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Fallen Thrones
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-267-2
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Dark Fantasy
eBook Length: 291 Pages
Published: October 2015

From inside the flap

In the shadow of the Rim Aeldan lived in relative isolation, far from the whole of the Common Realm Empire and, from the ancient gifts of the Bestowal. For centuries the Empire was governed by these special gifts, wielded together harmoniously, creating a perfectly balanced system of rule, until an evil disrupted everything.

Aeldan is the last elect; the only person capable of defeating the evil, restoring the fallen thrones, but when Aeldan suffers a life-threatening injury, he must first overcome doubt and despair, from without, and from within.

Amid his doubt and despair, Aeldan finds himself traveling with the driftmen, Laiya and Bramlett—the last hope of a fallen empire. But first he must deal with his crippling injury, face dreaded creatures of blended souls, evade capture by Lynchguard, work through his developing feelings for Laiya, and unlock the power of an ancient weapon.

Fallen Thrones (Excerpt)


CHAPTER 1

It was an ordinary beginning to an unordinary day. Dawn broke, scattered sun began sneaking through a mist rising up from the Rim. Aeldan woke as usual and made his way to the kitchen, where he found his grandfather sitting at the table, eating a piece of bread and holding his cup, finishing the last sip of a warm drink. Aeldan saw the dirt in the nail beds of his grandfather's calloused hands and knew he had already been up for some time.

"Good morning," Aeldan said, opening the cupboard. He grabbed a box of oats and poured them into a cracked wooden bowl. Any oats that missed their destination in the bowl he quickly scooped up and shoveled into his mouth, only pausing long enough to ask, "How long have you been awake?"

"Long enough to be tired again," his grandfather replied, looking exhausted, something Aeldan felt was becoming too common.

"Why didn't you wake me earlier?" Aeldan asked, then pulled back a chair and slid down into his seat, joining his grandfather at the small table. He suddenly felt concerned and no longer hungry.

"You have a long day ahead of you." His grandfather explained in a flat tone.

Puzzled, Aeldan inquired quickly, "Really? What's going on today?"

"I need you to go to the city and get supplies. We need wire to repair the north fence. There are deer still getting through and making a mess of everything. We've lost too much of our crop already, so we can't go feeding all the animals in the forest." he exclaimed before suddenly looking out the window as if he was expecting someone.

He was right. The crops were struggling and it frustrated them both. Aeldan's grandfather had taught him everything about the land, and Aeldan had assisted him each year for as far back as he could remember, but never were the fields this unproductive. He tried to take comfort in stories of the past, other years when crops were poor, and for no apparent reason. He hoped it just happened to be one of those times, yet he couldn't shake the feeling this year was different.

Barely sixteen, Aeldan was becoming a man, but his youthful facial features and thin frame was evidence he had a lot of maturing left to be done. He had clear blue eyes that shined brightly against his unkempt brown hair which hung down his face and covered his ears. Aeldan was also tall for his age, and the long hours working the farm had made him strong.

By the time Aeldan had finished his breakfast and had the horse prepared, his grandfather was already sound asleep, enjoying a short nap, which he often did before going back to work until sundown. As he was leaving, Aeldan couldn't help noticing how much older his grandfather now looked, and it wasn't just that he was aging, but it seemed accelerated, like it was happening more quickly than before.

Reluctant to leave his grandfather alone, Aeldan quietly shut the door of the small home and began his three-hour ride to Rizal, the capital and most populous city of Narra. Because he lived so far from the city and, unlike his grandfather, who detested the place, Aeldan liked visiting Rizal, he found the break from his usual chores to be enjoyable.

Like all people of Narra, Aeldan grew up in the shadow of the Rim, a giant mountain range enfolding the land in every direction except for the ocean bay to the south. The Rim consisted of the highest peaks in all the Common Realm, layered together, forming an impenetrable barrier of rock and ice.

As he traveled, the morning clouds lifted, giving way to the sun hanging high in a bright sky, a rare sight compared with the consistently thin, mist-like rain typical of the region. After an hour, he came to the shoreline of the ocean, where he could feel the heat of the sun reflecting off the water and a warm breeze. He made out some fishing boats sitting on the bay against the horizon and marveled at how serene and peaceful it was, yet how tumultuous and deadly the ocean became once beyond the bay's protective, shallow waters. No vessels ever survived outside it, for as soon as they entered the open ocean they were either buried in a giant wave or thrust against razor-sharp rocks where the Rim dove deep into the water.

He followed the shoreline until finally drawing near Rizal, where he was surprised no one was at the guard station. He couldn't recall ever finding it empty before and noted it with curiosity. Things became even more unusual when he made his way in between the small buildings, heading toward the town center. People were there, but as far as he could tell no one was buying, selling, or trading. Instead, they were talking hurriedly and moving quickly to the pavilion at the market's east end, where a crowd was gathering.

He found an empty spot and secured his horse in front of a tavern. "Can you believe it, after all this time?" he heard a woman say to another as she rushed by and found a place near the pavilion. "Do you think it's true?" a boy was asking his father as they scurried along, and with each passing moment Aeldan became more anxious and excited, to the extent his purpose in coming to town that day was entirely forgotten.

He began nudging and navigating his way through the crowd, receiving strange looks as he weaved and maneuvered to the pavilion. Eventually Aeldan reached a point close enough to see through the gathering, finding himself staring at a small group of people appearing to be exhausted, their faces sleep-deprived, worn out, and dirty. After getting a closer look, he realized they were driftmen, but their demeanor and appearance didn't at all resemble the glamorous life he had envisioned for them.

Looking around some more, Aeldan noticed the Advisors were also there, standing close by and busily talking amongst themselves in obvious efforts to conceal the nature of their conversations. Eventually, Kelso, the High Advisor, stood forth, motioning for the crowd to quiet down before beginning to speak. "As you know, each year since the collapse of the Crystal Glen Gap and under the direction of the Advisors, the driftmen have been diligent in their effort to discover a way through the Rim. Today I am pleased to announce it has been found. We are no longer secluded, no longer separate from our kinsmen of the Empire!"

As the crowd began to cheer, Kelso, a large, eccentric man, began thrusting his arms high above him, shouting victoriously, caught up in the celebration. Strutting around the stage, he clapped his hands together, only stopping occasionally to extend a congratulatory handshake to another Advisor. Aeldan could tell the High Advisor was enjoying the moment, and found himself cheering along with him, until he observed one of the driftmen was not celebrating. Instead, his countenance was somber, and he appeared deep in thought.

As the cheers subsided and the clapping drew still, Aeldan saw an older man march to the front of the crowd, with several others following behind briskly. "Do you have any proof, Kelso? Or are we to simply take your word for it?" he demanded. "Here they sit alone. What evidence do you have for this remarkable accomplishment?"

The crowd drew silent at the man's inquisition and looked to Kelso for an explanation. After an awkward silence, reluctantly Kelso turned to the driftmen and motioned for one of them to step forward-the one who had not been celebrating.

Standing before the crowd, the driftman pulled back his green hood, revealing a distinctly youthful face, short black hair, emerald-green eyes, and pale skin from a life spent in the grayness of the mountains. He stood perfectly still and silent for a moment, looking first at Kelso before fixing his eyes on the man who had come forth. Without a word or indication of what he intended, the driftman reached out and handed the man something... something small.

As the man challenging Kelso examined it, turning the object over several times, the driftman announced, "That's the Advisor Stone of Sandlin Ridge!"

Apprehension swept through the people as they anxiously waited on his words, and after giving Kelso an intense look, the driftman continued: "What I am about to say will be disappointing, but you must know. After traveling through the Rim we made for the town of Sandlin Ridge, only to discover it has been abandoned."

The cheers and excitement of moments ago abruptly morphed into tangible uncertainty, and whispers of concern spread across the gathered crowd.

The driftman waited, allowing the gravity of his revelation to sink in, but before he could continue Kelso interrupted sharply: "I understand you all have many questions, but this is all we know. The important thing is that after many years, we can finally be reunited with our kinsmen of the Common Realm. There is no reason to assume anything bad has happened. Most likely they suffered drought, which as you know, is common in the plateau lands beyond the mountains. I'm certain they simply left to find a more suitable place to live," he stated. "We want you to know your Advisors have discussed the situation and have decided to organize another group to go farther into the Common Realm and all the way to Ilithia-the capital city of the Empire!" he declared proudly. "I have no doubt we will soon be basking in the glory of the Common Realm, with everyone celebrating our return!"