For hundreds of years, dark clouds covered the skies of Adamah, and an ageless king ruled. Those who emerged with one of six extraordinary Shay powers were forced into the king’s army, an unmatched force with inhuman Strength, Speed, Accuracy, Perception, Empathy, and Healing. With the army behind him, the king—a man who wields all six abilities—was invincible and unquestioned in his rule. To most, serving the king was an honor. But for others, it was a fate worse than death.
When seventeen-year-old Nolan Trividar witnesses the transformation of his brother from kind to cruel after entering the king’s army, he vows never to follow the same path.
So when his own power—the Shay of Accuracy—comes upon him at the Tournament of Awakening, Nolan conceals his emergence instead of joining the king’s ranks. For years, he traitorously hides his power, pretending to be only a gifted scribe. But when Nolan comes face -to-face with a deserter, the man discovers his secret.
To evade detection and a death sentence, Nolan escapes with the deserter and flees into a night filled with dark creatures who steal both powers and souls. He joins a resistance, a village hidden deep in the forest, filled with others who secretly wield a Shay. But his peace is short-lived when they discover that the dark clouds, undead creatures, their own decreasing powers, and even the king, are all connected.
“Who is this?” King Alcandor said.
“His name is Alec Deverell,” the general said. “He’s been difficult at the tournament this year.”
“That doesn’t surprise me, considering his display a moment ago.” A purple light glowed from the king’s eyes, and he circled around Alec, examining him.
“Did you say Deverell?” King Alcandor asked.
“Yes, Your Majesty,” the general answered. “He’s the blade maker’s son.”
The king gave a curt nod. “This young man shall be tested next. General, you will conduct his trial.”
Alec’s head jerked toward the king, coming out of his stupor. He wished he hadn’t. When their eyes met, a strange sensation went through him, and he couldn’t pull away.
“Would you like to fight the general, Alec?” the king asked, smiling.
A surge of anger and hatred swelled. Yes, I would. There was nothing Alec wanted more.
“I see this pleases you,” King Alcandor said. “I will enjoy watching you use your skills, young Deverell.”
The general smirked, untied his cape, and flung it off to the side. Then he yanked a sword out of the ground and tossed it to Alec.
Alec caught it easily and swung it back and forth in an arc to get a feel for the blade. It wasn’t one of his father’s swords. The weight was off, and it was too bulky. Still, it felt good to hold steel.
The general unsheathed his sword and lunged in a single, fluid movement. Alec’s trained instincts met his blow. For several minutes, they circled each other, only swinging on occasion to test the reaction of the other. Alec’s nerves twitched at the meaningless duel.
Finally, General Trividar stopped and grinned. “Shall we fight, Mr. Deverell?” And then in a burst of jabs and slashes, the true battle began.
Fighting him was amazing. Alec had never met someone with such natural talent. Father’s swordsman skills were of the highest repute, but this man goaded Alec like none before. Alec fought with every fiber of strength and will and determination he could muster.
As the battle stretched on, it would seem neither could gain on the other. That is, until the yellow fire in the cheater’s eyes began to glow. Slowly and steadily, the general’s Speed increased.
Alec matched him as well as he could. Sweat poured down his face, obstructing his view. Finally, the general struck Alec and his sword arm went limp. Alec cursed and grabbed the sword with his other hand to block another blow.
“You are multi-talented, Mr. Deverell,” General Trividar said.
“Only for you, General,” Alec said between clenched teeth.
Alec barely heard the crowd cheering as the general’s Speed increased even more. Several more gashes appeared on Alec’s body, so fast he didn’t see them come: one on each leg, one across his chest, and finally, one that loosed his sword.
He fell to his knees, trembling with pent up fury. Although Alec couldn’t defend himself, he glared at the general as battle pounded in his blood. General Trividar wiped his sword on the grass, crammed the blade into its sheath, and turned away.
Several Healing Rol’dan ripped open Alec’s shirt, and the all-too-familiar pulse of healing coursed through him. After they finished, Alec fell on his hands, his chest heaving with exhaustion.
“Splendid, young Deverell,” King Alcandor said. “I knew you would not disappoint me.” The king’s eyes glowed purple with Empathy, and that odd sensation shot through Alec again.
“Once more, General,” the king said.
Alec looked up. Another fight? This is too good to be true.
“Your Majesty?” the general said.
“Fight him a second time, General.”
“My pleasure, Lord Alcandor.”
Before the general could make a move, Alec pushed to his feet, grabbed his sword, and sprinted toward General Trividar, swinging with all his strength.
Kristal Shaff grew up with books (and used to drive her mom crazy when she wouldn’t leave the library); her first job was even shelving books at the library. She loves anything creative, and you can often find her exploring strange and fantastical worlds in her choices of movies and fantasy fiction. Kristal resides in Iowa with her farmer husband, numerous pets, and 3 awesome kids (plus one more on the way though the journey of adoption). When she isn’t writing, she is a professional face painter who enjoys making children smile.
Winner will be drawn October 25, 2014
· Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of The Emissary by Kristal Shaff (INT)