The world of Kerith has reached a pivotal moment in its history, as rival factions are forced to band together against both known enemies and an unexpected invasion force.
Life, Death, and the elemental Gods have awakened in the lands of Kerith after a cataclysmic collision with Trevalka, home of Vaelinar ambition, lies, and magic. Only a handful of the bravest and most foolhardy left standing dare to face the consequences of these two worlds meeting. Unwillingly thrust through space and time, the Vaelinars have made the most of their exile and woven the threads of their magic deep into the fabric of Kerith. Makers and masters of the Elven Ways, now they, and the Gods, must choose their final paths.
Rivergrace and her partner Sevryn have no choice but to cross the treacherous divide between worlds in pursuit of Quendius and his army of Undead. They are determined to risk everything to prevent the Death Master from joining forces with the queen of lost Trevalka, a tyrant who has risen to power by draining the energies of those around her. Cut off from all their allies and friends, Rivergrace and Sevryn may have to sacrifice their magic, their love, and their very existence to save the world they left behind.
Back on Kerith, the Warrior Queen Lariel awakens from an assassination attempt to find her people on the brink of civil war. Lariel's heirs—Nutmeg Farbranch's children—have been kidnapped, and Nutmeg will risk anything for their safe return. As primal forces rise in judgment, Dwellers, Kernans, Galdarkans, and Vaelinars alike must pick allies carefully if any of them are to survive.
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HE ASKS ME to tell the truth, and yet all Vaelinars are liars. That’s how they raise their fortunes, and that’s how they inevitably collapse, taking all of us down with them. He cannot put himself out there, so he asks me, Kerith-born, to do it for him.”
Lily placed her hand over her husband’s. He could feel the calluses from the looms on her long and slender fingers, as well as the strength within them. She squeezed lightly, so as not to crush the letter he held. “Would you count our Rivergrace among them?”
“We raised her differently. She’s one of ours, Dweller down to the bone, with the good sense any of us have. She just looks Vaelinar.” His mouth skewed a bit to one side, bringing the wrinkles that aged him to prominence. He brushed the palm of his hand over his salt-and-pepper hair and took a deep breath.
“And what about Lord Bistane? He’s as good a man as we can find, he and Verdayne, both Bistel’s sons, and the late lord—rest his soul—raised them in his footsteps. They are all good men.”
“I won’t haggle that with you, most especially when you’re right. But, woman, you know it as well as I do, with the rest, untruth leaps more easily to their lips than truth. They are more untrustworthy with it than a trader with your gold.” He waved his pipe about. “The lot, even Lariel, rest her soul, wrap their tongues about lies any time it favors them to do so. And we live and die on truth, Lily. We don’t use magic to build our homes and protect our families. We do hard, honest work.”
“You can walk down the street to the pub and be hard-pressed to prove that.”
“Bah. What do you want of me?”
“He asked you to tell the truth.”
“Bistane asks the impossible of me, and he should know better. A Vaelinar doesn’t know veracity. He can’t carry it in his heart or his blood or his senses. And his asking will get us all killed because they do not like it when their dark underbelly gets exposed to the light.” Tolby Farbranch smashed the letter in one hand, knuckles turning white. He did not care for being enmeshed in Vaelinar politics; for all that he had friends and allies within the high elven, those trusts and entanglements would cost him his family. Since the day that sorcery had blasted its way into his world and deposited the lot, they’d done nothing but cause trouble. True, they’d brought wonders with them, magics and knowledge, but so interwoven with tribulations that he questioned their worth. The Dwellers were practical folk, their neighbor Kernans wanted to profit and explore, and the Galdarkans had been left to their own devices, nomads who ranged the continent after the Mageborn who’d made them self-destructed in magic-wrought wars. Vaelinars, though, that lot wanted to rule the world almost as badly as the Mageborn had. “What truth? His? If I’d done what Lord Bistane wanted, stayed with Lariel so that she could have her heir near, we’d all be dead, slaughtered in Larandaril. This letter tells me that. Do you think the assassin started with just one room in mind? No. He undoubtedly watched and observed the manor for days before he went in, looking for the children and us first before he went after the Warrior Queen, but we weren’t there for him to find. I left in spite of his protests, but I was right, curse it, I was right! I’ve lost one daughter to their damned schemes and now Bistane warns me I might lose Nutmeg unless the truth comes out. Tressandre ild Fallyn is openly moving on the throne again because she can, because Lara sleeps in an endless night. It’s been out, Gods curse their truth. They’ve taken Nutmeg before to get at the throne. They’ll do it again.” The farmhouse trembled with the thunder in his voice. Dust motes skittered and danced with the force of his gesture.
Lily slid her hand over his fist. “Don’t you think he knows that? But the ild Fallyn hide in corners and shadows, and we can take that away from them.”
“Bah. You and he—you think they’ll scuttle away from the brightness. They’re like any other pest. They’ll hide until the shadows return. They live on hatred and bitterness, and they’ll not relent until every cursed one of them is gone.” The tenseness in his shoulders did relax a bit as his wife leaned her head on him. “They are Vaelinar,” he reminded her. “They are born to power and live to treble their birthright. Only this isn’t their world. It’s ours, but they cannot live quietly in exile.”
Lily half-smiled. “If it were you, Tolby, you’d never go quietly.”
“Never! Not until I had my family and world back.” He caught himself and cleared his throat. His voice lowered. “Too right you are. I would not go quietly.” She turned his fist over and opened his fingers for him.
“Then you might start by telling the truth as we know it.”
He opened the crumpled paper between both hands, smoothing it down. “My way.”
Her smile blossomed wider. “I do believe that’s what Bistane had in mind.”
“Aye, and he’s one of the best, the ones who shared better ways to farm and create and educate our minds. They’ve shaped the way we live today. They didn’t know how they came here or why for hundreds and hundreds of years. They thought they were lost and now they know they were exiled. High elven or not, I pity them for that. History is one of the greatest teachers, and theirs was torn from them. No wonder they’ve stumbled so here while trying to find their way.” Lily raised her head, kissed his cheek, and crossed the room. She paused at the threshold. “But they’ve always met their match on Kerith, and always will. We Dwellers thrive on stubbornness.” Still smiling, she left him alone in the room to do as he would, knowing he’d think on her words.
Tolby chuckled then, and kicked out a chair to sit down and read the letter again. He swept his desktop clean with one arm to make way, sending papers ruffling to one side and rattling the inkpot.
He would start, he thought, by reminding his audience that his daughter Rivergrace and her man Sevryn disappeared from the battlefields of Larandaril in hopes of stopping the master of death Quendius as he strode from one world to another with an army of Undead slaves at his heels. She stepped onto a bridge of light and magic, heading to another world which had swallowed her up and not given her back. He would remind them of his loss, because they’d all had losses, and would understand. He’d give them the truth as native born on Kerith knew it, and hoped that would sate Bistane’s intentions. And then, then, he would offer them hope, if he could only think of how he could do that.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
First book I have read in a while that I had to read in spurts. It was so in tense