I’ve been waiting a while to put up a new snippet from one of my books up on here, and after finishing the first draft of what I’ve intended to be the second novel in The Luminous Legend series, now seems like the perfect time to provide a sneak peek. This doesn’t mean I’m anywhere near done with my work; I’ve got months of proofreading and revisions ahead of me, and that’s on top of writing the third and final part of the series, which I’m still not entirely sure will be it’s own book, or will be combined into the second part of the series as one big book.
But that’s another concern for another time. Until then, here’s an excerpt from Radiant Fate, the continuation of the adventure that I began with this past summer’s Echoes of Light. In this teaser, the main character, Alamor, has a somber discussion with Prince Tridian about the late King Hokara’s campaign to reclaim the war-torn desert known as the Arid Reaches, and bring it under the royal family’s prosperous sovereignty.
“You want us to split up and snoop around to see what we can find?” Pauma asked.
Tiroku nodded. “Yes, but stay in pairs. Even though this town seems abandoned, there’s no telling if something may still be hiding somewhere. Be cautious, everyone.”
Hinton and Pauma immediately headed off together in one direction, while Rawner offered to accompany Tiroku as they explored the rest of the settlement, leaving Alamor and Tridian as the last team. The Prince of Tordale started down a long, cluttered street without so much as a word to the rest of the group.
Alamor followed behind and let Tridian lead the way. He was actually glad that they ended up being paired together, as he remained both intrigued and somewhat worried by the bitterness that Tridian displayed earlier. Once they had walked a fair distance from the others, Alamor decided to question the reticent Prince of Tordale.
“Something’s got you rattled about this place, Tridian. What’s bothering you?” He could think of no better way to approach the subject rather than to be straightforward about it.
Tridian continued walking, but he glanced back at Alamor and nodded. There was a calm look over his face that suggested he was both unsurprised by the question, and that he understood Alamor’s concerns. “I’ll be fine,” he answered, and turned back to the debris-laden street that they tread. “It’s just that seeing this first hand brings back a lot of memories of my father—not all of them good ones.”
Alamor was taken aback by the answer. It was a few moments before the surprise wore off and he found the words to speak again. “How does this town make you think of your father?”
“Because my father greatly despised the kind of lawlessness and savagery that eventually destroyed this town,” Tridian began. As they continued walking, his morose eyes seemed to scan every inch of the ruins about them. “Without even seeing it for himself, he knew the chaos that dwelled here, and he made it his goal to be the first man in Tordale’s history to finally confront it.”
Alamor knew what Tridian alluded to. “You mean the mission to establish the Parched Outpost, don’t you?”
The Prince of Tordale nodded. “My father’s wish was to see order brought to every corner of the Arid Reaches. While savage tribes and vile outlaws may have claimed most of this territory, my father knew that they were peaceful, innocent people who lived here. They may not have been great in number, but he believed it to be his responsibility to one day bring them the same kind of protection that his rule brought to all other peoples throughout the kingdom. In doing so, not only would he create peace, he would also create a purpose for this desert. If he could eradicate the chaos that engulfed this region, then we could finally utilize the Arid Reaches’ many resources to benefit all life across Tordale.
“Of course,” Tridian continued, a hint of regret joining his words, “My father realized that such a task was an immense one, especially because he could only make use of a portion of our military during his time; to send the majority of our forces into this uncharted territory would have reduced our defenses elsewhere. That is why one of the very first things he had our troops accomplish was to establish the Parched Outpost. By securing that part of the desert, it would allow us to contain the bands of criminals and other bandits. That, in turn, would buy us a great deal of time. We would be able to carry out the remainder of the operation at our own pace, saving us untold resources, manpower, and who knows how many lives.”
Alamor briefly thought back to the conversation he had with Tiroku many weeks ago while they rode from Geldiar to Tordalia. “It also set up a barrier between the desert and the rest of Tordale, right? It kept the lawlessness from ever slipping into other parts of the kingdom.”
“That’s correct,” Tridian affirmed. “Unfortunately, it was just about the extent to which my father realized of his goal. He was able to reclaim the land up to the Sandstone Mausoleum, and eventually use that as the resting place for the Lucent Pearl, but he had hoped to spend several years after that spreading his influence until all of the Arid Reaches was under his control—years that he never got to see.”
The Prince of Tordale went silent for a few moments after referring to King Hokara’s untimely death. When he began to speak again, the anger and bitterness that he showed before had returned. “What has bothered me so much about seeing this town is that it also reminds me of the ignorant people who chastised my father for his mission.”
Alamor was surprised by the statement. Throughout his life, he could not recall any time where he witnessed someone express disapproval over King Hokara’s rule; he always believed that Tordale’s monarch had been universally loved and respected. “But they must have been only a very small minority,” Alamor offered, almost in an attempt to sooth Tridian. “Your father’s judgment was revered by the people throughout the kingdom.”
“They were a minority, yes, but they were very vocal about their disapproval, especially because many of them were the very politicians that my father consulted with on a regular basis,” Tridian said. “They were also very cruel with their words, often referring to my father as being ‘naïve’ or ‘blinded with ambition’. If it had been a different man sitting in my father’s role, he may have had those people imprisoned for slandering the King of Tordale. But those fools knew that my father was too honorable of a man to ever consider punishing someone simply for his words, so they criticized him to their hearts content, in public, and even in his very midst.”
Tridian stopped then in the middle of the road, where a mound in the sand sat just before his feet. He stared at it for a few moments before drawing his spear. “Those who mocked my father’s mission believed that it was a waste of the kingdom’s military and resources,” Tridian went on. “I remember some of them saying that the lives of the peaceful folk in the Arid Reaches were not worth any sacrifices we may make to protect them, whether it came in the form of our money or our soldiers.”
As he finished, Tridian stuck the butt of his spear into the mound’s base and began to lift. Alamor watched with curiosity as the Prince of Tordale pried free whatever lay beneath. When enough of the sand had slid away, it revealed something wrapped in an old, ashy cloak. Initially, Alamor had not been sure what it was, until he noticed the skeletonized hands and feet reaching out from underneath the cloak. As he looked over the rest of the shape, he realized it was a long-perished body lying face-first in the sand.
Alamor felt his body grow cold for a moment as he looked back the way they came. He only now noticed several other small mounds rising in the sand. When he looked ahead, he saw even more.
Tridian gently set the body back down. “Maybe if those politicians had seen the horrors that haunted this region, they would have thought differently of what my father was trying to accomplish.”
Putting away his spear, the Prince of Tordale started forward without another word.
Alamor did not immediately follow, but stayed behind as he tried to fend off the grim sensation that fell over him. While continuing to glance about at his ruined surroundings, he noticed a nearby home that was missing almost half of its façade—seemingly decimated by cannon fire, he presumed. He began to walk toward it, deciding that he needed to place his thoughts on something other than the grisly discovery that Tridian had made in the streets.
When he came to the house, he ascended a wall of sand that appeared to have engulfed the original doorway over the years. He slid down the other side and landed in a large, shadowy roomed. It was almost completely empty, save for a few pieces of trash that likely had been tossed inside by the wind. The room itself seemed to make up the entire first floor of the building; there weren’t any kind of closets, cupboards or other alcoves as far as Alamor could spot.
The layout of the room supported Tridian’s earlier assumption that the people of the town had not been very wealthy. Alamor imagined that there probably had been cabinets and other furniture inside at one point or another—before the event that destroyed the town—but even then, the simple design of the home’s interior suggested that the townsfolk did not have the knowledge or materials necessary to construct a house as other Tordalians throughout the kingdom did.
The only thing of note inside that Alamor could discern was a stairway in the far corner that climbed to the second floor of the home. But as Alamor started to approach it, then, he finally noticed that the room was not entirely empty.
Crouched within the shadows beneath the stairs were the remains of two more townsfolk. They sat with their backs against the wall, their skeletons wrapped in cloaks that were made out of some kind of thick, coarse fabric. Unlike the body that Tridian unearthed, their heads were not covered. The empty eye sockets in their skulls stared back at Alamor blankly. Their jaws lay agape, as if uttering a silent scream for all eternity.
It was like the skulls were a reminder of the gruesome fate that had befallen the two people.
This was not the first time that Alamor had seen a human skull. In addition to the huge, undead warrior that he battled on the forest road during his and Raissa’s trip to Tirth, he had seen one many years ago out in the Tordalian Plains while returning to Geldiar with several other soldiers after a scouting exercise. At one point they came upon unlucky traveler who had not survived his trek throughout the countryside. His mangled body lay within a thick pack of brush, seemingly the victim of wolves or some other predator out on the plains.
Back then, Alamor had been so mortified by the sight that he could hardly stand to look at it for very long. Now, he could stare back at the skulls with relative calm, even though he still felt a chill run over his skin as he gazed at the dead bodies.
Meanwhile, one question continued to repeat itself in his head.
What actually happened to this place?
Check back in the coming weeks for more updates on the story, as well as additional excerpts!