|The Thousand-Fingered God|
|Chapter 1||Chapter 2|
|Chapter 3||Chapter 4|
|Chapter 5||Chapter 6|
|Beneath This Name|
|Chapter 7||Chapter 8|
|Chapter 9||Chapter 10|
|Shadows of the King|
|Chapter 12||Chapter 13|
|Chapter 14||Chapter 15|
|Chapter 17||Chapter 18|
|Chapter 19||Chapter 20|
|Chapter 21||Chapter 22|
|Chapter 23||Chapter 24|
When the day knew only darkness,
the wind a mute beggar stirring ashes and stars
in the discarded pools beneath the old
retaining wall, down where the white rivers
of sand slip grain by grain into the unseen,
and every foundation is but a moment
from a horizon's stagger, I found myself
among friends and so was made at ease
with my modest list of farewells.
Fisher kel Tath
Quick Ben, Kalam Mekhar, and Stormy exit the Imperial Warren and appear before the fire-blasted ruins of Y'Ghatan. The Malaz 14th Army has departed. Stormy notes the damage to the walls caused by Moranth munitions and Quick Ben correctly deduces that olive oil is largely responsible for the fire damage. Kalam wonders how many of his friends lay buried in the mass burial mound outside the city.
Apsalar, Telorast, and Curdle also approach the city. The two tiny skeletons race to hide after warning Apsalar of the three terrible men walking ahead of them. Apsalar recognises Quick Ben and Kalam and rides to meet them. Quick Ben is wary, asking if Apsalar has been sent by Shadowthrone to serve his vengeance. She points out that all four of them have some connection to the higher powers that are now aligning against a common foe. Quick Ben bears the aura of Hood, Kalam has recently been in the presence of Cotillion, and Stormy is bound to a T'lan Imass. Kalam is upset that Quick Ben has failed to mention his dealings with Hood, but the mage insists he has only dealt with the Lord of Death to gain an understanding of the two sides in the war between the gods. Apsalar joins the trio as they plan to circle the city before tracking down the 14th Army. This meeting fortuitously coincides with the final target on Cotillion's list of assassinations.
Those soldiers of the 14th Army who survived by tunneling under the city ready to march to return to the army's main body. Captain Faradan Sort has reorganised the shattered squads back into full complements. Sergeant Hellian's squad has gained Balgrid, Lutes, Maybe, and Tavos Pond. Corporal Urb has been promoted to sergeant and given his own squad. Brethless and Touchy argue over which of them will become the squad's new corporal until Hellian promotes them both out of frustration. Hellian's new recruits have mixed feelings over their new sergeant and her idiot corporals.
Gesler ponders the four new heavies that have joined his squad: Flashwit, Mayfly, Shortnose, and Uru Hela. So many heavies will require some adjustment in tactics. He chooses not to think back on the battle and his memories of Truth's final moments.
Smiles looks on in disgust as Bottle holds the ten or so pups birthed by the rat he named Y'Ghatan. She can not understand why the mage does not get rid of them. The world has plenty of rats. Bottle calms the mother rat saying the pups are as much his as hers.
Koryk searches out the refuse pits outside the city. Scattered among them are the bones of paupers too poor to be disposed of in the normal fashion. The bones will make perfect replacements for the ornaments worn and lost by the 14th Army survivors during their escape underneath the city. He stoops to collect them.
Corporal Tarr is nearly naked after his escape and carries only a camp knife for protection. One of the Y'Ghatan foundlings who joined their escape stays by his side as he shaves off the remains of his singed beard. Cuttle drinks the last of the tea while Smiles and Strings rest nearby. The foundling is the first to note the rider and three other figures approaching on foot.
Recognising Stormy, Quick Ben, and the others, Gesler and Strings go to meet them. Strings is pleased by the Bridgeburner reunion. Stormy notes Truth's absence and Strings explains how Truth died saving their lives. Stormy trods off toward the Malazan camp with tears running down his face. Strings explains that they are about to follow after the rest of the 14th, who left quickly ahead of the plague. He will be happy to explain what happened, and wants to introduce the High Mage to Bottle, the mage who led them all out of the city.
Ganoes Paran, the ghost Hedge, and the Jaghut Ganath are standing on a bridge of black stones amidst a sea of grey mists. There is nothing to indicate what is below them in the fog. Ganath recognises this realm as Verdith'anath, the Jaghut underworld since before the existence of the Holds. They are here because this is where Paran's visions have led them and he foresaw a ghost would be his guide to a forgotten world.
Paran produces a small object that summons Karpolan Demesand and one of the enormous carriages of the Trygalle Trade Guild. The carriage is guarded by a full complement of armed shareholders. Nisstar and Artara, armed with heavy crossbows, inspect the edges of the mist as Paran explains that he contracted with the Guild to accompany them. Karpolan offers the trio drinks and Hedge is pleased to discover he is no longer insubstantial when near the High Mage's carriage. Ganath climbs into the carriage with Karpolan for the journey.
Hedge pulls Paran to the side. He remembers dying at Coral and then darkness. His soul had nowhere to go. Eventually, he found himself among old friends—Bridgeburners who had died before him—and many others he did not know. They are all soldiers whose wars are over, yet they are being called back into service to help all humanity without knowing what is in it for them. Hedge brings up the possibility of ascension. Paran explains his theories on Ascendants and how people of certain strengths cause ripples in the world. At times such as now the numbers of Ascendants peak and then shake out. Hedge probes Paran regarding the possibility that he might create a new Unaligned Soldier card in the Deck of Dragons as reward for the dead army's aid. Paran says he will think on it.
The Guild carriage begins to move. Hedge sits by the driver while Paran rides alongside the carriage on his horse. They do not travel far through the mists before they are attacked by fifty or more ferocious ochre-skinned creatures. Paran rescues the Guild shareholder, Thyrss, from a pack of creatures who pull her off the carriage. Another shareholder, Stebar, is killed and the others congratulate him on earning "the spike"—double pay for his survivors.
Eventually they outrun the attacks and come upon an overturned and shattered Guild carriage. Karpolan recognises it as that of Darpareth Vayd, a powerful sorceress missing for two years. Paran and Karpolan share information. Darpareth was here in the employ of Sedara Orr, who sought to study the many entities in this realm who had been long forgotten in antiquity. That Darpareth was overcome worries him as she was superior to him in power. Paran reveals that Darpareth's carriage was attacked by Doan and Ganrod, the two Hounds of Shadow he had released from Dragnipur. He recognises their scent. Karpolan is not pleased by the revelation. The group clears the wreckage from the road and continues.
After a league, they reach a stone gate at the end of the bridge leading to their destination. On the other side is the shore of a lake that should not be there. As they ponder their next move, an eerie, wailing cry sounds from the mists nearby. Paran fears they are about to meet the realm's guardian and suggests they move away quickly.