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

Just then the curtain opened and in slithered a clawed creature with black tar for skin and a smell of rot so strong it made Revel’s eyes water. But its face was human. (1)

“Greetings, Song,” Revel smiled, blinking away his watery eyes. “How does your soul fare today?” (2)

“It fares quite well, Revel, thank you,” Song replied with a smile. His voice was smooth and rich as a glassy stream. He had been named Song soon after his turning, and it was obvious why. He often serenaded the People as the sun set in the evenings down in the Meeting Field. That was how Revel had come to meet him. “I am here at the request of your Aybel Boldrun,” Song continued. “She asks that you join her at the old docks immediately, you and your whole company.” (3)

Revel glanced at the sojourner. “I cannot leave him unattended.” (4)

“I will stay with them,” Song replied. “Perhaps I will sing for them.” He shrugged, a vaguely threatening gesture for such a grotesque form. (5)

“Very well,” Revel nodded, and slowly stood. “Has Kyrintha been alerted? and the Ca’leeb?” (6)

Song nodded. “I just came from Kyrintha’s lodge. She is on her way to them now. And the priests are already at Aybel Boldrun’s side.” (7)

“Well,” said Revel, grinning. “I should be on my way, then.” He gathered his cloak and focus staff, then gently placed his hand on Song’s shoulder, or at least where his shoulder ought to be. It felt warm, slightly wet, and sticky like honey. He had learned to resist the impulse to pull away. “Thank you, Song. I’ll return as quickly as I am able.” (8)

Song nodded with a shy smile and looked away, his human face suddenly a rush of pink. Revel knew he wasn’t used to being touched. That is why he did it. (9)

It took him nearly twenty minutes to reach the old docks, even walking at a brisk pace as he did. The founders of the sounden had built the settlement some distance from the shore, probably for protection against the great storms that sometimes came in from the sea. The docks themselves were still apparent, but in horrible disrepair. Most of the platforms, which had originally been beautifully carved from gilded bian’ar, were now collapsed into the surf, and coated with a black and deep red slime that the People said had been cleansed of taint, but looked to Revel very much like rotting flesh. Many pylons still rose out of the sea, however, and a few of the platforms remained intact, or had perhaps been recently rebuilt. A few small boats, crudely made, lapped up against the platforms with the sing song rhythm of the waves. (10)

Kyrintha, Aybel, and the three priests stood in a huddle on one of the platforms, doing their best to keep their backs toward the chilling ocean breeze. When Aybel saw him, she waved him to come. (11)

“Hail, Revel,” she called with a smile. But there was no smile in her voice. (12)

“Hail,” Revel replied as he stepped up on the dock, then with a warm glance toward Kyrintha, “M’lady.” Coyly, she offered him the slightest of grins. (13)

The three Trevail priests—Terebin, Ammiel, and Magan—offered no greeting, of course, but stood in their usual wary way, their tattooed faces revealing nothing of their thoughts or feelings. Revel wondered again what had drawn Aybel to them. He couldn’t recall a single instance where any of them had smiled. (14)

“We surveyed the perimeter again this morning,” said Aybel. (15)

“Any sign of Stevron or riftmen?” asked Revel. (16)

“None,” said Aybel. “That is what concerns me.” (17)

Revel and Kyrintha both laughed, but Aybel and the priests remained stoic. “Really?” said Revel. “I should think their absence would be good news.” (18)

“The riftmen are relentless creatures,” said Magan. “Now that they know this place is here, they should be attacking it every night. That they are not is unnatural to their ways.” (19)

“They are being purposefully held back,” added Aybel. “No doubt by Stevron.” (20)

Kyrintha shook her head. “The Speaker has told me the riftmen have known of this sounden for years. They attacked some at first, he said, but soon realized the People cannot be overcome by them. The touch of the People, in fact, has effectively turned many riftmen to the Pearl. So they stay away…except those who are curious about the Pearl.” (21)

“We do not trust the Speaker,” said Terebin. His fellow priests nodded in agreement. (22)

“He has far more reason to distrust you, priest,” Kyrintha said sharply. (23)

But Aybel raised her hand. “We are not here to resolve the long history between the People and the Ca’leeb—“ (24)

“A history the Ca’leeb have known nothing of until now,” said Magan flatly. (25)

“Just so,” agreed Aybel. “We are here to protect the Waymaker, and now the Pearl as well. We must ensure their safety. Whatever their mission is from here, we must make certain nothing prevents it.” (26)

“Agreed,” Revel nodded. (27)

“So we must leave,” said Aybel. (28)

Revel didn’t try to hide his surprise. “When?” (29)

“As soon as possible,” said Aybel. (30)

“And go where?” Revel asked. (31)

Aybel furrowed her brow. “We differ on that point,” she said, nodding to the priests. “I think we must go to Wordhaven. But the Sangradon believe returning to Rhema is the sensible choice.” (32)

Revel glanced at Kyrintha, who seemed as perplexed as he did by what he was hearing. “Apologies,” he said, shaking his head, “I don’t understand.” He extended his arm back toward the sounden. “The Pearl is here,” he said emphatically, “with us. Surely we are not in danger so long as we remain by its side. And it has said nothing about leaving this place.” (33)

Kyrintha nodded her agreement. But Aybel did not. “The Pearl has said nothing at all,” she asserted. “It is locked in some deep connection with Gideon that none of us understands, nor do any of us have any knowledge as to how to address it or deal with it or anything. I do not believe we can expect to hear from the Pearl or from Gideon as long as this state remains. But that does not excuse us from our duty of keeping them safe!” (34)

“I agree with Revel,” said Kyrintha. “I think we are safe here, at least for now. It is not only the Pearl that shields us here, but all the People who have sworn to protect us, and have demonstrated that they will.” (35)

“I have no idea what might happen to the sojourner should we try to move him,” Revel interjected. “I do not know what is happening to him, but I am convinced it is the Pearl’s doing, just as I am convinced the Pearl is fully aware our situation and of all of us, even the conversation we’re having right now. If the Pearl wanted us to leave, I believe it would tell us.” (36)

Aybel shrugged and shook her head. “I do not agree,” she said flatly. (37)

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Inherited Lands
Gideon's Dawn Waymaker

"...a work of extreme depth and breadth of vision."
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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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