SwordQuest is the third and final book in the Lands of Daranor Trilogy. The story resolves the events of ProphecyQuest and introduces the new powerful enemy who came through the Portal after Darhyn. Click on the cover to purchase the book at Amazon
The room stank of despair. There was just no other way to describe it. Everything in the room seemed only a shade of its former self. Chipped paint barely clung to the walls. The windows provided only the slightest protection against the wind, and did nothing to stop the chill dampness that seeped in through the cracks. Even the long wooden bench that ran along the length of the bar seemed ready to give up and crack as it sagged under the combined weight of half a dozen grossly overweight and sedentary beings. One interrupted his blank stare ahead only long enough to raise his tankard to his lips, the exertion of which caused him to sweat profusely. He wiped his brow and then sighed as if the world had done him some grave injustice. Another stared wistfully in his glass, swirling it around endlessly as if staring at the end of his life. The shabby cat absentmindedly pawed at a mouse who was too disinterested to move away. Searching his mind, Yonathan did not think that he had ever come upon a more pitiful place.
If the rumors were true, this was just the place where he would find what he was looking for.
His calm eyes searched the room, leaving no detail unnoticed. His quest had led him across the Lands of Daranor. He had traveled from his home in Freeton, to a shop in Tealsburg, following the clues that had at last led him to this desolate tavern in Poy.
There, in the darkest corner of the room, he spied the object of his search. The man who sat there, if he could be called such in his current state, hunched over in his chair. His unkempt beard could not hide the features that Yonathan knew so well.
“It is time to go,” he said, taking a seat at the table.
“There is nowhere for me to go,” the man replied. “There is nothing that I can do anymore.”
“Kandan,” Yonathan spoke softly. “You were once the most skilled man I knew. What has happened to you?”
“I do not know what you mean,” he replied. “And that name has no more meaning for me.”
Yonathan looked him over, wondering for a second if he had indeed been mistaken. True, this figure before him was nothing more than a shadow of the man who had fought beside him so many years ago. But Yonathan and Kandan had been through terrible things together, the kind of things that burned memories into one’s brain. There was no mistake.
Yonathan reached out with his powerful left arm, the fabric of Kandan’s cloak folding as Yonathan encountered no resistance where Kandan’s right arm should have been. He grasped Kandan’s shoulder, causing the other to yelp in pain. The rest of the tavern looked up in mild surprise, and then down at their glasses again as they quickly realized that Yonathan was not someone that they wanted to anger.
Kandan’s face betrayed a little of his surprise. “Leave me alone.”
“I can’t,” Yonathan answered. “I can’t leave you alone because we need you.”
“What could you possibly need me for?”
Yonathan leaned in close and whispered something into Kandan’s ear.
Kandan burst out laughing. It was a hollow, mirthless laugh, but still disturbed the atmosphere of the tavern. This was not the kind of place accustomed to laughter.
“Don’t mock me, old friend,” Kandan said after a short pause. “If you found me here then you should know that’s something I can’t do. But even if it was, why should I help you?”
Yonathan was stone serious. It was time to play his trump card, to release the one piece of information that he knew would cause Kandan to follow him. “Because he is not dead. Because he has returned.”
Kandan looked like he was about to reply that he had already heard about Darhyn returning, but then his face changed. Excitement and holy fury gnawed at the edges. “You mean…?”
Yonathan nodded. “Yes, my friend. And only by doing this can you ensure that we will make Corizaz pay. There will be no mistake this time.”
Kandan’s expression changed to one of eager delight. Yonathan could see that he had no belongings, so it was fortunate that he had thought to bring an extra horse. Within ten minutes, the pair had taken their leave of the tavern and were galloping away into the night.
He sprayed green fire across the field, reducing the enemies to ash. Now he saw one reason why Darhyn wanted him so close. Corizaz took in a deep breath and sucked the magergy in to replace some of what he had lost. He had to be careful not to try to pull any that was too close to Darhyn. He had a reasonable explanation, but the death lord wasn’t known for his ‘reasonableness.’ Fire was one of the best weapons to use against Persericax. In contrast to a blade that just destroyed the mites where it cut, fire took out all or most of the body. Still, casting a spell required an expenditure of magergy just as swinging a sword required energy. Magergy could be replenished from the surrounding creatures, not unlike how energy was replaced by eating an apple. People ate fruits and grains, even animals all the time and didn’t consider themselves evil for stealing the energy of the other. When Corizaz took magergy he was merely doing the same. Perhaps his bad reputation just came from the fact that he kept doing it to people…
Darhyn stood there, eyes blazing in empty sockets. Darhyn had to be physically close to the battle. Corizaz didn’t know what his plan was, or if he even had one. He could sense the malevolence that washed off Darhyn like waves. Although he could see that some of it was meant for the king and the boys, most of it was directed towards Persericax. Did Darhyn have a play for after Persericax was defeated? Could he even be defeated? If not, everything else was moot. If Persericax was defeated, the battle would quickly turn. They were perched upon a cliff in the mountains of the dwarves, watching the battle unfold below them. They had seen smoke billowing up from the volcano as parts of the mountain collapsed. Corizaz assumed that meant everyone had made it inside and they were now proceeding with the forging. They had also seen the king’s army approach and attack. Corizaz had to use all his discipline not to think about all of the dead and dying, souls that he could use to become stronger. He salivated at the thought before pushing it out of his mind. Things could work out almost perfectly. If the king’s men managed to defeat Persericax but most of them died in doing so, well, he couldn’t think of a better outcome. Plus, he might finally get to see what happened to a skull knight driven past his limit.
Their proximity to the battle meant that every few minutes some of Persericax would make its way to them. He was somehow drawn by power, like a dwarf to a diamond. Darhyn didn’t want to use up any of his magergy, so it fell to Corizaz to deal with them all. Whether Darhyn had an endgame or not, he wanted to be fresh. Of course, an interesting side effect of that strategy was that Corizaz would also be drained. Could Darhyn suspect anything? Corizaz dared not suggest any other course of action. He wasn’t worried Darhyn would call him a coward. Such a concern was petty, human. He just couldn’t afford to raise Darhyn’s suspicions. There was enough to distract him with the battle, but Corizaz didn’t doubt Darhyn would destroy him if he felt Corizaz could become a threat.
So they waited, and they watched. They decimated the occasional group of mites who ventured towards them, and the battle raged on.