Akmael unsheathed the sword, Kel’Barú, allowing its long silver blade to capture the vermilion flame of the rising sun. Wind lifted his cloak and filled cliffs and crevices with dark whispers of troubling dreams. Behind him he heard the shouts of men and the clatter of tools. Heavy canvas fluttered as they dropped tents in preparation for the next stage of their journey. Far below, the Tarba River roared through the narrow canyon along which the Pass of Aerunden had been cut, a rough road wending precariously over steep descents. Fit for mules, but most unaccommodating to his royal procession.
“My Lord King.” Sir Drostan interrupted Akmael’s thoughts, pausing at a respectful distance. Though massive in frame, the knight’s age had begun to show in the lines around his eyes, in the silver streaks of his red beard. “Our preparations are complete. We depart at your command.”
Akmael nodded and beckoned him to approach. “What do you know of this place? Of the people who built it?”
They had camped among the crumbled foundations of an old fortress, its remains little more than intersecting trails of stone smothered by dense brambles. A single tower struggled against the unforgiving passage of time, leaning precipitously toward the gorge below. The keystone that guarded its arched doorway was weakened by a fracture through its heart, dooming the structure to imminent collapse.
“I am not certain,” Drostan admitted. “Judging by the workmanship, I would say the tower was built by the early Kings of Vortingen, perhaps during the conquest of Moehn. Or before that, even, in the great battles against the People of Thunder. Whatever its history, it has long since been lost.”
The gusts picked up again, and Kel’Barú responded with an unusual hum, a bright tone layered over its typically mournful cadence.
Eolyn, it murmured. Eolyn, Eolyn, Eolyn.
Drostan raised his brow. “It would seem the sword knows its destiny.”
Akmael frowned, shook his head in doubt. For years he had tried to divine Kel’Baru’s song without success, frustrating as he had never encountered a weapon he could not understand.
“Even a mage cannot see into the future. How then can a sword? No, I do not believe Kel’Barú suspects our destination. It only repeats her name, as it has from the time they were separated.”
Like an echo of his own heart.
Drostan said quietly, “The Maga Eolyn will not want this sword.”
“It was her brother’s weapon.”
“That is why.”
“This is the only sword that has ever spoken to her. It belongs with Maga Eolyn, though I have long tried to convince it otherwise.”
“She has no interest in tools of death,” insisted Drostan. “Even if she did, this is a Galian sword, infused with strange wizardry. Such weapons have no place in our traditions. They are unpredictable. Suspect. Leaving it with the maga could invoke dangers unknown.”
Akmael drew a breath and sheathed the weapon. He had thought through this matter at length, and despite his own misgivings, would not be dissuaded. “This sword is her inheritance. What to do with it will be her decision.”
Lands Ravaged. Dreams destroyed. Demons set loose upon the earth.
War strikes at the heart of women’s magic in Moisehén. Eolyn’s fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.
Devastated yet undaunted, Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. But even a High Maga cannot survive this enemy alone. Aided by the enigmatic Mage Corey, Eolyn battles the darkest forces of the Underworld, only to discover she is a mere path to the magic that most ignites their hunger.
What can stop this tide of terror and vengeance? The answer lies in Eolyn’s forgotten love, and in its power to engender seeds of renewed hope.
HIGH MAGA is the companion novel to EOLYN, also available from Hadley Rille Books.
Genre – Epic Fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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