... with the most terrible and hard to understand accent ever to accent! Go me.
Transcript of the Hammered Heart excerpt I'm reading
For that moment when you realize you can't tell what I'm saying at all. (My apologies!)
The Bridges’ criers were handed the message from the Guild of scribes around noon.
They saw that their copies included red script on Fata paper, in a town where both were reserved for royal use.
They travelled through streets already ablaze with the rumours of what had happened at the waterfront. Another assassination attempt, it was whispered, and the Regent had been involved. This made citizens uneasy, and no small few, aware the region owed much of its safe prosperity to the rule of Fates, fumed.
These town criers set up on their corners and took out their sheets. They saw that entire lines were red, and the first words on their copy—An Torr enn an Interrex—were known to every one of them. This message came from The King and the Regent.
Then the news hit.
Ora could hear the crier who would shelter at Kessian’s outside.
An Torr enn an Interrex require all people of Bridges to proceed to their homes at once. In an orderly manner, each must leave their situation, market, school, and all other places, and lock inside their homes. Go now. Travellers to town, must be ushered into shelter without fear of cost, just as every sailor must be situated on ship or shore. All innocents must lock in.
Afterward, none are to emerge or admit strangers.
River and road will be patrolled by Town Guards, Outriders, and the dreaded Morgwn Knights.
All have permission to destroy.
If your life be precious, stay inside. Shelter.
The King of the Fates and his sections will hunt tonight.
There will be no quarter.
The dockyards became a state of confusion. At first, people couldn’t seem to believe the news. A fire of conversations and suppositions erupted across the spaces—was this about the dragons? The attempted assassination? Something new? But, when the Guard began to march through the city, and the Knights rode into town—when the Outriders blew into the grove beside Kessian’s manor house—the downtown drained quickly. Even those people who loved to see the Fata sections appear and considered it the height of fanfare. The citizens saw everyone so chillingly armed. Carriages and carts waited to take those workers who lived further out, and they were wide eyed at the amassment of troops in the downtown.
For all the human vacillation, the evacuation was as orchestrated as the locks high in the mountains by Blue Mirror Lake were. All planned to flow like water through the rivers by the Regent, himself.
Hovel, hotel, and manor house, even the warehouses were full with people, some of whom had elected to stay there just to protect the place that assured them a livelihood. Schools were full. Even the bathhouse was occupied. The field and streets inside the White City were full of traders who had travelled here in their bow topped caravans. Everywhere was packed.
Shortly before sundown, the troops had had their assignments, and the streets were eerily deserted wherever they marched. A distant ship’s bell blew in the silence. Many ships and barges full of people had decided to leave the shore for the violence they suspected would come. Many clustered out on the Green Mirror, beyond the reach of the longest bow. The sound was a lonesome one.
From the steps of Kessian’s place, Ora raised a hand to greet Falo Mark and a trio of his personal crew. The other Scinan Chief in town slowed to a jog and padded up to her across the cobbles. “Hail, Chief.”
“Chief Mark, how is camp?” She glanced around her and felt on edge in the unnatural silence.
“Better than this ghost town,” Falo gave a visible shudder. “This is frightful all on its own. It looks a trap.”
“Well good,” Ora stepped up, clapped a fist to her heart and bumped his shoulder with it as he did the same. “We try. But I mean, have you seen anything out of order on the way here, Chief?”
“Trouble has already started. That’s what.” Falo’s scarred face creased with a smile,
“Close to 18 men have crossed the Silken to get out of town. Scinan met them. Anyone not fighting, we let fly. We’re digging a hole for everyone else.”
Steda came across the cobbled courtyard between Kessian’s manor and the warehouses and nodded, “Chiefs.”
“Steda,” Chief Mark glanced over him in his Londh attire and scowled. “You should dress like a Scinan, boy. As you are, it’s confusing.”
“I get the same from the Londhs,” Steda said in respectful amusement. “Chief Buckmaster, I thought you might like to know there have been skirmishes in town already.”
She swung up a Fighting Knife. “Do they need a hand?”
“Not from what I heard.” Steda shook his head. “They came after the Town Guard, but the Town Guard are Scinan trained, under a Scinan Chief now. It didn’t last long.”
Ora laughed at this, proud of her newest Forces, not that she’d met with them. She just gave the orders that trained and paid them because that’s what a Master did. Or… what she saw them doing. “I’ll see that they’re rewarded.”
The Awns boys jogged out from around the warehouses and to the steps where they shed their thicker coats.
“All right?” She asked.
“Hate summer,” Airic threw his coat down in disgust. “Need water.”
The Awns had gotten even bigger in captivity, Ora found. Bigger shoulders. Bigger arms. Clothes were tight across the figures they cut. Or maybe they were growing up some, everyone in her crew was in their 20s now. A woman from the staff, who stood with a large boiler of water, ladled drinks for the pair of them.
Ora turned from them. “You know about the attempt?”
“Rumour has it the Regent was right there,” Chief Mark noted. “It’s said you foiled it, Buckmaster.”
“All of that is true,” she watched Redd shut the doors at the front of the primary warehouse and wait for the sound to tell him the locks had turned. He saw his crew and jogged over. “I don’t know who the target was, and the King doesn’t care.”
“Yes, so I see.” Mark agreed with her. “What can you tell me about the attempt that was made here.”
“This won’t comfort you any, but I think it’s the beginning of our troubles, and not even the greatest of them,” she sighed.
“It would explain why we see so many big Fates out of town lately, building and digging.”
Ora’s eyes widened, “Fates? Digging?”
He was surprised, “You didn’t know?”
“Oh, I knew… but you’ve seen them?” Ora marvelled at the notion. “Fates digging out there?”
“Many,” Falo Mark told her. “Large Fates. They can put down a trench deep enough to conceal themselves and long enough to go around Camp in a couple of days. Gorgeous sharp angles. Very beautifully dug. They are… they are polite neighbours.”
“Yes, we are fortunate in our company,” Ora felt a wistful pang as she said it and had to lay a hand over her chainmail heart. She settled down, “But I didn’t get such a good look at our assailant, and, instead, ran to secure the King. But, you, Redd, you were there.”
“I have been, at that,” Redd said jovially. “I know it sounds terrible, but it was quite rewarding to examine another of these thugs, though… made a bit difficult by the very large numbers of arrows sticking out everywhere. However, that did nothing to hide the tattoos and seq-pyrrhic on him. He’s another from Bellerhode, for certain. I found the prison brand on this one, on the meat of him, right under the nest of his throat: the bell and circle of swords.”
“He was strong,” Ora said uncomfortably.
Airic brought cups of water with Icari, and she took one with a nod.
“That so?” Redd was gigantic and seemed to find it hard to relate to the idea. “His teeth were filed by the way. So, he’d given himself fangs.”
“All the way across his mouth? Like a Kaot?” Ora asked.
It was Icari who answered, “Uh. No. Just the canines.” He took out his sketch book from the pack he wore and stood to show her the drawing. “Master Kessian brought me in to get faithful drawings.”
Mark snorted, “This young one could find work in a wheelbarrow, I swear to it.” It was clear that he was proud of Icari. The Mastery system of the Scinan rejoiced when people found and perfected their calling.
Airic glanced aside at his brother, unable to quite contain his smile. It was only peripherally that Ora saw this, though it pleased her. She was staring down at the drawings. As ever, amazed at how quickly Icari’s artistic skills had advanced in this town. The details were such that the dead man might have been dropped down directly in front of her. Horrid as that sounded.
She snuck a glance at Icari’s young, contented face.
Then he returned her attention to his work.
Their attacker had been tattooed with enough seq-pyrrhic to compose evil poetry, and the detail showed his filed teeth. Orc-like fangs.
She shut the book and handed it back, “Thank you, Icari.”
“Yes, Chief,” he tucked it away.
“How tall?” She asked.
“Shorter than you,” Icari told her. “Older too.”
Now Ora nodded at them all, “I mean to say he was too strong. And I don’t know why that would be…. But I would like to know.”
“He’s been consigned to the flames for smelling up the nice stone room where Kessian likes to grow tubs of mushrooms and store potatoes,” Redd chuckled. “Oh, but while I was jotting notes about him—he had bloodletting scars and was underweight—the King made to search more deeply. He had a Fate come and take the villain’s blood right out of his foul arm. Horrifying… –ly interesting.”
Airic laughed out loud at this before he could clap a hand over his mouth to prevent himself, even as Ora, also grinning, nudged him to make sure he’d heard that.
Mark sighed at the ground and glanced to Steda, “Children.”
But Steda was clapping Redd’s arm. “That was nice.”
The Scinan Chief turned his head away to laugh.
The staccato clop of hooves brought them all to weapons and around to warrior’s stance. As they watched, a man with a naked blade in his hands ran out from between buildings and headed for the field. Behind him, Van’s big, black warhorse, Bayne, came galloping.
Van, himself, gave chase with a short war spear.
An Elite dropped to the wooden awning of a warehouse and bounded to Banye’s back. She fired off an arrow that felled the running man on the stones before she touched down in the cobbled yard.
She turned, bowed to the door, and then jogged around the side of the warehouse, taking the closed gate in an effortless leap.
Ora found that the King leaned on the doorway behind her, in shadow. “Such quiet,” he said once discovered, and his exhalation alone demonstrated appreciation. Then he pivoted and headed down the great hall without a backward glance.
“Be ready. It will be but moments,” said the Fata who… hadn’t been there, but who straightened from landing almost noiselessly behind her. This was someone whose dark features, flat voice, and pale eyes she knew at once.
Ora blinked, “Hamor-kas.”
He made a smooth pivot, to walk up the Great Room and over to where the Regent spoke with Arwan.
Ora exhaled and straightened, put away her swords. “All right. We’ll be setting off in a few minutes.”
“Would anyone like to do some stretching,” Redd joked.
The little crews and their Chiefs by the door laughed at that.
But the dark Fate hadn’t been wrong. The shadows grew long, and the King reappeared in an outfit that made him look all but identical to the variegated green of the Elites, no cloak, no ornamentation. He wore a longbow, quiver, and blades for throwing, to complement the fighting knives and the magnificent sword, Glace.
His hair was out long, drawn back at the forehead and temple, into a pair of braids that met behind his head and terminated on his back, all of it bone pale and straight as a whip.
Without the long coat and layers, decorative crowns, and the attractively fashioned hair to soften him, it was overt that he was huge, powerful, and as deadly as glacial ice. He seemed more Stranger to her at that moment—with the angled absences of his expression—than he had in a very long time.
“Full darkness falls soon. Our time,” he pulled up the hood of his jerkin. There was a gathering of Fates around him. At a sign she couldn’t detect they flowed out the door, dozens of Fates dressed, armed, hooded, and fleet, just like him. At once, he was secret among them.
Ora hurried after, no longer able to pick him out in the section.
It took her three and a half hours to reach him again, after that....
The series is right here: Folded Earth (4 book series) Kindle Edition (amazon.com)