Praise for ELEGY:
The Arbiter Codex series has definitely catapulted to the top of my must read list whenever a new installment is released. – (Amazon.com)
D’Arden Tal is an Arbiter — given up at birth to the secretive Council of Masters, to be raised and trained in the light of the manna. Only the Arbiters can withstand the toxic power of the world’s lifeblood, and purify it when it has been corrupted. For more than eight decades, D’Arden has been a champion against the darkness. There are many shadows in the world, but the azure light from his crystalline sword burns them away.
A veil of crimson death has settled over the city of Calessa. Evil rages within it, the land is frozen and bleak, and the dead once more walk among the living, consuming all in their path. The few who stand firm against the darkness grow more desperate with each passing day, and despair takes root in the hearts of the good.
His mission is simple: D’Arden must root out and destroy the source of the evil before it
overwhelms the meager remains of innocent life within Calessa’s walls. This is what he was born to, what he has trained for. One more day in the perilous and deadly life of the Arbiter.
This time, though, something is waiting for him. It has been expecting him. And it knows exactly how to destroy him…
He knew that he was being followed.
The pale moon hung heavily in the sky as the night wore on, casting everything in long grey shadows. Winter had come to the outlands; no snow yet lay on the ground, but the leaves had all fallen from the trees, and the ground was cracked from the freezing temperatures that crept across the land at night. There was no color on a night like this, no colors on the trees with the leaves fallen, and all else washed away in the light of the Deadmoon.
Mist formed from each breath before him as the great destrier beneath him plodded onward towards their destination. The horse seemed nervous, and his horse was rarely ever nervous. The city of Calessa still lay at least a league away, and they were already in danger.
It seemed that he was always in danger.
“Come, Tyral.” He urged the horse onward in a low tone, and despite the cold, the great beast managed to pick up its pace.
He rode onward through the starkly bare trees, casting his eyes about him at all times, expecting that any moment they might attack from the shadows. Traveling at night was a dangerous pastime, and most of those who tried it would fall prey to the horrific creatures that prowled the outlands in the moonlight.
At last, the great stone walls of Calessa hove into view. He had found refuge at last, a savior from the bitter cold. He could see smoke curling lazily upward from chimneys and lights, though they were few indeed, this close to dawn.
The walls seemed to grow to an immense height as he approached them. It had escaped him just how high the walls of the city were, built of thick and hardened stone to protect against the horrors that lay just outside them. The dusty road upon which he traveled led straight to the vast wooden gates that admitted visitors into the city.
As they approached the gate, he drew the horse to a stop. “By authority of the Arbiters, I command you to open the gate and admit me to your city!” he called up towards the top of the walls.
There was no answer.
There came from the edge of the barren forest through which he had passed a low, throaty growl. He turned the horse around to see three beasts lingering near the edge of the forest. Twisted mockeries of the creatures they had once been, they stood almost two feet tall at the shoulder. Though they were vaguely canine, no dog would claim them as kin now. Huge teeth, too large for their heads, were bared in anticipation, and their massive claws stood out from huge, oversized paws. In the dark, he could see their eyes glowing a dull, angry red, the color of the corrupted manna that lent them their twisted shape. They eyed him hungrily but did not yet approach, for they knew that what lay on the other side of their gates was their death for certain.
A lonely traveler, alone outside the gates of the city… that was almost a certain victory for the hungry creatures.
“Fel dogs,” the traveler spat under his breath. He looked sharply up once more at the wall. “Open the gods-damned gates, I say!”
Still there was no response from the impassive stone.
“Damn,” he cursed viciously. “Nothing for it, then.”
With a smooth motion he swung his leg over the back of the horse and dismounted. The destrier snorted and stepped nervously sideways once the rider had disengaged.
He reached to his back and pulled free the long, straight blade that hung lightly on his baldric. The crystalline blade came free with a low rasping noise, and the area flooded with a blue glow, the pure manna flowing through the blade and lending him strength. He gripped the blade’s handle tightly in both hands, and gave a quick nod toward the horse, who took a few more steps away.
The walls would protect the city.
Seeing that their prey had suddenly decreased in size, the fel dogs’ confidence increased tenfold. The blue light from the manna blade made them uneasy, but though the corrupted life force had given them size and strength, it had not given them a worthy intelligence.