I’m headin’ strong towards my final goal of finishing Praetors of Lost Magic 3. I have some edits and reworks for Books 1 and 2, and I plan to have books 2 and 3 published by April 30th. Mark your calendars, fantasy fans, ‘cuz another contender’s about to hit the block! (also, stay tuned for sales and promotions; you might be able to snag a cheap copy if you’re quick)
Work on book 3 is going pretty well. I’ve got the end outlined and organized, and though it’s taking me much longer than I thought it would, I’m heading for the home stretch. In my estimation, 6-7 chapters plus an epilogue should finally finish off the book. That leaves me the rest of the time for revisions, most of which I’ve tackled already.
But until then, I thought it only fair that I give ya a sneak peak of what’s to come. I haven’t posted a spoiler blog post in quite a while now, so how about it?
(contains spoilers for Praetors of Lost Magic, Book 2: Dark Vengeance)
Triston spent the next hour or so indoors, laying on his bed. Usually he was out and about in the training yards, ducking under a club or slamming his fists into a punching bag. Lying still in his bed in the middle of the day was a new sensation for him.
Suddenly, his eyes opened. He had been napping. Though that wasn’t his intention, he felt refreshed. His eyes darted over to a clock on the wall. There were fifteen minutes left before his meet-up with Cynara. Frantically, he struggled out a bed and drabbed one or two of Dal’s overdue books that needed returning to the library. Dal was a great hoarder, and collected many things: weapons, books, curios, junk. Most of “his” books were actually the library’s, and Triston needed an excuse for going there.
Triston told himself he was calm, but there was some small part of him that told him he was freaking out. Why would I be freaking out? He thought to himself. And why did I accept Cynara’s offer? He didn’t have an answer for that, but the odd feeling he felt when talking to Cynara revived itself at this moment.
He tried to shake it off as he headed through the door and out the building in the direction of the library.
The library was quite expansive. It contained hundreds of generations of Eldari wisdom, bound into old tomes of priceless worth. Two groups of thieves had been caught in the last year trying to make off with a few books, and each were caught and severely reprimanded. Never had a student tried to take one of the books; although on occasion some half-wit forgot to turn in his or her overdue books and almost got a one-way ticket to cleaning the bathrooms for a year.
If one wanted to get to the library, however, they had to first brave the long, wide steps to the top. They were white and made of polished stone, and they took at least ten minutes to climb. Triston started out at a plodding pace, but the heat of the sun made him quicken it. It was warm this summer, and exceptionally so: the masters preferred to stay inside, which was a first.
Triston glanced about himself as he walked. Around him, there were other students mounting the steps, some with their eyes closed as if waiting for the suffering to end. All of them had a bag or book of some kind. A few were just waiting on the steps, chatting eagerly with other students. Triston thought it would have been a much better idea for them to head to an inside place and talk, but there weren’t many places where they could do that either. Many students spent most of their time outdoors, and it seemed even this hot summer hadn’t changed that.
After hurrying past a few students, Triston finally reached the top. He felt dwarfed by the magnificence of the library. Huge, thick pillars supported a towering conical roof, spiraling upwards. A huge statue of a mage studying a book, about fifty feet across, was mounted on the front of the library. Popular tales had it that Hrothgaard had built the statue in a dream by magic and had it mounted. Triston noted that he hadn’t asked his dad about that yet. But then again, he wistfully thought, his dad wasn’t around very much these days…
In a few more moments, Triston reached the great front doors, which remained open at that time of day. There stood a plaque beside them, bearing these words in an ancient tongue: Hiteh ve jusko narbaarti Eldari. No one quite knew what it meant except those learned in ancient tongues, but most agreed that a rough translation would be somewhere along the lines of “Knowledge is the heart of the Eldari.”
Triston headed inside, and was met by a shower of cool air. He involuntarily smiled. The latest technology in cooling systems was used in building this library; someone must have spent a small fortune to keep cool air flowing through this gigantic building. The lobby was covered in blue carpeting and tapestry, and there were several doors leading to certain portions of the library, based on authors, subjects of magic, and dates.
Triston quickly spotted the door marked “Arcane” and was about to make his move towards it when he noticed the book in his hand. He went over to the librarian, who was intently studying a tome himself. He peered quizzically at Triston.
“Triston Hrothgaard.” Said the clean-shaven librarian, raising his eyebrows. “I don’t see you around here often.” His tone wasn’t praising, mocking or flattering. He was merely surprised.
“I don’t come here very often, truth be told.” Said Triston, half-smiling. Inwardly he was groaning. Sometimes, he just felt like he was paid attention to because he had his father’s name attached to him. “But I’ve come to return one of Dal’s books, and to browse a bit.” He set Dal’s book down on the librarian’s desk.
The librarian rolled his eyes. “Ah, Dal…” He said, picking up the book and stowing it under the desk. “He’s a menace to us librarians. The lad can’t keep track of overdue books if his life depended on it…and it might, come two more weeks.” He looked grimly at Triston, and then laughed. “Take care of him, will you?”
Triston smiled in return and departed for the Arcane section of the library. It took a few detours and errors in navigation to reach his destination, as there were several staircases and hallways leading to and away from the Arcane section. He resented asking people for help, so he didn’t. By the time he got to the Arcane section, he was slightly late. Luckily, the Arcane section was a smaller one, so Triston wouldn’t have much trouble finding Cynara here.
In theory, that is.
He peered around. In the hallway he was in, he couldn’t see anyone. Trying to be as quiet as possible, he tiptoed to the end of the hall and peered around the corner. Sure enough, right at the other end of the adjoining hall of books, sat Cynara. She wasn’t reading, but appeared to be fiddling with her hair nervously. Triston gave up trying to sneak up on her. He made a notable stride around the corner that didn’t make very much noise but was very seeable.
Despite the semi-quietness of the move, Cynara was startled. She looked at Triston with wide eyes. She gulped, and began to compose herself. “Uh, hello…” She said, pulling a book out of a nearby bookcase and pretended to have been reading. “So…you’re here.”
“Uh huh.” said Triston, walking up and sitting, leaning against the bookshelf opposite to Cynara. He plucked a book from the wall. “Uh, you like Arcane magic?” He said, trying to ease her.
“Yes, actually.” Said Cynara. Her customary cool returned quickly at the prospect of intellectual conversation. “It may sound kind of, I don’t know–evil, I guess–to admit, but I do enjoy the edge that lesser well-known magic gives. It’s complex stuff.”
Triston didn’t reply right away. He didn’t mention it, but the stuff in these books were miles ahead of where he was currently. Cynara was ahead of her class, and Triston was behind of his.
Whatever. He trusted his skills with a sword better than he did his magic. Not to say that magic wasn’t important, however…
“So why’d you call me over here?” Said Triston. Cynara blinked and blushed. She appeared to let her cool slip slightly.
“What, you’ve never had a team-study session?” She said, and turned away to look at the books on the walls for a moment. “Y’know, we could bounce questions off each other. Form theories. Get…better, I guess.”
This was all pretty foggy to Triston, but he nodded nonetheless. “I see…” He said, not understanding her very well. “So…Magic, I guess, then.”
“Right!” Said Cynara, looking relieved. Then she fell silent, as if she had had a plan and then had forgotten it. She eyed her book once more. “So, ah, what have you been working on recently?”
“Well, I’m trying to choke down my White Magic…” Triston said sheepishly. “I believe it’s the most necessary in a swordfight. Basic, Middle, and Higher Healing as well as Broken Bone Mending III. Not that I’ve had much occasion to try them out, however…”
Cynara’s interest was piqued. “I learned those just for posterity.” She said. “I don’t know when or where they’d come in handy. I couldn’t imagine myself as a soldier, or even as a fighter of any kind. I wish I could just stay in this library until the ancient dragons wake again…” Her eyes seemed to gaze past Triston, and then refocused. “But I learned the offensive spells, just in case. Lately, I’ve been pondering the Arcane Mysteries. They’re quite fascinating.”
“I don’t know if I’ll ever understand people like you.” Said Triston, raising his eyebrows. “How could someone be so interested in books? I’d far rather prefer to be on the battlefield. How are we going to defend the peace if we stay in the library?”
“My dream is to become a teacher at this academy.” Said Cynara, her eyes shining. The look on her face was almost rapturous. “I could train the next generation. The world could always use more mages.”
Triston assumed a smug expression. “Young Master Cynara, Librarian.” He chuckled out loud. “I can almost see it: seated behind a counter, book in hand, looking up only to direct wayward students to the nearest bathroom…”
Cynara made a face as if she was going to throw her book at Triston’s smirking head. She laughed nonetheless. “I don’t mean like that…” She said. “Just…you know. Like your dad.”
“Yeah.” Said Triston, growing quieter. “Just like my dad.”
There was silence for a moment. “Have you been doing anything fun lately?” He queried, changing the topic.
Cynara was in for a surprise. She furrowed her brow. “I’m not sure what you mean…” She said, confused. “I mean, I studied the Enigma of Trion Vere two days ago, and I believe I got some progress in–”
“Don’t you ever do anything besides studying all the time?” Asked Triston.
Cynara was quiet for a second. “Not…usually.” She said. She assumed a worried expression and looked into Triston’s face with anticipation. “Is that a bad thing?”
“Uh…no.” Said Triston. “I just…don’t know much about you. Tell me about yourself.” It was a start, at least.
At first, Cynara didn’t know what to think. In time, however, the words began to flow. The two spent the rest of the day chatting in the Arcane wing of the library.
Far away in the town of Bvahn, dusk was coming on. The westering sun burned over the flat and dusty horizon, igniting the air with a golden radiance. Most of the denizens of the town were either lazily taking their leisure on their front porches, smoking or having a light snack. Old men and children lay about this way, enjoying the twilight that preceded the coming of nightfall with a calm air of comfort.
In the abandoned house at the end of the lane, however, three devilish schemers stood about, contemplating their plans. Xan had secured provisions for the next few nights that morning, and the day had mostly passed in silence. Xan was brooding on past events, and Kalpha hadn’t stirred from the chair he was sitting in since the night before last. In spite of his patient and long-suffering demeanor, he made an awful conversationalist.
Kanesh didn’t talk much, and spent much of her time brooding over one of her sacred relics she had secured before fleeing the fortress: an Alchemic Index. It was shaped like a red-bound book with withered pages yellowed by age and constant use, but the book was effectively blank. It had no written words. The use of an Alchemic Index was similar to how a crystal ball worked: it was an object of immense power and enigma, and one could perform powerful spells with it. The learned in Kul’nah magic could discern some of its depths where the naked eye could not. This Index had been used for thousands of years, and few truly understood the book fully. Xan fancied that she always did such things in her spare time.
Kanesh entered the room where the two men were, and alighted gracefully on an overturned box. Lesser men might perceive it like the gentle landing of an innocent dove, but Xan grimly observed her presence as a coiled snake, waiting to strike.
“Well done, my servant.” She said to Rai Kalpha. The warlord bowed his head in obeisance. “The Index tells me many things. One of them is this: two of our enemies, Hrothgaard and my daughter, now advance for Bvahn. A certain Kensu knight commander, Adrianna Numa, has alerted them of some…strange occurrences that went on here.”
Xan rose from his chair in surprise. “What occurrences?” He said. “How could our cover be blown so easily, and so early?”
Kanesh raised her hand as if in an effort to calm him, but Kalpha spoke up in his monotone voice. “Our good commander recently sent us a few snooping pawns to spy out this town’s operations.” He leaned further into his chair. “I removed their badges and licenses and sent them back, as a warning.”
“Or you mean as a beacon?” Said Xan, seething. He crooked a finger at the sitting warlock. “You’ve led them right to us, fool! Now they’ll not rest until we are wiped out!”
Kanesh actually frowned, a sign of her penultimate displeasure. It was the frown that preceded a death order. She was obviously wrathful, and in Xan’s direction. “I ordered him to do it.” She said, scathingly. “And not without purpose. I have a plan in mind, and one that you have little knowledge of. You think my second-in-command would take such a rash move without my permission?”
Xan was taken aback. “I wasn’t informed.” He said, trying to regain his dignity.
Kanesh’s frown turned into a mocking smile. “Must you be apprised of everything, Xan?” She laughed. “You presume much of yourself, servant. Learn when–and how–to hold your tongue. You would do well to take my former second-in-command, Rai Kalpha, as a model in this regard.” Again, Kalpha inclined his head.
“I live to serve, mistress.” He said. Xan imagined that Rai was smirking at him under the featureless cowl that hid his face.
“What are our plans for defense, then?” he said, trying to put the entire affair behind him as quickly as he could. “Are we fleeing? If not, what spells should we employ in defense?”
Kanesh held her smile, albeit devolving into her usual lascivious one. “Hrothgaard’s boy is at the center of our plot–and our revenge. His parents are en route to this dung-hole of a town. That should provide just enough time for my plan to work.”
At the word revenge, Xan’s temper all but cooled. So he would get a shot at his former apprentice, after all. Then he would settle the score, once and for all. Yes, the boy had cheated him once; he would not do so again. “What will we do to the boy? Kill him?”
Kanesh assumed a shocked expression. “Of course not! At least, not so soon.” she said. “There are far better ways of revenge than outright gutting. If we simply kill the boy, Hrothgaard and Amkala would stop at nothing until they had killed us, and in time the parents would heal from their loss. They have so many consolations: the academy being one of them. However–” She said, raising one finger. “If we could corrupt the boy into turning against his parents…it would act like a cancer, eating their family and the academy from within. Eventually, they will both collapse. Once the boy has wounded his father in ways that I could not, then and only then will he die. He will die a slow, painful death that his father cannot cure. And when the father sits sorrowing at the runt’s corpse, he will die. Thus, our revenge will be secure.” She mused.
Xan noted the subtle our instead of my.
Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Plus, I mean, it wouldn’t hurt to check out the Resources tab. It’s full of super helpful material and I promise it will help you out. Until then, writers!