Here, unveiled, the second sneak preview of the upcoming volume, Destiny's Conflict.
Please take note: this is DRAFT and not finished copy. The author's copyright remains in force - you are encourage to share a LINK to this site for others to view it/but not to copy it elsewhere.
Enjoy (it's a longer preview to pay back the frustration of total silence and a long wait) however - the itch won't be entirely scratched, prepare to gnash teeth!!!
But Tarens’ patience eventually won the saturnine fellow’s effusive excitement. “The uncanny singer? Oh, aye! I’ve kent him. Walks the sheer rim atop Thunder Ridge. You’ll know when you hear him. Besides chills at the nape, the pure sound’s belike to drive a wrongdoing man to religion.”
Extricated with delicacy, the three travelers distanced themselves from the trapper’s curious inquiries.
“Do you know this place, Thunder Ridge?” Cosach asked, chin raised as he breasted a dwarf stand of the firs, and disgruntled to become even farther uprooted from his home turf.
Puffing, Dakar labored to answer. “If that’s the common name for the scarp the Paravians called the Tiendarion? Yes. This could pose a difficulty. The spur parallels the backbone of the Storlains, buckled to chaos where subduction pressure rams into the plain of West Halla. If Arithon’s there, the approach will be difficult.”
The chieftain’s response was a half drawn sword, slammed back in the sheath with a warning clash. “Don’t try that excuse to light out again!”
“Forget running,” the spellbinder grumbled. “The terrain will pump a man’s lungs like a bellows and dash out his brains on a misstep.”
A fortnight later, wheezing in thin, frigid air at high altitude, the three searchers huddled around the spluttering rags of a campfire under the looming face of the Tiendarion. A razor silhouette, the naked rock reared up behind, a jagged obsidian rip in night sky, dusted with silvery veils of lit cirrus and stars like sequins in shot silk. Ettinmere settlement lay twenty leagues southward and west as the crow flew. Well inside the range of a Sighted shaman, even where rifts swirled the flux into eddies that hampered an orderly scrying. Dakar took no chances. He fashioned individual constructs of lead, inset with black tourmaline, pyrite and hematite.
“For grounding energy,” he explained, then enhanced the mineral amulets with charms against Cosach’s skeptical derision. “Would you have the shamans Sight blinded or not? Stay angry, and no subtle working can mask you. If not worse, you’ll become a ripe target for iyats.”
Honest warning, since hot flares of electromagnetics drew plagues of fiends like a magnet. The instablilty also scrambled clan instincts enough to disrupt Cosach’s talent skill for the hunt. Pinched cross by the dearth of meat on the spit, the clan chieftain kept the spellbinder under his thumb and aired his plan to greet his liege on his own.
“That could be a mistake,” Tarens cautioned, ahead of the Mad Prophet’s leap to exploit the unfair advantage. “His Grace hates the onus of titled formality.”
“Well, too bad. Tradition says crown princes bend their stiff knees to cement our fealty. If his Grace balks, for the risk to my people, I’ll challenge his delinquent pride, throw him over my knee and flat thrash him.” The caithdein jabbed his stick at the coals with contempt. “You’ve said yourself he’s a dainty, wee snip. More nerve than brains, if he thumbs his nose at the man with the heftier sword arm!”
“Do you think?” Tarens slapped off the live sparks flurried into his mantle. “Pithless as Arithon may seem at first glance, he has the brute will that wrecks mountains.”
Dakar murmured, tucked like a browbeaten turtle into his cowled cloak, “You want a royal ally? Be well advised. Curb your resentment and listen.”
“I should play craven to let you slink off?” Cosach dug in his heels, roweled past sense by Dakar’s backhand cleverness.
Tarens chose to keep his own counsel. Turned into his blankets, he tossed, chafed sleepless by Earl Jieret’s unsettled instincts. The graphic record of Arithon’s feral nerves in the aftermath of a past, prolonged hunt through Daon Ramon forepromised a temperament dicey as a cornered adder’s. Cosach’s overconfidence would trample diplomacy, against unimaginably volatile stakes. The same apprehension, and more, fed the Mad Prophet’s anxiety. Yet he remained snugged in his bed roll, lips sealed, when Tarens arose in stealth and scaled the path to Thunder Ridge on his own.
Dawn found the former crofter cresting the notch to the sheer, pleated rampart of rock that gouged the sky like a curtainwall. Ruddied by the glow of new morning, he was closest when Athera’s titled masterbard made his appearance and started to sing.
A slight, tousled figure cut against livid sky, he walked the jagged crest of the ridge, shaping his art as he went. The crystalline clarity of his voice woke a searing restlessness in all things living. The fierce urge seized hold: to follow his presence and dance to his paean of exultation. With joyful abandon to quicken the blood, the bard wove desire to pique the voracious appetite of energy sprites.
And the fiends came, irresistably drawn, darting unseen from cleft rock, and whisking through the crabbed tangles of dwarfed firs. They spun out of the wind as small eddies and errant breezes. Impulsive wisps, they flocked to his lure, pocked shimmers and flecks packed into a gyrating halo that tousled his hair and tweaked at his clothing. Drawn by their hunger, tethered in rapt fascination, they became pared down and netted in shadow, their chaotic energy sealed into bands snugly fitted to his clever fingers.
Iyat thos Tarens tracked at short distance. Dakar’s amulet kept the masterbard oblivious, as though naught existed beyond sky and mountains, and the focus sustaining high art. He bound the summoned iyats into thrall until both hands glittered with the uncanny fruit of his gathering.
Then the driving thrust of his enchantment changed. Faced tipped back, Arithon added the exquisite cadence of ancient Paravian. The lyric shaped yearning, a cry of desperate loneliness beyond the human surcease of tears.
To witness a man’s private heartstrings laid bare became a violation. Braced as though to deliver a death blow, Tarens stirred to interrupt. His movement snapped the bard’s concentration.
Arithon’s melody checked in midphrase. He spun, alarmed, and sighted the crofter. Shocked recognition rebounded to horror. Frantic, he clawed at his shirt front as though to rip something offensive away.
His distress unfurled through the flux, translated by Jieret’s uncanny connection. Tarens exclaimed, “No harm’s done!” Launched forward, he caged Arithon’s wrist before what seemed a plain copper button tore free.
“Rest easy! The Ettinmere shamans are blinded.” Staggered a step backwards by murderous fight, Tarens talked. “My safety’s secure. If not, you’d have noticed my presence before this.”
Yet Arithon resisted with dauntless ferocity. “Show me proof!”
Tarens let go. Palms empty, he opened his collar and hooked out the string that hung Dakar’s worked talisman. The frigid wind seared his naked throat, while Arithon surveyed the construct.
“Who led you to find me?” Brusque as an interrogation, “What did you promise to buy a signature line of protection?”
Which ugly disclosure caught Tarens off guard. “Signature?”
Arithon looked exasperated. “Your Name is wound into that working! Count on the fact you won’t keep any secrets from the use of whoever created it.”
Which attack was a feint to cover evasion. Tarens regrouped. Steadied by Jieret’s infallible insight, he answered the muffled panic directly. “You’re not alone! I know why you can’t leave. The enemies who test your defenses are dangerous, and I’ve come to help heal the persistent rifts in your memory.”
Not disarmed by relief, Arithon lashed out with the viciousness of the caged tiger, “Who else has taken a prying interest?”
Lies would not serve. Before Tarens mustered the poise to confess, Cosach’s intrusive answer rebounded out of the cleft leading up to the heights.
“The Caithdein of Rathain, first of all!” Still hidden from view in his breathless ascent, the High Earl pursued his headlong reproach. “Should we need to chase after your coattails, your Grace? While you dawdle amid the wilds of Melhalla, the realm is being winnowed by a True Sect purge. The Hatchet commands a veteran warhost. The same that shed the lifeblood of Havish’s finest, and whose sacrifice set you free with your life. Shall your own be abandoned to backlash reprisal for this willful forfeit of your oathsworn legacy?”
If Arithon had seemed strained before, his hardened demeanor lost every vestige of the kindness the crofter remembered. “You seek entitlement for wholesale slaughter?” He added, “Don’t expect the fools with the weapons to die if you cut them down with their sons not yet grown to maturity. You can’t sow a legacy of meaningful joy if you widow their brides in response to a misguided canon.”
“We are speaking of clan survival!” snapped Cosach, his tousled belligerence arrived with frothed rage at the rim.
“Is there any difference?” Arithon cracked. “What is any war, after all, but the abject surrender of hope! A craven rejection of human grace, with righteous mass murder ennobled in place of inspired imagination?” Against scorching rebuttal, he mocked, “The stubborn mind never looks for alternatives. Why play with cat and mouse rhetoric since you’ve come to drag the chained bear to the mastiff’s pit?”
“Singed fur’s bound to fly, anyway.” Stung past reason, Cosach hurtled into the fray. “Let’s rip for the juggular and see who gets flayed.”
Arithon’s lip curled. “Perhaps I prefer to skulk like the cur before strutting your puppet’s parade in the royal arena.” Inimical green eyes raked back over the crofter. “Were you willing bait or the sadly duped gambit?”
Caught out in conspiracy, Iyat thos Tarens squared off. “I know you prefer to spare others from risk in your company. But your liegeman’s fate is not detached, and I came only for friendship.”
The jet eyebrows rose, beneath tangled black hair. “Ath wept! Did Earl Jieret not share the way he met his death? No! A sane man would gag before repeating that recipe for fatal sentiment.”
But sensible choice to back down remained thwarted by Cosach’s armed bulk in the path of retreat.
“The agog audience, amazed by disgust for the freak?” Arithon’s brutal regard swept the stalwart s’Valerient descendant before him, dismissed the bristle of weapons, the scraped leathers, and even the seams of hard travel stamped into a countenance weathered lifelong in the wilds. “I prefer obscurity,” declared the Teir’s’Ffalenn.
Cosach shredded the flummery. “Well, this isn’t a puppetshow drama. The plight of the kingdom can’t spare you the luxury!”
The second that followed stretched beyond silence. Stymied where record and hearsay fell short, the caithdein found ironclad duty no match for the diminutive impact of the royal heir in the flesh.
Head tipped back, his rough shirt unadorned as an Ettinman without an upright claim to family or property, Rathain’s titled crown prince returned, fullbore, his unsettling interest. “As the latest chip off a rock-headed lineage, don’t tumble for the romantic idea I’ll sit for a coronation.”
Cosach anchored his sword belt with a hooked thumb and glared downwards with blood in his eye. “The Fellowship Sorcerers might flinch, themselves, given the chorus mob of armed factions in full cry after your head.”
“Bow to the pressure, or else stand up and slaughter a starry eyed horde of fanatics?” Arithon rejected equivocation. “No. My refusal to Asandir stays in force.”
Cosach bristled. “My office could declare you unfit!”
“Disown me!” quipped Arithon in fierce delight. “A pity I’m still the last of my lineage.” Maddening as the gadfly, he stung, “An accursed thorn in the craw, since you’re here, true steel at the ready! Or why haven’t the Seven bestirred themselves to snatch my infant ward from the insular bosom of Ettinmere settlement?”
Tarens roared first. “Don’t take the bait, Cosach! Your liege snaps worst when he’s pinned by his short hairs. Always, his viciousness is a bluff to defend his bare arsed embarrassment.” Then, quick as balm on a wound, he addressed the Teir’s’Ffalenn’s anguish point blank. “Creative invention did not fall short! They all survived, the women and children you spared from the True Sect’s execution by fire at Torwent. I accompanied them on foot to Fiaduwynne, where their petition placed them under the High King’s protection.”
Arithon glanced away, not fast enough. Face averted, he admitted to Tarens, “You had earned my regard far and long before this.” But the stiff reproach was capitulation. Fist to heart, Rathain’s sanctioned crown prince acknowledged his caithdein at last, though not yet from his knees in a formal acceptance of fealty. “Given your effort to find me, Lord Cosach, the courtesy’s owed. I am listening.”
Yet there, hardwon truce met strategic disaster: a dislodged rock clattered down the cliff face as a second arrival, masked by furtive spellcraft, gained the ridgetop ten paces behind Arithon’s back.
The blindsided royal quarry did not spin to denounce the latest unwelcome intrusion. Fixated on Cosach instead, Arithon caught the brazen lack of surprise, shocking beside the genuine gasp as Tarens identified the rearguard stalker.
The Mad Prophet had taken desperate steps: razed of unkempt hair and frizzy beard, the fishbelly hue of his shorn skin was nicked repeatedly with angry scabs. Exposed beyond quarter, his shrinking advance might have trodden a pitfall scaffolded over with eggshells.
But the fateful thunderclap of recongnition did not break the electrified stillness.
Arithon’s caustic temperament failed to explode into just accusations. His oblique strike instead leapfrogged civil courtesy without facing the rearguard arrival. “You would be the spellbinder who crafted the wardings to foil the Ettinmere shamans?”
Dakar shuffled his feet. “The working is mine.” Sweating through jellied nerves, he admitted, “We all carry a talisman. Need I broach the necessity? We have you surrounded to veil this encounter from a more perilous adversary. You must be aware. Your doings draw fatal attention from worse than Ettinmere’s watchers.”
“By all means, let’s not forget the Koriathain.” Arithon’s expression stayed undismayed, stripped of the least honest nuance to vouchsafe equinimity or winnow the poison of vengeful satire. “I’m meant to trust your honeyed promise of a full restoration of memory? Then grant me surety. Deliver the name of the woman whose love sold me out to the sisterhood.”
Dakar choked, his mooncalf features drained to translucent ice. “I can’t.” Suicidally terrified, nonetheless he sealed his courageous refusal. “To tell you would override your given word. And break the secrecy of a sacred covenant, once sworn between the two of you.”
Whatever Arithon expected to hear, that retort shattered his poise.
Tarens thrust forward, in time to quash Cosach’s brutal bid to wring the miscall for advantage. “If you daren’t rely upon anyone else, you might lean on the one friend you know. At least weigh in the sterling assurance of High Earl Jieret’s better intentions.”
A straw hope appeal, ancient friendship salved nothing. Arithon’s brittle sanguinity cracked. Aghast, stunned by horror, he spun at last and beheld the fat spellbinder: the traitor whose pinched face also mirrored the stark desolation of an unspeakable grief. No words might soften the appalled remebrance of the backstabbing reverse, inflicted under the pitiless sun of yet another flawless spring morning...
How cruel! I had just reconciled myself to a long wait for the next book and now the snippet has awoken my urgent desire to read Destiny.... How can I bear to wait any longer? Reread the earlier books? Decisions, decisions...
I know, that word is overused, but the hints at things and the outright leads to other happenings are wonderful!
I'm in the midst of re-reading now, in the middle of Peril's Gate, and will finish the rest by Christmas (I read these books ssssllllooooowwwwwllllyyy).
Gill, just do the reread. You know you want to.
Oh mistress of prose, how deliciously cruel your bite!
I must echo Clansman on his thoughts. This promises to better yet. I will attempt to remain humbly patient... for the next snippet!
I was just thinking last night that it was time for another full re-read of the series to date, and this clinched it
*Sets aside the makeshift instruments, reads, and smiles*
That was a very interesting snippet! Thanks Janny.
Ah, so lovely! I join the chorus for the book!
And 2nd sneak peek? Did I miss the first one?
First sneak preview was last year, Cosach was having a bad day, Tarens is no wren and Elaira was being elusive. But the sneak peek is not hiding, you have just forgotten you saw it Sleo.
I definitely enjoyed the snippet, grinning like a mad fool when I saw it available and still purring in contentment even though that last paragraph shredded my heart.
Of course I really want the whole book and series done yesterday, but snippets help stem the rage of coiled impatience.
The best part of this snippet (to me) is the introduction to an area previously unrevealed. The anticipation is heightened by the introduction of a new Power that inhabits the Ettinmere settlement. The remoteness and difficult access reveal at least one reason the settlement did not fall during the uprising.
It's kind of painful to think of Rathain once again ravaged by a warhost.
Thank you Janny.
Janny, I sense another masterpiece in the works here! I will wait as patiently as possible for Destiny's Conflict. Thank you for the preview.
@Jeff = very painful, indeed, to think of that ravaging warhost!
Coming out of lurkdom to say very much enjoyed the snippet, am now waiting even more impatiently for the book!
Had to read it again. As one would expect, still not sure I got all the details...
It seems I finished reading the "Initiate's Trial" just in time to be teased mercilessly with this sneak peak. I suspect this tale will be a grand a feast if this tasty morsel of writing is any indication.
So, I shall dally away my time and await the next book's release with all the patience of a child prowling the kitchen for a fresh baked sweet.
Hope your cupboards, pantry and fridge are locked down tight...we're still a ways away!
Ah, lovely. ;) Thanks, Janny!
*Wonders what an Ettinman with upright (or even dubious!) claims to both family and property wears for a shirt* ;-)
I doubt we would find an Ettinman with any upright claims to find out. But the ones who ply the Ettin River might wear shirts of natural undyed fibers similar to what Arithon started out in way back on the Saeriat and since then Arithon's clothing habits when he had a choice and could be himself always seemed a bit on the plain well worn side.
Interesting about the copper button, I wonder if Arithon's had the same source and purpose as Elaira's three. Maybe someone had a reason for wanting Elaira to always wear those three talisman buttons fashioned of copper coins.
But who Arithon's infant ward is seems much more interesting, unless that was Janny's obscure way to say something else. Plain language does not seem something the WoLaS books is ever going to see, everything has some hidden aspect, dual identity or secret meaning.
Twenty leagues in any direction from Ettinmere Settlement is still Havish at least on my map, so it seems these three have been following Arithon for a while. So this infant could be from Rathain (Cosach's maybe and due to be Fellowship sanctioned), Melhalla (perhaps Selidie's next victim in line to be groomed for possession)or maybe from Havish and royal.
More likely Janny is going to come up with a surprise. But I would think if our mismatched three were following Arithon from Rathain, the infant would have to be from Rathain, Melhalla or Havish, and would be a talent in need of sanctuary.
The infant maybe a suvivor from Sunwheel slaughter since Taren's words about escorting the women and children deep into Havish seemed to have a calming effect.
Janny- thank you for the snippet. Any idea when the book may be published?
I think Tarens words only settled Arithon's fears, because he would have recovered his memories of what happened to Rathain's women and children, and although he helped the Torwent group escape the flames, he was forced to leave them before they could reach safety.
But still you could be right Julie and the infant could be a survivor of another Sunwheel slaughter. But the only battles we know of are currently in Rathain, and Cosach seems determined he needs Arithon's help. His next child was the only infant we knew to be expecting, and it seems Arithon did make it to Rathain.
Arithon is deliberately baiting Cosach, apparently angling to get disowned, so if you look at it that way, the babe could be Cosach's.
"Or why haven’t the Seven bestirred themselves to snatch my infant ward from the insular bosom of Ettinmere settlement?"
Because Esfand is not dead yet? Not that I think the Fellowship would be snatching the infant from that lot, even if they wanted to. Does not make any sense, but why is Cosach getting so upset? Hostages would make more sense than slaughtering all the clan women and children, especially if it is Arithon they want to get to come to them.
The only infant Arithon lost that I can remember, was the one he never knew at the time he had, Teylia. But how would he find out about Teylia, if this is the first time he has set eyes on Dakar? If he did know about her it would be a reason to snatch Selidie's next intended victim, and why Arithon seems a bit hostile towards Fellowship interests where his future is concerned. Those Ettinmere shamans might not have made any promises on that score, maybe they have a different agenda to the Biedar?
It was a great snippet, gave us lots of clues to speculate on, hardly any of which we can draw any conclusions from, perfect teaser material.
Welcome here, brenna billing, and any other newcomers.
Julie: you asked. The publication date is not set. I will not consider posting even a tentative one UNTIL the manuscript is handed in, and the publisher puts the book into production (which locks the projected date). Up until that point, ANY projected date is subject to change. Publishers swap publication slots all the time, and to put out a changeable date, I've found, only sets up a LOT of angst and confusion.
So my policy is to maintain the status thread so you can all see an up to date progress report.
I am writing a HUGELY pivotal scene at the moment. It brings together threads that have been in play, minor and major, for many many volumes, and also unveils a rather major reveal that EVEN flat stumped the Fellowship Sorcerers. It's going to show a whole tapestry of interconnections AND it is tipping this particular volume into the first major step of what will snowball the series' finale, another volume away. In fact, there is so much history, past, and future projection, present, I can't put a fact or a word wrong, or it'll create a tangle I will NOT want to mess with a fix. So I am parsing the action and character choices with EXTREME care to make everything dovetail and incite maximum tension. I want a series that fulfills its promise, not one that sags and falls flat. And I have to do considerable back-checking to be sure every thread that IS in play is carried to fruition with accuracy.
It's a tall order.
There are still layers to this series you have NOT seen yet; heh. You will.
Do please bear with me.
Thank you for your reply! It was wishful thinking on my part that we may have an inkling as to how long the wait will be. I so thoroughly enjoy your books for the consistently detailed character development and story lines.Its rare for me to find a series that does not devolve into predictable story lines and sloppy writing. I can only imagine how long it takes to research, write, rewrite etc.
I will just have to do another reread of the series so far.!
Julie, while you are waiting, did you find the two short stories (Athera related) in the Paravia Store? There is going to be another, shortly. The fanpage on Facebook has a shot of the artwork that will be assembled to become the cover.
Help! Cannot find the fan page on Facebook. Each time I search it says "no results". Am a novice on Facebook so if anyone answers can you please give me very SIMPLE instructions.
Also where is the Paravia store? I should like to find the two short stories.
I did read those short stories! I am not a Facebooker so I will patiently wait until the new story appears in the Paravia Store.
Janny's Facebook Fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/JannyWurts
The Maitz and Wurts Studio Shop: http://www.paravia.com/catalog/
The Maitz and Wurts Studio Shop Facebook fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maitz-Wurts-Studio-Shop/525160460828853
Thanks for showing us the new artwork Janny, when did you do the sketch?
The different symbols for the kingdoms of Shand are interesting any chance we can get a bigger picture so we can read the notes?
You read my mind Annette! I tried to blow up the picture, but alas, no dice...
I am still trying to blow up the picture, I somehow doubt Janny is going to let us read those notes, but no harm asking.
Really, they are going to OPEN more questions than they answer, because they involve areas of back history the story has not touched.
HOWEVER, I do delight in teasing, so:
For the Heraldic Devices:
The Dragon on Gold was for West Shand, Drakish Protectorate, Second Age.
The Cresent Moon on purple: was for East Shand, Paravian - Second age.
The crescent moon and black falcon on violet: High King's Device, East Shand, circa Third Age 1.
The gold and purple chevrons, Amalgamate Territores, Shand, circa Third Age 670.
The notes on the drawing in the Paravia Sketchbook:
TAWBAS INN circa Third Age 5918, Sanpashir, Shand copyright 2013 (It was completed early this year). The watercolor was taken from that drawing and hand painted on stretched paper (Arches) and will, perhaps, have figure(s) added for the cover image.
Tawbas Inn subsequently burned down for a violation of terms, and was never rebuilt, the territory being subject to the tribes, and a site of their sacred rites. The well's foundation remains in ruin, and is marked on the Map in Initiate's Trial - the site is also where Elaira met the tribal eldest, and if you wish to know why that place it is historically relevant to the books, proper, you will have to read Child of Prophecy.
Thanks for the extra info Janny.
My theory is not completely shot down in flames, I was thinking West Shand might have been a Paravian held kingdom after mankind first settled. Crescent moon moved, dates do not match with any known cause for moving. I will wait, you will get to it eventually.
It's all terribly exciting, isn't it? Squeee! Fangirl, here.
*Grins over TAWBAS INN comment*
As all who don't have Annette's steel trap of a mind might attest to, it's impossible to keep all that detail straight without constant re-reads *bows to Annette*, but I smiled broadly at the first mention of the TAWBAS INN in the comment above, having long since procured and devoured Child of Prophecy.
In the sheepish admission department (and before I pat myself on the back any further over something all of you probably also recognized), The Sundering Star and Reins of Destiny are finally on their way to me, long after they should have been!