Eritan’s throne room was much larger than any of his audience chambers, even the one used just that morning for his meeting with Selonius and the other priests. This was more of a hall, with towering obsidian columns lining it, reaching to the vaulted ceiling above. Noble men and women clustered along the sides and around the columns, bumping elbows with high-ranking military men and priests in robes of blue and white and black. Their whirlwind of colors made a contrast against the stark black tiles of the floor and the black iron ornamentation along the walls. Even the tapestries were mostly black.
Eritan himself wore voluminous black robes, with wide, stiff shoulders to give him a more intimidating outline against the throne. He was used to the intricate carvings on the marble of his seat, the flames burning stoic and steady and white above his head. He could grant the priests that much, at least. Their decorations for his throne did lend a nice effect and put his features in shadows. While much of the hall was lit by flames hanging high in the air along the columns, the dais upon which sat his throne was mostly kept dark, with the exception of the flames above and behind his head. Eritan liked the setup. Continue reading
Eritan tried to relax. It should have been easy, closed away in his private library as he was, reclining in a pillowed chair with his favorite history in hand. The Sword and the Flame, it read in silvery letters on the front: one of the most thorough accounts of the rise of the Letaalese Empire. Covered was everything from Pirinaan’s rise in the north, to the first battles against the Heartan overlords, to the first Emperor Eritan’s political maneuverings. Eritan liked those last the most, of course. His namesake had been a splendid ruler and a better politician; he himself did everything he could to emulate that first emperor of Letaal.
But things just weren’t cooperating. While Eritan the First had drawn allies to his side and conquered recalcitrant territories with the aid of Pirinaan’s priests, Eritan the Third was finding that process to be much more difficult, even with the expanded resources of an entire empire, rather than the limited power of Jinda. Instead of fighting against pliable peoples like those in Heart and Tuul and Icefall, he was stuck with the intractable Tin and the wild Roeteli. And of course the Nera Nashan to the north, who were now attacking any Letaalese who dared ride north from Barrier.Continue reading
As a little bonus celebration for finally polishing off the last of the Harael chapters in All Flames Cast, I give you Harael’s eighth chapter…where things really start going crazy.
It was hard to concentrate with terror pulsing through him. It was one thing to pray on top of a wall, protected from harm by dozens of feet of stone and metal. It was quite another to be only a few dozen yards from nightmares come to life, rending the flesh of comrades with teeth like razors and claws like thorns. Hisses intermingled with screams. The disturbing thud of dead flesh hitting the ground permeated the square.Continue reading
The fog was finally beginning to thin out when they crested the ridge and looked down into a long, narrow valley. Harael could see a small lake, nestled against a sheer cliff along the east side. The village itself stretched along most of the length of the valley, hugging the shore of the lake for much of its breadth. As they made their way down the trail, winding back and forth against the slope, their view became clearer and clearer.
By the time they reached the bottom, Harael couldn’t help but stare: the valley was mostly brown, of course, but the winter couldn’t fully grasp the pines coating the far slope. Tall and oddly angular, they gave the area a sort of green fur unlike anything he was used to in Letaal—or even in his hometown of Arbor, many miles north of the capitol. The peaks, rising high ahead, were crowned with white.Continue reading
A brief note before the chapter: this will be the second to last Harael chapter posted on here, at least until the book is finished. Things are getting to a point where I don’t want to give away too much as the plot gets going. I might move on to posting a few Tymun chapters after a week or two, though.
It was late in the morning when Harael, Teramus, and their accompanying Guards and soldiers made their way through the Three Gates. Katreina and two of her own Phoenix Guards rode along with them. Harael was glad for the extra hours of sleep, especially considering how draining the clash had been the night before. He wasn’t used to the things demanded of him, and he had had unsettling dreams.
The sun was overhead, though, and only a few small white puffs of clouds marred the otherwise clear sky. It was unseasonably warm. He managed a smile, breathing in the crisp air—until they came out of the Second Gate and into the killing field from the night before. Then, his breath caught and his attempts to inhale were rewarded by the acrid stench of smoke and char.Continue reading