ASMSG Scifi Fantasy Paranormal Emagazine March 2014 - Page 27

EXCERPT FROM A FALLEN HERO RISES M Joseph Murphy CHAPTER 1 In the fieldbender guild of Karaj Robat, the Sage closed his eyes in silent prayer. ‘Some things you can’t come back from. Let’s hope this is not one of them.’ His red leather boots stepped quickly over white marble floors as he headed toward the council chamber. Square columns lined the open-air corridor. A cool breeze from the storm raging outside ruffled his high-collared military cape. It did littleto cool his temperament. Acolytes in white robes bowed their heads in respect as he passed. He ignored them all, clenching and unclenching his fists, eyes straight ahead. This was no time to pretend he cared about decorum. Guards flanked either side of the chamber entrance. They stood at attention, hands resting on the hilts of their swords. Both wore ceremonial armor embroidered with the crest of Karaj Robat: a crow superimposed on a red mountain. The Sage did not slow down as he approached. One guard held up a hand, blocking his path. “No entry,” the guard said. “Fieldbenders only.” The Sage raised one eyebrow and glanced at the other guard. “Sorry, sir,” the second guard said. “He’s new. Baubi, stop being an idjit. Let him pass.” The firstguard, Baubi, shook his head. “Sorry, Jaymes. I’m not risking my job based on your recommendation. Why would I let this stranger in? I don’t even know his name.” Jaymes, the second guard, coughed and went pale. “He’s not a stranger. Thisis the Sage. He’s been a consultant to the fieldbenders since before you were born.” Baubi tightened his grip on the hilt. “Stop making fun of how young I am. Besides, the Sage is a position, not a name.” The Sage cleared his throat. “As amusing as you clowns are, I have places to be. I’m expected inside. No one here knows my true name. Names have power. Everyone calls me the Sage. Now are you going to step aside or do I have to push you?” Baubi started to draw his sword. Jaymes grabbed his arm to stop him. The Sage’s eyes flashed red with an internal flame. “Please go in, sir,” Jaymes said. He quickly opened the twin doors to the chamber. As the doors shut behind him, the Sage heard the two guards continue to bicker. The meeting had already begun. The council chamber was a large, round room. Tall, gilded columns encircled the room. Between the columns, hundreds of fieldbenders spoke to each other in hushed tones. Most were initiates dressed in white robes. Many blinked rapidly while others nervously glanced at the shadows. ‘They look nervous,’ the Sage thought. ‘That’s a good sign. It means they’re taking this seriously.’ He pushed through the crowd to reach the white marble table at the center of the room. Like the chamber, it was round. Seven robed men were already seated around the table. These were the leaders of the guild, the ones who had summoned him to the meeting. Two of the chairs around the table were empty. The Sage sat in one and turned to listen to the debate. “Eschandel, it’s just not possible.” The speaker, a middle-aged man in green-trimmed silver robes, looked down his nose at a man with slender features in black robes. “Stop saying that, Sirion.” Eschandel slammed his fist against the table. His ice-blue eyes darted from person to person around the table. “For the third time, it is flamin’ possible because it’s flamin’ happened. Sit there and deny it until the moons fall from the sky. It changes nothing. Last night, fifte en Seers had the same vision. A blaze of light flew through space. It slammed into the dimensional prison. Now there’s a crack in the Void.” “I think what Sirion is saying is that, perhaps, the Seers are mistaken.” Thiscool voice came from a white-haired man in skyblue robes. Though much older than the first two speakers, his eyes were sharp and clear. “We need more than their word before we panic.” Eschandel took a deep breath. “As I was about to say before Sirion stuck his head in the sand...again...ewhave more proof. I present Bender Mikhel from DunDegore. His report should shut you up.” The white-ha