Farlander (Heart of the World)
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The Heart of the World is a land in strife. For fifty years the Holy Empire of Mann, an empire and religion born from a nihilistic urban cult, has been conquering nation after nation. Their leader, Holy Matriarch Sasheen, ruthlessly maintains control through her Diplomats, priests trained as subtle predators.
Ash is a member of an elite group of assassins, the Roshun, who offer protection through the threat of vendetta. Forced by his ailing health to take on an apprentice, he chooses Nico, a young man living in the besieged city of Bar-Khos. At the time, Nico is hungry, desperate, and alone in a city that finds itself teetering on the brink.
When the Holy Matriarch's son deliberately murders a woman under the protection of the Roshun; he forces the sect to seek his life in retribution. As Ash and his young apprentice set out to fulfil the Roshun orders, their journey takes them into the heart of the conflict between the Empire and the Free Ports . . . into bloodshed and death.
and dissuade Ash from his decision, at least not until later, after he had already departed, when Osh had paused to realize that his old friend was most likely not coming back from this one – just as Baso had not. He didn’t know why he felt such an intense premonition, for he had experienced no tragic dreams or heard morbid readings from the Seer. He simply felt a great heaviness whenever he thought of his old friend, as though certain he would never see him again. The whole sorry business of
inside and wiped his grim face. Nico was possessed with a sudden urge to find Ash and to be at his side. He turned and hurried towards the steps. Berl was in front of him, loaded down with an armful of weapons. ‘Take one,’ the boy said, as they both climbed the steps. Nico grabbed the first thing that came to hand, a stubby blade encased in a sheath six inches wide. The weather deck was in bedlam. Sailors already armed with swords or axes were helping each other into tunics of leather armour.
normal eyes from an outer reality devoid of humanity, boundless and alien. The dying man’s squeals pierced the night air. The paralysed slaves saw the fate in store for them, as he lay on the deck quivering and gurgling his last breath, bubbles of blood forming on his lips. This slaying, though, was purely the opening act. The old woman turned and spoke to the younger priest, Kirkus, who stood trembling and staring at the knife in her bloody hands. The priestess snapped her gaze towards a young
thighs. ‘I know,’ he replied, and instantly regretted it. She seemed pleased by that – the fact that he knew her name or his sudden condition of embarrassment, he didn’t know which. ‘You must be Mercian then,’ he ventured, trying to recover his composure. ‘Serèse. It means “sharp” in the old tongue.’ ‘Ah, I thought I recognized your accent.’ ‘Yes. I’m from Bar-Khos.’ ‘Ah.’ Impressed again. A bell rang outside, calling the hour. ‘Well, it’s all yours,’ she said, gesturing to the bubbling
several moons they had subjected his thirteen-year-old self to an intensive regime of mental manipulation, drugged beyond stupefaction as they talked him clear out of his young mind, repressing crucial memories, planting and reinforcing others. Of course it had shocked Ché to the core, these revelations. Without time to find his feet again after his return, even to be certain of his own identity again, the imperial Regulators had questioned Ché for a full moon by using truth drugs and hypnosis