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Chapter-1- Where Truth and Truthless Meet




Szeth-son-Neturo sat in the eastern tower of Urithiru, his legs crossed, his wide Shin eyes overlooking the fields where the ardents tried to actively cultivate the plains. He found their attempts laudable, this exercise to make the aridness of Urithiru bear some food to their starving armies. More than just soulcast lavi and grain. Their labors hadn’t borne fruit yet, perhaps an exercise in futility; Szeth didn’t know whether he should feel pity for these foreigners and their pained trials at cultivation for while he’d sworn to follow Dalinar Kholin, he didn’t feel the same allegiance towards Dalinar’s people— the Alethi. Then again, it was rare for Szeth to feel anything at all and so he excused his emotions and their lack thereof.

His sword hummed on his back, growing restless from its days long slumber.

Hey. Hey! Why do we keep sitting around all day? Let’s go rally up some bad guys and fight evil! That’s what I’m good at, remember?

“This is Urithiru, sword-nimi,” Szeth spoke to it, his voice calm. “Home of our new master. You won’t find evil here.”

The sword grumbled.

That’s what you always say. Day in and day out. But I’m hungry. You don’t feed me enough. The others would take me out all the time, you know. You could do the same. Draw me out, take me from this crummy sheath and I will lend you all my power. Storms, I’m getting rusty in here. Take me out. C'mon.

Szeth slid it from his strap and studied the blade, still sheathed in cask. 

“Like the last time when you tried to eat me, sword-nimi?"

The sword of darkness protested.

No, no. I had a bite. A measly bite. Just a nip, really.

Szeth said nothing, barely listening. He looked to the plains again, growing thoughtful.

Say, what’s up with the symmetricity in this new place? These guys like mirrors or what? Urithiru, Shalash, Kelek—

“The Vorin religion sees a sliver of the Almighty in symmetricity, sword-nimi.”

Uh huh. You know what I see? A whole lot of bothob and poop. You smell any? Yeah, definitely poop here. Considering how no one knows what the plumbing in this place does, I’m sure there’s a lot of poop lying somewhere ‘ere.  See, how’s that for symmetricity?

The door jarred open and Teft, Stormblessed’s second, emerged out. The old grey soldier jabbed a thumb inside. 

“Hey Assassin in White. They are asking for you.”

Szeth picked up his sword and walked in, ignoring the look Teft sent him. They didn’t like him, he knew and he understood. After the sins he'd committed, what else did he expect? There was an argument unfolding inside the council room. If there was one thing he’d learned from his years in Alethkar, there was always an argument unfolding somewhere in this country of moving grass. In taverns, in courts, in council rooms and bedrooms of brightlords and brightnesses. The Alethi were a warring people, who loved conflict and seemed to breathe and revel in it. Perhaps the most argumentative of the lot was this woman, the newly coronated queen of the Alethi kingdom. Her tongue like thunderclast, her mind a swarm of wasps. The Heretic Queen, the ardents whispered under their breath. Intuitive, sharp and brutal. Even the sword seemed taken by her presence.

“It’s true I will want the scribes for my visit to Azir. The Azish are a diplomatic people, and I expect our meetings to run pages, if not volumes. But I do not need protection, Uncle. Least of all from the man who murdered my father."

Szeth paused in the doorway, his glance shifting to the woman who’d spoken. The council room fell silent and all eyes turned to him, watching Szeth warily, murmurs following in agreement.

A man hovering over the table with food, who‘d been eyeing the buffet with interest, snorted. Sebariel, Szeth remembered. One of the highprinces.

“For once, I agree with you, Queen Jasnah. After all, is there anyone this man has not tried to kill yet? A bit too notorious to be given the mantle of bodyguard. If it were upto me—”

A woman elbowed Sebariel and pointed his attention to Szeth. The brightlord didn’t seem perturbed by his presence nor did he apologize. Nor did Szeth for that matter.

“Jasnah,” Dalinar sighed as he ran a hand over the map of the kingdom, tracing valleys and contours. “This isn’t the time to look at the past. We have all made mistakes, and we repent for them. So has he. He’s taken new oaths, new ideals. He is just like you now. A full Knight Radiant.”

Jasnah smiled. It was a harsh smile.

“He sullies our ideals, Uncle. He will never be one of us. You know it.”

Dalinar looked worn for wear.

“Storms, Jasnah. I’ve lost your brother. Alethkar will not lose another regent while I'm alive nor I another Kholin blood.”

Jasnah turned from him to Szeth, looking at him for the first time. The crown glinted on her onyx hair, the shadow of her authority growing tenfold. Her gaze pierced him, rouge lips pressed in a thin line.

“Do you really wish for me to take him?” she addressed her uncle though her eyes never wavered from Szeth. Purple eyes, he found himself thinking. Violet like the wines that flowed deep into eager mouths. There was no mistaking the callous edge in her tone. "This man whose sword has a better personality than him?”

Szeth felt a chortle of laughter from his back. The sword hummed pleasantly as it delivered its verdict.

I like her. I really like her.