The Lord of Lies: Strange Threads: Book 2

BOOK: The Lord of Lies: Strange Threads: Book 2
3.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Sam Bowring is a television writer, playwright and stand-up comedian. He is the author of the Broken Well trilogy, as well as several books for children, including
The Zoo of Magical and Mythological Creatures
and
Sam the Cat
. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

sambowring.com

By Sam Bowring

THE BROKEN WELL TRILOGY

Prophecy’s Ruin

Destiny’s Rift

Soul’s Reckoning

STRANGE THREADS DUOLOGY

The Legacy of Lord Regret

The Lord of Lies

THE LORD OF LIES

STRANGE THREADS BOOK 2

SAM BOWRING

Published in Australia and New Zealand in 2012

by Hachette Australia

(an imprint of Hachette Australia Pty Limited)

Level 17, 207 Kent Street, Sydney NSW 2000

www.hachette.com.au

The Lord of Lies
Copyright © Sam Bowring 2012

Prophecy’s Ruin
sample copyright © Sam Bowring 2009

The book is copyright Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be stored or reproduced by any process without prior written permission. Enquiries should be made to the publisher.

A CIP catalogue record of this book is available from the National Library of Australia.

978 0 7336 2827 6

978 0 7336 2928 0 (ebook edition)

Cover and map design by XOU Creative

For Georgia, running through shallow water, laughing.

Contents

By Sam Bowring

Title Page

Copyright

The Wound

A Good King

Ravenous

The Hours Her Own

The Tranquil Dale

Unmasked

Ripples

Under Althala

The Nests

Message

Ander

Desperate Times

Brotherhood

Joy

Regret’s Army

Fighting Together

Lord of Lies

The Pass

A Night in the Dale

Going Upstairs

Restoration

Parting Ways

Epilogue

Also By Sam Bowring

Moments of Fatherhood

A Converging in Whisperwood

THE WOUND

Salarkis appeared
in Dapplewood, his instinctive retreat whenever he had to think. It was where he had grown up, and despite the changes he had since undergone, it still held some sway over his subconscious. Yet, as he stepped from the air beside the remains of a little house, looking upon a bubbling pool, he did not feel the desired sense of calm descend. He was, instead, angry.

Maybe being killed here had soured the place for him.

Forger had tried to kill him too, more recently than that initial death, in order to steal his threads. Although Forger may have been right to try – for certainly Salarkis did not feel allegiance towards him anymore, and had in fact all but sided with Yalenna – he still did not take kindly to being smashed across the head with a length of balcony rail.

Forger
had
apparently succeeded in killing Despirrow. A brief attempt to track Despirrow had brought Salarkis to Forger instead, and there was only one explanation for that – Despirrow’s threads lived in Forger now. So, the Lord of Pain, it seemed, was set upon a solitary path.

Damn it all,
he was tired of this. Who was he anyway, anymore? He had a violence in him that persisted, despite Yalenna bestowing him with the
gift
of empathy. He felt like a badly painted picture, wet and running.

He sank down by the pool’s edge, slipping in his legs and tail. Wrapped in stone, he could not even feel the coolness of the water, and may as well have been dangling his feet in a fireplace.

He watched as a leaf spun past. It should have drifted downwards into the pool, but instead kept going along a horizontal plane, on and on until it hit a tree and simply stopped.

He needed to do something. He was itchy, restless, lurking out of sight while others battled for the world.

From his belt – the only thing he wore – he drew a dagger. All he had to do was speak a name to it, and the blade would seek that person out. He could not use Forger’s, unfortunately, but there were others to whom he had been ‘introduced’ in Tallahow during the long freeze. Who was that advisor Forger liked, the one he’d said was cold and objective, who served without question?

‘Threver,’ he whispered.

The dagger flew from his hand, a bright flash that disappeared through the trees.

He drew another. There was that torturer too, what was his name?

‘Yoj,’ he said,
and the second blade followed the first.

Were there others as well? He could not remember. Forger wasn’t overly concerned with the keeping of friends, so perhaps those two were as close as it got.

Somehow the sunny wood began to feel stifling, but where else to go? It seemed too simple to seek Yalenna out and declare fealty to her cause. He wasn’t even sure what the cause was.

It was a terrible thing, to be struck by wanderlust, yet able to travel anywhere in an instant.

On an impulse he pictured a place about as far away as he could imagine, almost as if to taunt himself with how easy it would be to get there. A moment later he arrived on a plateau in the Roshous Peaks, overlooking the Tranquil Dale. Back when the Wardens had been mortals aligned, they had journeyed here together, having picked a path through the mountains to approach the Spire from its less-travelled side. There it stood, an ugly sceptre of grey stone, its flat and circular roof level with him across the gap. In the sky above, the angry Wound seemed to pulse, its red tattered rim framing the flow of colourful threads behind the world.

He was struck by an urge to look at it more closely. None of the others, that he knew of, had ever returned to the Spire to do so, but Salarkis was feeling recklessly curious, or maybe curiously reckless.

He shifted the short distance over to the Spire roof.

It was much
as he remembered – not that there was much to remember. The main features were a stairway leading down to the lower levels, and Regret’s stone table, from which he had conducted his experiments and explorations. Dusty glasses, jars and pipes were littered about, weathered but otherwise untouched. Had
no one
been here in the last three hundred years? Nobody at all, since the Wardens had stood here combating the lone madman billowing out his horrible grey haze, his red hair flying about his grinning head as he tried to unravel their patterns? At the time, Salarkis had not understood what motivated Regret – had considered it hugely unfortunate for an insane person to have been born with power enough to inflict his destructive whims upon the world – but now he comprehended where the pleasure lay. To see what one could
break
, could
create
, could
change
… these were childlike compulsions that cared not for consequences.

He turned to stare up at the Wound. It hung some thirty paces above, and from here he could see how pieces had been torn from the larger threads beyond, leaving them looking like lengths of frayed rope. The missing fragments, stolen by Regret, were now inside him and the other Wardens, being used in ways not in keeping with the Spell’s design. They should have been part of the world’s hidden structures, functions of the natural order, but instead they were confusing things,
corrupting
things. As long as the Wound stayed open, the world would never be right.

The strangest feeling
came upon Salarkis then, as if his pattern was vibrating. He cast about and, with rising fear, found he could not move. Almost outside his perception were threads he had not noticed, running between him and the Wound like the hanging tendrils of some carnivorous plant, holding him fast in their cobwebbed grip. Suddenly he was being lifted, the thrum increasing until his own threads twanged like the strings of a lute. Something broke free from his very core, and he opened his mouth to scream, but could not make any sound – or at least, could not hear himself, if he did.

Mercifully, he blacked out.

Ah, but it was all so confusing.
What should I be doing? What is my purpose? Why have I been given this second chance?
When he let it be.

Sitting tall in his throne, Forger smiled. He wasn’t sure why.

A servant girl was fussing around nearby, replacing an empty jug of water, trying her best to remain insubstantial.

‘You,’ he said.

Already pale in his presence, her skin now went the colour of her own buck teeth.

‘Yes, my lord? Is there something I can do for you?’

His eyes travelled along the threads wavering from her, which would have been invisible to him save for Braston’s stolen power.

BOOK: The Lord of Lies: Strange Threads: Book 2
3.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Alien Love by Lily Marie
The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson
River Wolf by Heather Long
Stash by David Matthew Klein
A Winter's Child by Brenda Jagger
Who Dares Wins by Chris Ryan
Besieged by Jaid Black
His to Claim by Alice Cain