Preview Excerpt: Guardian

The Forest War ripped Orana open in a way the world had not felt since the dragons burst forth and magic covered the land. Had it not been for the Guardians – individually and as a group – and their dedication to the cause of peace, there would be nothing left of the great civilizations of the world. For two hundred years, the only dragons known to be still on the continent were Lord Taanyth, imprisoned in the ruined Keep of Bellesea Palace, and Lord Kalinth, similarly confined in the Western Tower. The dragonkind were gone, save Lady Salynth, who shared the Western Tower with Lord Kalinth. Both places, overrun with the shades of the last of the dragonkind, presented danger to unwary adventurers.

Lady Kaerinth, the Mother Dragon, fled to the dark side of the world near the end of the wars. Lord Omerith, eldest son of Kaerinth and Taanyth, joined her after he gathered the Guardians together, as did his mate and daughter. None of the dragons were seen or heard from again after that time. Many adventurers of all the races had set out to see what waited in the dark; none of them were seen nor heard from again either, which only served to stoke the fire of curiosity among those left behind. In truth, the only race that did not pursue this new land was the Qatu. Naturally reclusive, they saw no need to leave their island.

Lord Taanyth, mate to Lady Kaerinth and the so-called Father Dragon, remained under the Mother Dragon’s curse in Bellesea Keep, with only the company of his dragonkind shades and the wyverns that were trapped within its cursed walls. Though he had attempted escape many times in the centuries since being left there, it was only in very recent years that he had a plan that seemed viable – with help of an unwilling and obstinate wizard who could not be trusted. However, the long years of waiting and hoping had taken their toll on the Father Dragon and he had become quite insane long before the wizard stumbled into his path.

Lord Kalinth, son of Taanyth and Kaerinth and the only ice dragon known to have existed on Orana, remained in the cursed Western Tower. The Mother Dragon had not only made certain he would never leave; she had doomed him to an existence that served as punishment for his obsession with his dark elf dragonkind. He only had Lady Salynth, one of the first of the dragonkind created when the magic of Orana overtook her in the Volcanic Mountains, for company; and she made no secret of her hatred for him. Just after the wars ended, they had been able to communicate and were almost friendly. To Kalinth, she was amazing, powerful, and so very beautiful. To her, he was the mad monster was left to torment her by Father Ikara.

Kalinth tried to contact his father through their bond on many occasions, but there was nothing there. It was not as though he could sense Taanyth’s presence but the connection remained elusive; it was as though Taanyth was just gone. When he tried to ask Salynth about it, she told him that Taanyth was simply blocking him, and there was nothing he could do. Taanyth was older and stronger, she had told him, and trapped just as Kalinth was on the other side of the continent. Kalinth became determined to escape the Western Tower and then find a way to free his father so they could find the Mother Dragon and make her pay for what she had done to them.

Salynth received a visitor one winter’s day. A Qatu female had arrived in the tower and demanded to see the sorceress, claiming that she had a way to ensure Salynth’s release as well as guarantee her the protection of Qatu’anari. Salynth agreed to her terms, and in a few months, a group of adventurers arrived, ready to take on the ghostly denizens of the Tower. Within that group were two Qatu females: one a bard barely done with her training and the other, the previously unknown second born child of the Qatu Rajah and First Wife Savdhi – according to the intelligence presented. Salynth watched as the members of the group fell one by one to the supernatural threats of the tower, until the only two remaining were the bard, Annilanshi, and the secret princess, Kazhmere. They reached the level of the tower where Kalinth was held and he quickly transported Annilanshi to the outside of the tower while capturing Kazhmere and bringing her to Salynth in the hopes of winning her over.

Salynth took Kazhmere prisoner and charmed the magical tiger that accompanied the princess with a view to holding her for ransom. The Qatu female with whom she had made the deal would let the Rajah know that his daughter was held in the Tower, and would arrange Salynth’s release in exchange for the return of the princess. But no return message from the Rajah arrived. No Qatu soldiers arrived to free her from her bondage. Worst of all, for Salynth, Kalinth was certain that his role in the capture of the princess had won her heart for his own, and he became insufferable. Salynth was ready to hurl the princess off the top floor of the Tower where she had been held for all these years – after making sure that as many Qatu as possible were gathered across the Razor Straits on Qatu’anari to watch. Luckily for Kazhmere, the next chapter in Salynth’s long life appeared at the base of the Tower, trying to work out which of the doors would allow him entrance.
Taeben was a young wizard from Alynatalos who had grown tired of his master’s training and fled his home on a quest to learn more about magic and how he could use it. He was the son of two high ranking magicians among his kind, but his impatience with his training had led to him being branded a “lost cause” by his wizard master, his parents, and their associates. He was told repeatedly that he would never be a magician like his father and grandfather before him. By the time he had reached the first level of his training, his parents had moved on to shower attention on his younger sister, proclaiming that she, not Taeben, was the prodigy and the pride of their family. Shamed by his family and filled with rage, Taeben secured an apprenticeship with a well-known human wizard called Belzhar living in Calder’s Port, and for a time he was happy there among the other initiates in service to his master.

Instead of the encouraging environment he had experienced in the wizard’s guild in Alynatalos, however, Belzhar was cruel and strict. In the end, Taeben took all of the abuse that he could stand from his master and staged a revolt among the other initiates. Belzhar died at Taeben’s hand, and then the young wizard returned to his home in the Great Forest. With the exception of Nelenie, his childhood friend, he found everyone he had known either gone from the citadel or shunning him as a disappointment – just as his own parents and sister had, so Taeben left in search of a new teacher. It was this search that led him to the Western Tower and to Lady Salynth, after an unfortunate and accidental sabbatical to Bellesea Keep as a researcher and prisoner of Lord Taanyth. Once the Fabled Ones released him from the Father Dragon – as they attempted to release his childhood friend, Ginolwenye – he continued on his way to the Tower and soon had an audience with Salynth.

The dragonkind sorceress was taken by his strength and determination immediately. He was an elf after her own heart – ruthless, impatient, and with a single-mindedness of purpose that made him a threat if untrained. Salynth agreed to train him in the beginning just so that she could have company, but she also grew to enjoy how jealous Kalinth had become since Taeben’s arrival. They worked together well at first, but as happened with previous masters, Taeben grew bored and insulted by his continued and forced subservience. After many months at her feet, he decided that he had nothing more to learn from her and told her he was leaving to return to the Great Forest.

Of course, Salynth would not allow him to leave, and he found himself imprisoned along with Kazhmere. When the group of adventurers that came to take her pet Kazhmere away also took her pet wizard, Salynth swore revenge on them. But that revenge would have to wait – first she had to free herself, and to do that, Kalinth had to die.