Authors: J. S. Chancellor
J. S. C
Rhemalda Publishing, Inc. (USA)
P.O. Box 2912, Wenatchee, WA 98807, USA
First American Paperback Edition
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used ficticiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright ©2010 by J.S. Chancellor.
Editing by Kara Klotz.
Text design by Rhemalda Publishing.
Cover art by Oliver Wetter of Fantasio Fine Arts
Cover design by Rhemalda Publishing.
Author photo by John Pyle Photography,
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
ISBN 13: 978-0-9827437-4-4
ePUB ISBN 13: 978-0-9827437-5-1
ePDF ISBN 13: 978-0-9827437-7-5
Library of Congress Control Number: 2010932949
RINTED IN THE
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The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard of Information Services - Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ASNI Z39.48-1992.
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For Bettie Jones and Grace Jordan
ehind every imagined creature, every fantastic race, or castle or invented world, there is a very real one composed of those very special individuals who have influenced, encouraged and inspired. To those who have done so for me, I have more gratitude in my heart than can be rightly expressed through mere words.
To Jeff Groen, who said to me in the most ordinary conversation (on the way to unlock a tanning bed for him), “Think of all the stories that have shaped your life — that you’ve loved. What if, by never sharing your work, you’re keeping us from falling in love with your stories, your worlds.” You gave me permission to write with that simple sentence and unknowingly to you at the time, unlocked a door for me as well. I went home that night and pulled out my old notebooks and decided that this story had been in wait long enough. Simply put—you changed my life that day.
To Bettie Jones, who read every word of every draft, more than twice. Had it not been for your persistence in those early days, this book would not be in existence. You were able to see beyond my beginner’s prose to the story beneath. Thank you for your honesty, your criticism and your praise and for being my first true fan. Know that your love has taken me from being a girl who wished to write
, to a woman who is and has and will until I am no longer able.
To Grace Jordan, for believing in me and for never giving up on my work. Thank you for providing the opportunity for me to learn, through Carolyn Smoot, what I so desperately needed to in order to succeed as an author. Thank you for being proud of me and never being shy about saying so.
To Eric Longworth and Robert Grawburg, who both spent hours in my office discussing plot and characterization and battle scenes. Thank you for reading those early drafts and for always telling me that it would be published one day. Whether I believed you at the time or not, I needed to hear it.
To Robyn Watson, my own personal cheerleader. You are the human embodiment of selfless love and loyalty. Thank you for telling me, with more enthusiasm than I could have conjured on my best of days back then, that you loved my work, my characters and for talking about them of your own accord, simply because you wanted to. Thank you also to Ben Watson, namely for helping me with the logistics of more than one fighting sequence; and of course for aiding me in the naming of one small, plum-chested, dragon.
To Justin Elswick of Sleepthief. Thank you for generously allowing me to use your music on my website and for helping me through more than one mental block.
To Vin Jensen, how can I even begin to thank you? You found me right after I’d left my job and was just about as discouraged as an author can get. You encouraged my blog, helped shape it, taught me what it meant to socially network with other authors and ultimately you gave me the confidence to submit this novel for publication. Though you were unaware of it at the time, you helped fortify my foundation as a writer, reminded who I was and why I started writing in the first place. You were a teacher when I needed one the most. I am eternally grateful.
To my parents, John and Carolee Rowe — for more things than I can name, but thank you specifically for cultivating a wild imagination and a life of limitless dreams.
To my husband, Benjamin, who is the most patient man I’ve ever known, and the most giving. Thank you for supporting this burdgeoning career, this second love of mine, for listening to me read dialog aloud like a madwoman, for putting up with my nocturnal habits, and for loving not just me, but the worlds I create. You mean more to me than you’ll ever know —
you are my Irial
To Diana Best Harbour, for being a kindred soul and providing much needed laughter and wisdom and support. If I didn’t know better I’d say we’re two halves of a whole.
Thank you to Rhett Hoffmeister, Kara Klotz and the staff at Rhemalda Publishing for taking a chance on an unknown, untried author. I hope to prove that your faith has not been placed in vain.
Thanks also goes to a variety of people who have aided in one way or another; Lyn Barfield Ritchie, Jenner Jordan, Micah Green, Josh Harbour, Kristin and Rantz Walters, Lara Adrian, Doug Brown, Kara Ferhman Young, Sharon Walters, Jay Palmer, John Pyle, and many, many soldiers at Ft. Benning who patiently answered my questions about battle strategy and ancient fighting methods and what it’s like to come home from war. God bless you and all of our troops!
And certainly not least, a huge thanks to Mr. Fletcher. You’re loved and missed. I’d hoped to bring this to you in person, but you’ll just have to wait now. Thank you for pushing me, for insisting on my very best and for being the most crotchety, grumpy, awesome English teacher ever. Here’s to a box of salt for the slugs.
J. S. C
ow small the world has become. How dark the days of man have grown. Each passing moment is steeped in vile, wicked, and corrupt things that once whispered of power, only to betray. What was once overflowing with life has diminished to a threadbare existence. It was not always this way.
For years, the realm of man, called Middengard, has waged war against the forces of the Laionai. Once human, the Laionai speak as one consciousness — a collective in which nothing of mortality remains. Gifted by the Dark Goddess Ciara with the ability to steal the souls of other men, their purpose is to enslave all who live and breathe in her name.
In the beginning, Middengard was successful in defending its people. But as the first age of war came to an end, its people began to weaken in their resolve, and a fable began to take shape; first in whispers heard at battle’s end, then in legends passed down from one generation to the next. Soon, myth became prayer and an unswerving faith in an unseen realm was born.
For thousands of years, that fable fueled the vitality of the human heart, but as the free lands waned and Eidolon’s rule overshadowed the few who subsisted on their own, faith faltered. As the last stronghold of man celebrated what little light still existed in the world, few held to the promise of such a fantasy.
There were some among man who would not let die what they knew in their hearts to be true. As they ended their day, they whispered their regards to the winged guardians whose plight was to stand in the stead of mortal man. As they woke, they recited long-held praises for those they had to thank for their freedom.