Deep spire, p.1
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       Deep-Spire, p.1

           Sam J. Charlton
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Deep-Spire


  Deep-Spire

  AN EPIC FANTASY NOVELLA

  Prequel to the Palâdnith Chronicles

  Sam J. Charlton

  Epic Fantasy by Sam J. Charlton

  The Palâdnith Chronicles:

  Deep-Spire (Prequel novella)

  Journey of Shadows (Book 1)

  The Citadel of Lies (Book 2)

  The Well of Secrets (Book 3)

  Stand alone novels

  The Children of Isador

  The Lord of the Rings Fan Fiction

  The Witch of Angmar

  All characters and situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

  Deep-Spire by Sam J. Charlton.

  Copyright © 2014 Sam J. Charlton. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.

  Edited by Tim Burton.

  Cover image courtesy of www.istockphotos.com. Cover design by Sam J. Charlton

  Map by Sam J. Charlton.

  Sam J. Charlton’s website: www.samjcharlton.com

  Twitter: @SamJCharlton

  Sam J. Charlton’s blog: www.samanthacharlton.com

  Epic Fantasy by Sam J. Charlton

  The Palâdnith Chronicles:

  Deep-Spire (Prequel novella)

  Journey of Shadows (Book 1)

  The Citadel of Lies (Book 2)

  The Well of Secrets (Book 3)

  Stand alone novels

  The Children of Isador

  The Lord of the Rings Fan Fiction

  The Witch of Angmar

  To Tim – for all your support, and hard work! With much love.

  Contents

  Map of Palâdnith

  Prologue – A Mid-winter’s Dawn

  Chapter One – Foul Play

  Chapter Two – Prayers and Practice

  Chapter Three – Lovers

  Chapter Four – The Council of Deep-Spire

  Chapter Five – The Old Well

  Chapter Six – Darkness

  Chapter Seven – Ghosts

  Chapter Eight – The Marshals

  Chapter Nine – Winter Falls

  Chapter Ten – The Message

  Chapter Eleven – Lady Serina’s Gift

  Chapter Twelve – The Gathering Storm

  Chapter Thirteen – The Battle of Deep-Spire

  Chapter Fourteen – Survivors

  Chapter Fifteen – Riadamor’s Revenge

  Epilogue – A New Beginning

  Journey of Shadows – EXCERPT: Prologue and Chapter One

  About the Author

  Map of Palâdnith

 

  “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

  ― Plato

  We guide the hearts, heads and hands of those who rule, but do not covet such power for ourselves.

  ― Sentorân creed

  Prologue

  A Mid-winter’s Dawn

  Deep-Spire, Central Omagen

  It was a bleak day to die.

  The cold air bit hard against skin and penetrated deep into the bone, even through layers of clothing. A freezing mist hung over the land and the stillness, except for the lonely cry of a raven, was absolute.

  Belythna Arran watched her breath billow like steam as she exhaled. Then, she cast one last glance back at Deep-Spire, shadowed in mist. Two delicate, notched spires outlined against the grey sky, appeared like twin mountain peaks, one dwarfing the other, framed by the skeleton limbs of black trees.

  My home. My prison.

  She turned away from the fortress and focused her attention on those surrounding her – one hundred and fifty men and women dressed in black: black tunics, leggings, calf-length leather boots, and thick hooded cloaks. The only splashes of colour were the gold circlets about their necks. Around their waists, some of her companions carried swords. Belythna was not one of them – her skills lay elsewhere.

  At the back of the group trailed a band of around twenty figures cloaked in grey. These were the apprentices; the youngest was barely thirteen years old. The apprentices should have been spared. It pained Belythna to see the terror on their faces; the same fear she felt but hid from sight. It would have been better to have sent them away, to have kept them safe – but Lady Serina would not have it.

  Belythna’s gaze travelled to where their leader stood at the front of the group. Lady Serina stood ramrod straight, her gaze scanning the mist before them, her strong face impassive. She was waiting – they all were.

  Where were they?

  They would come. Belythna had no doubt of that. They would have seen the Sentorân empty out of Deep-Spire, ready to do battle. Riadamor was just biding her time.

  Belythna inhaled deeply and tried to calm her roiling stomach. This felt wrong, all of it; her palms were slippery and she felt nauseous.

  Still, the enemy did not emerge from the mist. The Sentorân waited with the silence of a mid-winter’s morning echoing around them. Winter was cold here, in the depths of Central Omagen, far from the mild coast. The land had gone into hibernation. Belythna’s fingers were turning numb and her feet ached from the chill. She stamped them in an effort to restore the circulation. If Riadamor did not make an appearance soon they would all be too stiff to move.

  Belythna glanced once more at Lady Serina, searching for any sign that their leader was losing her nerve. The woman’s face had gone hard. She had grown so still that Belythna could barely notice the rise and fall of her chest. She was summoning her powers, and Belythna looked away, knowing she should do the same.

  She closed her eyes and struggled to slow down her breathing. It was an effort to clear her mind and summon her flame – a slender column of silver – that would calm her thoughts and channel her talent. Her thoughts tangled themselves in knots and she struggled to unravel them.

  It took brute-force, but, eventually, Belythna managed to reach the place where nothing in the world existing but the flickering flame before her. For what was to come she would need to reach deep. Using her abilities in this way would hurt; it would rub her soul raw.

  The flame guttered, threatening to go out as Belythna’s fear resurfaced.

  This is wrong – it can only end badly.

  Beside her, she heard a hiss from Serina – a warning. When Belythna tore her attention back to the swirling mist before them, she realised why.

  The Esquill approached; shadowy figures gliding towards the waiting Sentorân.

  Belythna watched them draw near. They were many; at least three times the Sentorân’s number. How had Riadamor managed to find and train so many sorcerers so quickly? No wonder they had begun to make their presence felt all over the five realms. In just a few years, Riadamor had worked the impossible. She was more powerful than any of them. They had all underestimated her from the beginning.

  Now it had come to this – two armies of sorcerers facing each other across a misty field on a mid-winter’s morning.

  One of the figures stepped forward from the ranks. She was dressed in grey; a tall, slim woman with a plain face and lank blonde hair.

  Belythna’s gaze fixed upon the woman’s face. She had not seen Riadamor in seven years, and life in the interim had not been kind to her. Gathering and training her followers had drained her. She looked older than her thirty years; her face was haggard and pale. Yet her eyes, dark pools, were luminous and ageless. This was not the Riadamor she had known at Deep-Spire. Before her stood a stranger, a terrifying one.

  Were we ever friends?

  Seeing Riadamor’s face once more brought it all back – all the memories of the last seventeen years. They h
ad arrived at Deep-Spire within three days of each other. They had both been thirteen winters old and eager to learn. Both girls had been desperate to cast off their old identities and assume new ones. However, Riadamor had gone further than Belythna – further than any of them.

  Belythna remembered the day she had witnessed another side to her friend. It was a day as searing hot, as this one was bone-numbingly cold.

  Looking back, the events of that day had been a clear sign of what was to come.

  But, who was to know? Her gaze never left Riadamor’s face. We are only wise in hindsight – even if it means the ruin of us all.

 

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