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Warbreaker Prime: Mythwalker Chapter Six

The following is a draft chapter of Brandon’s unfinished novel Mythwalker from 2001. Brandon later repurposed some elements of this story into Warbreaker, Mistborn, and The Way of Kings.

“So, what now, son?”

Devin looked up with surprise. The forest’s broad-leafed trees made odd shadows in the darkness, and the canopy above seemed to trap in the air, making it stuffy and humid. The starlight was obscured, making those around him look like dark humps rather than people.

Devin squinted at the person who had spoken to him. He recognized the face—it was the older Guard he had met in the detention cart.

“Why are you asking me?” Devin whispered.

The man shrugged. “You seemed like you’re in charge.”

Devin nodded toward Skeer’s squatting form. “He’s the leader, not me,” Devin explained. “I have no more idea what’s going on than you.”

The man nodded, moving toward Skeer.

“Wait a moment, Guard,” Devin said a second later.

The man turned. “Yes?”

“What’s your name?”

“Hine,” the man said softly, his voice scratchy and gruff.

“Why did you think I was in charge?”

Hine’s dark form shrugged. “You outrank me. You were wearing the mail of a squad leader before they threw you in the cart.”

Devin sighed. I’m never going to escape that, am I? “We’re not in the Guard anymore, Hine,” Devin pointed out. “Besides, I’m no squad leader. I’m just a scrant.”

“I’ve never seen a scrant defeat a Kkoloss in a duel, son,” the soldier said quietly, then continued on through the underbrush. He didn’t go to meet with Skeer, however, but instead joined a small group of forms beside a massive tree trunk.

Devin shook his head, then poked his way toward Skeer and Ix. “What are we waiting for?” Devin asked quietly. The group had paused for a break just after abandoning its horses and entering the overgrown forest.

“Signs of pursuit,” Skeer explained, his eyes turned back toward the treeless plains outside the capital. There didn’t seem to be any pursuit at the moment, though the Guard complex was busy with activity. Torches and lanterns bobbed below as men rushed around, hustling about unseen activities.

They’re probably finding some way to dispose of the bodies, Devin decided.

“They don’t look like they’re coming after us,” Devin noted.

“They’ll come,” Skeer promised. “What we witnessed back there could prove very damaging to the Kkoloss. Sserin discounts us, because we’re Eruntu. When he comes to his senses—or when the Archpriest learns we escaped—they’ll start searching for us. We can’t lead them back to the rebellion headquarters.”

“How far is it?” Devin wondered.

“Not far,” Skeer assumed. “A half-day’s travel. However, we can’t go directly there. We’ll have to take a round-about method to confuse pursuit.” He paused. “Besides,” he confided in a low voice, “I don’t know how many of these ruffians we can trust.”

Devin turned eyes over the group. Most of the men didn’t show the distinctively enlarged muscles of one who had taken the Kkell oath—only four of them had actually been soldiers. The rest were thieves or dissidents of one sort or another. However, Devin knew better than to judge them just because they had been in the dungeons. After all, he had been there too.

“Gather around, men,” Skeer said quietly, walking into the middle of the group. The forms perked up at the announcement, several private conversations dying down as eyes turned toward Skeer.

“I don’t know what depraved activities got you thrown into prison,” the thin Eruntu prefaced. “But I have not rescued you so you can return to your lawless ways. You have been given a second chance, and I suggest you use it to turn your lives around.

“As you probably know, I am the leader of the famed Eruntu Rebellion. I was unfortunately captured while on a secret mission in the capital. However, even if I had been executed, the rebellion would have lived on. One day soon, the Eruntu will overthrow Kkoloss domination, and we will be a free people. Independent, unconstrained, autonomous.

“I invite any who are willing to join with the rebellion and aid in our glorious cause. I can promise little compensation for your efforts besides the knowledge that you are involved in something greater than yourselves. Those who are too selfish to bother with such things are now invited to go your own way.”

Skeer was only a dark form, but Devin could imagine the look of optimism on his face. Well, at least he’s confident, Devin thought.

The group of darkened forms was quiet. Then, one at a time, men began to stand. However, instead of joining their voices with Skeer’s they began to disappear in small groups, heading different directions. In a short time, the twenty prisoners had dwindled to seven.

Devin could hear Skeer muttering to himself about “ungrateful thugs” as he made his way back to plop down beside Ix.

One group of men had stayed just where it was—the four Guards. Devin frowned in the darkness, and moved over to squat beside them.

“What about you four?” he asked.

The four quiet forms regarded Devin. Hine was the oldest by far. Two others looked to be in their mid-twenties. One was short, even for an Eruntu, and extremely squat—his muscles seemed even bigger than Hine’s, if that was possible. The other was an average-looking Guard of medium height. The last of the four was the boy—the one who had run back to his home village after the first day of marching, then been captured and thrown into the detention cart.

“What are you going to do?” Hine asked quietly.

Devin paused. He hadn’t really thought about it. After the massacre, he had been too focused on the atrocity he had seen to even think about what he would do if he escaped. It had seemed impossible at the time.

I could go home, Devin realized. I could see my mother again.

As soon as he considered it, however, an image popped into his head. An image of Prince Sarn, exacting revenge on Talla and the other villagers for harboring a criminal. It probably wouldn’t happen—the Kkoloss wouldn’t chase him all the way back to Mikkif, would they?

With a sick feeling, Devin realized he couldn’t take the chance. His return from the Guard would spark too much gossip—they would come for him eventually. He couldn’t put his mother in that kind of danger.

“I guess I’ll go with Skeer,” Devin decided.

“Then that is where I will go, son,” Hine informed.

Devin shook his head. “You don’t owe me anything, Hine,” Devin said. “I didn’t free you from the prison so you could become my slave.”

“Let me do this, lad,” Hine requested. “I have no family, and now I have no career. I don’t have anywhere else to go.”

“And what about you?” Devin asked, nodding toward the younger Guard who, like Devin, hadn’t ever had a chance to take the Kkell oath. “You were so eager to return to your family. Now you have a chance.”

The younger boy sat quietly for a moment. “I can’t, sir,” he finally whispered. “It would be too dangerous for them.”

Devin nodded. The boy had come to the same conclusion that he had.

All four faces turned toward Devin. There was need in their eyes, need Devin could see in the faint starlight.

“All right,” Devin said. “I’m sure Skeer’s rebellion would be happy to have you—I doubt many of his supporters have access to the Kkell power.”

Hine paused in the darkness. “I don’t know about that, son. I won’t fight Kkoloss—you understand that, don’t you?”

Devin paused. “I’m afraid I don’t, Hine,” he admitted.

“We swore an oath, the other two and I,” Hine explained. “We promised never to do harm to a Kkoloss; it’s part of the Kkell Oath. I won’t disobey that, not even to save my own life. I gave my word. I’ll fight Eruntu for you, though.”

Devin nodded slowly. “I understand,” he said.

Siri awoke from a fretful sleep, a little disoriented. She knew something was very wrong, though she couldn’t remember what it was. Then, suddenly, the previous day’s events all came back to her, flooding into her mind like a wave of grief. She remembered Vevinn’s mysterious disappearance, the destruction of the Kkeris pavilion, and the helplessness she had felt.

The Kkeris and Sserin armies had stayed on the field for an hour past the break time, waiting for Vevinn to return. When he did not, Sserin sent a messenger to the Kkeris pavilion—and it had returned with dire news. The pavilion destroyed, Guards slain, and no sign of the entire Kkeris royal family.

The Archpriest Hasm, who had mediated the battle, canceled the Game and sent everyone back to their homes. Siri had spent most of the night fretting. What could have happened to Vevinn and the others? It was baffling, and made no sense. She had nearly gone mad with frustration—only Vvenna’s cold, impassionate calm had kept her sane.

Siri blinked, groaning as she rose to her feet. She had dozed off on one of Vvenna’s back sitting-room chairs, and her pink dress was crumpled horribly from her fretful turning. Her eyes flickered to one of the mirrors, noting her makeup, her puffy eyes, and her frazzled hair. She looked like a disaster.

I don’t care, she thought. I need to know what happened to Vevinn. Where could he be?

Siri made her way through the back sitting room and into the princess’s bedroom. Vvenna’s magnificent bed, ten feet wide and twice as long, sat unoccupied, shining with soft redness from the morning light. Siri turned, trailing her fingers along the room’s amberite walls as she searched the princess’s rooms. Eventually, she found the woman sitting in the left front audience room. Vvenna sat on her raised dais in a plush red chair, listening to news from a lesser Kkoloss messenger in the King’s livery—he would have taken the message from an Eruntu who delivered it to the palace; only a Kkoloss could transmit messages directly to the princess.

“What is it?” Siri asked anxiously.

The messenger’s eyes turned toward her, then immediately turned away as he saw her rumpled dress and face. It was impolite to look at a Kkoloss woman whose appearance was anything less than perfect.

The princess didn’t even look toward Siri. She was immaculate, as always, in bright Sserin red and a perfectly delicate face. No one would be able to tell she had sat up most of the night, sitting calmly, waiting for news. For all Siri knew, Vvenna hadn’t even gone to sleep. If she had slept, then it had only been for a few hours.

Even though she had let Siri sleep in, Vvenna had dozens of other dozen attendants—who stood behind her chair—to paint her face and prepare her clothing. She wore a half-veil, obscuring her eyes, as was required by her position as the Emperor’s betrothed.

“I will surely report to you if I hear further, my lady,” the messenger said, bowing before the princess, then turning to leave.

“What did he say?” Siri said, placing herself in front of the doorway. The messenger paused, intentionally looking to the side to avoid laying eyes on Siri. He couldn’t move forward without risking touching her.

“Messenger,” Vvenna said with a tolerant voice. “Repeat your words.”

The man paused, then turned and bowed before Vvenna, as if he had just arrived. “King Sserin sends news, My Lady. The Kkeris Septs have been discovered in the forests. They were apparently taken there under duress by a group that calls itself the Eruntu rebellion, then slaughtered. It—”

“What!” Siri said with shock.

Vvenna hushed her with a stare. However, Siri was too stunned to speak any further. Surely he didn’t mean what she thought she had heard. . . .

“It appears there were no survivors, My Lady,” the messenger continued. “At the same time, a group of Eruntu assassins snuck into the Kkeris palace and slew children who had not attended the games. A similar attack was attempted here, but the murderers were halted before they could do much damage. They snuck into the Guard complex to try and kill senior Sserin Kkoloss. Unfortunately, there were several Kkoloss casualties. Lord Tan Vas Sserin and two members of the tenth Sept have been sent to Hess’s paradise. May their Ssu grant them glory.”

Siri refused to believe what the man was saying. “This is preposterous!” she said. “A rebellion amongst the Eruntu? Do you realize the insanity of what you’re saying? Do you have any idea how many Eruntu it would take to destroy a that many Kkoloss? Why, Prince Vevinn himself could stand against a thousand men and not even break a sweat! The entire continent would have to be part of this ‘rebellion’ for it to kill an entire House.”

The messenger bore her tirade with Kkoloss temperance, maintaining Posture. Siri stood demandingly, waiting for some sort of answer.

“Step aside, Siri,” Vvenna said quietly.

Siri stood with gritted teeth, but she couldn’t ignore a direct order. With a flip of her head, she moved to the side. The messenger quickly slipped from the room, a look of relief on his face. His job was only to deliver the messages—he hadn’t even been to the scene of the so-called slaughter.

“I’m going to go see for myself,” Siri announced.

“No, you will not,” Vvenna informed. “It is not a place for a lady.”

“But, these claims are ridiculous!” Siri sputtered.

“King Sserin would not send us a false message, Siri,” Vvenna said. “If the messenger says they are dead, then they are dead. You should prepare for a period of mourning—but not an overly long one. He was not your betrothed, just your expected betrothed. You should still seek to make a match by the end of this year.”

Siri stiffened. No, it couldn’t be true. Vevinn couldn’t be dead. They had been so close. . . .

“I have to see him, Vvenna,” Siri whispered. She rarely used the princess’s name anymore—as they had grown from children, even Siri had become aware that such wasn’t tolerated. “If he’s dead, then I have to know for myself. I have to see for myself. Please.”

Vvenna watched her coolly. “All right,” she finally agreed. “Say that I wished a confirmation of events, so I sent you to see and report back to me.”

Siri nodded, knowing she would do no such thing. Vvenna was trying to take the Ki-Ssu of the irregular act upon herself. On the outside, the princess was the most dispassionate of Kkoloss, but Siri knew Vvenna’s heart. There were few people on Kkorimar who were as kind as the princess. Siri wouldn’t let her take the shame for this one—Siri would go of herself. The court already considered her a social disaster.

Siri bowed once, then made her way out of the room.

Vvenna watched her go, so pert and so defiant. Could Siri know how much Vvenna envied her—her freedom, her ability to defy courtly protocol? The girl had always gotten away with more than she should, but no one seemed to care. If Vvenna, betrothed of the Emperor, daughter of Queen Sserin, had tried such a thing . . .

Of course, recent events made Siri’s life less than enviable. The girl had nearly made a very prestigious match, and with a man she appeared to have feelings for. Vvenna had encouraged the relationship with fondness in her heart. Vvenna herself was bound by pacts that had been made before her birth, but she had found that she could live some of her hopes, at least, through the impetuous Siri.

And so, Vvenna felt sorrow at Vevinn’s death. He had been a noble man. Vvenna had spent her twenty years of life—a short time for a Kkoloss—training in politics and tradition. She had visited the courts of every House, and she had slowly come to realize that even amongst nobles, nobility was a difficult attribute to find. Vevinn’s loss was a great one.

She didn’t know what Siri expected to find at the scene of the massacre. Despite the girl’s shocked reaction, Vvenna knew that Eruntu rebellions were nowhere near as infrequent as Kkoloss claimed. The dissidents would be found and destroyed for their heinous act, and the entire event would be carefully masked to prevent rumors from spreading. The Emperor’s troops would have to move quickly to discover the new Kkeris House Leader—he was probably some sixth or seventh Sept living on the mainland—and bring him to his now-empty palace.

Still, even though she knew Siri’s actions were foolish and probably useless, Vvenna’s heart went with her. The girl was right—she deserved to see for herself what had happened. Few people would lose as much from the conflict as Siri.

Ah, to be able to choose, Vvenna thought wistfully. To be able to pick whom you would marry. But, as soon as the rebellious thought occurred, she cast it away. She was the Emperor’s betrothed—such foolishness was not for her. She had a higher station. She had need of more Ssu than any other Kkoloss.

Besides, she reminded herself. Look what happened to Siri. She let her heart be captured, and now look at the pain she has found. I am much better off.

Still, as Vvenna sat in her amberite chair, the smoky crystalline red walls shining softly in the rising sun, she secretly wished she had even a fraction of Siri’s freedom. Instead, Vvenna continued to sit—her body perfectly motionless, neither speaking nor looking at her maids. She had been taught the posture from childhood—it would be the one she would have to maintain when she sat in on the Emperor’s court. She sat as a statue, as she had been taught, the perfect Kkoloss woman.

Siri paused only briefly to change and fix her makeup. Her own home, a small wooden mansion a short distance from the Sserin palace, had been her inheritance once she reached marriageable age. It would have passed to one of her sisters next year when Siri married and moved to . . .

Siri paused that line of thought—it was too dangerous. She couldn’t afford to cry again and destroy her makeup. Several Kkoloss girls—all of the eighth Sept—hurriedly prepared her face and hair. They worked anxiously; she had only given them fifteen minutes to complete their tasks. It would take that long to prepare her carriage anyway.

The women finished preparing her about five minutes past their deadline, but Siri had expected that. Dressed in a new outfit, a functional pink silk dress with a relatively short train, she marched out of the mansion and climbed into her carriage, two attendants—Ddaa and Nnora—following worriedly behind. They were used to her ways, so they didn’t complain about the irregularity of their actions.

A pair of Guards, muscled and armored, climbed atop the carriage and whipped the horses into motion. Siri sat quietly, trying to clear her mind and be the unresponsive Kkoloss woman she was supposed to be. For once she wished she could be like Vvenna, capable of keeping all of her emotions inside and, perhaps, unfelt.

She was not Vvenna, however, and before the carriage had gone more than a few feet she was forced to begin dabbing her eyes, lest she ruin her makeup. Yes, it would be nice to have Vvenna’s control.

Of course, most people aren’t like Vvenna, even Kkoloss.

Ddaa and Nnora watched quietly, occasionally looking at each other uncertainly. They were fairly stereotypical Kkoloss, though their low rank didn’t demand much of them. Siri could read their emotions easily, just like she could read most women of the court. The unresponsiveness was mostly an act—Kkoloss pretended not to notice one another’s emotions, then congratulated one another on their ability to accumulate Ssu. Few women ever reached Vvenna’s ability—few needed to.

The princess was envied, even hated, in the court. She had to be the perfect woman to marry the Emperor, but secretly the other women would have been happy to find some fault in her—something to convince themselves that she wasn’t really their superior. Her betrothal had been promised before her birth—there was no reason that she should be better than anyone else.

Except, she was. Vvenna was perfect, and it drove them all crazy with jealousy. Of course, not a single one would have traded places with her. Marrying the Emperor was a source of great prestige, but it also forced a withdrawal from the court. Just as the Emperor himself was supposed to be above normal Kkoloss panderings for rank, so must his wife remove herself from associations with other, lesser Kkoloss.

Contemplations of Vvenna’s impending marriage managed to occupy Siri’s mind during the short travel through the Sserin section of town. Soon she was riding on a paved road toward the Game field that had been used the day before. The carriage deviated from the road after a short while, however, and made its way up an earthen path toward the forest.

The closer they grew to the forest, the more people Siri saw. There were dozens of carriages, representing all seven of the remaining Houses. Guards in various colors of livery stood around their respective carriages with wary eyes, as if they suspected that the rebellion might pop up at any time and try another slaughter.

Though all seven colors were in attendance, the vast majority of the Guards appeared to be wearing either Sserin red or Imperial purple. Siri ordered her carriage to pull up beside the Sserin contingent and climbed out, her ladies moving quickly to hold her train up from the dirt and her Guards jumping down to provide an escort.

A small group of Sserins stood mumbling to one another a short distance away. Siri ignored them, striding toward a fresh, but well-used, path through the forest. The grasses were tromped down in a wide swath, and the branches were bent and broken. As soon as Siri stepped onto the path, however, a Guard in a deep purple uniform stepped forward.

“I apologize, My Lady,” the Guard warned with a deferential tone, “but the Emperor has asked that the Kkoloss remain outside until His Gloryness the Archpriest finishes his investigation.”

Siri sniffed and continued forward anyway. The Guard, confused, was forced to step aside. It was politically unsound to ignore an Imperial directive, even one delivered by an Eruntu—no Eruntu would dare lie about such a thing. However, the man had no real power over Siri. He stared at her for a moment, then dashed off to seek reinforcements.

Siri hurried forward, hoping to reach the scene of the battle before she was intercepted. However, a Kkoloss woman could only move so quickly in a dress and heels, especially on the rough ground. Her ladies kept tripping as she hurried forward, and her two Guards regarded each other with trepidation. She wasn’t supposed to know it, of course, but escorting Siri was one of the least-desirable jobs a Sserin Guard member could be given.

She almost made it. Unfortunately, a tall form intercepted her just as she saw a clearing break ahead of her.

“Lady Siri,” the unenthusiastic voice said. “You have obviously lost your way.”

Siri turned, trying her best to keep her anxiety off her face. Lord Ssunder Des Sserin, a Third Sept relative of the King, had caught up to her from behind. He kept his hair close-cropped to hide the fact that he was balding, and he still wore his uniform from the Game the day before.

Siri paused, remembering something. That wasn’t right. Lord Ssunder hadn’t participated in the Game the day before—he had been visiting the mainland with Prince Sarn. When had he returned?

“Come, My Lady,” Ssunder urged, “this is no place for a lady.”

“I am here to investigate the body of my betrothed, Ssunder,” Siri announced. She had never been one for political manipulations. She turned indifferently to continue her march.

Ssunder quickly reached forward to grab her by the arm. Siri looked down with surprise. While it wasn’t forbidden for a Kkoloss to lay his hands on a woman, it was definitely discouraged. She looked back—Ssunder’s eyes were determined.

“Please, My Lady,” he said in a coaxing voice. “Let us do as the Emperor asks.”

Why is he so eager to keep me out? Siri wondered. In fact, why did that Guard go to Ssunder rather than a member of the priesthood? She looked forward toward the clearing, where she could vaguely see forms moving. As she watched she saw a flash of red cloth. Something’s going on.

Ssunder was subtly trying to pull her back down the path. Siri let herself get tugged for a brief moment, then she did something impetuous.

She reached out with her other hand and lay it on top of Lord Ssunder’s.

Ssunder inhaled sharply, his eyes widening slightly as Siri’s Kkell power washed through his body. Most men had never been touched by a woman of House Dass—Siri’s House was a small one, and the Kkell power was only effectual to the third Sept. The first touch was always the most dramatic.

Ssunder turned eyes upon her, eyes suddenly free from tension, fatigue, and pain. However, there was something else in the eyes—something that had replaced the fatigue. Desire.

Siri knew her Kkell power was a dangerous one. The records of her House warned of men who became addicted to the Dass touch. It affected different people in completely different ways. Women who were touched were only healed physically—they felt nothing mental from the power. Men usually felt a removal of fatigue as well, while in others it also cleared the mind. For some, the reaction was much stronger. There were those who associated the feeling of euphoria and vitality with . . . other emotions.

“My Lord,” Siri urged quietly, “all I want to do is see Prince Vevinn’s body and verify for myself that he is dead. Surely there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re concerned for my safety then you could always escort me.”

Ssunder watched her, an edge of hunger in his eyes. Looking into those eyes, Siri wondered if her impulsiveness had gotten her into trouble again. Ssunder was a younger Kkoloss, barely forty years old. There was a frightening lack of self-control in his eyes.

“All right,” he finally mumbled. “For a few moments only, though.”

Siri nodded, moving to continue. However, Ssunder grabbed her hand as she tried to pull it away, forcing her to retain contact. He waved her Guards and ladies away, instructing them to wait beside her carriage.

Siri gritted her teeth, but suffered the indecency of his touch. Anything to see what was happening in that clearing. She walked forward, Ssunder on her arm. When she stepped free of the brush, she saw the most gruesome sight of her young life. Bodies lay sprawled around, twisted at awkward angles, their eyes staring dully toward the sky. Blood was everywhere, staining the grass scarlet. Men, women, and children lay in heaps, and the sharp scent of death hung in the air.

“Oh, Hess . . .” Siri whispered, growing sick. The faces were so pale, so lifeless. They wore the finery of Kkoloss, and she recognized most of the faces. It was true. It was really true.

Siri’s stomach heaved. However, before she could lose her breakfast, she saw something that made her forget even her nausea. A single, familiar form lay just a short distance away. He seemed to be staring right at her, though his eyes were dead and inanimate. Prince Vevinn.

Siri cried out, pulling free of Ssunder and rushing forward. He called after her as she tore free from his grip, taking no heed for her dress as she stepped over twisted corpses and knelt beside Vevinn.

There were dozens of wounds on his body—he hadn’t gone down easily. They were all small cuts, though Siri didn’t have enough experience with war to know what had made them. Dueling blades, perhaps. She reached out tentatively, touching his cheek. The wounds, of course, did not heal. He was already dead; her Kkell power was useless.

“Oh, Vevinn . . .” she whispered quietly.

“Ssunder, what is going on here?” a harsh voice demanded from behind her.

“I’m sorry, My Lord. She pushed by the Guards.”

“Get her out of here. Now.”

Siri felt arms grab her from behind. She let them pull her, too numb to respond. Vevinn was really dead. How could it have happened? How could Hess let the Eruntu get away with such an atrocity? Where was vengeance? What good was Ki-Ssu, and its eternal repercussions, when Vevinn was dead?

As she was pulled from the clearing, her stunned eyes caught sight of the one who had spoken. Prince Sarn Vas Sserin himself. If the Kkoloss were to stay out of the clearing, what was he doing there? He stood beside a black-robed form. Hasm, Archpriest of Hess.

Siri’s view of the two men was cut off as Ssunder, accompanied by several lesser priests, escorted her from the clearing and back down the path.

Siri sat disconsolately in her carriage. It wasn’t moving—she, like the other Kkoloss, was waiting for an official announcement from the Archpriest. Ddaa and Nnora tried to comfort her, but she ignored their sympathy, and they eventually gave up. Now they sat across from her, regarding one another with discomfort.

He’s dead. She didn’t want to believe it, but she had seen his body with her own eyes. What could have killed Vevinn? He had been the greatest warrior in house Kkeris. He had been invincible. And he had loved her. How was she supposed to deal with such pain?

She sat that way for a long while, barely conscious of the passing time. Eventually, she heard a commotion outside. She looked up with dull eyes.

Archpriest Hasm stood at the head of the path, holding out his hands to get the attention of the gathered Kkoloss. He was a stern man with sharp eyes, an attribute accented by the Archpriest’s ceremonial minn.

The Kkoloss quieted, giving the Emperor’s emissary their attention.

“Hess has shown me a vision,” Hasm declared. “I saw House Kkeriss’s betrayal. Several blasphemous Eruntu impersonated servants and snuck into the Kkeris pavilion, where they poisoned the wine. Even the mightiest of the Chosen can fall to such treachery.”

Poison. It made sense. There was no other way for a group of Eruntu could have defeated House Kkeris. Siri frowned to herself, however. If they had been poisoned, why had Vevinn’s body had so many wounds on it? Had the poison failed to do its job, weakening him instead of killing him?

Or, was there something else going on? Despite her shocked senses, Siri found her eyes focusing on the Archpriest. The man was holding information back from the Kkoloss—Siri was certain of it. And no Archpriest would ever act without the Emperor’s express order. What was the Emperor hiding? Siri had never trusted the man, had never believed in his impartiality.

For some reason, she couldn’t shake the feeling that the Emperor had something to do with Vevinn’s death.

Assistant Peter’s commentary: Siri wishes she were more like Vvenna, and immediately afterward Vvenna wishes she could be more like Siri. This is not the subtle relationship that Brandon later writes into Warbreaker. In that book, Vivenna feels a loss of purpose after Siri is given the only place that Vivenna has ever trained to take, but she does not wish her personality were more like Siri’s. And Siri has little desire to be like Vivenna, though she recognizes she is woefully prepared for the situation that has been thrust upon her. By writing the pair as having no secret desire to be able to switch places, Brandon gives their role reversal more weight. The earlier version here in Mythwalker now comes off as less nuanced.
The other Guards with Devin immediately look to him for leadership, no matter what he says about Skeer being the leader. There is nothing of the struggle to earn his men’s trust that Kaladin undergoes in The Way of Kings. It just falls into Devin’s lap. But perhaps that is appropriate for this story. They did, after all, watch him fight.

|   Castellano