Peter Orullian's epic fantasy debut The Unremembered has been critically acclaimed, earning starred reviews and glowing praise. But now it gets even better. In anticipation of the second volume in Orullian's epic series, and for one of the few times in our publishing history, we at Tor are choosing to relaunch a title with an author's definitive edition.
In addition to stunning updates to the original text, we're also including an exclusive short story set in the world of Vault of Heaven as well as a sneak preview of the sequel, Trial of Intentions, and a glossary to the universe.
The gods who created this world have abandoned it. In their mercy however, they sealed the rogue god-and the monstrous creatures he created to plague mortal kind-in the vast and inhospitable wasteland of the Bourne. The magical Veil that protected humankind for millennia has become weak and creatures of nightmare have now come through. Those who stand against evil know that only drastic measures will prevent a devastating invasion.
Tahn Junell is a hunter who's unaware of the dark forces that imperil his world, in much the same way his youth is lost to memory. But an imperious man who wears the sigil of the feared Order of Sheason and a beautiful woman of the legendary Far have shared the danger with Tahn. They've asked him, his sister, and his friends to embark with them on a journey that will change their lives . . . and the world . . . forever. And in the process, he'll remember . . .
About the Author
PETER ORULLIAN works in marketing at Xbox, most recently leading the Music and Entertainment marketing strategy for Xbox LIVE, and has toured as a featured vocalist internationally at major music festivals. He has published several short stories. The Unremembered is his first novel. He lives in Seattle.
Read an Excerpt
By Peter Orullian
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2015 Peter Orullian
All rights reserved.
It is the natural condition of man to strive for certainty. It is also his condition not to find it. Not for long, anyway. Even a star may wander.
—From Commentary on Categoricals, a reader for children nominated to Dimnian cognitive training
Tranquil darkness stretched to the horizon. Small hours. Moments of quiet, of peace. Moments when faraway stars seemed as close and familiar as friends. Moments of night before the east would hint of sunrise. Tahn stepped into these small hours. Into the chill night air. He went to spend time with the stars. To imagine dawn. As he always had.
There was a kind of song in it all. A predictable rhythm and melody that might only be heard by one willing to remain quiet and unmoving long enough to note the movement of a star. It could be heard in the phases of the moons. It was by turns a single deep sonorous note, large as a russet sun setting slow, and then a great chorus, as when showers of shooting stars brightened the night sky. They were harmonies across ages, heard during the brief measure of a life. But only if one paused, as Tahn did, to watch and listen.
He stood at the edge of the High Plains of Sedagin. The bluff rose a thousand strides off the flatlands below. Stars winked like sparkling bits of glass on a dark tablecloth. His breath clouded the night, and droplets hung like frozen tears from low scrub and sage.
He looked east and let his thoughts come naturally. Deep into the far reaches of the sky he let them wander, his emotions and hopes struggling for form with the stars. He traced the constellations, some from old stories, some from memories whose sources were lost to him. A half-full moon had risen high, its surface bright and clear. The pale outline of the darkened portion appeared a ghostly halo.
Tahn closed his eyes and let his thoughts run out even further, imagining the sun; imagining its warmth and radiance, its calm, sure track across the heavens. He imagined the sky changing color in the east from black to violet to sea blue and finally the color of clear, shallow water. He pictured more color as sunlight came to the forest and touched its leaves and cones and limbs. He envisioned those first moments of dawn, the unfurling of flower petals to its light, its glint on rippling water, steam rising from warming loam. And as he always did at such a moment, Tahn felt like part of the land, another leaf to be touched by the sun. His thoughts coalesced into the singular moment of sunrise and another hope risen up from the night, born again with quiet strength.
He opened his eyes to the dark skies and the foliate pattern of stars. In the east, the first intimation of day arose as the black hinted of violet hues. A quiet relief filled him, and he took a lungful of air.
Another day would come. And pass. Until the beautiful, distant stars returned, and he came again to watch. Until someday, when either he or the sun would not rise. And the song would end.
He lingered, enjoying a moment's peace. They'd been on the road more days than he could remember. Chased by the Quiet. Chased since the night he'd let Wendra down, failed to shoot when she'd needed him, when the Quiet took her child. Tahn shook his head with guilt at the memory of it.
And now here he was. Weeks later. Far from home. Just tonight they'd climbed this plateau, arriving after midnight. After dark hour.
He took a long breath, relaxing in the stillness.
The sound of boots over frost-covered earth startled him. He turned to see Vendanj come to join him.
Even the shadows of night couldn't soften the hard edges of the man. Vendanj wore determination the way another does his boots. Carried it in his eyes and shoulders. Vendanj was a member of the Sheason Order, those who rendered the Will—that melding of spirit and body, energy and matter. The Sheason weren't well known in the Hollows, Tahn's home. And Tahn was learning that beyond the Hollows, the Sheason weren't always welcome. Were even distrusted.
Vendanj came up beside him, and stared out over the plains far and away below. He didn't rush to clutter the silence with words. And they watched together for a time.
After long moments, Vendanj eyed Tahn with wry suspicion. "You do this every morning." It wasn't a question.
Tahn returned the wry grin. "How would you know? You follow me everywhere?"
"Just until we reach the Saeculorum," Vendanj answered.
They shared quiet laughter over that. It was a rare jest from Vendanj. But it was a square jest, the kind with truth inside. Because they were, in fact, going to the Saeculorum—mountains at the far end of the Eastlands. Several months' travel from here.
"For as long as I can remember," Tahn finally admitted, "I've gotten up early to watch the sunrise. Habit now, I guess."
Vendanj folded his arms as he stared east. "It's more than a habit, I suspect."
And he was right. It was more like a compulsion. A need. To stand with the stars. Imagine daybreak.
But Vendanj didn't press, and fell silent again for a time.
Into the silence, distantly, came again the sound of footfalls over hard dirt. The chill air grew ... tight. Dense. It seemed to press on Tahn. Panic tightened his gut. Vendanj held up a hand for Tahn not to speak. A few moments later, up the trail of the cliff face came a figure, unhurried. Directly toward them.
Soon, the moon brought the shape into focus. A man. He wore an unremarkable coat, buttoned high against the chill. No cowl or robe or weapon. No smile of greeting. No frown. It was the man's utter lack of expression that frightened Tahn most, as if feeling had gone out of him.
Twenty strides from them, the other stopped, returning the bluff to silence. The figure stared at them through the dark. Stared at them with disregard.
Softer than a whisper, "Velle," Vendanj said.
My dying gods.
Velle were Quiet renderers of the Will. Like Sheason, but followers of the dissenting god.
The silence stretched between them, dawn still a long while away.
Into the stillness, the other spoke, his voice soft and low. "Your legs will tire, Sheason. And we will be there when they do." He pointed at Tahn. "Send me the boy, and let's be done."
"It would do you no good," Vendanj replied. "If not the boy, there are others."
The Velle nodded. "We know. And this one isn't the first you've driven like a mule." The man's eyes shifted to Tahn. "What has he told you, Quillescent?"
Tahn didn't really understand the question, and didn't reply. He only took his bow down from his shoulder.
The Velle shook his head slowly in disappointment. "You don't have the energy to fight me, Sheason. You've spent too much already."
"I appreciate your concern," Vendanj said, another surprising jest from the usually severe man.
The Velle hadn't taken its eyes from Tahn. "And what about you, with your little bow? Are you going to ask your gods if I should die, and shoot me down?" The expression in the man's face changed, but only by degrees. More indifferent. Careworn to the bone, beyond feeling.
He knows. He knows the words I speak when I draw.
The Velle dropped its chin. "Ask it." The words were an invitation, a challenge. And the chill air bristled when the Velle spoke them. Grasses and low sage bent away from the man as though they would flee.
Vendanj held up a hand. "You've strolled onto the Sedagin plain, my Quiet friend. A thousand swords and more. Go back the way you came."
A slow smile touched the Velle's face. A wan smile lacking warmth or humor. And even that looked unnatural, as though he were unaccustomed to smiling at all. "I don't take care for myself, Sheason. That is a man's weakness. And there'll be no heroes this time." He raised a hand, and Vendanj let out an explosive exhale, as if his chest were suddenly being pressed by boulders.
In a single motion, Tahn raised his bow and drew an arrow. I draw with the strength of my arms, but release as the Will allows.
The quiet confirmation came. The Velle should die.
Tahn caught a glimpse of a more genuine smile on the Quiet's lips before he let his arrow fly. An unconcerned flip of the Velle's wrist, and the arrow careened high and harmless out over the bluff's edge.
Vendanj dropped to his knees, struggling against some unseen force. Tahn had to disrupt the Velle's hold on the Sheason somehow. But before he could move, a deep shiver started in his chest as though his body were a low cello string being slowly played. And with the resonance rushed the memory of his failure to shoot the Bar'dyn that had come into his and Wendra's home, taken her child.
Except it seemed more raw now. Like alcohol poured on a fresh cut.
And that wasn't all. Other memories stirred. Lies he'd told. Insults he'd offered. Though he couldn't recall them with exactness. They were half formed, but sharpening.
He was maybe seven. A fight. Friends. Some kind of contest to settle ...
Tahn began to tremble violently. His teeth ached and felt ready to shatter. His mind burned hot with regret and self-loathing. He dropped face-first beside Vendanj, and curled into a ball against the pain.
Vendanj still wasn't breathing, but managed to thrust an open palm at the Velle. The Quiet man grimaced, and Vendanj drew a harsh-sounding breath, his face slick with sweat in the moonlight.
Tahn's own inner ache subsided, and the quaking in his body stopped. Briefly. The Velle dropped to both knees and drove its hands into the hard soil. Blackness flared, and the Quiet man looked suddenly refreshed. This time, it simply stared at Vendanj. The earth between them whipped, low sage tearing away. But Vendanj was prepared, and kept his feet and breath when some force hit him, exploding in a fury of spent energy. The Sheason's lean face had drawn into a grim expression, and he began shaking his head.
The Velle glanced at Tahn and tremors wracked his body again. With them came his insecurities about childhood years lost to memory. As if they didn't matter. As if he didn't matter, except to raise his bow and repeat those gods forsaken words, I draw with the strength ...
As the Velle caressed him with this deep resonant pain, a shadow flashed behind the other. Light and quick.
A moment later the Velle's back arched, his eyes wide in surprise. Tahn's tremors stopped. Vendanj lowered his arms. The Velle fell forward, and standing there was Mira Far, of the Far people. Her pale skin awash in moonlight. Only a Far could have gotten behind a Velle without being noticed. Looking at her, Tahn felt a different kind of tug inside. One that was altogether more appealing.
For the third time that morning, boots over hard earth interrupted the dark morning stillness. A hundred strides behind Mira three Bar'dyn emerged on the trail. At first they only walked. Then, seeing the downed Velle, they broke into a run, a kind of reasoned indifference in their faces. Their massive frames moved with grace, and power, as their feet pounded against the cold earth.
Tahn reached for an arrow. Mira dropped into one of her Latae stances, both swords raised. Vendanj gasped several breaths, still trying to steady himself from his contest with the Velle. "Take the Bar'dyn down," he said, his voice full of hateful prejudice.
Tahn pulled three successive draws, thinking the old words in an instant and firing at the closest Bar'dyn. The first arrow bounded harmlessly off the creature's barklike skin. But the next two struck it in the neck. It fell with a heavy crunch on the frost-covered soil.
The remaining two descended on Mira first. She ducked under a savage swipe of a long rounded blade and came up with a thrust into the creature's groin. Not simply an attack on its tender parts, but a precise cut into the artery that ran alongside them—something she'd taught him during one of their many conversations.
The Bar'dyn shrugged off the blow and rushed onward toward Tahn. In a few moments it would grow sluggish from blood loss, and finally fall. Tahn had only to keep a distance.
The other Quiet pushed ahead faster, closing on Tahn. Mira took chase, but even with her gift of speed wouldn't reach it before it got to him. Tahn pulled a deep draw. The Bar'dyn raised a forearm to protect its neck, and barreled closer.
"Take it down!" Vendanj began raising a hand, clearly weakened. The Sheason had rendered the Will so often lately. And he'd had little time to recover.
Tahn breathed out, steadied his aim, spoke the words in his mind, and let fly. The arrow hit true, taking the Bar'dyn's left eye. No cry or scream. It stutter-stepped, and kept on. Its expression was as impassive as before—not fury, reason.
Tahn drew again. This arrow struck the Quiet's knee, as he'd intended. But it shattered against the armor-hard skin there. It was almost too close to fire again, but Tahn pulled a quick draw, Mira a half step behind the creature, and fired at its mouth. The arrow smashed through its teeth and went out through its cheek. The Bar'dyn's face stretched in a mask of pain. Then it leveled its eyes again and leapt at Tahn.
It was too late to avoid the Quiet. Tahn braced himself. The massive creature drove him to the ground under its immense weight. Tahn lost his breath, couldn't cry out. He could feel blood on his face. The Bar'dyn shifted to take hold of him.
It propped itself up with one arm, and stared down at Tahn with its indifferent eyes. "You don't understand," it said with a thick, glottal voice.
The Bar'dyn began to roll, pulling Tahn with it, as if it might try to carry him away. A moment later, it stopped moving. Mira. She pulled her blade from the creature's head. Then she turned on the wounded Bar'dyn, who was now staggering toward them, weak from loss of blood.
The last Quiet fell. It panted for several moments, then went still.CHAPTER 2
And a Sheason known as Portis came into the court of King Yusefi of Kuren, and demanded he keep his pledge to the Second Promise and send men to help the Sedagin in the far North. But Yusefi denied him. Whereupon Portis rendered the king's blood boiling hot and burned him alive inside. To my knowledge, this is the first recorded instance of Sheason violence against man.
—An account of the Castigation, from the pages of the Kuren Court diarist
Warm Bar'dyn blood steamed in the moonlight. Tahn scrambled away from the dead Quiet and sat heavily on the cold ground. His heart hammered in his chest. There was no getting used to this.
And now a Velle! What had it done to him? He still felt it. Like vibrations of thought or emotion. Deep down.
"All the way to the Saeculorum," Tahn said, repeating the joke Vendanj had made before this latest Quiet attack. Now it just sounded exhausting. Impossible.
Vendanj eased himself down to sit near Tahn. "It's good you're handy with a bow."
Mira crouched in front of them, keeping her feet under her—always ready. "Velle. That's new." She was looking at Vendanj.
He nodded. "But not surprising. And not the last we'll see of them."
"There's a happy thought," Tahn said without humor. "Seems like every damn day another storybook rhyme steps from the page. What was it doing to me?"
Vendanj eyed him. Tapped his own chest. "You felt it in here."
"A renderer of the Will can move things," he explained. "Push them. Sometimes you'll see what he does. Sometimes you won't." He took a long breath. "Sometimes it's outside the body. And other times," Vendanj tapped his chest again, "it's in here."
"I don't feel the same," Tahn said.
"It's Resonance." Vendanj said it with obvious concern. "It'll linger like a played note. Won't ever go away completely. But it'll stop feeling like it does today."
Tahn rubbed his chest. "I felt like I was remembering. ..." But it hadn't completely come back. Mostly the feeling of the memory remained. He turned to Vendanj. "What did it mean, 'There'll be no heroes this time'?"
Vendanj took a storyteller's breath. "This plateau used to be part of the flatlands below." He gestured out over the bluff. "The Sedagin people here are known as the Right Arm of the Promise. Masters of the longblade. They've always kept the First Promise; always marched against the Quiet when they come."
"What about this time?" Tahn asked, looking at the dead Velle.
Vendanj didn't seem to hear him. "First time the Quiet came, the regent of Recityv called a Convocation of Seats. Every nation and throne was asked to join an alliance to meet the threat. And most did. The Sedagin were the strongest part of that army. And the Quiet were pushed back.
"Ages later, the Quiet came again." Vendanj shook his head and sighed. "But by then Convocation had become a political game. Kings committed only token regiments. So, the regent Corihehn adjourned Convocation and sent word to Holivagh, leader of the Sedagin, to march toward the Pall mountains. He told him there was a Second Promise from this Second Convocation. He told him an alliance army would meet them there."
Tahn guessed the next part, disgust rising in his throat. "It was a lie."
Excerpted from The Unremembered by Peter Orullian. Copyright © 2015 Peter Orullian. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Map: The East of Aeshau Vaal in the Age of Rumor,
Prelude to The Vault of Heaven,
Book One: The Unremembered,
1. Old Words,
2. Keeping Promises,
4. Release of the Shrikes,
5. Hot Water,
8. Payment in Oaths,
10. The Bottom of Pain,
12. Escaping the Darkness,
13. The Help of Young and Old,
14. The Rushing of Je'holta,
16. Song Box,
17. The Wall of Remembrance,
18. Widows Village,
21. Names of the Dead,
23. The Stakes Are Raised,
24. The Scar,
25. The Wages of a Kiss,
26. Dust on the Boards,
27. Wards of the Scar,
35. Scars—Arriving Late,
37. Hidden Jewels,
38. The Wilds,
39. A Primrose,
40. The Untabernacled,
41. Fever Dreams,
42. Revelations in Parchment,
43. Public Discipline,
44. Reluctantly Used,
45. Recityv Civility,
46. The Bottom of Pain Reprise,
47. A Quiet Cradle,
48. A Servant's Tail,
50. A Servant's Tale, Part II,
51. Sodality and the Blade of Seasons,
52. A Last Pageant,
53. The Lesher Roon,
54. Winners and Wisdom,
55. Preserved Will,
57. Quite a Price,
59. Garlen's Telling,
60. Leaving Peace Behind,
61. Children of Soliel,
62. One Bed, the Same Dream,
64. Rhea-Fol Reprise,
66. Waking Dreams and Forgiveness,
68. A Blade of Grass,
69. Rudierd Tillinghast,
70. A Solitary Branch,
71. A Refrain from Quiet,
Excerpt from Trial of Intentions,
"Stories and Music",
About the Author,