Elon of Aerilann, Elven advisor to the High King and Council, negotiated the treaty between Elves, Dwarves, and men. He suddenly finds that fragile truce under threat by an unknown enemy. He and his team try to uncover the source of that threat in time to convince King and Council to act before it’s too late. But at what cost…?
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This image appeared in my mind of a young woman being confronted by a King and assured that her trial the next day – not for anything she'd done but for what she was – was a foregone conclusion. And her courage as she faced her accusers even as an elf and wizard strode through the crowd to try to stop it.
Then I had to write the rest of the book. I had no idea how it got to that point, or what came after.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
They just came, I knew her, I knew the elf, his true-friend, and the wizard.
The mother bear had put up a terrible fight to save her cubs, as they will do when their young are threatened. All around the clearing the dirt was torn up, the underbrush crushed and the trees marked with blood and fur. It had been a valiant but futile effort on the part of the bear. Little remained of her and her offspring except for the blood, the shattered bones, and a few traces of offal. They stank but not nearly as much as the reek of something else…something that chilled Elon’s blood.
“Kobold,” he said, quietly into the unnatural silence of the wood – mute testimony to the fact that the predators that had done this still remained somewhere near.
They hadn’t reckoned on kobolds. Although there had been reports of something killing down here, they’d thought it was perhaps a young orc or a boggart. So far from the borderlands, it would’ve been more likely by far to be a rogue bear.
It wasn’t the bear that had gone rogue.
Every sense was alert – his eyes as much on the least twitch of a branch against the breeze as on the destruction here.
Around him, the eyes of the other Hunters scanned everywhere, down in the shadows, up into the branches, and all around. Bows were strung and arrows were notched against what they couldn’t see.
“Aye,” Colath said, kneeling in the dirt next to a particularly noxious heap of offal and scat. Looking up, he gave Elon a significant look. “More than one.”
Elon looked closer, not that he had any doubts as to his true-friend’s assessment. The signs were unmistakable. The coldness in his belly spread. Colath, his true-friend, paxman, and most trusted companion, was vulnerable down there. Especially to kobolds, who ran low to the ground.
“Kobolds don’t travel in packs. Something’s wrong here. Get back in the saddle, Colath, and quickly.”
He didn’t speak loudly but he did speak urgently and then gave a soft, low whistle to call the others in as well.
An answer came from the scouts, who were already turning, quickly and quietly, to close in on the rest of the group. They were vulnerable, so far from the others.
Those closest to them had already heard and were alert, passing the news to those who couldn’t hear. Elf or man, without instruction, responded by pairing up. One looked up into the trees, the other scanned the bushes around them. Men had an atavistic and ancient abhorrence of these creatures and no one of either race would discount instinct. Elon trusted his people enough not to need to remind them. Noise wouldn’t serve them well here.
Colath didn’t need much urging or even the reminder. A cold chill had gone up his spine at the thought. Being on the ground was a bad position with kobolds around. He was exposed there. In one quick move he swung up into the saddle and drew his bow. Not his best weapon – that was the sword – but best against kobolds.
One kobold was bad enough, but two were a nightmare.
With one kobold, a band this size was barely enough, hampered as they were by the slower horses of men. For two kobolds? They were too few. Especially in country like this, with a lot of scrub trees and too much low cover. A bear and two cubs were a good enough meal for one kobold, but not a second. This had happened some days ago – they would be hungry again and searching for prey.
Bears, wolves and mountain cats – all those natural creatures – would avoid Elves, Men, or Dwarves, unless they were desperate or starving. Kobolds – magically warped creatures of the borderlands – preferred the taste of men if they were near and would seek them out, although they would take a wounded Elf if they could. Elves were tougher prey.
With hand signals, Elon gestured everyone away – back the way they’d come.
A shout – a desperate cry.
One of the scouts.
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