Blurb: Three strangers brought together by war.
The Ulanesh—vicious soldiers from the underrealm—are invading the forest and destroying everything in their path. Standing against the enemy, Evrenor is a captain in the Quennin army and has been tasked by his king to find allies. He enlists the aid of the ancient sea sorceress Valkaria, whom he wakes from a curse that has entombed her at the bottom of a lake for a thousand years. She must regain her powers after a millennium of disuse or else watch everyone around her die.
Evrenor finds another ally in Damir, a woodsman whose people are so reclusive that outsiders consider them myths. The tree-talking woodsmen can blend perfectly with the forest, and they are deadly with their daggers. Damir is ready to take down the enemy, but he has to strike before the vision he’s had of his own death comes to pass.
An awakened sorceress, a mysterious woodsman, and a cunning army captain—will their combined forces be enough to vanquish the enemy?
Evrenor kept a close eye on Valkaria as they moved along the rough trail through the woods. Looking at her fresh face, it was difficult to imagine that she had been born over a thousand years ago. He wondered if she realized how much time she’d lost trapped inside the lake. Should he tell her? Perhaps when she was a little stronger?
Glancing behind him, he saw that Hyvril and Antyar were looking after her now. He hadn’t even needed to tell them to do so. They had taken it upon themselves to protect her on each side. Such good men, he thought. He was glad to have them on this mission. Although there hadn’t been any sightings of the enemy for days, he couldn’t be certain when they might appear.
As Evrenor led the way over the nearest hill, the woods widened around him, and the air wasn’t nearly so still.
“I’m sorry we didn’t bring more suitable clothes for you, Lady Valkaria,” he heard Hyvril say behind him.
“It doesn’t matter,” she replied. “I prefer dry and warm over suitable, and I’ve decided I like these clothes.”
“We expected a man,” Antyar added more bluntly. “The legends said nothing of the great sorcerer being a woman.”
Evrenor glanced back to see her reaction and caught the wry amusement that danced across her face.
“No, they wouldn’t have, would they?” she said. “There’s no feminine form of the word sorcerer in my language, so they would have had to go out of their way to make a point of it. Besides, I’m the only one.”
Evrenor saw his men exchange glances. So this, then, really was the great sorcerer? Although he knew there couldn’t have been two bodies magically buried in the lake, he had accepted that there might have been some sort of mix-up. Apparently the only mistake was a lack of a gendered noun in the seaside language.
Valkaria certainly spoke and carried herself with dignity, but how could so delicate a creature possess the great powers of legend? The lady seemed to inspire protectiveness among his men, not awe and reverence.
“My father, Lord Valkinor,” she explained, “was a sorcerer of exceptional skill. They said he could make the ocean touch the sky or build the dunes with a thought. He saved our isle from the windstorms and the towering waves, and he was well loved by his people. Some even worshipped him as a god.
“It was hoped that one day he would pass his gifts to a son, who would continue his rule. But fate, it seems, had a will of her own. She gave him nothing but daughters. My father decided to break with the old ways, and he turned to me, the eldest of his daughters, to salvage his legacy. He passed the art of his magic to me, saving me from a life as a common oracle, and with it, he passed me his rule.”
“Didn’t that cause conflict?” Hyvril asked.
When a long silence ensued, Evrenor looked at her again. Her face was solemn, and she looked as if she was troubled by dark memories.
“Yes,” she whispered. “Yes, it did.”
About the Author
Laurel Richards is a fiction author with a passion for shifters, space travelers, and other memorable characters. She has gathered inspiration from lots of different sources throughout her life and is here today to share her imagination through storytelling. Laurel writes sci-fi/fantasy, paranormal, and the occasional funny mystery, all with various degrees of romance mixed in.
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