Wow! Hey kids, I got really lucky and was offered a chance to post an excerpt from David B. Coe’s Children of the Amarid to follow yesterday’s post. Enjoy!
Baden lay down beside the fire, and Jaryd did the same, not bothering this night to pull out his sleeping roll. The Owl-Master’s breathing soon slipped into a slow, even rhythm, but Jaryd lay awake for a long time. He thought about Amarid and Theron; about spirits and what it meant to be condemned to eternal unrest; and about the depths of emotion that could drive two friends to do such things to each other and to the Order they had created. Gradually the flames died out, leaving a bed of glowing coals that settled noisily. In the darkness, Jaryd could make out the bright stars overhead, and he picked out the constellations he knew: Duclea, weeping on her knees for her sons, and for her husband’s fury; Leora in her ceaseless dance; and Arick, lower in the sky and to the west, his fist poised to smite the land he had created for Tobyn and Lon.
When finally Jaryd drifted into a fitful, uneasy sleep, he dreamed of a mage. At first he thought he was seeing himself as he would be someday. But this mage carried a ceryll of deep red and a dark bird with strange, bright eyes. The mage moved toward him, extending a hand in which he carried a slender black object. He remained hooded, his face shrouded in shadow and unrecognizable. But as he drew near, Jaryd recognized the offered object as a black feather. When Jaryd took it in his hand, the feather flared brightly and turned to gray ash.
He awoke to find Baden shaking him gently, the mage’s lean face somber in the silver light of dawn.
“A strange vision came to me last night,” Baden said. “I don’t know what it means, but I think we should be on our way.”
Jaryd tried to force himself awake. Baden offered him the last of the dried fruit and some water, both of which helped, and soon they had broken camp and started down the trail toward the town. They walked as quickly as the steep descent would allow. Baden, who seemed impatient to reach Taima, said little, and Jaryd spent much of his time on the trail reflecting on the story he had heard the night before. They stopped at midday by a small spring. They refilled their water skins, ate what was left of the dried meat, and continued down the mountain.
The acrid smell of charred wood and grain reached them a short while later, and from a small clearing near the base of the mountain, they caught their first glimpse of Taima. A haze of dark smoke hung over the town, and the blackened frames of several buildings stood like skeletons in the town center.
“Fist of the God!” Baden said, exhaling the words as if he’d taken a punch to the gut. “We’re too late.”