An unedited glimpse into the new, un seen adventures of Caleath...
strums a quiet tune. Anticipation ripples across the crowd and her gaze follows
the straggler finding a place close to the fire. A mother calms her child as
beyond shuttered windows a storm howls. Fingers dance across her lute’s strings
drawing all eyes.
complacency. After five summers the horrors of battle fade into memory.
threats from Wilden and Tarack no longer plague the south, Caleath, Penwryt,
Father Eamon, and Corinne seek anonymity near Aberssley Cross.
Working as a
smith, disguised by spell wrought illusion our hero has enjoyed two summers in
relative peace. With him in obscurity is Raul, a native of the southern realm
of Ruak, who feels bound to protect the man who saved his life.”
mutters at the mention of the Ruak barbarian. The yowl of the wind lifts to a
frightening level. The minstrel gives her music time to work its magic, waiting
for a lull in the gale before continuing. Her fingers skip in tune to the
tumultuous conditions outdoors.
resumes as peace shatters and Caleath is drawn towards his destiny…”
PART ONE: DEPARTURE
A pulse of wild magic knocked Caleath forward before
the backlash exploded along the valley. He reeled in the saddle and watched a
wall of wind consume the daylight. Above him, lightning shredded eldritch night,
while an unnatural tempest stripped vegetation and rubble from the earth.
Ahead, a cart loaded with children moved onto a bridge
across the river. Beside him, Corinne snatched at her horse’s reins. The
creature squealed and bucked beneath her.
“Tallowbrand,” Caleath shouted as the storm raced
toward him. “We could use a little help! Wizard!”
The hurricane drove a bank of river water high into
the air. Corinne screamed and spurred her horse toward the children. Caleath
gave his stallion, Enigma, free rein, urging the beast forward.
Before he reached the children, the wave struck the
bridge. The wooden structure shattered. Cart, horse, and humans tumbled into
A whiplash of sorcery slashed against the tempest. For
a fractured moment, relative calm surrounded the tragic tableau. For respite
from the tumult Caleath silently thanked the unseen wizard.
“The children!” Corinne’s voice pitched above the
thunder and rumble of tortured rock. He shared the urgent need in her shout,
throwing himself from Enigma’s saddle. His wet hands fumbled while he unbuckled
the stallion’s reins and lashed them around his own waist. With a shout and a
gesture, he urged Corinne to follow suit. He left her to calm Enigma. When the
horse stood hock deep in rising water, Caleath used the slippery leather and
rope as a lifeline.
He moved deeper into the raging river. Cold tightened
bands of steel around his chest and his head ached as air pressure dropped. He
waded through waves of debris snagged on the remains of the bridge. Branches,
broken timber, and clods of grass struck his head and shoulders as he fought the
Through driving rain, he caught a glimpse of the overturned cart and
the sodden woodwork that rose above the melee. The precious cargo of frightened
children clung to the framework. As he approached, Caleath heard their
whimpered cries and strident shouts. A deeper voice of calm among the shrill
pleas offered comfort and courage.
He caught the dray’s side and dragged three small boys
clear of the splintered frame. With one child’s arms around his neck and
another boy under each arm, Caleath pushed away from the dray.
“Hang on.” He turned his back on the terrified faces
of those children left behind. “Tallowbrand, tell Corinne we are ready,”
he told the disembodied dread lord using telepathy to avoid swallowing more
river water. Prohibited from working sorcery himself he relied on his
companion, the ghostly archimage, for any form of magic.
Rain ran across his face, filled his mouth and blocked
his vision while river water sluiced over his head with each successive wave.
Without the tug of the lifeline at his waist, he could not make way against the
drag of the current. Even with this additional pull, progress seemed slow. The
children cried as they clutched him and made progress more difficult.
He stumbled on slippery boulders, dragged heavy boots
from the guttling mud and managed to reach shallower water. To his relief,
Corinne took charge of the children, allowing him to step back into the
On the second trip, he half carried half dragged two
older boys. A young man grabbed the
lifeline, adding his strength against the current, aiding Caleath’s progress toward
the river’s edge. While he helped rescue the terrified children the youth kept
pointing and shouting toward the dray. Corinne lifted saturated bodies from
“El’sbeth and her baby.” The youth gasped, taking one
child from Corinne’s arms and scrambling to higher ground.
Caleath nodded, dragged air into his lungs and
signaled the stallion to step forward again. Intense cold burned every limb.
His legs shook and his boots slipped on mud-covered rocks. With teeth chattering
he lifted a hand.
“I am going.” The storm snatched his words away. High
on the dray’s upturned seat he could see a girl clutching a baby in her arms.
When he reached deep water, the wind whipped his hair across his streaming eyes
and hid the young woman and the baby from sight.
“Caleath, I can do no more. This storm is
unnatural. I am spent.” Tallowbrand’s hollow voice echoed through his mind.
Caleath cursed, surging forward to touch the splintered dray.
“A little longer, Tallowbrand,” he pleaded, but
heard nothing in reply.
He scrambled hand over hand
along the dismembered cart until he found a foothold. The girl slid toward him
across the dray’s bench seat before she dropped into the turbulent water. Her
hand reached through the murk, desperate eyes pleaded for help as she struggled
to keep the baby’s head above water.
His fingers touched hers. In the same heartbeat, the
dread lord’s magic dissolved. In an instant, the storm hammered into the void
Tallowbrand’s sorcery had created.
Caleath’s fingers closed on empty air, a hair’s
breadth from El’sbeth’s hand.
A wall of water smashed into the broken bridge, lifted
the structure skyward and speared fractured woodwork into the turbulence.
Forces beyond comprehension twisted the cart, thrust the drowned horse into the
air and tossed portions of the mutilated bridge in front of the wave.
Caleath heard El’sbeth’s scream above the din. He struggled
to reach her but the lifeline pulled tight around his waist before giving way.
The sudden torrent tore him from the dray and dragged him beneath the water.
Around him uprooted trees, shattered corbels and water pounded into the muddy
riverbed. His throat closed when the cart landed across his chest. A silent
scream reverberated through his head as a splintered floorboard speared through
his side. Watery darkness engulfed him. The dray pinned him in the river’s
Again, he cursed immortality.
Coming soon from Museitup Publishing...