Excerpt from Emperor's Soul


As many of you know, Brandon is currently at Comic-Con. Well, while at Comic Con, he not only read part of the first chapter of

, but also of
. Someone thankfully posted it on youtube, and now both are transcribed.

Emperor's Soul, for those of you who don't know, is on the Elantris world, but is unrelated to the Elantris book. It is coming out November 1st, and is a novella that is probably shorter than Alloy of Law. It has to do with Forging, where you change the history of an object.

We have the excerpt below:

Gaotona ran his fingers across the canvas inspecting one of the greatest works of art he had ever seen. Unfortunately, it was a lie.

“That woman is a danger.” His voices came behind him. “What she does is an abomination.”

Gaotona tipped the canvas toward the hearth’s orange-red light, squinting. In his old age, his eyes weren’t what they once had been.

Such precision, he thought, inspecting the brush strokes, feeling the layers of thick oils. They were exactly like those of the original. He would never have spotted the mistakes on his own. A blossom slightly out of position. A moon just a sliver too low in the sky. It had taken their experts days of detailed inspection to find the errors.

“She is one of the best Forgers alive.” The voices belonged to Galatona’s fellow arbiters, the Empire’s most important bureaucrats. “She has a reputation as wide as the Empire. We need to execute her as an example.”

“No.” Frava, leader of the arbiters, had a sharp nasal voice. “She is a valuable tool. This woman can save us. We must use her.”

Why? Gaotona thought again, Why would someone capable of this artistry, this majesty, turn to Forgery? Why not create original paintings? Why not be a true artist? I must understand.

“Yes,” Frava continued, “the woman is a thief, and she practices a horrid art. But I can control her, and with her talents, we can fix this mess we have found ourselves in.”

The others murmured worried objections. The woman they spoke of, Wan ShaiLu, was more than a simple con artist. So much more. She could change reality itself. That raised another question. Why would she bother learning to paint? What’s an ordinary art compared to mystical talents? So many questions.

Gaotona looked up from his seat beside the hearth. There stood a conspiratorial clump around Frava’s desk, their long colorful robes shimmering in the firelight.

“I agree with Frava,” Gaotona said.

The others glanced at him. Their scowls indicated they cared little for what he said, but their postures told a different tale. Their respect for him was very deep, but it was remembered.

“Send for the Forger.” Gaotona said, rising. “I would hear what she has to say. I suspect she will be more difficult to control than Frava claims, but we have no choice. We either use this woman’s skill or we give up control over the empire.”

The murmurs ceased. How many years had it been since Frava and Galatona had agreed on anything at all, let alone something so divisive as making use of a Forger. One by one, the other three arbiters nodded.

“Let it be done,” Frava said softly.

****

Great.

Shai pressed her fingernails into one of the stone blocks of her prison cell. The rock gave way, slightly. She rubbed the dust between her fingers. Limestone. An odd material for use in a prison wall, but the whole wall wasn’t in limestone, merely that single vein within the block. She smiled. Limestone. The vein was easy to miss, but if she was right about it, she finally had found all forty-four types of rock in the wall of her circular pit of a prison.

Shai knelt down beside her bunk, using a fork - she had bent back all the tines but one - to carve notes in the wood in one of her bed legs. Without her spectacles, she had to squint as she wrote. To Forge something, you had to know its past, its nature. She was almost ready. Her pleasure quickly slipped away, however, as noticed another set of markings on her bed leg left by her faint lit candle. Those kept track of her days of imprisonment.

So little time, she thought. If her count was right, only one day remained before the date set for her public execution. Deep inside, her nerves were drawn tight as strings on an instrument. One day. One day remained to create a soulstamp and escape. But she had no soulstone, only a crude block of wood, and her only stark carving tool was a fork. It would be incredibly difficult.

That was the point. The cell was meant for one of her kind, built of stone with many different veins of rock to make them difficult to Forge. They had come from different quarries and had unique histories. Knowing as little as she did, Forging them would be nearly impossible. And even if she did transform the rock, there was probably some other failsafe to stop her.

Nights, what a mess she’d gotten herself into. Notes finished, she found herself looking at her bent fork. She’d begun carving a wooden handle, prying off the metal portion as a crude soulstamp.

You’re not going to get out this way Shai, she told herself. You need another method. She’d waited six days, searching for another way out, guards to exploit, someone to bribe, a hint about the nature of her cell. So far, nothing had-

Far above, the door to her dungeons opened. Shai lept to her feet, tucking the fork handle into her waistband in the small of her back. Had they moved up her execution?

Heavy boots sounded on the steps leading into the dungeon. She squinted at the newcomers who appeared above her cell. Four of her guards, accompanied by a man with long features and fingers. A grand, the race who led the empire. The robe of blue and green indicated a minor functionary who had passed the tests for government service, but not risen high in its ranks.

She waited, tense.

The grand leaned down and looked at her through the grate. He paused for just a moment, then waved for the guards to unlock it. “The arbiters wish to interrogate you, Forger.”

(For those of you that want to read the AMOL excerpt, it's here at Dragonmount)


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