A TARLISIAN SAGA
Hi , I would like to announce that my new release ‘THE CROSS OF TARLIS: THE AWAKENING’ published by The Wild Rose Press is now Available for pre-order. HERE
This is Book One in my The Cross of Tarlis series. Book two has received a contract and it is currently with my editor and should be released in a couple of months. 2022
Five-hundred summers have passed since the Great Mage War. Sernon of Asamos is dead. While his bones rest at the bottom of a glacial lake, his spirit roams forever in the Void. Tarlis is at peace. Or is it?
Somewhere deep within the depths of Lake Dalen-Gae, evil stirs…
Oblivious to her guard’s presence, Tannith of Ellenroh, Princess of Dragonbane, slammed the heavy shutters and crossed the deep Argeasian carpet. She warmed her hands at the library fire, hoping the flames would instill warmth into her body and mind. Perhaps give her peace…but there was no peace to be had. Like a caged beast—on one hand, anxious to start the quest to free her people from the siege—on the other, afraid to try should she fail.
Although trained as a warrior, she had never tasted real battle until a few days prior. She thought she was prepared. However, the blood, noise—the horror of war—it was nothing like she had imagined—it was worse.
She poured a goblet of wine, took a sip, and glanced up at the gilt-edged portrait of her grandfather hanging above her father’s chair.
Dragonbane, first king of Ellenroh, sitting astride his massive white charger, exuded power—his ash-blond hair, braided at the sides, did little to detract from the sense of strength and purpose that stamped his hawkish features—strength evident in every line of his body. If only she could be more like him.
Her hand clenched the stem of her goblet. Had she taken on more than she could handle? Was she presumptuous to think that she could fill the boots of one so illustrious, and find the ancient icon the Council had said could end this war? All she knew was she had to try. After all, Dragonbane’s blood coursed through her veins.
She fought to conjure thoughts of more tranquil days, times of sunshine and laughter—days when her mother was alive―before the wasting sickness took her. However, those memories were receding further into the past and it was hard to focus with so much recent carnage. She ran a shaky hand across her eyes as the lifeless faces of comrades floated before her. Jakeal, Taybold and Estrial, friends she had grown up with, shared memories with, who would have died for her. Who had died for her, she amended.
She gulped down a mouthful of spiced wine to clear the taste of bile from her throat as the sweet, sickly stench of blood filled her nostrils. She could still see Taybold’s face as he dove in front of her, shielding her body, taking the spear in the side meant for her, and his agonized smile as he whispered goodbye and told her not to blame herself.
Chaffing her elbows, she glanced into the fireplace, feeling like she would never be warm again. The flames leaped and danced in the grate in a hypnotic rhythm allowing her thoughts to wander. Weariness engulfed her, her eyes clouded with unshed tears, but she held them in check. It would not do for the future Queen of Ellenroh to cry. No. She had to stand fast, give her people strength. With her father missing, they now relied on her for guidance.
She strode to the window to push open the shutters. Wisps of blue mist floated through the open portal, filling the library. The mist was magical, a sorcerer’s breath, of that she was certain. For days now, whisps of moist blue air had seeped into every niche and corner of the castle. Even the icy wind blowing outside did nothing to disperse the mist’s insidious presence.
Evil pervaded the very air that she and her people breathed. A dense alien mist blanketed the Urakians, camouflaging them until they were almost atop her men; its icy fingers soaking through the armor and into the bones of the Elisian warriors as they fought. They had defended well, but she could understand why they were demoralized. It was hard to fight an enemy one could not see.
She sought to penetrate the fog with her night vision. She knew there must be at least ten thousand camped across the moat, but she saw nothing. She heard their animalistic chanting as it floated upward on the breeze and crossed herself in the way of her faith—shoulder to shoulder, lips to heart. They must have another prisoner. May Magus have mercy on his soul. She had seen the remains of the other prisoners the enemy had dumped at their gates.
“Father are you out there?” she whispered into the night. “Are you dead or held captive in some dark dungeon?”
No answer came. Only silence and a gentle crackle drifting from the fire in the grate.
She sighed and slammed the shutters.
“It cannot be that bad.” A small lyrical voice spoke into her ear.
Tannith gasped and jumped, and the goblet slipped from her fingers, crashing to the floor. Wine pooled like ruby blood at her feet as she stepped aside for the guard to attend the mess, then smiled when he finished, dismissing him for the night.
A Faerie no more than a handspan tall, with red curling hair and the garb of a warrior, fluttered before her face.
“You surprised me.” Tannith stretched out her hand for the Faerie to step onto her palm.
“Forgive me, Highness.” Skylah pushed her red-gold hair from her eyes. “I have been searching for you throughout the castle.”
Settling into a padded chair by the hearth, Tannith lowered the Faerie to her knee. She glowed with eldritch light.
“What is this news that could not wait?” She smiled.
“The Urakians have reinforcements.”
“You have numbers?”
“Five thousand infantry and two hundred cavalry. Siege towers, too.” The Faerie hopped into the air and flew toward the window. Tannith hastened after her to ease open the shutters. Miraculously the fog had vanished, but what remained made her heart plummet. Thousands of campfires lined the banks of the moat and lit up the fields. They wanted her people to see them. They wanted her men to feel despair, and then while her warrior’s spirits were low, they would strike again.
“There.” The Faerie pointed to the left. “I managed to get close before I was seen. Eight war machines,” she said dismally. “How can we fight those monsters?”
Tannith grimaced. “Etan will have a plan. And if not, then one of the generals.”
“Of course,” the Faerie brightened, “Etan will know.”
Tannith noted the wistful note in her friend’s voice. “Did you see him there tonight? He led a raid on the Urakian supply wagons.”