Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher
English | 2020 | Fantasy | ePUB | 2.9 MB
Stephen’s god died on the longest day of the year…
Three years later, Stephen is a broken paladin, living only for the chance to be useful before he dies. But all that changes when he encounters a fugitive named Grace in an alley and witnesses an assassination attempt gone wrong. Now the pair must navigate a web of treachery, beset on all sides by spies and poisoners, while a cryptic killer stalks one step behind…
From the Hugo and Nebula Award winning author of Swordheart and The Twisted Ones comes a saga of murder, magic, and love on the far side of despair.
Stephen’s god died a little after noon on the longest day of the year.
The Saint of Steel had not been a major deity, but neither had He been entirely obscure. He had four temples, staffed with priests and paladins, and the bishop of His church sat on the council in Archon’s Glory beside the elders of the other local churches—the Forge God and the Four-Faced God and the Temple of the White Rat. His paladins, Stephen among them, rode out when the Saint’s duty demanded swords and men to wield them, and rode back to the temple nursing their wounds, only to ride out again when they had healed.
It had never occurred to Stephen or any of the others that a god could die. Such things happened in mythology, not in real life.
He had just come back from a long, grim journey, hunting demons. It was not the Saint of Steel’s primary function, but the Dreaming God’s paladins had asked for assistance, so Stephen and three of his brothers had gone out with them. Demon hunting was ugly work, mostly involving possessed livestock, and while the Dreaming God’s chosen were skilled at exorcism, a two thousand-pound bull inhabited by a furious demon was not something anyone wanted to tackle alone. The Saint’s paladins were killing machines, first to last, and the god did not seem to mind loaning His chosen to the Dreaming God when demons were what needed killing.
They were riding over the ridge on the road to the temple when Stephen felt his god die. His first thought was that his heart had stopped. It was as if someone had punched a mailed fist into his gut, reached up under his ribs and torn everything out. It did not feel like a wound, it felt as if he’d been cored.
He collapsed forward over his horse’s neck. Distantly, he heard the sound of a body hitting the ground, and the shout as one of the Dreaming God’s paladins saw what was happening. And then he heard the sound of his brother Istvhan praying, harsh and rapid, and it was such a strange thing, that prayer, because Stephen knew instinctively that no one was listening.
“What is happening?” he said, gasping into his horse’s neck. “Where is the Saint? What…?”
The world spun around him. He could feel the black tide rising, crawling up from the ground, the tide that whispered of battle and bloodshed, but there was no sheen of golden light over it to sanctify it and make it holy.