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The Complete Trilogy

Kaunovalta: The Complete TrilogyKaunovalta – The Complete Trilogy
Published June 11, 2012
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“Kaunovalta: The Complete Trilogy” compiles in a single volume the three books that recount the tale of Ally of Eldisle.

The Running Girl
Ally of Eldisle, sword-thegn and sometime mage, bears twin burdens: a complicated heritage, and a penchant for finding herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Faced with false accusations of treason and murder, she flees to foreign lands, finding enemies all around, friends in unexpected places, and wonders undreamed-of. While struggling to keep an ancient treasure out of unfriendly hands, she is forced to reconcile her preconceptions about the wider world and its myriad inhabitants with her own origins – and to come to terms with the meaning of a bloodline lost in the depths of antiquity, created by ancestors both inhuman and unknown, and with the awful powers they have bequeathed her.

Dweorgaheim
Secure in the company of her new companions, Ally is drawn into the majesty and mysteries of the ancient realm of the dwarves. From the fires and forges of the foundry towns to the incomparable wonders of Ædeldelf, greatest of the cities of the Deeprealm, she follows her destiny, seeking ever to return the ancient treasure that she has been accused of stealing to its rightful owners. Aided by Frideswide, a priestess of Khallach the Stoneteacher; her husband Wynstan, one-time warrior and veteran of the Iron Guard; and Uchtred, an engineer and master metal-worker, Ally delves ever deeper into the ancient underground fastness of Dweorgaheim – and learns to her dismay that regardless of whether they are buried deep in the earth, or deep in her own past, some secrets are best left undisturbed.

Daughter of Dragons
Lost in the depths of Dweorgaheim, surrounded by foes, Ally finds friends and allies in unexpected places. As she struggles to reach Underdarrow and the First Forge in order to keep her oath, names from her past reappear to aid her. Locked in a duel to the death with the unchecked hordes of an abomination from beyond the walls of the world, Ally struggles with love and loss, and begins to understand both the true nature and limitless scope of the power that lies within her, and just how costly realizing that power might be.

Excerpt:

The lights burst behind Frida’s makeshift stone wall, directly amid the mass of enemies milling about the feet of the colossal statue. A thunderous explosion rent the air. The blast smashed Frida’s wall to splinters, peppering all those not caught in the fireburst itself with a slashing torrent of razor-sharp rock shards. A cloud of blistering heat washed over Joraz and Frida, slapping them to the ground as flaming corpses soared through the air, smacking into buildings with grisly thuds, or sailing over the parapet.

Frida wailed in horror at the devastation. Qaramyn crowed in delight.

And from the surviving throng of groaning, wailing horrors, a bright, ghostly dome of light billowed outwards, washing over the fleeing comrades like a wave. The flux screamed, shattered, and broke; and the disjunction fell upon them like a mountain.

Qaramyn’s gleeful shout turned at once to a scream of agony. His eyes bulged, and a gout of blood burst from his nose, his ears. Blood exploded from betwixt his lips. His senses were cut off instantaneously and he crashed to the ground, eyes rolling back and twitching like a landed fish.

The wave of flux-breaking power washed over Frida and Joraz. The monk hardly noticed it, but the priestess flinched. Her hands groped blindly and she gasped, struggling to breathe, her head pounding, throbbing.

On the bridge, Thanos, caught in mid-spell, collapsed into a nerveless, immobile heap, choking on his own blood. Ally, having just released her pent-up power, echoed him, shrieking in terror, rage and pain. Gore fountained from her nostrils, spraying across the stone, splashing Breygon who looked on in horror. Her legs gave way and she fell to her knees on the bridge, half-conscious, twitching feebly, moaning…

Near the last row of buildings before the bridge, the gargantuan statue froze in mid-stoop as the glowing wave of disruption blanketed it. Its mouth worked once…Frides

…and then it toppled…

GÉSE!” Frida’s howl of despair shattered the air.

…toppled forward…

…Breygon looked desperately from Thanos, prone and immobile, to Ally, swaying on hands and knees, coughing up gouts of blood…

…forward…

…Joraz, wounded and hunched over with pain, crouched next to the shrieking dwarf-woman, regarding with fascinated calm the creatures bolting towards them. Swifter than thought, he scooped Frida up in his arms, turned, and sprinted for the bridge…

…forward…

…Karrick slung his shield, stooped, hoisted the warcaster across his broad back like a sack of meal, and thundered for the far end of the bridge…

…forward…

…Joraz stumbled, rolled, protected Frida’s face with his own flesh, then released her, bounced to his feet to face the onrushing hordes…

With a crack like the sundering of the earth itself, the massive statue struck the stone. The whole world shook. Granite walls, towering buildings, shattered and exploded into a deadly hail of shards that slashed nearby creatures into bloody ruin. The effigy’s monstrous head broke away from the body and rolled free, smashing through two stout cut-stone buildings before coming to rest in the middle of the alley only a few paces from where Qaramyn lay, motionless and face-down in a pool of his own blood.

Uchtred got his shoulder under the mage, hauled the man half-way to his feet, and began dragging him toward the bridge. He paused near Joraz and Frida, but the monk, grinning through bloody teeth, merely waved him on. The enemy hot on their heels, the engineer fled, stumbling towards the long arch of stone, the sole escape to the next level.

“Frida.” Joraz shook the priestess roughly by the shoulder. “Can you stand?” he shouted. There was no response. Glancing around, he took stock of their situation. It was not good; the massive flood of the enemy was struggling over the wreckage of the statue, swirling around the mass of broken stone like a rising tide, fury and madness radiating from them like a fever. The monk grimaced; he could feel their hatred; could sense in his very bones the void that lay within them, the crushing, all-consuming hunger of the Unbinding. It was like standing at the edge of a pit; a pit with no bottom, that pulled at his very soul. The force of their rage was chilling; it burned him, like vitriol and flame.

He looked at Frida. The priestess was still crouching, semi-conscious, on the flagstones. He assessed his own strength, and knew that it was failing. He knew that he could easily outdistance the enemy, but he could not do so burdened by an invalid. He had one chance, one chance only, to escape, to…

…no. He could not flee and leave her. He would not.

All right, then.

He climbed wearily, deliberately, to his feet, settling himself as though he were at drill, back in his master’s salon. He closed his eyes, centred himself, and waited. He did not need his sight, not with this foe; he could feel them.

They charged.

At the last possible instant he uncoiled like a cat, leaping towards the parapet, drawing the onrushing monstrosities away from the narrow alley, away from Frida. Striking with hands, feet and head, he slew four in the first instant, receiving only a single blow in return. He landed, rolling on the stone, and regained his feet…killed two more, and then another…

…and was struck hard, knocked from his stance and carried on a wave of rotting, twisted flesh, forced backwards, ever backwards, towards the edge…

…he killed another, and another, and another…

…and was borne up and over the stone parapet…

…and another…

He reached for the edge, clawing for it with blood-slicked fingers, and was gone.
 

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