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The blood mirror, p.1
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       The Blood Mirror, p.1

           Brent Weeks
 
The Blood Mirror


  orbitbooks.net

  orbitshortfiction.com

  Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Dedication

  Maps

  Series Recap

  Epigraph

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Chapter 57

  Chapter 58

  Chapter 59

  Chapter 60

  Chapter 61

  Chapter 62

  Chapter 63

  Chapter 64

  Chapter 65

  Chapter 66

  Chapter 67

  Chapter 68

  Chapter 69

  Chapter 70

  Chapter 71

  Chapter 72

  Chapter 73

  Chapter 74

  Chapter 75

  Chapter 76

  Chapter 77

  Chapter 78

  Chapter 79

  Author’s Note

  Acknowledgments

  Books by Brent Weeks

  Character List

  Glossary

  Appendix

  Orbit Newsletter

  Copyright

  To Kristi, whose “No.” “Not… no.” “Yes!” taught me all I needed to know about love and publishing.

  And to my sisters, Christa and Elisa, my stories’ first (and wildly appreciative) audience.

  The Lightbringer Series Recap

  In the empire of the Seven Satrapies, a small number of people are born with the ability to learn to transform light into a physical, tangible product called luxin. Each color of luxin has unique physical and metaphysical properties and innumerable uses, from construction to warfare. Trained at the empire’s capital, the Chromeria, these drafters lead lives of privilege, with satrapies and powerful houses vying for their services. In exchange, they agree that once they exhaust their ability to safely use magic—signaled when the halos of their irises are broken by the colors they draft—they will be killed by the emperor, the Prism, in a ceremony on the most holy day of the year: Sun Day. The drafters who have broken the halo (called wights) go mad with the luxin coursing through their bodies. If they run away instead of surrendering, they must be hunted to death. Only the Prism can draft with limitless power, and he or she alone can balance all the colors in the satrapies to prevent the chaotic luxin from overwhelming the lands. Every seven years, or on a multiple of seven years, the Prism also gives up his or her life, and the ruling council appoints a new Prism. If the Prism refuses death, he or she is likewise hunted down.

  The current Prism is Gavin Guile.

  Book One: The Black Prism

  Prism Gavin Guile learns he has an illegitimate son living in a satrapy that’s threatening civil war for the second time in fifteen years. But Gavin is actually Dazen Guile in disguise; after the battle that ended the last war and killed his brother, he stole Gavin’s identity. Now he has to take responsibility for his brother’s bastard. Gavin travels to Tyrea with Karris, his former fiancée and now a member of his elite defensive corps, the Blackguard. They find Kip, his son, in time to save him from a rebellious satrap who is calling himself King Garadul. The king allows them to leave, but takes Kip’s knife—the only thing left him by his mother. While Gavin takes Kip back to the Chromeria to begin his magical education, Karris stays in Tyrea to rendezvous with a spy in the king’s army.

  Karris is captured by the king’s forces, and she discovers King Garadul’s right hand, a wight who calls himself the Color Prince, is the one fomenting rebellion. He is her brother, whom she’d thought long dead.

  Kip tests into the Chromeria’s school for drafters and meets a friend from his hometown, Liv Danavis, daughter of one of Dazen’s greatest generals. Gavin is focused on killing wights and finding a political solution to the war, but he must also deal with the man he’s secretly imprisoned deep beneath the Chromeria: his brother. Gavin’s father, Andross, tasks him with going back to Tyrea to stop the rebellion from becoming an empire-wide war and with retrieving the very knife Gavin allowed the king to take when he rescued Kip.

  When Gavin, Kip, and Liv arrive at Tyrea’s capital, Garriston, they meet Liv’s father, former general Corvan Danavis. They realize the city is indefensible, so Gavin begins to draft an entire wall. Gavin has almost completed the wall when a cannonball destroys the gate he’d been drafting. Gavin’s forces defend the retreat of Garriston’s citizens as they attempt to escape via barges. Kip learns where Karris is and decides to rescue her. Liv follows him, but they are separated when Kip is captured by the Color Prince’s forces.

  Kip is imprisoned with Karris, and in the chaos of battle they manage to join the army marching toward the city. Kip kills King Garadul, and Liv saves both Kip and Karris by agreeing to join the Color Prince if he’ll use his sharpshooting skills to prevent their deaths in battle.

  Kip races to meet another threat: he knows a young polychrome, Zymun, has been assigned to assassinate Gavin. He doesn’t stop the attack, but Gavin survives when Kip intercedes. Kip takes the dagger Zymun used and realizes it is the same blade his mother gave him. Gavin, Kip, and Karris escape the city on barges with much of the city’s civilian population. Gavin is unaware that his brother has escaped the first of multiple prison chambers back at the Chromeria.

  Book Two: The Blinding Knife

  Gavin negotiates with the Third Eye, a powerful Seer, to get permission for the refugees to build a home on her island. Karris and Gavin build a harbor for the refugee fleet, and Gavin hunts the blue bane, a horror forming in the Cerulean Sea. If he doesn’t destroy the bane, an ancient god will be reborn.

  Kip returns to the Chromeria to test into the Blackguard. He befriends a few of his fellow Blackguard candidates, including Teia, a color-blind paryl drafter and a slave. Her owner forces her to steal valuable goods and to spy on Kip. As hard as training is, the new interest his grandfather has taken in him is worse. Andross demands Kip play a card game, Nine Kings, for high stakes.

  A librarian, Rea Siluz, introduces Kip to Janus Borig, an artist who creates ‘true’ Nine Kings cards, which allow drafters to experience history as it happened. But it’s not long before Kip finds Janus mortally injured by two assassins. Kip manages to kill both, acquire their magical cloaks, and save Janus’s deck of true Nine Kings cards. Kip uses a new deck made by Janus to beat Andross in a gam
e, winning Teia’s slave contract. Kip gives the cloaks, the cards, and his mother’s knife to his father, who’s just returned with Karris. Gavin has destroyed the blue bane and resettled the refugees, so he’s ready to manipulate the Spectrum (the ruling council of the Chromeria) into declaring Seers Island a new satrapy and make Corvan Danavis its new satrap.

  Karris is given a letter from Gavin’s dead mother and learns Gavin has loved her all along. He broke their betrothal so Karris wouldn’t have to marry a man she might not love. Karris approaches Gavin that night, but he’s already in bed with another woman—a woman he didn’t invite. Enraged at losing Karris again, Gavin throws the woman onto his balcony. She tumbles over the railing and falls to her death.

  Certain he’ll be arrested for the murder, Gavin decides he must free his brother to take his place as Prism. But Gavin realizes his long-imprisoned brother is crazy, so he kills him. Gavin returns from the prison to find the Spectrum has declared war and that his two Blackguards, the only witnesses to the girl’s death, have sworn Gavin acted in self-defense, leaving him free to be Prism.

  As the trainees continue with their elimination matches, Kip almost enters the Blackguard ranks—but loses at the last moment due to cheating by some of the other trainees. But his friend Cruxer uses a loophole to get Kip in anyway.

  Gavin and Karris reconcile and marry just before they go to war against the Color Prince. With the new Blackguard inductees and the Chromeria’s forces, they must destroy a green bane that is birthing a new god, Atirat. Liv is still with the Color Prince’s army and uses her superviolet skills to help create Atirat.

  Kip, Gavin, and Karris kill the god, but lose the city and the satrapy to the Color Prince’s forces.

  After the battle, Kip realizes that Andross is actually a red wight. As he confronts Andross, he draws the knife his mother gave him and stabs Andross in the shoulder. Gavin tries to stop the two, but can only redirect Kip’s knife into his own body. He falls overboard, and Kip jumps after him. The ship sails on, only Andross aware of what truly happened. Gavin is picked up by Gunner, a master cannoneer on a ship they’d earlier destroyed. Kip is rescued by Zymun, who says he is actually Gavin and Karris’s long-lost illegitimate son. Gavin wakes to find he is completely color-blind… and a slave rower.

  Book Three: The Broken Eye

  Adrift in a boat with Zymun, Kip is able to escape before they’re press-ganged by pirates. Weeks later, he makes it back to the Chromeria, after surviving the jungle, starvation, and worse.

  Because she married the Prism, as soon as she returns to the Chromeria, Karris is stripped of her rank in the Blackguard and given orders to take over the spy network of the White (the head of the Chromeria). Meanwhile, Andross Guile reveals that he has been miraculously healed from being a red wight. With the absence of Gavin Guile and the war under way, the Spectrum swiftly elects him promachos—commander in chief of the Chromeria.

  Teia is quickly recruited by Murder Sharp, a skilled paryl assassin for the Order of the Broken Eye. When the Order steals her slave paperwork, and then frames her for murder, Teia finds herself helpless to resist. She struggles to balance her training as a Blackguard inductee with assignments from the Order, but finally confesses everything to Ironfist and the White. They commission her to serve as the Chromeria’s spy on the Order, and Karris is assigned as her handler. As Teia continues her initiation into the Order, she discovers that she is a lightsplitter, a rare drafter who can use shimmercloaks (such as the ones Kip recovered) to make herself mostly invisible.

  Upon his homecoming, Kip informs the Spectrum and Karris that Gavin is still alive, but avoids implicating Andross in Gavin’s accident, which gains him a powerful if untrustworthy ally. He finds himself under Karris’s tutelage for drafting and reunites with his old Blackguard squad, the Mighty: Ben-hadad, Big Leo, Teia, Ferkudi, Winsen, Goss, and Daelos. Andross grants the group access to restricted libraries so they can research heretical Nine Kings cards and the Lightbringer, a long-prophesied savior of the satrapies, hoping they’ll gain information to win the war. In the process, Kip befriends mousy Quentin Naheed, a luxiat with extraordinary skills as a scholar.

  Gavin, now unable to draft any color, spends months as a galley slave on a pirate ship, rowing next to a mad prophet irreverently nicknamed after the deity he serves, Orholam. In the chaos of a sea battle with a ship they’re attempting to seize, a young Ruthgari noble, Antonius Malargos, leaps aboard their ship and offers to free the enslaved rowers if they help him break his ship free. They succeed, capturing Gunner and the Blinding Knife in the process, but Antonius takes Gavin to Ruthgar, to be imprisoned by his cousin Eirene. There her ally the Nuqaba of Paria arranges for Gavin to be publicly blinded.

  The Mighty discover that everything about heretical cards, and much about the Lightbringer, have been erased from the records. Kip also realizes that the weapon that allows Prisms to be made or unmade is the very knife that stabbed Gavin. When Kip reports to Karris, they have a falling out over a poorly timed joke. Soon afterward, he is approached by Tisis Malargos, Eirene’s sister, who proposes marriage to tie their families together. Kip later finds the true Nine Kings cards his father hid. Mistakenly drafting near them, he falls unconscious and enters the Great Library, where he meets the immortal Abaddon. Kip absorbs every one of the cards—except the Lightbringer card. He manages to grab Abaddon’s shimmercloak, but dies from drafting so many cards. Teia, however, resuscitates him. Kip then gives Teia the cloak he stole from Abaddon. She later realizes it is the master cloak, and more powerful than any of the other shimmercloaks.

  Andross manipulates Kip into confessing that he found both Andross’s lost deck and Janus Borig’s true cards, but Kip lies, saying they were all blank. Andross tells him to marry Tisis and go to Ruthgar to serve as his spy, while Zymun (who has just come to the Chromeria and announced that he is Karris and Gavin’s long-lost son) will serve as Prism for seven years.

  Karris receives word about Gavin’s location just in time to assemble a small crew to save him—though not in time to save him from being blinded in one eye. When they return together to the Jaspers, where the Chromeria is located, Karris sends him for healing and finds herself at the ceremony for selecting the new White—as the previous White has just died—and that she is a nominee.

  Kip and Tisis agree to marry and flee the Chromeria, and the Mighty insist on coming with them. When Zymun orders the newly formed Lightguard to kill them, they fight their way free. Though Goss is killed and Daelos wounded, the rest of the Mighty escape to meet Tisis at the docks. Ironfist’s brother, Tremblefist, covers their escape, but is killed in the explosion he sets to prevent the Lightguards’ pursuing them. Kip and Tisis wed just before embarking on the ship, and Teia decides to stay at the Chromeria. She will be of more value in the war effort fighting the Order than with Kip.

  Though it’s supposed to be a random process, Karris sees the White selection has been rigged, but manages to overcome the trickery. She kills two of the other nominees who attempt to kill her, and is declared the new White.

  Before Ironfist finds his dying brother, he meets secretly with his uncle: the perfidious Grinwoody, hidden in plain sight as the slave of Andross Guile, is also the Old Man of the Desert, leader of the Broken Eye. Ironfist has been part of the Order for years. He gives Grinwoody the black seed crystal that only the White and the commander of the Blackguard have access to.

  Meanwhile, Liv Danavis has been hunting the superviolet seed crystal at the command of the Color Prince. But though the Color Prince tries to make her wear a black luxin choker to keep her under his control, she foils the attempt and captures the seed crystal on her own.

  Gavin is kidnapped from the physicians’ care on Big Jasper, and wakes in a prison cell.

  In regione caecorum rex est luscus.

  In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

  —ERASMUS OF ROTTERDAM

  Chapter 1

  Like a house slave sweeping dirt into
a pile, Orholam had heaped together all the earth’s horrors and sin. Whistling a nursery song, he gathered barbarities and cruelties and outrages as Gavin lay on his back in the center of it all, arms spread, thrashing against his bonds. Dustpan filled to overflowing with creosote sins, Orholam turned toward Gavin for the first time.

  As he turned, his face was blinding bright, unknowable, a miasma of razor-edged light, but at the corner of his mouth, his beard twitched with a torturer’s glee.

  “Servient omnes,” Orholam said. All shall serve.

  He upended his dustpan over Gavin’s face. Gavin screamed, but his words were taken from him like silk torn from the spool in a spider’s gut, unwinding until it snapped inside him, leaving him empty and shattered inside. He tried to turn, twist, look away, but his eyes were propped open. There was no escaping the bulbous, congealed ordure schloomping toward his eye.

  The whole mass fell. And as it fell, it caught fire and burnt in the air, sizzling, spattering, spitting angrily.

  And afire, all the world’s sin fell into Gavin’s eye and set his orb aflame. The fire sank sizzling into his socket, gases escaping, tssst, like a sigh from a disappointed father at his failure son.

  And the fire lodged in his eye, burning, and he screamed for ages past counting, until his throat was raw and tongue was dry, until deserts blew barren sands into snow, and his attempts to shriek faded, and his skin grew hard and cracked, and the burning shard impaled him, pinning him to the world, cooled by temperature’s reckoning but not by pain’s, and the shard crystallized, and the smoke cleared, and impaling Gavin’s blind eye was a black prism.

  Gasping, Gavin woke from his dream to find himself in darkness. But his arms jerked hard against iron manacles.

  He was shackled to a table, arms extended. The nightmare wasn’t over.

  The nightmare had just begun.

  Chapter 2

  Teia lowered the silk noose toward her damnation. Rope spooled out from careful fingers toward the anxious woman quietly working at the desk below. The target was perhaps thirty, wearing a slave’s dress, her copper-colored hair pulled up in a simple ponytail. As Teia watched, the woman folded a piece of the luxin-imbued flash paper that all her spies used. She paused and took a sip of an expensive whisky.

 
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