Salamaine's Curse

Salamaine's Curse by V. L. Burgess

Book: Salamaine's Curse by V. L. Burgess Read Free Book Online
Authors: V. L. Burgess
“They’re out there now, aren’t they? They’ve gone after the black book. I can feel it.” A small, cruel smile curved her lips. “Is it true that scavengers overrun the city?”
    â€œYes.”
    â€œAh.” It was not so much an acknowledgement, as a purr of satisfaction. “So I was right. The magic of Pernicus remains strong.”
    Keegan eyed her curiously. “If you wanted the black book, you could have given the dark map directly to the mapmaker’s sons. Yet you brought both the map and the key to me.”
    She gave a cool nod. “Yes. I did.”
    â€œWhy?”
    â€œDoes it matter?”
    â€œIt shouldn’t. But I find I have a curious nature.”
    â€œVery well.” Vivienne trailed her hands along the length of her skirts. As she moved, Keegan heard a subtle sound, a vibration that fell somewhere between the tinkling of ice and the chiming of high-pitched bells.
    â€œBlack Book of Pernicus,” she said. “They will bring it to you. But Umbrey, the one-legged one, he knows too much. He studied too long at the elbow of the Hero Twin’s father. He would never willingly allow the book to fall into my hands. Neither would Marrick’s chosen, that boy king.” She turned, facing him directly. “You, however, you are reasonable. We understand one another.”
    â€œYes. We do.” Keegan’s gaze narrowed. “As long as I get what I want from the bargain.”
    â€œOf course. Control of your little kingdoms. You shall have it.”
    â€œAnd you? What will you get?”
    Icy brilliance shimmered in her eyes. “Everything else.”
    The statement hung in the air between them for a long moment, then she moved toward the chair. “Now that all is in place, I will ensure that nothing goes wrong.” She stroked the crimson bird, then lifted her arm and pointed toward the sky, giving an order in a language Keegan had never before heard.
    The bird lifted its enormous wings, pumped them once against the air, and soared off into the sky. Keegan followed its path over the Cursed Souls Sea.
    When he turned back, Vivienne was gone. The only sign she’d been there at all was a single crimson feather, which drifted from the sky and landed on the ground beside his boot.

CHAPTER TEN
F LAG S ACRIFICE
    T he
Purgatory
continued its steady passage, the helmsman steering cautiously through the Straits of Dire. Within the galley cabin, Tom took up a position at one end of the rough pine table, while Porter stationed himself at the opposite end. The island of Arx had shown itself earlier, giving them a general idea of the direction in which they needed to travel, but now they needed specifics. Exactly how were they supposed to get there?
    At Porter’s nod, they brought their fingertips to rest on the edges of the map. The instant Tom touched the parchment, a sharp tingle rushed up his forearms, shooting past his elbows and zinging across his shoulder blades.
    He’d once seen a cat nibble on a live extension cord. Although he could never know exactly how the cat had felt as the electric current had zipped through its nerves—he had only seen the startled feline arch its back, hiss, and run away—Tom had a strong suspicion that the unpleasant sensation he’d just experienced was exactly the same.
    At least this time he didn’t feel seasick. The pitch and gentle rolling of the
Purgatory
helped counter that effect. He watched as the sea depicted on the map sprang to life, waves crashing against each other in a whirling, writhing mass of cross currents, riptides, water spouts, and treacherous ocean swells. Just below the turbulent surface of the water Tom caught glimpses of slithering nests of follies, their serpentine bodies twisted together like snakes, schools of thrashing sharks, stinging jellyfish, enormous octopi, and two-headed eels with glistening fangs.
    All interesting, but not what he was looking

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