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Don't let them suffer. They are monsters through no fault of their own. Using her gift, Nicci would have reached out and simply stopped their hearts as the swiftest and most merciful way to end the threat, but the spiny wolves were branded with protective runes that rendered them invulnerable to direct magical attacks. She would have to kill them in a more straightforward way. Nicci drew her two daggers, Nathan held out his ornate sword, Bannon raised Sturdy, and Lila grasped a short sword. The growling beasts knew their true enemies. They moved together as a pack and lunged.

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Nicci wielded a knife in each hand, slashing and stabbing. The wolves' fangs glistened with ribbons of silver drool as they tried to tear into her, but she drove her left dagger up, plunging it into one creature's throat, and then stabbed the other blade into its heart. Mrra dove on top of the beast, driving it to the ground. The spiny wolf weighed twice as much as Nicci did, and its sheer momentum forced her to the street, still thrashing. Its paw tore a long wound in her bare arm, but she pushed the knives deeper.

The wolf jerked and twitched. Suddenly, its head rolled free as Bannon decapitated it with a stroke of his sword. Nicci shoved the rank-smelling wolf carcass off of her and found herself soaked with the creature's blood. She yanked her knives loose, and blood ran down her wrists. She pulled herself up to see if Nathan needed help, but the wizard stood victorious over another beast, his ornate sword wet and red. He wiped the blade on its matted fur.

Bannon and Lila had killed the third wolf. Nicci gathered her composure. Dust and gravel clung to her bloodstained black dress, and sticky blood coated her fingers. She wiped her daggers clean on the wolf fur and sheathed them. Mrra came to stand beside her, twitching her long tail. In the huddled shack next to the potter's shop, two little girls and their mother yanked the flimsy door open and rushed out, sobbing, into the arms of a broad-chested man.

The crowd cheered, calling out her name: "Nicci! At the beginning of this violent night, these same people had shouted for Mirrormask, yet Nicci had been a more dedicated leader of their uprising. She turned to see two burly slaves wearing the drab garments of workers from the yaxen slaughter yards. Proudly, the men carried blood-soaked sacks, as if they held trophies. One man with a burn scar on his forehead strutted forward. He glanced down at the dead spiny wolves. Meanwhile, we continue to fight our true enemies.

The two defiant slaves walked up to her, ignoring Bannon and Nathan, while the other people in Potter's Alley backed toward their shops. Opening their stained sacks, the men dumped the heads of four nobles onto the street. The dead faces wore frozen grimaces, their eyes still open. The neck stumps were ragged and still bloody.

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A few others in Potter's Alley cheered, though most seemed shaken and nauseated by their own ordeal. The scarred man said, "Even though Mirrormask deceived us, his words were valid. We will have our revenge, and we have you to help us, Nicci. We demand justice before we rebuild Ildakar. The slaves must be the ones who rule the city now. Before Nicci could speak, Nathan expressed his own troubled thoughts. If you kill all the nobles and make yourselves the new ruling class, you'll be as cruel and corrupt as they were. He kicked one severed head with his foot, and it bounced down the street like a ball in a game of Ja'La.

But Ildakar is your city, so don't waste the opportunity. You have work to do, hard work, while I have my own mission, given to me by Lord Rahl himself. Even though the two burly, blood-flecked slaves looked cowed by her rebuke, they remained unrepentant as they stared at the four severed heads. Nicci was sure there would be much more killing before this unrest settled.

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She couldn't save the whole city; she knew that. Nicci would not become their new sovrena and impose her own rule. Understand what that means. The people of Ildakar will have to make their rules and live with the consequences of their behavior. After the long and violent night, the sun began to rise on a new Ildakar. The sacrificial pyramid had been destroyed, along with all the bloodworking apparatus that Thora would have used to create a new shroud of eternity.

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The legendary city was now permanently a part of the real world. Lila stood silent, looking at the dead wolves. Bannon said with his usual optimism, "This turmoil will settle down soon enough. People will see reason. They want to make a nice life for themselves. An alarm went up as the dawn brightened. Sentries on the high walls that blocked off the city shouted, first one outcry and then dozens.

Loud warning bells began to clang. As the alarms grew louder and more urgent, the group hurried toward the outer wall. Mrra loped along behind them. High Captain Stuart of the Ildakaran city guard met them at the base of the wall, his face ashen. After all this time Nicci pushed past Stuart and bounded up the stone stairs to the top of the high wall. The others followed her up to the battlements and stared westward toward the foothills and distant mountains. When she and her companions had crossed the wide valley, they encountered a huge army of statue warriors once led by General Utros, a besieging army that had nearly brought down Ildakar before the city's wizards worked a petrification spell that turned them all to stone.

Now, by the smoky light of dawn, Nicci saw that the huge stone army was stirring.

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The long-petrified soldiers began to move with a purpose, forming ranks against Ildakar. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Add to Wishlist. USD 9.

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Sign in to Purchase Instantly. About the Author. He lives in Henderson, Nevada. Nicci formed a wall of air to surround the broken walls where the flames tried to escape. Lila looked up, frowning. They haven't been rung in centuries. Continues… Excerpted from "Siege of Stone" by. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates. All rights reserved.

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