Sword Empire

Free Sword Empire by Robert Leader

Book: Sword Empire by Robert Leader Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert Leader
Radd kill you.”
    â€œI know,” Karn snarled because he could not deny the obvious. “But Doran is still my best hope. If I can convince anyone that the risk is real and that I am not senile, then it must be Doran. If you had killed him, then another young warhawk would have been elected to the Council.”
    Raven smiled. “I might have been voted to the Council.”
    â€œNo.” Karn shook his head. “Only a majority vote from the surviving members can vote for a new member, and the vote would still have been seven against four. All those I can see as candidates have been shouting for war even louder than Doran.”
    He was silent for a moment and then finished wearily. “Doran thinks that I have gone soft in the head, but if I can convince him, then the danger could be diverted. It is the only hope I have.”
    â€œIt galls me to leave it so,” Raven said softly.
    â€œTrust me,” Karn said shortly. “Besides, there is nothing you can do now, and there are other matters that require your attention.”
    â€œWhat other matters?”
    Karn moved to try and make himself more comfortable on his cushions and then grimaced as a spasm of pain wrenched at his bowels. He clasped at his stomach with both hands and for a moment he was silent with gritted teeth.
    â€œThere was a communication for you while you were absent,” he said when he was able. “From your brother Bhorg. One of your neighbouring strongholds has changed hands. It has a new Sword Lord, a man named Brack. It seems that Sword Lord Brack is unduly ambitious. He has challenged your brother to the sword.”
    Raven’s face became hard and angry. His home stronghold was now far behind him, in terms of years, miles and emotional distance, and a trip north was something he did not particularly want.
    â€œSo Bhorg is dead,” he guessed harshly.
    â€œNo, Bhorg refused the challenge. So did your brother Scarl. They both claimed that they hold Stronghold Raven in your name.”
    At that Raven chuckled. “So, they keep the stronghold but there is another sword duel waiting for me. It can wait a while longer.”
    â€œPerhaps not. Brack has formed an alliance with another stronghold, a Sword Lord named Raige. Together they have laid siege to Stronghold Raven.”
    Raven swore, a colourful enough set of epithets to make even Karn smile with approval. “When did this siege begin?”
    â€œAbout a week before your ship returned.”
    â€œSo, is it really a coincidence that this business must draw me away from the city at this time?”
    Karn shrugged. “I am not sure how Doran could have arranged it, but he may not have relied entirely on the prowess of his pretty-boy champion. If I were you, I would expect an ambush or two along the way.”
    â€œIt can still wait,” Raven decided. “If Bhorg and Scarl are still withstanding the siege, then they can hold out a little while longer. My presence may be more important here.”
    Karn was thoughtful for a moment, and then said wearily, “I think you should go. You have to settle this matter, and I must try and talk again with Doran. He may feel less threatened, and more ready to listen, if I do not have your sword at my immediate call.”
    After Raven had left her, Maryam lay back in their bed of soft furs and struggled to let her mind catch up with her windswept emotions. The past few hours had been such a hurricane of events and feelings that all her senses were still reeling. She had felt a strong sense of pride as they entered the Council chamber, pride in her handsome blue lover and pride in herself as a noble daughter of Karakhor. Then her whole world had capsized as she realized that Raven was fighting for his life, and even more. Sylve’s gloating sneer told her that eventually her life would be forfeit too if Raven lost his battle. After the terrible moments of pure fear had

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