The Usurper

The Usurper by Rowena Cory Daniells

Book: The Usurper by Rowena Cory Daniells Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rowena Cory Daniells
Tags: Fantasy
have stopped breathing all together. Byren had not been born with Affinity like Fyn, but he had become attuned to it and he could feel a building oppression now. Something was wrong.
    'Orrie?'
    His friend did not hesitate, hurrying to kneel at his side.
    Byren snapped his fingers in front of the master's blank eyes. Nothing. Not even a blink. He remained rigid, hands clasped on his knees.
    'Maybe a renegade Power-worker's got him.' Florin voiced the fear they all shared as she came closer.
    Byren looked to his friend. 'Can you help him, Orrie?'
    'If a renegade Power-worker does have him and I touch him, it'll claim me too.'
    Florin said nothing. She already knew about Orrade's Affinity. He'd revealed his vision of Byren bleeding in the seep so she could guide them there.
    Byren understood Orrade's hesitation. Even he, with just an awareness of Affinity, struggled against the oppressive, unseen force.
    'Byren?' Florin turned to him.
    'Ever since I lay in the seep...' He did not go on, ending with a shrug. The flickering lamplight made their eyes glisten. He looked for condemnation but did not find it in Florin's gaze.
    'I guess that leaves me,' she muttered, kneeling in front of the mystic master. 'Hey?' She prodded his chest. 'Hey, master monk, wake up.'
    Nothing.
    Florin bit her lip. 'I don't think I can reach him.'
    Head thumping with tension, Byren did the only thing he could think of. He jabbed the master's hand with his dagger, not holding back. Blood flowed from the broken skin.
    Luckily, pain did the trick.
    With a shuddering breath, Catillum collapsed. Byren caught him.
    'Remind me not to ask for your help,' Orrade muttered.
    'It worked, didn't it?' Florin countered, pulling a kerchief from her pocket and wrapping it around the mystic's bleeding hand.
    'I was desperate,' Byren admitted.
    'And desperate measures were called for,' Master Catillum whispered, his voice cracking. He tried to sit up and failed. Byren helped him. With a shaking hand, Catillum massaged the bridge of his nose.
    'What happened?' Byren asked. 'Did you reach Fyn?'
    The mystic's gaze strayed uneasily to the painted wall. 'No. Before I could, an enemy found me. A powerful renegade, with the taint of Mulcibar...' He shuddered and swallowed. 'He was searching for you, Byren. I held him off, but I couldn't get away. If you hadn't...' He lifted his injured hand. Blood had seeped through Florin's makeshift bandage.
    'I didn't know what else to do,' Byren admitted.
    'Brutal but effective. You saved me. Saved us all.'
    There was silence for a few heartbeats as they digested this.
    'Then you'd better not try to contact Fyn again,' Byren said.
    'I couldn't right now. Not for several days. I'm drained.' The mystics master grimaced as he pressed his injured hand to his chest. 'Fyn has no defences. I can only pray he won't try to use the Fate.'
    'Well.' Byren stood. Still no answers, and time was running out. He offered Master Catillum his hand, helping him to his feet. 'I thank you for trying.'
    Catillum swayed but stayed upright.
    'We can't stay here much longer,' Orrade said. 'What will you do?'
    Byren didn't answer, because he didn't know.
    'Come on.' He offered Catillum his arm. Florin collected the lamp and they headed back to the outer cavern, where they left Catillum with the monks.
    Florin walked Orrade and Byren outside to see them off, back to their cave.
    But before they could go, Leif came scampering to find them. 'Someone's come from Waterford. Lord Cobalt will be there by tomorrow evening.'
    'Cobalt?' Byren stiffened. This close?
    'Byren...' Orrade muttered. 'Don't fall for it. He's trying to draw you out.'
    'I know, but it's too good an opportunity to miss.'
    'If you go after him, I'm coming,' Florin insisted. 'I know Waterford and I know the foothills.'
    'Too risky.'
    'And living in the loyalist camp isn't?' Florin countered. 'You're too important to the loyalist cause, Byren. If you suspect a trap, you shouldn't risk yourself. Send

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