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Guairu ae Chatri


The following excerpt is from Gùairu ae Chatri: King of Magic,
© D.M. Rosner.
Sword of Valor image © D.M. Rosner.
Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.



What Others are Saying

Piers Anthony, Xanth series author:
Gùairu ae Chatri: King of Magic is the story of Kàil, abruptly thrown into the dangers and intrigues of kingship when his father is killed by a curse. Now the curse means to kill Kàil too. He has to fight his way through physical, magical, and emotional threats just to stay alive, let alone defeat the forces arrayed against him. This is an intriguing story with some original twists; you never can be sure where it will go next.


Patrick Matthews, Dragon Run author:
Gùairu ae Chatri: King of Magic hits all the fantasy high notes: a well-developed world, a complex and original system of magic, and a hero we can all cheer for. It starts out with young Kàil ascending to the throne, only to discover that he's the new target of an ancestral curse that has been killing off his line for generations. Before he can wrap his head around what's going on, the curse breaks free of its constraints and threatens to tear down his entire kingdom.
When he is suspected to be at the heart of an ancient prophecy which foretells the destruction of the courts of magic, he is plunged into treachery and war.
As Kàil struggles to save his kingdom and come to terms with the magic cultures into which he is inadvertently drawn, he finds danger and confusion at every turn.
Itís a fantastic premise for a story, and Dawn tells it with a style and smoothness that carries the reader along from one amazing moment to the next.



Gùairu ae Chatri
(King of Magic)

by D.M. Rosner


Book I: Bayàt Innaius

(The Ancient Knowledge)

Prologue

Warm midnight winds fed the bonfire and bent sideways the flames of a thousand or more red candles surrounding it. Burning herbs in a rough, stone bowl lent bitterness to air already thick with the scent of aged firewood and the steady rhythm of Shravàt drums.

Kàil stretched his aching back, keeping the motion as imperceptible as possible. Perspiration trickled down his spine, but he continued to kneel, straight and solemn, determined to conceal all signs of discomfort.

His fatherís body lay on the pillared black marble altar nearby, silhouetted against the fire. Breezes rippled the thin purple shroud draped over the corpse of the middle-aged man, and tangled the winding cords of the matching bereavement flags strung about the altarís base. Kàil watched the changing patterns of light and motion, wishing he could feel some measure of sorrow. His mind wandered to his motherís funeral ten years before when, as a child of nine, he had knelt before this very altar, screaming as if his soul had been torn from his body. There had been no hand ready to comfort him, not a word spoken to help him cope with the grief. His world had ended, and his father knelt beside him, cold and distant.

His fatherís sudden death left him with a responsibility he had not expected to deal with for many more years, and wholly unprepared for the Rite of Passing itself. No one who knew of the Rite spoke of it, enshrouding it in a dark mystery that sat foul in his stomach. Waiting all night long was hard enough, but not knowing what to expect was far worse.

He forced himself to turn away before his expression reflected his state of mind, looking instead into the shadowed mass stretching out around him.

For once, the shifting faces in the darkness beyond the fireís reach were not the horrid visions that regularly haunted him in sleep and shadow. These were real people, thousands come to mourn the loss of their leader, to place their candles and allegiance before the Lordmasterís only heir. In this, they were more terrifying than the worst of his dreams, and a familiar cold apprehension tightened his chest. What will become of these people if I fail?

He searched the crowd for the one man who possessed the serenity he could only emulate.

Jàon owed duty to no one within the borders of Rydhakk—there was no candle presented by him, no obligation for him to even attend. Still, Kàil hoped for a glimpse of him, a bit of light in the darkness. It was a vain hope, he knew. This was what Jàon would have called a defining moment, a time when Kàil must stand on his own or fall, and his teacher was always conspicuously absent at such times. Unlike his father, however, Jàon was always there for him once the moment had passed.

The drums ceased, leaving behind an unnerving quiet, accentuated by the roar of the bonfire and the slapping of flags against the altar. Kàilís apprehension neared panic. He clenched his jaw and paced his breathing in an effort to maintain his faltering appearance of calm, when all he wanted was to run, to let the responsibility fall on someone elseís shoulders.

He looked at his fatherís body.

Fresh anger rose within him. No. If I fail, it will at least be in making the effort, not hiding from the world the way you did. The sorceress Ledayah wove her way through the field of red candles to stand beside Kàil, a carved ivory chalice in her hands. He eyed it uncomfortably, wondering what sort of magic lurked within.

She sang, her voice clear but the words foreign, her swaying hips occasionally brushing Kàilís shoulder as she circled him; it might have been enticing, had it not been for the menace of that cup. He wished she would give him more space.

The song grew louder with the addition of pipes, and each beat of the Shravŗt drums chipped away at his resolve. I will show no weakness, he told himself, but could not stop his body from tensing when Ledayah held the chalice to the stars.

Still singing, she lowered the cup and offered it to him.

Warm in his hands, the brew smelled unexpectedly welcoming, like mulled cider. He braced himself and drank deeply.

Sweet liquid flooded him with comfort, easing his anxiety and providing a sense of peace like nothing he had ever experienced. He sank into a fog of drink, herbal smoke, and strange, pounding music, leaving him oddly distanced from the events around him.

Ledayah held his fatherís crown skyward. Silver and sapphires glinted in the firelight, and her song seemed to bear his spirit with it when she raised her voice to the heavens.

Then among her lyrics, he heard the words he had dreaded since his fatherís death—Bayàt Innaius. Before he could react, she slipped the crown onto his head.

His scream shattered all pretense. White-hot pain ripped through him as the Bayàt Innaius, the Ancient Knowledge possessed by generations of Rydhakkís Lordmasters, coursed like fiery liquid through his head. All thought, all sense of time, was stripped from him while age-old memories seared their way into the deepest recesses of his mind. Everything around him melted into a brilliant amber glow; he felt his head hit the flagstone, but it was inconsequential next to the anguish inside. He squeezed his skull between his hands as if to crush it, would have died if given the choice, but there was no escape from his suffering. Pain consumed all sense of time, and all thoughts but one: Please, let it end.

When at last he was released from the spellís agonizing grip, he remained slumped at Ledayahís dancing feet. Fevered music assaulted him. The ivory chalice lay shattered on the vibrating ground.

Nauseous, too weak to stand, and still panting for breath, he lifted his aching head to look into the shadows of the bonfire, into the faces of Rydhakk. Each turned respectfully away from his, but not before he saw the wide-eyed awe every one of them shared. Through the lingering pain, through the haze of Ledayahís herb smoke and mind-numbing drink, he saw their faces with odd clarity, and recognized for the first time the true power that came with the title of Lordmaster.



All text and images © D.M. Rosner. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


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