|The Emperor in Gold|
|Chapter 1||Chapter 2|
|Chapter 3||Chapter 4|
|Chapter 5||Chapter 6|
|Layers of the Dead|
|Chapter 7||Chapter 8|
|Chapter 9||Chapter 10|
|Chapter 11||Chapter 12|
|Knuckles of the Soul|
|Chapter 13||Chapter 14|
|Chapter 15||Chapter 16|
|Chapter 17||Chapter 18|
|Chapter 19||Chapter 20|
|Chapter 21||Chapter 22|
|Chapter 23||Chapter 24|
The mutiny came that fell dawn, when through the heavy mists that had plagued us for ten days we looked to the east, and there saw, rising vast and innumerable on the cloud-bound horizon, dragons. Too large to comprehend, their heads above the sun, their folded wings reaching down to cast a shadow that could swallow all of Drene. This was too much, too frightening even for the more seasoned soldiers in our troop, for their dark eyes were upon us, an alien regard that drained the blood from our hearts, the very iron from our swords and spears.To walk into those shadows would quail a champion of the First Empire. We could not face such challenge, and though I voiced my fury, my dismay, it was naught but the bolster demanded of any expedition’s leader, and indeed, I had no intention of demanding of my party the courage that I myself lacked. Bolster is a dangerous thing, lest one succeeds where one would not. And so I ceased my umbrage, perhaps too easily yet none made account of that, relieved as they all were as we broke camp, packed our mules, and turned to the west. Four Days Into the Wildlands
Redmask ponders the implications of being exiled by his old clan, the Renfayar. He notes the differences between the Letherii and the Awl and why the clan structure of the latter makes banishment more unbearable. He never thought he would return to his homeland, especially the way he is now: a mystery. His two guardian K'Chain Che'Malle were nowhere near and likely hunting to satisfy their large appetites. Redmask finally arrives in the territory of his old clan but sees only a small, defenseless camp with too few Rodara and with no elders in sight. When Redmask is spotted, six warrior youths slowly approach him cautiously, fearful of conversing. Masarch is the first to speak to Redmask and he explains that the six young warriors are all that are left of the Renfayar clan's warriors and that Masarch is now the clan leader. Redmask explains the faults of the clan's encampment layout in that, if attacked by Letherii lancers, the clan could easily be overcome. Masarch explains to Redmask that the only remaining strong clan of the Awl are the Ganetok, and this due to their betrayal of foreign mercenaries that they hired to fight for them against the Letherii, but then abandoned on the battlefield on the day of battle. Redmask tells the six warriors that the Renfayar Clan is to join the Ganetok, where he will challenge their leader, Hadralt, for control. Redmask decides that he, Masarch, and two others will go and steal a large herd of Rodara from the Letherii. Redmask tells Masarch that he and the other five young warriors need to undergo their Death Night - a 'rite of passage' ritual. Redmask declares himself the new War Leader of Clan Renfayar - Masarch and the others agree with this.
Buried K'Chain Che'Malle City & Nearby Letherii Fort
Silchas Ruin, Fear Sengar, Seren Pedac, and Udinaas are starting to get testy with each other in the buried city. Udinaas remembers Kettle telling that Trull Sengar placed his sword in Seren's hand and Udinaas does not believe Seren fully understands the significance of what that means to the Edur. Everywhere in the underground city are floors made of mosaics featuring long-tailed lizards fighting short-tailed ones. Silchas mentions that the walls are filled with vents that allow airflow which makes a sound that keeps bats and other vermin away. Silchas announces that he will challenge the constant hunting of them by Edur and Letherii forces - to end it once and for all. Fear hears this and tells Silchas that doing so would only trigger bigger and bigger problems, but Silchas remains set on his plan.
Arriving at a cave mouth which looks out on the nearby Letherii fort, Seren leaves the cave and scouts the fortifications ahead. After hiding from a Letherii patrol passing nearby, she returns to the cave. She explains to her companions that the fort looks indestructible. Silchas explains that he intends on killing everyone in it. Fear looks uneasy about this and Seren is against the attack, noting that random civilians will also die. Silchas does not care, he is going to slay them all.
At the fort, K'risnan Ventrala finds himself thinking about the biological uniqueness of Orthen, after awaking in a panic of fear to find the Orthen completely carpeting the ground outside. Atri-Preda Hayenar wakes to alarmed shouts. She gets dressed but an explosion knocks her off her feet. Ventrala is thrown against the wall of his bedchamber by the force of the explosion and discovers that all his magical power has deserted him. Hayenar runs to the central courtyard of the fort and sees nothing but devastation. Dead bodies are everywhere and there is a massive breach in the back wall - through which she sees the "White Crow" walking into the fort. Edur arrive and throw spears at Silchas but he parries them easily and kills all of them. Sensing Silchas' immense power, Hayenar tells her Letherii forces to withdraw and they escape from the fort.
Ventrala is visited by the wraith, Wither, who tells the K'risnan that the Letherii have retreated safely, but that all the Edur have been slain. Wither then warns Ventrala that the White Crow is approaching. Silchas, surrounded by Orthen, walks into Ventrala's bedroom, but spares Ventrala's life so that he can carry a message to Hannan Mosag: that if Hannan does not stop the pursuit of him by Letherii and Edur forces, Silchas will do his worst. Silchas also mentions to Ventrala that the K'risnan should bow down to a different god than the Crippled God; one that does not seek to make his/her worshipers like himself (i.e., grossly disfigured and in extreme pain). Ventrala vows that he will deliver the White Crow's message to Hannan Mosag.
Seren, from the cave mouth, hears screaming horses, an explosion, and then the anguished cries of people at the fort. She sees Silchas walking back with twelve mounts. The group of the hunted cannot believe what Silchas has just accomplished. They begin to understand how powerful he is and are slightly fearful of what he can do. Fear argues with him over the killing of his fellow Edur. Their conversation ultimately leads to Fear explaining that his intent is to free Scabandari so that he can be used to free his brother, Rhulad, from the grip of the Crippled God. Silchas tells Fear that he (Fear) can do nothing to succeed in this goal, but that when he (Silchas) moves against the Crippled God, Rhulad and the rest of the Edur will then be free.
Udinaas and Wither, watching Seren helping Kettle, discuss recent events and associated subjects. One of the things they talk about is Kettle and what Udinaas thinks is ultimately in store for her in the future - surprising Wither.
Letherii Drover Camp
Redmask recalls the legends of the Awl and reviews in his mind what they tell him about the past, present and future. Redmask, and three of his Renfayar followers, arrive at a large drover camp that sits upon a hilltop. One of his warriors estimates there are a hundred Letherii in the camp. It is night and Abasard, a Letherii herder and his two dogs, walks along a path near the Rodara he keeps watch over and reflects on how his once poor family is now much healthier and happier due to their employment by the Factor in the expansive lands of the Awl'dan. Still Indebted, but able to survive with at least with some hope for the future. His two cattle dogs run off into the darkness ahead. Thinking nothing of it, Abasard continues on until some time goes by and his dogs have not come back. He goes to investigate and finds both of his dogs dead. He knows the attacks upon them must have been simultaneous because of the lack of any barking from either dog. He notices that the herd, with ears up, have their attention on something in the darkness that they are used to obeying. He now realizes that the herd is being stolen. He runs back to the drover camp to sound the alarm. In the meanwhile, Redmask wraps his whip around the neck of an elderly Letherii shepherd, yanks, and beheads him. He then cuts off the face of the shepherd and stores it in a bag on his hip full of salt. Redmask enjoys being able to act as the hand of vengeance against any Letherii that he encounters.
Forty paces away from the drover camp, Abasard sees tents collapsing, people screaming and running, and two huge two-legged creatures killing everything in sight. He sees one of the creatures chasing after his young sister, so he runs to intercept it and, at the last second before his sister is killed, the creature spots Abasard and slashes him instead. Abasard falls and sees the side of his chest on the ground beside him. He moves so as to be on his back, then looks up at the many stars in the spacious sky above and, somehow comforted, dies.
Redmask finds Masarch, who is waiting for him with the Rodara herd ready to move east. Masarch cannot believe the power and violence that Redmask has just recently displayed. He now believes that Redmask fears no challenges that may occur in the future. Masarch - thinking of the enforced Death Night ritual of the previous evening that he and his five fellow warriors had undergone - not only reviews how he has been changed by the terror and trauma of it, but also how it has changed his opinion of Redmask and his goals - which, however unlikely, now seem possible.