Step over the threshold at your peril!
The real truth about the Valleur through the ages is uncovered when exploiters delve the green hills of Echolone for gold. After an ancient door is discovered in the bowels of the earth, it serves to unmask the hidden power Elianas carries within, a power that places him on the same pedestal Torrullin, as Elixir, already inhabits.
The two men swerve through different realms unravelling what now lies between them and every step reverberates in reality. As loved ones pay the ultimate price, old enemies again step forward to challenge their right to rule, particularly Nemisin, First Father of the Valleur.
Nemisin desires above all else to be the One and will do everything in his power to wrest the title from Torrullin, even using his daughter against Elianas, thereby unsettling a powerful partnership. In this he is not alone, for Tymall, Warlock, seeks to sunder that connection as well.
In a time when all seers’ visions and dreams cease, revelations are given to those who have never before experienced them at the site of a mysterious door in a mine. Here is a mystery and it requires solving, but the answers will change the future, in reality and realms.
Greed is able to create massive chaos. It will unbalance everything. Delving deep is able to construct fissures in time. It will release hidden truth.
It will also shatter sacred space.
“Ten years of study (sorcery) has taught me this truth. Do not assume what you see is the only reality. Everything can be manipulated, even time … and particularly the perception of tangibles.”
~ From Le Matt Dalrish’s diary
THE AMBER-SKINNED man with his flowing dark hair and the golden-toned one with fair tresses attracted no attention on the beach. They certainly were something to draw the eye in appreciation. Stripped down to a loincloth each, they wandered in the surf soaking up the sun. For them it had been cold too long, and sunshine was the gift of the present. They did not speak much, and often wandered far apart.
Fact was, there was no other on the beach to see or hear them, and that was how they preferred it.
There remained unoccupied worlds where paradise was a siren song, and this was one of those. Numbered perhaps XT 492 on parallel 365W 684S, it was a world removed from most, a number somewhere in a logbook – maybe.
The two men had been in paradise for ten days – the almighty ten of other surpassingly strange journeys – and ate off the land, slept under the stars and soaked up the heat during the day. They said little, for words were not required; recharging minds suffered under the weight of words.
The time arrived, however, to move on. The time for words was again at hand. An interlude was just that – a period between other events – and time did not stand still, and people – others – did not wait forever.
ELIANAS HAD WANDERED far, lost to view and his thoughts, but when he returned with seaweed and coconuts in hand, he found Torrullin inserting long legs into black breeches. He dropped his bounty, and Torrullin looked up.
“It is time to go,” Torrullin said.
“I see that. Did something set you off?”
An amused smile blossomed on the fair man’s tanned face. “No. I just think if we do not leave, sunshine will do for me what storms do for you.”
Elianas drew a breath. It was the first real admission in ages. Yet the hidden parts of him recognised it could be wishful thinking. Torrullin often spoke impulsively. He would not easily sunder brotherhood by taking a step closer to a truth unacknowledged. He strolled to the fallen log where they discarded clothes ten days ago. That had been fraught with tension, until the rhythm of paradise soothed wounded feelings.
Now getting dressed was the stranger act. Elianas turned his back, removed his loincloth to shake the sand out, and reluctantly drew the confining breeches on. He did not bother arguing for staying; in his heart he knew also it was time to move on.
A moment later he virtually left his skin when Torrullin’s arm brushed against his back as he moved to retrieve his tunic. He glanced over his shoulder to see Torrullin, grinning, emerge from the garment. Irritated, he snatched up his own and dragged it over his head.
“Relax, Elianas. We cannot be self -conscious now.”
“Bugger off, will you?”
“It’s not as if I haven’t seen you naked …” Torrullin laughed when he landed on his back. “Oh, come on!”
“You are playing with me.”
“I am making light of an uncomfortable situation.” Torrullin found a perch on the log to put his boots on.
Elianas joined him to do the same, muttering, “Who the hell invented clothes? This is too constricting.” He pulled the neck of his tunic wide, craning his chin forward.
“It was made to cover men far too beautiful for their own good,” Torrullin murmured.
Elianas grinned, taking the compliment in his stride. “Not women?”
“We are by far the prettier species,” Torrullin laughed.
Elianas gave him a taunting once over. “I guess you could call yourself pretty, yes.”
He earned a cuff to the back of the head, and then Torrullin stood to buckle on his sword belt. As the scabbard bounced against his thigh, he said, “We must acquire you a blade.”
“My thoughts also. First a decent bath to wash the sand and sun from my hair.”
“And they say women are vain.”
“Yours needs the whole treatment,” Elianas grinned.
“Yltri’s hot springs? That way we remain removed from people.”
“Good. You lead, I follow.”
Broken coconut shells lay in a pile under the largest palm tree and Elianas’ bounty was discarded on the beach, but other than footprints, there was nothing to show they had been there. With regret, they left.
AFTER A SWIM and hair scrubbing in the springs of Yltri, they headed to Fortani, where Torrullin knew a master blacksmith, a man with a flair for the perfect blade, who knew how to match sword and man together. They spent three hot hours in the forge as blade after blade was presented, examined, tested and discarded.
Finally successful, they headed towards the nearest lake, this time cold water, to dive the sweat away. After, they sat on the bank redoing bootlaces for the third time that day.
“When have you last wielded a sword?” Torrullin asked.
“Literally ages,” Elianas replied.
He hefted the new blade and rose to take practice swings. Then he squared off towards Torrullin, jiggling his eyebrows. Smirking, Torrullin withdrew Trezond, and they commenced the ancient dance of swordsmen.
Metal clashed upon metal and grunts and gasps kept pace. Torrullin eventually disarmed Elianas, standing heaving with his blade at the man’s neck.
“Not bad, my brother. A good workout.”
Elianas pushed the blade aside. “Now I need another swim.”
Boots and all they jumped in and employed magic after to dry themselves again.
STILL ON FORTANI, they discovered an out of the way inn and stopped there for a proper meal. Four old men sat at a table in a far corner and thus they had space to talk. Over duck, vegetables and wine they discussed where to go next.
“I have been thinking,” Elianas began. “We have had time aplenty between us, and yet we always focused on the main events. We missed the by-play.”
Torrullin lifted an eyebrow, prepared to be amused.
“I am not joking. Always it is this evil or that task. It was family scandal, future concerns, past mistakes and so forth. We never stood still long enough to see around us. Take Beacon, for example. I know you have been there, and I know I have been there, although not at the same time, and what were we doing? I was following a clue, swiftly in, swifter out. You were probably about some diplomacy, and what did we see?”
“A giant city-world?”
“Right. First impression, only impression.”
“Once Beacon was empty, and then settlers came. Who were they, how long ago did they arrive and what made them so special they took to the skies? What did they revere? What magic of those early years remains? Beacon may be a bad example, but there are other civilisations on other worlds, each with something unique, some ancient spark, and that is magic. We have walked by unseeing. We may have learned something new or strange or entirely profound, funny, insane, and we did not. Books do not tell us everything.” Elianas pointed a finger. “You wanted to go travelling when you came to say goodbye on Mariner Island, Torrullin.”
“Instead, we landed up in paradise together.”
Elianas’ eyelids flickered, but he said nothing.
Torrullin was thoughtful. “World to world, travelling archaeologists? I like it.”
Elianas leaned forward. “We have a new future and our past is now adrift. We live at the same time in the same space. This is our time and place now. We should know the past of the present as others know it. We are no longer about redemption and bloodlines.”
“You suspect if we research the past not influenced by the Valleur, we may find our personal future is not clouded.”
“I hate not seeing what is coming. Yes, I hope research is more than interest.”
“Why, Elianas? Gods, for once we do not have to look over our shoulders every minute, or stress about what comes next.”
Elianas placed a hand flat on the table. “You think eating and buying a sword roots us? You think touching this old piece of wood here makes us real? We are swerving spaces, Torrullin, and we have no purpose. What will we do? Skirt around this hefty question and intent between us until we drive each other mad?”
“Ten tension free days meant nothing?”
“It meant everything, but now we must move on or it will mean nothing soon. And it wasn’t tension free.”
A smile acknowledged that. “I guess not.”
“Why not start with Beacon?”
Torrullin pulled a face. “I hate Beacon.”
“More reason. If we find something there, where is the limit? We may even discover new respect for Beaconites.”
“I doubt it, but I get your point.”
“Fine. You lead, I follow.”
Torrullin wondered what the real purpose was, but he owed Elianas far more than the man owed him. He thumped the table. “Innkeeper, how many coins are due?”