Realm Breaker (Realm Breaker #1) - Victoria Aveyard Page 0,1

unbelievable as a myth. And standing right in front of me.

“They aren’t ghosts,” Andry murmured, watching as one stalked the temple’s perimeter. His hair was blond and braided, his form broad and monstrously tall. The greatsword at his hip would take two men to wield. Dom, Andry thought, though his true name was far longer and more difficult to pronounce. A prince of Iona. “The Elders are flesh and blood as much as we are.”

They were easy to distinguish from the other warriors. The Elders were beings apart, six of them in all, each one like a beautiful statue, differing in appearance but somehow all alike. As distant from mortal kind as birds from fish. Children of different stars, the legends said. Beings of another realm, the few histories told.

Immortals, Andry knew.

Ageless, beautiful, undying, distant—and lost. Even now, he could not help but stare.

They called themselves the Vedera, but to the rest of the Ward, to the mortals who only knew them from ancient history and fading stories, they were the Elders. Their kind were few, but to Andry Trelland’s eye, they were still mighty.

The Elder prince looked up as he rounded the temple, meeting the squire’s gaze with fierce emerald eyes. Andry dropped his face quickly, knowing the immortal could hear their conversation. His cheeks flushed.

Sir Grandel did not flinch, flint-eyed beneath his helmet. “Do immortals bleed, Squire?”

“I don’t know, my lord,” Andry replied.

The knight’s gaze shifted through the rest. The Elders came from every corner of the Ward, emerging from half-forgotten enclaves. Andry had memorized them like he did courtiers, both so Sir Grandel would not embarrass himself in company and for his own curiosity.

The two Elder women were a sight unto themselves, warriors as much as the rest of them. Their presence had been a shock to the mortal men, the knights of Galland most of all. Andry still found them intriguing, if not awe-inspiring. Rowanna and Marigon were of Sirandel, deep in the Castlewood, as was Arberin. Andry guessed them to be close kin, with their red hair, pale fox-like faces, and purple chain mail, iridescent as snakeskin. They looked like a forest in autumn, shifting between sun and shadow. Nour came from Hizir, the desert enclave in the Great Sands of Ibal. They seemed to be both man and woman to Andry’s eye. They wore no armor at all, but tightly wrapped yards of dusk-rose silk banded with a ransom of precious stones. Their skin was golden, their eyes bronze, rimmed in black kohl and lightning purple, while their black hair had been worked into intricate braids. Then there was Surim, who had traveled the farthest of any, mortal or immortal. Bronze-skinned with deep-set eyes, he still wore the journey from Tarima on him like a heavy coat, his stout pony having carried him across the vast Temurijon steppe.

Dom was more oak tree and antler than anything else. He wore leather beneath a gray-green cloak, embossed with the great stag of his enclave and his monarch. His hands were bare of gloves or gauntlets. A hammered silver ring gleamed on his finger. His home was Iona, hidden in the glens of mountain-clawed Calidon, where the Companions had first assembled. Andry remembered it sharply: an immortal city of mist and stone, ruled by an immortal lady in a gray gown.

Sir Grandel’s voice cut through the memory.

“And what of Corblood princes, descendants of the old empire?” he hissed, his words taking on a razor edge. “Spindlerotten, maybe, but mortal as the rest of us.”

Andry Trelland was raised in a palace. He knew well the tone of jealousy.

Cortael of Old Cor stood alone, his boots braced on the broken stone of the pilgrim road. He stared, unyielding, into the shadows of the wood, lying in wait like a wolf in its den. He wore a cloak of Iona too, and antlers were molded across his steel breastplate. Dark red hair fell about his shoulders, like blood at dusk. He served no mortal kingdom, but there were slight lines of age on his face, on his stern brow and at the corners of thin lips. Andry guessed him to be near thirty-five. Like the Elders, he was of Spindleblood, a son of crossing, his mortal ancestors born beneath the stars of another realm.

So was his sword. A Spindleblade. The naked weapon reflected the sky above, filled with gray light, etched in markings no one alive could read. Its presence was a thrum of lightning.

The knight narrowed his eyes. “Do