- Author: Sterling D'Este
Book online «Vassal Sterling D'Este (top 10 books of all time .TXT) 📖». Author Sterling D'Este
Call of Calamity Book One
Copyright © 2021 L&S Fables
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The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
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Paperback ISBN: 9798574126288
Cover design by: Sara Oliver Designs
Library of Congress Control Number: 2020924506
Printed in the United States of America
For the misfits.
Map of Rhosan and Ingola
Map of Rhosan and Ingola
The Fundamentals of Magic
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Tenth Moon of the Year 1542: Rhosan-Ingolan Border
Trees whipped by, black monoliths slowly thinning. Dawn was a grey promise on the horizon, little light, but it served to illuminate the twisting forms of roots raised from the ground like feet tilted to trip a sprinting figure.
Catrin had not lost her way, even on so cloudy a night, but still ran southward, her thighs aching. Every sound was a pursuer, a hound or a bespelled soldier bent on taking away the book she held pressed to her chest. It was a small thing, insignificant in appearance for all that it had been written by Enyo’s strongest high priest and contained within its pages more magic than the slight acolyte had ever imagined.
The girl could not cast a spell, but she could run. Fleet as a doe, her mother had said, and so she’d been given to Enyo. In thanks to the land.
Praise the Goddess.
Behind her, the imagined sounds of pursuit had become real, the thunder of branches crumbling beneath the force of armored horses. Catrin was angling south and east, cutting through the tangle of the dream Goddess’s wood as though she meant to disappear within it. Ruyaa’s forest was a strange place, thick with fog even in the heat of noon. Now, in the cold light of a change-time, a transition from dark to day, it was coiling and unpredictable. Branches seemed to reach out, trunks to shift. Ephemeral and changeful as a dream.
But still, the soldiers were gaining. Gaining despite the thick foliage, despite the lack of any real path.
Catrin felt the wind from the path of a man’s large hand scrape the back of her neck, fear fueling another hectic burst of speed. She darted behind a protrusion of rock that turned to mist and drifted away to leave her in full view of twenty armed pursuers.
“There’s the little bitch— launch an arrow!” the gruff leader said, only Catrin was away again, leaping over brambles like the young deer after which her mother had called her. ‘My fawn,’ the priestess had said. She would be proud now.
She would have been.
The second arrow caught her in the shoulder, punching through the muscle as if it were nothing. Parchment. Or cloud wisps. But then, Catrin had always been slight of frame. She gave a piercing scream, a little-girl sound that ought to have no place in battle. The men drew up short as though suddenly reminded of just who they faced here. A child devoted to her Goddess. Not a soldier.
“Don’t slow now!” The leader roared, and they were off again with a great stamping of feet and snorting gusts from the horse’s nostrils as they dodged fallen trees and low-hanging branches. Catrin picked up the book and threw herself clumsily forward. She must be fast. Swift as a deer. Just as mother said.
Only she was bleeding thickly now, long ropy black tendrils turning slowly red as dawn made good on its vow. The sun was rising, and with her presence, Catrin’s last hopes of escape would die. The soldiers would have a much easier time aiming in the light.
Still, she carried on. The hope of Enyo’s people rested in these pages, in the resurrection of their Goddess. And it all depended on Catrin getting away, in her keeping the tome from the Ingolan king. The girl was slowing, she knew. But she could not stop. Would not.
The third arrow thunked into a tree, just a finger’s width from Catrin’s head. She could feel the horses’ breath now, hot and wet-sweet like a hay barn after a thunderstorm. They weren’t going to bother catching her anymore, but run her down and pummel her into the dirt.
The first blow of horse hoof struck her thigh, and then Catrin was falling. Falling into the earth itself, it’s great yawning mouth closing after her to blot out the sun. The soil embraced her, hugging her arms and thighs, dragging her down, down, down. In that deep, unconsciousness found her.
When Catrin woke from meadow dreams, she was on the outskirts of the wood, far south of her pursuers, fog licking around her body like friendly dogs. “Thank you, Ruyaa,” she whispered, her voice awed. For who else could have saved her but the Goddess of dreams herself?
Catrin touched her shoulder, wincing at the crumble of dried blood, then cradled the book, turned, and pointed her steps away from the country of her birth. The last place the king would look, after all, was his own capital city.
Fourth Moon, Waning Crescent, of the Year 1819: Ingola
For many in Ingola, spring was a time of happiness and festivities. The tedious grey skies and the close quarters of winter fled from sunny days and bustling markets filled with fresh produce and livestock. Citizens were finally free of the stifling cold and could