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Falestian Heir

Title: Falestian Heir

Series: The Imperium Saga: The Warlord Trilogy, 2

Author: Clifford B. Bowyer

ISBN: 978-1-60975-043-5

Product Code: BK0035

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 394

Release Date: September 2013

Cover Price: $29.95

Our Price: $24.95

 

 

 

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Book Jacket

 

The dream of a Kingdom free of war and discrimination became a reality until King Worren was ruthlessly betrayed and murdered. Trapped in a nightmare world, the allies of King Worren find their lives in jeopardy as they struggle to determine what really happened on that fateful night. On the run and in hiding, they wait for the time to be right to unite once more and reclaim what was lost.

 

This epic fantasy saga continues as the boy who is destined to become a legend must first learn how to survive in a world where everyone he ever knew and loved are lost to him and everything he encounters is a potential threat seeking to finish what had begun one fateful night in his homeland. Follow the adventures of Braksis as he seeks to forge new and reunite old alliances and reclaim the Kingdom that is rightfully his.

 

BRAKSIS

The true heir to the Falestian throne, thought murdered along with his parents but instead raised by the ancient enemy of his people: a Troll. He vows to become a man his father would be proud of and return to Falestia to seek vengeance, reclaim the throne, and resurrect a dream.

 

EMPEROR CONRAD

A legend in his own right, the man who united the Seven Kingdoms and brought stability to a war-torn land, Emperor Conrad sees hope and promise in Braksis and supports his efforts to reclaim Falestia. Dedicating Imperial aid can risk everything he worked so hard to create, but injustice must not go unanswered.

 

KADEN

A warrior from another Kingdom who embraced the dream and vision of King Worren and made it his own, Kaden has become the embodiment of what it means to be Falestian. While others bide their time, he leads the resistance against the throne and builds an army that is ready to strike.

 

KING RAWTHORNE

The man who is hailed as both the savior and destroyer of Falestia, Rawthorne must face his own inner demons about what he has done and accept fate for what it is. His only desire is to see Falestia prosper and to save it from the turmoil he was desperate to stop. But his own actions have caused far more harm than the trolls ever had, and coming to grips with that is maddening.

 

Falestian Heir is a tale of turmoil and triumph as Braksis begins to come into his own and become the man he was always meant to be. Picking up with the tragic events where the first book left off, readers will be faced with the chaos, confusion, and aftermath of an event that radically altered the fate of Falestia. Even as Braksis fights to seek vengeance and reclaim all that was lost, readers will be left with their hearts pounding in anticipation of the third and final installment of the series.

 


 

Book Excerpt

PROLOGUE

Fate and life had a tendency of being ironic and cruel. It was not long ago that he had been a most promising Mage. His scores in the Academy were always at the top of the class; and when he was selected to be an Apprentice his magical prowess began to shine. He heard his name mentioned frequently amongst the Masters—Ferceng had the entire world open to him. There were no limits on his potential. Even a few times he heard some Masters speculate that he could be the first troll to sit upon the Council of Elders.

The moment he heard it, he wanted it. His abilities were second only to his ambition. It was not that he was better than his peers—he just was willing to work harder. It was not that he was more gifted magically—he was just more determined. At least, that was how he reasoned it in his mind. He was sure that skill and natural ability were involved, but those were not quantifiable, and he thus discounted them as factors. It was hard work and determination—that was what would make him a Master, and then ultimately a member of the Council of Elders.

Becoming the first troll to serve on the Council of Elders was not aspiration enough. Ferceng also wanted to become the youngest Mage ever selected for the ruling body of the Mage’s Council. If he continued with the progress he had, it was certainly achievable. Of course, fate and timing did also play a part. After all, an elder was chosen for life. That meant that one of the current Council of Elders members would have to either die or step down for Ferceng to be able to be offered the seat. Naturally, he was not hoping for such an occurrence, but his ambition to be the youngest member remained.

Mages potentially went through five stages in life, as long as they kept advancing. There were other alternatives, especially for those who failed at each stage, but Ferceng was not a failure at anything that he did. The first was the Academy, where a Mage will spend up to the first sixteen years of their lives. Here, they will gain the greatest education not only in the realm, but in the world. They learned courses like Trivium—the combined studies of grammar, rhetoric, and logic; Quadrium—which included arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music; Language and Culture of the Races—a total of thirty races that they had to master; History; Philosophy; Science and Alchemy; Art; Self Defense; Strategy and Creative Thinking; Diplomacy and Negotiations; Legal Structures of the Ages; Mystical Defenses; and Mystical Remedies and Healing. The schedule of the Academy students is rigorous and demanding, but the students learn discipline, control, and responsibility from an early age.

When a student is deemed ready to graduate from the Academy, they undergo what is known as the First Trials, which combines the culmination of everything that they have learned in the first sixteen years of their lives in a single one-shot evaluation. Those that pass advance into the second stage of the Mage’s Council, which is an Apprentice under the tutelage of a Mage Master. Those who fail find themselves in the role of a Gatherer—a Mage sent out to bring back newborn Mages to the Mage’s Council—or some kind of servant, grounds keeper, or assistant to Masters.

An Apprentice, however, is actually exposed to the teachings of magic for the first time from their Masters. There were some courses in the Academy where magic was introduced, but it is not until a Mage is an Apprentice when they actually are allowed—under strict guidance—to explore their own abilities and development. Ferceng had been fortunate to be selected by Master Atsan, a very powerful Mage with a heart larger than life.

Master Atsan taught Ferceng how to use his powers, how to control them, and how to reach the full extents of his abilities, pushing the troll further than he ever thought he could possibly go. No matter how hard Atsan pushed though, Ferceng was always eager and craving more.

Master Atsan was admittedly not the greatest swordfighter in the Council, but he was training Ferceng to be a world-class magic user, not a physical warrior. Some of the Apprentices had expressed their desire to have a master more like Master Korgoth, a great warrior, but Ferceng knew that for him, there was no better Master than Atsan.

Once an Apprentice’s Master feels that their pupil is ready—something that takes either years or decades depending upon the Master’s opinions and the student’s abilities—then they shall take the Second Trials, testing all that they have learned and mastered and determining whether the Mage is ready to advance to the next stage of their development.

Those that pass enter the third stage of Mage development, that of their Paladinship. Up to this stage, Mages were confined to the Mage’s Council. Even within their home, powerful magical spells prohibited individuals from going into areas that were beyond their station within the Council. Academy students, for instance, had free reign of the grounds, but could go no higher than the fourth level of the Tower, the home of the Mages. As a Paladin, however, for the first time in a Mage’s young life, the barrier preventing them from leaving the grounds opens up and they can leave the Mage’s Council.

The theory is that Mages have learned book smarts and were far more intelligent than nearly any other individual that they may possibly encounter in the world beyond the mystical barrier of the Mage’s Council. Their prowess with weapons from their upbringing in self-defense would be enough to put most soldiers and warriors to shame. However, this was all education and skills mastered in a controlled environment. As a Paladin, the Mage has the opportunity to experience all that the world has to offer and gain wisdom to go with their intelligence.

For some Paladins, they spend months outside of the Mage’s Council before returning. Some spend centuries, like the dwarf Ilfanti, who went on adventure after adventure seeking lost treasures and valuables long since claimed by the passage of time. Others never returned from their Paladin years, either killed in the world or choosing to remain forevermore in it.

Ferceng remembered knowing exactly what he had wanted to do during his Paladin years. He wanted to travel around the Seven Kingdoms, see some of the landmarks that he had learnt about in the Academy, meet some people who were not Mages, and then return so that he could take the third and final Trials that would elevate him to the fourth stage of Mage development—a Master. He did not want to waste too much time in the realm; time he felt would take him away from his dream of becoming the youngest Council of Elders member.

That was what he wanted, but that was not what happened. In the Northern Mountains, Ferceng met another troll, a female, who captivated him. It took but a look, but then all thoughts of becoming a Council of Elders member seemed like little more than a childhood fantasy. Why push himself so hard for something like that, when he could truly live with another who shared his heart and soul.

The two fell in love and became mates. Ferceng then used his magic to create an elegant home in caves that were closer to what he had at the Mage’s Council, though designed so that a non-Mage could make everything work. Things that a Mage took for granted, like the way they bathe themselves in a magical flow of water, air, and botanical scents were lost to those without magic. With a little tinkering, Ferceng made it work so that all a non-Mage had to do was think about the bathing chamber working and then it did.

He was content to live his life like this and never return, but then his wife became pregnant. Just because he had chosen not to return to the Mage’s Council did not mean that the Mages would be willing to let him have a family and live happily ever after. They had very strict precepts indicating that as soon as a magically potential infant was born, the Seers would become aware of the birth and the Gatherers would be dispatched to claim the child.

Ferceng knew that he could not fight the system, but wondered if perhaps there was some way to mask it. Was it possible to have a magically gifted offspring without alerting the Seers? To learn that, he knew that he had to return to the Mage’s Council and do his research, but he also knew that he only had a limited amount of time.

Leaving his wife in their home, vowing to return, Ferceng went back to the Tower and took the Third Trials, elevating him in stature to Mage Master. As a Master, any occupation and career within the Mage’s Council was open to him, whether it be taking on an Apprentice, teaching at the Academy, running a shop, writing books, or any other profession. This was the highest level that nearly all Mages aspired to. Once a Mage was a Master, they were considered to be at the peak of their development. The fifth stage of development, for those who were chosen by the ones who had already achieved the honor, was membership on the ruling body of the Mage’s Council—the Council of Elders.

Ferceng no longer aspired to become the first troll on the Council of Elders. He no longer aspired to become the youngest member of the Council of Elders. All he desired now was a way to keep his family together. It took nearly six months of exhausted research, but he finally found a way to mask the presence of a Mage.

As a Master, one may leave the Mage’s Council at any time. With the secret he learned, Ferceng did exactly that, returning to the Northern Mountains and his beloved wife, who was nearly ready to give birth. Ferceng placed the spells around his home—blocking the existence of the child who was about to be born from the Seers—and waited for his child to be born.

He recalled the excitement, the anticipation, and then the great sorrow as the troll who captured his heart grew too weak to survive the birth. He was no Healer, but he had taken the required courses for Mystical Healing and did his best to find some way to keep her alive, but she was gone, leaving him alone with a son.

Ferceng wondered whether he should return to the Mage’s Council, bringing his son with him and letting the child grow up as a Mage as he had. It was the life meant for both of them, but no matter how he reasoned it, he could not stand the thought of leaving his home, the home he built for his wife, and risk forgetting about the life he lived here. He also did not want to lose his son, letting the boy go through the system without ever knowing who his father really was or how much he was loved.

While raging the debate within his mind, the days turned into months, which then turned into years. Practically before he knew it, his son was a teenager and already showing signs of being just as gifted magically as his father. Ferceng could not possibly have been more proud.

But then fate and life intervened again. One day when his son was out hunting he stumbled across a group of humans. After a generations-long war with trolls, they were none too pleased at seeing a young troll, and took out all of their frustrations and anger. Ferceng felt each blow as if it were happening to him. He heard the cries of his son, the pleading for his father to come save him. Magically, Ferceng experienced all of this, but by the time he reached his son, only a broken and battered body remained. Even the human attackers were gone.

Ferceng’s heart broke again. First his beloved wife and then their son. He did not know why the fates were so cruel, and cursed and blamed them for everything that happened. Falling into a deep despair, Ferceng merely stared at the stars, only seeing his son as he had been in the end, lifelessly cradled in his arms, and letting time pass him by.

Never before had he felt so lost; so without direction. As a child he let his ambition guide him. As an adult it was all for love. Now, he was at a loss. Whether he lived or died no longer seemed to matter. He briefly considered returning to the Mage’s Council, but felt that it would be a betrayal to the ones he loved and the life he lived. The only option he saw was to end his own life. What was the point of going on if he had no reason for being?

That was when he heard the scream. It was a boy, like his own son, crying out in terror for his father. No matter what the fates had in store for him, Ferceng was not about to allow another child to be harmed as long as there was life left in his body. Ferceng left his perch at a sprint, moving frantically in search of the frightened child. Then, he found him.

The boy ran right into him and then fell backwards. It was a human child, dressed only in his sleeping gown. The boy shuffled back, staring up at Ferceng, trembling in fear, shivering in cold. Ferceng noted that he was wet, soaked likely from the river. Then he heard the voices. The taunts. The jeers.

“We’re going to get you!”

“You’ll never get away!”

“There’s no place you can hide from us!”

Ferceng saw them approaching, running and chasing the child like a pack of wolves. They were human, but as Ferceng stared at them, sized them up, he saw them more like beasts than men. What kind of creature would hunt and kill a child?

Then the boy before him was no longer there, replaced by his own son, his broken body looking up, begging him. “Please father, please.” Ferceng raised his head and emitted a roar so primal, putting all of his emotion, all of his passion, all of his failures, and all of his regret into this one moment.

The humans were then upon him, attacking him to get to the boy. Ferceng knew he could use magic and end this quickly, but he visualized these individuals as the ones who had killed his son. Magic would be too swift of an end for them. He struck with fury, giving in to his training from his youth. He never desired hand-to-hand combat, preferring a magical blast of power, but as he struck these villains, felt their blood on his fingers, battered them with little more than his fists or branches of nearby trees, he felt vindicated. He felt alive.

Before he even realized what was happening, there were a dozen bodies scattered around, and the child staring at him in terror. He probably had just become the nightmare that humans thought trolls were. His actions were very much like that of his people, and why his son was murdered on sight without being given a chance.

Trying to calm the terrified child, he said with a perfect inflection of the human language, “I will not hurt you. I promise.”

The boy fainted. Ferceng lifted him up, put him on his shoulder, and headed for home. Fate and life had a tendency of being ironic. Perhaps in his greatest despair, his ultimate moment of weakness, Ferceng would find a soul who needed him even more. Perhaps this child was his reason for being.

 

CHAPTER 1

 The throne room felt empty. Cold. He always remembered how lively this room was whenever he came to Reuland. King Worren had a way of making even the worst times seem positive and hopeful. Without his guidance and leadership, Rawthorne knew that they never would have won the Troll Wars. The man’s will alone united a nation and ended a generations-long war.

Yet that same man’s blood was now on Rawthorne’s hands. How he could connect the two—the sheer admiration and love for his uncle, and the belief that what he had done was for the best interests of the future of Falestia—were constantly waging a war within his mind. It was a debate with no easy answer. He felt guilty, but also just.

He had to admit that he did not know all of the reasons behind what he had done. It was more blind faith than thought out reasoning. Hindsight was like that. The Oracle filled his head with doubts and fears, and then told him that it was his destiny to sit upon the throne. She mentioned signs, like accepting barbarians and orcs as equals, as the factors that would validate what her prediction was. But, what was this future he had to protect Falestia from? Why would he be better suited to lead his people into the future than King Worren?

Those were the questions that he had no answer to, and those very same questions were eating away at him. What if the Oracle had her own agenda, and by killing Worren, Rawthorne played into her hands and instead of salvaging his beloved Kingdom, planted the seeds for its destruction? The possibility had occurred to him and he did not like that thought one bit.

Regardless of what the future would bring, and why the Oracle had guided him to take the actions that he did, it was irrelevant now. King Worren, Queen Madaline, and Prince Braksis were all dead. He was responsible, and his actions would be judged by history as just or tyrannical. He feared that history would portray him as an opportunistic tyrant, a crazed despot seeking power through butchery. If only he could reveal the truth of his thoughts, fears, and convictions. This was not what he wanted, but it is what fate demanded of him.

Of course, the Oracle was nowhere to be found. She had remained with him from the day they first met until he murdered King Worren and Queen Madaline. He could feel her presence, her guidance, her support throughout it all. It was a warmth, fueling him ever onward. Now, she was gone, and he simply felt cold and abandoned. If he had done what she wished, why would she then abandon him in their time of triumph?

The only thing he could think of was that she played him for the fool. He did not like that thought, and that was the foundation of regret. All of his doubts kept flowing back in no matter how hard he tried to force them out. He was not a King, a savior of Falestia, he was the murderer of his own flesh and blood. How did that make him fit to rule?

Looking around the room at the symbols of Worren—the symbols of triumph and greatness—he scowled. If he were to replace these with markings of his own, they would undoubtedly be ones of treachery and deceit. Falestia was not saved, it was ruined. All that made Falestia great was stolen in a single night.

The doors opened and two men walked in and knelt down before Rawthorne. As Rawthorne looked at them, he realized that they were the only men who remained loyal to him. They knew his inner secrets, the depths of his despair, and were involved in all atrocities that he committed. They were the only men left whom he could trust.

The first, Warlord Drukman, was the childhood friend of Rawthorne’s father. He has been an inspirational leader, a strategic genius, and the leader of the Falestian forces. He, however, is not without his own faults. The man attempted to murder Rawthorne’s father, leaving him for dead with the barbarians. It is an act that Rawthorne should demand retribution for, but Drukman was too valued an ally.

The Oracle sent Rawthorne to find Warlord Drukman. In a battle with the trolls and barbarians, when it was revealed that Lorrents was still alive, Drukman took men loyal to him and abandoned the battle, moving into the mountains and increasing the size of his forces and just waiting for a day when they could return.

Rawthorne had spoken candidly with Drukman, and the Warlord admitted that voices and visions had come to him, guiding his actions. Rawthorne needed to know no more. It was obvious to him that Drukman had been influenced by the Oracle, just as he had. The army he built was to serve one purpose and one purpose alone—to serve Rawthorne in his time of need.

The other man, Sir Grizz, was a knight who Rawthorne had known since childhood. Grizz, however, had a secret of his own. He was not entirely human, but a metamorph—a creature with the ability to take human form, turn into a bear, or exist as some hybrid of the two that had all of the strengths and none of the weaknesses of either form. If the people of Falestia learned the truth of Grizz, he would likely be lynched by an angry mob. His secret, know by Rawthorne, has bonded the two for years.

Rawthorne trusted Grizz and relied upon his counsel. But even he admitted that at times Grizz did not seem convinced of what he knew had to be done. Grizz was not touched by the Oracle as he and Warlord Drukman were. Where Rawthorne was convinced, Grizz was a voice of reason. That voice, however, still never defied Rawthorne when a decision was made, even if Grizz was convinced that his childhood friend was misguided and wrong.

“Arise,” Rawthorne said. “You need not kneel before me. What news do you bring?”

“There is much confusion,” Warlord Drukman said. “The people are afraid of what has happened and what is to come.”

“Their lives will forevermore be changed,” Rawthorne said. “I can understand their feelings. What of the forces that opposed us?”

“Most of the orcs have been slain or are captured,” Drukman continued. “Many Tenalonians have also been killed or captured, but a large group of them managed to flee to the north.”

“You let them escape?” Rawthorne growled angrily.

“In the confusion, they did manage to slip through our grasp,” Drukman replied.

“We should hunt them down until every last one is dead,” Rawthorne sneered.

“Rawthorne,” Grizz cautioned. “Let them go. We do not want a new war.”

“Let them go so that they can come back and try to assassinate me?” Rawthorne scoffed. “I think not!”

“They are not the only ones who escaped,” Drukman said.

“My faith in our triumph is quickly waning, Warlord,” Rawthorne said.

“It is to be expected with such an offensive that things do not always go according to plan,” Drukman said. “Our primary objectives have been achieved. These other matters are…inconveniences.”

“Then tell me of this other inconvenience,” Rawthorne said.

“Some of the dwarves, including Zanielle to the best of my knowledge, have also managed to flee.”

“You let the dwarves go?” demanded Rawthorne.

“I would not say let,” Drukman replied. “They fought their way through, leaving many bodies behind.”

“Are there any other inconveniences you wish to report?”

“We did not find the bodies of any barbarians,” Grizz said. “I can only assume that the group that was here with your father managed to leave.”

Rawthorne accepted the news and nodded. He was not displeased to know that his father had survived as long as Lorrents did not challenge him for the throne. “And what of this confusion amongst the people?”

“The people know that there was an attack upon Reuland, but they do not know who was involved and the outcome,” Drukman said. “They are not certain whether King Worren is alive or dead, or if anyone is ruling Falestia.”

“They will know what we have done soon enough,” Rawthorne said.

“Perhaps we have an opportunity here,” Drukman said.

“I’m listening.”

“People love an enemy. A reason to pull together. If you revealed that you killed the King and claimed the throne, there would be revolts and challenges to your rule until the day you die,” explained Drukman. “However, if you were to say, accept the position in light of tragic events, then the people would embrace you as you sought to bring your Uncle’s killers to justice.”

“I am my Uncle’s murderer,” Rawthorne sneered.

“But the people do not need to know that,” Drukman said. “Give them a conspiracy. Let them see the body of Krung and say that he was the assassin. The orc entrusted by the king stabbed him in the back.”

Rawthorne glanced at Grizz. “What do you think?”

“It makes sense,” Grizz said. “We do have the body, one that you yourself killed. It would make you a hero.”

“But don’t stop there,” Drukman said. “You want to hunt the Tenalonians and dwarves down? Then do so. The fellow conspirators must be brought to justice!”

“Yes,” Rawthorne said. “I can see it already. Then the entire might of Falestia shall not rest until they are found and brought back to be executed for their crimes!”

“And those who are captured will be turned into slaves for daring to be part of the plot,” Drukman said. “Such is the fate of all who oppose the humans of Falestia.”

“It just might work,” Rawthorne said. “It will work! Send out an announcement that the new King shall be addressing the people. Have a summons sent. I want all who are within a weeks travel to hear me.”

“It shall be done,” Drukman said.

Perhaps this was the future that the Oracle had promised. By following Warlord Drukman’s plan, everything that Rawthorne desired, a free Falestia for only Falestians, was about to come true. Forget about the outsiders. Forget about the inferior races. Falestia for Falestians.


 

CHAPTER 2

 His eyes slowly fluttered open. He was not where he thought he should be. Where was he? The last thing he remembered he was leading Falestian Knights and Guards to the dwarven sector where Sirs Brune and Gullerud were fighting invaders of the city. On their way, they were attacked by dwarves and elves with dark skin.

“No!” Hinbar shouted, trying to lift from the bed.

“Hinbar!”

Hinbar turned, his eyes trying to focus on the here and now rather than the distant images of the battle he was in. His wife, Wera ran to his bed, hugging him. “We were so worried about you.”

“Wera?” Hinbar weakly said.

“I’m right here,” she said.

A voice behind her said, “I’ll go get the doctor.”

Hinbar recognized the voice, but at the moment he could not place it.

“What’s going on?” Hinbar asked.

“Just rest until the doctor comes,” she said.

“Where’s…” he struggled to try and remember the name, and then it came to him. “Where’s Brina?”

“She’s safe,” Wera said. “She’s with the neighbors. I didn’t want her to see you like this.”

“Here’s the doctor,” the voice said again. Hinbar struggled to see through the haziness and saw a familiar face to go along with the voice—Elden.

The doctor approached the bed and looked down at Hinbar, reaching out and touching his glands, then his forehead. He had curly blonde hair, greenish-blue eyes, and a face that just looked like you could trust it. Hinbar thought that the doctor looked young, possibly thirty, though not likely even that old.

“How are you feeling?” the doctor asked.

“My vision is a bit off,” Hinbar said.

“That’s understandable,” the doctor said. “You got a nasty gash on your head. Lucky to be alive, though I have to admit, you’re in much better shape than most of the people brought in to see me the past few days.”

“My men?” Hinbar asked.

“Not your concern for now,” the doctor said. “Let me worry about them.”

Hinbar frowned, but did not protest.

“When can we take him home?” Wera asked.

“He should probably stay for a few more days,” the doctor said. “Make sure he’s seeing clearly.”

“Can you spare the bed?” Hinbar asked. “If my men need the room, I’ll gladly move.” As he tried to get up, he began feeling nauseous. “Maybe not.”

“Just stay where you are, Major,” the doctor said. “That’s an order.”

“Yes sir,” Hinbar said. “Thank you, doctor…?”

“Podeis,” the doctor said. “Doctor Podeis.”

“Thank you, doctor Podeis,” Hinbar replied.

As the doctor walked out, Wera began caressing the side of his head that was not injured. “Just rest, my love. Just rest.”

“What happened?” Hinbar asked.

“We don’t know yet,” Elden admitted. “Nobody is telling us anything.”

Hinbar did not like the sound of that. King Worren would never keep his people in the dark. Something dire must have happened on the night of the attack.

 v   v   v   v   v

 Sir Brune had a broken wrist, an eye swelled shut, and a noticeable limp to his walk. If that was all that was wrong with him, he was very fortunate. He had thought for certain that he and Gullerud were both dead, but both men had miraculously survived. Perhaps not miraculously, but at least by the graces of the dwarves.

Gullerud was slightly worse off. He had several broken ribs, a broken nose, and a wounded pride. He wished for nothing more than to go back to Reuland and face whatever threat attacked them head on. Brune, however, was the voice of reason and kept his friend in line. To head back to Reuland would likely mean certain death.

Zanielle and a large contingent of her dwarves had counter attacked, saving the lives of the knights and then taking them out of Reuland when they fled. She was a blacksmith, not a warrior, but since fleeing the capital of Falestia, her dwarves have been looking up to her as a leader.

Brune had to give her credit. Without knowing how to respond properly to the situation, she had gotten their people out of Reuland, found shelter where they could hide until they decided what to do, and even sent scouts searching for information. Each day, the scouts returned declaring that there was no news coming from Reuland. It was almost as if nobody was acknowledging that the attack had even happened.

Brune overheard many discussions about what to do. Some of the dwarves wanted to return to Tregador. Others wanted to go back to Reuland and try to rebuild. Some wanted to fight. He was not sure what Zanielle was thinking. She listened to every word but said very little.

On the ninth night following the attack on Reuland, one of the scouts returned with news that was somewhat more beneficial. Brune, Gullerud, and every dwarf gathered close together to hear the report first hand.

“Go ahead,” Zanielle prompted. “Tell us what ye be knowin’.”

“There be a speech comin’ up,” the dwarf said. “All those who live near Falestia are bein’ summoned to attend.”

“Do ye be knowin’ what it’s about?” Zanielle asked.

“I only be hearin’ rumors,” the scout replied.

“Tell us lad,” Brune prompted.

“The speech be from Rawthorne.”

“Rawthorne?” Gullerud scoffed. “Why would he be giving a speech?”

Brune leaned back, thinking about the news. “Perhaps he was the one behind all of this.”

“Rawthorne? You can’t be serious,” Gullerud said. “The boy’s definitely not a military genius. How would he pull this off?”

“Only one way to find out,” Brune said. “I intend to be there to find out myself.”

“We will not be goin’ with ye,” Zanielle cautioned. “If ye get into trouble again, ye be on yer own.”

“I understand,” Brune said. “We’ll see what information we can get, and then return as soon as we are able.”

“Very well, we be makin’ our decision on what to be doin’ then,” Zanielle said.

“You plan on marching back into Reuland?” Gullerud asked, dumbfounded.

We will march back into Reuland,” Brune said.

“Oh, I’m loving this so much more,” Gullerud said. “If you didn’t remember, they tried to kill us.”

“Then we’ll go as ranchers,” Brune said.

“Ranchers?” Gullerud scoffed. “Do I look like a rancher to you?”

“You will,” Brune promised. “Don’t you worry about that.”

“Oh joy,” Gullerud snorted. “I can hardly wait to give whoever tried to kill us another crack at us.”

“That’s the spirit,” Brune said. “Come on now, we have preparations to make.”


 

Book Reviews

 

Review by: Namta Gupta, Bookpleasures

This is the second book of the Warlord Trilogy and as in the previous book this too has ample action and blood fest in doses potent enough to keep an adventure lover hooked. The story talks about the journey of the true heir of Falestia and the many challenges he faces in claiming what is rightfully his. In this journey he encounters several adventures and meets several strangers that either ally with him or try to finish him. The book is an effortless read. A reader, even if he wants to, wouldn't be able to miss even a single line because Clifford B. Bowyer really leaves a reader spellbound.

 

The meeting between Braksis and his 'Troll' father come across as no les than a perfect start for the book. But then later, the lack of emotional bonding between the two does not, somehow, look very convincing. The idea that the writer has put forward is the unity of races, so then why does the hero agree to his uncle's suggestion to not call the 'Troll' his father; his silence is shattering. But then the writer already has brought into question the hero's 'cool' nature when his thought process is laid bare by him in connection to the Wraith girl. When his companion inquires about the Wraith girl, the hero at one moment feels that it may dent his quest.

 

Another highlight of this book is the vivid employment of sexual imagery. The hero and the rival both have their share of sexual relations, but the way they are presented brings out the difference in their characters minutely. While for one it is the beginning of love, for another it is just 'comfort' and gratification. The contrast couldn't have been any starker!

 

There are several new and old characters that have been introduced. Now this could have been a bad thing with a lesser writer, but Clifford has been able to give them identity and character of their own, which indeed is remarkable. The only thing that breaks concentration, while reading, is the over concentration on the aspects of warfare. But, this is something completely subjective because for some this would appear no less than a special treat! After all, what is a fantasy book without action? All in all, the second book is a good read and those who love adventure and fantasy sagas would love this one too!

 

 

 

 
 

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