The next Sacred Land book is still in the works (I am finishing up Wielder: Apprentice for a November release date). Since the new Sacred Land novel is still a ways away from publication, I thought you guys might like to read chapter one of the next book to whet your appetite. I will warn you that it is still in rough draft form. It has not been edited and it is subject to change before the final release date. If you have finished reading Exiles (the short or long book) then you are ready to read this chapter. The two book titles that will make up Redemption of the Sacred Land omnibus edition are Conquerors of the Sacred Land and Redemption of the Sacred Land. Conquerors of the Sacred Land will be released first and it will be a complete novel of about 50000 words. Redemption will also be about 50000 words and should wrap up the current storyline started in Defenders of the Sacred Land. (there may be one more 50000 novel after Redemption if I need more space to tell and wrap up the story)
Does this mean there will will be no more Sacred Land series? Heck no, there is another story to tell but instead of tacking it on to the end of this series like I had originally planned, it would be much better told as a series of it's own. I will probably write it after I complete the Wielder Cycle trilogy and the other trilogy series I have planned.
Okay, as promised here is the unedited, unpolished chapter one of Conquerors of the Sacred Land Enjoy!
“Sythril no longer prowls the streets.” Toborne’s guttural voice reverberated low and harsh. “Our enemies remain off guard, set on a much needed rest.”
“They have forgotten you, master, it is to your advantage.” The Drasmyd Duil folded his wings around himself.
“No, Morgoran and Ianthill do not forget so handily.”
“They have grown careless then.”
“Perhaps, but do not be so certain. I cursed General Sythril, and I cursed him for a specific reason. By’temog is a city of secrets, my secrets.”
Lady Shey handed the pipe she had just packed with tabac to Gondrial. He took the pipe and lit it with the stick he had burning in the campfire.
“Thank you.” He told her. She nodded and sat down on the fallen elm tree log beside him.
After Gondrial was satisfied his pipe was well lit he sat back and poured himself an ale. “Ah, amber ale. That Theosus fellow sure does know how to travel.”
“Are you certain he knows you are into his ale?” Shey asked.
Gondrial shrugged and grunted something as he downed some of the ale.
Ianthill let out a great cloud of smoke, “Look at that moon; all silvery and full. It’s times like these that make life almost worth it.”
“You have your bar set entirely too low, Ianthill.” Gondrial quipped.
“One day you will realize that life has more to offer than a stiff drink and a good time.” Ianthill rebutted.
Gondrial held up his tankard of ale, “May that dreadful day never come.”
Lady Shey decided to pour some of the ale for herself. “Do you need a refill, Ianthill?”
“Aye, since you are up.” He handed his half empty tankard to her. “Come to think of it, have you two seen Vesperin or Fayne since breakfast?”
Lady Shey handed Ianthill back his tankard, “They were cleaning out the cracks in between the stones in Vesperin’s bedchamber with sharpened sticks the last time I saw them.”
“They were doing what?” Ianthill said and then chuckled.
Lady Shey sat down on the log beside Gondrial again, “I know. I asked them why in the world they were trying to clean out the crevices of an old ruin and do you know what Vesperin told me?”
“This ought to be good.” Ianthill said.
“He said that they found an old gold coin lodged in one of the cracks and they were looking for more.”
Gondrial sloshed his ale, “Vesperin told you that? Since when does he care anything about worldly possessions? I thought all of those cleric of Loracia types had other, higher priorities.”
Lady Shey smirked, “I don’t know. He said he wanted to see if they could find any more of them.”
“To each his own.” Gondrial said before he took another drink. “Who are we to question or judge?”
“I expected Morgoran and Dorenn to be back by now. It’s getting late.” Ianthill said.
“It’s not that late yet,” Gondrial got up to refill his tankard.
“Seriously Gondrial, that has to be your fifth or sixth tankard. Go easy on that stuff. Shey can’t you do something?”
“It’s only my eighth and after flying around on that damned ship I need it.”
“You know I can’t do anything about it. And you know how he is when he gets going. Shey said.
“Ah, some ale!” It was Morgoran.
Ianthill reached into his pack nearby and produced another tankard. He tossed it to Morgoran. “Here you go.”
“Thank you brother.”
Dorenn found his way to the fallen log and plopped down. “Are there anymore tankards about?” He asked.
“I’ll go and get you one.” Shey said. “Don’t go into any details until I get back.” She scurried off.
Morgoran took out his long stemmed pipe and found his pouch of cherry blossom tabac. He sat down near Ianthill and began stuffing the pipe.
Lady Shey returned a few moments later with a tankard that she quickly filled for Dorenn.
“Well?” Ianthill asked.
Morgoran lit his pipe. “He was there. Kerad is as good as Naneden’s lap dog now. All that time he was supposed to be taking care of me in my cursed state and he was planting seeds of betrayal. If Dorenn hadn’t have snapped me out of his control there is no telling what I might have done.”
“Don’t beat yourself up about it.” Ianthill told him. “We were all fooled. Enowene worked side by side with him and never suspected, and she has eyes everywhere.”
“So Kimala is found out then.” Shey wondered but already knew the answer.
“Aye, from what we were told, Kerad made sure she was exposed as soon as he could. We looked as much as we could without being detected but we never did find her.”
Dorenn took a long drink from his tankard. “I thought I got a sense of Sylvalora at one point too.” He said. “She may be there somewhere, I can’t be sure. I still don’t know how all of this is supposed to work.” He pointed to his head.
There was a long silence while Dorenn packed his pipe and Gondrial sucked down more ale.
Ianthill puffed another cloud of smoke before breaking the silence. “Oh, I did get a bit further on deciphering the tome. There are a few Amar runes that I recognized. It was a set of instructions basically saying that the tome can be read by those who need to see it the most or some fool thing like that.”
“Not very helpful is it.” Gondrial stated, his speech beginning to slur.
“Actually, it makes some sense to me.” Dorenn spoke up, “I think it means that the words can be read by anyone who does not already wield in some way. It is a book for bestowing magic on mankind. It makes sense that people who have no knowledge of a magical system might pick up and read it.”
“If that’s what it means then we don’t need to go to Lux Amarou after all.” Lady Shey said.
Dorenn clicked his pipe as he bit down on the stem and spoke between clinched teeth. “No, we are still going. I want to know everything in that book not just a few instructions.” He glanced at the full moon and stars, his voice becoming somber, “but first, I think it’s time to go home to Brookhaven. If it takes a war to oust Naneden from the highlord’s throne, we may not get another chance.”
“You may be correct. From what I have seen and heard, Naneden had enough of an unholy army of Dramyd and Drasmyd Duil to take and hold Lux Enor, but at the moment he doesn’t have the numbers to branch out from there. What small forces we had were mostly likely reduced to almost nothing. He knows that if we can muster a force, or somehow get our army back, his main force needs to defend the city.” Ianthill postulated.
“I agree,” said Morgoran. “I think you are dead on. Ianthill, except for one point. Toborne has been mysteriously absent while Naneden has ravaged Symboria. He has Sylvalora hidden somewhere and he turned Melias into an even stronger version of Drasmyd Duil.’ He looked to Dorenn, “What is it called again?”
“Brae Daun Duil.” Dorenn answered.
“Aye, Brae Daun Duil, thanks right. He is obviously somewhere where he can tinker with the old methods he and I pioneered. He has to be getting a fresh supply of dragon eggs and dragon spawn in an area big enough to work. I think he will also bring his countrymen from the east, both Abaddonia and Scarovia, to bear on Symboria before long. “
Ianthill puffed on his pipe a moment, “He might even have ties with the dragons Kragodor again.”
“I can answer that.” Dorenn spoke up. ‘”He doesn’t have ties with Kragodor. I have spoken to King Dravenclaw and his lieutenants. They want nothing to do with Toborne. They did tell me of a rumor that Toborne has dragon farms somewhere on the Scarovian side of the Jagged Mountains. They wanted to send patrols out that way to investigate but they can’t get past King Amarantus’ dragon patrols out of Draegodor, and the king refuses to grant an audience with any of them.”
“That old stubborn fool of a dragon.” Morgoran said of King Amarantus. “He never did know when to let up.”
“He holds terrible grudges too.” Ianthill added. “ how did you manage to talk to the king of the dragons in exile?”
“It’s a long story, but a quick answer would be that I learned about how to approach him through one of the essence I absorbed.”
Morgoran let out a billow of smoke, “That still doesn’t sit right with me. Are you certain you are not having headaches or any other ill effects from the trials?”
Dorenn took a deep breath, “Not as such, no. However, I no longer feel them or their influence. It’s as if they have faded away and left behind only what I need. Like a cup of ocean water leaves salt behind when the water fades away. I can remember how to do certain things, but I am no longer driven by them.” He stared into Morgoran’s bright blue eyes for a moment until the old wielder became uncomfortable.
“What is it? You are staring a hole right through me!” He quipped.
“I was just wondering how far you would have gone if Kerad’s influence had held.”
Lady Shey crossed her arms in riposte, “Don’t let thoughts like that consume you. Morgoran is stronger than you might realize.”
Morgoran stopped his old apprentice with a hand gesture, “it’s a valid question Shey. A question I can probably answer so that we can be done with it.” He took a swig from his tankard. “I probably wouldn’t have killed you, but I would not have stopped until I hunted you down and got you where I wanted you. I don’t know if Kerad’s influence would have subsided or if I would have snapped out of it on my own, but I am not a murderer.”
“I’m glad you still have a sense of humor about it.” Dorenn said.
“I wasn’t kidding with you. The anger that was raging inside of me seemed to be very real, although I could not justify it. Every time you came near it festered.”
A long silence blanketed over them before Ianthill thought of a way to break it, “You know, there is a great library here at By’temog.” He pointed the stem of his pipe to a crumbling building a short walk from where they sat relaxing.
“Was a great library,’ Morgoran corrected. “I’m sure the parchment and scrolls have long since turned to dust, it’s been centuries since anyone has been inside it.”
“Do either of you remember where it is?” Dorenn asked. “I would be interested in seeing what is still there, Maybe some dusty books survived or some forgotten written treasure that hasn’t been seen for years!”
Ianthill pointed his pipe stem toward the library building again and continued to point at it with a stabbing motion.
“I get it, Ianthill, you are pointing at the library.” Dorenn stated flatly.
“It would be interesting to explore. I, for one, am bored lounging around.” Lady Shey said.
“This may be our only chance to enjoy a respite for a long while, Shey.” Morgoran pointed out.
“And I can’t think of a better way to spend a respite than curled up with a fascinating book. I think we should go see what’s there.” Shey said.
“Count me out.” Gondrial slurred. “The last place I want to be is traipsing through a dusty, moldy library. I think I will go to bed.” He got up and stumbled away.
Dorenn tapped the spent tabac out of his pipe into the palm of his hand, “You know, my lady, you seem excited to discover lost volumes of lore and I do have the Tome of Enlightenment.”
Lady Shey took Dorenn by the arm, “Aye, and none of us can make any sense out of it yet.” She brightened, “In fact, this library may have books to help us with reading it.”
“Don’t get your hopes up too high.” Morgoran cautioned. “While it is true that no one has been able to get near this library since General Sythril began roaming the ruins, we must face the possibility that most of the fragile tomes will no longer be readable.”
“Such negativity! We won’t know until we go find out.” She replied.
“Why don’t we head there at first light? It is getting late, and I am sure we could explore it better in the daytime.” Ianthill suggested.
“Aye, I think that’s best.” Dorenn agreed. ‘We can explore the library tomorrow and be on our way to Brookhaven on the day following.”
“It is settled then.” Morgoran said.