Candle in the Storm

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  • Edition: Original
  • Format: Trade Book
  • Copyright: 2009-10-27
  • Publisher: Del Rey
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The second book in The Shadowed Path trilogy, ideal for fans of R.A. Salvatore, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Morgan Howell. Original.

Author Biography

Morgan Howell is the author of A Woman Worth Ten Coppers, the first book in the Shadowed Path trilogy, as well as the Queen of the Orcs trilogy: King’s Property, Clan Daughter, and Royal Destiny. A graduate of Oberlin College and the Rochester Institute of Technology, Howell lives in upstate New York.


Chapter One

Summer’s heat had settled on Bremven, and the air was stultifying. When the sun rose high in the clear sky, the guards at the city’s gate retreated into the shade beneath its archway. From there, they checked all who entered. One unlucky soldier stood in the sun to warn his comrades if a Sarf approached. Sweltering in his armor, he gazed down the length of the bridge, looking for any man with a tattooed face. Sarfs were deadly, and after the destruction of Karm’s temple, the guards had cause to be wary of the goddess’s servants. Only six days earlier, a Sarf had slain an entire squad when they tried to bar his entry. Thus, despite the heat, fear kept the soldier alert.

 A diverse throng crossed the bridge leading to the empire’s capital. There were merchants driving wagons, farmers with their oxcarts, the rich on horse back, and the poor afoot. Nowhere was a blue face that signaled trouble. Then one horse man stood out in the crowd. He rode a magnificent black steed. His robe was a similar shade, marking him as a priest of the Devourer. All his kind were officially welcome. While the priest posed no threat, the soldier couldn’t take his gaze from him. The dark rider looked young, barely into his twenties, and he had the sandy hair and gray eyes of someone from Averen. The deep tan of his clean- shaven face set off those pale eyes, and even from a distance they drew the soldier’s attention. The guard had the disturbing impression that those gray orbs didn’t belong in a young face. The priest seemed aware of the man’s scrutiny, for he formed his lips into a cold smile and made the sign of the circle with a casual twist of his wrist. The soldier respectfully bowed his head, relieved for a reason to look away. 

The black- robed man entered the city and disappeared into its crowded streets. 

As he rode through his birthplace, the More Holy Daijen noted many changes. The respect the guard had shown him was but the first. When he had fled Bremven eighty years ago, followers of the Devourer were in disrepute.Now everyone bows, he thought.It marks how we’ve risen in the world. Through ruthlessness and cunning, Daijen had risen similarly within the cult. He was the More Holy One, second only to the Most Holy Gorm in gifts and powers. Reflecting upon his rise, Daijen was tempted to visit the squalid alley where he had grown up. He thought how amazed his former neighbors would be to see him young and strong while age had withered them. Daijen quickly dismissed the idea. There’d be no point. Everyone I knew is likely dead.

Daijen’s eyes lifted from the ancient street and the stone buildings that flanked it until they gazed on the Temple Mount. Karm’s temple crowned its heights with stonework cunningly blended with the mountain’s natural form. Daijen smiled when he thought how the centuries- old edifice stood empty. The Most Holy Gorm, undoubtedly informed by sorcery, had told him of the massacre there. All who resided within the sanctuary had been slain— the Seers who divined the goddess’s will; those training to be Bearers, the holy persons who spread Karm’s word; and the young men who trained to be Sarfs, the deadly servants and protectors of Bearers. The temple’s destruction hadn’t eradicated the worship of the goddess, but it had been a fatal blow. Bearers and Sarfs still roamed the countryside, but they were like worker bees whose hive had been destroyed. They had nowhere to return, and when they perished, they would not be replaced. Daijen dire

Excerpted from Candle in the Storm by Morgan Howell
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