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The Fourth Book of the Small Gods


Bruce Blake





















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Published by Bruce Blake and Best Bitts Productions

Copyright 2021 Bruce Blake


When Ravens Call (The Fourth Book of the Small Gods)

Blood has been spilled on the altar of the Evenstar. As the prophecy forewarns, the return of the banished is nigh.

The forgotten scroll spoke of unbelievable things: A man from across the sea, a barren mother, a living statue, and the return of the Small Gods. Unbelievable, and yet the pieces for the second coming of the Small Gods are drawn together by fate’s hand, destined to bring evil back to the world.

Those who would stop them are spread far and wide without hope of coming together, leaving them no chance of fulfilling their destines. Captured, threatened, fleeing…the sister, the firstborn, the Mother can all only pray to escape with their lives.

If they die, what hope is there for a kingdom?

Table of Contents


Flakes of gray snow fluttered out of the sky, covering everything with despair and hopelessness.

Rak'bana gasped a breath into her singed lungs, inhaling the burnt world across the tip of her tongue and edging out from under the archway, head tilted back to watch them fall. Snow hadn't fallen on the land since the time of her youth.

But the world didn't hold the crisp, fresh essence of snow, and the flakes were the wrong color. Instead of the invigorating scent of first season, the stink of fire and death filled her nostrils. A sigh escaped her lungs, releasing the rank air from her chest.

The exertion and stress of their flight caused her muscles no discomfort; her flesh did not scream in agony from the flames that had devoured it. Only the ache of her heart registered. The kingdom she knew lay in ruins, changed beyond recognition, and her brother—her world—gone along with it. Nothing would be the same again.

Not for her. Not for anyone.

Hand held out, red and blistered palm facing the sky, she watched a large flake land on her burnt skin. But it didn't melt, for this wasn't snow. The chunk of ash fell to pieces the instant it touched her, becoming a darker shade of gray as it mixed with the dampness of her flesh.

The kingdom is on fire.

She'd seen this day in her dreams, but foresight couldn't prepare her for the reality lying before her. Despite the visions Goddess sent her, the direction and instructions given, the sight of her smoldering world shocked her. Not even the Mother of Mothers readied her for Ine'vesi's treachery. She curled her fingers, closing her hand into a fist and grinding the wet ash to paste. The angry response to the memory of his betrayal did nothing to quell her disappointment and rage.

Rak'bana lowered her arm, let her gaze fall across the ruined courtyard. The Pillars of Life lay in pieces in an apt representation of the devastation laid upon the world; steam rose from the river as though a giant had boiled it to make his tea and it hadn't yet cooled. Stepping into the yard, her bare foot crunched in charred grass. Her ears heard the sound it made, her mind knew it should be sharp and painful on her scalded soles. She experienced nothing, her ability to decipher sensation left behind in the fire.

She picked her way through the rubble, attempting to discern the Pillars: Faith, Love, Courage, Healing, and the rest of the nine. But they stood no more and, when the columns fell, they'd shattered into an unrecognizable mess. One chunk of fractured stone appeared no different from the next.

Halfway across the courtyard, she stopped without knowing why. Nothing she spied caused her to halt, no sound gave her pause; a shiver, a vague sense of place. It started in her broken heart, forcing the ache aside, filling her with a sensation reminding her of—though it couldn't have been—hope. It prompted her onward, pushing her toward the river.

Burnt debris bobbed along with the current—charred branches and heat-curled leaves, blackened chunks of wood torn from structures, shreds of things Rak'bana didn't want to recognize. The bits and pieces of ruined lives floated past, garnering an instant of her attention before flowing water ferried them on their journey to end up caught against the rusted metal grating or, if a piece passed through, making its way to the sea to be lost forever.

One column had toppled toward the river and shattered against the edge. Half lay destroyed on the ground, jagged chunks of marble strewn across the courtyard, the rest of the monument gone in the depths of the running water.

The debris' resting place suggested this to be the Pillar of Faith. She'd spent so many mornings kneeling at its base and sharing her thoughts with Goddess, her knees wore patches in the grass. Everyone in the castle of Draekfarren knew the prayer spot of the Priestess Rak'bana. She remembered most every instance when Ine'vesi joined her because they numbered so few; he preferred to indulge his faith alone in the chapel, closing a door on the world. At the time, she didn't understand her brother's preference but, given the way the kingdom met its end, she thought she now understood.

He wasn't speaking with Goddess, and he didn't want me to know.

The realization led to a question she neither wanted to ask nor answer.

If not Goddess, with whom did he commune?

She shivered and her burnt flesh prickled. With the sensation came pain; where she'd experienced no sensitivity, the priestess' body became clothed in a tight-fitting outfit fashioned of agony. Her

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