Series: Requiem for the Rift King #1
Published by Pen and Page Publishing on 11-10-2013
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Kalen’s throne is his saddle, his crown is the dirt on his brow, and his right to rule is sealed in the blood that stains his hand. Few know the truth about the one-armed Rift King, and he prefers it that way. When people get too close to him, they either betray him or die. The Rift he rules cares nothing for the weak. More often than not, even the strong fail to survive.
When he’s abducted, his disappearance threatens to destroy his home, his people, and start a hopeless and bloody war. There are many who desire his death, and few who hope for his survival. With peace in the Six Kingdoms quickly crumbling, it falls on him to try to stop the conflict swiftly taking the entire continent by storm.
But something even more terrifying than the machinations of men has returned to the lands: The skreed. They haven’t been seen for a thousand years, and even the true power of the Rift King might not be enough to save his people — and the world — from destruction.
“Be welcomed to the Spire of the Eternal, Breton, Guardian of the King. What do you seek?”
“Knowledge and advice,” he admitted, unable to stop from frowning. “Is Crysallis here?”
“My sister walks the world. I may be young, but perhaps I can help?” Asaleese cocked her head to the side. Without looking away from him, she reached up and threw back the hood of her cloak to reveal her short-cropped, black hair. “Come, and be as one of us for as long as you can.”
Breton shoved his hand in his pocket and pulled out the pouch he’d taken from the corpses on the plains. “Do you know of the outsiders?”
“I did know of them. You will be pleased, I think, to learn that their voices do not pollute the song of our ancestors. One remains, but flees up the trails in fear of the one who follows. I feel for their horses, wretched though they might be. I do not think he will find them worthy.”
Instead of replying, the witch gestured for him to follow. Stairs circled the entry niche’s walls to vanish through a hole far above.
Breton swallowed back a sigh and began to climb. “I haven’t seen Crysallis in quite a while.”
“She wanders far,” Asaleese replied.
“It seems like a rather contagious disease. I don’t suppose you have a cure for it, do you?” Breton asked in a dry tone.
“You’ve been keeping company with Maiten again, haven’t you?”
“Not for half a year or more. He’s in Mithrias.”
“He’ll be disappointed to learn of all of the excitement he has missed, then.” Asaleese guided him to the next level and sprawled on a stone bench covered with pillows. A thick carpet of furs covered the stone, and another bench lined the far wall. “Sit. Be comfortable. A drink? Perhaps I can tempt you with some Hessis for when we’ve finished talking about what has brought you up here.”
“I might be tempted,” Breton admitted, flashing the witch a smile. “It may be a while until we cross paths again.”
“Then allow me to give you a fitting farewell until we meet again. I, for one, will miss your skill in the spearing caves.” Asaleese sighed. “Do try not to get yourself killed chasing after that foal of yours.”
“And here I thought you’d miss me for other reasons,” Breton replied, feigning disappointment.
“We’ll discuss this at length — later. Surely that pouch isn’t all that brought you up the Eternal Spire?” The witch held out her hand. Breton dropped the pouch into her palm and sat on the floor beside her.
“It did, in part. What’s in it?”
“You haven’t opened it?”
Breton shook his head. “They had poisoned their weapons.”
“What do you think is within?”
“The Three Sisters,” Breton replied with a cringe. “I was hoping it wasn’t.”
“You’re wise not to open it then.” Asaleese slipped a finger under the string tying the pouch closed and opened it. Three sachets fell out into the palm of her other hand. “It seems your guess may have been correct.” Setting two of the smaller pouches aside, she opened the third and dipped her finger in. She lightly touched the white powder to the tip of her tongue. “Vellest. It seems it is as you feared.”