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.Copyright © 2014 RevelationsAll rights reserved.No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted or copied in any form or by any means, electric, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without written permission by the publisher.Map completed by Sherry Kitts.Thank you for believing.Chapter 1Ramie stood on his balcony, deep in thought.The third messenger had come that day, strongly encouraging him to send people to train under Ista.Ramie grunted.He wondered how long it would be before Ista attacked them all.Probably only long enough for her to build the Collective, and that wouldn’t be long, not with most of the kingdoms embracing her with open arms.Days after his homecoming, news had come from the border.Hundreds had been seen traveling to Zier, not only from the border regions of Fest and Quar but also the outer regions, many from his own kingdom of Yor.After days of little sleep and many orisons he had made a speech to the city of Yor, ordering none to travel to Zier.First, he said, Newlan must prove it truly opted for peace and not war.He thought it a fair concern, seeing Newlan had a new leader who insisted on training men to become soldiers of the Quy.The people hadn’t seen it that way.They had become angry and rumors had spread that Ramie was opposed to magic.Wouldn’t the people be surprised to learn if he opposed magic he also opposed himself and his children?Ramie’s heart sank at the thought of Ravi and Reese.They both had the power and were almost out of their minds to travel to Zier themselves.He had told them what had occurred while he had been away, and although Reese understood his concern Ravi was unconvinced.She was more rambunctious than any child he had ever seen.He wouldn’t be surprised if she hid in a cart to begin the pilgrimage herself.He had sent messengers to all the lesser Oldan kingdoms ordering them to cease letting their citizens pass.Ramie had never made such a demand, but it was in his jurisdiction.Although he couldn’t directly control how each ruler governed he could control the interrelationship between each kingdom, and this affected every nation.Every king had politely sent a messenger back indicating that even if they made the order their citizens would be impossible to contain.Ramie understood.He could barely control his own kingdom.It wasn’t the soldiers.They obeyed without question.It was the commoners.It seemed the less one had the more one wanted the Quy.Ista was building an army of hungry, greedy people.He had tripled the guards at the border but the patrol was still outnumbered.There had even been some deaths, both guards and citizens.One thing Ramie didn’t want was the blood of the people on his hands.He had to do something but he didn’t know what.He couldn’t sit back and allow his citizens to migrate to Zier, but he couldn’t go against magic with his army alone.He knew nothing about magic.Ista could very well be powerful enough to kill his entire army down to a man.His father had taught him to think quickly on his feet and his aptitude had surprised many on more than one occasion, but he feared he hadn’t reacted quickly enough this time.If only Ketes would answer his message! If he went after Ista alone he would be one army against an army with magic.If Bostic would answer his message and join him in the attack they had a chance, but the message he had sent to Ketes remained unanswered and news had come that Bostic had closed his borders.Ketes was the only kingdom in the Lands with a wall surrounding its boundary.It wasn’t an ordinary wall.It was the king of walls, rising over twenty paces in height.It stretched from the outlying cities to the deserted rice fields of its rolling country.If anyone could have closed its borders it was Ketes.The wall was broken in places and shattered in others, but if Bostic had wanted his citizens inside the wall there was no doubt he could have rebuilt the broken sections overnight and forced everyone to remain inside.The wall was one of the many mysteries of the lands.The first people were in Yor.As they migrated east, the wall was discovered.It was no manmade construction.The aid of magic was even discounted because of the slight imperfections in the wall’s design.If magic were the cause the wall would have held few, if any, flaws.If Yor had a wall around its borders Ramie could at least stop his own citizens from leaving, but Yor was surrounded by water, and water was a double-edged sword.On one hand it offered an excellent defense, but on the other if people wanted to leave it was next to impossible to stop them.Yor was filled with hundreds of canals that spilled into other canals and led to easy escape in the surrounding waters.Ramie turned his thoughts back to Ketes.He had been nervous about sending the message, but now he knew it had been right to do so.It surprised him that Bostic had yet to respond.It was clear Bostic was loyal to Ren and had somehow gotten wind of Zier’s takeover before word of Ista had spread, but why hadn’t he answered the message?It was perplexing.Although Bostic was known for his boisterous laugh and love of pleasantries he was also known for his loyalty and quick anger.Could Bostic be hiding behind his walls? Or could he be planning something on his own?Frustration coursed through Ramie’s veins.If only he knew one way or the other he would be able to act or react.He would know if he stood alone against Ista or if he was backed by another force of strength.Lorlier would have been an invaluable ally, but Ramie had received only a short message from the king of Fest.Lorlier wasn’t hindering his citizen’s from leaving, but he had ordered his soldiers to remain.Ramie didn’t know how to interpret that missive.Was Lorlier questioning Ista, or because he was a fighting man was he just loath to release his soldiers?Ramie heaved a weary sigh.If only Nigel were here to help him.Although Ramie was the natural leader Nigel had an eye for paths that evaded Ramie.Nigel went where no one dreamed there was a way.Ramie needed that instinct now.Ramie began to pace.He had to think as if he were the Lands only chance.He was the only one with the truth and the only one in a position to do something about that truth.He had waited too long.What was wrong with him? Just because Ista had magic didn’t give him an excuse to hide in a corner! He was a man of action.It was far past time for his reaction.It was time to attack.The problem was he needed a reason to attack.He had no proof of Ista’s deception.Ista rallied for peace.If he started a war it would only make her hold stronger.So what was the solution?He looked to the southeast, toward Zier, wondering what was happening.The people seemed content.There was no news of unrest from the spies he had left in the city.Ista hadn’t forced her way into command.The people had accepted her.Or had they?If the Zier people rebelled they would be accused of treason.Treason was punishable by death.What citizen would risk his life, his family, for a fight doomed to failure? But if there was a strong resistance they could join …Ramie rubbed his tired eyes.He desperately needed rest.He needed to clear his mind before he made a decision to send the Lands into a war involving magic.His people needed something to fight for, a clear evil to fight against.If only he had another to consult with, but he dare not trust any in his own keep for this kind of counsel [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]