Quest, Book 2 in The Clans of Arcadia Series Publishes Today
On Wednesday, June 27, I introduced you to a new author, Arwen Chandler, in an author interview. Arwen has added a new chapter to the Clans of Arcadia: Quest!
I have read this book and highly recommend it.
Darkness has fallen on Arcadia. Yet, Karn Elohite stands strong.
He leads his beloved Lilia, clansman Ian, and dragon Aslaug on a quest through Langerhorn to unleash the power of the dragon riders.
Langerhorn, the ancestral home of the gods, is home of ancient dragons, faeries, and elves.
Will the trio survive their quest, and save Arcadia? Or will Magnus and Fridtjof destroy everything while they are away?
Quest is a story set in a world as dangerous as George R.R. Martin's Westeros, and as magical as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Not since the dawning of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight, has a saga hatched from the world of dragons like The Clans of Arcadia. Do you dare to walk within?
Fans of A Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and Dragonflight will love Quest!
Quest is the second book in The Clans of Arcadia series.
Chapter 1 Excerpt:
Blue light bounced from torch to torch as the procession snaked up the side of the mountain. Darkness fell hard across her shoulders. She could almost taste the pain welling in her throat. What seemed like months had passed, but in reality, it was no more than a few days. So much had happened. She dabbed at her eyes with a silk handkerchief, then placed it back inside her bodice. She searched the darkness for his hand, and only relaxed when she felt his strong fingers intertwined with hers.
In the distance, a fine blue mist swirled around the dragon’s keep. Blue flamed torches lined the pathway, from the base of the keep to the open courtyard. The melodious timbre of voices drifted upon the night air, and the sound of skindrums echoed across the plateau and down into the valley. The blue-flamed torches kept time with each beat that bounced on the breeze.
Lilia pulled her wrap tightly around her shoulders and climbed the last step to the landing. The land sprawled out before her. The dragon bards stood in a circle around a tall pyre.
In front of the pyre, Lucca stood on a rock formation. His formal robes billowed around his legs, as the wind pushed behind him. His neck chains picked up the flickering motion of the fire. They seemed to dance in the darkness, shimmering like dragon’s scales.
A knot crept into her throat as the song died down, and she no longer suppressed the sobs tearing at her heart. Karn placed his arm around her, drawing her close to his side. “It’ll be okay, dear one.”
Lilia nodded, but her body quivered with pain. “I…I know it will. It just hurts so much.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath as Lucca raised his hands.
“Friends. We have gathered on this solemn occasion to remember the life of Tiernan Maekel, and to send his soul to Lorna’s lands.” Lucca cleared his throat and motioned to the raven-haired woman at his side. She stepped forward; her skin glowed softly in the moonlight.
“My children,” she glanced at Lilia then at Annielie, “do not despair. You’ll see my servant again when you enter my lands of rest. He’s taken his place in service to me, beside my priestesses.”
The crowd gasped, and Lorna lifted a hand. “I know it hasn’t been done before, but these times are changing. I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors that Caladain has returned.
The man laid to rest before you has been a friend to him and a brother-in-arms. He’s been invaluable to me here in Arcadia, and I know he’ll prove more so in my lands.”
The goddess tossed her raven hair over her shoulder, and it made a sound like falling leaves. “He is one of mine, and he will be remembered as such.” Her violet eyes danced. “Perhaps a ballad, my Lord Catlett, for your dragon bards to sing?”
Lord Catlett nodded. “Anything for you, my lady.”
Ian glanced at Karn, then to Annielie. She rubbed her hand absently across her stomach, and Ian smiled. He cast a quick glance at Merek, Durst, Loegare, Caderyn, and Mercer. Their faces were filled with awe, and their eyes followed every move the goddess made.
Ian chuckled softly, and Karn cocked his head in his direction, shooting him a warning look. Ian shrugged, and mouthed “Sorry, brother,” and Karn turned away.
He looked back to Lorna, and she smiled at him. Karn bent over close to Lilia’s ear. “You realize your brother is with my wife.”
Lilia’s eyes glistened, as she whispered back, “And how does that make you feel, my love?”
Karn closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The flame coursed through his veins, and he followed it as it circulated through his body. It reminded him of the future he was fated to confront as soon as the days of mourning ended. He opened his eyes. “Surprisingly, I find it comforting.”
Lilia rested her head on his shoulder and gazed up at Tiernan’s shrouded form, falling into memories, and losing herself in her thoughts. “I wish life were different.”
Karn kissed her hand. “If it were, I’d be home with Elenora, and we’d never have met.”
Lilia nodded, “Yes. That’s true, but you’d still have your clan. Maybe my father would be alive, and Tiernan would still be next in line to become chieftain.”
Karn studied Tiernan’s shrouded form, and the memories of the fire in Bardai Valley flooded his mind. He pushed the pain aside and took a long breath. “We can not live in what-ifs, Lilia. It does no one good.” The flame danced in his unnaturally blue eyes. “Believe me, I know.”
She sighed. “I suppose.”
The feverish cadence of the skindrums drew their attention back to Lucca and Lorna. The pair stood precariously close to the edge of the rock formation in the center of the gathering. Lucca’s robes billowed, and Lorna’s raven hair lashed across her shoulders with each burst of wind.
Lucca took Lorna’s left hand, and from their extended right hands blue flame spiraled into the center of the gathering and stopped with the last beat of the drums.
Without a breath of silence, the dragon bards started singing again. Their song filled the air with minor chords and low dulcet tones.
Inside the spiral of flames, Tiernan walked beside a black-haired woman through a magnificently manicured garden. Oversized roses in every color bloomed in the warmth of the sun. In the center of the garden a large rectangular pond rippled with the breeze, and frogs jumped from lily pad to lily pad. In the distance behind the couple, was a towering temple. The pair stopped, and the woman pointed to something out of view. Tiernan waved, a broad grin stretched across his face.
Lilia chuckled. “Something has made him smile. I wish I knew what it was.” She studied the black-haired woman, she looked familiar, but she couldn’t quite place her. “Is that her, your Elenora?”
“She’s beautiful, Karn.”
“Yes, she is.”
Silence settled between them and despite the joy she felt at seeing Tiernan at peace, tears welled in her eyes. “I know you miss her.” She choked on her words.
Karn pulled her so that she stood in front of him. The flame danced in his eyes. “I do, but she is my past. You, Lilia, are my future.”
The tears spilled down Lilia’s pale cheek, and she leaned into him. “And you are mine. You know we’re the same. You’ve lost your clan, and I’ve lost mine with Tiernan gone.”
Karn draped his arm over her shoulders. “We’ll make a new clan.” They turned back to the image of Tiernan and Elenora. Tiernan ran his hand through his blond hair and laughed again when a butterfly landed on his finger.
A smile returned to Lilia’s face. “He looks happy.” She watched a moment more, and the image collapsed upon itself as the blue flame disappeared and the bards stopped their song. “It is enough to know he’s happy.” She took a deep breath, and for the first time in days, it didn’t hang in her throat.
Lucca motioned to Lilia. “Would you step forward and speak of your brother?”
Lilia nodded and walked to the center of the field. She stood beside Tiernan’s pyre. She waved for Annielie to join her, and reluctantly she walked away from Ian.
“Tiernan was devoted. He was devoted to me, our father, our clan, and his wife, Annielie.” She paused and hugged Annielie. “It’ll be okay, Sister.”
Annielie blew her nose softly into her handkerchief. “I know.” She studied her feet, unable to look into the crowd.
Lilia scanned the faces of those in attendance. There were only a few she knew, but she recognized some of the acolytes from when their party first arrived at the Dragon’s Keep.
She cleared her throat. “Tiernan and I grew up believing in the harsh teachings of Elanvanin. We believed in his ways, and we followed him. We were wrong.” Lilia glanced at her boots, then looked back up.
“In the last few months we’ve come to worship the goddess, and it does my heart good amidst this great pain to see that she…” She looked up at Lorna, “that you, my lady, have taken us under your wing, and welcomed us to your people.”
Lorna’s body shimmered and disappeared, reappearing at Lilia’s side. “I am here for you, my child. Your brother will not be forgotten. He laid down his life in battle to protect my chosen one. Tiernan’s place is sealed, as is yours.”
Lilia wiped the tears from her face. “Thank you.”
Lorna kissed her forehead then shimmered again, this time reappearing beside Lucca.
“The Maekels have an ancient poem titled, The Journey, that has been recited at the funerals of our chieftains for centuries. Typically, it is read by the chief historian, but tonight I will take his place.
She glanced up at Tiernan’s sleeping form. It is true, brother, that you never sat upon Anwell’s throne, but I believe it is fitting to recite it to you today, but first…” She paused, biting her lip. “I stand here before these witnesses, proclaiming the loss of our chieftain.”
Lilia’s voice strengthened with each word she spoke, “and as is my right, bestowed on me by blood, I, Lilia daughter of Anwell Maekel, lay claim to my birthright as the next chieftain of the Maekel clan, and ruler of the Maekel lands.
Anger flashed in her eyes, “I pledge to you brother, that I will thrust Fridtjof through with your blade, and exact vengeance upon him and those who follow him without mercy.”
Excitement traveled through the gathering like electricity. Lilia waited for the feeling to dissipate before proceeding. “Now, I will recite The Journey.
Go now loved one,
to the fields of green.
Your hunt is just beginning
as your autumn turns to spring.
While life for you is over
with the setting of the sun.
Our hearts will always follow you,
Now your journey has begun.
When we think of you in the future,
We’ll remember days gone by,
and to those precious memories,
our minds will often fly.
Go now onto your travels,
Our hearts will not repine,
and in a future place,
we will sing again
where our love will ever shine.
Lilia wiped a tear from her eye and walked back to Karn. He grabbed her hand and pulled her to him. “Well done, Lilia.”
Her heart pounded in her ears, and her body trembled as if the proclamation of her ascension and the finality of Tiernan’s death had finally settled into reality. “There has never been a female chieftain.”
Karn kissed her temple. “It is time for you to lead. As the goddess said, times are changing.” He smiled, and they turned their attention back to Tiernan’s funeral pyre.
Lorna motioned to Lucca. “It’s time, husband.”
He signaled to a small purple dragon. “Aslaug, please step forward.”
The dragon was smaller than the others in attendance but walked with confidence. She stopped beside the pyre and took a deep breath. Smoke billowed from her nostrils, and a bright orange flame burst from between her lips.
The pyre erupted into flames, and the dragon bards sang another song. The wood crackled and popped as the flame-engulfed Tiernan’s final resting place. High above their heads, dragons circled beneath the stars like dancers in the sky.
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