Will Lesterall has grown up in the safety of his father’s castle, where tales of the outside world ruled by warring kings and creatures of nightmare have never seemed a threat. Yet on the night celebrating the two hundredth year of the sacred Pact that has kept Fort Lesterall safe, a secret intrigue ripens, and in the course of a few hours Will is confronted with a choice greater than he can comprehend.
Join an unlikely hero as destiny pulls him into the middle of an ancient conflict between fallen gods and ambitious women, one that demands blood, both holy and wicked, and the power of an ancient fire bound in steel. As swords clash below a watching wood, hope and betrayal war as fiercely as fear and valor, and whether he lives of dies, Will Lesterall will never be the same.
Will hurried across the dark stones. The soft tap of his shoes against the cobbles echoed in the empty Square. In the middle, where the ground sloped down toward the sewer drains, the statue of Amarr the Barbarian cast a long shadow. Will passed into it and stopped. He heard voices.
Two men spoke in hushed tones, but their words carried when the wind wasn’t gusting.
“It’s that hag, I tell ya,” came one voice. “She’s roundin’ them up, preparing one of her big spells, she is. I heards there’s a sacrifice comin’, and she means to raise the dead.”
“Don’t be stupid, Roth.” Will recognized the raspy tone at once. It belonged to Mern, the whitesmith, whose half-slashed throat had never fully healed. Will squinted, but couldn’t see where the voices came from, other than realizing they drifted over from the dark, walled yard outside Hellistead’s Tavern.
“I’ll not have ya callin’ me stupid. Oh no. I know what this is about an’hoo. You’re just afraids, justs protectin’ yurself. Ya know whatcha got in it, ands I don’t blame you for bitin’ your tongue.”
“Quiet, you hay-brained crofter,” Mern spat. “Tonight’s not a night to whisper about such treacheries. The Lord Ham will cut your tongue out, and the world’ll be a better place for it if he does.”
“Old Cren will put it back, if he do, but I says he’d best act quick, or he’ll be lacking for the parts as fits him proper. The night’s black, Mern, and it’s gettin’ blacker yet.”
There was a hollow clatter, then sharp hisses. The man who spoke improperly cursed in words that would have made Grandma Mae gasp then Will heard quick footsteps and a series of clunks. He looked back to the castle, to where father gathered his fighters, then the other way, to the Stablehouse. If father’s in trouble, I have to warn him. Will knew his words wouldn’t be taken seriously, though. He began to run across the stone expanse. Fort Lesterall won’t fall. Mern’s a wicked man, and whoever that other one is, he’s got no wits. Cren’s just an old woman who lives in the woods. She probably doesn’t even exist.