Chapter III:2

The gift endures in soul-ward order,
the material marches on toward decay,
the flesh a fickle beastly carnivore,
the path endures if we do not stray,

great spells give way to entropy,
even suns before it cannot endure,
yet the aether burns above eternal,
to temporary desires become inured.

– The Clarion Call, Saint Darius, circa 130 B.E.

Artifacts

Vhalun 23rd, 655 E.R.

Katrisha opened her study door, and considered the overly tall bundle the man outside held. She gestured in, and Xander carried the package taller than him to the central table. He set it before Kiannae, and barely spared a curious glance to the massive orrery overhead. It was not an easy sight to look way from on first sight.

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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 III:1

Her name was Katrisha –
daughter of the moonlight and the winter frost,
Court Mage of Avrale, and a woman of Lycian faith.

In but a few scarce years of her youth,
she fought a dragon, and nearly won,
knew true love, and most plainly lost.
No less than twice stood at death’s door,
yet these things, were only her beginning.

– The Mage of Avrale, Mercu Peregrine

The Turning of Pages

Vhalun 22nd, 655 E.R.

An unseasonable spring snow fell that morning. A thick blanket that washed color from the valley, and topped the parapets of Broken Hill in caps of white. It was the sort of morning that invited a leisurely pace. Stirred a sense of calm. A desire to linger near hearth, and other warm refuge. High in the westward tower of the castle. Above steep stone cliffs and shimmering waters. A woman of great and terrible power worked subtle magic, to profound effect. She bore the snow little mind. Though it was often among her favorite things. Other wonders had her full and rapt attention.

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Book III: Foreword

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For all the futures left behind,
in the name of one we chase.

New Readers Consider: The Story So Far: Book II

< Previous || Next >

There is a saying, that blood buys time.  Not an overly kind sentiment, but true, by most historic record.  An enemy beaten bloody, will lay down, and stop fighting.  One way or another.  A conqueror successfully defied, will give pause.  Insure victory in the next contest.  Millions dead.  Well, that might just buy generations of tentative peace.

The blood of a forsaken heir, decades.  That of innocents and malcontents.  A few years.  The blood of a wedding night, and a child, a few more.  The death of twelve souls; a Queen, a Council Mage, and an adorned knight, slow the inevitable crawl of bureaucracy.  Slow, but not stop.

Prophecy has divided twins.  Changed them into women of night and day.  Worry and disquiet driven a further wedge, and distance between them.  Fate still spirals around the Ashtons, but blood, has bought time.  Even if all the world feels a gnawing call.  An urgency, like time is running out.

Five years have passed.  Tiny Avrale remains isolated from the wider world.  No direct communication with Mordove.  Limited trade as caravan masters think twice before intruding on uncertain grounds.  A Court Mage, still stands in the long and now mysterious absence of her mentor.  The center cannot hold.  The world itches to move on.

In such perilous times, it would be far too easy to declare Avrale in violation of treaty.  Sacrifice her in appeasement of Osyrae’s hunger for conquest.  The Council, is after all, dedicated to peace, not war.  No one is sure what kind of escalation would finally cross an ever rising threshold for intervention.  For in truth, if one discounts the unproven, they have not openly broken the treaty.

Forces are shifting.  Bandits plague lands that have always been quiet.  An Archdruid moves like a dignitary.  The Storm Queen has closed her borders, as an impossible tree can be seen to rises above southern horizons.  Nohlend denies being under siege by Sylvan forces.  The free cities have fallen.  Refugees from the north, perilously cross deep ocean lanes to seek, shelter in Carth, and spill over into Wesrook.

Yet life, indifferent to the shadows of a war that never quite comes, carries on.  What can three gifted souls do, in the face of armies, dragons, and prophecies that offer no answers.  Only beg terrifying questions.

Chapter 20

What begins poorly,
likely ends the same,
be wary the hasty course,
navigating uncharted seas,

for adversaries may yet lurk,
ever just beyond your view,
there patiently wait to strike,
and fragile plans undo.

– Palentian Proverb, circa 500 B.E.

Follies End

Lauer 30th, 650 E.R.

She was a golden haired woman, likely well into her forties but it was hard to tell with a strong gift like hers.  She wore her robe rather low in front, and tied quite tightly about her figure. The kind of thing that might have gone without note, if not for so much about her manner that seemed quite precise, and purposeful, and then there was the weather.  She had an imperious quality to her really, yet it seemed more curious than judgemental. “You, are a lot more trouble to find than I would have expected.”

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Foreword

Book2_NewFor those who believed themselves but consort to the hero,
only to find they might yet author their own fortune.

New or forgetful readers consider: The Story So Far: Book I

⁃ ◇ ❖ ◇ ⁃

Into every life there comes at least one moment that defines us.  A crystalline fragment of who we are, refracting a world in which we live.  We do not always chose this moment, but we always make it our own.  In the dead of a spring night, and the fifteenth year of her life, the girl Katrisha Ashton had such a moment.  There was not a thing humble about it.

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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.

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