Flight Into Darkness

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  • Format: Trade Book
  • Copyright: 1/26/2010
  • Publisher: Spectra

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From the highly acclaimed author of "Tracing the Shadow" comes the conclusionto her new duology, set in a rich and vital fantasy world.

Author Biography

Sarah Ash is the author of six fantasy novels: Children of the Serpent Gate, Lord of Snow and Shadows, Prisoner of the Iron Tower, Moths to a Flame, Songspinners, and The Lost Child. She also runs the library in a local primary school. Ash has two grown sons and lives in Beckenham, Kent, with her husband and their mad cat, Molly.


Chapter One

Rieuk Mordiern's damaged eye leaked a constant trickle of black blood that ran down his cheek, searing his skin as if laced with acid. And the young magus's good eye leaked salty fluid, as if weeping in sympathy with its ruined twin. He could see little more than a blur of images. Sunlight was a torment, making him seek the shadows.

And scored across his mind's vision was the blinding image of Azilis, her beautiful face superimposed over Celestine's, distorted with rage and loss. He could still hear her cry, harsh enough to lacerate his ears.

"What children would keep their mother imprisoned against her will?"

In his delirium, he relived again and again the moment when Azilis had attacked him, half-blinding him with a single burst of aethyrial energy, whiter than lightning.

I failed. I found Azilis, and she rejected me. After all these years of searching for her. The feeling of failure was almost as painful as the physical mutilation she had inflicted upon him. For many centuries, Azilis's spirit had kept the balance between the mortal world and the Ways Beyond. But since, as an inexperienced apprentice, he had inadvertently set her free, not knowing who or what she was, the boundaries between the two had begun to break down. And after that his life had become an arduous, unsuccessful quest to bring her back. Bound to protect Celestine de Joyeuse, Azilis seemed to have forgotten her role as the guardian of the gateway between life and death.

"Rieuk, I'm cold . . . "

Rieuk slowly turns around. There, in the gloom behind him, stands Imri . . . or a semblance of Imri, his black hair loose about his shoulders, his face half-veiled in shadow.

"Imri? Is it really you?" He has longed to see him so much . . . yet this feels terribly wrong. "What have they done to you?" Even as he reaches out to the revenant, it begins to fade, leaving him clutching empty air.

As Rieuk burned in fever, he sometimes thought he caught the distant sound of music in the night. Someone was pensively plucking old, sad melodies on an aludh or a dombra, each note falling on Rieuk's consciousness like a drop of cooling rain. Once he called out, "Who's there?" and the music ceased. Perhaps it was a dream . . . 

Someone was gently sponging his damaged face with a soft, damp cloth. It felt unexpectedly, blissfully soothing, as if the water contained some healing balm that was drawing out the infection and lowering his fever.

A shadowy form was bending low over him, turning away from time to time to rinse out the cloth. Rieuk tried to focus with his one good eye to identify who was tending him. A subtle scent arose from the water: cleansing and refreshing, reminding Rieuk of the astringent smell of cucumbers and watercress.

"Where . . . am I?" Rieuk managed to whisper.

"You're awake!" The voice, a young man's, was soft and dark-toned, slightly spiced with a trace of a foreign accent; familiar, yet Rieuk could not identify the speaker. "I must tell Aqil."

"Wait." Rieuk heard his own voice, hoarse and urgent, as if from far away. He reached out blindly, catching hold of his carer's robe, pulling him closer.

"Don't you recognize me, Emissary Mordiern?" The blur loomed closer until Rieuk could make out a bespectacled face gazing curiously into his. Dark olive skin, framed by long, curling locks of crow-black hair, one side braided with crimson thread, Djihari-fashion. The young man removed his spectacles and Rieuk caught the unmistakable glimmer of mage eyes, liquid obsidian, flecked with the scarlet veins of the earth's fires. "I'm Oranir."

"But you were just a boy when we last . . . " How long had he been sick?

"I'm nearly eighteen," Oranir said stiffly, with the slightest hint of offend

Excerpted from Flight into Darkness by Sarah Ash
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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