Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Veil of a Warrior - Chapter 3

As a longtime fan of fantasy and the Epic Fantasy genre, I have a soft spot for magic systems and for books that can capture the mystery of magic without becoming a save-the-day plot device. This story has magic, but the focus is on Hestea. A future novel planned will dive more into the nuances of Quan in this universe, one I look forward to returning to work on in the coming year.

With that said, onto Chapter 3 and meet Sethil...

11/20/14, on Amazon for pre-order now.


Excerpt from:
Veil of a
~ Hammerblood, Book 1 ~
By Clifton Hill
(Novel is Epic Fantasy, approx 550 pages)
Expected Publish Date: 11/20/2014
All rights reserved. © Clifton Hill


Chapter 3
The Headache of Talent

Walking alongside his apprentice’s horse, Sethil Longmere, magus of the Third Circle, Magi Master of Dormir’s army, and a man who had seen more years than most men could count, did his best to keep his apprentice Rousche from falling off his gelding. The dun horse had a sure foot and a good temper, but it seemed unlikely the animal was used to a grown man lying face first in its mane, legs sprawled behind, dangling with each step.
Sethil muttered some choice words under his breath in a language that had probably not been spoken in this land for over two centuries, while the horse picked through thick forest undergrowth. The boy was not drunk, and he was not wounded. Perhaps it would have been better if he was.
“It is not his fault,” said Sethil under his breath, wondering if he said it enough times, he might decide to accept it.
The boy snorted. A long, ripping snore, as if he lay upon some four-posted feather bed, covered in lace and velvet
“This is no inn.”
But it was a curse of his gift. Sethil scowled, rubbing a nervous tic in his weathered cheek with a boney finger.
Nearly catatonic, the spindly boy’s arms swayed with the gentle gait.
This is...tiresome.
His other apprentice, Jokai, walked at his back, leading their mounts. His dark skin was nearly black in the gloom of the forest and when Rousche was like this, he rarely said much. Or perhaps he said little when Sethil was like this.
“I don’t care how much ability the boy has, this is a burden.”
“But, Master, what else would you do?” said the boy with some concern for his fellow.
Sethil grunted, wanting to respond, but not sure he should.
Despite puffing breaths, Sethil could not keep pace with the army and was falling steadily behind. A squad of soldiers held back to watch them, but it was irritating to Sethil to have to move so slowly. If they didn’t reach the open soon, he would have one of the Molrounians carry the lad himself until they could ride at a faster pace. But for now they were not needed.
Pulling off his thick leather helm, Sethil wiped away beading sweat he did not see on any of the soldiers. “I hate wearing helmets.”
Finally, Sethil sighed happily, seeing the light that poked through at the edge of the forest. Beyond it would be a long meadow that rose slowly and turned into rockier hills beyond. He’d be able to jump back on his mule then and guide Rousche’s gelding at a faster pace.
Jokai cleared his throat in distress. “Master, we’re nearly at the back.”
“I know, don’t worry,” dismissed Sethil with a flick of his fingers, “we’ll be out of the forest soon. We’ll catch up then.”
Sethil knew if he looked, that Jokai would be frowning, not unlike himself.
Knuckling his back, Sethil had to grin, despite his old bones that had seen too many years.
Sethil looked up at Rousche. “Don’t worry, lad, I’ve got you.”
Face contorting, Rousche turned squinted light brown eyes on Sethil. His mouth worked as he tried to fight off the fog of his headache. “Master! There is—something.” Grunting, Rousche pulled himself up with shaky hands. Sitting tall in his saddle, thick brown hair sticking up and disheveled.
“What is it?” Sethil snapped. Feeling at his store of power he instinctively sought the connection to draw more. Calming himself, centering, he reached across that impossibly far expanse, grasping for the energy of life and the source of power.
Fighting for lucidity, Rousche pointed and shouted with abrupt clarity, sleep falling from his pale face, eyes alive with fright and a terrible focus, “The enemy is here!”
Sethil’s eyes nearly popped out of his weathered face. Just barely visible to his Quan Sight, he saw a building of power up near the meadow — where the last of Zakea’s forces were pouring out into the open and falling into rank amidst tall, concealing grass.
“Blast it, Sacraith!”
Sethil drew hard on the Great Circles of Quan. Demanding of the power, pulling it toward him. The threat of death descended like a terrible storm and suddenly everything was in question.
Three of the lingering soldiers nearly leapt at the exclamations and went running forward, arms waving as they shouted the warning ahead.
“It’s a trap,” Sethil muttered.
His attention distracted, Sethil failed to notice a low tree limb as they came to the edge of the forest. With a thump, Rousche went tumbling from the saddle, knocked unconscious by the blow.
Sethil winced, swearing loudly, “By the Eighth Circle! Jokai! Grab Rousche and follow me. The general needs us!”
 Irises glowing with the building power that was life, Sethil ran as fast as his old bones could carry him, his face like weathered stone.


Thanks for reading, watch for the book release: 11/20/14.

And read the short novelette, Seeking the Veil. See Hestea as he first leaves his secret home, raw and untested. Discover his past and the trials of Beckenburg that he will not speak of. Part 1 is now available on Amazon, Parts 2 and 3 will release in 2014.

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