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The Way of Stones (The Red Kingdom 2) by Ryan Lanz Book

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The Way of Stones (The Red Kingdom 2) by Ryan Lanz Read Book Online And Download

Overview: In a changing world, old loyalties might not survive.


The attack on Abalreen has failed. Phessipi’s band of rebels have regrouped in the forest, but she’s missing some of her key people. She’s finding it hard to move forward and even harder to come up with a new plan, especially now that The Order has its sights set on revenge.


Levas just wants things back the way they were, before the Corrupted attacked Abalreen, damaging his city and The Order’s trust in him at the same time. He used to be Lord Commander of the army, but now, he’s on the run, desperate to get back home.


Rhael is still coming to grips with having an ability, something that could get him arrested or killed. He knows how this works—he used to hunt Corrupted before becoming one of them. So when the most powerful man in Abalreen gives him a mission, he knows he needs to pay attention…even if it means betraying others like him.


The fight for survival always leaves casualties behind.


The Way of Stones (The Red Kingdom 2) by Ryan Lanz Book Read Online And Download Epub Digital Ebooks Buy Store Website Provide You.
The Way of Stones (The Red Kingdom 2) by Ryan Lanz Book





The Way of Stones (The Red Kingdom 2) by Ryan Lanz Book Read Online Chapter One


The city seemed quiet. Rhael leaned over the balcony with an apple in one hand and a knife in the other. Given his luck recently, holding a knife on a balcony probably wasn’t the best idea. Anyone could walk by.

He sliced into the apple and brought a piece to his mouth. Even from up here, he couldn’t see the marketplace. It was far enough away. The fight was still fresh in his mind—where he’d lost a friend of his, the very person who owned the house he stood in. It was a nice house, but Howel couldn’t enjoy it anymore.

He’d told himself he’d bury Howel’s body afterward. He tried, but there were too many of the army around. They had scurried around the city like ants on a kicked-over anthill. There was no way to walk a handful of streets without being stopped and questioned, much less walking all the way to the marketplace. He couldn’t get there, and he had to stop blaming himself for it. What was done was done. Still, it wasn’t fair to Howel.

The stairs creaked almost all at once, and a man almost half Rhael’s height burst through the balcony door. “There you are,” Gobo said. “I couldn’t find you downstairs and I wondered where you were. I thought you went outside.”

Rhael shook his head. “No, not yet. It’s too crowded with guards. The Order is still on alert. I’ll probably stay indoors for a while longer.”

Gobo scrunched his nose. “We’re going to run out of food soon.”

“I know. I’ve been thinking about that too.”

“I mean, being a dead person isn’t an excuse to keep the shelves bare,” Gobo said.

Rhael sliced off another piece. It was overripe, but it tasted better than moldy bread, which was the only other thing left. Gobo and Bendrish had already eaten their apple, but Rhael’s stomach had settled down just enough to start on his. “You shouldn’t say things like that. It’s bad enough we’re eating his food and staying in his house.”

“You said so yourself that it was too dangerous to go back to your house, which is almost across the city. Also, he’s not going to eat any of it, so wouldn’t he want us to have it?”

Rhael shrugged. “It still doesn’t feel right. We’re not taking anything other than the food. Most of it would go bad before anyone else sees it anyway. But none of his possessions, Gobo. I mean it. I’m sure you’ve been eyeing things to add to your sack.”

Gobo put a hand to his chest and his eyes went wide. “I’m hurt that you think I’d do something like that. I’m a traveling merchant, not a thief.”

“I didn’t say an outright thief, but maybe you’re one of those switchers who takes something and leaves something. Didn’t you hear those stories when you were young?”

“No. We must not have those in Collinsmallow.”

“Anyway, the point of the tales is that whatever they take when they switch is always more valuable than what they leave behind.”

“Sounds like a terrible merchant.”

“But they aren’t…never mind. The point is, we’re not going to disturb anything we don’t have to. I’m going to figure out a way to contact his family to come claim his house and everything here. It’s the right thing to do.”

Gobo eyed the apple as if he wanted to ask for a slice. “Right, after we make sure we’re not going to get arrested or murdered as soon as we step out the front door, then we’ll hop right on that.”

Rhael leaned against the railing. “It didn’t have to come to this. The Order could’ve waived their law about arresting those with an ability. Then none of this would’ve happened. Sure, people would’ve still hated them for other things. The tensions wouldn’t completely disappear, but at least it wouldn’t come down to civil war.”

“A few groups of rebels hiding in the forest doesn’t really mean a civil war. They didn’t win, after all.”

Rhael’s knife stopped halfway through his cut. “That could be. If it ever fully went to civil war, the fighting would go on a lot longer than just one night. It would split the city in two.”

“Would that be a bad thing? I’ve never seen a city do that. Really, it’s my first city, so I can’t really say.”

“A lot of people would die.”

“A lot of people died that night.”

Rhael didn’t say anything. Instead, he set the apple down. He didn’t look back, but he was sure Gobo was halfway to eating it by that point. He ate so often that Rhael wondered why he hadn’t grown taller…or wider. But Gobo had always said that Kenzess didn’t grow taller than him. Gobo was one of the taller ones, he’d said. Rhael had always found that hard to believe, but he’d probably never find out.

Rhael snapped his head toward the stairs. He thought he heard a creak, which was confirmed when Gobo did the same thing.

“It seems she’s awake,” Rhael said.

Gobo nodded. “About time. She’s slept for days. I’ve never seen anyone sleep like that before.”

“If I went through what she did, I’d feel the same way. Kidnapping, running for her life…and who knows what Morrith did to her. Her leg might not all be from the hunting accident.”

“Really? But she said it so convincingly.”

“I believe some of it was, but the gashes look deeper than they should be. Maybe Morrith noticed the wound and focused on it.”

“After what I saw of him,” Gobo said in a voice quieter than his normal, “I wouldn’t be surprised.”

“The parts you remember anyway.”

Gobo put his hands on his hips. “I remember plenty. Just not some of it. Most of the important parts.” He pointed to his temple. The bruising was almost gone, previously a few blotches of blues and purples. He’d predicted he wouldn’t have it for long, and he was right, even though Rhael figured the knock he’d gotten was enough to rattle his skull. But Gobo had too much energy to stay down long. It was a surprise he could even sleep through the night without fiddling with something.

“About that,” Gobo said. “I’ve been meaning to ask you about her.”

“What about?”

“When we first saw her, you called her something. A name.”

Rhael shook his head. “Don’t worry about that.”

“I’m not worrying, but I am curious. Who’s Myrla?”

“I don’t know why you want to know so badly.”

“We Kenzess are a curious people.”

“To a fault.”

“I can’t blame you there, but I still want to know. Please, Rhael? When I don’t know something I want to know, it stays all bottled up, like wine under a cork that’s gone bad. The wine, that is. Not the cork. It just builds up pressure more and more until—”

“Myrla was my sister.”

“Was?”

Rhael nodded. “She died when we were both young.”

“Something bad?”

“Bad enough to kill her. Fever. Came quick. Took her quickly too.”

Gobo stared at his toes. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“She’s…she was about Bendrish’s age when she went. And she has the same color hair. So, the name just slipped. It was dark in there.”

“Oh. That makes sense, I suppose.”

“It didn’t mean anything. It was stupid. Of course I knew it wasn’t her. Just surprised me. That’s all.” Rhael took a deep breath. “We should head downstairs. The day won’t wait for us.”

At the top of the stairs, Gobo tugged on Rhael’s trouser leg. “If you ever want to talk about it, more, anyway, you know you can with me. Right?”

Rhael didn’t meet Gobo’s gaze. “We should get going.”

He tried to take the stairs as quietly as possible, but Bendrish turned over anyway. It had been one of the first times she’d responded to sound around her. Her eyes were surprisingly clear, and they focused on Rhael as soon as he came into view.

“Hello.” Rhael wasn’t sure what else to say. What do you say to a girl you rescued from a torturer and hid in a dead man’s house for safety? he thought.

She didn’t respond but moved her head a little more.

“How are you feeling?” Rhael asked. He heard Gobo on the stairs too, but higher up. Is he afraid to come down?

She opened her mouth to say something, but no sound came out. She looked confused.

“Here, let me get you some water,” Gobo said. “It won’t taste great because it’s been in a pot here for who knows how long, but we both drank some of it, so if it’s bad, then at least we’ve all got the same thing.”

Gobo tried to jump around Rhael at the bottom of the stairs, but managed only to misstep at the bottom. He caught himself only by grabbing onto a nearby bench, then stood up and dusted himself off. He didn’t even have the dignity to look embarrassed, but instead ran to the shelves along the far wall to look for the water.

“Don’t mind him,” Rhael said. “He can get a little excited when he has a new friend to make.”

“I can still hear you, you know,” Gobo said from the corner.

“Oh, we know.”

Gobo brought over a cup that looked surprisingly clean and tilted it up to Bendrish’s face. She had to pull back sharply to avoid how quickly Gobo moved in. Her first two sips turned into a gulp, even with half of it spilling down her chin.

“There we go,” Gobo said, even though she hadn’t gotten all that much water at all. “That must feel better.”

Bendrish turned her eyebrows down for a moment and coughed twice into her hand. “Thanks.” Her voice still sounded like the town crier’s after a long shift, but at least she could talk again.

“You remember me, don’t you?” Gobo asked. “Us?”

Bendrish glanced from Gobo to Rhael. “It’s hazy.”

“We saved you from the bad man’s house,” Gobo said. “He tied you up there because he wanted to turn you in for the bounty, but we saved you. It was my idea to go into the house you were in, so it’s a little more me saving you, but still, it was both of us.”

“Gobo,” Rhael said.

Gobo placed the cup on the ground. “Both of us.”

“What he’s trying to say,” Rhael said, “is that he’s glad you’re all right. You slept like the dead the past few days.”

Bendrish nodded. “I’m not surprised.” She tried to move and winced.

“Maybe it’s best if you stay still,” Rhael said. “I don’t know how long you were tied up, but you might not have used your legs for a while. Take things slowly. You’re in a safe place.”

She glanced around for the first time. “Where is this anyway?”

“We’re in a house that…belonged to a friend of mine.” One thing at a time. “He’s fine with us staying here a little while until you’re back on your feet.”

“And then what am I going to do?” she asked. She folded her knees up until she hugged her chest. “I have no idea where my mother is, and my people…” She stopped and looked up. “The people I know are off somewhere. I don’t know where.”

Rhael pulled up a chair so that he wasn’t standing over her. “I knew your mother. I know the people you traveled with. You don’t have to be scared to talk about it with us.”

She again glanced at Gobo, who hadn’t moved from the cup. He lowered himself further to sit on the floor next to her.

“I don’t know who to trust anymore,” she said.

“I can prove it to you,” Rhael said. “I know Phessipi. I know that your mother was a healer for her. They were in a group in the woods for a long time before they tried to attack the city.”

She leaned forward. “They did? How do you know that?”

“I saw your mother during the battle. That, and I recognized a few of the faces of the people fighting the guards. I put everything else together after that.”

“How did they get in?”

“They dressed like guards,” Gobo said, jumping back in. “They had costumes and guard outfits and everything. They looked exactly like them. They must have gone in through the same gate we did, as there weren’t many guards there. All I had to do was drop my bag open and they let us in, so your people must have found it just as easy. Maybe they had a sack of merchandise too.”

Bendrish slouched. “I take it they didn’t win, then. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. I’d be out there.”

Rhael clasped his hands together. “No, they didn’t. I wish I could tell you they did well, but the army closed in on them like locusts to a harvest. They lasted longer than I thought they would, if that gives you any peace.”

“Are they all dead?”

“I don’t know,” Rhael said. “Maybe some of them were able to escape once they saw the situation was hopeless, but I couldn’t tell you for sure. Maybe there’s still a group of them out there.”

“I have to get to them.” She raised herself up and slipped back down to her blanket on the floorboards as soon as she put weight on her legs.

Rhael placed a hand on her shoulder. “Go slowly. You’re going to pass out again if you strain yourself. Just take things one step at a time.”

“You don’t understand. I don’t belong here. I belong with them.”

“We’ll get you to them, but you won’t make it if you push too hard. They wouldn’t want you to, either. They want you back safely.”

She pulled back, away from his hand. “How do I know I can trust you?”

Rhael leaned back in the chair a moment, then leaned forward again. He glanced behind him, even though all the shutters were already closed. They had been sacrificing light for privacy. One never knew who could be staring through a window.

He tugged at the tips of the glove on his right hand, the only glove he wore. The leather slid back, revealing his red hand. She sucked in her breath as she stared at the swirling flames inside, perfectly contained within the shape of a hand. The movement inside usually didn’t shift much, but every so often, it stirred. He stared a bit, himself. It was still something to get used to.

“That’s how you can trust me,” Rhael said. “I’m not too different from your people.”

“Is it…hot?” she asked. “Can I touch it?”

He almost withdrew it. He’d never expected anyone to want to touch it, other than Gobo, of course. He was curious about everything.

“It’s barely warm,” he said. “Most of the time, anyway.”

She reached out and touched it with a single finger first, then once she realized it was safe, she proceeded with the others. She touched the top of his knuckle and then the rest of the back of his hand.

“You’re right,” she breathed. “It is. How come it’s not burning my hand?”

“He made a mark on a man’s face once,” Gobo said in the background. “I was there to see it.”

Rhael shrugged. “I honestly don’t know how. I haven’t had it very long.”

“My mother said she’s had her ability since she was a girl.”

“I was once told by someone wise,” Rhael started, “that sometimes it manifests when something extreme happens. Traumatic.”

“That proves I don’t have one,” Bendrish said. “Otherwise, it would’ve happened by now. Especially recently.”

“You’ve had a rough few days all right. Probably longer than that, even.”

“What can you do?” she asked.

“Face marks,” Gobo said quietly.

Rhael touched his hand. Even after all this time, it still surprised him that it felt like a real hand, even though he could see into it. “It can heat up. And once, fire came out of it.”

“How did that happen?”

He shook his head. “It’s not important. The important part is that it’s there and I’m learning how to control it. I’m still not sure how it all works, but I’ll figure it out.”

Bendrish wasn’t hugging her knees like she had before, which was a good sign, but she hadn’t completely relaxed yet. He couldn’t imagine what she’d gone through to cause her to be so on edge, even to people who had saved her life.

“Was my mother one of the ones fighting?” she asked in a small voice.

He blinked. He hadn’t expected that. “She was.”

“Who was she fighting?”

The image of Umra standing next to Morrith, throwing every bit of her ability at Rhael, right down to the last moment of fire shooting out of his palm in her direction, meeting her powers, wind versus fire. He remembered the acrid smell of the hairs on his arms burning and the look on her face when she fell backward onto the cobblestone street.

“It was…hard to tell that night,” Rhael said. “It was dark and not easy to see a hand in front of your face.”

She nodded slowly. “I see.”

Rhael slipped out of the chair and also sat on the floor. “There’s something else I need to tell you, Bendrish. It’s not going to be easy to hear.”

“What is it?”

“I should’ve told you earlier, but I was concerned about you getting better. I hope you understand.”

“Just tell me.”

“It’s your mother,” Rhael said. “She…” Rhael rubbed the back of his neck.

“She what?”

“She didn’t make it.”

Gobo glanced up from whatever he was doing and froze in place. Rhael couldn’t tell if he wanted to leave. Rhael wasn’t sure if he wanted to either.

“What do you mean she didn’t make it?” Bendrish asked. Her eyes looked glassy, but she didn’t move a muscle.

“She died,” Rhael said. “I’m sorry. I wish I could say it better, but I’ve never been very good with this sort of thing.”

“How did she die?”

“She was among the fighting and…” She was killed by the person she was fighting for, stabbed in the back. “It just happened.”

She stared at a knot in the floorboard in front of her. “I didn’t even get to say goodbye.”

“I’m sorry, Bendrish,” Rhael said slowly. “If you want to be alone, I understand. I wanted to tell you sooner.”

“Not soon enough.” Her shoulders rose and fell, then she dragged her eyes up from the floor. “Did you at least bury her somewhere nice?”

Gobo groaned.

She shot him a look. “Why is he making that noise?”

Rhael glanced down at his boots. “We weren’t able to get to the bodies.”

“You didn’t bury her? Even though you knew her?”

“You don’t understand. There were guards everywhere. The army. Everyone had their weapons out and a thirst for blood after an entire night of killing. Trust me, there were others I wanted to bury too, but I couldn’t. If I was able to, I would’ve gone out and gathered up the remains of my friend and your mother, but it just wasn’t possible. I’m sorry. I wish things were different.”

“You should’ve left me and went for my mother,” Bendrish said. She said it so softly that it came out as a mumble.

“But we didn’t know where your mother was at the time,” Gobo said. “We rescued you and—”

Rhael waved at Gobo, and Gobo cut himself off.

“What Gobo’s trying to say is that if there was anything else we could’ve done, we would’ve.”

Bendrish didn’t say a word, instead rolling over and tugging the blankets up past her shoulders. She pulled her legs in until she curled into a ball.

After a few moments, Rhael said, “Come on, Gobo. Let’s let her have some sleep.”

“But she’s been sleeping all—”

“Come on, Gobo.”

“Fine.”

Gobo dragged his feet over to the table, at least a little distance away. It wasn’t the largest house in the city by any means, but giving Bendrish some room was probably the best thing for her. Now Rhael just had to figure out what the best thing was for all of them.


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