|First printing||December 15, 2002|
Assassin's Blade is the first book in the second Legends cycle. It is written by Scott McGough and published in December 2002. The other books in this cycle are Emperor's Fist and Champion's Trial.
|“||Assassination has its price!
Scheming, intelligent, and power-hungry, the emperor's assassin moves always in shadow. He kills whom his master wishes and plans his own rise to power. Against him, one man stands on his honor, determined to end the cycle of death dealt from dark corners.
Amid a dark landscape ravaged by war, the two, at last, confront one another. At stake is the future of the empire.
The Edemi Islands have rebelled against the Madaran Empire. The emperor orders his imperial assassin Ramses Overdark to quell the uprising. Overdark tries to gets the imperial champion Tetsuo Umezawa involved, hoping that he will die so Overdark can make one of his own minions the new imperial champion.
The Nekoru Wasitora has made the village of Sekana her home. The village council calls in the imperial champion Tetsuo Umezawa to defeat the creature. They engage in a formal duel, but it is interrupted by an Elder Land Wurm from Argenti who reveals that the Edemis have declared war on Madara. Wasitora and Tetsuo defeat the wurm.
In the meantime, Ramses Overdark is planning to defeat the rebels but also wants Tetsuo involved, hoping the imperial champion, who has been a thorn in his side for ages, might die when caught between the rebels and Overdark's minions. Overdark sends the monstrous Lady Orca to attack Kusho while wearing Umezawa's phoenix crest, and orders the assassin Xira Arien to lure Tetsuo to the Edemis.
Tetsuo's honor dictates he has to reward Wasitora for defending the village against the wurm, so he offers her the position as champion's deputy. Wasitora accepts. While Kei Takahashi, Tetsuo's healer, is tending to the Nekoru's wounds, he is attacked by Arien, who infects him with her brood.
While Arien's poison is slowly turning him into an insectoid creature, Kei has a vision of Lady Orca murdering on Kusho. Tetsuo realizes it is a trap of Lord Overdark's creation but has to journey to Kusho to protect his honor and to find Arien, who might be the only person around who knows how to cure Kei. Tetsuo, alongside his second Tor Wauki and his armorer (and Kei's teacher) Ayesha Tanaka, travels to Kusho.
Lord Overdark meets with Marhault Elsdragon, asking the general if the Kentsu will stay out of the struggle between Umezawa and Overdark. Elsdragon replies that he will not interfere unless told to do so by the emperor. On his way back to his keep, Overdark is ambushed by Jorgan Hage, the second in command of the Kentsu. Hage wants revenge on the assassin for derogative things he said about Hage's people, the Ærathi. Overdark easily subdues him, however, and infuses Hage with black mana, making him the assassin's minion without even knowing it himself.
Tetsuo's group arrives on Kusho, and is met by its defenders, led by Gosta Dirk and Kasimir the Lone Wolf. They're defeated, and Tetsuo discovers Arien was never on Kusho, and that Lady Orca has already left for Argenti. The champion and his entourage have no choice but to leave for Argenti.
Upon arriving on Argenti the group is attacked by Lord Magnus, the ruler of the forest on the southern half of the island. Magnus is defeated and forced to lead the others to Lady Caleria, the ruler of Argenti. When they arrive at her castle, they discover Xira Arien has been with Caleria, trying to pit her against the champion. Caleria reveals she isn't that gullible, however, and has all imperials arrested. Xira flees the scene, while Tetsuo and his followers battle their way outside, hoping to capture Arien before she's off the island so they can force a cure for Kei out of her.
Arien escapes and is ordered by Overdark to hide an item he is having delivered to her per imp. Then the assassin summons Lady Orca again. The giantess attacks Lady Caleria's castle but is defeated by Tetsuo. Caleria is grateful for the champion's help but still has him arrested. Tetsuo is in no place to argue for the battle against Orca has left him almost completely drained of power. Lady Caleria offers Wauki and Tanaka the option of joining her forces or dying. Tor would rather die, but Tanaka says she'll join her if Magnus cures Kei.
Tetsuo walks trough the Meditation Plane while he is unconscious, where he realizes he must act now if he wants to keep Kei and Tor from gruesome deaths. He comes around, breaks out of his prison, and frees Tor. They confront Caleria and Tetsuo challenges her to a formal duel. Then Overdark activates the artifact Xira hid for him- a Serpent Generator. Tetsuo and Ayesha, who had only joined Caleria to win sometime, head off to destroy it, while Tor will replace Tetuso in the duel.
Both are successful. Caleria, defeated in the duel and in debt to Umezawa for saving her castle from an endless flow of snakes, gives Tetsuo and his entourage a safe exit from Argenti and allows them to seek out Lord Magnus, who might have a cure for Kei. Magnus reveals he in fact has none but makes Tetsuo realizes how he can do something for the healer. Tetsuo and Ayesha engage the insect in Kei on the Meditation plane and kill it. Kei is still partially insectoid in appearance but is no longer mutating further. Mad about the death of her offspring, but also weakened by it, Xira Arien fights Tor and Ayesha, but she is seriously wounded and left plummeting into the sea.
In the epilogue, Lord Overdark meets the emperor once more. The emperor is furious about the assassin's failure. He now places the task of culling of the rebellion in the hands of general Elsdragon and Jorgan Hage, thus setting up the plot for the next book, Emperor's Fist.