A Cruel Wind: A Chronicle of the Dread Empire by Glen Cook

By Glen Cook

Earlier than there has been Black corporation, there has been the Dread Empire, an omnibus assortment the 1st 3 Dread Empire novels: A Shadow of All Night's Falling, October's child and All Darkness Met.

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Storm King spies, who would be very much interested in any large gathering. Nepanthe, their Princess, had proven cunning politically. She had made certain her followers, proven traitors once, couldn't escape suffering if she fell. Their names and deeds would be made painfully available to any successor government—and they would die. They had to support her, take deep interest in anything which might foreshadow a movement to bring their Princess to ruin. They were the shadow men who backboned the government Valther had built for his sister.

As farmers have always done, and will always do, Varth and Royal buried their dead, then returned to working their fields. But the peasant was old, and his desire to live had failed with the death of his wife. Early in the spring, with the first crops planting, he joined her quietly in the night. Varth thought him sleeping till he shook him. Varth wept again, for he had loved Royal as a son should love a father. He went to the village, found the priest, brought him to say the burial service. He worked the farm to the best of his ability and finished the season.

Her black hair, flowing over her shoulders, shone from recent brushing. Her dark eyes danced, searching the garden. Her lips, full and red when she smiled (so rarely), were pulled into a tight, pale line as she pondered something unpleasant. An almost permanent frown-crease rose between her brows. Suddenly she drew out of her slouch, turned, began pacing. Her walk was graceful but asexual. Despite her beauty, she seemed unfeminine, perhaps because she had lived too long in the company of hard men, perhaps because she was always afraid.

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