In case you learn S.A. Chakraborty’s The Metropolis of Brass and you can’t wait to get your arms on the subsequent ebook on this buzzy fantasy collection, take a peek at an unique excerpt from the second guide in The Daevabad Trilogy, The Kingdom of Copper. And search for it on bookshelves January 2019.
Excerpt: The Kingdom of Copper By S.A. Chakraborty
It was very quiet inside Emir Muntadhir al Qahtani’s condo.
Banu Nahri e-Nahid paced the room, her naked toes sinking into the splendid carpet. Upon a mirrored desk, a bottle of wine rested beside a jade cup carved within the form of a shedu. It had been introduced in by the calm-eyed servants who’d helped Nahri out of her heavy wedding ceremony garments; maybe they’d observed the Banu Nahida’s trembling and thought it might assist.
She stared on the bottle now. It appeared delicate. It will be straightforward to interrupt it, simpler nonetheless to hide a glass shard underneath the pillows of the massive mattress she was making an attempt not to take a look at and finish this night in a much more everlasting means.
After which you’ll die. Ghassan would put a thousand of her tribesmen to the sword, make Nahri watch every one, after which throw her to his karkadann.
She tore her gaze from the bottle. A breeze got here from the open home windows, and she or he shivered. She’d been wearing a fragile blue silk shift and gentle hooded gown, neither of which did a lot to keep off the chilliness. All that was left of the overly elaborate outfit by which she’d been wed was her marriage masks. Manufactured from finely carved ebony and secured by copper clasps and chains, the masks was engraved together with her and Muntadhir’s names. It was to be burned upon consummation, the ash marking their our bodies the subsequent morning proof of the wedding’s validity. It was—in line with the excited Geziri noblewomen teasing her earlier on the wedding ceremony dinner—a beloved custom of their tribe.
Nahri didn’t share their pleasure. She’d been sweating since she entered the room, and the masks stored sticking to her damp pores and skin. She pulled it barely unfastened, making an attempt to let the breeze cool her flushed cheeks. She caught the reflection of her motion within the large bronze-edged mirror throughout the room and averted her eyes. Nevertheless advantageous the garments and masks, they have been Geziri, and Nahri had no want to see herself within the garb of her enemy.
They’re not your enemy, she reminded herself. “Enemy” was Dara’s phrase, and she or he was not going to consider Dara. Not tonight. She couldn’t. It might break her—and the final Banu Nahida of Daevabad was not going to interrupt. She’d signed her wedding ceremony contract with a gentle hand and toasted Ghassan with out trembling, smiling warmly on the king who’d threatened her with the homicide of Daeva youngsters and compelled her to disown her Afshin with the crudest of expenses. If she might deal with all of that, she might deal with no matter occurred on this room.
Nahri turned to cross the bed room once more. Muntadhir’s huge condo was situated on one of many higher ranges of the big ziggurat on the coronary heart of Daevabad’s palace complicated. It was full of artwork: work on silk screens, delicate tapestries, and finely wrought vases, all of which had been rigorously displayed and all of which appeared to hold an aura of magic. She might simply envision Muntadhir on this wondrous room, lounging with a cup of costly wine and a few cosmopolitan courtesan, quoting poetry and bantering concerning the ineffective pleasures of life that Nahri had neither the time nor inclination to pursue. There was not a guide in sight. Not on this room, nor in the remainder of the condo she’d been guided by means of.
She stopped to stare on the closest portray, a miniature of two dancers conjuring flamelike flowers that sparked and flashed like hearts of ruby as they twirled.
I’ve nothing in widespread with this man. Nahri couldn’t think about the splendor during which Muntadhir had been raised, couldn’t think about being surrounded by the amassed information of millennia and never bothering to discover ways to learn. The one factor she shared together with her new husband was one terrible night time upon a burning ship.
The bed room door opened.
Nahri instinctively stepped again from the portray, pulling her hood low. There was a smooth crash from outdoors, adopted by a curse, after which Muntadhir entered.
He wasn’t alone; certainly, she suspected he won’t have made it alone, for he was leaning closely on a steward, and she or he might virtually odor the wine on his breath from throughout the room. A pair of feminine servants adopted, and Nahri swallowed as they helped him out of his gown, unwinding his turban with quite a lot of what seemed like teasing jests in Geziriyya, earlier than main him to the mattress.
He sat closely on the sting, wanting drunk and considerably surprised to seek out himself there. Heaped with cloudlike linens, the mattress was large enough to suit a household of ten—and given the rumors she’d heard whispered about her husband, she suspected he’d crammed it on many an event. Frankincense smoldered in a nook burner beside a chalice of sweetened milk combined with apple leaves—a standard Daeva drink brewed for brand spanking new brides hoping to conceive. That, at the least, wouldn’t be occurring—Nisreen had assured her. One didn’t help Nahid healers for 2 centuries with out studying a variety of almost foolproof strategies to stop being pregnant.
Even so, Nahri’s coronary heart beat quicker because the servants left, closing the door softly behind them. Rigidity crammed the air, thick and heavy and at awkward odds with the sounds of celebration within the backyard under.
Muntadhir lastly glanced up, assembly her eyes. Candlelight performed on his face. He won’t have had Dara’s actually magical magnificence, however he was a strikingly good-looking man, a charismatic man, she’d heard, one who laughed simply and smiled typically…a minimum of with individuals who weren’t her. His thick black hair was minimize brief, his beard stylishly trimmed. He’d worn his royal regalia for the marriage, the gold-trimmed ebony gown and patterned blue, purple, and gold silk turban that have been the hallmarks of the ruling al Qahtani household, however he was dressed now in a crisp white dishdasha edged with tiny pearls. The one factor detracting from his cautious look was a skinny scar dividing his left eyebrow—a remnant from Dara’s scourge.
They stared at one another for an extended second, neither one shifting. She noticed that beneath the sting of drunken exhaustion, he too appeared nervous.
Lastly, he spoke. “You’re not going to give me plague sores, are you?”
Nahri narrowed her eyes. “Excuse me?”
“Plague sores.” Muntadhir swallowed, kneading the embroidered masking on the mattress. “That’s what your mother used to do to men who looked at her too long.”
Nahri hated that the phrases stung. She wasn’t a romantic—quite the opposite, she prided herself on her pragmatism and her capability to put aside her feelings—that’s what had led her to this room, in any case. However it was nonetheless her wedding ceremony night time, and she or he may need hoped for a phrase of kindness from her new husband; for a person keen to the touch her, moderately than one nervous she would curse him with some kind of magical illness.
She let her gown drop to the ground with out ceremony. “Let’s get this over with.” She approached the mattress, fumbling with the fragile copper fixtures holding her marriage masks in place.
“Be careful!” Muntadhir’s hand shot out, however he jerked it again when he brushed her fingers. “Forgive me,” he stated shortly. “It’s just—the mask clips were my mother’s.”
Nahri’s palms stilled. Nobody within the palace ever spoke of Muntadhir’s mom, Ghassan’s long-dead first spouse. “They were?”
He nodded, taking the wedding masks from her palms and deftly unhooking the clips. Compared to the opulent room and the glittering jewellery they have been each sporting, the clips have been relatively plain, however Muntadhir held them as if he’d simply been handed Suleiman’s seal ring.
“They’ve been in her family for centuries,” he defined, operating his thumb over the high quality filigree work. “She always made me promise to have my own wife and daughter wear them.” His lips quirked into a tragic smile. “She said they brought good fortune and the best of sons.”
Nahri hesitated after which determined to press ahead; long-lost moms may be the one matter that they had in widespread. “How old were you—”
“Young,” Muntadhir minimize in, his voice slightly uncooked, as if the query brought about him ache. “She’d been bitten by a nasnas out in Am Gezira when she was a child, and the poison stayed with her. She’d have the occasional reaction, but Manizheh could always treat it.” His expression darkened. “Until one summer Manizheh decided dawdling in Zariaspa was more important than saving her queen.”
Nahri tensed on the bitterness lingering in his phrases. A lot for a connection between them. “I see,” she stated stiffly.
Muntadhir appeared to note. A flush got here to his cheeks. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that to you.”
“It’s fine,” Nahri replied, although in fact she was regretting this marriage extra with every passing second. “You’ve never hid how you feel about my family. What was it you called me to your father? The ‘lying Nahid whore’? The one who seduced your brother and ordered my Afshin to attack your men.”
Muntadhir’s grey eyes flashed with remorse earlier than he dropped his gaze. “That was a mistake,” he stated, defending himself weakly. “My best friend and my little brother were at death’s door.” He rose to his ft, shifting towards the wine to pour himself a cup. “I wasn’t thinking straight.”
Nahri dropped to take a seat on the mattress, crossing her legs underneath the silk shift. It was a reasonably factor, the material so skinny it was almost sheer, chased by way of with impossibly high quality gold embroidery and adorned with delicate ivory beads. At one other time—with one other individual—she may need delighted within the teasing approach it brushed her naked pores and skin.
She was decidedly not feeling that means now. She glared at Muntadhir, incredulous that he believed such an excuse to be adequate justification for his actions.
He choked on his wine. “That’s not helping me forget about plague sores,” he stated between coughs.
Nahri rolled her eyes. “For God’s sake, I’m not going to hurt you. I can’t. Your father would murder a hundred Daevas if I so much as put a scratch on you.” She rubbed her head after which held out a hand for the wine. Perhaps a drink would make this extra bearable. “Pass that over.”
He poured her a cup, and Nahri drank it down, her lips puckering on the bitter style. “That’s awful.”
Muntadhir appeared wounded. “That’s an antique ice wine from Zariaspa. It’s priceless, one of the rarest vintages in the world.”
“It tastes like grape juice that’s been passed through a rotting fish.”
“A rotting fish…,” he repeated weakly. He rubbed his brow. “Well…what do you like to drink then, if not wine?”
Nahri paused however then answered truthfully, seeing little hurt in it. “Karkade. It’s a tea made from hibiscus flowers.” The lump grew in her throat. “It reminds me of home.”
She frowned. “What?”
“Isn’t that where you’re from?”
“No,” she replied. “I’m from Cairo.”
“Oh.” He seemed a bit nonplussed. “Are they close?”
By no means. Nahri tried to not cringe. He was purported to be her husband, and he didn’t even know the place she was from, the land whose essence nonetheless flowed in her blood and beat in her coronary heart. Cairo, the town she missed so fiercely it took her breath away at occasions.
I don’t need this. The belief, swift and pressing, swept via her.
Nahri had discovered the arduous approach to not belief a soul in Daevabad. How might she share a mattress with this self-centered man who knew nothing of her, not to mention hope to in the future probably share a throne?
Muntadhir was watching her. His grey eyes softened. “You look like you’re about to be sick.”
She did flinch now. Perhaps he wasn’t utterly blind. “I’m fine,” she lied.
“You don’t look fine,” he countered, reaching for her shoulder. “You’re trembling.” His fingers brushed her pores and skin, and Nahri tensed, preventing the urge to jerk away.
Muntadhir dropped his hand as if he’d been burned. “Are you afraid of me?” he requested, sounding shocked.
“No.” Nahri’s cheeks burned with embarrassment, whilst she bristled. “It’s just…I haven’t done this before.”
“What, slept with someone you hate?” His wry smile vanished when she bit her lip. “Oh. Oh,” he added. “I had assumed that you and Darayavahoush—”
“No,” Nahri stated shortly. She couldn’t hear that sentence accomplished.
“Things weren’t like that between us. And I don’t want to talk about him. Not with you.”
Muntadhir’s mouth tightened. “Fine.”
Silence grew between them once more, punctuated by the shouts of laughter that drifted in from the open window.
“Glad to know everyone’s so happy we’re uniting our tribes,” Nahri muttered darkly.
Muntadhir glanced at her. “Is that why you agreed to this?”
“I agreed”—her voice turned sarcastic on the phrase—“because I knew I would otherwise be forced to marry you. I figured I might as well go willingly and take your father for every coin of dowry I could. And maybe one day convince you to overthrow him.” It in all probability wasn’t the wisest response, however Nahri was discovering it more durable and more durable to care what her new husband thought.
The colour abruptly left Muntadhir’s face. He swallowed after which tossed again the remainder of his wine earlier than turning to cross the room. He opened the door, talking in Geziriyya to whoever was on the opposite aspect. Nahri inwardly cursed the slip of her tongue. Her emotions towards Muntadhir apart, Ghassan had been hell-bent on marrying them, and if Nahri ruined this, the king would little question discover some ghastly option to punish her.
“What are you doing?” she requested when he returned, nervousness rising in her voice.
“Getting you a glass of your strange flower tea.”
Nahri blinked in shock. “You don’t have to do that.”
“I want to.” He met her gaze. “Because, quite frankly, you terrify me, wife, and I wouldn’t mind staying on your good side.” He retrieved the wedding masks from the mattress. “But you can stop shaking. I’m not going to hurt you, Nahri. I’m not that kind of man. I’m not going to lay another finger on you tonight.”
She eyed the masks. It was beginning to smolder. She cleared her throat. “But people will be expecting…”
The masks burst into cinders in his arms, and she or he jumped. “Hold out your hand,” he stated, dumping a fistful of ash into her palm when she did so. He then ran his ash-covered fingers via his hair and across the collar of his tunic, wiping them on his white dishdasha.
“There,” he deadpanned. “The marriage has been consummated.” He jerked his head on the mattress. “I’ve been told I toss and turn terribly in my sleep. It will look like we’ve been doing our part for peace between our tribes all night long.”
Warmth crammed her face at that, and Muntadhir grinned. “Believe it or not, it’s nice to know something makes you anxious. Manizheh never showed any emotion, and it was terrifying.” His voice grew gentler. “We’ll need to do this eventually. There will be people watching us, waiting for an heir. But we’ll take it slow. It doesn’t have to be a horrible ordeal.” His eyes twinkled in amusement. “For all the handwringing that surrounds it, the bedroom can be a rather enjoyable place.”
A knock interrupted them, which was a blessing, for regardless of rising up on the streets of Cairo, Nahri didn’t have a retort for that.
Muntadhir crossed again to the door and returned with a silver platter upon which a rose quartz pitcher rested. He positioned it on the desk subsequent to the mattress.
“Your karkade.” He pulled again the sheets, collapsing into the small mountain of pillows. “Now if I’m not needed, I’m going to sleep. I’d forgotten how much dancing Daeva men did at weddings.”
The fear inside her unknotted barely. Nahri poured herself a glass of karkade, and, ignoring her intuition to retreat to one of many low couches organized close to the fireside, rigorously slipped into the mattress as nicely. She took a sip of her tea, savoring the cool tang.
The acquainted tang. However the first reminiscence that got here to Nahri wasn’t of a café in Egypt, it was of Daevabad’s Royal Library, sitting throughout from a smiling prince who’d recognized the distinction between Calicut and Cairo fairly properly. The prince whose information had drawn Nahri to him in a approach she hadn’t realized was harmful till it was too late.
“Muntadhir, can I ask you something?” The phrases burst from her earlier than she might assume higher of them.
His voice got here again to her, already husky from sleep. “Yes?”
“Why wasn’t Ali at the wedding?”
Muntadhir’s physique immediately tensed. “He’s busy with his garrison in Am Gezira.”
His garrison. Sure, that’s what each Geziri stated, virtually right down to the phrase, when requested about Alizayd al Qahtani.
However secrets and techniques have been troublesome to maintain in Daevabad’s royal harem. Which is why Nahri had heard rumors that Zaynab, Ali and Muntadhir’s sister, had cried herself to sleep each night time for weeks after her little brother was despatched away. Zaynab, who had seemed haunted ever since, even on the wedding ceremony festivities this night.
The actual query slipped from her. “Is he dead?” she whispered.
Muntadhir didn’t reply immediately, and within the silence Nahri felt a tangle of conflicting feelings settle into her chest. However then her husband cleared his throat. “No.” The phrase sounded cautious. Deliberate. “Though if you don’t mind, I would rather not discuss him. And, Nahri, about what you said before…” He glanced at her, his eyes heavy with an emotion she couldn’t fairly decipher. “You should know that when it comes down to it, I’m a Qahtani. My father is my king. I will always be loyal to that first.”
The warning was clear in his phrases, uttered in a voice that had misplaced all trace of intimacy. This was the emir of Daevabad talking now, and he turned his again to her with out ready for a response.
Nahri set her glass down with a barely hid thud, feeling the slight heat that had risen between them flip to ice. Annoyance sparked in her chest.
One of many tapestries throughout the room shuddered in response. The shadows falling throughout Muntadhir’s type, outlining the palace window, abruptly lengthened. Sharpened.
Neither stunned Nahri. Such issues had been occurring recently, the traditional palace seeming to awaken to the truth that a Nahid dwelled inside its partitions once more. Nahri raised her hand, and the tapestry and shadows stilled.
It was greatest that Muntadhir didn’t know every thing his new spouse might do.
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