SAMPLE CHAPTERS & ARTWORK UPDATES

CHAPTER 1

 

Wisdom had not expected a large gathering. Curious shop keepers from the nearby town of   Trully brought their families to witness his first public representation as a Healer. Among the townspeople were clansmen, their faces eagerly accepting change to their once solitary existence.

Only a few weeks had passed since Wisdom had taken over the abandoned Eastern Clan. Centrally located in the Realm of Trully, he had successfully brought the surrounding clans back together after years of distrust and segregation. As he knelt upon the path and prepared to connect his magical energies to Nature, he listened to the surrounding clan leaders keeping the crowd at a distance. A smile spread across his face. Only a few weeks before, the leaders had refused to speak to one another. Now they did so with vigor!

He passed a pale hand over the tangle of vines and interwoven, dry raffia stems. A small amount of energy eased from his fingertips into the soil. The response from Nature was equally as gentle. Connections of both energies was pure ecstasy. Magic coursed through his veins in a soothing flow of transforming visuals sent mostly through thought. In his mind, he could see the path he knelt upon widen as it branched from the main road. It led into the nearby forest where the Western Clan lay hidden. Around him tree trunks groaned, their roots sinking further into the earth. Vines pulled aside loose stone while larger pieces rose to the surface to create a smooth walkway. Overhanging foliage slithered up into the canopy. Lastly, he called forth a line of blooming flora to reside on either side of the new road. The result caused a positive reaction from the crowd behind him.

Slowly, Wisdom stood, giving time for the connection with Nature to end. Then he turned to the awaiting group and took a bow. He combed a few fingers through his pallid curls to set them back in place.

Applause and whistles met his pointed ears. One flicked forward at the approach of Alexander, leader of the Western Clan.

“It’s exactly as it was,” Alexander complimented. “Like nothing’s changed!”

In contrast to the albino prince, Alexander’s chestnut hair and dusky skin complexion put him right at home within the wooded area. By his side hung a crossbow, with an accompanying pouch containing the bolts. As Wisdom observed, even his earthen-toned outfit would blend into the environment if needed.

“Nature has a way of backtracking layers of history,” Wisdom replied. “If I had asked her to pull further back, this road wouldn’t be here.” He tapped a foot on the freshly laid stone forming two lines down the center of the road.

“Well done!” Leader of the Mystics, Nemmerel, approached with the doctor Nickademis at his side. The two seemed inseparable since the Mystic leader had recovered from his illness. Both had matching grey beards. “I can see time already turning back. The realm will be prosperous before too long.”

“We’ll expect no less of you, of course,” Nickademis threw in a hint of sarcasm. As residing doctor with the Mystics, Nickademis had given the prince a hard time. It was not until recently that the doctor’s dour manner was finally tamed.

Wisdom’s cheeks flushed with pride. Praise from the doctor was welcome.

As do we, came the public thought of Mididus, leader of the Simpletons. The mind-reader stepped from his position as director of the crowd to join the small group of leaders. His thoughts conversed in their minds instead of speaking out load, something that was new to most everyone. Rumors had spread that he Simpletons were mute. Instead, they conversed solely in thought, making them the best mind-manipulators Wisdom had ever encountered.

And I thought my kind were mentally powerful, the prince thought with a secretive smile. Not anymore.

A petite figure drew the prince’s attention. With a slender frame and dark wavy hair, Glory seemed to ensnare him in a net of charms every time he gazed upon her. He ignored the nudging of elbows from his fellow companions; his growing love interest was too obvious to hide.

“How’s that for a gardening job?” Wisdom teased.

Glory gave a wide grin of approval. “Now just keep your other promises, and you’ll be set.” She directed his attention toward the Eastern Clan. “There’s also a messenger waiting for you. One of Lord Gracie’s, I believe.”

“From the Grand Master?” Alexander flicked his gaze to the prince. “You have connections to Luxor?”

“Well, not entirely,” Wisdom replied. “Would you excuse me, please?”

At a nod, he made his way toward the clan with Glory at his side. As he passed by some of the townspeople, he paused to thank them for their support. Most of the group had dispersed, but a few stayed to mingle with various clan members. Wisdom watched them with growing satisfaction that he had done the right thing.

The road leading to the Western Clan was now accessible by all. Alexander had let Nature overtake it to hide the clan’s location. Mostly, it had deterred those sent from the Schevolsky family living on the other side of town. Their history with the clans made owning the central Eastern Clan a task, for it was the Schevolsky family who had last owned it. With their misuse of money, the clans fell to quarreling, and eventually refused to speak to one another.

“I caught the last bit before the vines cleared from the road,” Glory said as she walked alongside the prince, a white dress swishing around her ankles with each step. “You did well.”

“Thank you.” He flashed a broad grin. “I figured that if people were coming and going from town, that the clans might as well look presentable.” His sapphire eyes met her maple-brown gaze.

“Well, will you look at that?” The verbal interruption forced the two to break eye contact. When they looked up the path, a white-winged harpy puffed up his neck and facial feathers in greeting. A wing opened to display its cream underside, with matching color patterned across the face and on the shoulders. A few black stripes mixed in to resemble a raccoon’s appearance.

Talons tapped over some loose pebbles when the harpy stepped forward. Although clothing was not a necessity, this one wore a vest of the finest quality. Its dark color complemented the harpy’s light skin and feathers as it clutched a parcel wrapped in brown paper between taloned fingers.

“Megas!” Wisdom instantly recognized Lord Gracie’s personal servant. “It’s good to see you again. How’s the wing?”

The harpy grinned and spread both wings, easily stretching the width of the road. As they folded behind his back, they faded from view. Though the harpy had no access to actual magic, the illusion helped in crowded areas where large wings could cause distraction.

“Never better!” Megas’ feathering flattened, giving him an almost human appearance. He held out the package for the prince to take. “Lord Gracie instructed me to give this to a Master Wisdom. So that’s you now, huh?”

“You are correct. Thank you.” Wisdom took the package with care, rotating it slightly to examine its irregular shape.

“Whatever happened to Keith?” Megas asked, scanning his friend’s new look. Accustomed to the layered look of humans, Wisdom’s rich attire was something he had not expected.

“I don’t use the other name anymore because of…um” He paused and glanced at Glory, trying to find the right words.

She placed a hand over his in reassurance. With a smile, she answered for him.

“It’s just a part of becoming clan leader. He’s a prince now. Change is expected.”

Thank you, Wisdom thought to her. I didn’t want to mention slavery in front of him.

“Change indeed,” Megas said without noticing anything amiss. “I’m glad things have settled down for you, considering what you’ve been through.” He motioned to Glory. “My Lady, you look simply stunning! Your father must be very proud of you.”

“He is!” Glory answered without hesitation. “I’m awaiting word from him now. Hopefully, it’ll be soon.”

Megas tapped the package with a talon. “There may something inside the package. Lord Gracie informed me to be extra careful with it. I got here as soon as possible. Right breezy out today.”

“Thank you again,” Wisdom replied. “Will you give my gratitude to Lord Gracie?”

“Always!” Megas turned to leave. “Oh, and Nicolas says hello!” He pulled himself into flight with the pump of his wings, leaving the two below covering their faces against the dust stirred around them.

Wisdom and Glory watched the harpy sail through the sky with ease. At last, Glory shook her head.

“And to think you can do the same. It sickens me!” She laughed.

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