Infinity Blade Redemption Online - Brandon Sanderson

Salt Lake City, Utah

PROLOGUE

“YOU WANT stories of Siris, do you? Stories of the Deathless who fought for ordinary men?”

“Yes.”

“Stories of the youth reborn a thousand times, raised in each incarnation to try—and fail—to slay the God King? Stories of the man who did not know he was immortal?”

“Yes.”

“Stories of Siris abandoned? Locked in the Vault of Tears, betrayed by the Worker of Secrets? Left to rot by the one who should have been his ally? These are the stories you seek?”

“They are.”

“Well, good. Because stories . . . stories I have. Too many stories. Stories like rats in the wheat, fat and glutted upon my thoughts and memories. It’s well past time that someone heard them . . .”

CHAPTER

ONE

SIRIS SNAPPED open his eyes and rolled. He had only a few moments before—

Hands grabbed his hair, yanking his head upward. A knee against his back forced him down to the cold stone.

Vision blurry, Siris twisted, trying to claw at the hands holding him. He had to—

The hands smashed Siris’s face down into the stone ground.

All went black.

CONSCIOUSNESS returned to Siris like an eagle spreading its wings. His mind flooded with sensation. The cold ground. His face resting in a pool of nearly dried blood, sticky against his skin. The stale scent of the prison.

He took a deep breath and threw himself to his feet, turning to swing. He opened his eyes to a blurry world of shadows and filtered light.

Those shadows caught him, tripped him, then slammed him back against the ground.

Siris growled. His primal instincts knew where his enemy would be, and he kicked upward into a soft stomach. Connecting felt so satisfying.

The shadows cursed. Siris pulled his foot back and rolled to his feet.

A weight slammed him backward against the wall. Siris writhed, but hands grabbed his head and jerked it to the side.

Snap.

All went black.

SIRIS WAITED for his body to restore itself.

First, his soul tried to flee, to escape to a rebirthing chamber. That was far better than returning to a body that had been defeated—a fallen body was a compromised body. Innate Deathless programming tried to send his soul, his Q.I.P., to safety.

Siris registered this as a vague sensation, tangible only in the most fleeting of ways. Like the memory of a taste. A sense of uncontrolled soaring, a panicked flight.

Then a wall, like invisible glass. His soul was rebuffed as it had been each time before. It could not break out of the prison, and was instead forced back. Back into the imperfect body, the trapped body.

That body belonged to an immortal. It would restore itself, given time.

Eventually, consciousness swelled in his mind, and he regained control. He tried to feign death. His thinking was fuzzy, his eyes not fully restored, he needed to—

“You think I don’t notice you, Ausar?” a voice said from nearby. Siris felt warm breath on his neck. “You think I can’t hear you stir as you struggle back to life?”

Siris snapped his eyes open and reached for the figure above him, his ancient enemy. He could see only a blur.

“I put your eyes out each time I kill you,” the God King growled, grabbing Siris’s head and smashing it down against the floor.

Pain.

“Your body heals essential organs first,” the God King continued. “Your eyes come late in the process.”

Siris screamed, flailing.

The God King smashed his head against the floor again.

All went black.

DEVIATION

THE FIRST

RAIN BLEW against the window of Uriel’s cubicle.

A window. He had worked hard for a window. Mary had pushed him to reach for that achievement. When you worked every day with numbers and abstractions, she said, it was good to be able to look out and see the world as it was—not as simply figures on a page, to be added and assessed.

There are numbers out there too, though, Uriel thought, looking out the window. Natural laws commanded the rain. Unseen statistics and figures determined where each drop would fall, how hard each would hit, the precise route each would take sliding down the glass. It was well beyond the abilities of mankind to calculate those figures, but that didn’t mean they didn’t exist.

“So,” Adram said nearby, “I told her that she’d better turn down the oven, because it was about to get a lot hotter inside!”

The regular team of coffee-mug-holding, suspender-and-tie-wearing marketing fellows laughed at Adram’s joke. At least Uriel assumed it was a joke. He didn’t understand why it was funny. Too many jokes didn’t make sense when you broke them apart, not logically. The numbers didn’t add