Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Lorth of Ostarin is an assassin trained by a wizard unknown to his kind. He is paid very well to employ both the primeval darkness of a hunter and the ordered light of a mage, an uneasy combination he does not question until he returns home after a long assignment and trips into a turbid river of war, politics and the violation of all he holds dear. Lawless and adept, he picks no sides and takes no prisoners. When his wolfish ways get him imprisoned for crimes he did not commit, he discovers the deeper source of his ability and falls in love with a priestess who frees him to his fate. But the rift in his heart widens under the forces of love, loyalty and the occupation of his realm by a warlord who honors neither hunters nor wizards. To reclaim his homeland, Lorth must bow his head to death itself, a sacrifice that will transform him into the most powerful hunter the land has ever known.
Warm rain caressed the babargon trees that crouched on the rise overlooking the Anglorean outpost deep in the Tarthian jungle. In a land with no winter, the autumnal equinox had just passed; the new moon hung like a stagnant pool above the woolen cloud cover. As night stole the last of the light, fog settled into the shadows, muting voices, hiding movement and sinking its teeth into the imaginations of tired, wounded warriors.
An assassin gazed upon the captain's tent with the patience of a praying mantis. He did not need light to know where it stood. Unseen and unknown to all but the few who paid him, his tall, lean body draped between the weeping trees, he waited, his mind caressing the glimmering watch-web he had cast around his post to warn him of any unwitting intrusion.
In his homeland of Ostarin far to the north, they called him a hunter. Here, they called him kav'tib, which in their fluid tongue meant warlock, in no good terms. Icaros, the wizard who had raised him after the earth took his mother away, once said, "There is more to being a wizard than pretty tricks! The Keepers of the Eye know the minds of gods."
The hunter was far from that. But his tricks, such as they were, proved good enough for the Tarthian nobility. They had hired him for being lawless and without loyalties, a servant of the Old One, the primeval, feminine force of cycles, birth and death who knew all things even beyond the timeless ramparts of gods. Even so, he would not be the most skillful, highest paid assassin in Sourcesee without the things Icaros had taught him. He knew things beyond his multifaceted training as a warrior, things only wizards knew.
For seven years, he had hired out his services to the warlords of Tarth, an empire of wet, wooded lands that had as many boats as carts, a desolation of brackish marshes, towns on stilts, jungles dripping with moss and the warm, fragrant nectars of constant rain. All manner of life grew here, every kind of creature that crept, slithered, swam or flew, humans notwithstanding. These were bronze-skinned, tall, with rounded noses and deep-set eyes the color of swamps, eyes that knew the mysteries of things that flowed. Dominated by the Great Reson Fen near the borders of Anglorea, Tarth was known for its concoctions, everything from rich, heady drinks to narcotics, medicines—and of course, poisons.
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About the Author:
F.T. McKinstry grew up studying music and classical literature, and at a young age developed a deep love for fantasy and the esoteric, of which she was an avid reader. J.R.R. Tolkien was her most powerful influence. With a background in computer electronics and software development, she wrote and illustrated technical documentation for many years, during which time she created the fantasy world of Ealiron. A passion for fairy tales and a lifelong study of mythology, plant and animal lore, Celtic legend, shamanism, psychology and mysticism provide inspiration and scope for her work.