Devrian could feel the power radiating from the circle, from the wand, and from the ominously glowing vastum. From Faerlyn, what he felt was something less cohesive yet prominent above even the rising din of voices. The abysmal eyes of the dark angel found him, stirring something elemental deep within. There was a pull, like the incessant and undeniable undertow of the distant ocean.
It wasn’t a voice, not exactly, that ripped through his mind and sent him stumbling backwards. His mind accepted it as a voice, condensing the driven energy and raw strength into something comprehensible. It reverberated through his entire body, wrapping like a great fist around his heart and squeezing with the promise and certainty of death.
“See the forgotten truth.”
To the other reiners, the voice passed as merely a breath of wind, gone in a matter of seconds. For Devrian Lor, time drew out into an unfathomable span. A shadow appeared within his mind—a shadow that led him far from the dark fields of Evermore to a forbidden well of secrets. Faerlyn, once called the Judge in the days of the Persecution now five hundred years gone, unveiled a terrible truth. In that moment, Devrian saw what catastrophe would come with the success of the Twelve. He saw destruction, war, and ruin. And here before him, revealed by the most feared creature in existence, Devrian Lor understood the inevitable endgame of their night’s endeavor.
At last his eyes fluttered open and he felt the cool air upon his tingling body. He lay upon the ground, staring at the dark night sky. Seconds passed and his breathing came more regularly. The voice in his mind dissipated, and the grip upon his heart released.
Behind him he could feel the black eyes of Faerlyn. Those eyes saw through the dark night and through the ancient ruin of Omadon. They found him, and Devrian withered beneath that glare.
“Captain?” Jemorn said hesitantly.
Devrian pulled himself along the ground until he rested beside Jemorn. The other man’s breath was forced, but he managed a weak salute all the same. The captain smiled, inwardly marveling how alike Jemorn was to his late father. Both had the same strong jawline and piercing eyes. Grimly, he noted the undeniable fact that Jemorn would die upon a field of battle just as his father had done.
“I know how to stop them,” Devrian said at length. The other men stared at him, mystified.
“They’ve killed nearly an entire legion of reiners,” Khantil said. He was one of Devrian’s strongest warriors, a man who had reined half a dozen other Rogue wizards without mercy. But not tonight. The enchanted tattoo upon his cheek, the same that marked each reiner’s face and granted their powers, remained dormant. “Four men can hardly end this.”
“Not four,” Devrian said, tapping his chest. “Only one.”
“Captain,” Aldain said, “they will crush you! Kesson alone could take any of us out with that damned wand…” His voice trickled away as he saw the strange look upon his captain’s face.
Devrian paused, then looked at each man until his eyes drifted again to the valley. “History tells us that Faerlyn created the first reiners. Perhaps even now we still do his bidding.”
Thunderous silence fell upon the gathered men.
The reiner captain’s face was rigid, stone-like. “Yes, I see your revulsion, your doubt. But the dark angel has shown me the path before us. This is the only way we have left before the Rogues complete their task and wield a weapon greater than we can imagine.”
Khantil brushed past Aldain and knelt before his commanding officer. His eyes were wide and disbelieving. “The Judge cannot be trusted, Captain,” he said quietly. “It’s a trick.”
Sneak Peek at The Barren Twelve
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Copyright © 2013 Todd VanHooser