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Authors: T.B. Christensen

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Wielder's Fate

BOOK: Wielder's Fate
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Wielder’s Fate

 

Book 3 of the Wielder Trilogy

 

 

 

 

By T.B. Christensen

 

 

 

Cover art by Elise Christensen

Copyright © 2012 T.B. Christensen

All rights reserved.

 

Books by T.B. Christensen

 

Wielder Trilogy:

Wielder’s Awakening

Wielder’s Rising

Wielder’s Fate

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

 

The sentry squinted into the blackness as he stared in the direction of the towering mountains to the north.  He took a deep breath of the cool air and blinked several times, resting his strained eyes.  Even though he hadn’t been on duty, he hadn’t slept much the night before.  He rubbed his eyes and resumed staring into the darkness.

“I don’t know what you’re looking for, Dastin,” his fellow sentry said, breaking the silence.  “The Kalian Army marched for Candus two days ago.”

“You know very well that I’m not worried about Kalian soldiers,” Dastin replied.

“Well,” his comrade began, “it’s been quiet so far.”

“Let’s hope it stays that way.”

They both resumed their silent vigilance, wishing they were back at home in Balthus.  The last few days had been rough, to say the least.  The defeat they suffered at the hands of the Kalian Army had been bad enough.  They had then been forced to beg the victors for enough food to make it back to their homeland.  It was humiliating to have to accept the Kalian Army’s old and spoiled leftovers, but they had done it.  They needed food.

Their once great leader, the Wielder Kadrak, had left them with no alternatives.  After he died in a duel with the young but surprisingly powerful wielder of the Kalian Army, the Balthan troops were forced to beg for mercy.  They had spent the last two days marching back through the Pass of Banshi, rationing their meager supplies.  When the soldiers finally reached Beking, they would be hungry and exhausted.

Dastin continued staring into the blackness and hoped that the morning would come soon.  The night had been unnervingly silent in contrast to the previous night’s clamor.  They were all awakened the night before by a shrill scream of unknown origin.  The single, ear piercing scream had been replicated and enhanced as multiple calls echoed down on the army’s camp from the surrounding mountains.

No one could identify what type of creatures had made the sounds.  Some said that it was just wolves, but Dastin knew better.  He had heard plenty of wolves in the past.  The sound was unlike anything he had ever heard before and had caused his hair to stand on end and an instant shiver to run up his spine.  As much as others pretended that it didn’t bother them, he knew many of the soldiers were sleeping lightly tonight with their weapons within easy reach.

After another long stretch of complete silence, Dastin began to wonder if perhaps he was worrying too much.  He rubbed his drooping eyes once again.  They hadn’t heard the screams on their original march to Kalia.  Perhaps they wouldn’t hear them anymore on their march back to Balthus.  He took another deep breath of the cool mountain air and tried to relax.

The silence was suddenly shattered by a shrill scream.  Dastin clenched his spear with white knuckles as a cacophony of screams began raining down on the encampment.  It appeared that tonight would be no different than the night before.  He tried to remain calm, but his heart was racing.  What kind of beasts could make such an otherworldly sound?

He began to sweat as the screams continued and grew louder.  Whatever beasts lurked in the shadows, there were many more now than there had been the previous night.  As he strained his eyes to see in the darkness, his breath caught.  There was movement in the distance.  He quickly let out three sharp whistles and hoped his fellow soldiers would be able to hear them over the echoing screams.  The beasts shouldn’t be brave enough to attack such a large encampment of soldiers, but he wanted all of the troops to be ready just in case.

Behind him, he heard the clanking of metal as his fellow soldiers grabbed their weapons and shields.  Whether they had heard his warning or were merely reacting to the screams of the creatures, he didn’t know.  He was just glad that if the beasts did venture any closer, he wouldn’t be facing them alone.  Soon a large number of troops joined him at the northern edge of the encampment and peered with him into the darkness.

Suddenly, all of the screaming stopped.  The only sound Dastin could hear was his own ragged breathing and the breathing of those standing on either side of him.  He continued holding tightly to his spear, waiting for whatever might come next.  He strained his eyes as he stared into the darkness, trying desperately to make out what was moving in the shadows.  The tense silence only lasted a few moments before nightmares became reality.

 

* * * * *

 

Shaman Azulk slowly shuffled away from the mountains and out into the open field.  It felt strange to have so much free space spanning out around him.  He would grow used to it, just as his warriors would have to.

He had devised several ways to assist his horde of warriors as they set out to rid the land of humans.  The light of day could pose a problem for the galdaks after centuries spent in the dark, but he could dim the light at will.  He could also change the temperature and humidity to best suit his warriors, but he could do nothing about the open space.

He continued in a straight line across the field, walking slowly and deliberately.  He had a destination and a purpose.  None of his warriors followed him.  They all hung back at the base of the mountains, waiting for his orders.  They were apprehensive about leaving the familiarity of the mountains and their caves, but they were also eager to enact their revenge.  When he gave the order, they would stream out of the mountains and flood the lands of the humans.

Shaman Azulk stopped when he reached his destination.  To those watching from a distance, it would appear as though he were merely standing in the center of a large, empty battlefield of matted grass.  The fighting had ended several days earlier, and the field had been cleared of almost all remnants of the battle.  Discarded and broken weapons had been removed.  Shields had been collected.  Bodies had been recovered.

Only the stain of blood, the matted grass, and the torn ground gave testimony of what had occurred merely days before.  And, of course, the lone corpse that lay at his feet.  He stared down at the broken body and ran his gnarled fingers across the skulls and precious stones that dangled from around his neck.

Crumpled on the ground, in a slight indentation, lay what was left of the Wielder Kadrak.  The once mighty leader of the Balthan Army, who had even called himself an emperor, was now no more than a flattened heap in an empty field.  His people had not even bothered to recover his remains and give him a proper burial.

Azulk believed he understood the reasons why.  The Balthan soldiers had left Kadrak’s body alone on the plains partially out of necessity and partially out of fear.  They had needed to leave Kalia as quickly as possible, and they had feared the ambience.  None had been brave enough to approach the enigmatic sphere of ice that had appeared from a clear sky and fallen to crush their leader.  It had diminished in size by the time the Balthan Army began their dejected march back to Balthus, but it had still been there.  The sphere of ambience-wrought ice was now gone.

However, it wasn’t predominately the fear of the unknown that had caused the Balthans to leave their deceased leader behind.  It was a lack of something very important, something more powerful.  Kadrak had never truly gained the love of those who followed him.  They followed him out of fear, and they followed him out of a desire for power.  But they had never loved him.  He had never been one of them.  Kadrak had been a wielder, something that his soldiers couldn’t fully understand.  He was something unfamiliar, something hard to love.

Azulk did not have the same problem with his warriors.  Yes, he was a wielder, but he was not unfamiliar to them.  He had devoted his entire life to serving the galdaks as their shaman.  He had not wasted his powers in selfish pursuits.  He had used them to help and guide his people.  When they were sick, he healed them.  When they were short of water, he replenished their supplies.  When they turned to him for guidance, he gave of his wisdom liberally.  His people knew him and loved him.

He wouldn’t be left alone when he eventually passed on to the afterlife.  He would have a large funeral, an elaborate burial, and an abundance of mourners.  His legacy would live on for countless centuries; not only for what he had already done in his life, but also for what he was currently doing: restoring the entire land to the galdaks.

He pulled his hand away from the skulls that dangled in front of his torso.  Originally, he had planned on completing his collection of skulls with the skull of this human wielder, the Wielder Kadrak.  Regrettably, the young wielder from Kalia had altered his plans.  Azulk couldn’t take the skull of someone he hadn’t personally defeated.

He took a step back from the indentation in the ground and stretched forth his bony arms.  He closed his eyes as a bright flame appeared in front of him, blindingly bright against the dark night.  Folding the flame in on itself, he commanded it to continue growing as it became liquid fire.  The intense heat was uncomfortable against his face but not hot enough to cause him to step back any further.  When the flaming ball was the desired size, he lowered it onto the body at his feet.  He then released it and waited for a few moments before opening his eyes.

Nothing remained but a slightly deeper indentation than before.  The Wielder Kadrak was no more.  His body was gone, just as the memory of him would fade into nothingness.  Justice had been served.  The Wielder Kadrak had not only lost his life but had now lost his body and soul.  He would have no burial and no legacy.  He had paid for his insolence against the great Shaman Azulk.

The elderly galdak smiled to himself.  He could now move on.  He turned from the empty hole and looked back towards the mountains.  His warriors were restlessly waiting in the shadows.  They had tasted the first fruits of revenge and were eager for more.

The previous night they had descended upon the bedraggled camp of the Balthan Army and decimated it.  Some humans had escaped but not many.  After the refreshing victory, Azulk had divided his warriors into two groups.  The smaller group had been sent towards the human kingdom of Balthus.  Without an army left to protect the humans in that land, the galdaks would have little trouble carrying out their plan of destruction.

The human kingdom of Kalia would prove to be slightly more difficult.   Not only did they still have a large, disciplined army, they also had the young wielder.  For this reason, Azulk had led the larger group of warriors to the mouth of the mountain pass.  An advance group had begun heading west just before he had entered the plains, and the main body of warriors would be leaving with him as soon as he signaled.

His people were still streaming towards him from the far reaches of the mountains, but he already had plenty of warriors to begin his march across the human lands.  Galdak warriors would continue to come to him, strengthening his army every day, but there was no need to wait longer.  His army was ready.  It was time.

Shaman Azulk took a deep breath and raised his gnarled hands towards the night sky.  A column of fire shot up, lighting the empty field.  His galdak warriors immediately left the shelter of the mountains and surged forward across the field.  He grinned as the grassland soon teemed with tens of thousands of his warriors.  The reign of the humans was at its end.

 

 

 

Part One: Falling

 

 

 

1

 

 

Traven stood at the top of a small hill.  A brown, barren field stretched out before him.  On the horizon, dark, angry clouds were slowly rolling towards him.  At his side rested the Princess Kalista.  Her head lay softly against his chest and her sweet perfume helped to calm him.  His arm was around her shoulder, firmly holding her against him.  She in turn had her arm wrapped around his waist and was holding on tightly.  The crown of Kalia rested on his head, and the intricate silver armband with a bright green jewel encircled his left bicep snuggly.

BOOK: Wielder's Fate
8.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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