- Author: Ryan Cahill
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Table of Contents
By Ryan Cahill
1. Ölm Forest
2. The Gilded Dragon
4. Like Father, Like Son
5. The Proving
6. More Than Bears in the Woods
7. Seeing is Believing
8. I See You
9. A Game of Chance
10. Where Two Roads Meet
11. An Unexpected Journey
12. Myth and Legend
13. Everything Changes
14. A New Path
15. Shadows Don't Sleep
16. No Place Like Home
20. Twist of Fate
21. A Change of Plans
23. Not As it Seems
24. One Who Survived
25. A Deep Cut
26. Fading Light
27. Worlds Apart
29. The Skies Above
30. Pawn in a Game
31. All Things Lost
32. The Hand
33. Of Blood and Fire
34. Long Live the King
Join The Order
From the Author
To Séamus, for always fuelling my imagination.
To Mam and Dad, for teaching me to love stories.
To Amy, for not killing me.
To lovers of Fantasy all over the world, this is for you.
By Ryan Cahill
The Bound and The Broken
Of Blood and Fire
Get your free copy of The Fall – prequel short story series to The Bound and The Broken series – by signing up to Ryan’s mailinglist at https://readers.ryancahillauthor.com/mailinglist
Beams of pale moonlight drifted through the forest canopy as Kallinvar pushed his foot against the Urak’s lifeless body, turning it over onto its back. Its leathery grey skin was latticed with a motley collection of scars and fresh wounds. He curled his lip with indifference. He had long ago lost count of how many of these monstrosities he had sent to the void.
There had been a battle in this forest, between men and Uraks. Most of the dead were men. Young men. Judging by the spread of the bodies, the Uraks had lured them into a trap. The Knights had arrived too late to stop the massacre.
“Brother Captain, one of them is alive.”
Kallinvar raised his eyebrow and nodded for Brother Tarron to lead the way. He must be the one. The Grandmaster said we would find the last Sigil Bearer here.
Brother Ildris and Sister Ruon already stood over the man’s body. Their brilliant white cloaks sat still across their backs.
“He is alive?”
“Yes, Brother Captain. Though, he is not long for this world.”
Kallinvar nodded. He pushed past his companions and knelt beside the man. He was young. He had seen twenty or so summers at most. His shoulders were broad and his muscles were dense. Had he been on his feet, he would have easily been looking down at Kallinvar, and Kallinvar was no small man. But he wasn’t on his feet. He was lying on the flat of his back, with a deep wound in his gut. Kallinvar was surprised he was still alive.
“I—” a cough cut the man’s attempt at speech short, blood spluttering up over his lip.
Kallinvar placed his hand on the man’s chest. “Easy. Do not speak. I am going to ask you three questions. Answer with a nod or a shake of the head. Do you understand?”
The man nodded.
“The duty of the strong is to protect the weak. Do you agree?”
The man nodded without hesitation.
“No decision is straightforward. Black and white do not exist. We live in a world of ever-shifting grey. Do you agree?”
The man paused only for a moment, then nodded.
Kallinvar locked eyes with the man. “If we save you, are you willing to forgo your past life and everything that holds you to the person you are now? Are you willing to bear the Sigil of Achyron? To follow his creed and serve The Warrior until the day you are taken from this world?”
Kallinvar saw the look in the man’s eyes. Uncertainty. That was good. A lesser man would jump at any chance to save his own life. One should not simply wish to live. They should wish to live in a way that they deemed to be right. That distinction was the separation between men.
“Let it be known that if you take the Sigil of Achyron and betray his creed, the life will be stripped from your bones in the most painful way that you could imagine. It is not an easy cross to bear. Will you accept it?” Kallinvar didn’t allow his eyes to drift from the man’s gaze. The measure of a man’s intent was in his eyes.
“Yes,” the man choked, more blood sprinkling from his open mouth.
“Very well. Brother Tarron, the Sigil.” Kallinvar didn’t have to wait long.
“The last Sigil, Brother Captain.”
Kallinvar turned and reached out to take the Sigil. “Thank you, Brother Tarron.”
He ran his gauntleted fingers across the Sigil’s smooth surface. It was made of a strange metal with a greenish hue. Forged by Achyron himself. It was shaped in the symbol of the Knights of Achyron: a downward-facing sword set into a sunburst. “This will hurt, Brother,” Kallinvar said to the man. “But pain is the path to strength.”
Kallinvar held the Sigil out in front of him, just above the man’s chest. He rested his other hand on his shoulder. “Are you sure?”
The man nodded, his eyes half-glazed over. He was close to the void. So it will be. All the Sigil Bearers have been found. The Knights have been restored – and before the Blood Moon.
Kallinvar pressed the Sigil into the man’s leather cuirass, over his sternum. It shimmered, as if reflecting the light from a thousand stars. The acrid smell of burning leather drifted up to Kallinvar’s nose as the Sigil melted through the man’s armour.
It was followed by screams.
The Glade - Spring, Year 3080 After Doom
Calen’s fingers slipped snugly into the worn grooves on the wooden practice sword’s handle. His shirt stuck to his chest and sweat matted his dark brown hair to his forehead as he flowed from one form to the next. He squinted as the orange glow from the rising sun sprayed over the crest of Wolfpine Ridge.
His father had given him the day off from the forge so he could go hunting in Ölm Forest. But he hadn’t been able to