Rigante Series 04 - Stormrider

Lire ebook Rigante Series 04 - Stormrider
Auteur: David Gemmell

Rigante Series 04 - Stormrider
PROLOGUE
    The night sky was lit by flames, and black smoke swirled across the valley as the town of Shelsans continued to burn. There were no screams now, no feeble cries, no begging for mercy. Two thousand heretics were dead, most slain by sword or mace, though many had been committed to the cleansing fires.
    The young Knight of the Sacrifice stood high upon the hillside and stared down at the burning town. Reflections of the distant flames shone on his blood-spattered silver breastplate and glistening helm. The wind shifted and Winter Kay smelt the scent of roasting flesh. Far below the wind fanned the hunger of the flames. They blazed higher, devouring the ancient timber walls of the Old Museum, and the carved wooden gates of the Albitane Church.
    Winter Kay removed his helm. His lean, angular features gleamed with sweat. Plucking a linen handkerchief from his belt he examined it for bloodstains. Finding none he wiped the cloth over his face and short-cropped dark hair. Putting on armour had been a waste of time today.
    The townsfolk had offered no armed resistance as the thousand knights had ridden into the valley.
    Instead hundreds of them had walked from the town singing hymns, and crying out words of welcome and brotherhood. When they saw the Knights of the Sacrifice draw their longswords and heel their horses forward they had fallen to their knees and called upon the Source to protect them.
    What idiots they were, thought Winter Kay. The Source blessed only those with the courage to fight, or the wit to run. He could not recall how many he had slain that day, only that his sword had been blunted by dusk, and that his holy white cloak had been drenched in the blood of the evil.
    Some had tried to repent, begging for their lives as they were dragged to the pyres. One man - a stocky priest in a blue robe -had hurled himself to the ground before Winter Kay, promising him a great treasure if he was spared.
    'What treasure do you possess, worm?' asked Winter Kay, pressing his sword point against the man's back.
    'The Orb, sir. I can take you to the Orb of Kranos.'
    'How quaint,' said Winter Kay. 'I expect it resides alongside the Sword of Connavar, and the Helm of Axias. Perhaps it is even wrapped in the Veiled Lady's robe?'
    'I speak the truth, sir. The Orb is hidden in Shelsans. It has been kept there for centuries. I have seen it.'
    Winter Kay hauled the man to his feet by his white hair. He was short and heavy, his face round, his eyes fearful. From all around them came the screams of the dying cultists. Winter Kay dragged the man towards the town. A woman ran past him, a sword jutting from her breast. She staggered several steps then fell to her knees. A knight followed her, wrenching the sword clear and decapitating her. Winter Kay walked on, holding his prisoner by the collar of his robe.
    The man led him to a small church. In the doorway lay two dead priests. Beyond them were the bodies of a group of women and children.
    The prisoner

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