The Legend Mountains

From The Kinfire Tree:

DESPITE HIGH SUMMER elsewhere, it was bitterly cold in the far north.

Icy winds came off the towering Legend Mountains in the distance. The giant slopes were covered in snow almost to the point where rock met land, capped with dark, threatening clouds. A storm brewed there and it boded ill for the two travellers. They were not dressed for it.

In sharp contrast to the whiteness, the wasteland they crossed was ochre in colour. Loose dust puffed up with every step as if they walked in low gravity and it blew up into their faces with every gust of icy wind. Already they were barely distinguishable from their surroundings.

It was an empty land, abandoned, lonely, and frighteningly different. There were no trees. There was no water. The only tangible objects on that vast plain were edged, black pebbles hidden in powdery dust that served to trip.

Averroes could not believe she was born here, that someone took her across this to the south.

They had been walking for hours. Vannis said she would instinctively know where to go, but she felt nothing other than burning thirst. They had not brought enough water; she had one swallow left, as did Kylan.

Would this never end? The barren ochre plain stretched in every direction. Only the mountains to the north relieved the disheartening vista. Now that stirred something within her. Did it mean they needed to walk all that way?

She groaned aloud.

“Averroes?” Kylan said hoarsely behind her. He was a wonderful companion, ever uncomplaining.

“I’m fine; just wishing I knew where to go.” Her voice, she found, was equally gruff.

“Wait, Averroes, I see … what is that?”

Kylan, when she turned, pointed at a patch of black growing in size as they walked. It was on the ground directly ahead, and she had not even seen it.

“I don’t know.” Her heart commenced an uneven rhythm.

As they drew closer, the black patch materialised into a perfect circle, recessed, about three feet in diameter.

“It’s not natural. Do you recognise it?” Kylan queried as they halted at the edge of the sphere. It was smooth like stone eroded by the ceaseless movement of water.

She shook her head and knelt to touch. It was warm and there was a minor vibration under her fingers. She placed her hand flat on the surface, and it moved. Snatching her hand back, she stumbled away from the edge and pulled Kylan with her.

“It’s moving!”

A circular tube rose perpendicular to the ground and halted at about seven feet, still attached to the earth.

“What is that?” Kylan asked, passing a hand before his eyes to check his sight.

“No idea.”

They heard a whooshing sound. What appeared to be doors retracted into the sides of the cylinder.

“I have read something about this. I don’t know what you call it, but I think one travels in it, up and down. I think we’re supposed to get in.” Kylan was clearly uncertain.

“This is technology, then? Can we trust it?”

“Unless we want to walk to nowhere without water, we have no choice. Vannis did say the half-Valleur were underground. Come, take my hand, we will do it together.”

They linked hands and approached.

Aboard the Calloway

From The Infinity Mantle:

The sea soothed and nurtured for the next two days, the water a beautiful blue, the weather a silent comrade. Tor Island vanished from view as Bertin steered his vessel out in a wide arc before turning south.

The fourth night at sea marked Valaris’ Full Moon, and all passengers were on deck, including the three Guardians swathed against Bertin’s incurious gaze, to mark its glorious blue passage across the wide heavens. It rose early evening and kept them company into the early hours, and as it set the others went below, Rayne taking over the helm.

Bertin muttered something about the tides and pull to the full moon and elected to remain at the helm until potential danger passed, going to sleep only when Rayne insisted they would need him fresh for the entrance into Actar later that morning.

It was exactly fourteen days since Infinity’s treacherous game commenced.

Then the dark water rose in gargantuan ramparts straight out of watery hell, some lifting the ship high above sea level, others crashing defiance onto the deck, almost succeeding in driving the tiny vessel into a netherworld grave. Without lines they would have swept overboard. They hung on, unable to bellow fear, sometimes tossed like rag dolls before smashing back onto the splintering deck.

Bertin negotiated the storm for over an hour, in deep dark, each turn more sluggish as the sail tore and tattered, and the cabins below filled with water. The hatch had long since vanished into the monster’s maw.

It did not let up; only intensified. Brutal winds screeched and deafened. Every wave was monstrous, every breath a forced swallow of liquid salt. Still they forged on, praying to their various deities, praying for Bertin with all their strength. If the weather did not change soon, the beleaguered Captain would surely lose the battle, for his ship already was.

The weather did change.

For the worse.

Tristan and Alusin

From EURUE: The Forgotten World:

KNEELING in the mud with tears streaking over bloodied cheeks, ignoring the body behind him, Tristan understood how it felt to finally lose hope.

What life was there without Caballa? Killing her murderer would not bring her back.

Pushing himself to his feet, he swayed drunkenly. He had no more to give. Throwing his head back, he screamed his grief.

He tossed Halon’s blade into the water. As it splashed in, other swords were revealed. Many. By all gods, how many had died in this place?

Tristan then convulsively fiddled at his waist.

When he had his sword belt loose, he gripped the whole, drew his arm back and threw it with all his might into the lake, screaming again. It splashed briefly as it landed and wallowed there in mute accusation, the depth too shallow for it to disappear.

For a long time Tristan stared at it, his blood dripping into his soaked tunic.

Finally he turned away, uncaring. He strode into the trees. Fuck everything. No one would ever again mistake him for Torrullin, his illustrious grandfather, not with the new scars he now wore upon his face.

For those he would never seek healing.

FROM beyond the shallow body of water a man stepped to the lapping edge. White hair lifted in the breeze and dark blue eyes tracked the form vanishing into the trees.

This image reminds me of Alusin

He sighed and waded into the water to retrieve the discarded sword and scabbard. Holding it, he wrapped the belt around it, and then unhurriedly set off after.

The forging of Tristan Skyler Valla was over.

It was time to introduce him to a different future.

The Lake of Swords vanished.

Behind the scenes

Posting here has been scarce but know much is going on behind the scenes. From translation projects for many of my short stories, listening to audio, publishing new shorts, to a special project for Lore of Arcana (which I can’t say anything about yet because it must remain under wraps until ready) and preparing to release omnibus audio versions of the Lore books. New editing projects are due month end and, wail, time will again be an issue! Do browse though; there’s already a wealth of insights here for you 🙂

Thank you for stopping by!