Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 3)

Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 3) Read Online Free PDF Page A

Book: Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 3) Read Online Free PDF
Author: Mark Lawrence
have fought the dead before, and won.’ The rain felt cold now.
    ‘The Dead King has overwhelmed the last of Brettan’s lords, he holds all the Isles. He has a fleet waiting to sail. The holiest see a black tide coming.’ Gomst looked up now, meeting my eyes.
    ‘Have you seen this, Gomst?’ I asked him.
    ‘I am not holy.’
    That convinced me, of his belief and fear at least. I knew Gomst for a rogue, a goat-bearded letch with an eye for his own comfort and a taste for grand but empty oratory. Honesty from him spoke more than from another man.
    ‘You’ll come to Congression with me. Set this news before the Hundred.’
    His eyes widened at that, rain stuttered from his lips. ‘I— I have no place there.’
    ‘You’ll come as one of my advisors,’ I told him. ‘Sir Riccard will cede his place to you.’
    I stood, shaking the wet from my hair. ‘Damn this rain. Harran! Point me at my tent. Sir Kent, Riccard, see the bishop back to his church. I don’t want any ghoul or ghost troubling him on his return.’
    Captain Harran had waited in the next fire circle and led me now to my pavilion, larger than the guards’, hide floors within, strewn with black and gold cushions. Makin followed in behind me, coughing and shaking off the rain, my bodyguard, though a pavilion had been set for him as Baron of Kennick. I shrugged off my cloak and it landed with a splat, leaking water.
    ‘Gomst sends us to bed with sweet dreams,’ I said, glancing around. A chest of provisions sat to my left and a commode had been placed on the opposite side. Silver lamps burning smokeless oil lit me to my bed, carved timber, four posted, assembled from pieces carried by a dozen different guards.
    ‘I’ve no faith in dreams.’ Makin set his cloak aside and shook like a wet dog. ‘Or the bishop.’
    A chess set had been laid on a delicate table beside the bed, board of black and white marble, silver pieces, ruby-set or with emeralds to indicate the sides.
    ‘The guard lay their tents grander than my rooms at the Haunt,’ I said.
    Makin inclined his head. ‘I don’t trust dreams,’ he repeated.
    ‘The women of Hodd Town wear no blues.’ I started to unbuckle my breastplate. I could have had a boy to do it, but servants are a disease that leaves you crippled.
    ‘You’re an observer of fashion now?’ Makin worked at his own armour, still dripping on the hides.
    ‘Tin prices are four times what they stood at when I took my uncle’s throne.’
    Makin grinned. ‘Have I missed a guest? You’re speaking to somebody but it’s not me?’
    ‘That man of yours, Osser Gant? He would understand me.’ I let my armour lie where it fell. My eyes kept returning to the chessboard. They had set one for me on my last journey to Congression too. Every night. As if no one could pretend to the throne without being a player of the game.
    ‘You’ve led me to the water, but I can’t drink. Tell me plain, Jorg. I’m a simple man.’
    ‘Trade, Lord Makin.’ I pushed a pawn out experimentally. A ruby-eyed pawn, servant to the black queen. ‘We have no trade with the Isles, no tin, no woad, no Brettan nets, not those clever axes of theirs or those tough little sheep. We have no trade and black ships are seen off Conaught, sailing the Quiet Sea but never coming to port.’
    ‘There have been wars. The Brettan lords are always feuding.’ Makin shrugged.
    ‘Chella spoke of the Dead King. I don’t trust dreams but I trust the word of an enemy who thinks me wholly in their power. The marsh dead have kept my father’s armies busy on his borders. We would have had our reckoning years back, father and me, if he were not so tied with holding on to what he has.’
    Makin nodded at that. ‘Kennick suffers too. All the men-at-arms who answer to me are set to keep the dead penned in the marshes. But an army of them? A king?’
    ‘Chella was a queen to the army she raised in the Cantanlona.’
    ‘But ships? Invasions?’
    ‘There are more things in
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