Bridge of Soulsby Fiona McIntosh
Wyl Thirsk, former general of the Morgravian army and bearer of the curse known as Myrren's gift, is running out of time. Marriage between his beloved Queen Valentyna and his sworn enemy, the despotic King Celimus, is imminent; yet, despite the impending nuptials, war looms between the two nations, while the threat from the Mountain Kingdom grows stronger. Trapped… See more details below
Wyl Thirsk, former general of the Morgravian army and bearer of the curse known as Myrren's gift, is running out of time. Marriage between his beloved Queen Valentyna and his sworn enemy, the despotic King Celimus, is imminent; yet, despite the impending nuptials, war looms between the two nations, while the threat from the Mountain Kingdom grows stronger. Trapped in a body not his own, with his friends and supporters scattered throughout the realm, Wyl is as desperate to prevent the wedding as he is to end Myrren's "gift" a magic that will cease only when he assumes the throne of Morgravia.
Clinging to an ominous suggestion from his young friend Fynch, an increasingly powerful mage, Wyl must walk his most dangerous path yet straight into the brutal clutches of Celimus in a desperate attempt to save his nation, his love, and himself.
Meet the Author
Fiona McIntosh was raised in the U.K. but left London to explore the world and found herself in Australia, where she fell in love with the country and one person in particular. She has since roamed the planet for her work in the travel industry but now writes full-time and continues to draw inspiration from her travels. McIntosh lives with her husband and teenage sons, splitting her time between city life in South Australia and the wilderness of Tasmania.
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Bridge of SoulsThe Quickening Book Three
By Fiona McIntosh
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Fiona McIntosh
All right reserved.
The vineyard sprawled before them, the land suddenly sloping down in the distance to a small shingle beach and the channel of sea. The tang of salt in the air was invigorating and the bright day with its cloudless sky and sharp light reminded Aremys of how much he had missed the north all these years. He inhaled the air now and smiled. It felt good to be alive, despite the new and sudden complexities in his life.
With his memory now blessedly returned, Aremys felt much better equipped to accept the King's invitation to "walk the rows" of vines at Racklaryon. The mercenary learned that it was one of Cailech's great pleasures to see his vineyard bursting with new life each spring, showing the spectacular results of the savage pruning his vignerons insisted upon.
King and mercenary looked out now across the neat rows and Aremys could almost taste the wine this field would produce at summer's end. Bright green leaves, like the protective wings of a mother hen, shaded their yet-to-mature babies, bunches of fruit that hung like tiny green jewels, fattening and ripening daily as the plants sent out fresh tendrils to weave and curl their way along the special lines that supported the vines. The Mountain People had pioneered this method of support. In the south, the vines were left to themselves, to grow tall at first, stooping over when heavy with fruit. It made for a ragged, untidy vineyard but, in truth, did not affect the quality of the wine. In the north, however, vine support lines had been developed to air the fruit, as some months were humid and damp. It also looked more spectacular.
Cailech's people took pride in the ordered appearance of their vineyards. Not only were the rows straight but each vine was sung to as it was planted -- a small prayer to Haldor that each new beginning might yield life of its own. At each row's end, the Mountain People planted a flower called a trineal. It was beautiful but fragile, very susceptible to lack of water or other natural attacks. Cailech's vignerons maintained that if the trineal foundered, they would have but a few weeks to find the solution to prevent the vines from following suit. It was an ancient tradition but one still faithfully adhered to. The bright rainbow colors of the trineal bushes were an attractive feature in this, Cailech's favorite vineyard, and they stood proud, colorful, and healthy at the heads of the rows. It would be a bountiful harvest, the men murmured.
The King was rarely alone; today he was flanked by Myrt and Byl. Aremys had come to know these particular fellows well since his curious arrival in the Razors. He felt comfortable in their presence and over the past few days had started to view them as companions as much as captors. Nevertheless, he had chosen not to reveal that his memory was fully restored. It suited him that these Mountain Dwellers knew only as much as he was prepared to share, until he could learn more about their intentions for him.
The small company had ridden to the vineyard beyond the lake and Aremys was sorry to see that the King had not chosen to bring the intriguing black horse that had caused him such fright on their previous ride. He mentioned his disappointment to Cailech.
"Ah yes, Galapek," the King replied softly, and Aremys felt the weight of the green gaze upon him. "I had the impression that he disturbed you somehow the last time we rode together."
It was said without accusation but Aremys felt the scrutiny couched within. Wyl Thirsk's warning burned in his mind: Only a fool took any comment by Cailech at face value. Everything he says has a purpose, Wyl had impressed upon Aremys during their journey together from Felrawthy. He misses nothing.
The mercenary thought back to the moment of disturbance the King spoke of. It had occurred only a few days ago. Aremys had initially admired the King's mount but, on casually touching the horse's strong neck, had felt a blast of dark, tainted magic surge through his hands. It had been an intense shock for Aremys -- not only that the creature was alive with magic, but also that he could sense it -- and he had jerked back in distress. Worse, he had been unable to regain his composure and had been forced to excuse himself from the party of riders. The entire scene had been embarrassing to Aremys, but, more important, no doubt had also appeared suspicious to his keepers at a time when he was striving to convince them that he was not a Morgravian spy or a threat to any of the Mountain Dwellers.
The only positive outcome was that the shock seemed to have caused his amnesia to dissipate and he had been able to piece together what he was doing in the Razors. He remembered following Wyl Thirsk, who now walked in the guise of his sister, Ylena, courtesy of the powerful gift, the Quickening. Together they had entered the mysterious region in the far northeast known as the Thicket. Aremys recalled Wyl asking him to whistle so they would not lose each other among the tangle of this dense landmark. He had obliged, could even remember the tune he had chosen, but then all had gone black and he had woken, disoriented and without his memory, on the frozen rocks of the northern mountain range. Cailech's men had discovered him there, and aided by his genuine confusion, he had managed to muddle his way through those early and dangerous stages. He felt convinced now that he had carefully won not only the trust of the Mountain warriors but that of their king as well. Wyl had warned Aremys that the Mountain King was changeable, capricious even, and had recounted the terrible night of the feast when Cailech had threatened to roast alive the Morgravian prisoners . . .
Excerpted from Bridge of Souls by Fiona McIntosh Copyright © 2006 by Fiona McIntosh. Excerpted by permission.
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