At the start of The Legend of Light, the kingdom of Tordale is still reeling from the untimely death of King Arthus Hokara. Since his wife, Saruma Hokara, passed away many years prior, it leaves Princess Raissa (21 years old) and her brother, Prince Tridian (28 years old) with the enormous responsibility to rule the kingdom–a task that is thrust upon them far sooner than they ever expected. The two inexperienced leaders are weighed down the pressure of their authority every day of their lives. Raissa is very much out of her element in politics, but she remains a beloved figure in the eyes of the people for her winsome personality. Even if “ruling” isn’t quite one of her skills, just yet, Raissa is more than capable of inspiring all of the races across Tordale with her grace and compassion.
In this excerpt from book one of The Legend of Light, Echoes of Light, you’ll get a look at the relationship between Raissa and the citizens of Tordale. When you’re done, I hope you can make a quick stop over to The Legend of Light’s Facebook page and give it a ‘Like’. Anyone who ‘Likes’ it is automatically entered to win a free copy of Echoes of Light when it releases, which I expect will be in just a couple short months. Before then, expect plenty more previews, excerpts, artwork, and other behind-the-scenes details on both this webpage and the Facebook page!
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Alamor’s second trek through Caldeya that day was far more enjoyable than his first. As he followed Raissa throughout the city’s many districts, he felt none of the anxiety that racked his mind earlier in day; in fact, he hadn’t felt so at ease in the longest time.
They only had brief opportunities to speak with one another as the afternoon rolled by, but Alamor was just as content to watch Raissa entertain the crowds that they passed by. Every time she stepped foot onto a new street or into a new plaza, all activity ceased, and every person’s attention swung toward their beloved princess. Many watched on in silent awe, while others waved and called out to her.
The people of Tordale had always admired Raissa, but Alamor saw an even greater appreciation in their eyes than ever before. With the death of King Hokara, Raissa had become a source of inspiration to them. Merely by walking amongst them, she was able to lift their spirits with her beauty, her gentle nature, and her kind, yet enormous heart.
Alamor was especially amazed by the effect she had on the children of Caldeya. They flocked to Raissa as soon as she appeared. Most of the boys and girls were so excited to see her that they completely ignored their parents’ commands to bow or curtsey to the princess. Raissa always dismissed the adults’ concerns, welcoming each boy and girl with open arms and a glowing smile. Some were so young that they were still learning to talk, while others were young adults more so than children, likely just a few years younger than Raissa and Alamor.
They were all equally eager to meet the princess, and Raissa was just as happy to stop and talk with each one of them, laughing and sharing all sorts of advice, jokes, and stories. Alamor eventually lost count of how many hugs and kisses Raissa doled out to them that afternoon, or how many she received from the children.
When the seas of people finally thinned within the city streets, the day had crawled toward sunset. By then, Alamor and Raissa came to the sprawling park in the very heart of Caldeya. Even at twilight, there were plenty of people who ventured into the park to enjoy its grassy lawns and tree-laden pathways, but Raissa soon brought Alamor down a long trail where they at last found peace and quiet as the day drew to its end. Without throngs of the city folk surrounding them in all directions, Raissa was able to convince the royal guards assigned to her that day to allow her and Alamor a little more space. The guards trailed behind them a reasonable distance as they moved throughout the park—close enough that they were still in sight, but far enough that Raissa and Alamor could converse with a degree of privacy.
“Are you sure that no one ever comes down this trail?” Alamor asked as he cocked an eyebrow. “I don’t want to start a conversation only to be interrupted by another group of your admiring subjects people before I can finish three sentences.”
Raissa giggled at Alamor’s deliberately-exaggerated concern. “Trust me, at this time of the day, hardly anyone comes down the trails. This is one that most people don’t even seem to know about.”
“You can add me to that group. I had no idea about this path—and I’ve been to this park at least twenty times!” Alamor directed a grin at Raissa. “Are you hiding something around here?”
“Nothing but peace and quiet,” Raissa answered, a fair amount of sincerity in her voice.
“A spot like this must feel like heaven to you after all you have to put up with right now at the castle.”
Raissa nodded. “As strange as it might sound, it’s often been far more relaxing to be in the middle of the city, surrounded by hundreds of people, than it is to be anywhere inside the castle, lately. Out here, I’m greeted by smiling faces and words of encouragement, rather than with scowls and relentless criticism.”
“You really enjoy being among the people, don’t you?” It was more of a statement than a question.
Raissa could not help but smile. She nodded without even looking at Alamor. “I do,” she confirmed. “I can’t even begin to describe how happy it makes me whenever I see their appreciation.”
“I’d say they enjoy it just as much as you do,” Alamor noted. “I’ve never seen so many kids get as excited to see someone who wasn’t bringing them candy or gifts.”
Raissa was clearly elated to think about the children once more. “They’re all so sweet, I just love them. It’s like they’re all my little brothers and sisters.”
“You always were great with kids,” Alamor added. “Some people just have a gift for that.”
“I guess so. I never grew up with any younger siblings, and I always wished that I could have had one.”
“Look on the bright side—now it’s like you have hundreds,” Alamor told her with a grin, which made Raissa laugh once more.
Twilight had passed into night when the trail finally ended, and they stepped into a large plaza. Branching roads of stone ran across the grassy floor. Benches were set up all across the space beneath trees or beside tiny gardens of colorful flowers and thick bushes. Lantern posts stood where the pathways intersected, their flames producing pockets of light as darkness gradually descended over Caldeya.
As Alamor’s eyes scanned the plaza, he spotted a familiar structure not far off. Its stone makeup was the color of alabaster. Sepia shingles covered both its arched roof, and the roofs of its four towers that rose high above the park. Tall windows of pristine glass lined its walls on all sides.
A host of memories blossomed in Alamor’s mind as he looked upon the Temple of All—a holy sanctuary where the people of Caldeya prayed to the great, unseen powers in the world, in particular, the legendary Sages. While the Spirit Shrines across Tordale were domains strictly for Spiritcasters and those with potential to become one, the Temple of All was open to any person, regardless of magical ability. It was an especially-revered destination for many because it housed a memorial dedicated to Ralu and Xogun, which Alamor and Raissa had visited countless times in the past.
Alamor’s gaze eventually fell upon a sight he wasn’t so familiar with. In the very center of the park was a fountain of glistening white marble. The statue of a serpentine creature rested at the top, a gentle stream of water falling from the creature’s beak. The clear flow dropped down into the first of three levels, where it eventually overflowed to fill up the larger pools beneath.
“When was that built?” Alamor asked as his eyes fell up and down along the fountain.
“About a year ago; they finished it just after you left with Tiroku,” Raissa answered. “Don’t you remember the construction they were doing here in the park at that time?”
“Well, yeah, but I thought they were only putting up things like statues and pillars,” Alamor replied as they came to the fountain. He dipped his hand into the cool, blue water, which sent a refreshing chill running up his arm. He looked around the plaza again, and spotted a statue of black stone across the lawn on the far side of the space. “That definitely wasn’t here the last time I was in the city, either,” he said excitedly, and hastened toward it. “When was this one built?” Alamor asked as they approached the statue.
“Just a few weeks ago…” he heard Raissa answer ruefully.
Alamor immediately sensed the change in Raissa’s demeanor. He looked back at her, noticing that she was several strides behind. “Raissa, is something wrong?” he asked.
She didn’t answer, and she couldn’t even bring herself to look at him or the statue.
Alamor was baffled as he took another glance at the figure. It displayed a tall man of noble appearance. He wore a long coat that fell to his feet, and a thick pelt of fur lay across each shoulder. His expression was stern, yet it suggested tremendous wisdom. He had a thin beard, and a full head of short, precisely-groomed hair that was topped by a crown.
Alamor’s stomach lurched when he realized whom the statue portrayed.
King Arthus Hokara.