For Matt

Raised on a steady diet of fantasy novels, comic books, and Dungeons & Dragons, Peter V. Brett has been writing fantasy stories for as long as he can remember. He received a bachelor of arts degree in English literature and art history from the University at Buffalo in 1995, then spent more than a decade in pharmaceutical publishing before returning to his bliss. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, daughter, and an evil cat named Jinx. You can visit Peter on the web at

Other books by Peter V. Brett

The Warded Man

The Great Bazaar

The Desert Spear


It’s all Matt’s fault.

Seriously. This novella probably wouldn’t exist had not my friend and longtime beta-reader, Matt Bergin, demanded it.

He had been reading an early draft of The Great Bazaar, and in it, I have Arlen reference one of his past misadventures where he encounters a snow demon without having the proper wards to protect himself.

“When did Arlen meet a snow demon?” Matt asked. “Did I miss that story?”

“There’s no story,” I said. “I just like reminding people that Arlen had a ton of adventures back when he was young and working for the Messenger’s Guild.”

“Well, you’ve gotta write it, now,” Matt said.

“Why?” I asked. I kind of liked the cryptic reference.

“Dude,” Matt said. “You’re passing up a chance to write about snow demons?”

It was a compelling argument, but I was swamped and couldn’t get to it. I put the idea aside for over a year, but that whole time, I kept thinking about damned snow demons, and knew I would soon have poor Arlen’s

teeth chattering.

In the short break I allowed myself between finishing The Desert Spear and formally starting The Daylight War, I wrote this story, Brayan’s Gold, the second stand-alone tale set in the world of the Demon Cycle.

I really enjoy this format, as it gives me a chance to tell short adventure stories that don’t fit into the larger novels, offering newcomers an introduction to the series and some of its characters, longtime readers a broader look at the world, and impatient fans a coreling fix in the long wait between novel publications. Subterranean Press has been amazing in helping share these tales in beautiful limited edition books that feel as personal to me as the stories themselves.

This volume is extra special, because in addition to the story, it has a cover illustration and interior art by the incredibly talented Lauren K. Cannon (, who has been designing wards and doing paintings for my website ever since I first sold The Warded Man back in 2007. Lauren has done an amazing job of bringing my characters and symbol magic to life, and it was a pleasure to work with her again on this project.

So if you are a newcomer or an old friend, welcome.

I hope you enjoy Brayan’s Gold.

And if you don’t…blame Matt.

Peter V. Brett

August, 2010


“Hold still,” Cob grunted as he adjusted the armor.

“Ent easy when a steel plate’s cutting into your thigh,” Arlen said.

It was a cool morning, dawn still an hour away, but Arlen was already sweating profusely in the new armor —solid plates of hammered steel linked at the joints by rivets and fine interlocking rings. Beneath, he wore a quilted jacket and pants to keep the plates from digging into his skin, but it was scant protection when Cob tightened the rings.

“All the more reason to make sure I get this right, Cob said. “The better the fit, the less likely that will happen when you’re running from a coreling on the road. A Messenger needs to be quick.”

“Don’t see how I’ll be anything near quick wrapped in bedquilt and carrying seventy pounds of steel on my back,” Arlen said. “And this corespawned thing’s hot as firespit.”

“You’ll be glad for the warmth on the windy trails to the Duke’s Mines,” Cob advised.

Arlen shook his head and lifted his heavy arm to look at the plates where he had painstakingly fluted wards into the steel with a tiny hammer and chisel. The symbols of protection were powerful enough to turn most any demon blow, but as much as he felt protected by the armor, he also felt imprisoned by it.

“Five hundred suns,” he said wistfully. That was how much the armorer had charged—and taken months in the making. It was enough gold to make Arlen the second-richest man in Tibbet’s Brook, the town where he had grown up.

“You don’t go cheap on things that might mean your life,” Cob said. He was a veteran Messenger, and spoke from experience. “When it comes to armor, you find the best smithy in town, order the strongest they’ve got, and bugger the cost.”

He pointed a finger at Arlen. “And always…”

“…ward it yourself,” Arlen finished with his master, nodding patiently. “I know. You’ve told me a thousand times.”

“I’ll tell it to you ten thousand more, if that’s how long it takes to etch it into your thick skull.” Cob picked up the heavy helmet and dropped it over Arlen’s head. The inside was layered in quilt as well, and it fit him snugly. Cob rapped his knuckles hard against the metal, but Arlen heard it more than he felt it.

“Curk say which mine you’re off to?” Cob asked. As an apprentice, Arlen was only allowed to travel on guild business accompanied by a licensed Messenger. The guild had assigned him to Curk, an aging and often drunk Messenger who tended to work only short runs.

“Euchor’s coal,” Arlen said. “Two nights travel.” Thus far, he had only made day-trips with Curk. This was to be the first run where they would have to lay out their portable warding circles to fend off the corelings as they slept by the road.

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