Night's Edge is Book One in my exciting New Kingdoms fantasy series.
Atrius and Raven are two young adults who have both lost their homes and families amid violent confrontations. Atrius Quintin, eighteen, and on the verge of completing his schooling to become a Keeper -- a guardian of Fraxin Forest -- is framed for the murder of his father, the Baron. Atrius escapes his captors and flees into the depths of the woods he knows so well. Wounded during the chase, the young fugitive plummets forty feet into the Dravus River, his body carried away by the current.
Raven Wind craves recognition as a warrior and believes that, at seventeen, she is the equal of any young fighter in the village. Her people's traditions forbid females from taking part in the annual blooding rituals with the young braves. Defying the wishes of her father the chief, Raven secretly completes the Moon Dance, but is discovered and banished from her tribe. Grievously wounded, Raven faces certain death as she stumbles westward into the desert toward the Haunted Mountains.
Night's Edge begins the journeys of Atrius and Raven as each seeks to find a way home. Readers are introduced to Xanthorpe, an enigmatic wizard, who brings the two together and sends them on quite a different odyssey than either expected. Charged with finding the mythical Night's Edge, the pair face an impossible task: no one has seen the mysterious artifact in more than one thousand years!
Night's Edge Updates:
January 17, 2017: Both new writing and edits of existing chapters continue. The Night's Edge word count is now over 73,000!
Night's Edge - Chapter 23 (excerpt):
“Why do we have to camp up here?” Atrius asked again. “We know there’s another way off the plateau or we would have passed that priest, or whatever he was, on the way up the trail.”
“Didn’t they teach you anything about tactics at that school?”
“Sure they did. I just don’t see why we can’t go down the way he came up and find a good camp site.”
“It’s too dark for that now, my boy. We’re liable to fall off the mountain.”
Atrius hugged his knees and looked over his shoulder toward the place where the man had jumped off. He still didn’t believe anyone could have so much faith in something that they would be willing to kill themselves to prove it. An involuntary chill made him shiver.
“You’re scared, aren’t you?”
“What? No!” But inside, he wondered if he was scared. “What is there to be scared of?”
“I don’t know. You are the one who's fretting to get down off the mountain and you keep looking over your shoulder like you expect him to appear over the edge and come to get you.” Rivaldo chuckled while he finished building their fire.
“It’s not funny. And I’m not scared. I, well, I have never seen anything like that is all.” Atrius had been all over Fraxin Forest in the dark. Yet it wasn’t until the night he had run away that he had ever been afraid in the woods. He stood up and stretched. He needed to work the tension out of his muscles and then he could relax and get some sleep. There wasn’t anything up here but night birds and other small creatures that foraged in the dark.
“Besides, I’d wager you aren’t used to seeing men jump to their deaths every day yourself.”
The old man nodded and smiled, “You are right about that, son. It is not a sight you see every day.” He finished securing a small spit over the fire with some sticks, filled up an old black kettle with water from one of their skins and hung it up to boil. “Truth be told, I reacted much the same way you have the first time I saw it.” Rivaldo looked into the flames and his eyes lost focus. “I was probably about your age or a little older. My father and I were mapping out some land between the ruins of Pravus’ palace and the Titans.”
Atrius came over and sat down opposite Rivaldo. “You’ve been to the Titans?”
“Been all along them. Well,” he shrugged, “as far along them as anyone, I suppose.”
“Did you look for a way over? To see what’s on the other side?”
“I hate to tell you this, my boy. If anyone has told you there is a way over, under or through those mountains, it was likely after one jar of ale too many.”
“So, there’s no way over?”
“None that I know of. And it’s not for lack of looking, either. My father made it his personal mission to find a way. It was on that same trip he told me, ‘Son, there isn’t a rock on Remoh that won’t eventually be worn down by wind and rain, by blowing sand or abrasion of some sort. There is a way through the Titans, boy. We just haven’t found it yet.’”
“He never found a way, did he?”
“No son, he didn’t.” Rivaldo poured some tea into a dented, metal cup and handed it to Atrius, then filled one for himself. He hung the kettle up and leaned back against his saddle. “He died trying. Sure as that fellow we saw today died trying to find the Goddess.”
Atrius gulped his tea and said, “Your father did that?”
“No, but he might as well have.” The old man stared into his cup. “He climbed up a crevice looking for a path through. He was sure he’d found one. Said something was different about that crack in the rock and he clambered up there, sure of himself.”
Rivaldo swirled the dregs of his tea and threw them out. Using a stick, he spread the fire out and made sure it was well contained in the circle of rocks, and then lay down, his back to Atrius. Almost as an afterthought, he said over his shoulder, “He fell.”