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Abandoned Towers presents the first annual

Artist’s Challenge Anthology


The stories in this anthology are works of fiction. Places, events, and situations in the stories are purely fictional. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is coincidental. No part of this anthology may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the publisher. Abandoned Towers Magazine is published three times a year on March 1, July 1 and Nov. 1, by Cyberwizard Productions, 1205 N. Saginaw Blvd. #D, PMB 224, Saginaw, TX, 76179. Crystalwizard: CEO. Ancient Tomes Press is an imprint of Cyberwizard Productions Managing Editor - Crystalwizard ISBN: 978-1-936021-05-5 Cover art: Johnney Perkins Seadragon by Richard H. Fay Individual stories and characters Š 2009 by the individual authors Contest Anthology Š 2009 Cyberwizard Productions All Rights Reserved.


Table of Contents

The Song of Jaelyn By Craig Comer______________ 1 Looking through the Moon By TW Williams_______ 23 Mantle of Darkness By Wesley Lambert___________ 49 The Fall of Fauk Toraum By Timothy A. Sayell_ ___ 78 A Father’s Love By Keith Gouveia______________ 105 A Maiden Drawn to Sea By Y.B. Cats____________ 129 The Aspiranto By Martin Turton________________ 151


Welcome! In the time that I have known Kelly and worked with her on various projects, my part being covers or illistrations, I have gotten to read wonderful stories that remind me of the stuff I read when I was younger, one being Warren Magazine, which always had great stories and incredible artwork.  Warren magazine had a slew of regular artists and authors who were masters at the time, and on occassion they would have an artist come up with this wonderful, thought provoking image, and then take five of their best authors and let them come up with a story about that painting. To read the different stories that came from those authors, and to see the different perspectives everyone had on that painting, was great.  So that’s where my idea for this challenge came from. In the image that I painted, I wanted something that a viewer could ponder numerous scenerios from.  I had no idea it would be so tough to have to choose a winner.  The stories were all so very different, unusual and enjoyable.  It was one of the hardest things that I’ve had to ever make a decision on.  I know everyone will enjoy them as much as I did.  -Johnney W Perkins


The Song of Jaelyn By Craig Comer

The wave shoved the forecastle up, pointing the ship toward the realm of the gods, before the emptiness behind the swell sucked them down. Jaelyn cursed and grabbed hold of a lanyard to steady her balance.  The song drifted to her, a light play of sea-mist caressing the deck and sails rippling in the wind.  It offered euphoria.  It offered release.  Jaelyn screamed and clamped her hands over her ears.  She knew the melody was death. At her shriek, a few of the captain’s men turned toward her.  She could tell the ones who’d eaten the last of the root of the Magi.  They held fear in their eyes.  The others stared longingly at her supple form.  She hoped they knew their business, regardless of how they saw her.  She’d risked everything on them. Two of the crew had already been swept away by the tempest.  Another bled from when a boom had broken free and cracked against his skull.  The first mate, a miniscule man called Bairn, barked orders from behind the helm.  He shouted for the lashings on the main and mizzenmast to be checked and for the starboard lookout to call out any shallows ahead. He swung his attention toward her.   His beard hung in matted tendrils like the tentacles of a squid.  “We need the captain.” “I have no power to heal others,” said Jaelyn.  The captain lay below in his berth, succumbed by the magic of her two sisters, the Sirens of Abthinar.  For hundreds of years, she’d sung with them the death song of Phorthes, lulling sailors into the shoals for their master to devour, and for hundreds of years she’d bided her time, waiting


for the moment when she would win her freedom. When she’d caught the scent of the Trident, she knew in her heart her saviors had come. The signs were right—Balnor hung in the southern sky, a cluster of stars guarding the moon, and the Tears of Vessipa raced across the horizon, burning against the darkness. She’d hoped to win a head start, a day or maybe two. With a wind mage, a fast ship could sail a quarter of the way to the Lithindal Kingdoms in such time. But the Trident had no wind mage, and her sisters had chased her, their wills bent by the powerful creature who had enslaved them—Phorthes, who dwelled in the dark depths of the Straits of Abthinar.  They sang now from some perch on a cliff hidden by the storm. “The rocks are going to break us apart,” said Bairn. “I can guide us through,” said Jaelyn.   She’d ingested the root of the Magi herself to ward off the magical chains of Phorthes.  In such a state, her powers were left a dull sensation just beyond the reach of her fingertips, but no living creature knew the straits better than she.  She’d studied them longingly all these years. Bairn’s eyes narrowed.   An unspoken question hinted behind his brow—could he trust the crew’s fate on the word of a fell nymph? The ship shuddered and lurched, and the sharp crack of wood upon stone rang out like a thunderclap.  Bairn winced as the hull pitched free only to slam into the outcropping of rock again.  He roared, directing men to take up ropes and swing the sails around. “Head there!” Jaelyn pointed toward an inlet barely wider than the ship. Bairn shook his head.   “That’s too small to pass.  We’ll wreck on the shoals.” “But it’s our only chance to escape the wrath of


Phorthes. He can’t follow us there.” The mate’s jaw worked, but before he could utter a response a sailor cried out from the foredeck.  “Hard to port!”  Bairn spun the helm and the deck tilted. Jaelyn fell hard as she lost her footing.   Water, borne by a howling wind, sloshed over her dress and face and hair.  It picked her up and threatened to wash her away.  Her arms flailed, straining for a purchase to grab hold of.  She slid into the legs of a deckhand.  The man swayed as if asleep upon his feet.  His eyes were glazed, and a smile touched his lips. Glancing around, Jaelyn spied another man slumped against the mainmast with the same dreamy expression.  All around her the crew surrendered to the call of her sisters’ song. “No,” she screamed.  “Wake up!”  She slapped and kicked and punched, but the man didn’t respond.  He was as comatose as the captain below.  Darkness pushed in from all around Jaelyn and threatened to drown her in its void.  She felt her hopes of freedom slipping away.  If Phorthes came she would be powerless to stop him from enslaving her once again.  Thoughts of his evil presence sucked at her soul and brought a sweating sickness to her flesh. The prow of the Trident came over and smashed into a swell that rose like a fist to greet them.  The impact jarred Jaelyn from her despair.  She felt the wind gusting at her back and saw the sails pitched taut.  At the helm, Bairn struggled against the giant wheel.  The ship flew across the water like a strider, only now unattended by able hands.  A ship of dead men, Jaelyn realized.  She’d seen its like innumerable times from the rocks above; only then it had been under her song the crew had swooned. She staggered to the helm.   Bairn shied from


her as if she were a wraith come to feed on him, but his hands remained steadfast on the helm. Before them the inlet opened to reveal a narrow strait with a hint of calm waters beyond. “The winds took us,” he said.  Disbelief painted his features.  “I don’t know what gods you called upon, but we have to slow down or we’ll run aground.”  He unslung the curtelaxe at his belt and offered it to her.   Jaelyn nodded, and at his direction set about severing the ship’s rigging.  The sails fell slack as they glided into the safety of the sound. Shielded from the sea, the tempest slackened.  For a time, the ship floundered in the calm.  But the stupor that had fallen upon the crew soon washed away and left only vague memories of a blissful dream.  The deckhands tended to the sails, and the Trident began to drift deeper into the shallow strait. ~~*~~

A silky mist hung in the air around the ship, veiling dark tufts of land that rose away into the distance. On deck, the crew of the Trident scuttled about, hauling wooden barrels up from the hold and tossing them overboard. Jaelyn watched the activity from near the helm.  Sweat dotted her brow and a chill ran through her bones.   It was as if she were waking from a long sickness.  She could feel the taint of Phorthes receding and her old self returning.  A light melody came to her lips, a tune from her childhood, and she found herself humming absently. The captain, a white-haired man named Tollard, strode between the barrels and crew.   He had broad shoulders and wore a snarl on his seasoned face.   He snapped at anyone who crossed his path.  “We need to


lighten, lads. We’re running too low in this forsaken channel.   Everything over but grog and gruel.”   He would not look toward Jaelyn, as if he thought ignoring her long enough would make her disappear. But after most of the deck was emptied of cargo and stores, the captain heaved a great sigh and approached the helm.  He eyed Jaelyn and drummed his fingers on the hilt of his cutlass.  “A Siren of Abthinar my men claim you to be,” he said, “but killing us not. Why?  Do you mean to torment our souls, or have we already passed into the Nether Worlds?” “I’ve done nothing, I promise you captain,” answered Jaelyn.  She stopped humming, but the tune stayed in her head.  “I’m a captive the same as you.  I only want to escape this place.” The captain snorted.   “I remember your face, staring over me in my berth before the dreams came.  And now my ship floats like a dead fish in a stream, with severed riggings on the sail and no room to turn about.  I’d let my crew have their way with you if any dared.  They’re all frightened you’d steal their manhood.   But tell me why I shouldn’t have you strung from the mizzen, just the same.” Jaelyn folded her hands before her.  The captain’s rough talk brought an amused smile to her face.  She’d always been wistful by nature.  “Because it wasn’t me who called the storm or forced you into the rocks.  I fled the creature, Phorthes, the master of these fell waters.”  She cringed at the name but knew she had to force the captain into trusting her.   Her fate depended upon it.   “And without me, you will not escape destruction at his hands.” “I’ve lost a fortune in trade; my hold stands empty.  You lured my crew into these shallow waters.”  He thrust a meaty finger at her.  “If you won’t kill us, then I


mean to recover my lost profit from your hide. A Siren of Abthinar would fetch her weight in gems in the markets of Kuthahaar.” “Careful, captain,” said Bairn.   The stout mate came to stand beside Tollard.  “She’s stolen the last of our root of the Magi.  If she sings, it’ll be our doom.” “I’ve stolen nothing, I ate only what meager amount you had left.  And I will not sing you to your death.   The song of Phorthes is one of decay and corruption.  It rots my soul to even think upon its dark notes.” The captain’s eyes squinted.  “Who are you?” “The Sirens of Abthinar are the enslaved of Phorthes, forced to enthrall any who come near his domain so our master can devour them.  But I was not always a siren.  I am a gentle creature who yearns for the streams and glades of my homeland.  I dream of a night sky full of life—the twinkling brilliance of the stars, the playful chatter of the squirrels, and the smell of oak and alder.  Here there is only the bitter sea and death. “You blame me for luring you into peril, but it was not I who sailed this ship under the gaze of Phorthes.  Many captains and many ships have wrecked themselves on these shoals because of their greed.  I know the straits lay between the kingdom lands, tempting sailors in search of a faster route to deliver their trade.  That is why you carried the root of the Magi, is it not?  You knew well the dangers of this place.  You meant to sail close to these rocks and shorten your journey by days.” Tollard scratched at his beard.  “By weeks if we’d sailed around the lands of Lithindal.” “But you did not know the root of the Magi wears off so quickly, or how much you’d need to ingest in order to ward off the song of my sisters.”  Jaelyn gazed deeply


into the captain’s eyes. She’d sung her last words in a low cadence, pondering the soft kiss of the mist and how it covered her in a chill embrace. These thoughts of nature were the root of her powers.  She could see the work of her craft upon Tollard’s face, the way his jaw had softened and eyes glazed.  “You were caught against the rocks, and I came to save you.” The captain stammered and nodded.   “Yes, it’s true.”  He blinked, as if uncertain it was he who’d spoken. Bairn’s eyes went wide.  “A trick!”  Jaelyn placed a light hand on the mate’s arm and grinned.  She sang him a short melody to quell his thoughts.  The diminutive man’s protests fell silent, and she giggled in delight.  It had been a long time since she’d felt another’s body shudder under her touch.  She whispered a light refrain and his eyes grew heavy. She raised her voice and let her love of the streams and mist and woods overcome her.  The rest of the crew gawked at her, some leering with lust, others grinning sheepishly.   She laughed and twirled so that her azure dress rose and hinted at the golden flesh beneath.  Passing ships had for years sung to her of freedom, and now she returned the song, her own freedom so thick before her she could taste it. ~~*~~

For a time, Jaelyn watched the shore crawl past as the deck tottered and creaked under her. Without their main sails raised, their progress was painfully slow. Doubt and frustration began to steal her thoughts, and her joyful song turned into a mournful dirge. She spied a half-ruined stone wall perched on a bluff.  Behind it, a spire rose like a broken finger.  Whatever peoples had once lived there had long been extinguished;


now wild vines and grasses claimed dominion. The sight warmed her spirits.  Nature’s power was eternal.  It could conquer any foe, no matter its size or strength or bent. She summoned that power and let it flow through her.   She could feel the nurturing fluid that rushed through the vines as they wove into the hard stone, and the strength of the grass as its roots dug tight into the soil.  Beyond her sight, she sensed streams gushing down embankments and through glens.  Rocks became slick and struggled under the weight of water. But as she drank in the wellspring of life, she began to sense Phorthes growing ever closer.  The creature would not let her go so easily she knew in her heart. He was too cruel.  She’d watched him allow desperate sailors to drift for days on flotsam, terrified and dying of thirst, before finally coming to rip them apart with his fanged maw and sharp claws. He’d slipped through the ways that ran counter to the shallow channel the Trident progressed.  The deeper waters afforded him greater speed, and soon the tang of decay carried from his fell hide to her tongue.   Jaelyn hadn’t counted on the ship’s slow drift, nor remembered the convergence of straits where death would await them. The storm that had chased them from the sea found them again.  Rain burned away the mist.  The air grew cold and stiff. Phorthes’ stench began to burn her throat.  Her stomach soured.   The rot that floated on the wind threatened to tear her from the inside out.  She could feel the sickening bonds of the creature enveloping her, warping her will to its call.   She fought, and the pain crawled along her flesh. The captain came to stand near Jaelyn as the ship drifted on.  In the distance, they could see the end of the


channel where the way opened. Tollard spat.  Phorthes’ presence didn’t affect him or the crew as much as it did her.  It was one of the reasons the creature used the Sirens to ensnare his victims.  But the captain could read the discomfort on her face and panic had blossomed behind his eyes.  Her sway over his thoughts had vanished as her pain intensified and concentration wilted. “You’ve brought our doom upon us,” said the captain.  He licked at his lips and thumbed the hilt of his cutlass.   Jaelyn started to protest but saw no point in it.  The captain spoke the truth.  It was she Phorthes wanted above all. Waves chopped under a strengthening wind and began to crash against the prow.  The light rain turned into a driving torrent, and the clouds above blocked the light of the sun so that it seemed dusk had fallen.  Tollard ordered all hands to form on deck and stand ready.  They came with blade and sling, though in their hearts they trembled. As the land forming the channel backed away, the captain kept the ship hugged against the port-side shore.  To the other side, the open water darkened as its depths increased. Jaelyn’s heart thumped.   She scanned the whitecaps for movement.   “He’s playing with us,” she said.  Tollard couldn’t hear her weak voice through the wind and leaned closer. “He will come,” said Jaelyn.  “He knows none of us can stand against him.” “Have you no songs for him?” “I cannot shape what is hateful and decrepit.  I sing only of bliss and mirth.”   Jaelyn grabbed for the railing as the ship jerked.  She peered over the side but saw nothing.


“I hope then we’ve outrun your sisters so the lads can give it a fair fight.” Tollard pulled his blade free and hefted it as if its weight would quell his nerves. Jaelyn gave him a wry smile.  “They would not interfere now, not even if they could cover the ground so fast on foot.  We are his prey, and he enjoys the hunt.” The captain’s jaw opened.   His eyes froze in a blank stare.  Across the deck, a cry sounded followed by shouts and curses.  Jaelyn followed the eyes of the crew as an icy hand gripped her spine.  Out among the waves a black body slithered its way toward the ship. Its body was massive.   Hideous flesh, speckled with sharp spines like barnacles, caused a wake twice as large as the Trident’s.  Long tentacles trailed behind, and a pair of massive arms tipped by jagged claws. A few of the sailors hurled stones from their slings, but the missiles fell short and were feeble against the enormous creature.  The rest of the crew stood paralyzed, gripped in fear.  Bairn spun the helm so the ship swung about, giving them more room to maneuver. Jaelyn quivered at the awesome sight of Phorthes, but she’d not yet given up hope.  She turned to the captain and slapped him hard across the face.  Tollard started and rubbed his cheek with a look of disbelief.  Then his eyes narrowed and the panic left him.  He strode down the deck, bellowing for his men to stand firm, and waving his cutlass in the air like a madman. As Phorthes came within a pole’s reach, the great beast halted and turned.  A wall of water crashed into the ship and threatened to roll it over.  Jaelyn and the crew scrambled to keep their footing, and when they had finally settled the creature was gone. The patter of the rain was deafening.   Jaelyn thought she heard a sharp crack off in the distance, but


the deck remained steady. Something splashed in the water off the starboard prow.   She jumped, her heart caught in her throat. The ship lurched.   Wood splintered as thick tentacles wrapped themselves around the gunwales.  A sailor screamed as one of the barbed tips struck him in the chest.  Several of the deckhands rushed in to chop the man free, but their blades delivered only shallow cuts to the creature’s thick hide. Captain Tollard cried out.  A tentacle slapped him to the deck, and his cutlass flew from his hand.  Blood trailed from a slash down his back.  He rolled from the darting barb and came to a crouch.  Around him, his crew fought and bled and died. Their blades and stones were like feathers against a bull.  A deckhand dropped his sling and ran to the ladder of the hold, but a tentacle chased him and pulled him overboard. His screams were silenced as he was dragged under. Two of the men chopped with axes at an arm that gripped the prow.   Foul ichor sprayed them, spurring them to swing harder.  They hollered and cursed.  The arm tightened its grip and the wood of the prow splintered.  The foredeck groaned and buckled. Jaelyn huddled near the mainmast studying the shore, which had risen to form a sheer cliff.  The only hope of escape lay in scaling the slick rocks or swimming for the lower ground far away.  Neither choice held much chance of success. Even if she did reach dry land, the sailors she’d seen shipwrecked in the past never survived long in the lands of Abthinar.  Something about the fell creature lurking in the sea drove them to madness, but the chance the Trident would endure much longer seemed slim.  Already


the hull had cracked and taken on water. Bairn stepped in front of her. His features were hard set, and blood dripped from his curtelaxe.   He lashed out at one of the tentacles and growled after it like a rabid dog.   Jaelyn looked to the helm and saw it spinning freely.   They were adrift and at the mercy of the creature.  She eyed the open water again.  If she jumped, would Phorthes follow her?  She hesitated and turned.  The cliff face loomed closer, only three lengths of the ship away. Waterfalls formed a giant wall of water that poured down the cliff with thundering power.  A rock tumbled from above and splashed near the ship.  Jaelyn started at its impact and recalled the earlier splashing sounds.  Her lips broke into a mischievous grin. She let her senses float out to the cliff, above and beyond her sight, higher and higher she reached.  She saw how the waterfalls had formed because of the sudden storm called by Phorthes.  They did not belong there, and the rainfall above gushed into crack and crevice, seeking its way through the slope.  Its weight and force hammered at the soil and lifted the stone. Jaelyn could not sing of murder, but she could call upon the streams no matter how newly formed or from whence they came.   She raised her voice in song and begged the water coursing above to surge harder.  She pleaded for the soil to give way. The waterfalls dumped down their charge with such fervor the cliff behind disappeared. A cluster of rocks splattered about the deck, and then a boulder cracked into the mizzen. The sailors who still drew breath rushed for cover.   Some jumped overboard; others crouched near piles of sail.  Captain Tollard shouted from the aft of the


ship. He pointed at Jaelyn, but his words were muffled by the rain of stone that hailed down upon them. The creature flinched as boulders the size of an ox smashed into it.   It tried to pull back its tentacles, but a pair remained trapped against the deck.  Phorthes thrashed about, trying to win free.  The ship rocked with him, heaving and coming apart. Jaelyn listened for the rocks breaking free above.  Her senses were tuned to the flow of earth and water.   She strengthened her call and began to shake under the strain of her voice.  More and more the stone heeded her call. And then it seemed the cliff came down upon them. She stood at the railing just before the impact.  Bairn clung to a lanyard behind her; two of the deckhands lay floating in the water below.  She stared at Phorthes’ massive bulk and swallowed. She jumped as the world around her shook.  The creature roared in pain and sunk under the press of ship and stone.  Its tentacles flopped about, then went limp as it disappeared beneath the waves.  A surge of dark blood rose to the surface. ~~*~~

When the rain had stopped, and the streams born of the storm had run themselves out, the cliff became easy to scale. From a perch above, Jaelyn scanned the water.  Nothing moved.  On the shore near the end of the shallow channel, Tollard and what remained of his crew moved about like ants at work.  Of the Trident only scattered driftwood remained.  She sang them luck and wished them well. She’d seen naught of the creature since her desperate swim, and no sense of rot or decay lingered.  Instead, she


tasted a clean wind and smelled sweet salt in the air. She felt alive and yearned to dance and sing for the rest of her days.  Perhaps without his presence the small islands of Abthinar, with their straits and inlets, would not drive her mad.  She liked the forests and streams and cliffs and mountains.  They reminded her of her home.


Looking through the Moon By TW Williams

sky.

The coppery leaves rustled against the deep blue

By all the Mysteries, Bethyn thought, rubbing a hand through her dusty dark hair, I hate that sound. As if in defiance, the leaves on the metal trees scraped together again, making her wonder if it was just the coincidence of the evening wind or if the Sentry Trees could capture thoughts. Had the Ferrikki, with their mastery of machines, made that sort of leap? Fool! If the trees could detect thoughts, we all would have been dead long ago. We don’t even know if they can hear words. But, for certain, they watch. For long years, they have watched. Bethyn licked cracked lips, trying to ignore the pain. She wished she could think of something other than the Trees, something other than always being thirsty. She couldn’t remember a time when the Sentry Trees hadn’t towered above the walls of Lasthome, surrounding the small keep. The struggle between the Mysteries and the Ferrikki had been going on for decades. Masters of metal and its secrets, the Ferrikki had chewed their way up the vast arid peninsula from their southern holds. And, bite by bite, the Ferrikki were winning. First Seer Tynchel said Lasthome was a bubble of Magic in a world of Machine. A final morsel. But for how much longer? As twilight settled, Bethyn gave a claustrophobic shiver, imagining the cold trunks of the trees pressing in. Involuntarily, she took a step back. Her laugh was a lonely, bitter sound, harsh in the fading light. If the Trees had the power to grab people, no one would be left at


Lasthome. A pale blur caught her eye: Tynchel had left Main Hall and was coming toward her. Her sister looked so small, so slender – so stern. Her short, urgent strides kicked up dust, luminous in the near-dark. Bethyn could remember when the courtyard of Lasthome had been a lush green carpet, cropped short by wandering sheep. Now the sheep were a distant dinner memory and water was too valuable for wasting on the lawn What would dinner be tonight? Dried lentils again, with not enough water to really soften them? How much longer? Bethyn realized Tynchel had stopped, was staring at her. Even in the gloaming, she could see the troubled look on her little sister’s face. “The last tunnel is gone,” Tynchel said abruptly. For the others, Bethyn thought, she could speak with a softer edge, find encouraging ways to relay even the worst news. But she had never been anything but frank with her sister. “Menchin and three others were coming back from scouting, and the roof fell. He was in the lead, and made it through. The others were buried. Anton. Frell. Mareen.” A sob caught in Bethyn’s throat. She and Mareen shared a room in the keep. Anton had taught her archery. Frell and she had the same birthday. What if I need soft words, too, sister? “What do we do now, First Seer?” Bethyn couldn’t have said why she chose the formal title. Perhaps to punish her sister for being so blunt, seeming so uncaring. She immediately regretted her tone. Frell, she belatedly remembered, once had been her sister’s betrothed, but the First Seer had declared she wouldn’t wed until Lasthome


was safe. Tynchel had a heavy burden enough without her sneers. Tynchel’s features tightened, then softened. “We go on, sister. What would you have me do? Surrender? That might work for those the Mysteries haven’t touched, but the Ferrikki have ever sought us, never hesitated to destroy us. We have proven that their metallic sorcery does not mesh, cannot mesh, with the Mysteries. It would be like, I don’t know, trying to graft a spoon onto a tree limb. So we must be eliminated.” “But the Ferrikki aren’t all powerful,” Bethyn said. “The Mysteries here at Lasthome have stymied their mechanical spies. They go around us and continue their conquest. And leave us to starve.” Bethyn knew she was simplifying the situation. Every few months, a squadron of chittering metal spies – the people of Lasthome had dubbed them the Bugs – would swarm over the walls and through the crevices into the keep. Each time, the power of the Mysteries would flare forth and the Bugs would wander in scrabbling circles then die. It was far scarier when the Storm-bringers soared overhead, and bright bolts of energy coalesced and rained down on the keep. Doomstorms, turned aside by the magical wards protecting Lasthome. “The Ferrikki, no doubt, haven’t given up devising ways to breach our power,” Tynchel said, as if reading her thoughts. Not magical, that: The thoughts in Lasthome never strayed far from survival. “What do we really know? Every month, the Bugs grow more numerous, as do the Doomstorms. But are we just a sideshow, an obstacle to be dealt with once bigger prey is taken?” “The Seeing Basin has shown you –” Tynchel put a finger to her lips in warning. The


fact that there were lands beyond the Red Ridge who still fought on perhaps was common knowledge, but the Ferrikki might not know how much Lasthome Keep could see. That was a secret worth keeping. “I have called a general meeting in Main Hall tonight,” Tynchel whispered. “I’d like very much for you to stand with the Council when I announce that the rations will be halved.” “Words won’t fill their bellies! The rations already are but a third of what they were six months ago!” Bethyn We “We hope should you have enjoyed thsi preview of the blurted. have left when we still had a chance, Abandoned Towers 1st Annual Artist’s Chalsplit up into small groups and headed for the Red Ridge lenge Anthology. and its caves.” It entire was ananthology old argument, frayed by repetition and The is in print and available irrelevant now, with theCyberwizard last tunnel gone. Diverting the from Amazon.com, Productions, or wherver books sold. Mysteries’ powers to are blast a new passage was not an option. Every word and thought was needed to maintain you would like to order a copy now, just go their Ifcover. to What was she trying to prove by even bringing it up? Big sister knows best? http://bit.ly/dH2gs “And, our power diluted, be picked off one by one?”and click on one of the paypal buttons to place your Sheorder. could almost mouth the words along with Tynchel, as if each of them were delivering speeches by rote. Bethyn heard the anger in Tynchel’s voice. She’s not angry at me. She’s scared. A need to protect her sister surged, and she linked her arm through Tynchel’s. “What could I add to the Council?” Bethyn mumbled, partly out of affection, partly because of her fear that the Sentry Trees could hear. “You are all trained in the Mysteries. I am a Natural. It’s like oil and water. For all their power, the Mysteries are defensive in nature, protective, healing.” “If you allowed yourself to be trained, then

Abandoned Towers 1st Annual Artist's Challenge Anthology  

Fantasy artist, Johnney Perkins painted a stunning image of a girl dressed in a long, white, flowing gown standing on the side of a storm to...

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