Clyde B. Northrup

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Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 18, Part 4

Posted by gwermon on December 14, 2018 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

14 December 2018

 

Welcome back to all our readers! We return with another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, Woli and Rola enter the arena and face the monstrous morotegu. . . .


Chapter 18, Part 4


“I am more familiar with the bow,” Rola said.

“You cannot carry a sufficient number of arrows to stop morotegu,” the leader said. “Several squads surrounding it, might be able to slow it down, but I doubt they could kill it.”

Something about the leader’s tone irritated Woli, made him forget, for the moment, his fear, and he reasoned that these people could not be the best archers. He found a suitable bow, two quivers of arrows–one on his shoulder, the other on his belt–and found a pair of thin bladed sabers that felt right in his hands; he strapped them onto his back, turning as he did to face the leader, grinning at him.

“You have never seen us fight,” Woli quipped. “We will surprise you.”

The leader shook his head and turned away, even as Rola moved next to Woli, arming herself with a pair of short swords, along with bow and a pair of quivers bristling with arrows. The door opened and closed, the leader leaving the room.

The remaining guard escorted them to the room’s other door, pausing before it to wait.

“I don’t like this, Rola,” Woli whispered in twin. “What kind of monster is this creature?”

“If it troubles you so much, Woli,” Rola returned in twin, “why are you so confident? I am terrified!”

“Their leader irritated me,” Woli answered, “all his talk of an impossible to defeat creature! I remember what our great-grandparents taught us, that no situation was impossible, there are always ways to succeed.”

“We will only succeed when help comes,” she replied.

“You mean, if help comes,” he countered. “I’m not convinced Klaybear is who he claims to be!” he hissed, adjusting the belts crossing his chest.

Rola looked at him a long time before she answered, and he saw the fear in her eyes. “If I don’t think he is who he says,” Rola said, her voice high and quavering, “then I cannot face whatever is out there; I will go mad. He is Master Klaybear; he will return with help.”

“I wish I had your confidence,” he said, “but now is no time to be distracted; now is the time to act and show these invaders just what they face!”

Rola smiled at him weakly, reaching out and touching his shoulder.

The door opened behind them, and Woli glanced back and saw the leader had returned.

Yeitai eksu,” the leader commanded, and the guards closest threw open the door, escorting them up a long, dark hallway. Woli could hear noise coming down the hall, and saw bars covering the opening ahead, the light shining from what must have been outside. Cold air rushed down to meet them, causing Rola to shiver. The guards stopped when they stood before the iron bars, one of them stepping into an alcove next to the doors, beginning to turn a wheel. The barred gate began to rise slowly, with a screeching sound, almost drowning out the noise coming from outside. When the bars were high enough, Woli and his sister were pushed into the light, the gate clattering as it slammed shut behind them. The roar of approval from many voices filled his ears. Looking up, Woli saw that they were on the frozen floor of an arena, the benches rising around them filled with shouting people, the benches starting a good twenty feet above the floor of the arena. Across the arena, above the level of the highest benches, Woli could see an enclosed space, fronted by a large window, and the same group of wetham standing around the old one, who was seated, all of them staring down at him and Rola.

“So what is this creature we must face?” Rola asked, her voice shaking.

Woli raised one hand and pointed across the arena to a large gate, ten times the size of the one they passed through, the bars beginning to rise slowly. A roaring growl issued from the darkness behind the gate, a sound so loud it drowned out the sounds from the spectators. The growl was followed by a second, louder than the first, and Woli felt the ground beneath his feet vibrate. Out of the other gate bounded a creature with shaggy white fur, huge claws raking the ground. Woli saw that morotegu was a bear, one the size of an aperu, with jaws and teeth large enough to cut through him in a single bite. The eyes drew Woli’s attention, for they were a luminous blue, like to huge sapphires lit from within.

“We have to split up!” Woli shouted, immediately running to his left and nocking an arrow. As he ran, he loosed an arrow straight at the monster’s eye; the arrow missed, grazing off the creature’s bony forehead, and causing it to scream in fury. Its eyes now were on Woli; it leaped forward, charging across the arena. Woli nocked and loosed another arrow, this time aiming for the creature’s huge, gaping mouth, hoping it was a weak point. The arrow flew past its teeth, sinking into the soft flesh at the back of its maw, and it slid to a stop, rising up and screaming again in fury. Woli nocked and loosed another arrow, but it hit one of the creature’s fangs, bouncing off and doing no damage. He looked back to see what his sister was doing, and why she hadn’t sent any arrows at the monster. What he saw chilled him more than the cold of this never ending winter: she stood frozen to the spot where he had left her, arms hanging limply at her sides, staring at the monster. Woli skidded to a stop, trying to reverse his direction; he realized that, if the monster turned and charged Rola, he did not have time to reach her before it would.

“Oi! Monster!” Woli shouted, nocking and loosing arrows at its mouth, one after another, hoping he could keep its attention on him. The monster howled in fury, as several of the arrows penetrated past its teeth, embedding themselves in the soft tissue of its mouth. The creature finally saw him, charging forward, throwing up great chunks of ice and snow as it hurtled toward him.

Woli loosed another arrow, before leaping to his left and rolling. Behind him, he heard the concussion, the cracking of stone, as the creature crashed into the arena wall. Woli smiled to himself, thinking he would have time to escape while the creature was senseless from the impact, when something slammed into one leg, sending him tumbling across the frozen ground. He tried to maintain his orientation, tried to make sure he continued to roll away from the monster, but the pain from his lower leg drove all thought from his mind. He came to a stop, his leg screaming in pain, and he was unable to move, let alone stand and escape. But the creature was satisfied with knocking him down, and through the haze of pain, he saw the monster turning to where his twin sister still stood frozen; the icy ground flew up as the monster charged Rola, who did nothing to defend herself, or even escape.

 

Next time, we switch to Baki and Kesa, sent by their masters to rescue the twins. Until then, get our ebooks, and print books, https://smashwords.com/profile/view/cnort9474" target="_blank">here, and share them with your friends. Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 18, Part 3

Posted by gwermon on December 11, 2018 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

11 December 2018

 

Welcome back to all our readers! We return with another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, Woli and Rola questioned by the rulers, condemned to face a monster in the northerners’ arena. . . .

 

Chapter 18, Part 3

 

A high voice snapped a command Woli could not understand, blinded and deafened by the pain in his face, and he felt the guard who had force his head down slump beside him. Woli’s head was wrenched back, and another wetha came into view from the side, this one older and wearing black robes, bent down beside him, and touched his nose. The pain vanished, and the bleeding stopped. This new wetha carefully cleaned the blood from his face, and he got a glimpse of her face, although overshadowed by her hood, and saw that she was bald, smiling kindly at him. He realized that she was not old, but walked hunched over, her eyes down, showing humility in the presence of the enthroned wetha.

“You may kneel,” she whispered, her accent thick like the others, although her voice sounded sweet, “just keep your eyes on the floor.” She looked up, behind Woli. “Leaki genare,” she said, the words sounding like music to his ears. She stood and turned, bowing to the dais, and then she moved out of Woli’s view.

The guard holding Woli’s chain helped him onto his knees, treating him gently, which was a surprise. Woli kept his head bowed, glancing to the side and seeing his other guard, the one who kept hitting him, lying face up on the floor, his eyes wide and seeing nothing. Something about the look on his now dead face caused ice to fill his insides.

“You will not be further harmed, peku,” a voice spoke, a voice that was both haughty and harsh, in the same thick accent, “as long as you do not look up, and you speak only the truth.”

Woli nodded, keeping his eyes fixed on the floor.

“Now tell us,” the same voice went on, “why you damaged one of our gemeraki?”

“To rescue my sister,” Woli replied, pointing to where Rola stood.

“Your concern for her is proper, peku,” she replied, “and so this slight can be overlooked, but why were you both here, in the north?”

“We wanted to understand the change of weather,” Woli replied, “and if it could be reversed.”

“You would meddle with nature, peku?” she countered, and Woli thought he heard amusement in her voice.

“Isn’t that what you have done?” he asked, his tone defiant, but he did not look up.

A silence followed that stretched, making Woli shift uncomfortably. Perhaps he should have spoken more carefully.

“We follow the commands of Madeyem,” she finally said, “to return our world to its natural state.”

“But what you are doing is killing many people and animals!” Rola exclaimed.

Another silence followed his sister’s exclamation, and Woli wondered why; it occurred to him then that perhaps the rulers of this place were communicating in thought, deciding what to say. He risked a quick glance toward the dais, and saw the wetham all looked at Rola.

“And how many of our people and animals have been destroyed while our world burns?” she asked. “Madeyem will return the world to its natural state, and there is nothing you can do to stop her.”

Guenaltero,” a new voice spoke from the dais, “lasoki,” and their was something in this new voice that made Woli squirm where he knelt.

Ne, este dworansu peku,” an old, harsh voice croaked.

Kwi the meinuku?” the new voice asked. “Ememoski!”

A third silence followed, and Woli risked another glance at the dais, but all eyes were on the seated wetha, so he could not tell who had spoken, or what the conversation meant, but he felt more uncomfortable as the silence dragged out.

Bwiko peritlo,” the harshest voice said.

Tonga, mater, tonga!” the second voice replied, and Woli felt her eyes upon him; he wanted to run, before it was too late.

Bowatai!” the harshest voice commanded.

Keuka?” the first voice asked.

Yam, keuka,” the harshest voice replied. “Rogamos statai.” Harsh laughter followed this final declaration, and Woli was dragged to his feet and led from the hall.

The guards surrounded them, forcing them to leave the throne hall and move in a different direction. Woli looked at his sister, staring hard at her and hoping she would ask the question he would not; he saw her eyes widen, and then she gave a slight nod.

“What was that about?” Rola asked.

“You will be tried,” the leader said.

“Tried? What do you mean?”

“You must face morotegu,” the leader replied.

“What is that?” Rola asked.

The leader halted, causing all others to stop; he turned and looked at Rola. “It is morotegu, a creature of cold, a servant of Madeyem,” he said. “I have never seen anyone defeat it,” he added before turning and moving on; the others followed, and Woli thought he saw regret in the leader’s eyes.

“So we have been condemned to die,” Rola queried, and Woli heard the quaver in her voice and knew that she felt the same fear he did.

The leader did not respond, ignoring Rola’s further attempts to understand. He led them into what must have been an armory, filled with weapons and armor. Woli’s chains were removed. As they dressed Woli in chain mail, he saw the leader helping Rola into a similar chain shirt, along with the rest of her armor, until both stood encased in chain mail, from head to foot. Woli shifted uncomfortably, not caring for the added weight of all that mail.

The leader pointed to murder holes above and around the room. “Do not think that once you have weapons, you can fight your way out,” he noted coldly. “If you even raise your hand to strike, you will be filled with arrows. Now, choose your weapons,” he finished, pointing to racks covering one wall, racks filled with every sort of weapon.

“What do you suggest?” Rola asked, trying to be polite, but there was a squeakiness to her voice that told Woli she was terrified.

“If morotegu gets close to you,” he began, “you will die. I would choose spear and halberd,” he finished, pointing to a taller rack with both these weapons.


Next time, we get to meet, with Woli and Rola, the monstrous morotegu. Until then, get our ebooks, and print books,https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank"> here, and share them with your friends. Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 18, Part 2

Posted by gwermon on December 7, 2018 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

7 December 2018


Welcome back to all our readers! We return with another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, Woli and Rola brought before the wetham who rule over this society with iron fist. . . .


Chapter 18, Part 2

 

Several armed wethem stepped inside, one of them their jailer, who went to Rola and began unlocking her chains. Woli saw that she looked all right, then turned his attention back to those entering the room. All were pale, tall, and had varying shades of hair, from light blonde to medium brown, all with bright blue eyes, and all armored. Curiously, each of them, like the others Woli had seen, wore an iron collar with hand-sized spikes sticking out at either side of the neck; he wondered what they were, and why they all wore them. Their leader, the one who spoke, followed the jailer in and glanced around the cell.

Kwore ese altero peku?” the leader asked.

“We don’t understand your language,” Rola spoke, standing and rubbing her wrists.

Nese altero,” the jailer answered, moving to the wall to unlock Woli’s chain from a ring connected to the wall, but he did not remove the manacles from Woli’s wrists or ankles. As he did, Woli saw the iron collar close up, and he saw no way to remove it; further, the iron of the jailer’s collar was splotched with rust.

Eset trei,” the leader said, his cheeks coloring.

The jailer turned and glared at him, shaking his head. “Eset du.” He pointed first at Rola, and then at Woli.

Now the leader shook his head, turning to Rola. “Where is the third, the other peku?” he asked, his accent thick.

Rola glanced at Woli, and then shrugged.

“Where is the one who translated for you?” the leader pressed.

Rola shrugged a second time. “I don’t know,” she told him.

“What happened to him?” the leader growled. “Tell me, or I will kill him!” he added, pointing at Woli. Two of the guards moved on either side of Woli, one of them pulling him up by his chains, and the second pressing the point of a long dagger to his chest.

“I told you already,” Rola replied, “I don’t know. He was here, and then he was gone, I don’t know how,” she added, her eyes still glancing at Woli.

“Was he maga?” the leader asked. “Is that how he escaped?”

“I don’t know what a maga is,” Rola replied. “He was a kailu, a healer,” she added quickly. “A tekson,” she tried, “someone who can wield elemental forces.”

Duseko!” one of the guards hissed; some of the others echoed his word, and all, except their leader, covered their eyes with one hand, spitting noisily.

The leader glanced around at his guards, frowning, before he turned and stared at Rola. After a pause, he nodded to the guards holding Woli, the one threatening him removed and sheathed his dagger.

“You will come with us,” the leader said, turning to leave.

“Where are you taking us?” Rola asked, and Woli was surprised by how polite she sounded.

The leader of their escort looked over his shoulder at Rola but did not answer her question. Rola exchanged a look with her twin, and he could see that she was worried, most likely because the supposed Master Klaybear had abandoned them; he also saw that her eyes were red and puffy, as if she had been crying, but he could not imagine her crying because Master Klaybear abandoned them.

“He left us to die,” Woli noted in their secret language.

Kwia!” one of his escorts snapped, cuffing the side of Woli’s head, making his ears ring; he stumbled, and the other guard, holding his chain, jerked him upright.

Woli turned and glared at the two guards. “When I get free,” he growled through clenched teeth, “I will kill you both!”

“Woli!” Rola hissed. “Stop it!”

Mentha tuno stato, peku!” the first guard commanded, and cuffed his head again.

Woli expected he would be struck again and dodged, so that the guard’s gauntleted fist only grazed his head, causing him only to stumble; he glared back at them again but said nothing. They grinned back, the one holding his chains rattling them, and the other raising his fist to strike again. Woli got the message that they would hit him again, and drag him along if he stumbled or fell.

“Be careful, Woli,” Rola whispered in their private language. “They will kill you without a second thought.”

Woli opened his mouth to retort angrily, but Rola shook her head, her eyes pleading with him, looking redder in the torchlight. He glared back at her, and then dropped his eyes to the floor, thinking that if he acted docile, the guards might give him an opening to break free.

“Don’t, Woli,” Rola implored in twin. “Remember our master’s words, to wait and he will bring help!”

Woli did not look up, or acknowledge what his twin had said; he wondered how she could speak freely without being punished as he had been, and he did not find out until they were brought into a hall that looked like a throne room, columned, with guards standing between the columns, guards whose gear was opulent compared to their escort. On a raised platform he saw a collection of wetham, all of them fair to the point of being pale, all of them with long hair in shades of blonde and light brown, all of them dripping jewels. Only one of them was seated, the other six stood on either side of the throne, and he noticed that the closer to the throne the wetha stood, the more jewels dripped from her clothes. He realized that only the wethem wore the strange collars. All of them looked down on him, their chins raised, their eyes cold. Woli was force to kneel, with his face on the floor, his chains clinking loudly in the silence filling the room. He tried to raise his head, but one of his guards shoved his face into the cold, stone floor, breaking his nose; he felt hot blood filling his nostrils, dripping down his face, staining the stone beneath him.


Next time, one of the servants of these wetham help Woli before he is questioned by the rulers. Until then, get our ebooks, and print books, https://smashwords.com/profile/view/cnort9474" target="_blank">here, and share them with your friends. Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 18, Part 1

Posted by gwermon on December 5, 2018 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

4 December 2018

 

Welcome back to all our readers! We return with another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, we begin a new chapter, the penultimate, returning to Woli and Rola in the far north, captured by the heretofore unknown northerners. . . .

 

Chapter 18, Part 1

Woli struggled to regain consciousness; pain blazed inside his head, making it difficult to focus on anything. He remembered waiting in the snow, waiting for a scout to pass; he remembered jumping the scout and knocking him out, but before he could drag the limp form out of the way, he was struck from behind, and lost consciousness. There must have been a second scout, following the first. How could he have been so stupid! An elementary mistake cost him everything. He assumed he had been captured by the same strangers that had taken his sister, but what they did to him after that, he did not know.

A voice interrupted his reflections, a voice he thought he recognized but could not recall where, why, or who. The voice came from a distance, the words not making sense.

We will need all the help you can give us, the voice said, and Woli agreed: he and Rola were in trouble, captured by the strangers who must be responsible for the endless winter.

I was told that these events needed to play out, the voice went on after a pause, and Woli could not understand how the two statements were related.

That is troubling, the voice added, again after a pause, but this business shouldn’t take too long to conclude.

Woli imagined hearing laughter, and not just the familiar voice but others, as if the voice’s laughter were multiplied, like echoes. Perhaps he was inside a stone cave, which would account for the echoes, but he realized, when the voice spoke again, that only the laughter echoed, not the words spoken by the voice.

I had not considered that possibility, the voice said. Do you think these events are related?

Again, Woli could not understand the connection between the voice’s statements; he tried to open his eyes, but could not tell if he had succeeded. He tried blinking repeatedly to clear his eyes, but this action changed nothing. Was he in the dark? he asked himself, thinking that this space he occupied was beyond dark, it was lightless, and that made Woli uncomfortable, knowing the mind and senses played tricks on the person stuck in a lightless place. Perhaps that was the source of the voice.

I will contact you when we are ready, the voice spoke, almost in mockery of his thought.

Woli tried to sit up, but gave up almost at once, for the slight movement made the ache in his head blinding, even above the loud clinking of chains. He gasped, and heard himself gasp.

“Woli?” a different voice spoke. “Are you awake?”

He tried to focus on the voice and failed, the pain too much.

“He is likely in pain,” the first voice he heard said. “He’s been out since they brought him here, at least a day.”

“Isn’t there anything you can do for him?” Rola’s voice asked, and he again tried to put a name to the other voice and failed.

“Perhaps I can,” the first voice replied.

Woli heard chains clinking again, sharply, which made his headache worse, but then something touched his head, erasing the pain as soon as it touched him, filling his body with warmth and a surge of energy; he sat up, blinking again, but the darkness was complete.

“Where are we?” Woli asked. “And am I blind?”

The first voice chuckled, and Woli finally remembered; it was he who called himself Master Klaybear, the one his twin had begun to worship. “We are in a cell, Woli,” Klaybear answered, “deep in the bowels of Norto Yegolo.”

“What is that?” Woli asked, shifting and causing his chains to clink loudly, but the clinking no longer hurt his head.

“The name of this fortress, Woli,” Rola replied. “Didn’t one of those haughty wetham interrogate you, when they brought you in?”

“Haughty wetham?” Woli repeated. “No, I was hit on the head, outside, as I was trying to hide the scout I had just knocked out.”

Woli heard someone chuckle, and then his sister spoke.

“Really, Woli!” Rola snapped. “How could you have been so foolish. . . .”

“Quiet!” Klaybear hissed, interrupting Rola. “I can hear movement outside.”

All fell silent, and Woli could hear the tread of heavy feet, growing louder, getting closer.

“And don’t try communicating in thought, Woli,” Klaybear added, his voice low, barely audible. “They have proficient mentalics.”

“Why didn’t you let me rescue you?” Woli whispered. “I had many opportunities but you stopped me each time.”

“Not now, Woli,” Klaybear answered. “Be quiet and listen!”

Anger filled Woli, anger at being interrupted, anger at their situation, and his belief that this so-called Klaybear was responsible. He stifled his anger, shoved it down, deep inside, and tried instead to focus on the approaching guards. From the sounds, he guessed an entire squad was coming, at least eight, maybe more.

“They will not be able to see me,” Klaybear whispered, “and if they ask, you must pretend you know nothing. I will return with help.”

Woli heard a scraping sound and saw lines of green fire flaring on the stone floor where Klaybear now stood, free of his chains, bathed in emerald light emanating from his staff.

“Why can’t we go with you?” Woli asked, recognizing that Klaybear was opening one of those strange doorways.

Rumane osti,” a voice commanded, with that same strange accent.

“This must play out,” Klaybear added, even as the archway opened, and the door lock clunked loudly. “I’ll be back with help,” he finished, stepping into the archway; the light from staff and archway winked out even as the door creaked open, flooding the cell with torchlight.


Next time, Woli and Rola are taken before the wetham who rule this strange, upside-down society, where Woli learns the price of his defiance. Until then, get our ebooks, and print books,https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank"> here, and share them with your friends. Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 18, Part 1

Posted by gwermon on December 5, 2018 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

4 December 2018

 

Welcome back to all our readers! We return with another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, we begin a new chapter, the penultimate, returning to Woli and Rola in the far north, captured by the heretofore unknown northerners. . . .

 

Chapter 18, Part 1

Woli struggled to regain consciousness; pain blazed inside his head, making it difficult to focus on anything. He remembered waiting in the snow, waiting for a scout to pass; he remembered jumping the scout and knocking him out, but before he could drag the limp form out of the way, he was struck from behind, and lost consciousness. There must have been a second scout, following the first. How could he have been so stupid! An elementary mistake cost him everything. He assumed he had been captured by the same strangers that had taken his sister, but what they did to him after that, he did not know.

A voice interrupted his reflections, a voice he thought he recognized but could not recall where, why, or who. The voice came from a distance, the words not making sense.

We will need all the help you can give us, the voice said, and Woli agreed: he and Rola were in trouble, captured by the strangers who must be responsible for the endless winter.

I was told that these events needed to play out, the voice went on after a pause, and Woli could not understand how the two statements were related.

That is troubling, the voice added, again after a pause, but this business shouldn’t take too long to conclude.

Woli imagined hearing laughter, and not just the familiar voice but others, as if the voice’s laughter were multiplied, like echoes. Perhaps he was inside a stone cave, which would account for the echoes, but he realized, when the voice spoke again, that only the laughter echoed, not the words spoken by the voice.

I had not considered that possibility, the voice said. Do you think these events are related?

Again, Woli could not understand the connection between the voice’s statements; he tried to open his eyes, but could not tell if he had succeeded. He tried blinking repeatedly to clear his eyes, but this action changed nothing. Was he in the dark? he asked himself, thinking that this space he occupied was beyond dark, it was lightless, and that made Woli uncomfortable, knowing the mind and senses played tricks on the person stuck in a lightless place. Perhaps that was the source of the voice.

I will contact you when we are ready, the voice spoke, almost in mockery of his thought.

Woli tried to sit up, but gave up almost at once, for the slight movement made the ache in his head blinding, even above the loud clinking of chains. He gasped, and heard himself gasp.

“Woli?” a different voice spoke. “Are you awake?”

He tried to focus on the voice and failed, the pain too much.

“He is likely in pain,” the first voice he heard said. “He’s been out since they brought him here, at least a day.”

“Isn’t there anything you can do for him?” Rola’s voice asked, and he again tried to put a name to the other voice and failed.

“Perhaps I can,” the first voice replied.

Woli heard chains clinking again, sharply, which made his headache worse, but then something touched his head, erasing the pain as soon as it touched him, filling his body with warmth and a surge of energy; he sat up, blinking again, but the darkness was complete.

“Where are we?” Woli asked. “And am I blind?”

The first voice chuckled, and Woli finally remembered; it was he who called himself Master Klaybear, the one his twin had begun to worship. “We are in a cell, Woli,” Klaybear answered, “deep in the bowels of Norto Yegolo.”

“What is that?” Woli asked, shifting and causing his chains to clink loudly, but the clinking no longer hurt his head.

“The name of this fortress, Woli,” Rola replied. “Didn’t one of those haughty wetham interrogate you, when they brought you in?”

“Haughty wetham?” Woli repeated. “No, I was hit on the head, outside, as I was trying to hide the scout I had just knocked out.”

Woli heard someone chuckle, and then his sister spoke.

“Really, Woli!” Rola snapped. “How could you have been so foolish. . . .”

“Quiet!” Klaybear hissed, interrupting Rola. “I can hear movement outside.”

All fell silent, and Woli could hear the tread of heavy feet, growing louder, getting closer.

“And don’t try communicating in thought, Woli,” Klaybear added, his voice low, barely audible. “They have proficient mentalics.”

“Why didn’t you let me rescue you?” Woli whispered. “I had many opportunities but you stopped me each time.”

“Not now, Woli,” Klaybear answered. “Be quiet and listen!”

Anger filled Woli, anger at being interrupted, anger at their situation, and his belief that this so-called Klaybear was responsible. He stifled his anger, shoved it down, deep inside, and tried instead to focus on the approaching guards. From the sounds, he guessed an entire squad was coming, at least eight, maybe more.

“They will not be able to see me,” Klaybear whispered, “and if they ask, you must pretend you know nothing. I will return with help.”

Woli heard a scraping sound and saw lines of green fire flaring on the stone floor where Klaybear now stood, free of his chains, bathed in emerald light emanating from his staff.

“Why can’t we go with you?” Woli asked, recognizing that Klaybear was opening one of those strange doorways.

Rumane osti,” a voice commanded, with that same strange accent.

“This must play out,” Klaybear added, even as the archway opened, and the door lock clunked loudly. “I’ll be back with help,” he finished, stepping into the archway; the light from staff and archway winked out even as the door creaked open, flooding the cell with torchlight.

 

Next time, Woli and Rola are taken before the wetham who rule this strange, upside-down society, where Woli learns the price of his defiance. Until then, get our ebooks, and print books,https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank"> here, and share them with your friends. Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 17, Part 6

Posted by gwermon on November 30, 2018 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

30 November 2018

 

We return with another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, Kesa reveals to Baki the identity of the true killer, giving him the good news that he is free to leave. . . .


Chapter 17, Part 6

 

Kesa stood waiting outside the hall, her insides turning somersaults while she watched the door. Baki stepped out, blinking and shading his eyes from the light in the hall. He stood motionless, waiting for his eyes to adjust, and when they did, he saw Kesa standing there, waiting for him, his face a careful mask.

“I’d thought,” she began, “you’d be jumping up and down, excited that you have been exonerated.” She tried to smile at him, but feared it was only a grimace, flowing out of the fear and trepidation she felt. Her feelings for him were confused; she did not understand why she felt as she did, and she could see nothing on his face.

Baki shrugged, and then turned to follow the guards. “So tell me,” he said, “how did you do it?”

These words added to her confusion. “You mean, exonerate you?” she clarified with a quaver in her voice, wishing her insides would stop churning, for her voice sounded to her too high, too girlish. She felt her cheeks heating.

“I’m sorry, Baki,” she said when he did not answer. “What I did was inexcusable, but what I saw in your mind helped me to solve the mystery of who killed the masters. It was Jakadi,” she went on, speaking too fast. “I learned from one of the merchants that he had been to the market on the day after thuro Maki had been killed, bribing the others to keep silent about what they saw. That information, plus seeing him in your mind on that side of Master Koro’s horse, led me to Jakadi’s room, where we found that he had taken poison, bragging that he had fooled them all. We tried to make him speak, to confess, but he died before he could. On his body we found his ring, which was what made the marks on all the bodies, and on Master Koro’s saddle.” She paused, looking to the side at Baki, but he walked beside her with his eyes forward, never looking at her.

“Then we had to convince Master Belmo,” she went on, cringing as her voice still sounded too breathy, too girlish. “Master Thalamar had to threaten him with Sir Blakstar before he would finally agree to reverse his decision; he tried to arrest us for Jakadi’s death, saying that we had murdered him, and planted the ring on his body to make it seem as if he were responsible, saying that we killed him so he couldn’t deny our claims.”

“The guard called me initiate Baki, again,” Baki interrupted her, “but then said I had to leave the school. I don’t want to leave, not until I take the trial and become a full kortexi.”

Kesa turned to look at him while he spoke, but again, he never looked at her, keeping his eyes fixed ahead.

“Master Thalamar said we would take you to Sir Blakstar,” Kesa replied, still looking at him, wishing he would look at her, and acknowledge her, but he continued to stare straight ahead. “Sir Blakstar can make you a full kortexi.”

“But I haven’t taken the trials,” he repeated as they reached the door to his room. He opened it, and allowed her to precede him inside, still refusing to look at her.

Master Thalamar was already there, waiting for them, still smiling the same wide smile. “You have passed your trials, Baki,” Thalamar noted. “Your ordeal of the past two weeks have been trials sufficient to prove your worth, trials tougher than what an initiate would normally endure.

Baki nodded stiffly, going to his trunk and picking it up. He turned to face Master Thalamar, still not looking at Kesa, still acting as if she did not exist. “Let’s go, then, Master Thalamar,” he said.

Kesa saw her master look from him to her, back to him and her; he frowned, shaking his head slowly, but saying nothing. He took out his rod, the eye-shaped diamond glittering. “Kreska,” he sang, lengthening the rod and then beginning to open another of those strange archways that had brought them in a single step from Melar to Karle. Inside this archway, Kesa saw what looked like a conference room, a long table surrounded by many chairs. She stepped through, still feeling sick and wondering what she could do to earn again Baki’s trust.

 

Next time, we return to Woli in the north as he wakes up in a cold, cold cell. Until then, get our ebooks & print books https://smashwords.com/profile/view/cnort9474" target="_blank">here, and share them with your friends. Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 17, Part 5

Posted by gwermon on November 27, 2018 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

27 November 2018


We return with another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, Thalamar threatens Belmo with Sir Blakstar, forcing him to choose between Baki and Jakadi. . . .

 

Chapter 17, Part 5

 

“No, and you won’t be able to move until I release all of you,” Master Thalamar noted, the smile on his face returning. “Now, will you accept the fact that Baki is innocent of the crimes for which you have condemned him, or will I need to bring Sir Blakstar here to show you that we are speaking the truth?” He paused, and Kesa saw that all three kortexem had eyes wide with fright. “There is a reason he stands facing your founder,” Thalamar went on, his face still stretched by his grin, “outside the entrance to your citadel, so you never forget who he was, and that he is still available to straighten you, should you stray from the true path of your order. Shall I call him?” he asked, pausing again to give his words time to sink in. Kesa saw that the two guards had relaxed, and realized they could move; both sheathed their swords and stepped back. Belmo continued to stare at Thalamar, his eyes now narrowed into a glare.

“Release me!” Belmo tried again.

“Choose!” Thalamar snapped. “Accept our words, that Baki is innocent, that Jakadi was the culprit, or face Sir Blakstar. Which will it be, Belmo?”

Belmo struggled, his hold body shaking as he tried to free himself from Master Thalamar’s hold on him; Thalamar waited, still smiling widely at Belmo, which made Kesa want to laugh. She had to bite her tongue to keep the laugh inside; she dropped her arm and rod, letting the air shield she had created wink out.

Belmo continued to struggle, his cheeks turning red from the exertion, sweat forming and beading on his face, soon running down his cheeks, past his chin, down his neck, disappearing inside the collar of his tunic.

“Really, Belmo,” Thalamar noted, a hint of laughter in his voice, “it’s not that difficult. “The best, young logician from Melbarth’s school,” Thalamar nodded to Kesa, and winked at her, which caused the laugh she held to burst out, before she could again stifle it, “has researched these murders, collected all the facts, and concluded that Baki is innocent of the murders; she has further shown you incontrovertible evidence that this initiate, Jakadi, is guilty. What more do you really need?”

Something inside Belmo broke, and the kortexi master caved-in, dropping his arms and relaxing, his head bowed, refusing to look at either of them. “Fine!” he snapped. “Baki is innocent; I reverse my decision concerning the murders, but I will not let him back into the order!” he finished, glaring defiance at Master Thalamar, who continued to smile.

“That is no problem, Belmo,” Thalamar noted. “I will take Baki to Sir Blakstar, and he will make him a full member of the order. Will you contradict Sir Blakstar, Belmo?”

“I don’t care!” Belmo growled, gesticulating angrily with both arms. “Do whatever you like! Just get him out of my sight!”

“Issue the order, and the proclamation,” Thalamar noted, and he pulled parchment, ink, and quill from somewhere inside his robes, holding them out for Belmo.

Kesa saw a multitude of emotions war across Belmo’s face, dominated by anger and fear. Belmo snatched the parchment from Thalamar and turned to sit at one of the small desks. Thalamar handed him the quill and opened the ink bottle, placing it on the desk.

“Release initiate Baki!” Belmo commanded without turning.

“Go with them, Kesa,” Thalamar told her, “and give him the good news. I’ll meet you back at his room when we finish.”

“I’ll need to go to my office for my seal,” Belmo said, the quill he held scratching audibly across the parchment.

“I’m not sure he will appreciate me telling him, master,” Kesa said, even as the two guards turned to leave the room. “I don’t think he likes me anymore.”

Thalamar looked up at her and grinned. “He’ll be glad to see you, I’m certain.” He turned back to watch Belmo.

Kesa shrugged to herself, and followed the guards; she felt sick inside, and she shouldn’t, for she had finally proved Baki innocent of the crimes for which he had been condemned. Why, then, did she feel so awful? She stopped behind the two guards when they reached the cell where Baki was confined. One opened the door and went inside; Kesa heard chains clanking as this guard removed the manacles that held him bound.

“You are free to go, initiate Baki,” she heard the guard say.

“Free?” she heard Baki reply. “But I thought you were coming to. . . .”

“New evidence has surfaced, proving you did not commit the murders,” the guard said, “and you are free to leave with those who saved you.”

“But I haven’t taken the trials,” Baki said, “I wish to finish and become a full kortexi.”

“You have finished, initiate,” the guard said, and Kesa heard the clanking of chains dropped onto the stone floor. “She will explain it to you,” he finished, and Kesa saw him walk out of the room, returning the way they had come, taking the second guard with him. “We must return to Master Belmo,” he said as they left.


Next time, we will conclude this chapter as Kesa reveals to Baki who the true killer was, and that Baki is free to leave. Until then, get our ebooks & print bookshttps://smashwords.com/profile/view/cnort9474" target="_blank"> here, and share them with your friends. Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 17, Part 5

Posted by gwermon on November 27, 2018 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

27 November 2018

 

We return with another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, Thalamar threatens Belmo with Sir Blakstar, forcing him to choose between Baki and Jakadi. . . .

 

Chapter 17, Part 5

 

“No, and you won’t be able to move until I release all of you,” Master Thalamar noted, the smile on his face returning. “Now, will you accept the fact that Baki is innocent of the crimes for which you have condemned him, or will I need to bring Sir Blakstar here to show you that we are speaking the truth?” He paused, and Kesa saw that all three kortexem had eyes wide with fright. “There is a reason he stands facing your founder,” Thalamar went on, his face still stretched by his grin, “outside the entrance to your citadel, so you never forget who he was, and that he is still available to straighten you, should you stray from the true path of your order. Shall I call him?” he asked, pausing again to give his words time to sink in. Kesa saw that the two guards had relaxed, and realized they could move; both sheathed their swords and stepped back. Belmo continued to stare at Thalamar, his eyes now narrowed into a glare.

“Release me!” Belmo tried again.

“Choose!” Thalamar snapped. “Accept our words, that Baki is innocent, that Jakadi was the culprit, or face Sir Blakstar. Which will it be, Belmo?”

Belmo struggled, his hold body shaking as he tried to free himself from Master Thalamar’s hold on him; Thalamar waited, still smiling widely at Belmo, which made Kesa want to laugh. She had to bite her tongue to keep the laugh inside; she dropped her arm and rod, letting the air shield she had created wink out.

Belmo continued to struggle, his cheeks turning red from the exertion, sweat forming and beading on his face, soon running down his cheeks, past his chin, down his neck, disappearing inside the collar of his tunic.

“Really, Belmo,” Thalamar noted, a hint of laughter in his voice, “it’s not that difficult. “The best, young logician from Melbarth’s school,” Thalamar nodded to Kesa, and winked at her, which caused the laugh she held to burst out, before she could again stifle it, “has researched these murders, collected all the facts, and concluded that Baki is innocent of the murders; she has further shown you incontrovertible evidence that this initiate, Jakadi, is guilty. What more do you really need?”

Something inside Belmo broke, and the kortexi master caved-in, dropping his arms and relaxing, his head bowed, refusing to look at either of them. “Fine!” he snapped. “Baki is innocent; I reverse my decision concerning the murders, but I will not let him back into the order!” he finished, glaring defiance at Master Thalamar, who continued to smile.

“That is no problem, Belmo,” Thalamar noted. “I will take Baki to Sir Blakstar, and he will make him a full member of the order. Will you contradict Sir Blakstar, Belmo?”

“I don’t care!” Belmo growled, gesticulating angrily with both arms. “Do whatever you like! Just get him out of my sight!”

“Issue the order, and the proclamation,” Thalamar noted, and he pulled parchment, ink, and quill from somewhere inside his robes, holding them out for Belmo.

Kesa saw a multitude of emotions war across Belmo’s face, dominated by anger and fear. Belmo snatched the parchment from Thalamar and turned to sit at one of the small desks. Thalamar handed him the quill and opened the ink bottle, placing it on the desk.

“Release initiate Baki!” Belmo commanded without turning.

“Go with them, Kesa,” Thalamar told her, “and give him the good news. I’ll meet you back at his room when we finish.”

“I’ll need to go to my office for my seal,” Belmo said, the quill he held scratching audibly across the parchment.

“I’m not sure he will appreciate me telling him, master,” Kesa said, even as the two guards turned to leave the room. “I don’t think he likes me anymore.”

Thalamar looked up at her and grinned. “He’ll be glad to see you, I’m certain.” He turned back to watch Belmo.

Kesa shrugged to herself, and followed the guards; she felt sick inside, and she shouldn’t, for she had finally proved Baki innocent of the crimes for which he had been condemned. Why, then, did she feel so awful? She stopped behind the two guards when they reached the cell where Baki was confined. One opened the door and went inside; Kesa heard chains clanking as this guard removed the manacles that held him bound.

“You are free to go, initiate Baki,” she heard the guard say.

“Free?” she heard Baki reply. “But I thought you were coming to. . . .”

“New evidence has surfaced, proving you did not commit the murders,” the guard said, “and you are free to leave with those who saved you.”

“But I haven’t taken the trials,” Baki said, “I wish to finish and become a full kortexi.”

“You have finished, initiate,” the guard said, and Kesa heard the clanking of chains dropped onto the stone floor. “She will explain it to you,” he finished, and Kesa saw him walk out of the room, returning the way they had come, taking the second guard with him. “We must return to Master Belmo,” he said as they left.

 

Next time, we will conclude this chapter as Kesa reveals to Baki who the true killer was, and that Baki is free to leave. Until then, get our ebooks & print bookshttps://smashwords.com/profile/view/cnort9474" target="_blank"> here, and share them with your friends. Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 17, Part 4

Posted by gwermon on November 23, 2018 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

23 November 2018

 

We return with another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, Kesa and Thalamar try to get Jakadi to reveal himself with his dying breath. . . .

 

Chapter 17, Part 4

 

Thalamar continued to smile at Belmo, while Kesa now took her turning gaping. Her master moved to the head of Jakadi’s bed, taking out his rod, and for the second time, Kesa saw the legendary rod of Melbarth, the huge, eye-shaped diamond on its top already beginning to glow. Thalamar turned his back to her and Belmo, and she could hear him beginning to sing, too low for her to understand the words; she suspected he did not want her to hear the orthek he cast.

“Kesa, dispel the stasis cocoon when I nod,” Thalamar told her. “You might only get a single question, so make it count.”

“What should I ask, master?” Kesa asked, moving up the bed to stand beside Thalamar.

“Ask him if he killed his masters,” Thalamar replied, continuing to hum softly to himself, although Kesa heard words in his humming that she could not discern.

Kesa reached out and waited for his nod, preparing the question in her mind.

“What are you doing?” Belmo growled.

When Thalamar nodded, she touched the purple aura and sang one word, “Neki.” The purple aura vanished, and Jakadi drew a shuddering breath; bright white light surrounded his head, emanating from Thalamar’s rod, the light crawling slowly down his body, encasing him.

“What . . . ?” Kesa tried, but her master cut her off.

“Ask, now!”

“Did you kill your masters, Jakadi?” Kesa asked, her senses, including the mental, all focused on the pale, dying figure in the bed before her.

Jakadi opened and closed his mouth several times, his entire body writhing inside the brilliant white light. Something between a low growl and a hiss escaped from his mouth each time he opened it.

“What are you doing to him?” Belmo demanded, finally coming into the room, his hands held out threateningly.

Thalamar nodded, and Kesa saw sweat beading on his forehead.

“Did you kill your masters?” Kesa repeated.

“Answer!” her master commanded, and Jakadi’s mouth snapped open, his body writhing more furiously; the sound became a gurgling scream, then a chuckle, and a great gout of blood flowed out of his mouth, turning his chuckle into a choking cough, splattering the blanket with blood.

“Stop it!” Belmo shouted, shoving Kesa out of the way and onto the other bed. “You’re killing him!”

“I . . . I . . . kuh–fuh-fooled. . . .” Jakadi stuttered, choked, and coughed, but the only comprehensible words were I and fooled, although it sounded to Kesa like he was going to say something else before changing to fooled. He continued to cough, the blood flowing more freely now, and he writhed more frantically.

Belmo tried to push Thalamar back, away from Jakadi, but Thalamar was like a stone, and Belmo only succeeded in pushing himself away.

Kesa! she heard her master shout in her mind. Look into his mind! I cannot hold him here much longer!

Kesa sat up on her elbows and let her awareness enter Jakadi’s mind, and what she saw confused more than helped: she saw flashes of images, colored red, yellow, and purple; she saw each of the masters, including the thuro, but these were only flashes of faces without context.

Get out! Now! she heard her master shout again in her mind and she withdrew, standing up and placing herself between Belmo and Thalamar, preparing to raise a shield in front of her, but the brilliant light winked out, and Jakadi gurgled once before going silent and limp.

“You’ve murdered him!” Belmo exclaimed, trying to push Kesa out of the way.

“Awiskoit,” Kesa sang, raising a shield of air between herself and Master Belmo, who staggered backward and into the door frame.

“He was dying, Belmo,” Thalamar noted sadly, and pointed to a bottle on the stand between the two beds, “dying of the poison he himself drank.”

“What nonsense is this?” Belmo spat. “You are so desperate to exonerate the true murderer that you will say anything, and now you have killed our best student!” He turned to the still open door. “Guards! To me!” he shouted down the hall, and the two large, armored kortexem that were always following him stepped into view. “Arrest them both, for murdering Jakadi!”

“Hold!” Thalamar said, and there was a commanding tone in his voice that she had not before heard, a tone the froze both Belmo and his guards in place. “You are a fool, Belmo, to think that we killed this initiate. He is a plant, a traitor, sent here to destroy the kortexi order, even as the infamous Whitesun betrayed your order in the Great Year, leading to a bloodbath that none in the school or the city escaped. Do you wish to repeat it? Then listen to me now,” he commanded, and the three kortexem held still, which surprised Kesa. Thalamar pulled back the blankets and lifted Jakadi’s left hand. “Look at the ring,” he ordered, “clasped, clawed hands, and recall the marks on each body, small, parallel scratches on each one, scratches caused by this ring as he killed each one.”

“There were on such marks on Koro’s body,” Belmo protested.

“But there were on his saddle,” Kesa put in, “near the buckle that failed and led to Master Koro’s fatal accident. He is the murderer,” she added, pointing to Jakadi. “All the facts point to him, not Baki. You have condemned the wrong person.”

Belmo’s eyes widened momentarily, and then narrowed, his look becoming sly. “You planted that ring on him,” he said, a grin twitching at the corners of his mouth, “so you could accuse him, and then killed him, so he could not deny it.”

The two guards looked at each other, brandishing their weapons, and moving forward again to arrest them, but a look from Master Thalamar stopped them; they stood, frozen in place in the act of stepping forward. Both looked to Belmo for instructions.

“I told you to arrest them!” Belmo growled. “What are you waiting for?”

“Master,” one of them began, “we cannot move.”

 

Next time, Thalamar threatens to bring Sir Blakstar to prove Kesa has learned the truth, that Baki is innocent of killing his masters. Until then, get our ebooks & print books https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">here, and share them with your friends. Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 17, Part 3

Posted by gwermon on November 20, 2018 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

20 November 2018


We return with another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, Kesa tells her master that she knows who the true killer is, taking him to confront this person. . . .

 

Chapter 17, Part 3

 

Kesa was out of breath when she reached the room where Master Thalamar waited. He looked up at her with concern as she burst into the room, trying to speak, but only one word came out: “Jakadi!” she gasped, panted some more, and then added, “it had to be Jakadi.”

“And how do you reach that conclusion?” Thalamar asked, one of his eyebrows rising slowly.

“He was on that side of Master Koro’s horse,” Kesa replied, still trying to control her breath, “and I’ve just learned that he was seen going from shop to shop on the day after Maki’s murder.”

Master Thalamar smiled widely at her, closing and laying aside the book he was reading. “Let’s go and speak to him,” he said, standing up.

Kesa led the way, asking Gelfi where Jakadi was.

“He is in his room, mistress,” Gelfi told her, “which is the second door down from ours; his roommate said he was too ill to get up this morning and sent the healers to him.”

“Thanks, Gelfi,” Kesa told him, turning and jogging of in the opposite direction, going to the initiates’ rooms and stopping before the door indicated; she glanced at Master Thalamar, still at her side, and he nodded once. Kesa knocked, waited, and then entered the room. She had always thought Jakadi looked too pale, but that was nothing compared to how he looked now, with no hint of color anywhere on his face. He lay unmoving on the bed, blanket pulled up to his shoulders, and she could see that his breathing was shallow. His pale, blonde hair was limp, it, too, looking as if it had faded. His eyes flickered open, and Kesa saw how dull they looked when his eyes found hers. He grinned weakly, for a moment only, and then grimaced, his body wracked with pain.

“You’re too late, maghi,” Jakadi hissed, “I have completed my work, and must now pay the price,” he added, his voice weaker as he spoke, a grin stretching his mouth for a moment. “I fooled them all.”

“Kesa, stasis cocoon,” Master Thalamar commanded, and she acted without another thought.

“Nemfa-ditistas,” Kesa sang, touching Jakadi with her glowing rod, and he was surrounded by purple light, stopping him in the act of saying something else. Kesa turned and saw that Thalamar was leaving the room. “Master, where are you going?”

“Wait here,” he called over his shoulder, “and don’t let anyone but me enter this room.”

Kesa frowned, wondering what her master was doing. She turned back to look at Jakadi, inside the purple cocoon, his mouth open as if he was about to say something. She considered what he had said, and knew that she was right, that here was the murderer, realizing what her master had gone to do: bring Master Belmo here to hear the confession. She wanted to question him further, wanted to know how he had accomplished what he had, and why no one had suspected him. Her grandfather’s laughter interrupted her train of thought, and she heard him say words that he often said to her: My dear Kesa, intuition is useful, but you cannot allow it to force you into conclusions that may not be justified; you must always consider carefully the facts–what you know to be true–before making any conclusion, and any conclusion you reach is only good until some new fact is brought to light. Then you must reevaluate and modify your conclusion to fit the new fact, or even discard it, if necessary. Never jump to hasty conclusions.

Kesa’s eyes refocused on the figure before her, encased in purple light; she set aside her hasty conclusion and reexamined what he had said. He had only claimed to have fooled them all, but to whom did he refer? His kortexi masters? His fellow initiates? Or someone unknown? What work had he completed, and who set him, or sent him, to do that work? All valid questions; all unanswerable with the facts currently at her command; none confirming or denying her suspicion. She itched to question him further, to find the answers to her questions, and then another question occurred to her: why had Master Thalamar directed her to place him in stasis? What did her master know, or conclude from what he said? She knew that he would have been scanning the minds around them, likely scanning his mind. What had he seen that led him to give her that order? She wondered if she scanned his mind, what would she see? Was his mind still active while in stasis, or would it be blank? She could not recall any lesson on it, so she switched her awareness to the mental, made a sweep around her to be sure no other mentalics were nearby, before turning her mental eyes on Jakadi. She saw only purple light, but could not tell if it was the aura surrounding him, or if his mind was filled with passion. She tried to focus only on his mental space, but the color did not alter. She reached out to touch his mind with her mental fingers, trying to learn what he was feeling, when a shout stopped her.

“Kesa! No!” Master Thalamar shouted, causing her to step backward and shift her awareness out of the mental plane.

“Wh-what?” Kesa stammered, trying to refocus on the initiate’s room.

“Attempting to contact the mind of someone held in stasis could be dangerous,” Thalamar added, coming into the room with Master Belmo in tow.

“What is so important that you had to drag me to this initiate’s room?” Belmo growled, stopping in the doorway. “I received a report that he was ill, and I have no wish to catch whatever he has.”

“You won’t catch anything, Belmo,” Thalamar told him. “He has nothing that is catching.”

“Then why did you bring me here?” Belmo demanded, still standing in the doorway.

Thalamar nodded to her, and she began to speak. “I just learned from one of the merchants in Karle that this initiate, Jakadi, had been to the market on the day after thuro Maki had been murdered, offering them bribes to keep quiet about Baki’s presence in the market on the night in question. I then remembered that Jakadi was on the side of Master Koro’s horse where the buckle broke. I returned quickly, only to find Jakadi sick in bed. He told us we were too late, that he had finished his work, and that he had fooled them all, before my master had me put him into stasis, I’m guessing, because he was about to reveal himself as the murderer,” she finished, looking to Thalamar, who was smiling.

“All true, except he was about to die,” Thalamar replied, “so I thought Master Belmo should be here in case he says more.”

Belmo stood gaping, his eyes going from one to the other, then resting on Jakadi in his purple cocoon. “Have you both lost your minds?” he exclaimed. “Initiate Jakadi is the finest student we have. I cannot believe that he would commit such terrible crimes!”

 

Next time, Kesa and her master try to force Jakadi to speak before he dies. Until then, get our ebooks & print books https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">here, and share them with your friends. Good reading!


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