LERANNU STONEFAITH focused her sight and thought on the eagle feather, watching it sway about in the breeze that she had conjured. It had been two years since she began taking lessons at her town’s chapter of the Mage Society, beginning her education in magic with learning its history and principles. Now, after two years of studying the mages of the past, incidents that had been debated between willful magic or divine intervention, and the lectures on ideal rejuvenation and the potential concerns of revitalizing tonics, Lerannu was finally casting her first spells. In the short span of an afternoon, the young Zaron pupil had gone from only flicking the feather about with the lightest gust to managing almost five seconds of continued suspension in a gentle, stable breeze.
Her enrollment began when she was ten, when she and her parents had found she could potentially work the elements with relative ease, though it was largely involuntary at first. Now, at age twelve, she was more in control than ever before, and the great joy she felt from her own strength, coupled with her connection to Creation, welled within her heart.
Sudden fatigue, however, quickly dampened her elation. Watching the feather fall to the creaky wooden floor through blurring vision, Lerannu staggered back into the waiting arms of Ahvrom Salinoth, one of her tutors, as she pressed a hand to her aching head. Her other teacher, Dalle, who was also Ahvrom’s wife, rushed to her side with a beaker of cool water, offering it to the young mage student.
“It’s alright, Lera,” Dalle assured her. “Getting the feel for your own mind and spirit is typically viewed as the biggest hurdle for a beginning mage. I’m afraid that’s a part of magic for which even the most thorough lectures won’t be able to prepare you.”
With a slightly trembling hand, Lerannu took the cup of water and began sipping it gently. As she drank, Ahvrom made sure she was standing steadily before withdrawing his support.
“But you did very well all the same,” Ahvrom remarked. “Most would still be struggling with all the main points, but you had hardly any trouble focusing on your targeted object and intended action.”
The teacher then began to chuckle.
“The first time I tried this, I couldn’t focus my mind on just guiding air into wind because I was distracted by the light of a candle. Long story short, I nearly burned the house down!”
Lerannu gazed up at the Mavon teacher incredulously, trying to determine if he was just trying to be funny and making up a story for her benefit. She could not imagine Ahvrom as ever having made such a mistake. The black-furred mage and his Balon-Zaron wife smiled at their pupil’s disbelief, with Dalle going on to confirm her husband’s account.
“It’s true,” she declared. “I watched him just before I took my turn at it. Our teacher thought about calling it a day then, but Nora, our other classmate, and I both convinced him not to.” Dalle shook her head, breathing a laugh and a sigh. “We were all so excited to finally start practicing spells, and we didn’t want to cut the day short when only Ahvrom had a chance to try. So then I went next, and my first attempt put all our schooling on hold for the rest of the week.”
Lerannu turned wide-eyed to Dalle. “What happened? Surely it wasn’t as bad as almost burning the house?”
“The candle fire could’ve been bad,” Dalle admitted, “but our teacher was quick enough to stop it, so no real damage was done.”
Dalle lifted the grey and white-streaked locks of hair draped over the right side of her face, revealing a deep scar above her brow. Lerannu’s jaw dropped.
“The teacher didn’t think to position himself behind me in case I drained myself from the spell,” Dalle explained, “but that’s exactly what happened. I tired myself out so badly and so fast that I fell almost as soon as I cast the spell. I turned a little as I was falling and slammed my head onto the teacher’s desk before hitting the floor. I was out cold before I even hit the ground and was bleeding pretty badly. I didn’t come around until after noon the following day.”
Lerannu’s eyes dropped from Dalle’s scar to the water in her half-drained beaker, which was rippling tremulously as her nerves set her hands to quivering again. The young student quickly regained composure, however, as Ahvrom, placing a warm reassuring hand on her shoulder, finished the tale.
“Once Dalle recovered and we resumed our lessons, our teacher always arranged for either his brother or a friend to be present in the study so that someone would always be on hand to catch a student if they fainted. We kept this in mind when we took charge of this branch of the Society and have worked together ever since.”
At this, the night-furred mage began to smile, his eyes moving from his student to his wife. “The two of us started here as colleagues, but it didn’t take long before we got married ...”
“And have a wonderful daughter,” Dalle gushed, “who’s no doubt waiting for you now that it’s well past noon. Lessons are done for today; just try not to tire yourself out with whatever outing you two have in mind. Have a good dinner and a good night’s sleep; that’s the best way to keep up your strength in magic, as with any other task. Have fun!”
“I will!” said Lerannu as she ran happily out the door. “Thank you, and see you tomorrow!”
Lerannu took a deep breath upon leaving the chapter house of the Mage Society, savoring the change of the air’s scent from the sweet musk of books and candles to the crisp air of mid-autumn’s later days. Glancing about the southern highway, which ran right through Bravagoth and served as her hometown’s main road, she quickly spotted Kiiva, her teachers’ daughter and best friend, playing absentmindedly with a fallen oak leaf while talking to their friend, Zalden. The two were under the massive oak that stood in the town square, which the highway enveloped as a river does to an isle in its midst. Lerannu ran up to the pair and greeted them, explaining her delay from her lessons’ normal ending time. She then told them of her new experience in manipulating wind.
Kiiva, though the child of two mages, was not of the inclination to dedicate herself to that particular discipline, instead showing a great interest in plants and the beginnings of a potential career to suit it. That said, Kiiva still had a fascination in the craft she saw her parents practice daily and was always eager to know of her friend’s progress. After hearing Lerannu’s account of the eagle feather, Kiiva could hardly contain her excitement. The flickering shadows of the oak’s thinning top played across Kiiva’s face of black, grey and white fur as she pleaded, eyes wide and bright, for her friend to show off her new skill.
“Oh please, Lera,” she begged, using the nickname all Lerannu’s friends and family used when not in formal circumstances, “I’ve been waiting to see you do something like this ever since you started! Ma and Da hardly ever tell me what you’ve done so far; they keep telling me to ask you about it.”
“Because I’m not always ready to talk about it,” Lerannu explained meekly, “and neither of them, nor me, wanted to bring attention to it until I felt like showing people. Not that it’s exactly a thing that most mages go out of their way to show off, anyway.”
Kiiva’s pleading eyes, an asset that nearly always moved those who saw them to yield to her requests, continued to pierce Lerannu’s resolve.
The young mage then shrugged humbly. “It’s just keeping a feather in the air, Kiiva. I haven’t really been able to guide it anywhere, and I’ve only been able to keep it up for a few seconds.”
Zalden, who had been listening quietly up to this point, spoke up. “That’s more than anyone else in town can say, apart from Kiiva’s parents.”
“Maybe, but I really should rest up for tomorrow.”
Kiiva, holding up the leaf in her hand, then played her bargaining abilities, which rounded out the three blessings she had that hinted at a promising career as a shrewd apothecary. “Oh, come on, Lera. Just one time, a few seconds, please? Just blow this leaf here a little and I won’t bother you about it anymore unless you decide to show me. Please?”
Lerannu sighed in resignation, walking over to the oak to sit beneath it.
“Alright, fine, fine!” she said, both annoyed and amused at her friend’s persistence. “But at least one of you needs to stand next to me in case I pass out or something, and I want to sit here and rest a few minutes before I start as well.”
With this, the young apprentice rested her head against the oak’s trunk and closed her eyes. She began to follow the process of meditation while half-listening to Kiiva as she and Zalden began jogging down the road.
“Of course,” Kiiva agreed. “We’ll let anyone else who wants to see know about it while you rest. Just relax for a bit, and when we come back, just blow around the leaf I have for a few seconds if you can. After that, I promise I won’t ask you to show us any more until you’re ready. Okay?”
“Okay,” Lerannu breathed as she shifted against the oak to get more comfortable. “Fifteen minutes or so should be enough.”
“Alright!” Kiiva said as she and Zalden ran off into town. “We’ll be back in a bit!”
Lerannu began to relax as her friends’ footsteps quickly faded away. It wasn’t until they were well out of earshot that Lerannu realized that Kiiva said she was going to let “anyone else who wants to see” know about the demonstration. The apprentice’s eyes snapped open as anxiety rocked the beginnings of her meditation.
“They’re going to bring the whole town here, and all those passing through, if they can!” she grumbled to herself, massaging her brow as her head began to ache in frustration. “What made Kiiva think that I was up for showing this to anyone other than her and Zalden?” She lifted her head, looking at the clear sky through the falling leaves and the dwindling number of those that still clung to the oak’s branches.
“I don’t know if I should be meditating or praying,” she said with a rueful sigh.
The young pupil took a deep breath and tried to reason herself back into calmness. She was already feeling refreshed just from stepping outside, and a good few minutes of focused rest would surely be enough to restore her for one last little demonstration. After all, she knew that Kiiva was sincere in her bargain that it would only be this one time, and she would otherwise let Lerannu decide when she felt ready to show anything else. As frustrating as Lerannu found it to be so easily swayed by her, she had to admit that Kiiva always kept her word if she could. Lerannu began to relax again, having run her feelings and her plan for the rest of the day through her mind. Once this little show was over, she’d go straight home, rest until dinner, and retire to her room for the rest of the night. Then she would tend to tomorrow’s lessons and practice.
Her confidence now well on the way to recovery, Lerannu returned her attention to the oak before she began her meditation again. It was almost the end of the year’s penultimate month, and many of the great tree’s darkening leaves were still holding on as Kyse’s time of year began to yield increasingly to that of Sardoth’s. Taking a minute to watch the leaves sway, the young mage saw a few of them finally release their grasp to blanket the acorns that lay around her. Lerannu rested her head back against the tree and began her meditation anew.
The young apprentice was pleasantly surprised at the sensations she had from her first experience in meditating as a recuperating mage. Dalle and Ahvrom had gone over the practice at great length over the past two years, and she had practiced it before, in some fashion or other, as part of her studies as well as in private. But this was the first time she had done this in an effort to regain her mental and spiritual strength for the act of spellcasting, and while the feelings themselves weren’t entirely new, the heights they reached were. Within a minute or so of closing her eyes, Lerannu began to feel that she was both rooted in the earth and floating on the breeze. Her sight, from behind her eyelids, beheld a marvelously tranquil interplay of black and various shades of gold, which came from the descending sun and the oak leaves casting their shadows above her.
Then she heard a sound: someone was calling her name. It was a woman’s voice that spoke: beautiful, gentle, friendly and oddly familiar. To Lerannu, the voice sounded as if it was echoing across the entire space between her place on Fidonhaal and the Eternal Realm of Onuhaal, for it felt at once both immediately present and unfathomably distant. For this reason, as well as the fact that the spell she was preparing to cast was one that drew from the winds, Lerannu at first thought she was hearing the voice of the angel Vente herself. Her tranquil reverie was shaken, but not broken, by the voice. With the ensuing rush of awe and apprehension, and her mind, heart and soul soaring, she placed all her focus on the angelic voice, which now felt very close.
Suddenly, a hand fell upon her shoulder. It was friendly and gentle, but heavy with the weight of the Mortal Realm. This shocked Lerannu from her serenity as though it were a strike to the face. The young mage’s eyes snapped open and a great rush of air filled her lungs as she gasped deeply from being pulled from her meditation, as a diver would when surfacing at the utmost limit of their breath. Finally released from her reverie’s grasp, she looked up and found herself laughing as she looked into the faces of Roniil Stonefaith, her father and mayor of Bravagoth, and Uriah Silverwind, the advisor of the town’s treasury and a good friend of the family. It was Uriah who had called out to Lerannu in her trance. Roniil, his fur as grey as his daughter’s, held out a hand to help her up. Uriah, a beautiful Fidon with the face and body of a porcelain-white Balon, and with long and flowing hair that was the jet-black of a Mavon, looked on as she questioned the young apprentice.
“Zalden and Kiiva are telling the whole town that you’re going to keep a leaf on the wind for as long as you can. Is it true?”
“Yes, Uriah,” Lerannu answered as she got to her feet with her father’s help. She and Uriah had been on friendly terms for years. She had referred to Uriah simply by her first name, as opposed to “Lady Silverwind” or other such titles, for nearly as long as she knew the treasurer at her own request. “I just started to learn how to move wind a little,” she continued, “but Kiiva convinced me to show her, as well as all the town, apparently.”
The three shared a laugh as Uriah remarked on Kiiva’s penchant for persuasion and attracting greater attention than what was at first expected. To Lerannu’s self-frustration, however, she found herself beginning to get nervous again, and confessed it to her father and friend.
“She and Zalden are getting the whole town excited,” she explained, “but I just don’t know how it’s going to go. It’s not like I can really move it around, either; it’s just been about keeping it in the air for a few seconds.”
“That’s more than I could do,” Uriah said as she looked at Roniil. “What about you, Roniil? Any secret penchant for magic you’ve been keeping from us?”
The mayor laughed. “I wouldn’t be able to do it for a second. Not of my own actual will, anyhow.”
Roniil then turned at the sound of an approaching crowd. He turned back to his daughter a few seconds later, beaming with pride.
“Looks like almost everyone’s taking some time out of their afternoon to see what you can do! I see a number of travelers taking a few minutes to stop and see, too. Many folks love to see a mage if they can, Lera, but I bet they’ll be especially interested in seeing a young one at the start of her path.”
Lerannu looked on as the great gathering, led by Kiiva and Zalden, congregated if front of the square’s oak. She recognized nearly everyone in Bravagoth, from the clergy of the local temple to the innkeeper and the blacksmith, who was Zalden’s father. The array of traveling strangers that frequently passed through town by the south highway also comprised a good part of the crowd, including a woman from Sorrenar’s eastern highlands and merchants obviously hailing all the way from Janrenar, given their robes and hairstyles. Having regained her strength from the meditation, Lerannu, while still nervous, began to feel a great sense of exhilaration at the sight of such a varied and intrigued audience. Kiiva interrupted her friend’s observation of the crowd with a tap on the shoulder.
“Just about everyone in town has come to see you, Lera!”
“I know,” Lerannu said with mostly mock annoyance. “That’s a whole lot more people than I would’ve agreed to if I could’ve said anything, but you and Zalden ran off so fast I didn’t have a chance.”
Kiiva, noting that Lerannu’s tone wasn’t completely serious, nevertheless dropped her ears in discomfort. “I’m sorry, Lera. I just thought that …”
“Don’t worry about it,” the apprentice said as she hugged her friend, any bother she might have still felt now fading completely away.
Kiiva smiled with relief. “So, do you think you’ll be ready soon? Did the meditating work?”
“It did,” Lerannu answered, “and I think I’ll be ready in just a few more minutes. Thank you.”
Zalden stepped in, pointing to his father the blacksmith and his mother, who worked as a general goods vendor. “My folks are here, too, and they’re really excited to see this!” The young Zaron boy paused awkwardly before continuing, his slate-grey eyes showing a great effort to phrase his next words with tact. “I don’t want to be pushy, Lera, but did I hear you say you’ll be ready soon? Ma and Da would love to see this, but they can’t stop their work for too long just yet, and a lot of these travelers can’t wait around very long, either.”
“Don’t worry,” Lerannu replied, “I’m pretty much ready, I just need to see if ...”
Lerannu’s voice trailed off as she surveyed the crowd once more. There were the two priests from the temple in their beautifully simple robes, and the town’s high priestess, who wore much the same aside from her brilliant bronze amulet. There was Zalden’s father, in his smith’s apron, his friendly green eyes peering through his sooty face, which was purely grey when clean. Beside him was his wife, also of fully Zaron heritage, well-groomed and dressed to charm the customers in her shop. There was the northern highland woman, fur white as snow from head to toe, and donning the kilt and marital nose ring of her culture. And there were the five merchants from the great south rainforest of Lidrovgla. Their fur, black and brilliant as obsidian in the late afternoon sun, along with their lush Mohawks and vibrant, sleeveless robes (with light cloaks draped over them for the chilly air), likely would have made them the center of the town’s curiosity for the day if it weren’t for Lerannu’s impending demonstration.
There was only one person absent as far as Lerannu could tell, and that was the only one she cared about aside from those who already stood with her beneath the tree. Turning to her friends, who were now standing alongside her father and Uriah, Lerannu questioned them in a low voice.
“Where’s Mama? Didn’t you stop by town hall when you were telling everybody?”
Kiiva scanned the crowd intently as she answered. “Yes, that’s where your dad and Uriah were when we told them. They were sitting right next to her and they were all talking with each other.”
Roniil, having overheard the conversation, quickly verified Kiiva’s response. “She’s right. We were just about to finish for the day and told your friends that we would be along soon. Your mother said she’d only be a few minutes behind, because she needed to finish writing the day’s record. Maybe something came up at the last minute. I think I heard the receptionist say something about Doctor Gahdos coming in just as I walked out the door.”
With this thought, Roniil turned aside and spoke quietly to Uriah.
“Did she perhaps mention to you that she was going to do anything else?”
“No, I thought she was just about to wrap things up, too. Why do you ask?”
“Unless Gahdos had something really pressing to say, she might’ve just let other things take up her focus. Things that could easily wait until at least tomorrow.”
The mayor’s voice suddenly fell into a weary tone.
“She’s been doing that quite a bit lately, come to think of it. I don’t want to be against her commitment to managing things here, but she seems to have gotten more into that than other things lately. Like Lera and me.”
“I had no idea, Ron. Is ... is everything alright?”
“It’s just been a little difficult lately. Like last month ...”
Lerannu, hearing this conversation over the soft hum of the crowd, closed her eyes and tried to calmly tune them out and sort her feelings. While Bravagoth itself was not a very large town, its location on the south highway to multiple ports in the west and south wards of Enmayar made it a popular stop for travelers at all hours of day and night. With this continuous flow of travelers came an exceptional amount of commerce for a town of Bravagoth’s size. Thus, the mayors of Bravagoth, practically since the town’s founding, almost always had a good more to tend to than those of most other settlements of comparable sizes. Lerannu’s father had been mayor all her life, and her mother worked as the office scribe, presiding over the daily matters with her husband and writing the records. Thus, Lerannu had experienced a number of times when, for one reason or other, at least one of her parents wasn’t present for one life milestone or another, as well as times when she saw plainly that the demands of both jobs placed
strain upon them and their bond.
She had tried to become accustomed to it and usually prided herself as being, in her own mind at least, fairly understanding of her parents’ situation, having been told by both on numerous occasions that they loved her and were proud of her. She went by the notion they were always with her in spirit as often as she could. Regardless, she couldn’t help but feel particularly crestfallen at the thought of her mother not being able to see her demonstration.
Her ponderings were interrupted by her father’s hand resting gently on her shoulder.
“Lera,” Roniil whispered, “Uriah and I are going to see what’s keeping your mother. We’ll try to be quick, but we might not be able to bring her here in time. If we don’t come back without her ... well, maybe we could–”
“I’ll just show her later, if that’s how it goes,” Lerannu said calmly.
“But Lera, this is your first time–”
“I know, but it’s not like this sort of thing hasn’t happened before. Mama took me to my first day at the Society, and you weren’t able to come, so maybe this will even it out a little, if she can’t make it?”
Lerannu grinned faintly, hoping a little attempt at humor would lighten the mood. Roniil, however, looked at her with pained sea-green eyes, and her smiled swiftly wilted.
“We’re really not trying to treat it like that, Lera,” the mayor said quietly. “We’d both be there for you always, if we could.”
“I ... I di–didn’t mean–” Lerannu stammered, growing hot in the face and seeing her vision suddenly blur with tears that brimmed on the brink of falling. A few seconds passed as both daughter and father, each understanding the other, regained their composure.
“Just come back if you can, okay?” she asked.
With that, Roniil and Uriah swiftly made for the town hall. Lerannu let her eyes roam about the crowd once more as Kiiva and Zalden positioned themselves behind her in her father’s stead.
Zalden spoke up. “Is everything okay?” he asked quietly.
“Yeah,” said Lerannu in a mildly subdued tone. “They’re just checking to see if Mama’s going to be able to make it. If not, I’m still doing it.”
“I’m sorry, Lera,” said Kiiva guiltily. “I didn’t think there would be any serious holdup with your parents’ work at the time because of it getting close to evening. Like your Da said, they were just about to call it a day.”
“It’s okay,” Lerannu said, now more evenly. “This wouldn’t be the first time. And besides, I really want to do this now. Really.”
“Going to try it one more time, eh?”
The three children wheeled around, finding themselves face to face with Ahvrom and Dalle. As Kiiva embraced her mother and father in turn, Dalle, who had spoken, looked at the crowd admiringly.
“You’ve got quite the audience together! Are you sure you’re up for this, Lera? You shouldn’t overwork yourself just because of some impatient friends.”
Dalle gave Kiiva and Zalden a mild glare of disapproval, her prime focus placed on her daughter. Lerannu, seeing both shifting awkwardly under her gaze, quickly came to their rescue.
“I’m sure, Missus Salinoth. I rested a little before everyone arrived and I’m only doing it once. Then I’m calling it a day, I promise.”
“Very well,” said Dalle. “Minding your limits and figuring them out is important to learn, mage or no, and it pretty much always starts out as a matter of trial and error, anyway. I guess we’ll see soon enough.” The tutor observed Kiiva and Zalden’s position behind her student. “Looks like you’ve already got your help in case you push too hard, but we’ll be here, too.”
“Thank you, but Papa and Uriah should be back any minute, hopefully Mama too, and they’ll be with me for that. I’m worried it’ll be too crowded here if you’re with us, too.”
Ahvrom, having been looking through the crowd during the conversation, pointed toward the back of the audience. “I see your father and Uriah, but not your mother. They look like they’re trying to tell you to go ahead. They seem a bit worried about something, too. Do you see them?”
Lerannu followed her teacher’s gesture, quickly catching her father and the treasurer in the throng. Her heart sank at Roniil’s troubled face. She caught her father’s nod, and closing her eyes and taking one last deep breath, whispered to Kiiva to get ready to throw the leaf. She then stepped forward to address the crowd.
“Thank you all so much for taking the time to come and see this. My friends were really excited to see what I learned today, and what started as me getting ready to show only them is now a chance to share it with all of you, whether you live here or are passing through.”
Lerannu looked over to Kiiva, who confirmed that she was ready to toss the leaf when signaled, as the crowd politely acknowledged her introduction with encouraging applause.
“I only just learned to work with wind today,” the young mage continued, “and only a little at that, but I’m happy to show you what I can do.”
The crowd applauded encouragingly once more, and Lerannu, bracing her mind and body for the task, nodded to Kiiva to toss up the leaf. Just as her friend wound her arm back to throw, Lerannu became conscious of the sudden stillness in the air. It felt as if Vente herself wanted to make sure a stray breeze did not meddle with the apprentice’s efforts. The sensation of stillness and silence came and went swiftly, and Lerannu found herself focusing completely on the leaf the instant it flew from Kiiva’s hand.
Pressing her hands together at the sides, palms up, Lerannu kept her sight, mind, and soul fixed on the leaf, its former green now faded to an earthy orange by autumn’s breath. She could feel the wind being channeled across her palms. She could see the leaf fluttering about, but staying afloat, by the steady breeze that she had called forth. A smile crept onto her face as she became aware, faintly, of the growing cheers of the onlookers. The moodiness she felt from her mother’s absence and the unintended hurt she had caused her father melted away.
When her sight began to blur into tunnel vision, Lerannu didn’t trouble herself with trying to sustain the spell a second longer. She simply let go of her focus with a blink of the eyes and a quick, deep breath. The crowd’s applause was now booming, and Lerannu, her heart soaring high, promptly took a bow. She was caught off-guard by Zalden’s sudden grasp upon her shoulders, followed by the gasp from the audience, until she realized that her bow must have seemed more like a swooning stagger. The apprentice laughed, explaining her gesture to the crowd, who then laughed alongside her.
“I am pretty tired now, though, so that’ll be all today. Thank you all again so much for coming! Onu keep you all well!”
As the crowd applauded once more, Lerannu turned to her friends and teachers, surprised at their wide-eyed gaze. When she asked what the matter was, Dalle stepped forward, stooping slightly so she could speak to her student eye-to-eye.
“Nothing’s wrong, Lera,” the mage assured her, a smile of wonder spreading across her face. “Nothing at all. But you should know, you nearly doubled your time from this afternoon.”
Lerannu felt as if her jaw was going to unhinge. “Are you joking?”
“Not at all,” said Ahvrom. “You kept that leaf in the air for almost ten seconds that time. It’s possible that things were just lined up in your favor, for lack of a better way of saying it, but very few students your age have been able to do that, especially on their first day. Honestly, five seconds is a bit above average to begin with, and you were managing that over the course of one afternoon. Lera, I believe you could really become a great mage.”
“Of course! And you could go anywhere in the world, and there would be plenty of people who’d love to have you around. The Temple, kings and queens, everyday travelers ... anyone and everyone!”
Dalle, still crouching to Lerannu’s eye level, placed a hand on her student’s shoulder and patted it affectionately. “And I can tell you, with no doubt in my mind, that your mother is very proud of you. I hope you aren’t thinking otherwise.”
“No, it’s not like that,” Lerannu sighed. “This has happened before, I just–”
The mage pupil’s words were cut short as the voice of Ban Gahdos, the head physician of the town and her father’s advisor on health-related affairs, cut through the lingering applause of the crowd.
“Attention, everyone!” the doctor cried out. “I have received a message this afternoon reporting several outbreaks of Endallian Fever across Enmayar! Please remain calm and follow the guard and doctor that approach you. We are awaiting further news on the situation, and will keep you informed as we learn more of what’s going on. Thank you for your cooperation!”
Silence reigned over the crowd at the mentioning of the dreaded disease, which was said to kill two of every ten infected despite the progress in medicine since its first recorded cases. Glancing worriedly at the faces around her, Lerannu saw her father and Uriah striding up to her through the crowd as it dispersed according to the doctor’s instructions. Reaching his daughter, Roniil took her hand, bidding her to say farewell to her friends and teachers until a course of action was decided about the town’s affairs during the alert. He led Lerannu up to Doctor Gahdos himself. Beside him was Sarah Stonefaith, Lerannu’s mother. Seeing her daughter, Sarah pulled her to her side and hugged her tightly.
“I’m so sorry I couldn’t see you with the leaf, Lera. I was just on my way out the door when Doctor Gahdos came back with the news.”
“It’s okay, Mama. What’s going to happen?”
“We’re not sure yet, but we’ll probably need to keep people from coming into town for a while ... or leaving, for that matter.”
“We’ll have to wait and see, though,” her father remarked, “because our choice, whatever it be, could risk either spreading the fever or holding back help, if not both.”
Lerannu held tightly to her mother, whose sigh of exasperation filled her ears. With the crowd now dispersed into different groups to undergo medical inquiries, Lerannu followed her parents and Doctor Gahdos, who led them back to town hall for examinations.
Here is the second preview-chapter of my debut novel, The Saga of Fidonhaal - Daughters of the East, which is an "anthro/furry" fantasy-adventure story that's now available in eBook and print-on-demand Paperback on Amazon!
If you like what you see, feel free to check out my other sample-chapters here on Weasyl, as well as maps and other artwork relevant to the story and setting at large!
APPENDIX SAMPLE: BESTIARY
APPENDIX SAMPLE: MAGIC
APPENDIX SAMPLE: RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY
If you think you'd enjoy reading the entire book, you can get a copy by following this link:
Daughters of the East is set within the world of Fidonhaal, a wondrous world inhabited by creatures known as the Fidons. These beings, from our perspective, appear as anthropomorphic wolves, and the name of their race translates from their language as "Faithful One(s)." These people, and the world they live in, have endured ages of conflict and peace, triumph and tragedy, and good and evil, these times involving both the mortals and the supernatural, divine and unholy alike.
The events told within this novel are but one part of this world's saga.