between the two armies.
Anomander Rake enters the tent where Korlat, Brood, and Kallor (who wants the Malazans all killed) are waiting. When Kallor explains the treachery, Rake says he already knew, but doesn't care. He explains that the Pannion Domin rule their people with horror and bloodshed, and the Malazans are the only force willing to both destroy the Seer and remain in the area to ensure peace persists. The false outlawry probably only came about because Empress Laseen was confused as to why Brood and Rake were opposing her so fiercely. Whiskeyjack and Dujek, Rake adds, probably had no choice in the matter. Kallor and Brood reluctantly agree. When Whiskeyjack and Dujek finally arrive, Brood wishes only to talk about how they'll divide their forces when they move south. Whiskeyjack will take the Malazans to Setta, and Brood will take his armies to Lest, and they'll meet up at Coral. When Whiskeyjack mentions the T'lan Imass, Kallor reacts angrily and Brood decides to adjourn the meeting. Rake tells everyone that Moon's Spawn will arrive at Coral, where they will most likely meet the Pannion Seer himself. The Seer's war to the south has driven him from Outlook, and Coral will most likely be where the war will end.
Outside the tent, Kruppe and Silverfox sense that the rift has healed between the armies. Silverfox intends on holding the gathering of the T'lan Imass soon, but without any witnesses. Kruppe asks to accompany her, she agrees.
Anomander Rake asks Whiskeyjack to walk with him. Whiskeyjack complains about his badly healed leg, but stubbornly insists he doesn't have the time to have it properly healed. Rake mentions how Korlat seems to be newly enlivened after her contact with Whiskeyjack, and reassures the Malazan that her hurt is only temporary. Whiskeyjack asks about the alliance, and Rake tells him he made sure the alliance would stick, as they still need the Malazans. More specifically they need Quick Ben and Ganoes Paran as the Master of the Deck. The Crippled God has created a new house in the Deck of Dragons, and Paran has the ability to either sanction his joining or deny it. Rake hopes Paran will deny it.
Whiskeyjack asks why the Crippled God has the pantheon worried, as the Elder Gods and ascendants have taken care of him in the past. Rake says that Fener played a large part in the chaining, and now he's lost. A High Priest to Fener invoked the Reve and cut off the hands of another priest. However, this was done unlawfully, most likely an attempt by the Claw to quash his discoveries of the ascension of Kellanved and Dancer. The power of the Reve sent the priest's hands directly to Fener's realm, but because they were taken unlawfully, they were as poison to Fener. The priest survived, and was going to become Fener's instrument of revenge against the Malazan Empire for perverting his law. However, the priest came into contact with chaotic magic, and his hands pushed Fener into the mortal realm. Trake is now ascended into Fener's place, but, Rake explains, he is too young, his followers too few, to serve the same role. All is in flux now, and the Crippled God is most likely smiling. Whiskeyjack promises to try and talk Paran into denying the Crippled God's entry into the Deck of Dragons. Noticing Rake's unsettled mood, he offers to bring a cask of Gredfallan ale. Rake agrees.
Quick Ben is wandering around Capustan unseen. He tests the efficacy of Talamandas' shield by traveling exclusively through his warrens. Talamandas reacts when they come close to the compound of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. Quick Ben wants to talk with them, and easily slips past the undead soldiers and Sirinth demon guarding the entrance. He finds the two necromancers in a firelit chamber, Bauchelain reading a book, and Korbal Broach in his Soletaken form on the mantel. When Quick Ben reveals himself, Bauchelain invites him to sit. He orders Emancipor Reese to fetch a bottle of wine. Emancipor Reese mistakenly picks up a bottle of blood from Korbal Broaches collection, unfortunately learning this fact after taking a swig.
Paran sits alone in the Thrall's main chamber. The pains he's been feeling are slowly dissipating, and he thinks it's mostly to do with his aversion to power, and the vast power he has just come into. The Mask Council have all gone, and the Bridgeburners are staying in the Gidrath barracks. He's looking at the canoes that were recently unearthed when Cafal enters. Cafal tells Paran to come down, and shows him that each canoe is secretly holding a set of swords. Each sword is nearly weightless, yet none show signs of damage despite many years of use in battle. Cafal says that children will need to learn to use these weapons, as adult fighters will be used to heavier weapons, and implies they'll probably be used against the Malazans in the future. Paran changes the subject, and Cafal asks Paran to bless the newly awakened Barghast gods. Paran isn't sure how it's done, but doesn't promise either way. He leaves before the Barghast elders come into the chamber.
Quick Ben and Bauchelain talk over wine while Korbal Broach continues to pace on the mantel. Quick Ben offers to tell Bauchelain who is poisoning the warrens, but before he can, Korbal Broach attacks. Quick Ben easily dispatches him with a blast of six warrens. Bauchelain is impressed by this, and tells Quick Ben that he plans on torturing him until he tells him everything he knows. Quick Ben tells Bauchelain about the Crippled God moments before blasting Bauchelain with his six remaining warrens. He passes Emancipor Reese, who is angry and confused as to why no one is willing to kill his masters. Quick Ben and Talamandas leave.
Bauchelain wakes up in his garden. Emancipor Reese had just finished dragging him and Korbal Broach out of the house before they would suffocate from the smoke now filling the compound. Bauchelain thanks him, and wonders if he has any clothing left.
Quick Ben tells Talamandas that he's all used up, and needs to draw on Talamandas' own power if they're to travel any further. Talamandas balks, saying that using his power will weaken his shield against the Crippled God's poison. Quick Ben persists, saying they need to know the limits in case of an emergency. As Talamandas allows him to draw on his power, Quick Ben recognizes Hood's Path. It confirms what he had already suspected, the Barghast gods have lent Talamandas to Hood, who has probably claimed the sticksnare as the Magi of High House Death. Quick Ben uses his grip on Hood's warren to summon Hood himself. When Hood appears, angry at his treatment, Quick Ben threatens to pull him into the mortal realm, just like Fener. Hood says that the House of Chains must be denied, and that some members of the pantheon are already seeking to join it. Quick Ben argues with Hood about the importance of taking down the Pannion Seer, and Quick Ben warns him not to treat Trake and the Barghast gods so cavalierly. Hood agrees to hold up his side of the bargain with the Barghast gods, and allow Talamandas the freedom to move. Quick Ben says he'll try to persuade Paran towards denying the House of Chains, and that he'll call upon Hood in the future. Hood angrily promises that Quick Ben will be his one day. Hood departs, and Talamandas reappears. The two head towards the Thrall.
Paran sits on the steps leading up to the Thrall. He thinks about his family, with his parents dead, Felisin imprisoned, and Tavore consorting with the Empress' inner circle. He's joined by Gruntle, who has just come from a tryst with Hetan. The two talk about how neither one of them fit the role they were given: Gruntle isn't a worshiper of Trake, and Paran knows nothing of the Deck of Dragons. Paran tells Gruntle his dilemma: everyone says to deny the House of Chains legitimacy, but Paran still isn't sure. Gruntle says that legitimacy would mean the Cripple God would have to play by the same rules as everyone else, instead of "kicking the board" now and again. Paran can see the logic and is thrilled at the thought, calling it good advice. The two aren't sure they'll be treated well in the afterlife for deciding this, however.
Quick Ben and Talamandas see Paran and Gruntle on the steps. Quick Ben makes himself visible to the pair, and tells them that a parley is planned between the joint army, the Barghast, the Grey Swords, and Gruntle's legion. Before Quick Ben can protest, Paran tells him that he hasn't decided for or against denying the House of Chains into the Deck of Dragons. Quick Ben holds back his message from Hood, and tells Paran to trust his instincts. He leaves, and thinks to himself that the gods should prepare themselves: there will be a House of Chains one way or the other.
Itkovian is overseeing the extrication of refugees from the tunnels beneath Capustan. There are three hundred and nineteen Grey Swords remaining, and, Itkovian thinks, their presence is important to reassure the citizens of Capustan that order still remains. Itkovian isn't sure what to do with the Grey Swords; their losses will be hard to recover unless they can attract religious fanatics, and with Fener's fall, they risk becoming nothing more than a mercenary army - only as loyal as the coin they receive. Itkovian decides that in order to give the Grey Swords a new religious backbone, they should center around the northern war-aspected wolf gods, Togg and Fanderay. He takes Velbara and Norul to a group of Barghast wise-women, whom he asks to sanctify their new affiliation. Itkovian presents Velbara as a Mortal Sword, but the witches say that one is already found, and Velbara will be the Destriant. Norul they name the Shield Anvil. Norul is anguished, saying that Itkovian is the Shield Anvil. Itkovian maintains he is Fener's Shield Anvil, but the Grey Swords are now remade with Velbara and Norul at their head. He tells Norul that the Grey Swords must see the end of the Pannion Seer, and afterwards will find recruits among the Tenescowri. Itkovian watches as Norul is overcome with bleakness at this revelation, and curses himself for giving her no choice in the matter.