Authors: V. Lakshman
Bane of the Warforged
Bane of the Warforged
Copyright ©2015 Vijay Lakshman
All Rights Reserved
All characters in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to any persons, actual or fictional, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or unauthorized use of the material or artwork contained herein is prohibited without the express written permission of the author.
Made in the USA.
Cover art by Raymond Lei Jin and Na Sun
Map by Ralf Schemmann, Par Lindstrom, and Raymond Lei Jin
Editing by Philip Athans, Athans & Associates Creative Consulting
Certificate of Copyright Registration: TXu 1-887-058
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This book is dedicated to my family, friends, and all my fans supporting the Mythborn series. I write because each of you have made my craft a pleasure.
Finally, to my little Athena. By the time this book comes out you’ll be only a few days old, and I can’t wait to meet you. You have no idea how close your name came to being ‘Yetteje’, but some kind of ‘sense’ told me to keep my characters firmly confined within the bounds of these pages. You’ll probably thank me later. ;)
I have been working in the publishing business as an editor and author for more than twenty-five years, and spent fifteen years as an editor of fantasy novels for Wizards of the Coast, which is one of the biggest fantasy publishers in America and a subsidiary of transmedia giant Hasbro. I have worked with some of the most significant authors in the genre, and brought to publication more than a dozen New York Times best sellers. I am myself a best-selling author, with fifteen published books to my credit, including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction (Adams Media, 2010), which is currently the number one book on the subject.
The strength of the Mythborn series rests on three essential foundations: characters, worldbuilding, and the writing itself.
The author’s characters are richly-realized and strongly motivated. Each of them possess a unique personal attachment to the world, the other characters, and the story at hand.
The creation of a compelling fantasy world, what we refer to as “worldbuilding,” is the single element that differentiates fantasy from the other genres. It is absolutely at the heart of it. Mythborn presents a world with exceptional depth and imagination that draws from the archetypes of the fantasy tradition, which are vital touchstones for the fantasy audience, with a subtle and thoughtful hand, thoroughly avoiding cliché.
The author’s writing exhibits an entertaining balance of action and adventure with emotional clarity. The story has a fascinating ethical dilemma at its heart. There is never a dull moment in the pacing, language, and truly surprising twists and turns.
It’s been a delight working with Vijay and Mythborn, and I am this book’s, and this author’s, biggest fan.
I look back at the crafting of Mythborn and I’m touched by how much help and support you’ve all given me. The encouragement, advice, feedback (positive and negative) challenged and excited me to deliver something better than I had in the first book. I hope I’ve achieved this in some small way with this sequel.
My writing teacher in college told me that writing is a muscle that when used every day gets better. Well Mr. Rutledge, you’re right! The characters and plot are both deeper and richer. Threads from Book 1 are resolved (where appropriate) and new and interesting hooks into Book 3 are introduced. The story takes some unexpected turns and in more than one instance surprised me. Usually when that happens I know something delicious is about to occur.
Arek, Yetteje, Niall, and remarkably, Duncan, take center stage, but are joined now by Lilyth and Valarius, beleaguered to save their respective people at any cost. They represent different aspects of something we all carry within us. Bravery, honesty, and hope, but also cruelty, despair, and doubt; you can feel the hard choices each must make in a world that doesn’t reward mistakes.
Thank you all for your patience as I continue honing my skill as a scribe. I plan everything out with outlines, research, and notes, but my characters don’t always cooperate. In that, like you, I can’t wait to see what happens next!
9 October 2015
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree,
And I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
In Mythborn I: Rise of the Adepts, we meet Silbane Petracles and his apprentice, Arek Winterthorn. They are leaving their secluded Isle on a mission to ascertain whether a Gate has opened between their world of Edyn and that of the demonkind, known as Arcadia. This gate is located near a fortress called, Bara’cor.
Arek has correctly surmised that if a Gate has opened, Silbane has been ordered to use Arek’s ability to negate magic to seal the Gate shut. This will likely result in Arek’s death, a fact that has been kept from him, and left his master conflicted and unsure of his path.
Complicating the issue are a number of events that seem to be driven by an enigmatic group known as the Conclave. They order Rai’stahn, an elder dragon, to kill Silbane’s apprentice before he reaches the Gate, but their reasons are unclear.
On the eve of their departure Arek gets into a fight with a fellow apprentice Piter and kills the boy by accident. When he awakens he learns of the fight and death, and that the lore father Themun Dreys has ordered Silbane and Arek to leave the Isle on their mission immediately. Arek now worries that the mission is a sham, and that he’s being banished. Silbane and Arek leave the Isle despite the events concerning Arek and Piter.
This is followed by an assault on the adepts’ Isle by dwarven assassins sent by an unknown force called, Sovereign. This attack results in the deaths of Adept Thera Dawnlight and the lore father Themun Dreys.
When Silbane reaches the Altan Wastes on dragonback, Rai’stahn confronts him with his orders to kill Arek. He has known Silbane for a long time and wishes for the master to agree with his orders so that he does not have to end Silbane’s life too. During this exchange, Piter appears as a shade to Arek, hateful and accusatory that Arek killed him. That acidic behavior is tempered by the fact that despite his malevolence, Piter also seems to be trying to keep Arek alive. He tells Arek the dragon is here to kill him, and shows him how to use something called a Far’anthi Stone to escape. What he does not tell Arek is that the Stone will only lead to Bara’cor, the ancient dwarven fortress now occupied by King Bernal Galadine and his besieged forces, and potentially the location of the gate between worlds.
When Rai’stahn acts as ordered by his Conclave, Silbane comes to his apprentice’s rescue, allowing the boy to escape using the Far’anthi Stone. Arek appears in the bowels of Bara’cor. Before a victor can emerge, both the dragon and Silbane are captured by a red mage known only as Scythe. Feared as a spy, Arek becomes a prisoner of Bara’cor.
Meanwhile, Kisan Talaris, another master of the Way and the teacher of the dead apprentice Piter, has cast an illusion transforming herself to look like one of the dwarven assassins who most recently attacked their Isle. She infiltrates their team, joining them on a boat heading to an unknown destination. The leader of the assault team, Prime, debriefs his men on their successful attack, unaware that Kisan has killed and taken the place of one of his men. Soon the team gets new orders to infiltrate Bara’cor and kill Arek and King Galadine.
Scythe has used his considerable powers to delve into Silbane’s mind and comes to learn of his apprentice, Arek, and his ability to negate magic. Though the boy has no relevance to the red mage, Scythe worries that the Gate he has worked so hard to open to the demon realm will be endangered by Arek’s ability to negate magic. He forces Rai’stahn to take a Binding Oath to ally with him to ensure his plans to enter the demon realm are not interrupted.
Meanwhile, Arek endures torture and during his interrogation his foot is severed. He’s hurt, alone, and doubts anyone is on his side. During a confrontation with King Bernal Galadine of Bara’cor, time stops and Arek is once again approached by the shade of Piter. The shade counsels Arek to agree to the king’s request to use his finder, a magical amulet that will transport Arek to Silbane, so that the king’s men may enter the enemy camp unseen on an assassination mission. However, in return for his help, Arek brazenly asks for his torturer’s life.
The king is shocked and refuses, but in a sudden and wicked turn of events, the blade carried by Arek, Tempest, comes alive and carries out Arek’s wish. The torturer is killed and Arek’s foot is healed using the torturer’s own body. Arek falls unconscious. The king has little choice but to wait, hoping when Arek awakens he will use the finder given to him by Silbane to transport a small team led by Armsmark Ash Rillaran into the nomad camp to kill their leader and end the siege of Bara’cor.
When Arek awakens he’s confronted by a beautiful girl who reveals herself to be Princess Yetteje Tir, cousin to Prince Niall Galadine and heir to the fortress of EvenSea, some thirty days ride to the east. Her family has been murdered by the barbarians now besieging this stronghold and she wants revenge. Arek sees the shade of Piter again, this time cajoling him to search under the fortress for his destiny. Yetteje mistakes Arek’s desire as a quest for a weapon to use against the barbarian nomads and agrees to help him. Niall Galadine, in an effort to avoid getting Yetteje in more trouble, and despite knowing his father will be furious, offers to lead them into the underdark of Bara’cor. They quickly make their way downward. Here, the shade of Piter leads Arek to the Gate, a portal like a blue sun sitting atop a pyramid within an underground cathedral.
Meanwhile, the dwarven assassins of Sovereign have found their way into the fortress and seek Arek and King Galadine. Kisan follows, but is conflicted by her most recent orders. She has managed to contact the new lore father, Giridian Alacar, and learns that Arek is a danger to all life in this realm. Giridian has been approached by the leader of the Conclave, a being known only as Thoth, and told about the creation of “nulls,” children like Arek who consume the Way. They are the work of Sovereign, who attacked their Isle and seeks to remake the world. But Sovereign cannot succeed unless more of the Way is freed, and with all the people of Edyn draining its potency, the world remains safe. Should Arek’s power multiply, he will become an unstoppable force that will allow Sovereign to remake Edyn, bringing ruin to their world.
Kisan’s orders are clear: kill Arek at her first opportunity. She finds herself hunting Arek with the very same assassins who killed parents and children on the Isle. The assassins split into two teams, with Prime going after Arek and the rest after the king and his men. Kisan can only follow one of them, and decides to save the king’s men. A part of her hopes Prime will be successful, alleviating her of her orders. Kisan comes to the king’s aid, killing the dwarven team of assassins and sifting through their memories in an effort to find Prime and Arek.
Arek, Yetteje, and Niall are about to inspect the pyramid when they are attacked by Prime. The leader of the assassins recognizes his target and moves quickly to attack. At that moment, Piter appears and helps Arek understand how to summon and use his flameskin. Unlike the other adepts whose flameskins become brighter as they become more powerful, Arek’s flameskin is black but still potent. Together with Yetteje, they manage to kill Prime. Niall hesitates in fear and never aids his friends in the fight. He’s filled with self-doubt about being a warrior his father will respect.
Kisan confronts the king and his men, realizing that the finder can take her to Silbane. She also knows now that Prime hunts Arek. She reaffirms her decision to let the assassin carry out his orders, even though it will now likely mean the death of Prince Niall Galadine. In her mind, this accomplishes her goal of killing Arek but leaves her hands clean of the actual deed. She agrees to help the king infiltrate the nomad camp so that she can rescue Silbane. At the very last moment Jebida Naserith, Firstmark of Bara’cor tells his subordinate Ash, that he will go with Kisan. He promotes Ash to become the new firstmark. Ash is ordered to stay behind with the king and see to Bara’cor’s defense. In moments, the party arrives in the nomad camp and frees Silbane.
Arek, against Yetteje’s wishes, touches the portal to the demon realm. Instead of closing it as the lore father had hoped, his power breaks the remaining barriers between Edyn and Arcadia, and a beautiful woman with blue skin emerges. It is the demon-queen Lilyth, leader of the Aeris and repeated attacker of Edyn. She welcomes Arek and then tells him that he is, in fact, her son.
Silbane, Kisan, and Jebida battle Scythe and the oath-bound Rai’stahn. Devastation occurs but through quick thinking and subterfuge, Silbane manages to capture Scythe. They escape back to Bara’cor, but not before Jebida kills the leader of the nomads, Hemendra, then dies himself of mortal wounds.
When they reappear in Bara’cor the portal leading to the nomad camp stays open. The only way to shut it is to unweave the spell Scythe had crafted. Silbane dives into Scythe’s mind and finally unravels the spell, closing the portal by which Rai’stahn and the nomads can enter. During this Silbane learns the true identity of Scythe. He is Lore Father Duncan Illrys, ancient archmage and wielder of the Old Lore, now driven insane in the quest to find and rescue his wife and son from the demon-queen, Lilyth.
The group, with Duncan as prisoner, journeys downward looking for Arek, Niall, and Yetteje. They run into Yetteje, who has managed to escape while being pursued by a demon who has taken over the body of Prime. She tells the king that Niall and Arek have gone through the portal to Arcadia, and that Arek is the demon-queen’s son. Naturally, Silbane and Kisan are surprised. The former wonders how to save his apprentice, the latter how to kill him without coming into direct conflict with Silbane.
Then they face the Stormlord, Baalor. The Aeris cannot exist in Edyn without bodies, necessitating possession, and Baalor has taken over Prime’s body, which seems to have more power and connection to the Way than those from Edyn. Baalor demands they turn over King Galadine. Duncan offers his help against the demon, which Silbane refuses, but Baalor uses his power over the Way to free Duncan. Despite being able to run, Duncan takes a Binding Oath stands with the others.
Here the final battle is joined and it soon becomes clear they can’t prevail. King Bernal Galadine offers himself to Baalor if the rest may pass. Since Lilyth’s orders only concern capturing the king, Baalor agrees. Duncan, in a moment of lucidity, charms the king’s weapons with some enchantment, but does not tell the king what it does. In truth, they have been linked to each other in case the king survives and wishes to find his son. The party leaves, with Yetteje carrying the king’s bow, Valor, for Niall. The king faces Baalor alone, and we do not know his fate.
The party fights their way back to the pyramid portal. Here, over Kisan’s objections, Silbane releases Duncan from his oath, something in him not wanting to kill the man. Duncan leaps through the portal and disappears in a flash of blue, continuing his search for his wife and son.
Bara’cor is surrounded by a blue shield of energy that lets the Aeris temporarily survive without bodies. Thousands now infest the fortress, possessing any who remain within its walls.
Mythborn II: Bane of the Warforged
with King Galadine facing Baalor, and the party of Silbane, Kisan, Ash, and Yetteje journeying to the demon realm of Arcadia in search of Arek and Niall.