Date Published: July 12, 2018
The Provinces are falling. From the south, the immortal Knights of Galessern raid. From the north, the trees of the Kalen Woods have awoken, and are hungry for their second city. And from the east, Haydren Loren flees a childhood bully whose hate is now fully grown, and capable of murdering his way to becoming the Earl.
Haydren might find safety in the west. Or, he may find himself suddenly forced on a suicidal mission: face and defeat Lasserain, the strongest mage history has ever seen.
His quest is joined by a medley of friends foolish enough to think they might succeed: Geoffrey, a former knight of Rinc Na who betrayed his country and friends, and now seeks forgiveness through this final, desperate act; Sarah, a sorceress who will do anything to prove she is worthy; and Pladt, the famed archer whose only wish is to travel as far and wide as his name.
The God of All only knows the ways they must go – He, and a voice in Haydren’s head that is constantly growing louder.
Insanity. Capture. Death. All roads seem doomed for failure. But they must quickly choose a path, for Lasserain’s full fury is descending, and no one else has been able to stop it.
Haydren sighed; he needed to play. The two greatest gifts he had received since enrolling in the School were a small harp and the lessons to be able to play. Often, when frustration overwhelmed him, the music would calm him. He sat up, reaching under the bed to retrieve the instrument. After pulling it out, he leaned back and rested his fingers on the strings. He closed his eyes, and began with a familiar slow tune as he allowed his thoughts to drift.
The song took him back to a broad plain, with the wind sweeping through the grasses. He was sitting on a newly bundled sheaf, the smell of fresh-cut hay in his nostrils. A few broken bits of straw drifted on the breeze. In his mind, beside him, a man of nearly thirty worked with a scythe; a man with bright chestnut hair, and dark black eyebrows.
Haydren opened his eyes, stilling the strings. Something was tugging at him, something about the notes he had just played. Still without looking at the harp, and as he tried to return in his mind to the images he had just seen, he played tentatively.
The notes that followed were notes he had never been taught, but that rang in him with a familiarity that brought tears to his eyes. He knew there were lyrics attached to the song, lyrics about war and grief – but he could not remember them. He played the song over and over, the notes purging him of all thoughts yet leaving him with a sense of fullness that welled in his eyes. He played until exhaustion tripped his fingers upon the strings; he stopped before the discordant notes shattered the delicate construction within him. The notes continued ringing in his ears long after he stopped playing, and they continued to echo through his dreams that night.
About the Author
Daniel Dydek was born in Raccoon Township, PA, where he dreamed of living out west. So far, he’s made it to Ohio, where he lives with his wife. He began writing at age 8, and never really stopped. After three years with the US Army, he went to get his Bachelor’s degree in English Writing from Geneva College of Beaver Falls PA, and is currently finishing up a Master’s degree in Natural Resources from Virginia Tech. Besides writing, he also enjoys mountain biking, reading, coffee shops, book stores, and Durango Colorado.