War of Air and Earth (Blood for Blood, #3) by K.L. Gee and Tom Wright - Read Online
War of Air and Earth (Blood for Blood, #3)
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Book 3 of the Blood for Blood trilogy.

After fighting their own battles, Hakon and Kara come together in one last desperate attempt at keeping the world they know from being consumed in the raging fires of war.

Published: Moonlight Crew Publishing on
ISBN: 9781502242037
List price: $2.99
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War of Air and Earth (Blood for Blood, #3) - K.L. Gee

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Hakon felt free for the first time in months. He hadn’t realized how much he wanted to be doing something besides training to become a proper Alem prince. He was grateful for this test. Yes, King Arden had sent him on this quest to test him, to get rid of him, and to punish him for caring about the Terra, but it also meant that, to some degree, the king trusted him. Besides, Hakon wanted to find his mother, his sister, and his new sibling. He didn’t care what the circumstances were.

With Kai’s information, he had the greatest advantage of finding them, for he wouldn’t go looking among the Terra. He was going among the Su.

It had taken him a few days along roads and waterways to reach the main junction of Su cities. Hakon’s tattoo was conspicuous, so he wore a large hood that shielded his face. He dressed in nondescript clothing of an Alem, allowing him to walk freely among the Su cities. Most of the Su stayed out of his way.

Hakon was again spending his day standing in the city streets, just watching the mixture of people pass. There were servants, workers, and Alem masters traveling and walking. Merchants sold things on the street. The Su were a secretive people, and after nearly a week of searching and talking among the people, Hakon hadn’t gotten close to finding the Order of Assassins, where Kai said his family was being kept. Hakon suspected the Su just held their secrets close and certainly wouldn’t reveal them to any Alem. He found himself looking for Kai. He couldn’t get her off his mind. Whenever a woman passed dressed like her, he would follow them, but lots of Su women dressed like Kai. There was nothing unique about her appearance except that she was the first Su woman Hakon had come to know.

While he enjoyed his freedom, he was beginning to feel desperate. He had arrived at a new village, having found shelter the night before along the riverbank. It was one of the farthest cities up north along the waterways, and it was sopping with wet mud. It had been raining for days now, and Hakon’s clothes were soaked through. He passed some Alem merchants, and he pulled his hood down farther as he slopped through the small village’s muddy roads.

As he was observing the streets, he noticed an Alem in the distance with a familiar face. Hakon ducked behind a building and peered through the rain for a better look at the man. For a moment, Hakon thought he had seen King Darr. The Alem man was hooded as well, but as he passed in Hakon’s direction, Hakon noticed the intricate tattoo on the man’s head—the tattoo of high royalty.

On a whim, Hakon followed him. The Alem was staggering through the streets, occasionally slipping into the deep puddles of mud along the road. He had some difficulty getting up, but as soon as he did, he would continue to walk. Hakon followed him until they were in the heart of the waterways, near the large grouping of houses that were built against and on top of caves and hills. The Alem paused before a small, unassuming house. He waited there a long time in the rain, occasionally brushing off the mud from his rain–soaked cloak. Finally, Hakon saw the man slip inside the house. Curious, and with no other leads to follow, Hakon pursued him. He stood outside the house, casually peering in the window.

The man had removed his hood, and Hakon could see his face clearly now. His resemblance to King Darr was undeniable, and the tattoo seal upon his forehead was the unmistakable carving and colorings of a prince’s. Not a crown prince but a prince. Hakon wondered if this was King Darr’s son, Prince Sesto, who disappeared along with the queen and the princess. But he appeared to walk as a free man.

Hakon waited and watched. The prince spoke with an old woman, who sat by a blazing fire. She had a stooped stature and was rubbing the head of a cane back and forth between her wrinkled hands. Hakon was unable to hear anything that was said. Cautious, he moved away from the window and sat, hoping to wait them out. Someone walked by, kicking him gruffly. No loiters here, the man barked, and Hakon moved off, keeping his eye on the house with its mysterious contents.

Finally, Hakon’s patience was rewarded, and the prince left the house soon after the sun set and the sky glowed with the eerie blue of dusk. Hakon followed, avoiding attention as he moved, ducking behind slats in rocks or the overhangs of buildings. He kept his hood down, guarding his face easily in the growing darkness.

Hakon waited till they were far outside the city, heading north, until it was just he and the prince in sight. He zipped in front of him, seeing just enough in the blue light. The prince stopped, surprised at the sudden appearance of a man blocking his path. Immediately, Hakon could smell the rank stench of alcohol on the prince. Hakon let his hood drop, and the prince’s eyes widened.

Prince Sesto, Hakon said. The prince looked like he might bolt, only confirming Hakon’s suspicions. Where is my family?

The prince ignored the question. So the rumors are not only true, they stand before me in the flesh. You really are Hakon. The man before him didn’t appear to be afraid or feel threatened, but in awe of him, as if he was an apparition that the dusk brought on.

Where is my family? Hakon repeated again, this time grabbing the prince and pulling his dagger close against his throat.

Long gone, the prince said, entirely unfazed. A moony look came over him. With them disappears all hope for me.

Where did they go? Hakon said, urgency overtaking him. It would be easy to overtake the prince if he was drunk, but he needed him lucid.

North, I think. Sesto was staring into Hakon now, measuring him. They’ve told me we can’t follow them without breaking codes, boundaries, and traditions, despite every traitorous thing that we’ve done before. They are lost.

The queen. She is safe? The child?

Prince Sesto shrugged indifferently, enraging Hakon. Hakon threw him back, giving him a strong kick in the chest. Sesto fell back and lay there, still. For a moment, Hakon was worried he had kicked him too hard. He approached him cautiously.

To his surprise, Prince Sesto arose suddenly, grabbing Hakon’s hand that held the dagger and driving it downward into his own chest. Hakon pulled back quickly, trying to dislodge his hand from the prince’s bloody grip. The prince was too strong. He laughed, blood spilling from his mouth.

How fate arranged this meeting. I was determined to hang myself anyhow, but this will do. He laughed again. North, he coughed out. His grip finally relaxed, and Hakon removed the dagger from Sesto’s chest, backing up and away from the prince. One final time, the prince spoke, as if to no one. Master, no one knew. No one knew how great I was.

Hakon backed away from the body. He took a moment to clean his dagger in a nearby stream, shuddering at the mystery of the prince’s self–made death and heavy shame behind his words. Hakon trusted that it was the Master who had put him in the path of Prince Sesto. Fate had brought him here, so fate must be guiding him north. Hakon turned back to the body. He was unwilling to cover up or move the prince’s body once he’d expired. The Alem might think it savage, but to Hakon, it seemed fitting to leave Prince Sesto to scavengers. In a backward way, that may have been what the prince wanted.

With a dying man’s words as his compass and the fate of the Master as his guide, Hakon turned north.