Summary:The Way of Kings/Prologue

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Prologue: To Kill
Szeth's Chapters.svg
The Way of Kings Summary
Follows Prelude to the Stormlight Archive
Precedes Chapter 1
Viewpoint Szeth
Word Count 6,128


"The love of men is a frigid thing, a mountain stream only three steps from the ice. We are his. Oh Stormfather...we are his. It is but a thousand days, and the Everstorm comes."

—Collected on the first day of the week Palah of the month Shash of the year 1171, thirty-one seconds before death. Subject was a darkeyed pregnant woman of middle years. The child did not survive.

Plot Summary[edit]

4500 years later, Szeth-son-son-Vallano, a Truthless Shin assassin, waits quietly in large stone room, watching the Alethi drinking and dancing for the signing of a peace treaty with the Parshendi, men with skin of black marbled with red. Szeth, however, does not drink wine, or dance to the Parshendi drums, even though the Alethi had been hesitant at first about about the drums, because it was a common darkeyed musical instrument. But they gave in.

Szeth stands and walks through the room, he notes that even though King Gavilar Kholin, King of Alethkar had retired hours ago, the celebration does not seem to be stopping any time soon. As he walks Szeth is forced to step around Dalinar Kholin, the King's brother, who is sitting drunk at a table. Dalinar keeps waving away those who tried to encourage him to bed. Szeth does not see Jasnah Kholin the King's daughter, but he sees a dark-skinned Azish man and a thinner nervous Alethi man talking with Elhokar Kholin, the king's son and heir. Szeth stays far away from the heir and his companions.

Musicspren are zipping around the room and Parshendi drummers, appearing like spinning translucent ribbons, and the Parshendi note Szeth, signaling that they would withdraw soon.

He is wearing white under the orders of the Parshendi to follow their traditions so that King Gavilar could see him coming, even thought he didn't ask for the meaning, the Parshendi gave it to him anyway. He wonders why the Parshendi would order him to kill king Gavilar, as the peace treaty has only been signed hours ago. But he's Truthless so he doesn't ask questions.

He passes rows of sapphires that hold Stormlight, and sees the usage of Stormlight as lighting as profane, but also beautiful. He also seems to have a high opinion on the Alethi, calling them "a grand people", even though they have an odd sense of propriety, for women always cover the right hand with long sleeves.

He leaves the feasting chamber and passes the doorway into the Beggar's Feast, a room where the poorest men and women in the city were given a feast contemplating that in the palace. "Have you seen me?" A mad man with long grey and black beard asks of Szeth, before speaking in gibberish and reaching for his wineskin. He brushes by, and sees a line of statues depicting the Ten Heralds, and counts all of them, but finds Shalash's statue missing, which is an odd thing considering that Gavilar was very devout in his Vorin worship.

Szeth turns right, going through the hallway that leads to the king's chambers. He reaches for the spheres in his pouch, but hesitates when he sees more of the Stormlight spheres again, he reaches out and cups the glass-shrouded sphere. He is noted by two high-ranking darkeyed guards holding spears, as darkeyes were forbidden to hold swords. A guard tells him to go away, Szeth doesn't move, he draws Stormlight from the spheres on the wall. He feels prodded by the Stormlight inside of him to move. The Shin man holds his breath, for Stormlight could only be heard for a short time, however he had heard of stories about Voidbringers who could hold it indefinitely, but wonders whether they ever existed.

He uses Basic Lashing and Lashes himself down the hallway, and he is pulled toward that distant point, he passes the two guards through the hallway then reLashes himself back down, dropping tiny flakes of frost on the ground. And begins the process of summoning his Shardblade.

A guard reaches for his spear, but Szeth is quicker, for he Lashes the guard up, and crashes into the ceiling. Then mist condenses in his hand and a long and thin Shardblade appears in his hand. He passes the Shardblade through the second guard's neck. The guard's eyes smoked and burned and the guard died, for Shardblades severe the soul.

The guard Lashed on the ceiling calls guards to help. Szeth releases his breath and takes a spear from the ground and put it directly under the guard. The guard feels himself being pulled down again and violet fearspren crawl around him. The guard falls and his heart is imbedded through the spear. Szeth goes through a side corridor, and watches as guards appear down the hallway and see the two bodies. Szeth peeks down the corridor until a guard sees him, and took a deep breath of Stormlight as he runs toward the king's chambers. He opens the door of a storage room, waits until a running guard sees him, then closes the door and uses Full Lashing to close the door for it is as strong as a hundred arms, though it takes longer to create and drains Stormlight faster. He crosses the room quickly, throwing around furniture, and blasphemously slashes his Shardblade through stone. For Shardblades can cut any inanimate object easily. Then he takes a large stone block and, as he hears the door behind him rattling, he Lashes the stone toward the door.

The soldiers then break through the door as the stone crashes against the door and they are crushed. The Shin man pushes a door open, with small purple fearspren begin to wriggle from the masonary, and go toward the fallen guards. Szeth walks through the door and enters the last corridor leading to the king's chambers. He finds another group of guards, and the guards break into a trot with spear pointing toward him. Szeth keeps his hands on the doorframe and Reverse Lashes the doorframe, so that anything that approaches him- particularly lighter objects- was pulled toward the Lashing. The spears dance through the air and slam into the wooden frame. When he feels them hit, he Lashes himself to the wall, and kills many guards, then he makes himself fall on the ground, surrounded by guards and, as he kills them, he thinks about Shardblades and how they were first carried by the Knights Radiant, gifts of their god to fight the Voidbringers.

After killing or maiming all of the guards around him he turns and continues through his way to the king's chambers, his Shardblade without a drop of blood on it, for Shardblades can not cut flesh. He suddenly freezes when he sees men wearing deep blue, the color of the King's Guard, they point their spears at him as the shove the King through a side door, then a Shardbearer appears through the door, with glistening blue Shardplate and a six feet long with a flame-like design Shardblade.

Szeth hesitated, for he doesn't recognize the armor, as he hadn't had the time to memorize the Plates and Blades owned by the Alethi, but he know he must deal with the Shardbearer first before chasing the king. Besides maybe the Shardbearer would be able to kill him, ending his miserable life. For his honor would not allow him to betray his mission or seek death.

The Shardbearer strikes Szeth as he Lashes himself towards the wall. The Shardbearer uses an aggressive stance, then struck again, so Szeth Lashed himself toward the ceiling, and attacked the Shardbearer with an overhand blow, trying to hit the helm, but fails as the man goes on one knee. Szeth leaps backward as the Shardbearer swings upward with his Blade slicing the ceiling. As the Shardbearer turns, Szeth sprints across the ceiling, the Shardbearer swings again, and Szeth ducks to the side and Lashes himself down again, and slammed his Blade through his opponent's open back, but is rebuffed, as Plates can block Blades. However the Plate was damaged, and a web of glowing lines spread across the back of the armor. Szeth remarks that he must hit the same location at least once to break through.

The Shardbearer bearer sings his Blade in anger, trying for Szeth's knees. But Szeth danced out of range in time. And as the Shardbearer swings again Szeth Lashed himself upward and downward quickly, the attack coming dangerously close of hitting Szeth

Szeth acknowledges the Shardbearer's skill, then jumps to the wall and strikes with quick attacks, the Shardbearer fended him off, his Blade's length keeping Szeth away.

Szeth feels the time seeping away, for of the king hif, Szeth would fail in his mission, he decides to be reckless to save time, and Lashes himself to the other end of the hallway and fell feet-first toward his adversary, and the Shardbearer swings, but the Szeth Lashed himself down at an angle, and dodged the attack.

He lands in a crouch, uses his momentum to swing at his opponent's side, where he had hit the Plate before, and that piece of Plate shattered. The Shardbearer dropped to one knee and Szeth kicked the man's side with a Stormlight-enhanced kick, and the Shardbearer smashed the door of the king's quarters and Szeth left him to go and assassinate king Gavilar.

He inhales Stormlight from the lamps on the walls and went through a hallway, running, and thinks how he'd have to kill the king and then come back and finish the Shardbearer. But then he glances over his shoulder and sees that the Shardbearer isn't following him. And he abruptly stops and realized that the Shardbearer is actually the King of Alethkar.

He returns and, as soon as Gavilar sees him, he stands up and falls into a stance. Szeth dashed and attacks vigorously, but Gavilar parries, then Szeth ducks underneath the king's follow-through. While Gavilar- expecting another hit- holds his hand to the hole in his Plate, Szeth seizes the chance and run past him into the king's chambers.

The king spins to follow, but Szeth runs through the furniture, touching them, Lashing them at Gavilar. The furniture collides with Gavilar, who tries to stop them by cutting them with his Shardblade, but the pieces crash into him, making him stumble.

Gavilar rolls out of the way and charges forward, with Light leaking from his Plate. Szeth readies himself and leaps into the air, and Lashes himself away as the king arrived, dodging his hit, then Lashes himself twice in a row, his clothes freezing, as he is being pulled down at twice the velocity.

Gavilar is surprised when Szeth lurches in midair, and spun toward him. The assassin slams the Blade into the king's helm. Then Lashes himself to the ceiling, and suffers from disorientation from Lashing himself many times, in a short time.

On the floor, Gavilar tried to swing up at Szeth, his helm is cracked, and he is protecting his side. Szeth Lashed himself to the floor, thinking that Gavilar's attack would make him unable to get his sword back in time. Surprisingly, Gavilar steps into Szeth's attack with his helm, just as Szeth shatters the helm with a second blow, Gavilar punches Szeth's face with his gauntleted fist. Szeth is momentarily blinded from the amount of the pain. He screams, a lot of Stormlight leaving him quickly, and he slams into the balcony doors. He felt even more pain across his shoulders, then he hits the ground and stops.

Szeth fears himself blind, but then realized that it's night. He hears the sound of thumping of heavy footfalls, and stumbles to his feet. His left eye is blinded from blood, and his jaw is unhinged, and he had dropped his Shardblade.

Gavilar's Shardplate was walking slowly because his Plate was giving him trouble walking as it leaked much Stormlight. Szeth screams, kneels, and Lashes the wooden balcony downwards three times and then a fourth time as Gavilar steps onto the balcony. The balcony lurches under the extra weight, and the king hesitates. Then Szeth Lashes the balcony downwards again. The balcony begins to shatter, and Szeth falls to his side, passes a shocked Gavilar, and hits the wall and rolls.

The balcony drops from the building, and Gavilar looks up shocked as he loses his footing. The balcony crashes to the ground.

Szeth stumbles down the side of the building, tired, and sees the king still moving, thought a Plate would protect the bearer from even a fall like this, there was a large piece of wood piercing the man where Szeth had broken earlier. Szeth look at the man and knows for sure that it was really Gavilar Kholin in the Plate.

"I expected you to come" the King of Alethkar says, gasping, as Szeth unfastens the front of the breastplate free, and breathes in the three remaining gemstones that still have Stormlight in them. His pains start to soothe away but he know that it would be hours until he's fully recovered.

"You can tell Thaidakar that he's too late" Gavilar says. But Szeth tells him that he knows no Thaidakar, then he begins summoning his Shardblade. "Then who? Restares? Sadeas?" The dying king asks. "My masters are the Parshendi" the ten heartbeats have passed, and his Blade is in his hand, wet with condensation. "The Parshendi? That makes no sense." Gavilar reaches toward his chest and pulls out a small crystalline sphere, that glows with a black light, tied to a chain. And says "You must take this. They must not get it." And finally he asks Szeth to tell his brother to find "The most important words a man can say" and then, Gavilar Kholin, the King of Alethkar, dies.

Szeth says that nothing makes sense anymore, and says to the dead king: "I am sorry, King of the Alethi. I doubt that you care. Not anymore, at least. At least you won't have to watch the world ending with the rest of us."

Szeth could hear shouts from inside the palace, but he took the time to write Gavilar's request to Dalinar, with the king's own blood, on the wood. For to a Shin, a dying request is sacred.

After that Szeth leaves the Blade that appeared beside the king--a Blade that's worth more than some kingdoms--for Szeth believes the Blade he already carries is enough of a curse.




The Royal Palace in Kholinar, Alethkar, the night of the assassination of King Gavilar.

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