Heir Of Novron: The Riyria Revelations

Free Heir Of Novron: The Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan

Book: Heir Of Novron: The Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Michael J. Sullivan
once before in the palace. A disagreeable sort with a balding head and ink-stained fingers, he sat with a roll of parchment, pen, and ink.
    “You have a name?” the man in the center asked.
    “Baldwin,” Hadrian said. The clerk scratched the parchment. The end of his feathered quill whipped about like the tail of an irritated squirrel.
    “Baldwin, eh? Where have you fought?”
    “All over, really.”
    “Why aren’t you in the imperial army? Ya a deserter?”
    Hadrian allowed himself a smile, which the soldier did not return. “You could say that. I left the Nationalists.”
    This caught the ear of everyone at the table and a few men standing in line. The clerk stopped scribbling and looked up.
    “For some reason they stopped paying me,” Hadrian added with a shrug.
    A slight smile pulled at the edges of the soldier’s lips. “Not terribly loyal, are you?”
    “I’m as loyal as they come… as long as you pay me.”
    This brought a chuckle from the soldier, and he looked to the others. The older man to his right nodded. “Put him on the line. It doesn’t require much loyalty to work a crowd.”
    The clerk began writing again and Hadrian was handed a wooden token.
    “Take that back outside and give it to Sergeant Millet, near the fire. He’ll get you set up. Name?” he called to the next in line as Hadrian headed back out into the blinding white.
    Unable to see clearly for a moment, Hadrian blinked. As his eyes adjusted, he saw Sentinel Luis Guy ride through the front gate, leading five Seret Knights. The two men spottedeach other at the same instant. Hadrian had not seen Guy since the death of Fanen Pickering in Dahlgren. And while he hoped to one day repay Guy for Fanen’s death, this was perhaps the worst possible time to cross paths.
    For a heartbeat, neither moved. Then Guy slowly leaned and spoke to the man beside him, his eyes never straying from Hadrian.
    “Now!” Guy growled when the knight hesitated.
    Hadrian could not think of a worse place to be caught. He had no easy exit—no window to leap through or door to close. Between him and the gate were twenty-six men, still in line, who would jump at the chance to prove their mettle by helping the palace guard. Despite their numbers, Hadrian was the least concerned by the guard hopefuls, as none of them were armed. The bigger problem was the ten palace guards dressed for battle. At the sound of the first clash of swords, the barracks would empty, adding more men. Hadrian conservatively estimated he would need to kill or cripple at least eighteen people just to reach the exit. Guy and his five seret would be at the top of that list. The serets’ horses would also need to be dispatched for him to have any chance of escaping through the city streets. The final obstacle would be the crossbowmen on the wall. Among the eight, he guessed at least two would be skilled enough to hit him in the back as he ran out through the gate.
    “Just—don’t—move,” Guy said with his hands spread out in front of him. He looked as if he were trying to catch a wild horse, and did not advance, dismount, or draw his sword.
    Just then the portcullis dropped.
    “There’s no escape,” Guy assured him.
    From a nearby door, a handful of guards trotted toward Hadrian with their swords drawn.
    “Stop!” Guy ordered, raising his hand abruptly. “Don’t go near him. Just fan out.”
    The men waiting in line looked from the soldiers to Hadrian and then backed away.
    “I know what you’re thinking, Mr. Blackwater,” Guy said in an almost friendly tone. “But we
truly
have you outnumbered
this
time.”

    Hadrian stood in an elegantly furnished office on the fourth floor of the palace. Regent Saldur sat behind his desk, fidgeting with a small bejeweled letter opener shaped like a dagger. The ex-bishop looked slightly older and a bit heavier than the last time Hadrian had seen him. Luis Guy stood off to the right, his eyes locked on Hadrian. He was dressed in the

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