Power’s Shadow: Chapter 14, Part 4 – Conclusion

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This is the last section of Chapter 14, and the last of the serial posts. The book’s in first pass editing at the moment and I don’t want to put any more up until it’s in its final form. When editing is done I’ll be looking at the corrections/suggestions and start the rewrite. There are four more chapters and a short epilogue (about 100 more pages) beyond this, and right now the plan is to list the ebook version for as low as they’ll let me for a period of about two weeks before it goes up to its normal price, in case anyone here wants to finish the story. There will be a print edition, but that takes longer to put together.

 

Power’s Shadow: Chapter 14, Part 4 Conclusion

 

“I will break up the stone tomorrow,” Dena said. “After we give them enough time to get out of earshot. They may suspect that we’re here but there’s no point in emphasizing it.”

“I heartily agree,” Kel said. “But I wonder if the gentleman sitting on top of the rock watching us feels the same way?”

The figure was hooded and wearing a black robe, so Dena considered Kel’s assessment of the person as male to be somewhat uncertain. What wasn’t uncertain was the person’s face—what little Dena could see of it—was turned toward them. Dena considered shattering the rock beneath the figure, but thought perhaps such an action might be premature. Yet she kept her concentration on the First Law even as she spoke up.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“Isn’t it customary for the one asking the questions to introduce themselves first?”

The voice was definitely male, if not especially deep. Yet it carried easily down to them. “My name is Dena. This is Kel. Who are you?” she repeated.

“You may call me Domar. I seem to remember having a friend with that name once, long ago…I think. The memory does play tricks as one gets older. Regardless, I’ve always like that name.”

Dena frowned. “What name do you call yourself?”

She still couldn’t see his face, but Dena had the distinct impression that he was smiling at her.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. ‘Domar’ will do, for the time being. So. What do you plan to do now?” Continue reading

Power’s Shadow: Chapter 14, Part 2

Powers-Shadow-Rough-3Since the schedule is being disrupted slightly I’ll go ahead and post the installment for Monday now. For the installment on the 25th I should be back on track.

Chapter 14, Part 2

 

Sela’s scowl could have curdled milk. “Now, if only we could say the same about you.”

Marta just shook her head. “Longfeather, I am going to do you one last favor—I am going to change you back into a goshawk until tomorrow morning. Use the time to travel to Goandel, and meet us there in about three days’ time. If you are not there I will assume that you have disobeyed me again and I will turn you into something that can’t cause trouble for anyone. Ever. Do I make myself clear?”

“Very clear,” Longfeather said. “But I thought you were already done with me.”

“I have thought of a use for you. It won’t change my decision, mind, but you are going to do something to repay at least a small amount of the harm you’ve caused, and what you would have caused by throwing your lot in with the people who put you in that cage.” Marta leaned close to the cage amd told Lonfeather what else was expected of him. He clearly was not happy about it, but Marta took no heed of that. “Now go.”

In a moment it was done. Longfeather hopped through the bars of the cage but instead of flying away immediately, he fluttered up to land on the top of the cage and turned to face Marta again.

“Before I go, I was entrusted with a message for you.”

“From whom?” Marta asked.

The goshawk that was Longfeather shrugged his wings. “I think ‘from what’ might be more accurate. She called herself Amaet, but I don’t think she was human. It was the way she appeared, glowing like a star, and then vanished that made me suspect.”

Marta held very still. “Oh? And what did Amaet say?”

“She said to tell you ‘I’m waiting.’ Those words exactly.”

“That was all?” Marta asked.

“Yes, mistress,” he said.

“Then away with you. And remember what I said.” Continue reading

Power’s Shadow: Chapter 14, Part 1

Powers-Shadow-Rough-3

Chapter 14 – The Pilgrim Trail

 

“To begin a thing at all is the hard part, no matter what it is. To keep going is not, no matter how hard the going might be. This is a truth difficult to believe and harder still to remember, but no less true for that. ” – Black Kath’s Tally Book

 

“Was that really the best course of action?” Kel asked.

“Silence,” was Dena’s answer, and Kel had to accept that until she chose to give another, if in fact she ever did so. They had both dismounted to examine the huge berm of stone and rubble that blocked the Snake Pass. Worse, Marta and her companions were on the other side.

“I didn’t want Marta harmed so long as she was leading me to the Fifth Law,” she finally said.

“And Marta could not have done what you did?”

“Of course. So why didn’t she?” Dena asked.

“Perhaps she had another plan,” Kel said.

“The next time we’re together for tea and cakes, you can ask her,” Dena snapped. “For now I need to know what they’re doing.”

They led their horses back down the pass until they could move behind a bend that kept them out of sight in case anyone climbed the rockfall. Then Dena made Kel transform into a gull and he flew back down the pass. Dena waited with whatever patience she could muster until he finally returned and perched unsteadily on her should on webbed feet.

“There is one servant remaining to guard their supplies. They went into this cave on the side of the cliff where the overhang had been but they haven’t come out yet. If I try to go in, they’ll see me.”

“You think she doesn’t know I’m here, now?” Dena asked.

“Well…no, now that you mention it. She certainly knows that someone is nearby, if she didn’t before, which was rather my point when I first asked about the landslide. Though, to be fair, if she doesn’t already know that she has a shadow, she’s not the witch you think she is.”

“I’m not afraid of her,” Dena said. “I will see this through no matter what.”

“To be honest, I’m not sure whether that fact would matter to her even if she did know.”

Dena ignored that and sent Kel scouting back toward Conmyre to confirm that there was no one approaching from that direction. “We’ll camp here for tonight. Once Marta and her party have moved on, I can reduce the blockage enough to get us through, but I don’t dare risk it until then.”

“As you wish, mistress.”

They found an overhang where the softer stone had crumbled away, and it didn’t take long to clear enough space for the bedding. Kel, now human again, built a small fire and prepared a meal of hard bread and broth, then checked their provisions. “We have enough for a few days yet,” he said. “We’ll be fine as long as we’re not delayed too long.”

“I want to know what Marta could possibly be thinking now, exploring a cave when she should be traveling to wherever she’s going.”

“How do you know it’s not the cave?” Kel asked.

“Would she let herself be ambushed and almost killed if she had known about it? I do not know where she’s going, but I do know that cave wasn’t her destination.”

“And yet it presents itself, so she’s pursuing it, whatever that distraction may or may not represent to her.”

“She needs focus,” Dena said, pausing to soften a bit of bread in the last of her broth. “This is a waste of time.”

“And yet we’re following her,” Kel said. Continue reading

Power’s Shadow: Chapter 13, Part 5 — Conclusion

 

Powers-Shadow-Rough-3Reunited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 13, Part 5 – Conclusion

“Be Careful,” Marta said.

“Always.”

Bonetapper launched himself off the rock and flew up toward the entrance to the cave. Once he was there he did a quick swoop past the opening, then again. On the third pass the landed on the lip of the entrance and looked into the darkness. After a few moments he called down to them. “No one in sight, but it does go back some distance. There’s a rope ladder anchored here.”

“Throw it down, if you can,” Marta said.

There was some rustling and squawks of complaint which drifted down, but not the ladder.

“Bonetapper?”

“Give me a minute. I’m only a raven and this thing is heavy.”

“Stand clear of the edge,” Marta said. “Man.”

“Got it,” said a less harsh and croaky voice from above. “Coming down now.”

The rope ladder rolled off the edge of the cave. It didn’t quite reach the top of the rockfall, but close enough to grasp. “I’d really like to be a raven again,” said the voice. “This feels very strange and uncomfortable.”

“Done,” Marta said. In another moment Bonetapper flew out of the cave.

“I know he’s really a man,” Sela said. “And yet….”

Marta shrugged. “A raven was the form my mother chose for him, and in that form he’s been the most useful to me. He’s had the chance to rid himself of it before, and yet here he is. Sometimes I think he’s simply a better raven than he ever was a man. Sometimes I think he knows it, too.”

Kian spoke to Loken who then shed his helmet and hauberk. He belted his sword back in place before he took hold of the rope ladder and started to climb up.

“Bonetapper, watch the cave. Warn us if anyone shows themselves,” Marta said.

The raven flew back to the lip of the cave and perched there. “Still clear,” he said.

Kian sighed. “I can see the advantages of having such a one for a scout.”

“I can see the advantages of having a bodyguard who is not easily flummoxed by such things as witches and talking ravens,” Prince Dolan said. Marta thought he was trying not to smile.

“I’m from Lythos, originally,” Kian said. “Such—forgive me—unusual things were not so unusual there, at least by reputation. Though I have to admit that I don’t think I believed even half of what I heard until now.”

“Once you accept the notion of a talking raven, the walls do tend to come down,” Prince Dolan said. Continue reading

Power’s Shadow: Chapter 13, Part 3

Powers-Shadow-Rough-3Trapped.

 

 

 

Chapter 13, Part 3

“I’m thinking that we may not have a choice.”

When Prince Dolan returned, he confirmed both Bonetapper’s report and Marta’s own suspicions—the pass was simply too narrow where they were to turn the wagons around until they reached the way station. “It’s against my better judgment, but I think we have to go on, and assess the situation at that point,” Marta said. “Unless you think we can back the wagons all the way to the border?”

Dolan nodded. “Not really, so I’m inclined to agree. All my men know to stay alert regardless, but especially so now.”

When he had rested for a bit Marta sent Bonetapper back up the pass, with instructions to scout but otherwise keep below the level of the cliff, as he had also reported that there were many nesting birds of all sorts established there who did not take kindly to ravens in their territories and were more than willing to demonstrate that opinion en masse.

“They’d do the same thing to any raptor in the area, I’d wager,” Marta said. “Such things do sometimes curtail Bonetapper’s freedom of movement.”

“So a goshawk wouldn’t have been any more useful,” Sela said.

“Rather less, considering the goshawk,” Marta said dryly. “At least Bonetapper generally does as he’s told.” Continue reading