Light years from Earth, Teseri festers under the dark cloud of a thousand-year war.
Unruly magicians and zealous priests battle for supremacy, believing only total victory will end the conflict.
With his head full of fanciful thoughts, the young magician Avanteri thinks there is another way. He kidnaps the beautiful high priestess Zarastanya hoping she will work with him to bring peace to Teseri.
They are forced on a dangerous journey as opposing armies attempt to crush their fledgling cause.
READ AN EXCERPT
Nintini looked at the vast group of soldiers, jostling along the narrow
track. Beyond them groups of riders traversed the low slopes, searching. "Very
gratifying," he said softly, watching the distinctive purple and white
Qui-encrusted helmet of Calvrus bobbing up and down behind a phalanx of Koagen
and Nukomen tower's special guard. "You have enraged the very heart of the Komen
leadership, Calvrus has been sent to kill you all. This is... This is....very,
very exciting Yurty... "
Yurteri giggled softly. "Shall we run? Or play a few games?"
"I'm too wet for Jiyu, what did you want to do?"
"Oh I don't know just some disruptive serpentiseri. It's a Vitru specialty at
parties. I always win first prize."
"That’s beyond my powers... Can’t I sit this one out?"
Yurteri looked at Avanteri's impersonator and pinched his cheek with the
thumb and forefinger of her right hand, then slowly shook her head. "You dear
'tini are such a cheat and a turncoat it is high time you exonerated yourself
and proved to Bexty that you can change for the better."
Nintini was so rusty on some of his magicery skills that he was not sure what
she meant. She read his thoughts and smiled: "Fly 'tini. Don't be scared! And
send a roll of fire across the lake, blast these religious snurt wits, knock
some sense into their zealous brains!"
Nintini felt physically sick, but held his mouth to stop the bile from
leaping up his throat. She would force him to sap his magical strength for a
whole month if he did such fantastical things. Like all the Sorios, she was a
"Just do as I say ‘tini and I promise I won't expect you to draw on your
skills until we reach the Posit. I'll carry you all the way. Believe me."
Nintini turned away and vomited. The miniature fish in his left eye span
around once more. He slapped his head with one hand while wiping his mouth with
the other. "I have nothing to prove, OK?! No one makes me do nothing!"
Yurteri's face creased with concern. "Coward," she said, before slipping away
from him, through the reed beds and back into the water. Suddenly the lake
frothed and bubbled. Soldiers stopped on the far bank, surprised by the sight of
the lake rolling like waves on a sea. Nintini watched the group around Calvrus
halt as he ordered them to stop.
Nintini knew what Yurteri was about to do. She had a reputation.
As the waters sunk and rose, huge air bubbles came popping and fizzing to the
surface. Bekomen sentries peered over the ramparts, shouting urgently.
The head of a huge serpent rose from the lake spitting water and steam at the
forces massed on the southern side of Lake Tima. Its flat head looked very
similar to Yurteri.
As the creature turned its head to look at the reed beds where Nintini lay
skulking, he was sure it winked its left eyelid at him.
Bowmen from Bekomen sent two hundred arrows down across the lake but
Yurteri's serpent had disappeared under water. Their poisoned tips hit the
frothing lake without effect.
Nintini suddenly felt intense guilt. He would not let this feeling persist.
He dragged himself up and mouthed a few words of encouragement to himself. This
was make or break... If he failed he would be dead. If he succeeded... he could
be dead too.
A Komen arrow slit a thick reed nearby. It was time, as Yurteri's serpent
Screened by the thick neck of the serpent, Nintini leapt into the air - four
strides, then twenty, then thirty. He was above the serpent when he opened the
palms of his hands and blew with every ounce of breath in his lungs. The fire
sprayed across the lake, scorching a thousand soldiers in the columns close to
the water's edge.
It was an incredible sight, never witnessed before, anywhere in the
Priestage. And judging by the way he was feeling it would never be seen again,
Nintini thought, as he dropped from the sky into the lake, his magical powers
Within seconds, his limp body was lifted up and away from the water.
Yurteri's serpent had disappeared and she was back to help him.
"Come, let us fly!" she screamed, gripping Nintini firmly and leaping to the
northern bank, and then up and down in long leaps in front of the Bekomen