TRIAD OF POWER: First Quest
A seductive fantasy quest from Crimson Frost Books
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Book One of Three: During the time before the Great Forbidding was created, it was believed the defiance of the Renegades could be contained. To that end, the Council of Power called upon their Ancient Gods for assistance. In response, the Gods ordered creation of the Triad of Power–three swords, each one imbued with the essence of a gift unique to those who would wield the weapons as the Guardians of Foress. Like all magic, each crafted blade contained the driving sorcery of its creator–not all wizards are immune to the weaknesses of men, and within the Triad, conflict itself was bred without conscious intent or knowledge. So begins the legend, and the epic fantasy of the TRIAD OF POWER.
Sherindal cursed when she stumbled, and solid ground took shape beneath her feet. Spinning around, she saw she was half a world from her father’s domain. Gritting her teeth, she searched the sky, seeking a point of reference that would tell her precisely where she was.
It had to be. The port city was less than a mile to the east of her position, and Ember beckoned several days ride west. She tried to put thoughts of Rienn from her mind, and body, then trudged eastward. She was many hundreds of miles from the one man who would forever be her courage and her strength. Rienn’s faith in her had always made her brave. He believed in her, and she often drew on reserves within her to insure she didn’t disappoint him. It had become her personal code of honor not to let him down. Thus far, she was successful.
While she traveled, she pulled from her memory all she knew of the Triad of Power, and those who were destined to be the keepers of their magic. She had spent most of her childhood studying texts so ancient they were mythical to most of the populace of the planet. But Sherindal learned the lessons well, and each of them was cached deep in her mind, drawn forth like wizards drew spells when they were needed. Her knowledge never failed her. This time was no exception. The Renegades were a group of mages and wizards, witches and sorcerers of all ilks – they had once been part of the High Council that had ruled the world of Foress. Discontent with their role as protectors and not being worshipped as gods, they had grown increasingly powerful while the rest of the council idled in studies and acted as advisors to mortal men who ruled as kings.
When their treachery was discovered, the High Council had acted in a fashion none anticipated–they had called upon the old gods of Foress.
And they had been heard.
Many ages had passed since then, and if the Triad was required as a united force, that could mean only one thing–the Forbidding of the Ancients was weakening.
Sherindal was M'Har’s heir, and Rienn was descended from the mage empowered by the God of Deception, Shadin. She didn’t know if he was aware of the Divine blood that ran through his veins, and she was not anticipating the day when she would be forced to reveal to him all that he was, and how the weapon he carried was truly meant to be used.
It was the blood heir of Karman, the God of Foresight, whom she sought now. The greatest of the swords was Diviner, a weapon that carried the gift of vision. If Karman’s descendant was half the man Rienn was, the weapon would be in strong and capable hands. But if this man was weak-willed, or unable to command the magic, then they might yet be lost.
It was not a comforting thought, to be sure. She dismissed it for the moment, and returned her focus to the immediate task–finding the weapon. Once she had Diviner in her hands, she would then concentrate on finding the proper owner.
Loremor was now in sight.
Her first stop upon entering the bustling and noisy city was to find a shoppe and buy a heavy cloak. She’d forgotten that it would be the cold season in the port city. Ember was located inland, close to the vast lake the kingdom had been named for, and it was warm when the rest of the world wasn’t. She’d clearly stayed too long in the comfort of her lover’s palace if the icy air was causing this much discomfort.
Chilled to her bones, Sherindal stumbled into the first public house she passed, eager to escape the icy winds that ripped through her clothes and sank like daggers into her flesh.
She peered into the shadowy gloom of the alehouse and wrinkled her nose in distaste. The place was like any other dive, filled with the scents of too many bodies, not enough of them washed, and the stale odors of food and drink. There were other stenches, and she chose not to think too much about their sources. Smoke hung over the room, a dirty gray cloud that obliterated the beams of the ceiling. Overhead, the candle-laden lamps looked like they were suspended by sorcery. In a murky corner, close to the vast stone hearth, a table had been vacated. She went to it.
The fire warmed her and she began to relax as sensation returned to her frozen limbs. A serving girl approached her, and she ordered wine and food. She gave the filthy child, for child she must have been beneath the layers of dirt that obscured her true age, a bright silver coin for her trouble. It insured her solitude and decent service, as well.
Sherindal bit back the urge to voice her wrath when the innkeeper took the payment from the child and sent her scurrying after a backhanded smack. As the girl, tears flowing, ran to the rear exit, Sherindal’s attention was caught by the fair figure who paused long enough to comfort the girl before he entered the main room.
The newcomer’s hair was as light as her own, his dark eyes shrewd and intelligent. He walked with an arrogance that was casual and obviously natural to him. He was lean and attractive, as well as gently mannered. His smile, when he was returning the flirtatious overtures of the serving wenches, warmed like sunshine and charmed thoroughly. Sherindal was intrigued.
The innkeeper had seen her interest. She laughed to herself when the young man approached after a few words being exchanged with the owner.
“Good day to you,” he said quietly, dark eyes alive with amusement.
“And you, my lord,” she replied and leaned back in her chair. “Do I know you?” She was sure she did.
“I think not.”
“Gerith,” he replied. He was slow to offer the name, and he watched to see if she reacted.
Sherindal ran the name through her memory and smiled.
“Gerith, second son of the Royal House of Loremor, student to Xanthor, heir apparent to the throne.” She arched an eyebrow when he scowled at her. “Provided your brother, Cantor, does kill himself in the games he loves so much to play.”
“Keep your voice down,” he snarled in sudden fury.
“Problem, Your Highness?” she queried sweetly.
Gerith glared at her then sat at the table. “I recognize you, too. Though I’m not sure why, or from where I know you. Why are you in Loremor? I cannot imagine it is by choice.”
“I have my reasons for being here, my young prince. Though in all honesty, it was the closest city to where I was... deposited,” she replied, choosing the word as the easiest explanation. When he didn’t question the use, Sherindal re-evaluated her judgment of him, and included an awareness of magic to his intelligence. “I have to find a place called the Labyrinth.”
Gerith laughed, a silken breath of sound that ruffled the air between them. “You have reached your goal, Lady,” he told her when she glowered at him.
He nodded at her astonishment. “This is the Labyrinth,” he repeated, then his eyes narrowed thoughtfully. “What is it you expected to find? And why?”
“I’m not entirely certain.” For a moment, she peered at the room in general, searching. She felt nothing. No ripple of awareness, no hint of magic. Just hard-working people and a smattering of cut-throats and thieves. M’Har’s spell must have gone wrong; there was nothing here that would help her.
“Be careful, Lady,” he advised. “The innkeeper is not a man of solicitude, but he did request that I warn you not to linger.”
“I am more than capable of taking care of myself, Your—” His grimace halted the usage and she nodded. “Gerith. Though, I thank you for your concern.”
“Not mine, Lady,” he replied. “Who are you hunting, by the way?” he asked when he rose and readied to leave her table.
“I wish I knew. What or where is the Oubliette?”
Gerith’s eyes were thoughtful.
“Sherindal,” he mused. “Rienn’s consort.” He bowed. “I should have remembered sooner.”
“You know Rienn?”
“Not well. How is he?”
“Angry,” she replied dryly. “And very likely to get much angrier before this business is over.” She paused then asked, “Do you know of this Oubliette?”
“I do, and it’s not a place you should go willingly without a sword you trust guarding your back.”
“Why are you here, Gerith?” she wondered, her head tilting to one side as she looked up at him. “A son of the Royal House need not serve drinks in a tavern.”
“If he wants to know the truth of the kingdom he might one day inherit, it makes sense to understand the people who live within it.”
“And Cantor prefers you out of the way of his pleasures.”
“That as well,” he laughed.
“What does your father say about this un-princely behavior?” She smiled. “I am guessing he is aware of none of it?”
“You know my father, what do you think?”
“I think he resents you for reasons that have little to do with you, young prince.”
He nodded, but before Gerith could ask the question her comment begged for, he was called away.