Legacy of the Blood (The Threshold Trilogy)

BOOK: Legacy of the Blood (The Threshold Trilogy)
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Legacy
of the Blood

 

Callie
Kanno

 
 
Cover art by Alyssa
Harper
Map art by Calvin Sharper

 

 
Copyright
© 2013 by Callie Kanno
Harper
 

 

All rights
reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without prior
permission of the author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Seth and Charles,

My dearest, sweetest fellow
adventurers

Prologue

Chapter
One: The Queen

Chapter
Two: An Unexpected Guest

Chapter
Three: The Tracker

Chapter
Four: Lake Breezes

Chapter
Five: Liberation

Chapter
Six: Betrayal

Chapter
Seven: Deeds of the Alchemist

Chapter
Eight: Doubt

Chapter
Nine: Within the Dream World

Chapter
Ten: Emerald Harbor

Chapter
Eleven: Ravi’s Gift

Chapter
Twelve: Fair Tides

Chapter
Thirteen: Reunion

Chapter
Fourteen: Arrival

Chapter
Fifteen: Two Journeys Begin

Chapter
Sixteen: Suvi

Chapter
Seventeen: Confessions

Chapter
Eighteen: Tales of the Historian

Chapter
Nineteen: The Aekuor

Chapter
Twenty: Joining

Chapter
Twenty-one: Recovery

Chapter
Twenty-two: Landing

Chapter
Twenty-three: Jame

Chapter
Twenty-four: The Apothecary’s Request

Chapter
Twenty-five: An Experiment

Chapter
Twenty-six: The Great Desert

Chapter
Twenty-seven: Dreaming or Joining

Chapter
Twenty-eight: Faith to Endure

Chapter
Twenty-nine: The Lives of Many

Chapter
Thirty: Without Guidance

Chapter
Thirty-one: More Misfortune

Chapter
Thirty-two: Vyuhava

Chapter
Thirty-three: Vyuhava Continued

Chapter
Thirty-four: A Life Saved

Chapter
Thirty-five: Two Forms

Chapter
Thirty-six: The Henka

Chapter
Thirty-seven: Legends

Chapter
Thirty-eight: Private Instruction

Chapter
Thirty-nine: Storms in the Desert

Chapter
Forty: Bonding of the Mind

Chapter
Forty-one: Upward Path

Chapter
Forty-two: Training

Chapter
Forty-three: The Final Piece

Chapter
Forty-four: The Ending of the Storm

Chapter
Forty-five: Approaching the Mount

Chapter
Forty-six: Barriers

Chapter
Forty-seven: Weakening

Chapter
Forty-eight: Cha-sak

Chapter
Forty-nine: Remnants

Chapter
Fifty: Terrible Truth

Chapter
Fifty-one: The Threshold

Chapter
Fifty-two: Falcon

Chapter
Fifty-three: The Brink of Eternity

 

Glossary

Prologue:

 

Something wasn’t right.

It wasn’t just the unnatural stillness of the forest. It wasn’t
the uneasiness of the horses. It was another sense that welled deep within L’iam’s
being that told him that something was very wrong.

He raised a hand to his companions, indicating that they should
come to a halt. The soldiers all reined in their horses and looked to their
young monarch with questioning expressions.

The L’avan king scanned the trees with his sharp, golden eyes. The
flecks of pale metallic green that swam in the gold of his eyes expanded and
swirled, lending them a strange glow. Within his mind he reached out to the
spirit realm and connected with the power that set his people, the L’avan,
apart from the rest of the human race—the power that was sometimes called
“magic” by others, but was known as
vyala
to the L’avan.

L’iam’s gifts could be used for a number of purposes, but his
current concern was to scan the surrounding area for enemies.

Nothing.

It was as if there was some kind of void where his sense should
be, and that alone warned of great danger. Even if there were no enemies in the
vicinity, there shouldn’t be nothing.

The small movement he glimpsed out of the corner of his eye was
his only warning. He barely had time to shout to his companions before they
were under attack. L’iam drew his sword and prepared to fight. The others
quickly followed his lead.

First came the rain of arrows. L’iam watched in horror as a deadly
shaft struck one of his oldest friends in the heart. A’asil barely had time to
look surprised before he slumped and slowly slid off his horse.

Cries of pain pierced the young king’s ears as two more of his
soldiers fell to the ground.

L’iam and the three remaining men sprang into action, drawing
swords and preparing their
vyala
for a counterattack. Ri’sle, eyes
glowing orange, sent out a magical wave of force that knocked the arrows off of
their path. At that point, however, his actions didn’t seem to matter. The
arrows stopped and several shadowy figures emerged from behind the trees.

“Your men need not die, King of the L’avan. Surrender yourself and
we will spare their lives.”

The form who spoke wore a pendant with a blood red stone, and
L’iam could sense that the pendant was the source of the void he had felt
earlier. For whatever reason, the talisman shielded the figures from his
vyala
.

That was a dangerous weapon in the hands of enemies.

“Surrender yourself,” repeated the shadowy speaker, “or you will
all die.”

L’iam hardly knew how to reply. He looked at the hardened faces of
his friends and knew that his response wouldn’t make any difference. They would
fight as long as there was life left in their bodies.

The figures did not seem interested in his answer—either that or
they already knew what it would be.

The enemies of the L’avan moved forward with startling speed and
attacked.

L’iam raised his sword and began fighting back. He had been
trained by the finest swordmasters among the L’avan, and while he had never
attained the same level of skill as his brother, he was still a warrior of
renown.

He used his magic to add energy to his natural strength, and he
flicked his blade at the nearest opponent. L’iam knew that he needed speed to
match his enemies, and he did not waste movements by trying to hack at them.

The young king tried to maneuver his horse as he slashed at his
adversaries, but there were too many of them and he was their target.

Two of L’iam’s foes held on to the bridle of his horse, while three
more pulled him to the ground. His sword was wrenched from his hand, and a
numbing blow disabled his arm.

The L’avan king refused to give up, and he continued to struggle
until all went black.

Chapter One: The Queen

 

Adesina swept her long hair away from her forehead. The black
locks around her face were damp with sweat and refused to stay out of her eyes.
The rest of her hair was a lustrous silver in color, and the slight breeze
stirred it from behind. She paused from moving supplies from the wagon to the
nearby tent so she could tie the unruly tresses into a knot at the base of her
neck.

“Would you like to rest, your Majesty? You have been working hard
all morning.”

She looked up at the scarred face of K’eb, her assistant. He set
down the ledger he was holding in his one hand and searched his pockets to
offer her a handkerchief.

His eyes were slightly averted as she took the square of cloth with
a smile. Even though it had been years since he had lost his other arm, he was
still self-conscious.

“We are almost finished here,” she replied. “There is no point in
stopping now.”

He smiled. “Exactly, your Majesty. We are almost finished. Why not
go get something to eat and rest for a while? There will be plenty of work
later this afternoon.”

Adesina was about to protest, but she saw the shadowy figure of
Ravi, her guardian, appear in the trees. He had been away all night, and she
was anxious to speak to him.

“Very well.”

Her assistant nodded in satisfaction and immediately set to work,
showing her that she was indeed free to leave. She hid an amused grin as she
walked away.

K’eb had not been able to serve as a Protector anymore after the
battle with the Shimat—the mortal enemies of their people, the L’avan—and it
had been very difficult for him to adjust. L’iam had suggested that Adesina ask
K’eb to assist her in training the younger generation of soldiers. It wasn’t
long before K’eb’s job as assistant had carried over into most of Adesina’s
life. She didn’t know if she could get along without him anymore, especially
since her marriage and subsequent elevation in rank.

Over the years, the young queen had become very fond of K’eb, and
sometimes he felt more like a brother than an assistant.

All thoughts fell away as she approached her guardian. Ravi bore
the form of an enormous feline, with his head almost the same height as
Adesina’s chest. His fur was a glossy black, and his build was sleek and
strong. Adesina had mistaken him for a wild beast when they had first met, but
she soon learned that he could speak as well as any human and was more
intelligent than most.

He sat back on his haunches in a seemingly relaxed position as he
waited for her to draw nearer, but his golden eyes were tense.

Adesina didn’t waste time. “What is it, Ravi?”

His rich voice rumbled from deep within his chest. “A Dream.”

Visions in the form of Dreams were not uncommon among Ravi’s race,
the Rashad. The expression on his face told her that what he had seen boded
ill.

“What did you see?” she asked softly, glancing around to make sure
that there were no L’avan passing by close enough to hear.

His large golden eyes were pained as he looked at her, conveying
empathy for the distress she would soon feel. “I saw L’iam on his way home from
his latest diplomatic mission.” He hesitated before going on. “They were under
attack.”

The cold fingers of fear gripped Adesina’s heart. “Was he…?” She
couldn’t bring herself to ask the question that was in the front of her mind.

Ravi quickly shook his head. “I did not see him die. However…”

She nodded bleakly. “He still may not have survived.”

“Dreams can be symbolic rather than literal,” he reminded her.

Even with this reassurance, Adesina was filled with anxiety. She
studied the bustling camp before her, wondering if it would be wise to leave
her people for a time. If she rode hard enough she could meet up with her
husband in a couple of days. L’iam would probably chide her for being silly,
but her heart would be at rest knowing that he was safe.

She shook her head as she made her way across the compound. The
L’avan would be fearful without the presence of at least one of their leaders,
and they were uneasy enough without adding to their concerns.

Her people had suffered a devastating attack five years earlier
from an army of mercenaries hired by the Shimat. The battle had drastically
reduced the population of the L’avan—which had never been great—and destroyed
their homeland. L’iam’s father and elder brother had been killed during the
conflict, casting the crown upon the younger son of the royal family.

L’iam was now the only member of his family living, and he had the
daunting task of leading his people as they struggled to rebuild their lives
from the rubble.

It had been decided early on that the L’avan would be divided.
Two-thirds of the remaining population would stay in Pevothem, their homeland,
and begin rebuilding with the help of the Rashad. Adesina’s father, Me’shan,
had been given the title of governor and was instructed to stay and help with
the process of rebuilding. L’iam and Adesina had gone with the remaining third
as they ventured to the outside world to find some empty land on which they
could found a second L’avan city. Their hope was to create positive relations
with the rest of the human race and to dispel the distrust that had been
percolating for generations.

The L’avan pioneers had not expected to be greeted with open arms,
but they had been surprised at the undisguised aggression of the local farmers
and villagers. Lands that had been abandoned for a century were suddenly
claimed by nearby villages, and threats were issued if the L’avan set up camp
too close to any settlement. Only the nomadic Northern Tribes were willing to
trade with them, and the tribe members were limited in what they could offer.

The L’avan had finally come across a piece of land that no farmers
or villagers wanted. It was the ruins of an ancient city that was said to be
haunted by evil spirits. The neighboring communities raised no objections when
the L’avan decided to clear away the remains and settle there. In fact, many of
them hoped that the “evil spirits” would rid the world of the group of
magic-users.

Adesina smiled sadly to herself. She knew that the trust of others
would be hard to earn—the enemies of the L’avan had seen to that. Still, she
had not anticipated such widespread hostility. She missed her home, and she
missed her father. Knowing the importance of what they were doing only helped a
little to ease those feelings.

Ravi seemed to sense her thoughts. “The paths we choose are not
always easy, but what you have set out to accomplish will change the world.”

“I am not certain that makes me feel any better,” she said wryly.
She felt the weight of her responsibility very keenly, and it didn’t help to be
reminded of how many people were looking to her for guidance.

The L’avan believed that Adesina was the Threshold Child—a
fulfillment of the prophecy given by the founder of their race. She had first
learned of the prophecy when she was seventeen years old, and the pressure of
the role was no less intimidating now that she was twenty-two. The words still
rang clearly in her mind.

 

Look, therefore, to
the advent of the Threshold Child.

One who is of this
people yet not of this people.

One who bears all
gifts, Dreams as friends,

sees as the enemy and
shall be called the bird of prey.

This is the one who
stands on the Threshold of a New World.

This is the one who
will save my children

from the slow
destruction of their atrophy

and lead them back to
the light of their purpose.

 

Adesina had promised to do her very best in helping the L’avan to
flourish in the outside world, but that was all she could do. She couldn’t
promise to change the world or to lead the L’avan to find their greater
purpose.

“Do not worry, dear one,” Ravi spoke gently. “If you are true to
yourself and act accordingly, all will fall into place. You must not think that
you must
make
the future happen.”

“And how will I know if I am being true to myself?” she asked.

“I will tell you,” he replied with a feline grin.

She gave a small laugh and began walking towards the royal tent.
Cor’a, her personal maid, would probably have a hot meal waiting for her. The
spritely young woman had a knack for knowing exactly when Adesina would be
returning, and it wasn’t even part of her
vyala.

The young queen never found out if she was correct. Long before
she reached her tent, she heard a small voice calling her name. She turned to
see a plump toddler running toward her.

“Auntie Adi! Auntie Adi!”

Her nephew was a small replica of his father, but with round
cheeks and metallic red eyes. He launched himself at her legs, and Adesina
stooped to pick him up.

“Hello, En’ver. Where is your mother?”

The boy pointed, and Adesina could see Wren’na making her way
through the crowded camp, holding her one-year-old daughter.

The two women greeted each other warmly with an embrace.

“We have been taking lunch to E’nes,” explained Wren’na, “and now
we are headed home to have our own. Have you eaten?”

Adesina shook her head. “I was just about to do so.”

“Eat with us,” demanded En’ver, as he struggled to get back on the
ground.

The two women laughed, but Wren’na nodded.

“Yes, please do.”

Adesina set her nephew down and watched as he ran in circles
around them. “That would be lovely.”

They set of in a new direction, towards the tent that was occupied
by Wren’na’s family.

“Where is E’nes today?”

The queen’s brother had taken on many tasks since leaving
Pevothem. Adesina teased him that he was never found doing the same thing two
days in a row. His actual job was to train young soldiers, but all members of
the military were deferring their duties until the settlement was more
established.

“He is helping sort the useable materials from the rubble.”

“Brubble, brubble, brubble,” sang En’ver, and his running turned
into a dance.

The two adults chuckled at his antics, and Adesina felt a longing
that was becoming more familiar with each passing day.

She had never considered having children of her own until she fell
in love with L’iam. They had been married for two years now, and he never
pressured her about producing an heir. Instead he simply treated her with the
love and understanding that he always had, knowing that she would broach the
subject when she was ready.

Adesina wouldn’t go so far as to say that she felt ready for a
baby now, but she was beginning to feel a void in her life—one that always grew
stronger when she heard the laughter of children or held a tiny hand in her
own.

Perhaps she would talk to L’iam when he returned.

Wren’na and E’nes had a tent near the edge of the settlement. En’ver
ran ahead when the temporary lodging came into sight, and his mother hurried
after him. Adesina started to follow, but slowed to a stop.

“What is it, Ma’eve?” asked Ravi, calling her by the name that she
would have had if she had been born among the L’avan.

She pointed toward the southern border of the L’avan camp, where a
ragged figure could be seen in the distance.

Adesina used her
vyala
to enhance her vision, and she
immediately recognized her uncle. “Ri’sel!”

The young queen and her guardian sprinted towards her kindred,
barely reaching him in time to catch him as he fell out of his saddle. He had
been severely beaten and was on the verge of unconsciousness. Had it not been
for her
vyala
, she would not have recognized his swollen and mottled
face.

“Ri’sel, what happened to you?”

“L’iam,” he gasped, “they have him.”

“Who?” asked Adesina quickly. Her heart pounded in her chest and
her hands gripped Ri’sel’s tattered clothing tightly.

Part of Adesina felt that she knew the answer before he gave it,
and she was not certain that she could bear to hear the fatal words.

Her uncle took several pained breaths before he could answer her.

“The Shimat.”

BOOK: Legacy of the Blood (The Threshold Trilogy)
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