Daughter of Dragons (The Kaunovalta Trilogy, Book III)
Published May 9, 2012
Purchase: ebook Daughter of Dragons from Amazon
Lost in the depths of Dweorgaheim, surrounded by foes, Ally finds friends and allies in unexpected places. As she struggles to reach Underdarrow and the First Forge in order to keep her oath, names from her past reappear to aid her. Locked in a duel to the death with the unchecked hordes of an abomination from beyond the walls of the world, Ally struggles with love and loss, and begins to understand both the true nature and limitless scope of the power that lies within her, and just how costly realizing that power might be.
“This is too easy,” Hax muttered. With a swift gesture and a shouted incantation, she unleashed another burst of flame against the creatures gathering opposite them. She had slain hundreds; but instead of slaking her bloodlust, each new explosion, each blast of cleansing, purging fire, only made her hungrier for the next spell. The smells of slaughter – chiefly bile and burnt flesh – both nauseated and exhilarated her; there was something potent and immensely satisfying about it all. Her power rampaged through her, limitless and ready to her touch, eager to be released to burn and kill and destroy.
She could feel the blood-lust rising in her, and welcomed it.
“Stay focused,” Thanos said calmly. “Choose your targets carefully. And remember to enunciate. We don’t need any misfires out here.”
“Really?” Hax laughed. She closed her eyes and shouted “Taikanuoli!” Glimmering argent darts burst from her fingertips, flashed across the crevasse, and felled two more foes.
“Really,” the warcaster sighed. “This is no time for showing off, girl!” Holding his clenched fists together before his furrowed brow, he summoned his strength, and cried, “Kärventää Tordenrässk!”
The sudden release of so much arcane energy staggered Hax, rocking her back on her heels. Before her eyes, the air above the opposite ledge thickened and congealed, growing darker by degrees. In the space of a heartbeat, a vast thunderhead formed, sooty-black and shot through with glimmers of red. Thanos spread his fingers…and the thunderhead burst.
A crack of thunder split the air, followed instantly by the hungry roar of flame. Bolts of fire plummeted from the cloud, blasting into the milling figures beneath them. Smoke and shrieks of pain arose from the crowd as the inferno mounted, consuming everything it touched. Those at the outermost edge of the crowd…they were the worst. The warcaster’s spell had afflicted the whole of the plateau, wounding hundreds, but killing none. The agonized cacophony that arose from the mass of charred, tormented flesh was deafening.
And then, from the centre of the crowd, came a blast of pure, white light so intense that it left violet afterimages lingering in Hax’s vision. A wave of power – ravenous, thirsty for life – blasted outwards, washing across the crevasse, bringing with it
…She gasped; a giant’s fist squeezed her skull, and the shimmering webs of power that she had conjured to protect her from the enemy snapped like cotton threads in a cyclone…
…Thanos staggered and put his hands to his head, shrieking in agony, and collapsed to the ground. The river of flame protecting the bridge wavered and died.
Hax blinked, clawing at her temples, trying to make the stabbing agony stop. Her head was pounding mercilessly. Bright blood poured from her nostrils, running down her chin and drenching her chemise.
…yells of triumph…screams of rage and hunger…
She stumbled, but caught herself; tasted copper and smelt smoke like burning bread.
…the bridge rang with shuffling footsteps…
Thanos rolled on the ground, blind with pain. “Kaaarick!” Blood ran freely from his ears and nostrils, staining his tabard.
…the rapid twang of the half-elf’s bowstring, followed periodically by the deeper, more metallic thungk from the cable of Wynstan’s crossbow.
She was on her knees now. She glanced up. It was the half-elf. She couldn’t speak; her lips moved, but there was no breath in her lungs. Her upper lip felt hot and cold. She touched it with her tongue, and tasted blood.
“Ally!” Breygon yelled, grasping her by the shoulder. “Are you all right?”
Her vision blurred. She wavered and nearly fell.
…thunderous footfalls, fiendish howling, blood oh the pain the pain…
She felt a burning in her cheek and, realizing that he had slapped her, struggled to master herself. She looked up. Breygon had resumed firing. He had emptied her quiver and had begun on his own. His hands blurred as he loosed arrow after arrow into the crowd of unnatural terrors swarming across the bridge. Bodies fell to left and right, cluttering the bridge surface, or plummeting into the gorge.
…pounding footfalls… “Ab dweorgaheer ic dweorgafolk!”
She stumbled to her feet, hands pressed to her temples. She couldn’t…
…“Stand down, soldier!” “Not today, chief!” “Karrick!”…
“Ally!” The half-elf again. “What was that?”
… “Wynstan! Ceorlamann!!”
She struggled to form words. The throbbing pain! “Tai…taiko…suolatesärkeän,” she gasped.
… “Hello, Wynstan.” “Hello, langléasere.” “I know what that means, stubby.” “Never doubted it. Did you plan to fight with that bodkin? Or did you bring a real weapon?”…
“What does that mean?” the ranger shouted.
…I don’t understand! There’s no latch! It’s as if it’s not…not a…a door…
“It’s a…it’s a disjunction!” she gasped. “A b-b-breaking of…of the…the f-flux!” The world spun, and she staggered again, retching.
The light…the terrible, consuming light…
And then, against that backdrop of chaos, blood and pain, the strands of the flux gathered suddenly, binding together with incredible power…power such as Hax had never before seen, nor could ever even have imagined. The air turned pale with energy, the sinews of the universe knotting, twisting and exploding before her eyes. Waves of arcane might blasted from the juncture, blowing her hair into streamers like a gale. Thunder gathered, mounted, broke, and smote the stone with lightnings of unutterable fury. The nerves in her shoulders, her very mind itself, recoiled from so flagrant a display of might.
A single sun-bright point burst in the midst of the crashing fury of magic. In an instant it had expanded into a circle of brilliant luminescence, a ring of white fire standing on the stones near the great Gate, bordered in flickering bolts of force. Shuddering waves of mana scorched the air, leaving behind them a stench like that which followed a thunderstorm, shaking the stone of the mesa, causing the walls of Níestgrafet to ring, the great bone cairns to splinter and crack, and razor-edged shards of stone to burst from the ancient walls.
White fire boiled from the glimmering ring, climbing into billowing clouds of smoke and silver flame that rose like a gathering storm. And from within that blinding, burning maelstrom stepped a tall figure, slender, garbed and hooded all in black.
The newcomer regarded the chaos of the plateau with seeming dispassion. Long-fingered hands reached up and threw back the hood.
“Excellent,” Qaramyn muttered happily, taking in the scene and the party’s desperate straits in single sweeping glance. “Impeccable timing.”