A silver-haired Elven man, more than eight decades old, stormed into the tower room without bothering to shut the door behind him. Spotting the human wizard, bent over a work table on the far side of the room, he strode toward him. “Akuji! It’s started again! He waved his arms as he reached Akuji’s side. “Your brother’s mutated minions are raiding and killing entire villages now.” Akuji remained bent over his work table as if he hadn’t heard a word. “How can you just sit by and do nothing?” The Elven spun Akuji around by the arm. “It’s worse than before, Akuji. I can’t do this alone. I need your help”, he pleaded. When the wizard didn’t respond, the Elven grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him. Akuji just stared as if he could see right through him. Frustrated the Elven threw up his hands and began pacing. “Xorn has gone mad.” He declared.
“I have to bring her back, Lorisal” As Akuji spoke, Lorisal glanced at him. The wizard looked different, more tired and beaten than when he’d last seen him almost a year ago. His normally tanned skin looked pasty as if it hadn’t seen sunlight in months. Lorisal studied him further. His robes were dirty and threadbare. Lorisal scanned the tower room and realized it was also a neglected mess. Ingredients lay everywhere. Not tagged and stored as usual. He swung his eyes back to Akuji who had bent once more over his work table.
“So that’s it then? Lorisal asked him. “You’re going to stay locked up in your tower while your brother kills and mutates entire villages of people?” Akuji glanced up, his eyes were glazed over and his hair was matted and dirty. Realization hit Lorisal like a sword in the stomach. Akuji was still obsessed with retrieving the soul of Nevaeh, his lover, who died decades ago. As Lorisal sighed and turned to leave, Akuji mumbled under his breath. “What did you say?” Lorisal turned back to Akuji.
“Seek the gnome healer.” Akuji’s voice suddenly rang clear as a bell.
“What gnome healer? Lorisal asked. “Where?” Akuji didn’t respond. “What gnome healer? Lorisal repeated. Still no answer from the wizard. Lorisal sighed heavily and took his leave.
Almost a month later, Lorisal entered the vision cave. Smooth, confident strides took him along a familiar path that led deeper into the cavern. He ducked his head in several places to avoid the low hanging ceiling. As he walked, his eyes automatically scanned for any unwelcome observers, his Elven ears remained alert to any unnatural sounds echoing off the rock walls. The rocky path opened into a large rocky cavern surrounding a crystal clear pool and he paused. Lorisal knelt on the rocky ledge near the edge of the water. He reached to touch the pool with his fingertips and then settled in to watch. The ripples caused by his touch stilled and a scene appeared in the water. Danara Kelblaine, a gnome of twenty-six years, stood on a path among tall trees. Lorisal leaned forward to get a closer look at her surroundings and nodded. She was still in the forest outside of Riversend, the village where she’d spent the night before. She had dainty pixie like features and was all of three feet tall. Though he could sense her inner strength, he knew she’d certainly be no match in a physical battle against the Farlon.
He prayed that this time the pool was showing him the right gnome healer. He still wasn’t sure why he’d first been led to her mother only so she could fail him. Nor why death, like a thief in the night, now complicated things. Time was running out and he couldn’t afford to be wrong again. He continued to watch as Danara knelt beside the path, her dainty fingers hovered over fresh tracks. She bent her head and took several deep breaths. She called upon the many forestry lessons of her father. Danara was on the wrong path but if he was right, fate would intervene and she’d soon find the strength to embrace her destiny. Lorisal’s long fingers stroked his chin as he studied her. Her reaction to the coming attack would go a long way toward convincing him that she was the one he sought.
The screams began. He watched via the pool as Danara lifted her head and stood abruptly as the screams continued. She spun and scrutinized the forest behind her. His heart swelled with pride as she broke into a dead run back toward Riversend. Her speed picked up within seconds and Lorisal smiled. He’d forgotten how quickly gnomes could run when needed. Danara broke through the trees into the clearing outside Riversend and found the village engulfed in smoke and flames. She stopped short and paused to catch her breath as she pondered what to do next. He was sure that she now realized that this was more than just a bear attack. Lorisal felt her fear building. The village seemed oddly quiet now, save for the roar of flames. No laughing children playing near the gate like when she arrived the day prior. Danara stood rooted to one spot for several minutes and inwardly Lorisal groaned. Would she run and hide? He smiled as she shook off her fear and stepped through the gate. She would help them or at least she was going to try. She showed signs of a true healer even if she didn’t know it yet herself. She would however, need a teacher and her mother would be no help now. Lorisal stirred the water, the ripples erased the scene and he stood. He’d seen enough for now.
He was going to pay another visit to Akuji. The wizard was going to have to get involved whether he liked it or not.
So what do you think? Would you buy this book? Comments welcome. Thanks! –Meg