Home > Dryad-Born (Whispers from Mirrowen #2)(14)

Dryad-Born (Whispers from Mirrowen #2)(14)
Jeff Wheeler

“Look into my eyes.”

“No,” Phae insisted. “You can steal my memories if I look at you.”

“True. But I can share mine with you as well,” she answered. “I can teach you how to control the magic. You must go soon to Mirrowen, child. You must visit the garden and eat of the fruit. I need someone who can care for this tree. I need you, child.”

Phae continued to back away. “I don’t want any of that.”

“He’s coming!” the Druidecht warned, his eyes tracking the erratic flight of a moth nearby. “He’s coming back this way!”

Phae whirled and ran, fear pounding in her heart. She heard the Druidecht calling after her. She did not care. That forest glen was a trap. The luring words were meant to harm her.

She ran as hard as she could, sprinting through the dead leaves that crackled and split as she passed over them. She ran farther, passing mammoth boulders and dwarf bristlecone. She ran hard until her legs and hips finally revolted and she collapsed in the woods, lost and sobbing.

Exhaustion robbed her completely. Her lungs burned with fire. Her chest heaved and she choked. There was no strength left. She had pushed herself too far. The forest floor seemed to pinwheel beneath her. Dizziness. Somehow, it felt as if she were flying, even though she knew she was not. Spots danced in front of her vision. Her fingers clenched around twigs and leaves.

She wept softly, hearing the crunch of boots approach from behind. Her muscles throbbed and ached. She could not move.

Phae waited, her ears ringing and legs twitching. She heard him stop nearby and waited in anguish to die. The fear, hunger, and fatigue stole away the last of her strength and she fainted.

When she revived, it was dark. The moon had just risen, bathing the world in silver light.

The scar-faced stranger sat by a boulder, staring at her.

“In Silvandom, there is a form of magic, though they do not use that word to describe it. In that kingdom, it is called keramat—a Vaettir word that can be translated into our tongue as ‘miracle.’ They are more open in discussing their beliefs than the Druidecht are. I have come to learn that there are various powers of keramat. Some can heal by touch. Others are known to travel great distances in a short time. One might even say that the Vaettir’s ability to float in the air is keramat. But the greatest gift they possess is the power to revive the dead. It is an awesome power but it comes at a dreadful cost.”

—Possidius Adeodat, Archivist of Kenatos

Annon of Wayland was only eighteen. He stared out the smooth glass window into the sculpted gardens. He was despairing, wondering how it would ever be possible that he, a young Druidecht, would be able to outthink and outmaneuver the Arch-Rike of Kenatos. His uncle, Tyrus of Kenatos, had vanished with the man the Arch-Rike sent to kill him. Logic insisted that he consider Tyrus dead.

In a bizarre twist in his life, the man who had pretended for years to be his uncle, who had abandoned him as a baby to be raised by Druidecht, had endowed Annon with a quest to destroy the Plagues that threatened the kingdoms. It was a quest Tyrus had failed to fulfill. How could Annon be expected to succeed?

He sighed deeply, trying to contain his conflicted feelings. In the days since Tyrus’s disappearance with the Kishion, his confidence had begun to wane. The task he had been given felt beyond daunting. Yet he was not alone in the struggle. He had powerful allies now. He thought about them, one by one.

Prince Aransetis was the greatest ally. He was a Vaettir prince from Silvandom. He had the wealth and connections to assist. He was like no prince that Annon could imagine. He wore the black cassock of a Rike of Seithrall in order to better understand the thinking of his enemy. Annon glanced down at his own clothing, taken from a dead Rike of Seithrall just days ago. It was a peculiar feeling, but Aransetis was wise. Just wearing the robes and the ring made him feel different. It changed, however subtly, his way of thinking. Clothing was a symbol and a powerful one.

Another ally was the Prince’s cousin, a girl named Khiara Shaliah. In Silvandom she was a healer with a notable reputation. She was a meek girl, with long black hair and fine Vaettir features, sloping eyes and dark skin. There was some unspoken angst between her and her cousin. Annon felt it in the way she looked at him. It had never been spoken of, though, and Annon knew too little about customs in Silvandom to risk prying.

Then there was Erasmus. Annon glanced at the Preachán and nearly chuckled. He was the smartest man Annon had ever met, his memory and ability to calculate were freakish. He was from Havenrook, a detestable land that Annon hoped he would never need to trespass again. Erasmus looked like a common man of his race, except his eyes were not exactly aligned and it was not easy to determine what he was looking at. He also had the annoying habit of pronouncing predictions. Still, his skills would be invaluable.

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