Empire of Bones: Book IV of the Northern Crusade
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“You seem troubled, One Eye.”
Harnin’s eye snapped open, no longer surprised with how easily the ethereal Dae’shan came and went as they pleased. He still hadn’t discovered how they simply folded darkness around them and vanished. Until he did, there wasn’t any way to combat them.
“Perhaps I disturb you,” Pelthit Re hissed from under his cowl.
The Dae’shan hovered a half a foot off the ground. Six feet tall, he was slender and swathed in dark robes of heavy gray. His hands were folded within his robes, leaving no sign of physical form. Darkness surrounded the Dae’shan. Arrogance pulsed off him, disturbing Harnin more than the Dae’shan could know.
“No, your council is always welcome,” Harnin replied tersely.
Pelthit Re studied his puppet with cold, unfeeling eyes. He’d lived for centuries. Always in the shadows of the greater Amar Kit’han, the lesser Dae’shan had once been a virtuous Man. They were the neutral representatives of the old gods, but when the gods of light went away the Dae’shan fell into corruption. They swore allegiance to the dark gods and worked tirelessly to open the gateways between worlds so their new masters could return to lay claim to all.
“I sense a great deal of turmoil within you,” Pelthit Re said.
Harnin lowered his hands. “There is much concerning me lately. Rest assured, I can manage my own kingdom.”
“A kingdom you have neither earned nor won. You wouldn’t be in that chair if not for my assistance. Remember your place, One Eye.”
“My place is the lord of Delranan!” he snapped. “I am the power in this kingdom. My will is law. Not yours. You remain in the shadows while others go forth to fight and die in my name. Delranan belongs to me.”
Pelthit Re cocked his head. “Perhaps you need to be reminded of your station.”
Waves of power, shimmering in the air like heat on a summer day, lashed out at Harnin. It struck with enough force to blow him back against the wall. Pain shot down his legs as the back of his head hit cold rock. Harnin groaned and rolled to his hands and knees. Coughing blood, he struggled to rise. The Dae’shan struck again, forcing him back to his belly. And again, slamming his body against the wall. Only when Harnin stopped trying to rise did Pelthit Re stop his assault.
“I warned you,” the Dae’shan accused. “Do not trifle with my power. I am an agent of the dark gods. Mere mortals can’t harm me. I am disappointed in your lack of judgment, One Eye. I gave you this kingdom in the hopes that you would prepare it for a glorious age. Instead you let these pathetic rebels sink you into ruin. Perhaps I should take your head like poor Lord Argis.”