Sequel to Knight Errant
Master fire mage Alegan Ilsace heads to the Fire Stars, great volcanic islands in the Vensalin Ocean, to harness the untamed power of Toa. He needs the power to snatch his family from death. But all of his dreams lie in shambles when he fails and pays for his impertinence in blood.
Catli, Koan of his village and speaker for Toa, finds a stranger injured on the mountainside and drags him home. As Alegan’s past comes to light, Catli is drawn in by his bright, though understated, nature. Catli would rather spend his days doing his duties to the village and learning about the intriguing mage he rescued, but then a usurper strikes.
One way or the other, Catli’s days are full of Alegan. Whether they continue on Toa or have to make their way out in the world depends upon the strength of Catli’s power.
The dull throb in Alegan's spine eased him out of his stupor, squinting up into the sapphire blue sky above. How he ended up on his back was a simple explanation the moment he rolled his head to the side, gaze directed up the slope. Dirt was scattered in an arc where he toppled to the side and smoothed flat where he'd rolled.
Blade sharp pain shot up his arms and his fingers ached as he pushed up into a sitting position. Blisters and blackened bits of skin decorated his hands. More charred spots were peppered in his pants and shirt, the smoldering, acrid scent of hair still in his nose.
Alegan swiped at the odd trickle on his face with the side of his hand, hissing from the tender bubbles on his fingers, and glanced at his hand. Blood glittered a mesmerizing garnet in the sunlight. It was funny. His face didn't hurt at all. He knew his face was still, mostly, in one piece, judging by the small amount smeared on his hand.
Every limb was sluggish, heavy, as Alegan staggered to his feet. His knees didn't want to hold his weight at all, because they refused to bend more than a fraction as he made his way back up to his original spot in from of the smoking vent. It had dropped back into its cool red.
"That's not going to stop me, you know," Alegan uttered through the ash clogged in the back of his throat. Who he was talking to, Serena or Toa or even the highest Malan, he didn't know. If he had to destroy himself to bring back his family, so be it.
Alegan squared his shoulders and chomped down on the groan working its way from his screaming injuries. The bowl and sigils remained intact, though glassy black had filled in the impressions in the dirt. The willow twig was gone, probably burned to cinder as swept away.
This time, he raised his hands above his head.
“Hail Serena, the great Guide of the dead. I summon you to hear my petition."
An incomprehensible scream shattered the air and his ears, piercing like a giant roc in the mountains. Lava spat out of the vent. It fountained, sputtering around his supplicant form in a vast circle. Sulfur burned his senses.
Alegan writhed as his whole body lit up from the inside, like he had bathed in the heart of the volcano. Something in him snapped. His heart pounded and sizzled in his chest. It went beyond agony. It flayed him open, strip by strip.
Blood bubbled in his throat and the lights went out.