The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend

BOOK: The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend
11.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Praise for David Gemmell and
his Druss the Legend adventures

 

“I am truly amazed at David Gemmell’s ability to focus his writer’s eye. His images are crisp and complete, a history lesson woven within the detailed tapestry of the highest adventure. Gemmell’s characters are no less complete, real men and women with qualities good and bad, placed in trying times and rising to heroism or falling victim to their own weaknesses.”

—R. A. S
ALVATORE
New York Times
bestselling author
of
The Demon Apostle

“Set aside an otherwise free afternoon before you read [In
the Realm of the Wolf]
, because once you start you will not want to stop.”

—Starburst

“Gemmell is very talented; his characters are vivid and very convincingly realistic.”

—C
HRISTOPHER
S
TASHEFF
Author of the
Wizard in Rhyme
novels

“Legend
is a rousing tale, all primary colors: think of Robert E. Howard meeting David Eddings. If you like headlong adventure, this one’s for you.”

—H
ARRY
T
URTLEDOVE

By David Gemmell
Published by Del Rey Books:

LION OF MACEDON

DARK PRINCE

ECHOES OF THE GREAT SONG

KNIGHTS OF DARK RENOWN

MORNINGSTAR

DARK MOON

IRONHAND’S DAUGHTER

The Drenai Saga
   LEGEND
   THE KING BEYOND THE GATE
   QUEST FOR LOST HEROES
   WAYLANDER
   IN THE REALM OF THE WOLF
   THE FIRST CHRONICLES OF DRUSS THE LEGEND
   THE LEGEND OF DEATHWALKER
   HERO IN THE SHADOWS
   WHITE WOLF
   THE SWORDS OF NIGHT AND DAY

The Stones of Power Cycle
   GHOST KING
   LAST SWORD OF POWER
   WOLF IN SHADOW
   THE LAST GUARDIAN
   BLOODSTONE

The Rigante
   SWORD IN THE STORM
   MIDNIGHT FALCON
   RAVENHEART
   STORMRIDER

A Del Rey
®
Book
Published by The Random House Publishing Group
Copyright © 1994 by David A. Gemmell

 

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Del Rey Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. Originally published in Great Britain by Legend Books, an imprint of Random House UK, in 1993.

 

Del Rey is a registered trademark and the Del Rey colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.

 

www.delreybooks.com

 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 99-90165

 

eISBN: 978-0-307-79755-1

 

v3.1

 

Druss the Legend
is dedicated with great love and affection to the memory of Mick Jeffrey, a quiet Christian of infinite patience and kindness. Those privileged to know him were blessed indeed. Goodnight and God bless, Mick!

Contents
 
 
Acknowledgments
 

My thanks to my editor John Jarrold, copy editor Jean Maund, and test readers Val Gemmell, Stella Graham, Edith Graham, Tom Taylor, and Vikki Lee France. Thanks also to Stan Nicholls and Chris Baker for bringing Druss to life in a new way.

BOOK ONE
 

 

Birth of a Legend

 
Prologue
 

S
CREENED BY THE
undergrowth, he knelt by the trail, dark eyes scanning the boulders ahead of him and the trees beyond. Dressed as he was in a shirt of fringed buckskin, and brown leather leggings and boots, the tall man was virtually invisible, kneeling in the shadows of the trees.

The sun was high in a cloudless summer sky, and the spoor was more than three hours old. Insects had crisscrossed the hoofmarks, but the edges of the prints were still firm.

Forty horsemen, laden with plunder …

Shadak faded back through the undergrowth to where his horse was tethered. He stroked the beast’s long neck and lifted his swordbelt from the back of the saddle. Strapping it to his waist, he drew the two short swords; they were of the finest Vagrian steel and double edged. He thought for a moment, then sheathed the blades and reached for the bow and quiver strapped to the saddle pommel. The bow was of Vagrian horn, a hunting weapon capable of launching a two-foot-long arrow across a killing space of sixty paces. The doeskin quiver held twenty shafts that Shadak had crafted himself: the flights of goose feather, stained red and yellow, the heads of pointed iron, not barbed, and easily withdrawn from the bodies of the slain. Swiftly he strung the bow and notched an arrow to the string. Then looping the quiver over his shoulder, he made his way carefully back to the trail.

Would they have left a rearguard? It was unlikely, for there were no Drenai soldiers within fifty miles.

But Shadak was a cautious man. And he knew Collan. Tension rose in him as he pictured the smiling face and the cruel, mocking eyes. “No anger,” he told himself. But it was hard, bitterly hard. Angry men make mistakes, he reminded himself. The hunter must be cold as iron.

Silently he edged his way forward. A towering boulder jutted from the earth some twenty paces ahead and to his left; to the right was a cluster of smaller rocks, no more than four feet high. Shadak took a deep breath and rose from his hiding place.

From behind the large boulder a man stepped into sight, bowstring bent. Shadak dropped to his knee, the attacker’s arrow slashing through the air above his head. The bowman tried to leap back behind the shelter of the boulder, but even as he was dropping, Shadak loosed a shaft which plunged into the bowman’s throat, punching through the skin at the back of his neck.

Another attacker ran forward, this time from Shadak’s right. With no time to notch a second arrow, Shadak swung the bow, lashing it across the man’s face. As the attacker stumbled, Shadak dropped the bow and drew his two short swords; with one sweeping blow he cut through the neck of the fallen man. Two more attackers ran into view and he leapt to meet them. Both men wore iron breastplates, their necks and heads protected by chain mail, and they carried sabers.

“You’ll not die easily, you bastard!” shouted the first, a tall, wide-shouldered warrior. Then his eyes narrowed as he recognized the swordsman facing him. Fear replaced battle lust—but he was too close to Shadak to withdraw and made a clumsy lunge with his saber. Shadak parried the blade with ease, his second sword lancing forward into the man’s mouth and through the bones of his neck. As the swordsman died, the second warrior backed away.

“We didn’t know it was you, I swear!” he said, hands trembling.

“Now you do,” said Shadak softly.

Without a word the man turned and ran back toward the trees as Shadak sheathed his swords and moved to his bow. Notching an arrow, he drew back on the string. The shaft flashed through the air to punch home into the running man’s thigh. He screamed and fell. As Shadak loped to where he lay, the man rolled to his back, dropping his sword.

BOOK: The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend
11.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Sapphique - Incarceron 02 by Catherine Fisher
Broken Mirrors by Elias Khoury
Affliction by S. W. Frank
La escriba by Antonio Garrido
A Necessary Action by Per Wahlöö
Last Stop by Peter Lerangis
Diablo III: Morbed by Micky Neilson
Her Way by Jarman, Jessica