Drenai Saga 01 - Legend

Lire ebook Drenai Saga 01 - Legend
Auteur: David Gemmell

Drenai Saga 01 - Legend
    T he Drenai herald waited nervously outside the great doors of the throne room, flanked by two Nadir guards who stared ahead, slanted eyes fixed on the bronze eagle emblazoned on the dark wood.
    He licked dry lips with a dry tongue and adjusted his purple cape about his bony shoulders. He had been so confident in the council chamber at Drenan six hundred miles south when Abalayn had asked him to undertake this delicate mission: a journey to distant Gulgothir to ratify the treaties made with Ulric, Lord of the Nadir tribes. Bartellus had helped to draft treaties in the past and twice had been present at talks in western Vagria and south in Mashrapur. All men understood the value of trade and the necessity of avoiding such costly undertakings as war. Ulric would be no exception. True, he had sacked the nations of the northern plain, but then, they had bled his people dry over the centuries with their taxes and raids; they had sown the seeds of their own destruction.
    Not so the Drenai. They had always treated the Nadir with tact and courtesy. Abalayn himself had twice visited Ulric in his northern tent city and had been royally received.
    But Bartellus had been shocked at the devastation in Gulgothir. That the vast gates had been sundered was no surprise, but many of the defenders had been subsequently mutilated. The square within the main keep boasted a small mound of human hands. Bartellus shivered and wrenched his mind from the memory.
    For three days they had kept him waiting, but they had been courteous—even kindly.
    He adjusted his cape again, aware that his lean, angular frame did little justice to the herald’s garb. Taking a linen cloth from his belt, he wiped the sweat from his bald head. His wife constantly warned him that his head shone dazzlingly whenever he grew nervous. It was an observation he would have preferred to be left unspoken.
    He slid a glance at the guard to his right, suppressing a shudder. The man was shorter than he, wearing a spiked helm fringed with goatskin. He wore a lacquered wooden breastplate and carried a serrated spear. The face was flat and cruel, the eyes dark and slanted. If Bartellus ever needed a man to cut off someone’s hand …
    He glanced to his left—and wished he had not, for the other guard was looking at him. He felt like a rabbit beneath a plunging hawk and hastily returned his gaze to the bronze eagle on the door.
    Mercifully, the wait ended and the doors swung open.
    Taking a deep breath, Bartellus marched inside.
    The room was long, twenty marble pillars supporting a frescoed ceiling. Each pillar carried a burning torch that cast gaunt dancing shadows to the walls beyond, and by each pillar stood a Nadir guard bearing a spear. Eyes fixed firmly ahead, Bartellus marched the fifty paces to the throne on the marble dais.
    Upon it sat Ulric, Warlord of the North.
    He was not tall, but he radiated power, and as Bartellus moved into the center of the room, he was struck by the sheer

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