The Storm Cycle: Book I: Complete

Book1_New
For those who were never satisfied
to be the damsel of another’s tale.

⁃ ◇ ❖ ◇ ⁃

For centuries there has been a tenuous peace through the ruins of the Corinthian Empire.  One bought with the blood of countless thousands, and floundering in the shadows of a cold war fueled by magic, faith, and dragons.  The memory of mages may be long, but time brings complacency, and ambition is a wolf ever circling at the door.

Three children are cast into the royal court of the small western kingdom of Avrale.  A land ever caught between the true power brokers of their world.  Yet the forces of fate spiraling around the Ashton children hint at a larger picture.  That nothing about them is at all ordinary, even if all they want is to live their lives, and find their place in a world that seems to always have other plans.  They will learn that gifts can be burdens, and that great power is never without consequence.

⁃ ◇ ❖ ◇ ⁃

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  1. The Autumn Child
  2. The Twins Pass
  3. The Castle on Broken Hill
  4. Lessons & Stories
  5. Seasons
  6. Titles
  7. The Lady of the Hill
  8. Weary Shadows
  9. Sisters of the Road
  10. Shifting Threads
  11. Fools & Errands
  12. The Western Road
  13. The Tower of Wesrook
  14. The Voices of South Rook
  15. Marks of the Passed
  16. Cats Among Wolves
  17. Young Troubles
  18. Fighting Instincts
  19. Pieces in Motion
  20. The Stirring North
  21. Where the Dragon Lies
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Afterword

< Book 1 || Book 2 >

With the final chapter of Book 1 now published, I thought I’d share my thoughts.  A small peak behind the curtain follows, so read if you like that kind of thing, or don’t if you prefer to maintain a deeper level of mystique.  Certainly finish Book 1:21 first!

This is far more about the author, and why the tale is as written, and not necessary to understand what is to come.  There may also be a very tiny spoiler in the middle for the highly observant, but it really is quite insignificant, and only a chapter away at that.

Continue reading “Afterword”

Chapter 21

The fire burns north,
‘n the ice lays south,
between these stand,
not but fear ‘n doubt,

always there’ve been,
the men of bold Osyrae,
‘n always there were,
Queens to hold storm at bay,

there was contention enough,
without dragons at each hand,
the kingdoms err between,
cling more tightly to their land.

– untitled bard song, circa 450 E.R.

Where the Dragon Lies

Coria 38th, 647 E.R.

The stables were always empty at night, save the horses.  The night attendant slept deeply, and rarely needed to be woken by a soldier running in to get him in the event of unexpected arrivals.  The twins none the less moved with the caution of mice sneaking through a cat bed.  They had already dodged all the patrols they knew by heart, not that there were a great many.

Continue reading “Chapter 21”

Chapter 20

The kingdom of valleys ends,
where the endless plains begin,
and there beyond lies Osyrae,
home to black dragonkin,

once their sire ruled men,
now that line lays abhorred,
fear that long come day,
a dragon king,
again adored.

– untitled bard verse, circa 610 E.R.

Stirrings in the North

Wren was still small.  It wasn’t simply that he was years younger than his classmates, he was shorter than most girls his age, and any early bursts of growth had long since fallen behind.  He stood a full head shorter than Celia, the younger of his two companions.  It was also not simply a question of height, he was slight in form, and his head bowed easily to those around him.

He was possessed of an unmistakably demure nature – even if the word conventionally belonged to women, there was an aptness to the description – he was easily, and often mistaken for a young girl.  A mistake that quite foolishly many would make for his hair alone, not even his stature, or poise.  The ignorant would blame this on his upbringing, to be raised in a niche where women reigned as men did in most other corners of the world.  To look around him though, at the other men and boys that shared that way of life, they were little like Wren.

Continue reading “Chapter 20”

Chapter 19

Not only the rose has thorns,
so to blooms fruit of the storm,
herald of ever greater doom,
our champion of life in truth,
one player for the good of all,
many more to bring her fall,
yet there is further shadow,
an avatar midst mortal battle,
what blood binds storm ‘n man,
and brings to play a final hand.

– The Book of Entropy, circa 30 B.E.

Pieces In Motion

Vhalun 13th, 646 E.R.

It had long became apparent to the twins that training under Laurel was, and would remain more grueling than Horence had already been on them.  All of it came in addition to their existing sparring practice, save that Laurel was often an opponent in addition to Horence, and each other.

It was an unfair match that morning.  A thirteen year old against a grey haired old mage.  One who had seen a fair share of battles, and kept up sparing practice for going on two decades.  In conventional instruction, as Horence had provided, it was a simple matter of holding back.  For Laurel it was a deeper riddle; that wouldn’t work.

Continue reading “Chapter 19”

Chapter 18

TheSword_Reversed.png

Not all nature hath given is worthy of trust,
the instincts of body are animalistic urges,
these care not for light, mind, or spirit will,
and err toward a primitive world that was,
yes endure we must to walk worthy paths,
yet a tainted soul is for the voids sure gain,
commit not the nature fickle flesh to spirit.

– The Path of Ascension, Saint Taurien, circa 10 B.E.

Fighting Instincts

Jovan 1st, 645 E.R.

“The Empire Reconciliation began in the year thirty-four of the reign of first Emperor Corinth,”  Kiannae read, and then frowned.  “Though Corinth is said to have resisted putting such emphasis on the year of his ascension, it was ultimately…”

“We’ve covered this,” Katrisha protested.

Moriel turned a bit tersely, but then hesitated.  He marched up to the desk the twins were sitting at, flipped through a few pages, checked the cover, and shook his head.

“My apologies, I seem to have crossed up lesson plans with the young prince,” he said, and walked the book back across the room.

“But we covered that a year ago,” Kiannae said a bit incredulously.

Continue reading “Chapter 18”

Chapter 17

As the child grows,
any parent knows,
so too the troubles go,

yet a common child,
shall never be so wild,
as those gifted born.

and so mages well beware,
the children you might sire,
or to be mother of the storm.

– Lament of Araena Grey, circa 100 E.R.

Young Troubles

Estae 25th, 645 E.R.

Katrish and Kiannae stood side by side on north balcony above the throne room, watching the proceedings below impatiently.  It was far from the first time, but invariably they grew bored with all the formalities, and repetition.  Grain reports and petty grievances, petitions for justice for minor crimes, and worries both that too much, or too little is spent on the Osyrean border in the north.  Mercu’s tales of Clarion political maneuvering had however piqued their interest to try again, waiting to see if anything would happen.  Nothing really had, not at least on the four occasions they had taken an hour or less to watch since.

Continue reading “Chapter 17”

Chapter 16

Of Moon’s children it is known,
wolves in numbers thin the heard,
a proud lynx stalks alone,

Yaun’s seed walk either path,
to play each game at once is apt,
‘tis best, friend to watch your back.

– unattributed, circa 100 B.E.

Cats Among Wolves

Coria 5th, 645 E.R.

Katrisha and Kiannae sat to the right of Princess Maraline at dinner as was often enough the case.  She had returned just that afternoon from a full month stay in South Rook, her second visit since escorting Lukus home in the fall.  She had a look of absolute exuberance on her face, to the point of being almost concerning to look upon. Servants were setting out the second course when Katrisha finally asked the question on the mind of many around the almost giddy young woman.  “What has you so excited, Maraline?”

Continue reading “Chapter 16”

Chapter 15

I see a child who stands before,
ancient eyes dead and hollow,
he longs for glories lost to men,
this abyss bound princely one,

he skulks in crypts beneath his home,
his heart to dark schemes doth turn,
the blood of kings and common man,
shall stain claw sword and hand,

as shadow he is betrayer to one and all,
his hunger unmatched in mortal downfall,
he becomes what was not again to be,
and brings an end to the way of peace.

– Diary of Cassandra Alm, 621 E.R.

Marks of the Passed

Coria 39th, 644 E.R.

Mercu idly stroked a small ball of black fur held in his arms, and it purred contentedly for the attention.  He didn’t like the situation he was in.  The delivery had come to him explicitly, but with no real explanation save the origin – a final mocking stab of an old woman he barely knew, and certainly did not like.  He lifted the tiny kitten up and looked it in the eye for the third time since it had arrived.  It didn’t seem evil, or deranged.  In fact it could hardly have been more docile.

Continue reading “Chapter 15”

Chapter 14

I looked there upon a lonely spire,
tall tower of those highland plains,
solitary sentinel, ‘bove the harvest grains,

proud amber heart of sovereign vales,
on all sides there about secured,
no walls she needed, nor ever were,

fair and placid lands, of humble Avrale,
could turn a prince’s eye with want,
to toil golden summer fields,

this was what young eyes knew,
now err a city sprouted from such fertile ground,
buried ancient farms, ne’er again to be ploughed,

was it for I, who took the lands fairest daughter,
did I not think time could march on without her,
we left that land, in bickering old elder’s hands.

– Prince Markus, 98 E.R.

The Voices of South Rook

The tower of South Rook was the tallest, and broadest of all the great towers of Avrale.  Standing above the near flat caldera of the southern highlands, it was a singular spectacle seen from miles in all directions.  A beacon drawing travelers in towards the sprawling city that centuries had grown around it.

Small towns sprung up like satellites along the arterial roads through the plains, and looking out at any great distance one could see these towns as clearly as the city.  It was a strange, and foreign place to those used to the deep shelter of the vales, and yet far off to all sides ridges came up to contain the vast southern farmlands.  Though a broad brake in the ridges gave way in the south, a pass that lead to the Southern Steps and cascaded down out of Avrale into Niven.

Continue reading “Chapter 14”