Coinciding with [details of past blog-hop deleted], I’ll be releasing the next book in the When Dragons Die trilogy: Covenant, on Kindle and trade-paperback. I can’t say enough how stoked I am about sharing Lightfall’s sequel. I had a blast writing about a vampire apocalypse. (!!)
As a lead in to that, the rest of this article acts as a bridge from Lightfall to Covenant. If you haven’t read Lightfall, it won’t make much sense, although it also won’t give any significant spoilers.
It’s known that Arda and Anuit (the paladin and the sorceress) fade away from Lightfall pretty quickly and hardly anything is heard about them again, while the latter 2/3rd of the book focus on Aradma. Coinciding with Covenant’s release, I’m re-releasing Lightfall, which will also now be professionally edited. I thought about taking the opportunity to add some bridge scenes to the epilogue, but in discussions with the editor, it didn’t really fit the flow of the end of the book.
So, what follows are the two short scenes didn’t make Lightfall’s cut (they just didn’t logically fit anywhere). I had discussed with the editor about trying to cram them in to the epilogue in an effort to remind the reader of Part 1 of the book and hint at more to come, but it would have broken the flow of the story. These scenes would also be out of place in Covenant, given the time that passes in between the two books. So, I’m sharing these two snippets that bridge into Covenant, in anticipation of its release next week. Enjoy!
TWO “CUT” SCENES BETWEEN LIGHTFALL AND COVENANT
The sitting room in the Kaldorite safe house in the city of Astiana was just as Arda remembered it: functionally furnished yet comfortable. Her commander’s secretary desk sat up against the back wall as always, clear of dust and reflecting the window’s daylight in its highly polished wood.
She had sent word ahead to expect her arrival, and he was waiting for her when she gave the secret knock. He opened the door, and instead of the usual formalities, he embraced his former student.
“It’s been too long,” he said.
“I’ve been busy,” she grinned. She released the embrace and clasped his hands. “It’s good to see you again.” He was her commanding officer, but in many ways he was like a father to her. Attaris had found Arda and brought her to Tulley, and it was Tulley who had raised her in the Order.
“Please, sit,” her commander said, and then walked to his own chair with a slight stoop and an uneven gait from an old battle injury that wouldn’t go away. He ran his hands once over short-cut gray hair, still peppered with a little of his original black here and there. “You’re always busy,” he said warmly, “and given the fall of the Shadowlord, it’s to be expected. How is Attaris?”
“He is well,” Arda replied. “Retired and enjoying life. There’s something you need to know from my visit to Windbowl.”
Tulley listened attentively as Arda gave her report regarding the events in Windbowl nearly a year prior. When she finished, he ran his fingers thoughtfully through his short hair. “Seelie,” he mused. “Yes, that explains some of it then. I’ve seen some of these light elves outside the city. I’ve not been able to speak with them. And now you wish to find Kaldor? Why didn’t you come to me sooner?” Tulley asked.
“Kaldisar was the closest chapter to the heart of the Empire,” she responded. “I went there first. Rumors led me to Roen. I asked the commander there about Kaldor’s whereabouts and how he communicated with the Order and he became evasive. He’s hiding something. When I pressed him, he sent me to you. He said you knew more.”
The older man leaned back in his chair. He folded his hands on his lap and regarded her thoughtfully for a moment. Finally, he took a deep breath and answered her. “Kaldor hasn’t spoken to us in centuries. That’s what they didn’t want to tell you.”
She slumped back in her chair. Arda had begun to suspect that Hylda might be right about Kaldor. “He’s not… real?”
Tulley shrugged. “You know I don’t go for the whole ‘Kaldor is a symbolic myth’ line of thinking, but he lived a long time ago. In truth, does it matter? His principles guide as, and we have the Light.”
“But… but why keep that a secret?” she asked. “Why allow the rest of us to believe he continues to give guidance and direction?”
“Hope. The Order needs a symbol, and he gives us that. We’re a forbidden society in a hostile Empire.”
“The Empire has fallen,” Arda remarked. “That’s no longer a problem.”
“Perhaps. People are slow to change. How is Roenti?”
“As expected,” she said. “They relied heavily on the Shadowlord’s runes. It will be some time before they rebuild.”
He nodded. “At least the Astians are a stubborn people. This land proved more resilient.”
Arda stood and walked over to the window. She looked at the sliver of sunlight that ran down the narrow street.
“I refuse to believe it,” she finally said. “Kaldor was Archurion’s avatar. I can’t believe he would just… fade away. I intend to find Taer Iriliandrel. I have to see its empty halls for myself before I accept he is truly gone.”
“Then go to Erindil,” Tulley told her. “It is there that Taer Iriliandrel stood a thousand years ago, but you will not find it there today. Nothing rises over the lake.”
“He’s a High Wizard. Maybe it’s hard to see now, or maybe he’s moved it,” she speculated.
“If you must pursue this foolishness, I will not dissuade you,” her commander told her. “If I know you, you will search through the realms until you are satisfied. However,” he added, “if you are going to do such a thing, the Order will see some benefit for it. Travel the Empire and see the results of Aaron’s fall. Help where you can, and teach the Values of the Light to those who are open to it.”
She regarded her commander, and then saluted him. “I will send word of my findings,” she said. “I’ll book passage to Erind Isle immediately. For Light’s Truth.”
“For Light’s Truth,” he returned the salute as she left.
Anuit and Bryona hopped off the farmer’s wagon that had brought them to the gates of Astiana. Anuit had discovered Bryona was able to wear the guise of any woman and now took to hiding her demonic features. She still looked the proper lady, dressing far above Anuit’s station as a commoner, but other than that, she seemed perfectly ordinary—if such beauty could be called ordinary.
Anuit had only recently allowed the demon back at her side. She had kept all three of them banished after she had lost control in the first month after leaving Windbowl. She had been arrogant in assuming she could command them, and now she knew she needed to use them carefully. Bryona was the only one allowed back into her presence for the time being.
The succubus had proved useful, for traveling alone as a woman came with risks. Even with Anuit’s powers of necromancy—she certainly could have defended herself against any common thug—she didn’t like to be alone. It was nice to have someone to guard her back and someone to talk to. And now that Bryona understood her boundaries, she only seduced those whom Anuit told her to seduce. Bryona had been able to peacefully extricate Anuit from a few scraps in the last couple weeks without the sorceress having to kill anyone. No need to tap into necromancy if it wasn’t needed. Bryona was much more subtle.
Anuit grinned to herself as she saw the bustle of city life churning through the streets of Astiana. It would be easy to lose oneself in the crowd here and make a new life. Rumor had it that there were even hidden sorcerer covens starting to make themselves known in the vacuum left by the Church. Astians were a resilient people, and the Empire’s fall had not nearly been as bad here as the stories told about Artalon—people starving to death in those towers!
Perhaps she would make contact with the sorcerer covens in due course but not yet. First she would establish a life for herself. Maybe even open a seamstress shop. Yes, she was sure Bryona could seduce a lord or two out of the funds necessary to sponsor a modest storefront.
As if reading her thoughts, Bryona shot her a sly grin as they entered the city.
Copyright © Kyle Lewis, 2013