Kin is Everything
We return to the Land of Skies. One battle is already behind the team, the disastrous events upon Ardosia; time now to concentrate on the stability of Valaris, or the same fate awaits her.
Hidden from humankind are fourteen sacred Valleur sites, built upon nodes of power. Vannis Valla advocates unveiling them to restore balance to the earth, which will aid in the fight against Margus. The Darak Or has other ideas, and unleashes his soltakin …
In the north, Averroes discovers her true past, and she and Kylan run the Maze gauntlet. Kisha, Mordan, Cristi and Samson prepare the clans of old for eternal night. In the south, Vannis, Rayne and Saska, along with the charismatic little Falcon, Phet, move from site to site. Taranis and the Guardians delve arcane ritual in the Dome to find the answers to the ending of soltakin, while expecting Infinity to bring her Darkling Horde into the mix. Meanwhile McSee, unmasked as traitor, meets the crazy Lanto and they hatch a bold plan, involving a pirate and ancient loot.
Rayne begins the internal battle that will change all. It began for him on Ardosia when he touched Vannis only to release blue sparks between them. The ruling house is almost extinct. How, therefore, does a Valla recognise the blood for the future? By the blue flame of trebac. Kinfire. The legendary Vannis is kin, but there is more in store for Rayne than the reality of this profound connection.
The Kinfire Tree has many branches hidden in its foliage, a condition Rayne suspects, a greater truth he must reveal …
“Go to the mountains, son, and sing songs of praise. Majesty is in timelessness.”
~ Father Rees
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.
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.
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.
“Ready?” Kylan asked, and when Averroes nodded, they stepped in quickly, fearing the doors would close on them before they were fully inside.
Once in, they stood waiting, feeling peculiar in a black cylinder in an ochre desert, but nothing happened. Long moments passed as they kept glancing at each other for reassurance. Nothing inside offered a clue on how to operate the device.
Kylan shrugged and Averroes giggled.
“Well, it can only go one way, hopefully. Why does it not move? Surely it should go down …”
On the word ‘down’ the doors closed. A ceiling light came on and there was the sensation of falling. They could not tell how fast they went, thus could not estimate distance. What seemed an eternity later, but was no more than minutes, the tube came to a halt; the doors whooshed instantly open … behind them.
“Oh, boy,” Kylan muttered as they both turned.
Directly ahead was a wall, white and blank. Peeking around the doors, they looked left and right. It was a corridor, stretching unendingly both ways, lights evenly spaced along the ceiling, glowing muted white.
It was deserted.
They stepped out. The doors closed, and the device remained stationary.
“Now what?” Kylan whispered, looking at lights that needed no flame to burn. The nearest phenomenon he could summon to mind was the solar glows in Galilan’s Prism Park.
“Pick a berry; pick two, three, four
Eat them; eat them well
Come again for more …”
Averroes recited a child’s rhyme, wagging her finger left and right with each word. She ended pointing right. “That way.”
“You’re not serious.”
“One way is as good as another, and I still have no sense of recognition.”
Kylan laughed nervously and went right. A hand strayed to his upper thigh where his knife was. Averroes pulled hers from her boot to put it in her jacket pocket.
They walked a long while, at first warily, but as time passed and no one appeared to challenge them, they relaxed and strolled more casually.
Other than the pools of light that came and went as they passed, there were no changes to the stark corridor. It was spotless, the air fresh and the temperature comfortable.
They came upon a recess; a square space penetrating the rock beyond. There was a white basin on a pedestal, a black button on the side, with a spout inside the basin. They knew what it was. Basins and baths in the south were of stone, wood or copper, and taps were rudimentary, hot water piped in from an outside fire and cylinder, yet a basin was a basin.
Averroes pushed the button and from the spout, and a jet of clear water erupted.
“Water,” she breathed. Putting one finger in, she tasted. “Fresh.” She grinned and leaned in to drink her fill, before standing aside.
Kylan needed no coaxing.
They then filled their bottles and took the opportunity to change into fresh clothes. Ochre dust permeated the material they removed and they shook the garments thoroughly before packing them away. The white floor was red by the time they were done.
Much refreshed, morale higher, they stepped back into the corridor.
A low hum filled the air behind them. The ochre dust on the floor dissipated and disappeared. The humming stopped.
“Technology,” Kylan said. “I don’t know my world at all.”
They went on.
A while later the corridor reached a junction. Again, they had a choice of either left or right. The left was blue, the right green, the two colours meeting in a perfect line before them. At least the unrelieved white was gone, but there was no further sign to aid them.
Indecisive, they peered both ways. All was quiet.
“I think there are doorways, look.” Averroes pointed along the green arm. There were rectangular shadows further down.
Kylan thought it could be anything, but it was change at last, thus he nodded.
A muted clang emanated from the same direction. They were here to find people, not avoid them, and even if it was danger they found, it was infinitely better than the sense of being the last two people alive on the planet.
They chose to go right.
The closer they came, the more Kylan had to admit Averroes was right; doorways indeed and doorways usually meant …
… without warning someone stepped out left ahead, to cross the corridor into a doorway right. The impression the two intruders had was of a flowing purple robe.
Kylan was flat against the wall, knife in hand. His reflexes surprised him.
They crept forward.
Kylan peered around the right-hand doorway into which Purple Robe vanished. It was a large yellow room with benches attached to the walls. In the centre, there was a square table, about two feet high, of blue marble, matching the blue of the benches. On the table was a statue of a little girl holding aloft the moon, sculpted from a bluish-grey marble akin to the moon itself. Her little face was alive with the joy of holding something so precious. Kylan was riveted.
Abruptly, from another doorway in the far corner of the room, Purple Robe appeared.
Crikey, I will one day cause my own doom, if it is not today, Kylan thought.
On seeing Kylan, Purple Robe dropped the tray he carried. Loaded as it was with empty crystal goblets, the resultant noise was shatteringly loud. He uttered a shrill cry.
Averroes, studying a similar chamber on the left, dashed across.
Kylan was rooted, mesmerized by the yellow eyes of Purple Robe, the cry resounding in his ears.
Upon seeing him thus, Averroes’ memory jiggled, shifted and opened … of another life … clutching her head in an influx of images, each vying for supremacy, she nonetheless had the presence of mind to run headlong into Kylan, jolting him to break his transfixed state.
“Don’t look at him! Block your ears!” she managed, shouting over the noise while battling the images of returning memory. “He’s paralysing you! Do it!”
Kylan sank to the floor, fingers in ears, eyes screwed shut.
She entered the yellow room. Purple Robe turned his gaze on her, continuing his ululation.
Staring straight into his eyes, she said, using the common tongue of Valarians, “It won’t work on me. I’m half-Valleur.” It was true; she was half-Valleur. She now knew it with certainty.
Blinking his eyes, Purple Robe shut the din off. He stared at her in horror, while she bent to grip Kylan’s shoulder.
The Herbmaster looked up at her, unblocking his ears. “All right?” he asked.
“It will be,” she said. “Get up.”
“Who are you? You are a trickster! Half-Valleur have yellow eyes!” Purple Robe cackled, evidently thinking he caught her out.
Averroes put her hands together. “’A dark-eyed child will be born among you. She will be the Changeling who …’” she recited in Valleur. Vannis was right; a Valleur baby never forgot. I am home.
Kylan shifted her way on hearing her speak in Valleur, familiar to him now after both the Guardians and Rayne had uttered enchantments in it.
“No, no …” Purple Robe’s eyes were wide. “… it cannot be … you were … we …”
“You left my mother and me for dead, yes.” Averroes said.
Purple Robe sank onto the nearest section of bench, setting it a-quiver with his great bulk, his face ghostly, trembling as if with fever.
“By all the gods, is it time?”
There is a darkness coming …
Rayne of the Mantle, to confirm Infinity’s presence on Valaris, knowing the witch will seek her revenge for the death of her son, travels to Farinwood to find Aven. The old magician will know. There he discovers changeling children, a secret Society of Sorcerers, the mysterious waif Averroes, as well as the Maghdim Medaillon, a dangerous coin that creates a thread of light between two realms.
In another universe, the Darak Or Margus watches for the perfect opportunity to annihilate the world Ardosia and its people. He desires to avenge an ancient terror and has been patient too long. Separating the two realms is a vast Chaos barrier, a roiling darkness both Infinity and Margus will deploy as a weapon of ultimate manipulation.
Two worlds will soon burn.
Taranis of the Dome Guardians, summoned to witness what will happen to Valaris should Ardosia fall, is forced to endure the terrible blockade. In the aftermath, the Guardians gather to defend against the influx of this new evil, as is their sworn duty to the universe.
Rayne, meanwhile, dreams of a little girl from another land desperate for help, while on Ardosia a toddler rouses from a nightmare, screaming, “It will all burn, daddy!”
Another awakens; a legendary figure from the forgotten past, creator of the Maghdim Medaillon, the true ruler of both Valaris and Ardosia. His time is now.
There is a darkness coming.
“This is creepy, boy; it’s about to tumble into the whirly-swirl.”
~ Tattle’s Blunt Adventures
RAYNE RESTED ON the final descent from the high pass, sitting on a boulder sipping tepid water. Exhausted after four days hard travel and battered from losing traction on a scree slope earlier, he wished for the oblivion of sleep.
Farinwood, journey’s end, was now close, nestled in a valley where the soil was fertile and moist all year. Gazing down upon the old stone town facing the Corridor Mountains behind him, he hoped for a decent bed and time to sleep in it.
Dense vapour shrouded the lower hills and enveloped the valleys beyond in murky shadows and was the reason he had embarked on his rough journey. Rumours of darak sorcery and sightings of the dara-witch Infinity had the Mantle in turmoil; before him lay the proof. At this point in summer’s mastery, mist was a mere wish and yet it now veiled Farinwood.
Forcing his aching body to move, Rayne followed a track only goats knew of to enter the town and, as he stepped off the splintered bridge spanning the canal, the weight of rampant sorcery pressed down upon him, settling as a weight upon his shoulders. The channel was ridden with algae, he noticed; not a comforting sight, for this was Farinwood’s drinking water.
The town itself was gloomy with vapour trailing tendrils like spooky fingers from a netherworld. The quaint, old buildings were shuttered, blind; the cobbled streets slick with misshapen moss in cracks.
Shivering, he hastened onwards. Nightfall approached and he had to find Aven before darkness claimed these streets.
The first evidence of Infinity’s malevolence upon people also was revealed in a cluster of surly men bearing knives and cudgels, even a rusty saw. Rayne halted when he saw them, realising Infinity no longer limited her coercion to nature.
The men looked around him, unseeing after initial scrutiny. Something else was on their minds and they were petrified. When one murmured to another about night closing in and now was not the time to become distracted, Rayne understood the coming darkness held the real terror Infinity had unleashed here.
Aven could wait until morning. Sleep was probably a dream at this point, but he needed to find a place to spend the interim hours. When he enquired after the nearest inn, a man pointed him onward willingly, but eyes darted. Another stared intently at him as if to say something, until his companion dug an elbow into his ribs.
He left the men behind, wondering what that one needed to share. Aven would know what happened in Farinwood.
In a broader street he discovered another gathering, more armed men huddled together. What were they guarding against?
There were no women and no children in sight anywhere. It was a bad sign; it meant women and children were confined for protection’s sake. Or something far more sinister could be in play. Inhaling a breath, Rayne hoped the women and children were merely behind locked doors to keep them safe.
He caught snatches of mutterings as he passed.
“… not normal this fog …”
“… Farinwood’s a portal to the netherworld …”
“… darkness in their hearts …”
“… Feon saw the dara-witch …”
“… Infinity on Hogshill …”
“… our poor children …”
“… An ancient curse I tell …”
“… same war of three thousand years ago …”
The words were repetitions of fact and rumour spoken almost as mantra. He sensed their need for reassurance and could not offer even a word in comfort.
When Rayne did notice a knot of children around a further corner, he was relieved to think maybe he had misjudged the situation in Farinwood.
If children were on the streets, the manipulation was still reparable. While the presence of fear was real, it had not yet killed. The young would not be allowed out if death stalked the streets. The Mantle could reverse the darak mist and dampen the manifestation of terror, thereby restoring Farinwood to the townspeople. It required concerted effort but was achievable. Aven would know where to commence the process.
Rayne paused to study the gathering of children, searching for the signs of dread evident in their elders, and was similarly scrutinised.
Across the intersection they watched each other.
Rayne began then to understand the men and their homemade weapons, their words and depression, their terrible wariness and the withdrawal from outsiders. He understood what Infinity had achieved in Farinwood.
Here it was about the children. Elsewhere on Valaris there were unexplained deaths and events, but here it was definitely about the children.
One lad curled his hands into claws and bared his teeth. He rose onto his toes as if to launch an attack. Rayne smelled the presence of aggression, the utter lack of conscience.
Appalling knowledge in deadened eyes told him the boy was not afraid to attack and kill like a rabid dog; as with infected creatures, it was thus wise to retreat.
The Mantle could not reverse this. He could do little to help them. He could do nothing. The men with their makeshift weapons guarded the streets against their own children, by Taranis.
Rayne hastily negotiated another corner, the back of his neck prickling, and ahead saw a sign that proclaimed the Foaming Ale Inn.
He felt the need to surrender the streets; never had lodgings appeared at a more opportune time.
A VESTIBULE DISPLAYED a pewter hat and coat stand and, beside it, a mirror in a chipped gilt frame. The floor was rough slate, the walls of stone. As a welcome chamber, it was not particularly inviting. The stand was empty; he was either early, the only patron, or fear kept others away. The tension on the streets spoke of the latter.
He glanced in the mirror to see clammy skin. Fair hair hung in long, damp strings, grey eyes were bloodshot, and his face was colourless, adorned with scratches from the scree slide earlier.
Rayne leaned against the contraption, closing his eyes. His heartbeat was uneven – the presence of fear. He could only imagine how much worse it was for the fathers out there and for the mothers trapped inside their homes with their thoughts.
He drew breath and headed for the common room.
The inn door slammed inward. A big man with flaming red hair and beard barged in, glanced over his shoulder, and shoved the door shut as he looked Rayne over. Shoulders the size of an ox surged closer.
Rayne’s eyes narrowed. This was not a local.
“Rayne of the Mantle?” the man boomed. “Name’s McSee. My lord, you have nothing to fear from me. You are Rayne of the Mantle?” He thrust his hand out.
Too flabbergasted to do much else, Rayne took the proffered hand. Long after he would wonder if he said no to the query would McSee have turned away not to be seen again, or were their fates already decided before that first handshake?
“I have been on your tail a few days. I just missed you in Galilan. You move fast – thirsty work. Let’s see if this dump lives up to its name!” McSee launched into the common room. “Two ales, barkeep!”
He rolled like a runaway boulder across the empty room to a table at the hearth where a fire blazed warmth and comfort.
Bemused, Rayne followed and chose a chair, nodding greeting, while McSee watched the small, rotund man busy behind the counter.
The little man winked. He had a friendly face and as he poured he asked, “Need rooms? No problem. We’re empty presently, the unseasonable climate putting the fear of who-knows-what into superstitious folk. Granted, I’ve never known weather like this, not in summer.”
He came over with two foaming mugs.
There were changeling children on the streets, and the man called it superstition. Rayne frowned into his mug as he lifted it to swirl the dust of travel away.
McSee handed over the required coin. “Yes, rooms and hot water. I could sorely use a scrubbing.”
The little man grimaced. “It’s all I can do to keep this fire going, my staff left me in the lurch – I told them it’s fairy tales and legends, but no one listens. We’re in for a poorly spell, you know, nature telling us who’s in charge. Mist from a netherworld, ha! Superstitious nonsense. Name’s Julian, by the way.”
He gazed pointedly at McSee, and glanced at Rayne, dark eyes inquisitive, and one could not blame him; he was in the business of people, and visitors were scarce.
McSee made the introductions. “McSee,” he said, thrusting his hand out again. Rayne winced, having recently shaken it. “From Gasmoor. And this here,” McSee continued, “is Rayne of …” Rayne faintly shook his head. “… ah, Rayne of Galilan.”
Julian enfolded Rayne’s hand in a firm grip. “He’s rather quiet, your friend Rayne.”
“Tired, Julian, more tired than I have been in a long while,” Rayne answered.
“Apologies, sirs! Hot water … yes, and something to eat … excuse me …” Managing to curb his curiosity, Julian left.
“Did you see them? The young ones?” McSee murmured, pointing a finger to the outside world. “Is he blind?” He gestured next after the round man. “Scared the crap out of me, I tell you.”
“He is afraid. Denial is a form of defence.” Rayne settled back and took a pull of the ale. The brew definitely lived up to the name above the door. He glanced at the big man. “McSee. From Gasmoor.” Gasmoor was the second largest centre on Valaris, a university city two days ride from Galilan, capital city. “That is a start. McSee, you seem to know a little more about me than I know of you.”
McSee did not drop his gaze. “I mean you no harm, my lord.”
“That remains to be seen. At this point answer my question.”
McSee set his mug down and settled his big arms on the polished wood, twisting his fingers together. “I was chosen to find you, for we have noticed the same distressing signs the Mantle has …”
“A society, my lord …”
“Do not call me that, for Aaru’s sake; I don’t want unnecessary attention. Rayne will do fine.”
“Of course, I’m sorry, my … Rayne.” McSee scratched at his head.
“A society,” Rayne prompted.
Brown eyes were sombre, expecting trouble. “A society of folk who think there is great danger a-foot. We also believe what we see is a fraction of what is coming. Allow me to offer my help. If nothing else, I find my size in odd situations is an advantage.”
There was a trace of diffidence in McSee’s voice, but as his claim could not be named as lie, he did not back down from it.
“You are not answering my question, friend. How is it you know of me? Perhaps twenty outsiders know of the existence of the Mantle.”
“The Society knows as well,” McSee murmured, lowering his voice on hearing Julian’s scuffles in an adjoining chamber. The way he accented Society revealed it as more than a generic term. “We know the Mantle is an organization studying signs and portents. You are the protectors, right?”
In a manner of speaking, Rayne thought, but did not answer. “And what exactly does this Society of yours do?”
For the first time the big man was uncomfortable. “They said this will be the hardest part, and now I see why.” He lapsed into silence.
Rayne took a deep breath and released it on a long sigh. “Something like the Mantle?”
McSee nodded. “Our goals are similar, but we are more than mere academics …”
And so is the Mantle. “I get that,” Rayne said.
Something in Rayne’s tone alerted the big man, for he spoke swiftly then. “I’m instructed to tell the truth, so here it is; the Society is a select group of … of sorcerers … no, wait,” McSee interjected as Rayne straightened in his chair, “It’s not what you think! We don’t do darak magic, I swear; we don’t practice magic at all, only theory.”
Rayne lifted a disbelieving eyebrow and thought that meant they were only academics.
“It’s true,” McSee continued. “We train generation to generation in an attempt to keep the old knowledge alive. Long ago, someone understood we would need the theoretical arts. Folk forgot about the Society as time passed, especially after the Drasso catastrophe, but we were there then and saw what real danger is. We weren’t formal like now, maybe not so hidden, and probably not quite as unpractised as today, but that was then and I don’t know much about the past and only about the future we seek to protect. The way matters add up, we need countering that can reach beyond traditional weapons. We’re not a danger to the Mantle or Valaris, quite the contrary, and if you need to keep me nearby to prove that, then so be it; I’ll earn your trust soon enough.”
McSee leaned in. “You are of the Mantle, my lord …” and he used Rayne’s title deliberately, “… so you must know Valaris can’t hope to survive the coming darkness without trained sorcerers. Who will help us if we do not help ourselves? I can sniff danger and fight it too. I would be honoured to stand at your side.”
Rayne was a power in an underworld of influential men and McSee clearly knew that. Did the man aim to aid him with the different power of the Society? What, exactly, could McSee do? Moreover, how much did he know of the Mantle?
In the ensuing silence, they heard Julian throwing water. The innkeeper would return soon.
When Rayne finally spoke, his voice remained low. The men with weapons outside needed just a spark, a whiff of a whisper of a sorcerer inside, and all Julian had to do was shout.
“You are telling me there is a group the Mantle doesn’t know of and you say this group has been in existence a long time. There are trained sorcerers running amok on this world. By Taranis, man, how do you expect me to react?”
McSee put up a hand. “Three thousand years ago Valaris was the battlefield for Infinity and Drasso and their darak fallen, and the Deities descended to aid us in that war. Today we don’t know how much is fact or fairy-tale, but we do know there was a war and our world was almost destroyed. A handful survived, the north was forever annihilated, and it took Valaris a thousand years to recover. We still have the poison of the north, which the Great Dividing Forest separates us from. And now someone like Drasso could be happening again.”
Rayne gave a wry smile. The big man was on target. Infinity had returned to exact revenge for the death of her son Drasso. He blinked; no wonder she manipulated the children. It was a mother’s vengeance.
“Will the Deities come to our aid? Dare we wait for that to happen? Do we allow it to get so bad it takes another thousand years to recover?” McSee leaned forward. “Better if we join forces …” He broke off as Julian re-entered the common room.
“Good news, gentlemen. Two tubs in the steam room out back. Fresh towels inside the door.” Julian’s bright eyes darted from one to the other, sensing enmity.
Rayne pushed his chair back. “We will resume this later, McSee. Lead on, Julian.”
His hands shook.
A SCREECH TORE through the darkness. Rayne surged up in his bed as the reverberations shivered over his skin. The echoes of his dream – a fair girl crying out her name, “Mitrill, my name is Mitrill” – caused momentary confusion, and then he knew where and when he was.
It was night in Farinwood. This was a bed in an inn. The present. He had actually fallen asleep.
Here it was about a child on the hunt.
Then, like crystal shattering in the ensuing silence, a woman sobbed as if her heart had been ripped from her body.
Aaru, how could the men on the streets be expected to stop this? One was father to that screeching child. One was husband to the woman trapped in hopeless grief.
Anger was then heat and resolve. Rayne left his bed, snatched his cloak up for warmth and doused the smoking lamp on the table under the window.
A moment later he snapped his fingers for the tiny flame that danced upon his palm.
This was a sorcerer’s trick and, on a world that abhorred magic, it meant also a noose slung over a branch if someone saw him with it. He needed to be ever careful; vigilantism thrived on Valaris and continually prowled for magic-users, a mind-set that would lead eventually to confrontation.
He cupped his free hand around the flame.
Enfolding magic, even this insignificant nuance, gifted him the ability to witness events beyond his immediate surroundings.
He employed the flame to see what the darkness hid.
Leaves skittered across cobbles, driven by gusts of contrary wind. A storm was on the way. The leaves lifted and swirled and smacked into the calves of two boys, slim shadows peering through a tall iron gate at a man holding aloft a blacksmith’s hammer. There was a sense of hunger emanating from the boys and terrible despair had etched into the man’s face.
Would the gate keep them apart?
Rayne’s breathing shallowed when those shadows swiftly clambered over and padded closer.
The man swung the hammer, but it was evident he was loath to use it even for defence. How did a man sleep again after hurting children? Then they were upon him and Rayne’s breathing stopped. The mallet thudded down; leaves scurried and rustled as if prodded and young fingers and mouths tore into cloth and flesh.
A horrifying gurgle echoed. Insane giggles. Rayne lost his hold on the flame as shock numbed his ability to function.
Sweat trickled in icy rivulets over his face.
Hands on knees he fought for equilibrium and feverishly hoped Aven would know how to counter this nightmare.
He prayed the old man was still alive in this netherworld town.
Read Song of the Spaces as either a teaser … or because you’re a huge fan and simply must know more about the LORE Series. Every great story has hidden depths. Discover in this OMNIBUS EDITION the insights and the fantastical woven from the Lore of Arcana/Reaume/Sanctum Series. From natural rainbows to portals into other realms, from worlds off the track to giant planets swerving in space, these are the extras compiled into one volume:
The Rainbows of Pilan
The Life-Wheels of Pendulim
The History of Ardosia
The Arcana Myth
A World without Light
The Wolves of Valaris
The Tower of Stairs
The Glittering Darkness
The Beyond for Vannis
Song of the Spaces
Into the Forbidden Zone
The Rainbows of PILAN
IN THE INTEREST of telling a story without too much distraction, this interlude on the Pilan Homeworld still exists in The Dragon Circle (Lore of Arcana 4) but has been edited to give only the bare bones there. It wasn’t integral to the main tale, but you may wish to know a bit more … and here it is.
A wee bit of scene setting …
TORRULLIN VALLA of the Valleur has been a bad boy. Having committed and spoken words of love to Saska of the Sylmer, he then breaks her trust when he sleeps with Lycea, the Changeling. That union results in Lycea’s pregnancy.
The fall-out sees Torrullin vanish offworld for a while on a mission. When he returns to Valaris, Saska witnesses him with Lycea, kneeling in the snow to greet his son in her womb (the Valleur recognition of the unborn) and, believing she has lost him, without hope, Saska leaves in turn.
As the final confrontation with Margus, the Darak Or, approaches, given The Dragon Circle is the final Lore of Arcana volume, her absence is marked, and her life may be in danger. The Darak Or, after all, seeks leverage to employ with effect against Torrullin.
Torrullin thus sets out to find Saska …
SOMETIMES ONE NEEDS to disappear. Saska’s psyche needs soothing, her soul requires difference and her heart desperately seeks distraction. Betrayal forces her into leaving. Amid the rainbows of Pilan she hopes for peace … but, on the eighth day, he comes …
THE UNIVERSE WAS vast, an infinite eternity. Logic dictated that in such vastness many worlds could sustain life, sentient or otherwise, for the precedent already existed.
And, indeed, so it is and was. Some knew they were not alone in the greatness and used magic or star-travel to traverse it, while others understood it intellectually, and some, such as Valaris, although isolated, knew their ancestors were from elsewhere. And yet others came to know the state from varied visitors to their worlds.
Then there were those who did in fact believe they were utterly alone in the universe. They simply could not comprehend the vastness, or they were unwilling to believe the coldness of immensity was able to duplicate their uniqueness. Some of those suffered from superiority disease – arrogance – while others were the true innocents of the universe.
The latter belief was held by the people of Pilan.
They did believe themselves alone, and perhaps they could be forgiven their mistaken views, for they were isolated in a tiny solar system in the very corner of a far-flung galaxy, and the periodic visitors they had received over eons of existence had been too few to alter that belief. In fact, the visitors were regarded as the embodiments of their gods and goddesses.
Thus it was for Saska of the Sylmer; a visitor from outer space seen as a goddess, her lithe female form, and long tresses of blue hair and bright emerald eyes, exactly matching the description of Leath, Goddess of Water.
This was her third visit to Pilan; a place chosen because of its isolation. Her psyche required soothing, her soul needed difference and her heart, well, her heart desperately sought distraction.
The previous occasion had been a hundred and fifty years ago and, therefore, in living memory, not one Pilanese would have seen her before, which was why she felt able to visit without upsetting their integrated belief system. The tale of the blue-haired woman who had walked with ordinary folk, of course, continued to be told and sang; no one remembered, but they had not forgotten either.
Written and shared in the latter half of 2020, this inspirational book was conceived to cope with the different world we suddenly found ourselves in. As the author, it matters not to me if it sells or not; this is a personal project – I needed to find my light, and this is how I did so. Based on fictional insights, for fiction has helped us in these trying times, Our Lanterns Glow isn’t a cure all; it is about insight and the inspiration we need to move forward.
Now we are in a new year and it is not over; the pandemic and economic fallout is still with us. Our Lanterns Glow is more relevant than ever. Now it helps us make sense of the very strange time we endured and aids us in focusing on the future. Whether we read this today or in a hundred years, it remains relevant; ever do we need the light and always it is our responsibility to lift our lanterns for others to find their way in the darkness. Find the insight you need in this small book and shine your light today!
Elaina J. Davidson
Son, daughter, to understand yourself, you need understand others. But, hark, my children, it isn’t enough to watch your neighbour – think far, listen to nations of other worlds …
~ The Journals of Humanity, Beacon Library of Exploration ~
THE LORE SERIES
‘The Journals of Humanity’ sets the tone. We are now in a period where our humanity will be our saving grace. Other cultures have much to teach us, as much as we have for them. Seeing ourselves as one, a global society, celebrates differences while knowing we have so much common ground. We all love, we all need comfort … and suffering and loss does not hark to culture and creed. We are in this as one. We will win together. Let us celebrate every small victory, worldwide, as one.
It is said life is a game. One is born into it and one must strategize every step. If one has this ability, the game is not strenuous, but if one has issues with other players on the great board, the game can swallow one. The trick, reader, is to follow the gut. Do not be snared by detail; trust the gut. And do not attempt to understand the grand design – that is a path to madness.
~ Father Rees’ Diary ~
THE LORE SERIES
It feels like a great game sometimes, doesn’t it? This 2020? Or this is a Netflix series filled with incredible events. Every time we put the News on, or browse social media, something insane is happening or the latest statistics are horrifying. How then does one strategize every step? Most of us are playing the waiting game.
In our current situation, the grand design relates to how did Covid-19 happen? Who is potentially to blame? How do we hold accountable our political leaders and medical experts globally for not only the pandemic, but for loss of income? A path to madness, indeed, and although those questions require answering at the opportune time, it will only drive greater rifts between us and those we are meant to trust.
Right now, we must concentrate on what makes us human, what drives our compassion, and the means to walking a path of serenity (or as near as) through the chaos. This holds true for the present and every situation we may find ourselves in at some future time. Take a breath, breathe out, switch the News off for a while, and focus on the positive. Despite all, always there are the little things and moments in our day able to make us smile, and that must be our focus.
Know your place, children of the universe. This does not mean you stand in the shadows without contributing to the grand design; it means know yourself and what it is you are able to contribute …
~ Ancient Oracles ~
THE LORE SERIES
If my contribution is writing this book, then I have succeeded. If yours is taking a hot meal to someone in need, then you have, too, spectacularly. It isn’t only about the great deeds. It isn’t about fame. When we know how and what we are able to contribute, we take our places – we have purpose. We lead by example. We do not hide; we are not meant to be in the shadows. We shine a light.
Technically, this isn’t Chapter 1, rather 2, but seeing as the first section (About Valaris) can be viewed in the Appendices in my Lore books, I thought I’d offer the first true collection of sayings.
This is a personal project, a way to gather the little things that surround Elaina J. Davidson’s writing.
The term ‘Wishing Well’ fits. The author wishes to have pertinent info to hand and the allusion to an inkwell makes all kind of sense to her.
Excerpts and more have been extracted from the Lore Series (Lore of Arcana, Lore of Reaume, Lore of Sanctum and Ancient Terra) as well as Ilfin of Arc, Latticework. Ethereal Musician and TINSAL, and arranged alphabetically.
Perhaps you, too, will be pleased to have this nearby when checking on something as you read Elaina J. Davidson’s many books.
Available in print only HERE.
Secrets unlocked secrets.
The Valleur are nomadic; it is time to set down enduring roots.
Do not rely on the future to solve problems.
Look to this day.
What did our nomadic existence teach us?
Only that we are restless by nature.
It is the mind that wins battles, not bodies.
When all else fails, deny the enemy entry.
Erect walls, impenetrable barriers.
If the barriers crumble, blind them.
Know your place, children of the universe. This does not mean you stand in the shadows without contributing to the grand design; it means know yourself and what it is you are able to contribute …
“Build a structure able to stand the test of time upon a natural energy node, and you will build with magic and essence also. It is a great gift to future generations, but it is also a grand gesture that creates balance in the world. A true geomancer knows where to locate a site that will be sacred forever.”
Every experience builds your character, defines your strengths and weaknesses.
Every point in life, that moment of decision, forms a web of connections.
When Valleur youth raise the question about the Dragon’s presence, the Elders are ever hard-pressed to give an answer that makes sense. Until the day Ranthor formalised it. “The Dragon is part of the Vallas; ours is not the right to question.” Thereafter that single reply was spoken every time.
“There are no absolutes. Some might tell you change is the only absolute. I tell you change by nature is too volatile. There are no absolutes.” ~ Nemisin – First Oracle
Stone star. Blank wall. Blind is evil.
Valleur name true.
Valleur do not surrender. Valleur fight.
During the time of Vintari (205th Vallorin) a peace settlement was sought between the Valleur and the mud people of Dinor. At first it went well, for the adversaries were weary of the lengthy war. Fighting had become pointless and starvation a stark reality. Two Valleur generations passed peaceably enough, and then the 7th Dinor ruler since the settlement rose up against the accord. Vintari, although nearing the end of his reign, went to war again, and that time he showed no mercy. But for a small kernel of resistance, the Valleur put an end to the mud people. The Dinor swore they would one day find a way to revenge the terrible insult. ~Excerpt from the 2nd volume of the Valleur Oracles
When a sun is weak, a world is cold and life shrivels with time. When an atmosphere alters components, a world is poisoned, and life shrivels swiftly. And yet life is amazingly tenacious. Lift a rock in a desert and find it there, hidden … thriving.
For love of a friend, one walks into danger.
Frustration is your spirit telling you to change tactics.
The power hungry are blinded by their arrogance.
Truth is Light
Mother Universe chose a path of objectivity. We revere her for that, for she cannot judge; she simply is. Many say Mother Universe is not as uninvolved as time would have us believe, for are we not her children and do we not judge? Are we not subjective in our thoughts and deeds? This is a debate for our sages … and still we whisper of it among ourselves.
Be careful, adept. Lumin power is wonderful, but it can be as addictive as darak. A sorcerer worth his weight knows to hold back, always.
“… a state of abstraction, a trance in which a series of images, ideas and emotions occur involuntarily. This altered conscious may occur during the hours of sleep or, more disturbingly, while the subject is awake. Neither should be discounted. Ever. Hark to that inner prompting …”
The unborn are special. Revere them.
Ask the name of the stranger if you desire understanding. A name can reveal more than features are able to.
When souls band together something marvellous comes to pass. A note in the Ancient Oracles
There is an obstacle in the mind known as denial. It is able to prevent knowledge entering, but it can also force the mind to move sideways onto a divergent path. Beware the divergent path.
Where does the inspiration for our stories come from? Manifold sources, including dreams, other stories, a series on Netflix, a movie where the character delivers a line that raises hairs in the back of one’s neck, images both artistic and real-world photos. A word never seen before. Poetry. A conversation overheard. As I said, manifold! And each plays a part in creating the final product the reader then chooses to delve into. This is the magic. This is the reason we do it. For the story that simply must come out and for you.
In book 2 of Lore of Sanctum, the Echolone Mine, we discover Elianas’ full name, but no one dares say it aloud. It’s a curse, after all.
You’ve read (or listened to) Lore of Arcana and Lore of Reaume and know there are mentions of a mysterious Elianas throughout the 8 books. Who is he? How will he change the future? For it’s clear he will do exactly that, isn’t it? Well, in the first book of Lore of Sanctum, the Nemesis Blade, Elianas steps out from the shadows … and changes everything. His name doesn’t mean ‘Nemesis’ for no reason!