After many years of work, my time writing The Legend of Light trilogy is nearing its end. Myself and my amazing team of proofreaders are deep into the editing process on the final book’s manuscript, which I completed the first draft of earlier this year. Book 3, Radiant Fate, is coming together nicely, and while I cannot provide a guaranteed release date at this moment, I am fairly confident that it will debut sometime in December. As with the other books in the series, it be available on Amazon in print and Kindle format.
For the readers who have already plowed through the first two books in the trilogy, I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that I’ll be providing previews on this page, as well as the first five chapters to book over at The Geekiverse, along with other behind the scenes info on all of our social media pages for The Legend of Light. Today I bring you the first excerpt from Radiant Fate, this particular passage focusing on the Baroso, the race of beings known as “bear-men” to other living creatures in the land of Tordale. The Baroso chieftain Tauroc and the rest of the Rockclaw Tribe will figure prominently in the final book, with their way of life getting special attention. Mistaken by the other races of Tordale as being savage, the Rockclaw Tribe live a very holistic existence and possess a rich system of spiritual beliefs, some of which are featured in the excerpt below.
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Other members of the Rockclaw Tribe eventually came to the Long Den. This time, they were all she-bears, each one with a tray of food or an array of healing supplies in their paws. The food was little more than rations of fruits and vegetables, but the offerings were more than welcomed by Alamor’s tired party. They were just as appreciative to be tended to by the Baroso healers. Although none of them were gravely injured, most among their numbers had sustained a handful of cuts, scrapes, or bruises from the battle earlier in the day.
The she-bears treated their various injuries with all manner of medicines concocted from resources native to the surrounding mountains: disinfecting herbs for lacerations, soothing salves for scrapes, and protective bandages for any sort of abrasion.
The care and hospitality that the she-bears showed was a drastic change in behavior from what Alamor expected after first seeing them. When he and his company entered Rockclaw Rise, all of the Baroso—not merely the she-bears—seemed leery to share their home. There had been evident fear in their eyes as their chieftain brought a horde of strangers into their midst.
They now approached Alamor and his companions with as much generosity as Alamor had encountered in the entirety of his arduous journey. When the she-bears arrived at the Long Den to distribute food and minister treatment to the injured, Alamor assumed that they were putting on a front, perhaps because they had been ordered to tend to his party.
But even after they were finished, the she-bears did not make a hasty exit. Rather, they stayed with their new guests throughout the afternoon, offering their company to tell more of the Baroso ways or to hear stories from the many participants in the quest to fulfill the Legend of Light. They only got up to leave when twilight began to fall across the mountains, and they urged Alamor and his companions to join them. The she-bears led their guests further into the village, bringing them to a roaring bonfire which the entire Rockclaw Tribe gathered around.
The fire burned within a wide pit dug into the ground. The flames were so immense that it was difficult to even make out the logs of timber that fueled their heat. Alamor could feel their warm touch even as he stood some thirty yards away. He imagined that a blaze like this was enough to heat the ridges from one end to the other in the middle of winter.
Several Baroso began to carry out baskets filled with fruits and vegetables, like what the she-bears brought into the Longhouse—berries, apples, leeks, pears, mushrooms. They also brought more hearty morsels for the congregation to feast on. Some heaved huge iron cauldrons which were filled with some form soup. Steam billowed from the cauldrons and high into the air as their bearers hauled them through the crowds. Alamor could smell the soup’s inviting aroma even as the Baroso who handed it out stood on the opposite side of the bonfire from his companions.
Other Baroso carried entire roasted salmons on wooden skewers. Each salmon was a huge fish, as long from head to aft-fin as one of the Baroso warrior’s arms. The slabs that the Baroso cut from the salmon and then handed out individually were larger than most fish Alamor had ever seen in one of the streams, rivers, or ponds back on the Plains of Oston.
When all of the food had been passed out, everyone’s plate was entirely covered. There was not even room to hold their stone bowls of soup or mugs for the pristine water that the Baroso had drawn from a nearby spring. Yet, even as the Baroso servers finished putting away all of the wares that they brought the food on, Alamor noticed that not one Baroso so much as touched the meal that sat on their plates before them.
“Wait to start eating, everyone,” Tiroku implored their company, as if he had read Alamor’s mind. “It is not proper among the Baroso to actually begin a feast until they have prayed.”
Just a few moments later, Tauroc, Kamal, and a handful of other Baroso gathered a few yards from the bonfire, in the very center of the congregation. All other conversations throughout the Rockclaw Tribe ceased. It seemed that not one, not even any of the young cubs, spared a glance at their dinner. All eyes were riveted to Tauroc, the Baroso’s attention firmly placed upon their solemn chieftain.
“This is truly a night for great celebration,” Tauroc eventually declared, his powerful voice reaching across the ridges. “This is the first time in many weeks that the Rockclaw Tribe has gathered as one to feast—this meal that we will share together represents more than just the rewards for our labor. It represents that our tribe has been rejoined. No longer is the Rockclaw Tribe separated by vast distances, and no longer are we darkened by the wickedness that once threatened us. We do not have to fear, any longer, if one among us will return home safely from a perilous task. We are one family, again.” Tauroc’s somber eyes fell to Alamor and the others. For a brief moment, it seemed that Tauroc’s expression brightened. “We also celebrate that we have encountered brave, and noble allies today, who we can learn much from. Tonight, we welcome these allies into our own home, and we join with them to endure and to overcome the strife that has befallen this land. May this feast serve to establish the bond that the Rockclaw Tribe now forms with the Hokara children and their companions.”
Tauroc fell silent. He was unable to look upon Alamor and the others any longer. Whatever fleeting sense of cheer may have once dwelled in his eyes was swiftly overtaken by regret.
“But, while we celebrate and offer our gratitude for many things tonight, we also mourn many losses. Tonight, we all mourn those Baroso who have perished in recent days to ensure the safety and longevity of our tribe—our family. There have also been many beings beyond the Rockclaw Tribe who have met their end because of the same enemy we have encountered. Through the evil machinations of our enemy, some of those beings met their end at the hands of a Rockclaw Baroso. I alone bear responsibility for their deaths, and I can only plead that our new allies trust that I, and all of the Rockclaw Tribe regret what untimely fates came to them. Not only do we mourn their deaths, but we Baroso now strive to make amends. Today, when the Rockclaw Baroso joined in battle with humans, Aesur, and Bachus, the Rockclaw Tribe began down a new path. We now fight to protect all of Tordale’s living creatures threatened by the enemy that brings us together.”
Tauroc paused and turned his gaze to the dark, star-laden sky over the mountains.
“Let us call to Baythor, giving thanks for our unions both old and new, offering sorrow for the fallen, and asking for strength in the days to come.”
To Alamor’s eyes, it seemed that Tauroc took a deep breath. The next moment, the Rockclaw chieftain released an undulating bellow that rang out across the ridges. One by one, Kamal and the other Baroso threw their heads back and uttered a similar cry, until they had all joined into a primal chorus. Their cries took on different pitches and tones while they continued, and their heads swayed back and forth as their throats expelled all manner of different roars and howls that seemed to convey a spectrum of emotions. It did not sound all that different from when humans sang.
“Tiroku, are they speaking in a different language right now?” Tridian whispered, echoing a question that was on Alamor’s—and probably many other’s—minds at the moment.
“Somewhat,” Tiroku answered. “This is the same kind of ‘tongue’ that wild bears apparently use to communicate with one another. I do not understand all that much of it, but I have been able to recognize one phrase that they’ve repeated more than once during this hymn. If I am hearing it right, it goes – ‘Baythor, grant us the freedom that all the living deserve, and may that freedom bring balance to our world’.”
“Is it similar to the way that Queen Tsunari communicated with Samuras?” Tridian asked.
“Quite similar, actually. Both Tauroc and Kamal explained to me years ago that all Baroso have some of those feral instincts from wild bears, and throughout time, the Rockclaw Tribe has gone to great lengths to preserve those instincts. All generations of Rockclaw Baroso are expected to understand that feral language, both to communicate with wild beasts, and also with one another. While Baroso are out scouting or in battle, they often use this form of speech to exchange messages with one another that no other beings would ever be able to interpret.”
“So, they learn two different languages, essentially?”
“In a way, yes.”
“That’s amazing,” the Prince of Tordale said, the astonishment evident in his voice. “It’s hard enough to learn just one while you’re young. Most humans couldn’t learn a second language if they tried. I know I would struggle with it.”
“As would I,” Tiroku admitted. “It’s a testament that the Baroso are far from the savage creatures that myths and rumors make them out to be. The members of the Rockclaw Tribe are a very wise and intelligent community.”
“Maybe they’ll be of some great help to us, after all,” Tridian mused.
Tiroku nodded. “I think they will be.”
When Tauroc and his kin finished their hymn, the chieftain gave his tribe permission to begin their feast. At once, the somber mood that pervaded the gathering was swept away in a roar of cheer and merriment from the Baroso. They struck up loud conversations with one another even as they dove into their meals. Laughter, jokes, and songs filled the air about the bonfire and reached all the way to the trails surrounding the ridges.
Alamor and his company ate their offerings with much less gaiety. There were no group-wide conversations or jovial outbursts, only casual exchanges made between those who sat directly next to one another. For Alamor’s part, he was content to eat his dinner in silence. Even as his friends shared words just a few feet from him, he had no interest in adding his own thoughts.
Whatever colloquy that his group made amongst one another came to an end when Tauroc, Kamal, and five other Baroso warriors approached. The Baroso all carried their dinners with them, and took a seat on the grassy floor just in front of where Alamor sat with his friends.
Despite having more than two dozen uncertain stares fall over him at once, Tauroc faced Alamor’s company with clear confidence. “I want all of you to know that everything I said before the feast about our tribe joining with your cause, and fighting to stop Baldaron—it’s all entirely sincere,” he told them. “And I say that with far more assurance than just my own. I say it with my entire tribe’s.”
Several glances were exchanged between Alamor, Raissa, Tiroku, and the others. Some showed confusion; others showed more intrigue.
“While you rested in the Long Den, I spoke with much of my tribe, from our elders to some of our youngest cubs,” Tauroc continued. “I explained to them what happened earlier today. They understand the consequences of our intervention in that battle between you and Baldaron’s forces.”
“That you’ve become enemies of Baldaron just as much as we are,” Tiroku said, as though finishing Tauroc’s thought.
The Rockclaw chieftain nodded. “What I and my fellow warriors did earlier today erased any pact that may have still stood between us and Baldaron. By now, he probably knows that we betrayed our agreement. He is going to march his army against us just as he does against all of you.”
“How did your tribe take the news?” Tiroku asked.
“Very differently from the way that most creatures would,” Tauroc answered, a hint of amusement in his voice. “Many were actually happy to hear it.”
It was not an explanation that Alamor exactly expected to hear. Judging by the reactions of some of his friends, he was not the only one who felt that way.
Joth, however, seemed to understand the sentiment. “Your tribe would rather be right in the thick of this conflict rather than sit by idly, am I right?”
“You are,” Tauroc confirmed. “By finally turning against Baldaron and provoking him, it forces my tribe to do precisely what so many of them wanted to do in the first place—fight back. My prior decision to submit to Baldaron in exchange for our safety was unpopular among the rest of my tribe. This new situation we find ourselves in comes as a great relief to most Baroso. They feel as though they’ve been set free, and there’s no feeling that a Baroso longs for more than freedom.”
“So, what do you and your fellow Baroso do now, then?” Tiroku asked. There was unmistakable concern in the Champion of Light’s voice.
Tauroc’s eyes briefly scanned his surroundings. “The first thing we’ll do is leave Rockclaw Rise,” he answered. “Baldaron knows how to get here, and if what you said before about his armies converging onto the Tower Mountains is true, he’ll more than likely step foot here again, very soon. Whenever that happens, we can’t be around to see it. Our tribe could hardly withstand an assault from a portion of his force; we’d never have a chance at surviving an encounter with the entirety of his army. That’s why we must get away from here and retreat to someplace safer, where we can organize our plan of attack, and ensure that our cubs, elders, she-bears, and other Baroso not capable of fighting are protected. I felt it better left unsaid when I addressed you and my tribe before we began eating, but this feast is also something of a way for us to enjoy one last night of peace here at Rockclaw Rise before we must leave and thrust ourselves into this fight. ”