Kunas, Master Khyth of Ghal Thurái, lit a lantern that pierced the darkness inside the doors of the mountain hall. Built far beneath the surface that had birthed the name “the Mouth of the Deep,” it required a journey of some distance just to reach the entrance. Along with the treacherous paths that led to the outer gates, the city’s depth was its true strength—a deterrent to thieves and invading armies alike. The black- hooded Servant of the Breaker checked his lantern and started down the long walkway, footsteps echoing in the abyss.
The sounds of the city below were not as loud today, with the Fist of Thurái having marched off who knows where under General Tennech, the Dagger of Derenar. But the men they’d left behind did a fine job of raising their own racket. They knew this was their chance to prove their worth to a city without a Fist.
As he approached the bottom of the deep stairway, the Master Khyth’s footsteps slowed. A second set of doors stood before him, the entrance to the city.
Before he opened them, though, he hesitated. Barely discernible above the muted rumblings of the city below was something that gave him pause.
Was someone else there?
With a glance behind him, he held up his lantern. It creaked as it rocked back and forth, sending yellow light sliding up and down the rocky walls. He stood there for a moment before shaking his head and turning back to the blackened door that guarded the Mouth.
It was a door that took ten men just to open—ten men, or one Khyth with the power of Breaking. Kunas stared at the door, reached out with his power . . . and pulled.
The strain on his mind and body was immense, but filled him with a satisfaction that nothing else could, bending something to his will. The darkness around him filled with the groaning of iron as the door obeyed.
Stepping inside, he raised a hand and reached out once again for the weight of the great door, compelling the iron to move; it listened. Slowly and heavily, the door dragged across the ground, finally coming to rest with a shudder that sealed away the city. Kunas dropped his hand and turned around.
Silence filled the caverns once again.
It had been many years since the city of Ghal Thurái had been left unprotected; in fact, until the Fist’s most recent departure, no one could really remember the last time they’d left. The Fist of Thurái, a mainstay of Thurian strength, was as much a part of the city as the walls them- selves. Yet even in its absence, the city was well protected: doors of iron, walls of earth; pillars of marble, gates of steel.
To the Thurians, their city was a fortress. It was their life. It was their hope.
To the Chovathi gathering beyond its cliffs, however, it was something else entirely: a wounded animal, lost and bleeding in the dark. An animal with no one to protect it from the destruction waiting beyond the walls.
An animal that would die like any other when the teeth of retribution closed down to tear it apart.