Embers of an Age (Blood War Trilogy)

BOOK: Embers of an Age (Blood War Trilogy)
6.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub




Embers of an Age

Blood War Trilogy
Book II


Tim Marquitz



Copyright 2012 Tim Marquitz


Cover art by Jessy Lucero




Created in the United States of America

Worldwide Electronic and Digital Rights




All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any form, including digital, electronic, or mechanical, to include photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written consent of the author, except for brief quotes used in reviews.




This book is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events or locales, is entirely coincidental.




My sincerest thanks to Ryan Lawler for
having to suffer my early drafts and for helping me make sense of my convoluted visions.

Chapter One


The dead in shattered heaps about his feet, Uthul
knew only the
battle for life

He waded through the Grol corpses
, their pooled blood tacky beneath his
, and
willed his
to work
He knew no mercy for the beasts
born of Ree’s
. He could afford none.

He’d caught them unaware as
Arrin and the Pathran, Kirah,
cleaved through their clustered ranks, but the Grol had been quick to recover. Where at first he’d sent a dozen of the beasts to earth for every glancing strike he’d taken, he now traded them
blow for blow
as they clamored around him
They were wearing him down.

Uthul had t
argeted the empowered Grol
, doing as much to ruin their ranks
, risking precious seconds and the
return of the
plague to collect their O’hra
. He had mostly succeeded. Those that remained wounded him worst. The taint of their
set his stomach to churning. Ree’s essence enflamed his blood and set fire to his skin. Being so close to it was a danger, not only to himself, but to those of his people who still remained. He was being poisoned by the
overload of
pure, magical essence
, and
it would not be long before
the plague
. It would soon kill him.
He prayed to Ree it would end there.

darted before the lines, using the Grols’ numbers against them. The
stumbled into each other and blocked their own attacks, but
could only manage to thwart so many.
sword flickered like a serpent’s tongue
. Its deadly bite weaved
its way through the Grol
before him
only to find another of the
clambering to take
its place.
blood crusted his face and arms, and he could
its bitterness with every breath. It matched his mood.

He hoped Zalee had stolen away with the O’hra-bearers and fled the city, but worry nagged at him. The uncertainty of
his daughter’s
heavy upon his thoughts. His concern slowed him even more than his wounds
, but h
e fought on, paving the streets with Grol bodies. Sweat oozed thick from his pores
and he could feel the sickness in it. The O’hra clattered in the bag at his belt
and for an instant
he contemplated donning
so he might regain his strength, if only for one last glorious push before the plague overwhelmed him.
Surrounded as he was
by magic
he believed
the sickness would consume him long before the battle was over.
A stray thought sent his free hand reaching for the bag.
The crack of thunder drew his focus from such suicidal

In response to the sound
, there was a sudden lull.
The wall of Grol
hesitated, their gazes shooting to the sky
his back
. Uthul cleaved another of the beasts as it stood motionless, and then dared a furtive glance over his shoulder
as the bestial ranks broke
. Gray stone obscured the

Despite its already frantic pace, Uthul’s heart sputtered as one of the city’s great spires careened towards him. Clouds of dust and
masonry bits pelted
as he stood in the path of the tumbling spire. In its demise he saw salvation.

Rather than
follow the fleeing Grol, Uthul darted directly beneath the falling ruin. Massive stones struck the ground
all around
and sent
vibrations through his body
, but
he pushed on into the whirling fog of debris. At the last moment, he darted from the path of the spire. He ran through the alleys of the nearby homes
, which
stood in the shadows of their surroundings walls,
had been spared the Grol’s mystical assault.
Uthul hoped they would last just a few moments longer.

The spire crashed into the closest of the
, the world
washed away
by the roar of the
collision. The ground danced beneath Uthul’s feet and he stumbled.
Shadows roiled
on the wind as the spire came down. Uthul gathered what was left of his strength and dove through the thickening hail of wreckage.
A flicker of gray light loomed ahead, sanctuary in the chaos.
Then d
arkness flooded over him.

His world went black.

Chapter Two


The columns of
, which
rose from the ruin of Lathah
faded into the background. The land of Arrin’s birth had fallen, nothing left save for the cluster of survivors who surrounded him and
he could not shake
Somewhere in the ruins
was the child he had never met; the child he’d failed.
He would never forgive himself.

At the onset of their journey to Pathrale, Arrin had known a fury so dark as to eclipse the sun, but that anger had been tempered by the slow crawl of the
advance. Unable to use his O’hra to hurry the trip, each step was as though he strode through a mire. He trudged ahead of the group,
following the line of the Fortress Mountains
, which
hugged the western border of Lathah
his sullenness having
chased Kirah from his side
, for a time
. Now, there were only his thoughts to keep him company. They were sour c

, the woman he loved,
walked a ways behind him
. Her family, which Arrin had only learned of on his return to Lathah, clustered around her. He
had not met her gaze once since their
He couldn’t bear to. Her husband, Falen, guided their sons, Argos and Kylle, as she hovered at their backs. She had been lost to Arrin nearly the whole of his exile, and yet he hadn’t known. For all the good will he wished he could muster for her happiness, Arrin knew only
emptiness that Malya once filled. He had lived so long for only her and their child he no longer had any understanding of what his life was
meant to be
His purpose was gone
and he had been set adrift
The adrenaline of war
faded like the fallen Lathah, his path slipped into uncertainty.

He glanced at the Sha’ree woman
, Zalee,
who kept her distance from the group
Her pink eyes stared straight
ahead, likely as frustrated by the group’s
slow progress as he was.
It had been her father, Uthul, who had saved Arrin and Kirah from the foolish battle with the Grol. He had
his own life for theirs, his final wish that Arrin and the other relic-wielders journey to the Sha’ree homeland of Ah Uto Ree and learn how best to use the O‘hra
Now she was leashed to the travelers and bound to their fate with no
to mourn her loss.

Though she said nothing
, her lipless mouth was pulled down into the semblance of a frown.
She could not hide her sorrow. After her father’s sacrifice,
Arrin had promised he would
aid her in ridding Ahreele of the Grol
. H
was glad
do so. The beasts had ripped the veil from his life, such as it was. Alone in the wilderness, he had found a relative peace
if never
anything approaching
happiness. Their attack on Fhen had drawn him home, back to a world he no longer belonged but had yet to acknowledge. They had stolen his child from his world, however imaginary or delusional that world may have been.
For that alone, Arrin would chase the Grol to the ends of Ahreele and see every one of their creed impaled upon his blade.

The Pathran warriors who traveled alongside appeared to share his sentiment. They strode about the edge of the group, their weapons
at the ready
, fierce scowls etched
across their furred faces.
They had seen what the beasts had done to Lathah and knew their homeland would be next in the path of the Grol rampage.
Waeri’s whiskers twitched at his cheeks as he surveyed the surrounding land.
The son of the great Pathran leader, Warlord Quaii, he seemed consumed by his anger at what might come to pass.
His pointed ears were pinned tight against his skull, lending his visage a sleekness that enhanced the fearsome snarl at his lips.

His sister, Kirah, caught
eye as he looked upon her. It was all the encouragement she needed to rejoin him.

“We are nearly there,” she told him, her voice quiet. Her purple gaze lingered as she set her warm hand upon his arm.

Arrin nodded and sighed, finding it hard to wallow in his bleakness with her so close. He took in the
beauty of her
speckled features
and forced a tiny smile, tearing his gaze away. “
I feared we might not make it,” he admitted.

“I had no such fear.” She squeezed his arm. “You promised my father you would bring us home.”

BOOK: Embers of an Age (Blood War Trilogy)
6.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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