The Dara-Witch

INFINITY! Infinity, the blue-skinned dara-witch who forms part of the title for THE INFINITY MANTLE, has no conscience. The only person she ever cares for is her son Drasso, and his demise at Taranis’ hand on Valaris sets her on a path to vengeance. It doesn’t occur to her that Drasso needed to be stopped, just as it will never occur to her that she cannot be allowed to reach her goal. As darak fallen, she is blinkered.

She finds the Arcana of legend – a legendary tale of a race so evil that to allow them in is to submit eternally to darkness and chaos – beyond a Rift and thereby disproves the legend. The Arcana are real, and they are as terrifying as the tales tell.

Infinity promises to deliver to the Arcana Vannis of Valaris. Her machinations has uncovered that Vannis lives still despite millennia of absence, and Vannis, if ever there was one who knew of hate and revenge, utterly abhors humankind. He is the kind of man she can use. Valaris, a human world, will suffer not only under the Arcana, but also when Vannis is freed from his tomb.

To that end, she devises a game. Yes, a game. Her version of cosmic chess. She is the Queen, the Arcana her pawns, Vannis her Knight … oh, indeed, she will play to win. Her game will unleash Vannis and then the endgame will see her victorious.

Wearing nothing but her own allure, she strides naked upon Valaris and commences her manipulation. It begins in Farinwood, where the children are twisted into rabid beings …

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Golden-Hearted

GLINT is of the Sagorin, a green-skinned giant with a heart of gold. The Sagorin have a long history, which includes losing everything, even to the point of abandoning their homeworld. Glint’s heart is almost broken when Valarians begin dying; he sees parallels in the annihilation of Valaris to what happened to his people and world and does all in his power to aid them.

This man is a gentle giant, compassionate, easy-going and liberal-minded, but in battle he gives no quarter.

As a character he portrays the best in all of us.

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Mr Flamboyant

BELUN is of the Centuar (a deliberate spelling – thus not the Centaur of legend) and Belun will have your hide if you dare point out it is incorrect). Belun chooses a humanoid glamour for most of the tale in order to appear inconspicuous, and also to use his speaking voice (Centuar mindspeak in true form). He is, however, a bit of a showman and therefore stands out anyway. Belun is highly protective over Taranis, regarding his leader of millennia as a youngling, and fiercely protective of the Sylmer, believing those ethereal personalities are in need of a strong arm.

Rayne’s presence at the gathering at the Well of Crystal Sound has him suspicious of the man, but fortunately Belun also possesses an open mind and won’t simply judge on first impressions.

Belun of the Centuar is a flamboyant character and his voice will never be stilled.

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She has emerald eyes

SASKA is a Sylmer initially withdrawn as Guardian in the Dome. Not shy exactly, but she keeps herself to herself. The Sylmer are from a water planet and have tails when mortal; after the Immortality Ritual their tails vanish and they become bipedal, although they never lose the desire for a watery environment.

Chosen as one of the Guardians to defend against Infinity’s malevolence, on Valaris Saska discovers her fiery nature, and this is largely due to the influence of Rayne. His presence alone begins to change her, but her attraction for him takes her forward in leaps. Their relationship takes on an entirely new level on the night Rayne witnesses Saska surrender to her need for water. She suffers betrayal and ends up becoming someone special due to that betrayal.

This woman with pale blue hair and emerald eyes creates waves that will have long-term consequences, all the way into Lore of Sanctum. Get to her now, because she is pivotal to the story.

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Prelude to War

This excerpt is the state of things as The Sleeper Sword commences. It functions as backstory now, for I removed it during an edit.

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The Dome of the Guardians

Buthos stood at the raised white dais ignoring the flashing lights upon it. They were familiar to him and he no longer noticed them, and had no need to remind himself of what they signified.

Knowledge, Communion, Sorcery and Recognition. Part of him, part of all the gathered, taken for granted.

He was looking up, staring. The vaulted ceiling was transparent and he could discern the many stars that filled the void of this region, but he was not seeing that beauty. No, he looked with memory upon what once graced the ceiling, the beauty and horror that adorned where now transparency did likewise. Reflections of the participants in ancient battles, good and evil. A work of incredible artistry removed, for they no longer needed reminder of those times. Other times had come, and no rendition could ever do justice to those.

He sighed inaudibly and lowered his colourless eyes to the sacred ogives. More memories there. He closed his eyes, seeing snatches of coming and goings. He truly missed old friends who had entered and exited, and now never would again. So many gone. Fourteen ogives, and once thirteen were in frequent use, but that dwindled to just seven … then, abruptly, it had been eight. The fourteenth doorway, never before used, had glowed for a brief, too brief time. The Dragon ogive. Now there were only four, and one of those four was his personal entrance as leader.

He sighed again and opened his eyes. In reality, therefore, only three active doorways. Three races. The final three to recognise and acknowledge the magical presence of the Dome, the Gatherers’ Circle of the Immortal Guardians.

He turned his gaze to the gathered on the tiered stone benches, and for a moment a profound sense of loss overcame him. He was not generally given to great introspection – after so long he knew himself – but there were so few left that it hurt. It was only a matter of time before the Dome winked out forever, and it and they would truly be no more.

The three remaining Centuar. The three Sylmer. And his Siric, now a mere seven including himself, after the long strife with the Murs of the Forbidden Zone. The gathering call had gone out and they came as ever, unable to ignore the summons, for it was felt within and was not issued unless there was need.

His lips tightened briefly. Only one additional ogive was still open to entrants, but they had not responded. The Q’lin’la were in the Forbidden Zone and had either not heard through the enchantment there or assumed their current tasks superseded the summons. Most likely it was the latter, for the feathered magicians had bound themselves elsewhere.

His eyes flicked again to the Dragon ogive. In all the ages it alone had remained dark but for that one stretch of time when its master breached the defences. He was himself inside the Dome that day and petrified to see a legend made real … and now he wondered if it would glow again, ever. He prayed it would and that he would live to see it come to pass.

“Buthos?”

He started, still unused to his name, and then relaxed. Buthos. The Dome Dragon had named him true that day and it shattered him for a time. He then reassumed his real identity after that Dragon left into the invisible realms, an honour, a private homage offered to a departed friend.

He was taking a long time to say anything, he knew, but it was a long time since the Gatherers’ Circle had convened … and the memories were fresh again and he could do no other than accord them due reverence.

He smiled, cleared his throat and waved a hand. “It’s still beautiful, is it not?”

“It’s been a fair while,” Belun, the Centuar leader, returned with an answering smile. He and his two companions were in humanoid guise, a form they employed more often than not now, for reasons Buthos was unaware of.

It was five hundred years since their last gathering and that time had been to release the Sagorin from their oath to the Guardians. No longer Immortal and with a growing population on Glorium, their homeworld, they asked to be released and it was granted. The universe experienced unprecedented peace, and the Guardians’ tasks now were of policing against exploitation of new and old worlds and their natural resources. Not a darkling in sight and the dark-inclined races had retreated to war only upon their own, and who desired to change that? The Sagorin were not called to duty in a thousand years and therefore allowed to go.

The Light had come. In the guise of a Dragonne Queen and a sword and a legend.

The Gift of Torrullin.

Buthos sighed once more and Belun rose to come forward. “I know you not like this, old friend; what is it?”

“I miss it all, Belun. Old friends, Taranis … Torrullin. Peace is a wonderful thing, yet I hark to the fire of yesteryear.”

Belun inclined his magnificent head. “I know exactly how you feel. Yet something is a-foot for you recalled the Circle. Fireworks, perhaps?”

The Siric leader chuckled and his eyes sparked. He put the memories away and faced the present. “Ah, yes, I’d say something is decidedly on the brew.”

Belun tapped the dais as if to say ‘well, let’s get on with it then’ and returned to his seat.

Buthos raised his voice and began to speak. “Welcome, friends. It’s good to see you all together.” All nodded and smiled; there was a sense of anticipation. “We’ve been scattered for some time – this is the first time this century the Siric are in one place – but I believe any of you here would’ve recalled the Dome in the near future had I not done so now. The same disquiet has come to you, if I read you correctly.”

One of the Sylmer rose. He was newest to the trio and was spokesman for the other two. Those two were fixtures to the Dome and excruciatingly shy. He jumped down to stand at ease in the open circle. He was bright of colour and very self-assured, unlike his companions. This Sylmer had not a shy hair on his head.

“Canimer was attacked two weeks ago, the first time such calamity has befallen our homeworld.”

Everyone stared at him. The Sylmer were virtually defenceless unless the antagonists entered the water.

Cristor held his hands high to forestall questions. “Nobody succumbed and the attack was short-lived, but it was unforeseen and we don’t know why. And further, we can’t determine origin. Canimer is on alert and the stress already exacts a toll. Yes, we were of a mind to call the Guardians in a matter of days.”

“What happened?” Belun asked. The Centuar ever regarded themselves as protectors of the shy Sylmer.

“Our floating island,” and Cristor indicated himself and his two companions, “was blasted out from under us. Luckily we were in the water at the time, but what really concerns us is that the blast erupted from below, from the ocean herself. Combing the seabed has revealed anything. The only thing we have with certainty is that no mortal Sylmer initiated the attack.”

“Hell and damnation,” Belun muttered. Then: “Do you have a place to live?”

“Thank you, yes – we put the pieces together.” The Sylmer were a water people and lived out their entire life spans needing no land. Canimer had no land, thus when a Sylmer attained Immortality – thereby losing his or her tail – that Sylmer had to leave the homeworld. Due to the long peace these three opted to return and, while they could comfortably reside in water for spells, they also required something solid for those times water became too much for altered biology. The Siric had assisted in erecting a floating island for their comfort, as had the Centuar, bringing the necessary materials in from other worlds.

“No signature?” Buthos asked.

“Not a trace,” Cristor returned, and made his way back to his seat.

“Belun, you want to say something?” Buthos asked when the Centuar again rose from his seat.

“Pleses was attacked a month ago and again no obvious instigator. Recently the Dinor declared an internal truce to investigate incidences of violence not of their doing. No trace of cause found. Two days back an ethereal dome dropped over Shanghai Metrop on Xen – they’re still investigating. Now we hear Canimer too has suffered an inexplicable event …”

Declan, Buthos’ deputy, interrupted. “Beacon’s power was mysteriously severed for nine days. It’s currently harsh winter and seventeen people died as a result.”

“There are other incidences,” Buthos said. “They appear random and were it not for our ability to overview, they’d remain unrelated. Some are natural catastrophes, on a small scale, and some come in the guise of technological fault. Others are in the form of attack and a smaller number have the appearance of sorcery.”

“And what links them is the blatant lack of how, who, why or what,” Belun grumbled.

“Precisely.”

“And each incidence speaks to the greatest fears,” Declan said. “Beacon will certainly succumb without power, Canimer can’t absorb the shock of an attack from the water, Xen has an understandable horror of returning to a domed existence …”

“Declan has a point,” Buthos murmured. “Something is a-foot and we need to find out what that is.”

Belun rubbed his hands together. “Excellent.”

A few chuckles.

They understood. Peace was wonderful, but this was why they were Immortal Guardians. Sentries against evil. And it had been a while since their particular talents had been put to the test.

The Glittering Darkness

The short story about the history of the Dragon species is now available!

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In another realm, scaled beings of might and majesty go to war. They are dragons and a Dragon is as nothing if he is not king of his domain.

This short story tells more about the great reptiles which appear in the LORE series.

The Glittering Darkness

Redemption Prophecy

Redemption will come in a form unknown to us and it will be a living sentient thing. And in its maleness will reside a tempest; The One, who shall have power to lead light over dark to overcome it eternal. Beware the passion of such beauty. We shall leave our haven in search of this sentient to bask in the light. Shall we return with it or shall the Dark Dragons follow to annihilate its glow?

Prophecy of Dragonne Queen Riana, 23rd of the title

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The Kallanon Scales

Interview with Dantian

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(Blue could not interview Dantian, Vallorin of the Valleur beyond the Rift, for the time between rift tear and his capture was too fleeting. Blue subsequently spoke to Dantian via a visitation from the realms beyond. The Valleur, it is told, can do this. Whether or not you believe what is recorded below, these are the words as remembered upon waking.)

 

Blue:  My Lord Vallorin, thank you for appearing. We believe others need to know of your sacrifice.

Dantian: I do not regard what happened as a sacrifice. My destiny was written into my name at birth.

Blue: The Valleur scry a newborn’s future and apply a name to suit, right? Is that how you became aware of what you call your destiny?

Dantian: When one grows with a name that is a destiny, one accepts.

Blue: I cannot believe it is as simple as accepting.

Dantian: It was not easy.

Blue: Your brother Dante- what was his destiny?

Dantian: To be the father he was.

Blue: Ah, yes, he had a daughter. According to our records, she did not survive the burning of Ardosia.

Dantian: There are different kinds of death, Blue. Her survival may not be as you trust it to be. Mark the future for news of this daughter of the Valleur.

Blue: We do enjoy a challenge. We shall watch.

Dantian: My time in this form grows short.

Blue: And before you dissipate, my lord, could you tell us what lies beyond?

Dantian: Life. Salvation, if you desire it. Redemption, is you require it. Choice, where before choice was a relative factor.

Blue: I assume you speak now of a destiny voided.

Dantian: Destiny fulfilled. And beyond it new choice. Life.

Blue: We need not fear death?

Dantian: Fear it. What you do in flesh echoes in these realms …

 

(Dantian’s visitation ended then, although Blue claims the essence of his presence lingered for a time. From that lingering she claims to have absorbed more of the man’s personality.)

 

Blue: A footnote, reader: Dantian was a man who loved life despite knowing his destiny. He lived large and loved as much. We are the poorer for his passing. I wish I had known him.

Interview with Llettynn

(A Siric is hard to corner; Blue River Frond is fortunate to have recorded these words.)

 

Blue: You are the Siric leader, Llettynn. How long have you held the position?

Llettynn: Too long.

Blue: I look at you and see a smallish humanoid dressed all in white. Please don’t take offense, but how do you inspire confidence in those you are forced to deal with?

Llettynn: Guardians are not forced into anything.

Blue: I seem to have offended you, after all. I’m sorry. For the record, white isn’t the only colour you wear about your person, is it?

Llettynn: The Siric wear white.

Blue: You are being coy. I am, of course, speaking of your wings. Wings and colour together define the Siric.

Llettynn: It does not.

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Blue: Perhaps I didn’t say it correctly. I meant you wear colour upon your wings, and Siric read status by it. You, for example, carry turquoise … and that, I believe, is the mark of leadership. Others – Declan, for instance – carries red more markedly, because he is your deputy.

Llettynn: Your point?

Blue: Hmm, I see now why others name the Siric as cold. You do not share either information or emotion easily. Why is that?

Llettynn: Immortality teaches even the most emotional of beings to rein it in.

Blue: You’re jaded, is that what you’re saying?

Llettynn: No.

Blue: What do you mean?

Llettynn: Nothing. I suggest you ask a relevant question before I return to my duties.

Blue: Of course. What are your current duties?

Llettynn: The Guardians are present on Valaris, currently searching for hidden sites which may or may not lead to enlightenment. We do this because we hope to curtail Infinity in her desire to unleash chaos upon the universe. I cannot say more, and now I must return. If you seek greater insight, Belun of the Centuar is the Guardian to speak too. Not yet, Blue River Frond; time is of the essence for all of us and even Belun, loquacious as he is, cannot now be spared.

Blue: I thank you for your time and for the advice. Another time, then.

 

(Blue states years later she wished she had pushed the Siric leader harder; in Llettynn there resided a mind of absolute brilliance.)