First Words (31/8/2012)

The Black Mausoleum came out a couple of weeks ago. Here are the opening words of what’s coming two books further down the line. This is the first draft, unedited, so excuse the typos, and it’s also a prologue so there’s a very good chance it won’t ever appear in any published version. There are many rewrites to come and for these few paragraphs, each is an opportunity to die. But hey, why not…

I don’t even have a title or this book yet. But if you read this and then read The King’s Assassin in October, and have a bit of a hang on a minute moment, then come back here and tell me about it because there is an Easter Egg.


The Soap-Maker emerged from the gloom. He beckoned at the shadows in the corner of the room and a bronze stand shaped like the limb of some terrible lizard and covered in carved scales slid across the wooden floor towards him. The air filled with a grinding sound. It stopped obediently beside him. On its top the metal began to writhe and squirm and then flowed like liquid as a silver claw rose through it with a clear glass globe nestled within its talons.

“Sometimes we guide them,” he said. “Sometimes we place obstacles before them. Sometimes their own fates guide them and we merely watch and crackle our fingers with gleeful smiles. Listen and you will learn. And then you will listen and learn again, and you will do this over and over and over, every day for the rest of your short life. When your eyes fail, then you will see the shaping I have made. These will play out without us for a time. A path shall be made, pick-pocked with signposts that cannot be missed, for the one who will come, to take him to the end that we desire. Now!” The Soap-Maker clasped his hands together. “Potions and herbs and silly tricks. All I have shown you, you could have learned from a hedge-witch. I dismiss them. We walk the true path to power, not some fancy dance of spirals with no meaning. You will understand this. Not be told, but feel it in your bones.” The words that marked the start of that path were as familiar to both of them as the dark stains on the Soap-Maker’s fingers: The first basic principle of knowledge is to understand that the animating force that brings life to all creatures differs. . .

“Above all else, I will teach you one thing. I will teach you how to hide.” The Soap-Maker snapped his fingers and a box made of old black wood slid into the air hovered between them. It opened, lined with a deep red velvet like fresh blood. Inside was a knife. They both stared at it.

The Soap-Maker reached in and took it, and then held it as though it was something more precious than life itself. “I will how you how it feels to have a piece of your soul cut out,” he said. “I will show you how to makes yourself into scattered pieces so that nothing can ever find you.” The box shut itself and drifted away, and the Soap-Maker came closer. “From such journeys come enlightenment, and from enlightenment comes understanding. Are you ready Skyrie?”

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