The Pealsong Refounding fantasy trilogy by Michael Warden. Gideon's Dawn, The Waymaker, The Word Within.

Inherited Lands


0 comments | Posted: Novel-Entry-The-Word-Within, by Michael D. Warden

He was astonishing to behold, newly fearsome yet somehow more vulnerable than before. His strange black curls, which now hung to his shoulders, framed his black beard and deep blue eyes like portals to a world far removed from our own. He stood taller somehow, his shoulders held back and neck made straight, as if some portion of his strength now strained against a great force locked within his chest. (1)

He was still in every general sense the same man I had met at the Wall; and, at the same time, he was nothing at all like that man anymore. (2)

—The Kyrinthan Journals, Musings, Chapter 33, Verses 12-13

Revel awoke to the light caress of a hand across his cheek. “He told me to let you sleep,” she said, “but I couldn’t wait.” (3)

Sleepily, he reached up and grasped her hand, so small and soft it was compared to his. “Kyrintha,” he mumbled. But then his amber eyes went wide. “Kyrintha!” He stared at her hand in wonder. (4)

“The Pearl healed it,” she explained, laughing. (5)

“The Pearl? What…where are we?” He bolted upright and looked around, astounded. They sat in the cool green grasses beneath a copse of low cedar trees. Aybel lay sleeping not far away, and beyond her, Gideon crouched over a fire, cooking. (6)

Gideon. Over a fire. Cooking. (7)

“Waymaker!” he exclaimed. “You are awake!” (8)

Gideon chuckled lightly, nodding. “Yep.” (9)

“How?” He jumped to his feet and rushed toward him. “What’s happened? How did we get here? The last I remember we were hidden beneath the waters—“ (10)

“Shhh,” said Gideon quietly. “Aybel is still sleeping.” He waved Revel closer. Kyrintha followed, and they both knelt beside him. (11)

“The Pearl brought us here,” explained Gideon, nodding to the tree behind him. His alien-wood staff leaned against it, with the Pearl glowing dimly on its crown. “I woke up a few days ago, I don’t know, more or less. Not long after, he brought us here. You guys have been asleep the whole time. Understandable, given what you’ve all been through.” Gideon reached out and squeezed Revel’s shoulder. “Thanks, by the way. For keeping me safe. I know it must not have been easy.” (12)

“Are you aware of what has happened to us?” asked Kyrintha. (13)

Gideon shook his head. “Only some of it. Mostly when the Pearl wanted me to know about something. Most of the time, I’ve been somewhere else.” (14)

“Where?” asked Revel. (15)

“That’s a long story,” said Gideon. “I don’t really want to talk about it right now.” He gestured to the fire, where three fish were sizzling above the flames, each speared on its own cedar stick. “You want some breakfast?”
“Where did we get fish?” asked Revel. (16)

Both Gideon and Kyrintha answered simultaneously. “The Pearl.” (17)

Revel looked to the Pearl, questioning. “Its presence is…less intense, somehow.” (18)

“Yeah,” said Gideon. “He’s uh…we’re hiding. From Stevron. And I guess anything else he’s brought over from the Barrens.” (19)

Revel nodded thoughtfully. “You and the Pearl must be very close now. I could sense it was with you in your…wherever you were.” (20)

Gideon chuckled again, then sighed. “Yeah, you could say we’re really close. It’s definitely not been all fun and games, though.” (21)

“How do you mean?” asked Kyrintha. (22)

But Gideon shook his head, then abruptly stood and grabbed two of the speared fish. “Look, there’s a lot I have to tell you guys,” he said, handing each a fish, “and a lot we have to do. We have a long way to go, assuming we live, and there’ll be plenty of time. Right now, let’s just, you know, have breakfast.” He picked up the third speared fish, smiling lightly. (23)

Revel nodded, and the three of them settled in around the fire and ate. Revel noticed Gideon no longer devoured his food as he once did, but consumed it slowly and with great presence, relishing each bite in the way taught by the Remnant. They ate in silence for a while, enjoying the smells of fire and food and the stillness of the morning air. (24)

Then Revel placed his hand on Kyrintha’s knee and said, “I am so grateful that you are restored.” He let her see the tears brimming in his eyes. He could not have stopped them if he wanted. (25)

Kyrintha smiled, laying her hand on his. “As am I. The infection felt like nothing I could have imagined. So dark, filthy. I wish I could forget it. It disgusted me, but it was also…alluring in a way I could hardly resist. I would have succumbed much more quickly, I know, without Grace there holding my hand.” She suddenly looked around. “Where is Grace? And Ammiel?” (26)

Gideon nodded as he finished swallowing a bite. “The Pearl sent them away,” he said at last, clearing his throat. (27)

“Away? Where?” she asked. (28)

Gideon looked down. “He asked me not to say. They’re both safe though. Much safer than they would be here, in any case.” (29)

“Who asked you not to say? Ammiel?” (30)

“No. The Pearl,” Gideon nodded. He shifted his legs to get more comfortable. “These leathers sure can pinch, you know?” (31)

Revel pressed in. “Have you heard it speak out loud?” (32)

“No,” he replied. “He uh…probably won’t do that as long as, uh, Stevron is on the hunt. If the Pearl speaks, Stevron will instantly know where we are.” (33)

“How do you hear him, then?” (34)

“In dreams,” said Gideon. “Sometimes thoughts in my head. Same as you.” He gestured toward all three of them. “But sometimes, it’s a kind of burning in my chest. I think that’s the Waymaker part.” (35)

“For one who has spent so long in union with the Pearl,” observed Kyrintha, “you sound curiously unsure about the nature of your connection with it.” (36)

Gideon laughed. “Do I?” he said, then nodded and looked down. “Yeah,” he added quietly. His blue eyes seemed to moisten. (37)

“Gideon!” The voice was Aybel’s, calling out as she sat up on the grass. “You are awake!” Quickly she rose and ran to him, but at the last moment stopped short and held herself back. “Are you restored?” (38)

He hopped to his feet. “I am much better now. Thank you Aybel. You’ve never stopped believing in me.” (39)

She swallowed. “And the Pearl?” (40)

“Against the tree over there,” he said nodding behind him. “Listening.” (41)

She looked around, tears suddenly welling in her eyes. “It brought us here?” (42)

Gideon stepped close and gently laid his hands on her shoulders. “Not ‘it,’ Aybel. He. And yes. He brought us here.” (43)

“He speaks to you,” she said, nodding, tears free flowing now. “Good. I am glad for you.” (44)

Gideon breathed deep, tears forming in his own eyes now as well. “There’s something I have to tell you, Aybel. Something the Pearl and I both want you to know. I thought it could wait, but maybe…” Then he pulled her close and embraced her, and began to whisper something in her ear that neither Revel nor Kyrintha could discern. She nodded as he spoke, still crying into his shoulder. He continued to hold her close for some time after the whispers ceased. Finally, she pressed him back and broke away. Her eyes still red with tears, she said nothing more but only smiled and placed her hand gently on his cheek. He gently grasped it and held it in both of his.
Finally, he let go her hand, and she smiled as she wiped the tears from her eyes. (45)

“We’re just south of Kharce sounden,” Gideon said to her, now loud enough for all to hear. “I need you to go there now. You will find a woman there with a burn across the left side of her face. Ask the woman to give you mounts, food and fresh clothing for all of us. If she asks you why, tell her the Pearl has need of them. Bring everything back here. Go quickly. We haven’t much time.” (46)

“I’ll go instead, Waymaker,” said Revel. “Aybel has only just awakened, and has yet to gain her footing here, or even eat.” (47)

“No,” said Gideon. “This is hers to do.” He smiled lightly. “Don’t worry, though. It’s not far, and the woman will give her something to eat and drink. It’ll be way better than my overcooked fish, that’s for sure.” He turned back to Aybel. “You should get going. We’ll be here when you get back.” (48)

She nodded, and, after giving both Revel and Kyrintha a silent nod of reassurance, she headed north into the scattered cedars. “There’s a little stream up ahead if you want to wash up,” said Gideon. But she did not acknowledge him. (49)

“What did you say to her?” Revel asked after she’d gone. (50)

“It’s between the two of us,” said Gideon. But then he shrugged. “She can tell you if she wants.” He went to the fire and starting kicking dirt on it to put it out. “Like I said, there’s a little creek to the north where you can get cleaned up. You both need to rest today, as much as possible. We won’t get another chance for a while.” (51)

“What’s going to happen, Waymaker?” asked Revel. “What has the Pearl told you?” (52)

But Gideon sighed. “I don’t know. Not exactly. Just rest. Okay? I’ll keep watch. I’ve had way too much sleep lately, if you haven’t noticed.” (53)


Some hours later, Aybel returned, sitting atop a beautiful brown mare with three mounts in tow behind her, each of them draped with leather satchels boasting an abundance of supplies. (54)

“Wow,” said Gideon. “That’s a lot.” (55)

“More than we can carry if you mean us to ride those mounts,” added Revel. (56)

“The woman would not be refused,” said Aybel, dismounting smoothly. “She sends her regards to the Waymaker, whom she apparently has already met.” Aybel looked at Gideon expectantly. But he said nothing. “She said to convey her deep sorrow and apologies, but she could not find any ja’moinar bread.” (57)

“We’ll make do with what we have,” said Gideon. “Will you and Revel sort through it?” Aybel nodded. “Keep the stuff that will last the longest,” he added. “And lots of water. I’m not sure where the next water source will be.” He turned to Kyrintha. “Do you know how to ride?” he asked, gesturing toward the mounts. (58)

“Better than most,” Kyrintha replied. “Mountriding is required learning for all underlords. I am quite accomplished at it, actually.” (59)

“Good,” said Gideon, grinning lightly. “Maybe you could give me a tip or two, then. I still haven’t quite got the hang of it. Just ask Revel.” (60)

Revel nodded. “It’s true.” (61)

Kyrintha laughed, then reached up to pat the nose of a small grey mare. “I think this one will do nicely,” she said. “Are we leaving soon?” (62)

“Uh, not yet,” said Gideon. “We should stay here tonight, maybe leave first thing in the morning. But let’s get everything ready now, just in case.” (63)

So they did. By the time it was all done, the sun was sitting low in the sky. They had each changed into fresh clothing. It was standard sounden fare–brown leathers and jerkins, and tough fur-lined boots that fit each of them perfectly. They happily tossed their old clothes away—all except the Worded cloaks, which they agreed might come in handy in a Worded attack. They packed enough food and water to last for a week or more in the wilds, but there was still a sizable pile left over. They feasted on whatever they could. Despite having rested the past few days, they were still not fully recovered from their trials in the Barrens. It left a stench on their souls that could not be easily cleansed away. But the comfort of fresh food, pure water, and good company did much to restore both their strength and their spirits. (64)

As they sun dropped behind the horizon, they spoke of mostly ordinary things. Foods they missed. People they loved and longed to see again. Memories of other more normal times when one of them had occasion to sleep under the stars. It was sweet, as if they were all trying to forget for a time where they were, and what was happening. Revel noticed that not one of them had approached the Pearl even once since they had all awakened. Not even the Waymaker. So much was strange and horrible about their recent experiences. The memory of it draped over all their shoulders like a weighted cloak. All but the Waymaker, who didn’t seem aware of much that had transpired from the time he first encountered the Pearl, and no one was eager to tell him, for no one wanted to remember. Did he even know that Balaam was slain? Yes, surely, the Pearl had told him that…that, and a great many other things he was apparently not willing to share. (65)

In due time, the conversation faded, and the latent awkwardness they had all been trying to ignore returned. With eyes to the ground or else locked on the fire, no one spoke, though the questions hung heavy in the air like a bad odor. Finally, Revel could tolerate it no more. He opened his mouth to speak but the Waymaker beat him to it. (66)

“Go ahead. Ask,” he said. “You know you want to.” (67)

There was no mistaking the sorrow in his voice. (68)

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Inherited Lands
Gideon's Dawn Waymaker

"...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.

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