Jorian Tal has lived through every age of man, training great heroes and watching those he loved age and die, or worse, fall to darkness in countless wars. Disillusioned and out of faith in humanity, the last thing he needs is another student to train.

Daughter of an ancient noble house, Sarannya Tatara’s path is already decided, and yet she dreams of forbidden things: swords, dragons, and a life she can never have—until the day she holds one of the General’s blades in her hand. 

As demons sweep over the land in a wave of darkness and corruption, Jorian has one last chance to right the wrongs of the past, and resurrect the ancient order of knights who once kept the world safe. If he fails, all of humanity will be lost. If he succeeds, his long life can finally end. The empire he helped build centuries ago is on the brink of collapse, and everything rests on the shoulders of a girl who embodies the spirit of his greatest failure, a wound he still carries in his heart. 

For Jorian and Sarannya, history is repeating itself—and he has already failed her once before. 

Stars’ Light, Book 1 in the all-new Epic Fantasy series by Mark Allen

So, why am I so excited to be sharing this? Well, all this time that I’ve been writing and publishing, my husband has been hard at work on his epic fantasy series. He’s not JUST my first reader, idea soundboard, and biggest cheerleader, he’s also an author, too. In fact, years ago, we paid for our wedding cake with our first professional sale, a Star Trek short story we co-wrote together. And yes, we also have a project we are co-writing, though it will be awhile before that comes out, since we are both busy with our own separate series.

Anyway, if epic fantasy is your jam, he actually has the first two books done, and is hard at work on the third. And these are BIG books. The first book is 168k words, or over 500 pages. Book 2 is even longer. But unlike many entries into the genre, his pacing never lags. (This is a complaint I often have with “big” epic fantasy books.) I might be biased as his wife, but I think Mark has something really special here. I LOVED this book, and am currently helping him edit Book 2, which….you guys, book 2 is SO. FREAKING. GOOD.

And, just look at that cover! It’s SO pretty! I wish I could show you the cover to Book 2, which is even more gorgeous, if you can believe that.

Book 2 will launch a few months after Book 1. We’re not sure quite when yet, because we want to finish editing it before we decide on a release date.

So, if you enjoy a good, classic fantasy, check out Chapter One and see if Stars’ Light might be your next read!

Keep reading for a sneak peek of Chapters 1 & 2

Chapter One

Bral felt the seven Essences of creation align around him. He loved this part of the hunt. He remembered when he had loved nothing else; but now, it left him feeling empty and a little sad. He knew that he would only find misery, pain, and sorrow at the end.

He moved through the trees under a waning moon. He drifted slowly, making only the barest of sounds as he pushed his way forward. He could see the telltale glow of a fire, but there was no noise of dinner, conversation, or the normal sounds that accompanied a fire. In fact, this entire area of woods was uncharacteristically silent. Water ran off his shoulders and hands from the fresh rain. The leather grip of his War Blade was damp and only getting more wet the deeper he pushed into the trees.

He heard a branch break off to his left; he paused, not moving, only glancing with his eyes. There it was, in the deep shadows. A sentry. Bral slowly turned and brought the Essences to bear. It took light to bring the Essences out, and if this was what he thought, they would feel him using it, which was why he had waited in the first place. 

Sliding forward, he left no trace on the ground of his passing; branches slowly moved out of his way, and the rain that rested on the branches, needles, and trees did not touch him.  

The sentry saw a shadow detach from the trees on his right, but could not call out or move. There was a pressure holding him down.  He stared as the shadow approached, trying with all his being to break free. He knew what has happening to him but could do nothing about it. He could not look anywhere but forward until he was staring into the dark green eyes of a legend. There was a brief moment of fear that turned into abject terror upon seeing the War Blade poised for a strike. 

Bral frowned, holding the severed head and the body, and then setting both on the ground. He started to move away before the body began to dissolve into a black ichor. Again, he was slow and meticulous in his movements, so as not to create too much noise, even though he was dampening the sound. His blade remained out and by his side as he released the Essences, breathing out. He let the light stream off of him and dissipate around him. 

He was tired. Very tired. It always took its toll using the Essences, but really, he was soul tired. He took a moment to align himself and looked at the body. Long, wicked claws topped each finger, and the skin looked like crinkled, black-dyed parchment paper. He was always fascinated when the bodies melted into a black ichor. It was a Fallen of the third coil. A lower form, but one that could hunt humans very well and was wicked in its consumption of human flesh. A predator. 

Bral looked back at the light from the fire not too far off. The fire itself was concealed behind a screen of rocks and trees. It would not be an easy approach. He frowned again, knowing what he would find. He drew in light from around him. Light that came from the stars, moon, and all life around him. He knew the demons would sense that he was here, and he was coming for them.  

He called forth the Essences and waited for his vision to adjust. He could see the currents of energy that flowed and moved about and through all things. Something shifted. It was inside of him, and he could feel that change was coming. He moved in between the currents, pushing others around him out of his way. In effect, he was moving in the areas with no energy. He was moving where the eye could not see.

Barabole turned and sniffed at the air. He could sense the changing of the environment around him. “The enemy is near. He has finally caught up with us.” A sneer crossed his bestial face, and his tongue licked across his two downward fangs, speaking to the other two with him. 

Bral slowly moved toward the fire. He glanced around, looking at the bodies that were littered about. They had already been fed upon, and two of the women were dead, but a third had been used for seed. She gasped for air and was still in a state of shock and ecstasy. Her head lolled from side to side and small moans escaped her lips.

He allowed himself to be seen. The Fallen started, seeing him appear near the fire. Bral did not even speak. He just nodded his head.

“No!” Barabole yelled as he watched his two soldiers dart forward to attack.

Bral moved like the wind, evading the slashing claws. They were trying to herd him toward their sentry, but they did not know the sentry had already been put down. They were demons of the First Coil and not very smart or creative, but fierce fighters. Their claws were not as pronounced, being of the First Coil, but they did excrete a poison that would paralyze their victims. In essence, the victim was awake when the demons fed. 

Bral slipped past the slashing claws of the first and cut down, severing the Demon’s arm. It paused, looking down at the missing limb. Bral immediately cut across the creature’s neck, beheading it. The other one stopped and backed off a bit, standing near the fire. 

Light Bringer flared to life, bright silver runes drawing in the light from the fire, dripping brilliance. For a moment, twilight prevailed as all the light in the area was sucked into the blade. Bral’s eyes turned from green to a luminous silver.  With a glance, the fire flared to life and engulfed the Demon. It began to scream in agony as its parchment-like skin burst into flame. It collapsed to the ground, convulsing. Bral strode forward to stand just out of sword reach from the captain of this raiding party. 

“You must understand there is no escape for you. You will not be reincarnated at the Black Hall. You will burn in the light.” Bral’s inhuman voice echoed around the campsite. It sounded as if it emanated from the very air itself. 

“Why do you think I did not run?” Barabole spoke quietly. He had hoped the eternal warrior would find him, but there was no guarantee. It had taken a lot of killing to get him on their scent. “My master has a message for you.” He paused for effect, staring into the silver luminous eyes.


“This time will be different. It will not be what you think it is. She wants you to know…” The words were cut off in a flash of silver light, and Barabole’s body fell, sifting to the ground, burning from the inside. It collapsed into ash and dusted the ground and Bral’s boots. 

“We shall see.” Bral’s voice resonated throughout the campsite. He slowly let the light go. His eyes returned to normal, and the runes on the War Blade slowly faded from view. He looked around the campsite, locating the girl who was still alive. Weariness stole over him. Sheathing the curved War Blade, he walked over and knelt down beside her. 

He laid his hand on her brow and a bit of light seeped out as he brought her out of her ecstasy. She blinked and looked up at him, her eyes lucid. She tried to move.

“Stay down. You’re hurt.” Bral spoke softly, holding her head down. There was a moment of panic to her movements, but his voice calmed her. “I have some herbs for you to drink. It will remove your pain and bring you peace.” He got up, moving towards the edge of the campsite and whistled.

Titan trotted quickly through the brush, a stalwart companion to a lonely warrior. Reaching into his saddle bags, he looked back, hearing her trying to move. She cried out and lay back down in her own blood. 

Bral quickly moved back to her, pulling out a chewy gum ball. It was laced with a powerful pain reliever. “Here, chew on this. It will help greatly with the pain while I brew the herbs.” He placed it in her hand and sat back. 

She looked at the small brown ball in her hand and back up at him. With a shuddering sigh, she put it in her mouth. She was surprised that her mouth was so sore. She did not remember getting hit in the mouth or the head. She was having trouble focusing. She began to chew and focused on that for the moment. It was a sweet taste, but within minutes, a warmth began to spread throughout her body, relaxing her as the pain seeped out. She watched as the warrior moved towards the fire and began to brew a drink.

Bral poured water into his coffee pot and placed it over the fire. This was the part about being him that he hated. He sat in silence, waiting for the water to boil. He knew the questions would eventually come, and he was preparing himself to answer them truthfully. He always did as their end was near. Easing the passing was not an easy thing, but it always gave him something to fall back on when he thought about the thousands of people that he had killed.

“You’re him, aren’t you?” The woman swallowed hard, finally speaking out.

Bral turned, looking back at her. She stared fixedly back at him, noting his green eyes and full beard. “I am.”

She began to cry, and a small whimper emitted from her. “You are going to kill me.” Fear was evident in her whole body. 

Bral picked up his worn pot, the water boiling. He crossed from the fire and sat down next to her. He let out a long sigh as he looked at her. She was a beautiful girl, probably not a girl all the boys would be after; but still, she was beautiful. She appeared to be around twenty years old, but he was not so good at guessing people’s ages. They all looked young to him. “The Fallen have mated with you. This is why all of your orifices will be sore. Also, the pain you are feeling is the larvae they have injected into you. They are eating you from the inside. There is nothing I can do for you other than to ease your passing.” His voice was soft and caring as he spoke, mixing a cup of tea. He laced it with a poison that would allow her to sleep and slowly stop her heart.

“What is your name?” She asked watching him stir the tea. She could feel things moving in her, and she blinked back tears.


“No. Your real name.” She looked up at him and captured his gaze. There was an inner light to her eyes that he had not seen before. Normally, they always had a faraway look or a hollowness to the eyes. Hers were bright and alive.

“In all the time I’ve been doing this, I have never been asked for my real name. How do you know Bral isn’t it?”

She smiled. “You are the Immortal Warrior. You must have many names. I studied you at the university. I would love to know your real name.” She grimaced in pain and went to reach for her body, but her hand was caught in Bral’s grip. He shook his head with a sad smile. He placed a warm cup of tea in her hand.

“I’m afraid.” Her voice quivered and tears began to slide down her face. 

He looked away, seeing what only he could see. “I know, but there is nothing for you to fear. Golden shores await with brilliant color all around, and you will be greeted by those who have already left. They will be happy to see you. There will be no pain or frustration, only love and companionship.” He still held her hand, and turned back to her.

“Will this hurt?” She glanced at the tea. 

“No. There will be no pain. As I said, there is nothing for you to fear.”

“My name is Raeya.” She gripped his hand tightly with one hand and took a sip of tea with the other.

“Jorian Tal is my real name.” He smiled back. He liked her. She had a great spirit, and he began to wonder what her path would have been like if she had not run afoul of the Fallen. He watched her take another sip.

Raeya smiled as the pain and fear slowly eased from her body with each sip she took. “You look older than I thought you would. Most of the stories have you much younger looking in age. They say you would appear to be in your twenties or so.” 

Jorian laughed. “The stories are too kind.”

“Are you really the second human ever?”


“You fought against the Darkness with Azarai?”

“Yes, I did.”

“What was it like? I mean being one of three humans on the entire planet.”

She was starting to fade, and Jorian took the mostly empty tea cup from her hand and set it aside. 

“It was lonely at first. But my brother and I began to build a great city. It was different then, than it is now. It was easier to build and move creation around. When Katerina arrived, she brought dozens with her. We named our city Bosc City, but you would know it only if you’ve been to the Borderlands.” He paused, watching her fighting to keep her eyes open. 

“Is it true that you were the first married couple? Is your wife immortal?”

“Yes, Analia and I were the first married couple. All spirits are immortal. You are technically immortal.”

She gazed up at him with sleepy eyes. She reminded him of his daughters. The stories he told them at night when he tucked them in. The stories he told his grandchildren, and his great-grandchildren. All gone now.

“I’m sorry if I made you sad,” she whispered, noticing his frown.

“You should sleep now. I will stand guard and cast a light that nothing can penetrate, and you will be able to see your way to the Golden Shores.” He looked down to find that she had gone to sleep. Her breathing was shallow, but consistent. The fire grew brighter and brighter until the entire hollow was lit with its warmth, and then all at once, it dimmed.

Jorian let out a heavy sigh. He made sure that she was gone and then stood. He brought his hand up to wipe away a single tear. It was getting harder and harder. “I don’t want to do this anymore. She had so many possibilities that could have been; they would have been much better than this!” He waved his hand over the carnage.

“You do not know what her true purpose was. How do you know that she was not here for you?” Azarai stepped into the firelight. As the light caught him, he looked transparent, but vibrant.

Jorian paused and looked at the barest hint of a figure standing by Titan. “How much more do I need to learn? I’m tired, brother. It is time for me to come home.”

“You know that I do not make those decisions.” Azarai said.

“Why are you here then?” Jorian was clearly frustrated.

“Because you are in pain, and we are brothers. I told you that I would always be by your side, and I have been.”

“It’s starting again, isn’t it?” 

“The stars are fading, and the humans need you. This is your last one, but you must train others. They must take up the fight for themselves after this. The third age is ending, and the One wants you to end it.” Azarai moved forward, becoming more detailed as greater amounts of light caught him. He was lithe and graceful as he came to stand before his brother. A smile played across his face. His hair was cut short, much like Jorian’s, and his beard was trimmed in an old fashioned way. “This is a great honor, and you will understand more at the end. The Tracian Knights must live again.” He placed his hands on Jorian’s shoulders, and they were firm and solid. 

Jorian smiled a sad smile and placed his own hands upon Azarai’s shoulders, so they were locked together. “I don’t need any more honor, but I also told you that I would follow you to the very end; and I will, my king.”

Azarai nodded and released his brother. “Good hunting.”

Jorian collected Titan. He looked back at the mess of bodies and called upon the Essences. The fire burst out from its small pit of containment rocks. He created a conflagration that engulfed the entire hollow. He stirred it until it was so hot that nothing would be left of the massacre. Even the bones would be dust.

Mounting his horse, he rode for home towards the Marpesia mountain pass. He was ready to leave the Janery Baronies behind. 


Azarai watched Jorian leave, fire whipping around, consuming everything but him. “He’s very tired, and I fear he may not have the strength to see this through.”

He is the strongest of you all, and he has faced many dark times. But, he will stand in the light, as he is the Lightbringer.  

Chapter 2

It was an early morning, and the sun was shining too brightly through the bedroom curtains. Sarannya rolled over and buried her face into her pillow just as her door whisked open. 

“Morning fast is over! You need to get up. Your mother will be here shortly and you have a full day,” Olivia said, grasping the covers. She was in her fifties, with graying hair and a kind face. Her own children were grown and living on their own. She had worked her entire life with the Tals and was a full citizen of their protectorate. She was very proud that she was a full citizen and was paid and treated well. 

Sarannya balled up as her covers were tossed off of her.

“The bath water will be cold if you do not get moving. I don’t care if you bathe in cold or hot water, but you will bathe,” Olivia said in a matronly voice.

Sarannya knew better than to argue. Taking a deep breath, she rolled over and put her feet on the soft rugs of her floor.  Why must everything happen so damn early in the morning? Squinting a bit against the sun, she rushed to her bath.

Moving quickly through her room and into her walkthrough wardrobe, she opened the door to her bath and was greeted with a room full of steam. Slipping her night clothes off, she stepped down into the water and sighed. She loved languishing in the bath. In fact, sometimes she got up a bit earlier than needed, just to soak longer. She lay in the water, absorbing the heat, spreading out to float just below the surface. She looked up at the ceiling and smiled. She loved the mosaic that was in this room. It had always been in the house, and pictured horses running free in a wild field, with small dragons around the border of the mosaic. To be able to ride horses! She had always dreamed of riding them, but women were not allowed. 

She would bathe twice a day if she could, but her mother would not have it, saying it was a waste of water and time. Sarannya was shaking her head mimicking her mother, when her mother strolled in and looked disdainfully down at the clothes lying on the floor. 

“How many times do I have to tell you to hang your clothes? Also, I do not appreciate coming in to find you imitating me. It is not becoming of a lady.” Duchess Lillia Tatara was a stunning woman in her middle fifties. Her hair was slightly grey, and she had penetrating blue eyes. She was tall and lithe for a woman of the Ten-Thousand Nations. She was dressed perfectly in one of her work dresses, but even in those, she had a commanding presence. Her bare feet made little noise when she entered her daughter’s bathing room.  

“I am sorry, mother. Of course mother, I will not do it again.”

“Yes, you will. You will just learn to be more discreet about it.” She smiled slightly at her daughter, but her eyes said something entirely different. “You do not have as much time as you think. We have important guests coming from Imperial City today. Your classes will be shorter, because your presence will be required during their visit.” She walked over to grab a towel from a glass cupboard.  

Sarannya frowned and leaned back to soak her hair. Wiping her eyes, she caught her mother’s frown. “What?”

“I fear we are going to have to let out your dresses again.”


“Well, you don’t want to spill out of them, do you?” Her mother’s hand gesturing to indicate her breasts falling out of her dress brought a redness to Sarannya’s cheeks. “Do not act so embarrassed. I know that you talk much more crudely with your friends. Let’s go, you are running out of time.” Lillia clapped her hands, emphasizing the need for quickness. 

Sarannya didn’t know who her mother could be referring to. I do not have many friends. In fact, other than Bran, I do not have any real friends at all.


In short order, Sarannya was seated at a desk with a large oval mirror. Her mother was brushing her hair. “Who is coming today?” She asked, a bit of nervousness flaring in her stomach. She was carefully watching her mother’s face in the mirror.

“You knew this was coming. Your father will be renewing the pact with the Mirogen representative. You will be presented to them, as you are now eligible for betrothal. Your father would like to find a good match for you; one that can also help the family.” She stopped brushing Sarannya’s hair and placed her hand lightly upon Sarannya’s shoulder. Her voice was soft.

“Kristina and Nivae are not married yet, and they are much older them me!” Sarannya turned to look over her shoulder at her mother directly. She could see a slight flare of fear in her mother’s eyes.

“Your youth will make you more desirable than them. They will marry within the Fiefdom. Your father is hoping to find a good match outside of the Marpesia Protectorate for you.”

“Basically, you mean to sell me.” The retort came out much harsher than Sarannya had intended, but she did not care. She could feel an anger building in her; an anger in her heart.

“You know full well that our peace here is tenuous at best. The General will not always be here to keep the Mirogen at bay! We need alliances. Your marriage to one of their houses will help us with this.”

“But the Tals will keep the Mirogen away.” Sarannya turned in her chair to fully face her mother. “There are more of them than just the General.”

“The Emperor has sent his brother.” Lillia’s words were firm and controlled. “He is bringing his whole family with him. We are to host them here for a few days. This is no idle visit. The winds of change are coming for us, and we must be ready to seize what advantage we can.” The last she spoke quietly. She reached forward and pulled her daughter in close, hugging her. “I am afraid for our family.”


The morning went very quickly for Sarannya. Her long black hair was left down in soft curls. She had a singular circlet that adorned her hair with a large heart stone as the center piece. Heart stone was generally a blue stone mined from the heart of the mountains in the Marpesia range. It was very rare and very expensive, and more rarely still came in other colors as well. It was highly sought after throughout the Ten-Thousand Nations. She loved the circlet for how the blue stone brought out her grey eyes.

 Her classes were as boring as ever. She was subdued this day during her studies, preoccupied with thoughts of some old man trying to marry her. During politics class where she learned of the various nations, their leaders, and how they interacted with the throne, she asked, “Why is the Marpesian Fiefdom or protectorate different from the other nations in the empire?” There were some groans behind her as the other students knew a lecture was coming.

“My lady, that is an interesting question. Our Fiefdom is a protectorate also. This was won from the throne in a war that lasted one hundred days. The Emperor Samouel Juric Mirogen was the one who was soundly defeated in that battle and was forced to recognize the sovereignty of the Tatara fiefdom almost eight thousand years ago. This area is really the ancestral holdings of the Tals, and they gave the Tatara’s land and a place to call home when the Tatara’s decided to not be a part of the royal succession for the throne. Your family fought beside the Tals, helping to defeat the imperial forces.

“This has always been a point of contention between the Mirogen, Tals, and the Tataras. A treaty was drawn up and is re-signed every twenty years. So, with all of that in mind, the other nations of the Ten-Thousand Nations are not independent of the Throne. They pay levies and taxes we do not; they must give up a certain amount of men to the military for each generation that we do not; and as you can imagine, this makes us a target for many of the other nations, especially with the heart stone mines and our contacts for trade.” Josef Vorru spoke succinctly in his lecture voice. He was smiling when he finished, though his large mustache threatened to hide it. He was a short, thin man, but was highly educated at the Imperial University. He was hired out from under the palace by Duke Tal himself. To work for the Tals had always been a prestigious position and one highly sought after. To work in a place that did not see you as a slave or as less than a human being was a welcome change to the rest of the empire, and the royalty who ran it. 

Sarannya was perplexed. “You mean that the Tataras, Tals, and the Mirogen are the same family?” The rest of the class was silent, their interest peaked at this question.

Josef shook his head and his large mustache that looked like the tusks of a mythical sea creature waved in the wind. “No. The Tataras and the Mirogen are the same family, but the Tals are not. They have their own lines and family history. From what we know, they are not related, other than the marriages that have occurred from time to time.” He paused, letting his students think about what he had just said. “Okay. Off you go. Our guests will be here soon, and you all have work to do. Do not make us look bad today.” He tapped his desk with his knuckles, shooing them out.


Sarannya worked next to her mother for the rest of the afternoon, setting up the dining hall and doing other chores in preparation for their guests. It was not until early evening that the first of the wagons and carriages began to arrive. She was lined up with the rest of her family out in front of the large manor house. It was really a small palace, but they referred to it as a manor. She watched with disdain as the entourage disembarked their carriages, and with ceremony, opened the doors to the royal carriages that contained not only Aleksander, the emperor’s brother, but also the emperor’s sister, Tamara.

Sarannya glanced over at her father and could see small beads of sweat break out on his brow with his frown. It was immediately replaced with a painted on smile. As he walked forward and bowed his head to the Royal Prince and Princess, he did not prostrate himself, as he was not technically under the control of the emperor or restricted by the rules that would govern having a prince or princess in your house. Under normal circumstances, he would have been waiting for them on his knees with his forehead in the dirt. Sarannya’s lips twisted in disgust with the very thought of her father bowing in the dirt to anyone.

“Greetings Prince Aleksander. Princess Tamara, this is a surprise. We were not expecting you. I will get a room made up for you at once.” He made a small gesture with his hand, and Olivia immediately disappeared into the house.

Tamara smiled and bowed her head, bringing her hand up for the Duke to offer his respect. Duke Colin smiled and brought her hand to his lips. “I humbly apologize for the inconvenience this may bring you, but since I have never actually been here, and having been almost everywhere else, I wished to see the famed beauty of the Marpesian fiefdom.” Her voice was soft, but carried to all who were listening. She was of average height, but her bearing always made her appear taller than she was. Her black, lustrous hair had turned to a steel color through the years, and she did not find it to her tastes to dye it, like the other ladies at court. She looked around, her hazel eyes missing nothing.

“It will be no inconvenience, and I hope that you find its famed beauty worth the trip,” the Duke responded. He also gestured to the wide open view of the mountain peaks all around them. “There are many great views to take in.”

Aleksander frowned and moved forward. “We are tired and would like to rest in our rooms before dinner.”

“Of course, prince Mirogen. Right this way.” Lillia gracefully stepped in to lead the prince and princess to their respective rooms. 

Upon entering the foyer, Aleksander paid very little attention, as he had been here a few times, but he heard the gasp of his sister. He sighed to himself. This is why he had not really wanted her coming.

“This is absolutely stunning. Are those the portraits of the Tatara’s?” She paused, staring up at two of the largest portraits. 

“Yes, they are. Those two are Kirian and Breia Tatara. She was the daughter of Zorian Mirogen, the first to take the name.” Lillia smiled softly, looking at the portraits. 

“Zorian Mirogen. I have never heard of her. I was told that Saheth was the first of our line.” She turned to Lillia.

“Saheth was Brea’s son and the grandson to Zorian. I am sure that you will find records of this in the Imperial Library.” Lillia’s voice was soft as she tried to moderate her tone. It always amazed her how very few actually knew anything about real history. 

Tamara smiled, nodding. “I will have to look into that. I have become more interested in the history of our two families as I have become older. As you know, we women must stick together in this world of men.” She made a brief glance at her brother.

“I am well aware, princess.” Lillia said with a sly smile. She almost liked Tamara. This might be an interesting couple of days.


Jorian crested the highest part of the trail. He looked down upon his home with the sun behind the peaks. There was still good light, but it was waning. The view of his home always captured him, with mountain peaks all around, the blue of lakes and rivers far below him, and the brilliant green of the trees. He always stopped here to admire the scenery and to remember why he stayed; why he protected all of this. He also loved the look of his palace tucked into the mountainside. Not far below was the ancestral home of the Tataras. A slight frown crossed his face. He knew the family was not doing very well in court. The rumors were starting to spread about their massive wealth and limitless mines. Jorian also knew that the throne would have sent an emissary to re-sign the treaty.  A deeper frown crossed his face. Every time he thought of that treaty, he had a bad feeling about it. 

That damn treaty. I wish I had never suggested that. It has caused nothing but problems, he thought to himself, losing sight of the glorious view. 

He clicked his tongue, and Titan began walking down the steep trail. Jorian leaned forward and patted his horse upon the neck. “We are almost home. Let’s go see what we find.” He sat up in the saddle and took in the panoramic one more time.

As he made his way down the trail, a small pressure began to build and grow in intensity, until he could hear the vibration and buzzing of his War Blade. The Forges were awake.