Fifteen year-old Tobias Doljan, a Walker trained to travel through time, is called to serve at the court of Daerjen. The sovereign, Mearlan IV, wants him to Walk back fourteen years, to prevent a devastating war which will destroy all of Islevale. Even though the journey will double Tobias' age, he agrees. But he arrives to discover Mearlan has already been assassinated, and his court destroyed. The only survivor is the infant princess, Sofya. Still a boy inside his newly adult body, Tobias must find a way to protect the princess from assassins, and build himself a future... in the past.
File Under: Fantasy [ Time Demons | They See Me Walkin' | Young Inside | Disturbing Allies ]
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21st Day of Sipar’s Settling, Year 633
The between spat him out like chewed gristle.
Naked in the cold and dark, he dropped to his knees, shivering, sucking at precious air. Another Walk, more years added to a body already abused by too many trials and too many journeys through time.
He clutched his chronofor in stiff, frigid fingers and braced his other hand on the courtyard stone. Fear lifted his gaze, despite the droop of his shoulders, the leaden fatigue in his legs. Torches flickered in nearby sconces. Stars gleamed in a moonless sky. He saw no soldiers, no assassins. He heard not a sound.
Had he arrived too early? Too late?
He fought to his feet and turned an unsteady circle to get his bearings before heading to the next courtyard and the castle arsenal. No soldiers here, either. Panic rose within him like a spring tide. Within the armory he found a stained uniform in Hayncalde red, as well as a musket and ammunition. He didn’t see any boots that would fit.
He pulled on the uniform and loaded the weapon. He took extra powder, paper, and bullets – habit born of years on the run. But he knew he wouldn’t have a chance to use them. This night would end in one of two ways. In neither scenario would he get off a second shot.
As he left the armory, he noticed what he had missed earlier. A body lay in the grass a few paces off the stone path. A woman with a gaping wound across her neck, and a bib of blood glistening on her uniform. A few paces on, he spotted a second dead guard on the other side of the path. Both from Hayncalde, both killed with stealth. Not too early then, perhaps in the very teeth of time.
He hurried on to the hall, bare feet slapping on stone. Nearing the archway that led into the back corridor, he heard the first explosion rock the west gate. Voices rose in alarm and anger. Bells pealed from the castle towers. Moments now. He stole through shadow and candlelit passages, only pausing when he reached the door.
Another explosion, not so distant, but also not the one he awaited. Inside the hall, men shouted. A baby cried, and his heart folded in upon itself.
He gripped the musket, readied himself. One last explosion made the stone beneath him shudder and buck. His cue.
He kicked the door open, stepped through.
Bedlam. A haze of smoke. And the one he sought. He shouted the man’s name and raised his weapon to fire.