As some of you know, I occasionally publish Young Adult titles under the pseudonym James Erich. The best of these, in my opinion, is a trilogy of high fantasy novels set in the kingdom of Dasak, which is on the brink of civil war. At the same time the emperor and his regent in the east prepare for battle, another war is brewing—a war between the gods that threatens to completely destroy the kingdom and leave no survivors.
When these novels were first published, there was a long gap between books two and three, leaving readers hanging. But now Harmony Ink has now released the entire trilogy as one low-cost bundle! Get the entire saga for just $9.99!
A thousand years ago, two factions of gods, the Stronni and the Taaweh, nearly destroyed the Kingdom of Dasak by warring for the land and the frightened humans who lived there. Then suddenly the Taaweh vanished and the Stronni declared victory.
In the present day, tensions escalate between the emperor and his regent to the point of war, which will be nothing compared to the war that comes with the Taaweh’s return. Join the regent’s son and apprentice mage Sael and his vagabond lover Koreh as they dodge assassins, rescue the Taaweh queen, and take journeys through the underworld in their quest to save their world from being destroyed in another confrontation between the gods.
Harmony Ink/Dreamspinner: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7517
“I SAID I was sorry,” Koreh repeated, exasperated.
“And I said I don’t care.”
Sael stood facing the fire with his undertunic held out to catch the heat. It wasn’t very modest, but he didn’t think Koreh could see anything from where he was standing. Geilin had grown tired of the argument and lay down to sleep after drinking his tea. The old man lay wrapped up in his cloak, facing away from the fire.
“I don’t really think you’re slow.”
“Now that Master Geilin’s told you I’m not.”
Koreh groaned in frustration. “Look. I don’t know how much training it takes to become a vönan—”
“All right,” Koreh continued, “fine. But it just seemed to me that, after ten years of training, you’d be a little further along.”
Sael glared at him. Was this Koreh’s idea of an apology?
“As Master Geilin already told you,” he responded coolly, “I’m doing as well in my studies as any other tenth-year student. Better than most. I just can’t cast when I’m rushed. I have to concentrate.”
“So, you’re not rushed now. Let’s see you throw a fireball. Just a little one.”
“We’re supposed to be hiding, remember?” Sael snapped. “It’s bad enough we had to light a fire to dry off. If I start throwing fireballs around, they’ll be seen for leagues in all directions.”
Koreh’s derisive snort was the last straw. Sael turned and stalked over to the edge of the clearing. After searching the underbrush for a moment, he found what he was looking for—a sturdy branch about the length of a walking staff.
Koreh was watching him with a smirk on his face when he returned to the fire.
Trying to ignore him, Sael lifted the branch up over his head so it lay horizontally. Then with both hands gripping it firmly, he said, “Grab hold.”
“I’ll show you something not even your Taaweh could do. Now grab on!”
Koreh hesitated only a moment before accepting whatever challenge Sael was offering him. He approached the boy, looking him dead in the eye before reaching up with one hand to grab the staff.
“Both hands,” Sael insisted, “and hold on tight.”
“Yes, little lord.” Koreh’s voice was mocking.
Sael frowned. “Hold on tight, or you’ll die. I mean it.”
“Fine. I’m holding on.”
The apprentice vönan closed his eyes and began chanting under his breath. It wasn’t easy, because in order for Koreh to grasp the staff, he had to press his body against Sael’s. And he was still naked. That was incredibly distracting, even with the linen undertunic separating their bodies. But the thought of further humiliation if he failed forced Sael to focus.
In the dark, with Druma obscured by clouds, Sael knew his power would be very limited. He could feel the magical energy he’d stored up during the day like a fire burning in his chest and head, but not nearly as hot as he often felt it—the pervasive fog had prevented him from drawing much power, even at midday. Still, it should be enough.
Sael chanted under his breath, ancient words given to men by the gods that simultaneously unlocked channels in the body for the energy to flow through and protected the body from the energy it channeled. This was one of the reasons the training of a vönan was such a slow, painstaking process—it took years to learn how to channel the energy safely before a master would dare allow his pupil to experiment with powerful spells. Every apprentice at the academy had heard horror stories of overzealous pupils bursting into flames. The stories may not all have been true, but the masters never bothered to contradict them.
When the chant ended, Sael opened his eyes to find Koreh watching him with apprehension. Clearly the magic of the Stronni still made him very uncomfortable. He looked as though he were about to say something when the staff suddenly jerked upward, lifting both young men off the ground.
Sael had been prepared for it, but Koreh panicked for a second, scrambling for a tighter grip.
Sael couldn’t help laughing as the staff came to a stop about ten feet above where they’d been standing. “Don’t fall.”
“I’m fine.” Koreh’s startled expression turned to one of defiance. “Is this all you had to show me? We’re barely off the ground.”
Suddenly he gasped as the staff flew upward again, this time coming to a stop just a short distance above the treetops. Koreh hooted in delight.
“Quiet!” Sael said under his breath, though he was secretly pleased. “You’ll wake Master Geilin.”
Koreh ignored him, laughing and twisting his head this way and that to take in the unusual vantage point. “Take us higher!”
“Hang on, then—tight!”
Now that the spell had been cast, it took little effort for Sael to control it, like turning the wick up on a lantern. He felt the energy flowing from his core increase and the two of them began to soar upwards. Higher and higher they climbed, until the light from the campfire seemed far, far below. Despite the night being overcast, the Eye cast a soft blue-gray light over everything, diffused through the clouds, and the gently waving treetops stretching off into the distance all around them seemed ethereal and beautiful.
He feared for a moment he’d overdone it. If Koreh lost his grip, Sael wasn’t sure he’d be able to save him from falling. But Koreh was laughing now like a young child being spun around in his father’s arms.
He was loving this and had dropped all pretense of superiority. When his eyes met Sael’s, Sael saw admiration in them for the first time. And he knew that he would do anything for that look.
But then he glanced past Koreh, and what he saw made his blood run cold. A vast number of tiny spots of light dotted the ground in the distance, hazy in the mist but still visible. They weren’t the lights of Mat’zovya—he could see those on the far side of the lake. These were just beyond, in the fields between the old city and the new. They had to be campfires.
Hundreds of them.
“We’re being followed!” he exclaimed.