The Storm Cycle: Book II: Complete

 

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For those who believed themselves but consort to the hero,
only to find they might yet author their own fortune.

⁃ ◇ ❖ ◇ ⁃

In the world of Thaea prophecy is rarely kind.  Even a rare glimpse of joyous days ahead can prove the undoing of the careless.  The gifted see not the destiny they will take, but threads of possible fates ever in motion.  In the fourteenth year of their lives the Ashton twins listened to haunting dreams, and ignored the words of a mad old woman.  They were told to, as children.  It cost them dearly, but what worse fate might have come, who can say.

The prodigious skills of battle mages are earned by future trials.  One mad plan to kill a feral dragon is not the sort of thing that etches a single face through the ages.  That has let countless prophets clear eyed and mad stare into the same emerald gaze.  Whatever price has already been paid, the prophecy of the Storm still lies ahead.  It is not kind.

If the Fates themselves are to be defied, it will take a will that could move worlds.  It will take powers that could upend the natural order.  It will cost far more that the price already paid.  For the mark that even dragons left on prophecy, pales, to the Child of the Storm.

⁃ ◇ ❖ ◇ ⁃

 

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  1. Into the Forest
  2. Out of the woods
  3. State Decay
  4. Mage Blood
  5. Friends in Need
  6. The Winter Frost
  7. The Passing Storm
  8. Moonlight
  9. Summer Glades
  10. Difficult Company
  11. Ink on the Page
  12. Seasons in Thebes
  13. The Lady of the Tower
  14. Eastwash
  15. Little Wars
  16. Corruption
  17. Pupils and Masters
  18. Fire with Fire
  19. Trials of a Council Mage
  20. Follies End
  21. Kindred Spirits
  22. The Court of Storms
  23. The Hand Dealt
  24. All’s Fair
  25. A House United
  26. Falling Hours
  27. The Calm Between
  28. This Too
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Chapter 28

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It is said there are words of old,
that can make the rich man fear,
and the poor shed a joyful tear,
words that speak to life’s way,
the impermanence of all we see,
take comfort in your lowest day,
give pause in the breath of victory,
truly nothing can forever stay,
this too shall surely pass away.

– Palentian Proverb, circa 50 E.R.

This Too

Rhaeus 16th, 650 E.R.

Katrisha stood on the rampart of the castle keep, Celia at her side.  A messenger made his way in dismay across the upper court below.

“That’s the third,” Katrisha said.

Continue reading “Chapter 28”

Chapter 27

A light in darkest night may shine,
brighter than on any brilliant day,
and in that fine and narrow field,
things oft hidden may be revealed,

for when we can see the lone tree,
not miss it for the forest all around,
things we might learn of its nature,
and of fate yet to be, surely abound.

– unattributed druidic writings, circa 90 E.R.

The Clam Between

Estae 12th,  650 E.R.

Katrisha woke with a gasp, her heart still trying to escape her chest.  Celia worked feverishly at cross purpose keeping it beating and healing it.  Her eyes flitted around wildly but were almost useless.  Shadows danced at the edge of her vision.  Figures that seemed clearer than a backdrop smudged beyond recognition.  Shapes she knew, but could not name.  Heads bowed.  Then they were gone.  She collapsed back into something soft.

Continue reading “Chapter 27”

Chapter 26

More charitable men dare claim,
preach and plead such old refrain,

look up when nights be darkest,
there to find the break of dawn,
yet what evening sun so heralds,
but inky shadow’s cold return,

cast weary eyes there about,
to those closest err at hand,
pray these might yet wake,
fear, who the night will take.

– Ewald of Rothan, circa 200 B.E.

Falling Hours

Estate 10th, 650 E.R.

To the right and left of the King and Queen sat twins who still bore much the same face, even if time had taken most other resemblance.  The banquet was laid out before those gathered.  It was an impromptu feast, held in honor of the return of Kiannae, and greatly to her embarrassment.  Her two fellow druids sat at the far end of the hall, and avoided the curiosity of court members as best they could.  Which was not all that well.  Much as Landri’s till then unknown skills at courtly dialogue tried to shut the pestering down.

Continue reading “Chapter 26”

Chapter 25

A child bid her freedom, sworn not to return,
a mother offered her dowry, if such was sure,
six and ten years the girl was away and gone,
there returned a wee little babe in her arms,

were ye ne’re to return to us oh forsaken stranger,
a sister’s spiteful demand, four children at her hem,
were ye not done with us all, her brother’s cold stand,
not a word wasted before a mother held out her hand,

return to us no matter the years what is past is past,
return to me and I will always welcome you at last,
return a bastard in each arm, and each I shall love,
return always, for no failing is my forgiveness above,

I failed you sister, the girl did earnest and soberly impart,
I did abandon you brother, for I did not know my heart,
should I have so erred, I take comfort I might return,
yet I bare no bastard, but a prince’s honored son.

– The Wayward Daughter, 63 E.R.

A House United

Coria 33, 650 E.R.

Druids looked up from a midday meal as six of their missing members returned, a familiar northern man a step behind.  As their eyes fell on Kiannae she was uncertain which expression she liked least.  Distrust, fear, or reverence.  Each a fellow traveler, that had once shared some kind word, now looked at her as something other.  An outsider, an abomination, or some superior being.

Continue reading “Chapter 25”

Chapter 24

With the least less grace in step,
then perhaps of that sly lady fair,
who’s manner beguiles and foils,
to a bird in flight might compare,

two steps ahead can seem behind,
at three nor four feel any better,
five holds promise unfulfilled,
at six her moves still unfettered.

– The Game in Play, Varus Adessa, 73 E.R.

All’s Fair

Coria 32nd, 650 E.R.

The grand dining hall was a massive open structure several hundred feet long, and surrounded by broad forty foot columns.  A long line of tables short enough to be seated at on cushions filled the center, with an occasional gap for servants to pass.  Beside every third table a high arch skipped a column, but only the gaps at the end of the long hall had stairs. There were also no railings guarding these sheer drops, only barriers of pillows that kept foot traffic well clear.

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Chapter 23

Let the cards fall how they may,
for the Fates play only in chance,
no certain outcome awaits,
only hands already dealt,

a poor draw dictates no end,
for who’s to say what is held,
not the options laid before you,
but what is made of unknowns.

– Playing Fates, 135 E.R.

The Hand Dealt

Coria 40th, 650 E.R.

Mercu ran his fingers through his hair, and eyed the two letters on his desk suspiciously.  Two troubling pieces of news arriving on the same day.  He picked one up again, and reread it.

Continue reading “Chapter 23”