Leviathan's Blood

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Book: Leviathan's Blood Read Online Free PDF
Author: Ben Peek
    Wila was a flat piece of barren land made from dirt and sand. Ahead, Ayae could see the farmlands of Yeflam across Leviathan’s Blood and, beyond them, the Mountains of Ger.
    If she turned, however, Yeflam itself came into view. It stretched along the horizon, marked by huge arching bridges linking a series of circular platforms. The platforms were so large that they
were like slabs of earth that a giant had lifted from the ocean’s floor before resting them on a series of huge stone pillars. The thick columns were made from blocks of stone and dived into
the black water, where they sank deep into the ocean’s floor. Around them, islands similar to Wila lay beneath the length of the artificial country, dotting the length of the ocean from
horizon to horizon.
    It was not a new sight to Ayae. She and her oldest friend, Faise, had driven an ox-drawn cart from Mireea to the cities to buy supplies for the witch Olcea more than once. In those trips,
however, the two women had never gone near the stone ramps that ran down to Yeflam’s empty islands. Instead, they had travelled into Neela, along its wide streets and past its factories and
storage yards.
    Depending on which side of Leviathan’s Blood you approached Yeflam, Neela was either the first of the nation’s twenty-three cities, or the last. It was a Traders’ Union city,
and you could find presses that were friendly to men and women of wealth and position and critical of people who had held power in Yeflam for a thousand years. There were another five cities that
the Traders’ Union claimed as its own, the biggest of these being Burata, which connected to the eastern docks. In that city, you could buy anything, and it was there that Ayae and Faise had
ridden to buy the supplies Olcea had wanted. In one of the free papers that were available in Burata, Ayae first read full-page articles using the term ‘cursed’ – the first time
she had heard the word outside Mireea.
    The word had followed her for the last three weeks as well. After they had left the ghost-filled streets of Mireea behind, people had begun whispering it. At first, Ayae had been able to ignore
it, but it had only become worse. The whispers began when she made her way into Lady Wagan’s tents and did not stop when she left: they continued when she queued for her rations and it was
common whenever she and Zaifyr were seen together. The word was not always used with animosity. At times it was spoken with a neutrality – ‘The cursed is over there in the chains’
– and at times with a grudging respect – ‘They both stood for us’ – but more often than not, it was said with anger. By the second week, she had been spat at, she had
been blamed for the loss of Mireea – either because she had not done enough, or because she had done too much – and she had heard others tell Zaifyr that he was responsible for the
ghosts he had shown them in Mireea and that he kept the dead in their purgatory because he took his power from their pain.
    ‘How can you listen to it?’ she asked, one night. ‘How do you not get angry at them?’
    ‘I don’t know them.’ He sat on a piece of grass away from where the Mireeans had made a cold camp, the moon and stars the only light around him. It caught on the charms of
copper and silver that had been woven through his auburn hair and around his wrists. He held one of those, one made from bronze, in his white hand. ‘But,’ he said, ‘if I had just
seen what happened to my friends and family when they died, I would probably blame the man who showed me as well.’
    ‘You understand them?’
    His eyes, green in the daylight but simply dark and depthless in the night, focused on her. ‘It is an easy enough thing to do.’
    Ayae made a face in disagreement.
    ‘Then they shout at you,’ she said. ‘It’s pointless to blame you for what has happened. Why don’t they realize that?’
    ‘Give them time.’
    She looked away from
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