Hello readers! Today is my stop during the blog tour for Quest of Fire: The Gathering Dark by Brett Armstrong, organized by YA Bound Book Tours. Check out the book details and excerpt in this post.
Quest of Fire: The Gathering Dark by Brett Armstrong
Genre: YA Epic Fantasy/Christian Fantasy
Release date: April 2019
Jason is an expert at running from his past. When it catches up, he finds himself hiding in a peculiar inn listening to a tale from centuries past.
The story is Anargen’s, a teen who is pulled from all he loves to follow his oaths of loyalty to the fabled King of the Realms. Together with his mentor, Cinaed, he rides north on a special quest to mediate peace talks between ancient foes–the men of Ecthelowall and the dwarfs of Ordumair. Nothing goes as planned. Many on both sides of the dispute despise Anargen’s Order. Worse, an arcane evil has returned to the North. This “Grey Scourge” seeks to ruin the peace talks and ensure a lost treasure held by the dwarfs is never found by those for whom it is meant.
As Anargen’s story unfolds, Jason begins to wonder whether it is truly just a fable. He soon finds himself drawn into the conflict Anargen faced–a battle which has shaped and can destroy his world.
Somewhere amongst the handful of blades of varying size, shape, and make would be one special sword, a Machaira Tou Pneuma, Spiritsword. It was said the very words of the High King were inscribed upon it. No other sword had ever existed to be its equal.
Though Anargen had never seen it or even tried to touch one, it was said when a Knight took hold of its hilt, the Spiritsword would take on a life of its own. Fire would catch on the blade and burn till released, though it neither burned the holder nor charred the sword or softened it. It was afire without being consumed.
Or so it was told. Legends also said only Knights saw such a thing take place. In more ancient times, many could see the effect, but now, something was different. There were whispered stories of darker lands where the High King’s rule had never been accepted still having such a keen awareness of such blades’ powers. This, of course, induced riotous laughter amongst those who doubted the verity of the stories about the Spiritswords. Anargen had always taken it to be something like seeing stars in the day. Where there is already some light, it is more difficult to notice a star. But against the night sky they gleam like precious gems in indigo mines.
Anargen licked his lips which were suddenly dry. He had been in this room before, but never before as a Knight, or at least one soon to be confirmed as a Knight. Knowing the stories, the idea of getting to witness the marvel of the Spiritsword was like the inescapable pull of gravity for him.
He made his way over to a grouping of swords. None of them looked particularly magnificent or capable of the wonders ascribed to a Spiritsword. Several had some inscriptions on their blades.
Gnawing on his lip for a moment, Anargen spared one more glance to ensure he was alone and then grabbed a sword and jerked it from its pine rack before he could talk himself out of it. A silly thing to do. The blade got stuck halfway out because of the poor angle. Anargen spent the next several seconds tugging at the blade as he was overcome with anxiety and frustration.
When he realized it would do no good, he took a deep breath and freed it from the groove it was cutting into the rack’s wood and slid it out the rest of the way. Holding it up, he stared intently.
He got into a guard stance, mimicking what he had observed of other Knights. Muscles tensed, he stood as rigid and still as possible, holding the pose till he felt the gentle burn of his muscles tiring.
He swung the sword around.
There was a slight rush of air and nothing more.
Sighing, Anargen went through an entire series of slashes, guards, and stabs. Battling invisible opponents, he parried and countered, sortied and delivered finishing blows. One imaginary foe after another fell to the sword.
At length, he was breathing heavily and had only three swords left to choose from. Even as he put back his most recent choice, he noticed it. One sword, slightly longer, double-edged and gleaming with an argent nobility. Well-polished, it was adorned in so many characters of small and precise script, Anargen could scarcely read them. A padded leather hilt showed little use and in the cross-guard and pommel were carvings of a lion, or was it a radiant lamb?
In an instant, his heart knew what his mind was more slowly coming to accept. This was a Spiritsword. The one he had been looking for all this time. He drew near slowly, in fear. Not fear as of a snake that could strike an incautious palm, but a reverent fear.
Swallowing and gnawing on his lip, he reached out with ginger fingers to brush the hilt of the Spiritsword. For a split second Anargen thought he could feel heat rising off the blade and hear a crackle.
“Are you sure you’re ready to handle such a sword?” someone enquired from behind.
Stunned, Anargen whirled round to find Sir Cinaed watching him with a thoughtful expression. “Don’t let me stop you. For one so young and new to the Order, you have excellent form,” Sir Cinaed’s deep voice intoned.
Immediately the teen tensed from neck to knees. Stiffened by reluctance, Anargen turned around and put his hands, warm with guilt and shame, behind his back. “Thank you, sir.”
All Anargen wanted to do was slip out. His cheeks grew warm and he had little doubt they looked like they were on fire. Given his intention to sneak and observe the Spiritsword, the irony wasn’t lost on him.
Sir Cinaed crossed the room and placed a large hand on Anargen’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “What brought you in here? I don’t believe I have ever seen you practicing before.”
Anargen offered a rueful smile but really didn’t know what to say. He wasn’t sure what the punishment for something like this would be. The truth burst out on the breakers of a sigh. “I wanted to see what the legends speak of.”
To Anargen’s surprise, Sir Cinaed grinned broadly. “We prefer an experienced Knight be present when first learning to wield a Spiritsword, but I’m proud of your inquisitiveness. Nightfall is approaching, so I must attend to other matters. Another time, however, I can instruct you myself.”
“That would be fantastic.” the words had just left Anargen’s mouth in an excited rush when he realized all of what Sir Cinaed had said. “Seren! I’ll be late!”
The young Knight started to run past Sir Cinaed but skidded to a halt and whirled around. “I’m sorry, sir. I’m running late!”
A deep, rumbling chuckle echoed in the room as Sir Cinaed noted, “Seren is much lovelier company than me.” The mirth gave way to a sudden somber note in conclusion. “Just keep a keen eye. Always.”
About the Author:
I’m a Christian, a writer, a full-time programmer, a husband, a dad, and quite often sleep-deprived. Not necessarily ranked in order of importance, except #1 .
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