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Authors: Jeremy Laszlo

Tags: #Speculative Fiction

The Changing

BOOK: The Changing
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The Changing


Book Three of The Blood and Brotherhood Saga


By Jeremy Laszlo



Kindle edition Copyright Jeremy Laszlo 2012





Edited by Stephanie J Dagg






This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.  This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.  If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient.  If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please visit the author's website linked on the previous page for information on how to obtain a legal copy.  Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


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Chapter 1

Unforgotten Masters and Unanswered Prayers





Seth sat in silence upon the cobbled stone floor listening for any sign of change in the darkness. His eyes had adjusted long ago to reveal that he had somehow transported himself and Sara to a room that he had only before visited in his dreams. Sara remained unconscious in his lap, having nearly bled to death from an arrow wound to the neck. Seth fought the urge to scream, filled as he was with mixed emotions of rage and fear, self-pity and loathing. Such was his predicament that he saw no way of repairing what he felt was his own fault, nor did he see any means of escape for himself and Sara. Cradling her in his arms in the center of a round, stone room, Seth could not fathom why, of all the places he could think of, he had subconsciously chosen this location.

He knew that it was all his doing. Sara had been injured because of him, hundreds if not thousands of his allies and comrades lay dead because of him, and now he and Sara were trapped in a stone chamber with no windows and no doors because of him. Seth blamed himself both inwardly and outwardly, though he knew it was all in vain. He needed to find a way to save Sara and get them both back to Garret, who would believe them both dead, a burden Seth did not wish upon his brother's soul.

With no way to calculate the passing of time, Seth had no idea how long they had been in the room. Sara, who had lost nearly all of the blood that sustained her body, showed no signs of improvement. Her heartbeat and breathing came at odd intervals and were ragged at best. Though she clung to life, Seth knew that time was of the essence. He did not know how long they had, only that without a healer to mend her and without sustenance to replenish her, Sara would succumb eventually due to fatigue, hunger, thirst or infection. It was only a matter of time. Seth had vowed to save her, though, and even now in the direst of situations he sifted through his limited options trying to find a solution. His own aura was now so immense he literally had to look through it to see the world around him. Having swelled from the deaths of so many of his troops who openly worshipped him as a god, Seth could feel the immense power within him, and knew that he could use his own gargantuan life force as a source of power to perform magic.

Seth had considered attempting to heal Sara himself, but knew with his lack of knowledge of human anatomy he would likely do as much harm as good. That idea discarded, Seth then thought he might be able to blast his way through the stone walls, but even that led him nowhere. As far as Seth knew, the walls could be forty feet thick, and stacked above this room could be hundreds of others that would come crashing down if he were to blast through the wall. Seth had also wondered if he could repeat the process of magically transporting himself and Sara again, but he was unsure how he had accomplished the feat in the first place. It was a nightmare of a situation, and Seth, infused with unbelievable power, felt useless and utterly dismayed.

With nothing better to do, Seth went about the task of removing both his and Sara’s armor, hoping that by relieving her of the weight of it Sara might breathe more easily and perhaps her heart might not struggle as hard to beat. The task completed, Seth again resumed his seated position upon the floor, and gently gathering Sara into his arms he held her, hoping she knew he was there to comfort her. Time passed slowly, unmarked by any change as Seth pondered the events that had brought them to this place. Keeping a watchful eye on Sara’s condition, Seth let his thoughts drift over the past weeks with hopes of finding a solution to their predicament, if only he focused on something unrelated.

Several weeks had passed since the butchery that had been The Choosing ceremony, and following the bloodbath of a test, Seth had been separated from his foster brother, Garret, who had been raised as his twin. In the ensuing weeks, as Garret trained to become an elite Knight of Valdadore, Seth had lived a double life pretending to follow precisely his mentor Judilanthaliz’s studies of becoming one of the gray-robed mages, learning defensive magic to protect the troops on the battlefield. But in his free time, which was ample in Judilanthaliz’s absence, Seth studied the gods. Ishanya was the primary focus of his study, but lore on this particular goddess was scarce, the goddess herself being all but forgotten. Seth had learned that Ishanya had designs for him even before The Choosing ceremony. However, as time grew short, with Judilanthaliz expecting Seth to become blessed by the goddess of the gray robes, Seth had instead sworn his allegiance to Ishanya, seeing no other options available to him. Having been blessed by her and given a gift of godlike vision, Seth had unlocked the ability to siphon endless power from any other living thing to produce amazing results in his spell casting ability. Seth revealed his blessing to his supposed mentor, which led to an impromptu test by the king of Valdadore himself. Seth had easily passed the king’s test, slaying foe after foe, but had pushed his limits which resulted in him mutating his most devout follower and friend, Borrik, the last remaining priest to Ishanya.

Seth’s deeds during the king’s impromptu test had spread like wildfire, garnering a new following to the goddess Ishanya. Out of necessity Seth also had mutated a young woman and her newly born child in an effort to save both their lives. However, blending the life forces of two different beings sometimes produced unwanted physical effects, and as such Seth had managed to create out of Borrik, the young woman and her child hideous monsters lacking their humanity, but not quite being the orcs they had been blended with either. Even as awful as the transformations were, they were seen as a miracle by those who had witnessed the feats and soon word spread as far as the king himself. King Valdadore had sworn Seth into allegiance with the kingdom, and having done so, had asked Seth to create new troops for him to be the night time guardians of the humans.

Within a few days Seth had managed to produce hundreds of men who were two parts human and one part wolf, creating an entire new race of magnificent but fierce beings upon Thurr. As an unexpected consequence, holding to their feral belief system, the new wolf troops had come to worship Seth as their god and creator, giving their loyalties to him above all others, including Borrik their pack leader and the king who commanded Seth himself. Finally arriving at the battlefield to face an opposing foe that none hoped to defeat, Seth discovered that as his troops died in battle, their life's power did not return to Ishanya, the goddess that he served, but instead joined with his own aura, infusing him with power and expanding his mental capacity.

The battle had raged on with the king’s troops fighting valiantly against unbelievable odds, but it was a losing battle. However, as Seth’s abilities increased, he was able to lend aid to the warriors of his kingdom, helping the knights blessed by Gorandor fell their equally blessed opponents and eventually Seth believed he could turn the tide of the battle. As the knights, including his brother and the king himself, fought on Seth, making his biggest mistake to date, had waded into the mass of enemy troops who parted before him, fearing his magical power. But unbeknownst to him, Sara had followed him unwittingly, and it was this mistake that led to her taking an arrow to the neck that had been intended for Seth. Seth knew not precisely what had happened then, only that he had panicked and in doing so he had managed to slay a vast number of the enemy, as well as many of his own troops and allies. The result of his last spell had also brought himself and Sara here, to a room he had only before seen in a dream. It was a room without an exit, without light, and completely devoid of life. Much to Seth's frustration, it was a room that might possibly become both of their tombs.

Seth could find no detail in the past weeks to lend him an idea now. Devoid of options, he sat in the everlasting darkness listening to the flutter of Sara’s failing heart, his own hope slowly beginning to wane. How much time passed Seth could not be sure, he knew only that Sara still lived, and so long as she did, he would work to find a way to save her. He must save her since he had sworn to her that he would, and even if he had to move mountains to make it happen, he would find a way. Feeling alone and responsible for Sara’s condition, it was then that the idea finally struck him.


* * * * *


Garret, one of the last remaining Knights of Valdadore, and original wolf man, Borrik the priest, strode side by side through the charred remains of the previous day's battlefield. They had together come to a discovery that had lent them hope. They now believed Seth to be alive, though neither had a clue as to where the magician might be, however both had found evidence that he still lived. Actually it was a lack of evidence that gave them the hope to believe. They had searched the battlefield throughout the morning for any sign of Seth or Sara’s armor or clothing, but the search had turned out fruitless. This small fact was what gave them hope. Everyone else laid to waste by Seth’s final spells had either instantly turned to ash, leaving behind all material belongings, or had been blasted and charred, littering the ground in smoldering heaps. Seth and Sara had left no such ash or burnt remains behind. Garret now dared believe that his twin lived, and Borrik, Seth’s second-in-command, held that same belief. With this information in hand the two strode together toward the hill that served as the camp for the remnants of their army.

As they reached the crest of the hill, the two large men, grasping each others’ wrists, shook hands before they parted ways. Garret headed to what had once been the king's command tent, but with the king falling in Seth’s final blast, he knew not what to expect when he arrived there. Borrik, on the other hand, went to join his surviving troops. The wolf men and women had just the day before numbered near five hundred, but now only about half remained. As he neared his troops, Borrik projected a mental image of Seth alive and well into the collective conscious of his pack, bestowing upon the image the feeling of relief. The singular thought was met by a crescendo of howls and barks of joy and hope, mixed with deep guttural shouts and prayers from the lines of Borrik’s troops. Borrik quickly silenced the pack with a thought, and was immediately assaulted by a myriad of mental questions concerning the whereabouts of their master.

"Quiet your minds!" Borrik ordered, still preferring to use his voice over the mental images of his wolf side to convey messages. "I know not where our master is, nor do I know if he is unharmed, but I do know, in my heart, that when he left the field of battle he was alive and well. Myself and Seth’s own brother searched among the ashes and debris of the battlefield this very morning, and unlike all those he slew, Seth left no trace of himself behind. It is with this evidence, as well as witnessing the final blast myself, that leads me to believe he is out there somewhere. Although he has shown his immense power in these last few days, first making each of you what you are now and then single-handedly laying waste to our enemies, he is out there alone without our protection. I have sworn to follow Seth to the ends of the world and beyond. I would follow him through death if I were able to be sure I served him to the best of my abilities, for I, like you, owe him my life. A life that until meeting him was without purpose or reason. Thus I would ask you, not command you, to serve Seth as I would serve him and leave this place immediately. We no longer have a role here. Let us seek out our master so that we may aid him yet again in whatever battles he may face from this day forward," Borrik shouted.

His men again broke into an eerie symphony of howls, deciding as a pack and individually to do as Borrik asked. Within moments the pack of hundreds of wolf men and women broke into smaller packs, each following the lead of their individual captains. The largest group followed Borrik as he raced from the camp back to the north, the direction they had come a day and a half before. Over two hundred wolf hybrid troops raced from the camp, issuing out in all directions, never pausing or slowing to look back.

BOOK: The Changing
12.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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