Looking over his shoulder, Brasen was surprised to find nearly a hundred of his warriors still awaiting his command. His heart swelled at the sight of them, and with a wave he ordered them to follow as he took off for the guardian line. Ajel could handle the fiery beast; he’d proven that now. But he still needed someone to cover his rear. (1)
It did not take long for the Wordhaveners to cover the distance to the Stand, but even though they ran at the enemy with no cover save their shields, their approach was barely noticed. The swarm had descended on the guardian ranks, buzzing yellow on black, covering faces, ears, hands, every inch of exposed skin. Defensive spheres sparked red all around, but the stinging insects passed through them as if nothing was there. The guardians ran, screaming, rolling on the ground. It was mayhem. (2)
“To the Words!” cried Brasen, thrusting his sword to the sky. “Finish them!” (3)
The Remnant warriors rushed headlong into the fray, emboldened by Brasen’s own wild courage, and quickly dispatched the tormented guardians with Words of death and blue fire. As Brasen had expected, the stingwoods did not attack the Wordhaveners, but rather joined alongside them, rushing to swarm any guardian the Remnant warriors struck with Dei’lo. (4)
Donovan! Captains! Remnant warriors all! Brasen called in his thoughts. Return to the field! Bring reinforcements, a full regiment. We have them on their backs! (5)
But just then, a cry sounded overhead, and a blast, as from a furnace, pummeled downward on Brasen’s body. His sphere sparked to life barely in time but the shock of it slammed him face first to the ground. Then a sound like rain followed with a soft pelting thrum, and when he opened his eyes he was covered in stingwoods, their yellow stingers curled under, wings melted, everyone of them dead. They were still falling as he forced his body to rise. The ringing in his head made it difficult to focus. Insects crunched under his hands as he groaned to his feet. The entire earth was coated with them, like the aftermath of a plague. (6)
He looked for his warriors, but saw none anywhere. No guardians either. Had they retreated? Had he been knocked clear of the fighting? He scanned around to get his bearings, but nothing looked right yet. His head began to burn as he struggled to focus his eyes. But when at last his gaze settled, what he saw impaled his heart as coldly as any sword. (7)
To the east, he saw Ajel, on the ground, writhing. Above him, two spheres hovered, fiery red. The clouded figures within them were screaming, and the sphere around Ajel was growing weaker with each Word. (8)
“Enjoying the show?” a voice sounded behind him, lurid, almost laughing. Brasen spun to face the threat, but before he could even breath, the woman’s slender hand seized his throat. Her grating whisper lent strength to her otherwise slight frame, and paralyzed his limbs. He grimaced, and tried to yell, to burn her alive, but the most he could muster was a weak guttural growl. (9)
“You should have retreated,” she grinned. “You and your men. A battle with lords is no place for children.” (10)
She was young herself. And lovely, Brasen thought, except for the eyes. Long hair, dark blonde, a face like a goddess. Possessed by a devil. (11)
“Your leader has fallen,” she purred. “He will soon be dead. The rest of you will follow, once the flames reach Wordhaven’s walls.” She stared at his eyes for a time, looking wistful. But then she sighed. “I have duties.” (12)
She whispered again, and her grip round his neck tightened. Dark spots splattered across his vision, spreading like pools of sleep until he could not see anymore. Almost casually, he noted that she had crushed his windpipe. It would be just a moment now. He anticipated a surge of panic from struggling to breathe, but it never came. Instead, a calming warmth rose from his chest like a blush and filled his cheeks. He smiled as the wind caressed his face, drying the tears that streamed from his eyes, now dark as night. The world grew narrow, and simple, and he no longer cared that it was a Council Lord who had ended his life. She was nothing but a door, he realized. Just a door. (13)
At that instant, a grunt spewed from her lips. Her grip fell slack, and Brasen folded to the ground. Strong hands gathered him up, and he felt the breath of a whisper brush against his ear. (14)
“Adoni ‘rophe.” Warmth flooded his body like the noonday sun on his skin, only deeper, from the inside flowing out. He felt his throat relax, and sucked in a desperate breath. (15)
“Transport! Now! Speak the Words!” (16)
It was Donovan. Donovan! He struggled to see, but his eyes were still hazy. (17)
“Retreat, Captain. Now!” (18)
And Brasen obeyed. (19)
Reading these excerpts is not unlike baking a birthday cake. The anticipation is so sweet I would almost prolong the exquisite agony, but alas I must have a piece. So deliciuos is that piece that I must have another, and another!
You are, by far, one of the best authors I’ve ever had the honor to read from. Every word is purposeful, with a plot that is both intricate and simplistic in it’s design. Your series can be for any age, and they all get something different from it. When I was young I read Gideon’s Dawn, and waited 5 years for Waymaker to be released. I finally got it on my kindle, and reread Gideon’s Dawn. I found it to be much more than I had thought before, and I fell even more in love with it. I am anxiously awaiting your finishing The Word Within and have high hopes for it. I want to encourage you to keep at it, your readers are devouted and waiting. Good job, and keep up the amazing work.
Thanks so much, Joshua! Your encouragement means a lot!
Again, fantastic! I cannot wait for the entire book. I’ve re-read your books several times and have enjoyed then anew with each reading. Thank you.
"...a work of extreme depth and breadth of vision."
-Christian Fiction Review
Michael D. Warden has been working professionally as a writer and editor since 1989. After several years as Managing Editor for a large publishing house in Colorado, he stepped into the adventure of writing full time. In addition to his fantasy trilogy The Pearlsong Refounding, he has written several non-fiction books, and contributed to more than 150 other books and magazines.