Attending Tivedon should have been the most exciting time in Jayl’s young life. Along with his sister Myah, they journey to Tivedon and are quickly caught up in the excitement and eccentricities of the school and its teaching elders known collectively as ‘The Circle of Tivedon’. Enemies and alliances are swiftly established between the other students that come from across the realm of Tiertyn. Yet, as they begin the next level of their scholastic study in the finer points of diplomacy and governance, grim tidings reach the castle walls.
An ancient evil is on the rise threatening to plunge the land into darkness once again. Tensions begin to rise within the walls of Tivedon as unexplainable, dreadful events occur forcing the ‘Circle of Tivedon’ to act. The situation worsens as accusations of a traitorous plot involving friends of Jayl and Myah’s from back home and a fellow student’s sovereign land arrive at Tivedon. This development ensnares Myah in a conspiratorial and secretive undertaking at the behest of ‘The Circle of Tivedon’. Jayl, who discovers a temperamental magical source within himself, becomes the unwitting focal point of Tivedon’s elders’ plans to defend Tiertyn against the army of the resurrected evil Lord Rimyaroth.
Unfortunately, before plans are complete, the suspicious death of one of Tivedon’s elders followed by the murder of the befriended Captain of the Guard lands an unjustly accused Jayl into Tivedon’s cells. It is here that Jayl learns of a long ago hidden talisman which will aid in their fight, which he must find and return. A hasty and harrowing escape from the school, which has fallen under the sway of the enemy, follows under the cover of darkness. With foes now swelling on all fronts, the elders must split the students into three groups to have any hope of stemming the tide that threatens them. Myah, along with one of the two remaining Tivedon elders, make their way to the city of Sieli. Their hope is to vindicate her captured and accused friends as well as turn the favour of an opportunistic King to their cause. The second group, led by the other Tivedon elder, races to join defenders that are hastily forming the first line of defence against the massing army of Lord Rimyaroth.
Lastly, and much to Jayl’s chagrin, he is paired with two menacing and determined school rivals on his quest to find the talisman. A perilous mission, it remains the last vestige of hope to battle against the dark magic of Lord Rimyaroth. With the unlikely heroes and heroines heading in separate directions, three diverse journeys begin.
Sounds pretty cool, right? You can read an excerpt from the book below.
Chapter 1: THE LAWS OF TIVEDON
While no one had taken Sir Wytund’s suggestion of having Jayl show them Tivedon’s vast library, he was no less troubled thinking about what the professor had said. The more he thought about Great Silence, the more an unsettled feeling rippled up from the pit of his stomach. Jayl had gone to the library that night, alone, and had continued digging into the story that saw the rise of a terrible evil. By the time he had closed the last dusty leather bound cover of another chronicle of the Great Silence, his eyes ached and the light from the oil table lamp had dimmed.
That night Jayl was rocked by nightmares. Three times he woke—screaming, bathed in sweat, and with his torso and legs hopelessly tangled in the bed linens. The third time, Heret ignored his roommate’s protests and rushed off to get Lady Meath, Tivedon’s healer. Jayl was still shivering when she and Heret returned, and he quickly succumbed to the strong-smelling liquid she gave him. A small gathering of bleary-eyed but curious onlookers hovered about the door. Lady Meath, with a quick word to Heret, quietly left, shooing them back to their rooms as she passed. The strong-smelling liquid was writhroot. While it calmed his body and dulled his mind, the rest of Jayl’s night was anything but restful. Heret watched anxiously from across the small room as Jayl’s ragged breathing and muscle spasms slowly eased.
* * *
“Good morning everyone,” Myah said as she flopped down on the bench beside Jayl in the dining hall. She reached across the table and helped herself to a fresh baked breakfast pastry. “So, everyone have a good night—?” Her words trailed off as she looked around the table, taking in the solemn faces. “What’s with everybody?” She fixed her gaze on a very pale and dejected Jayl. “Jayl, are you okay?”
“I had trouble sleeping,” he replied, his voice softer than usual.
“Oh.” Myah quickly grasped the situation. This wasn’t the first time she had dealt with her brother the morning after his nightmares. They had plagued him for years. He was always reluctant to tell her much of anything about them, but she knew he suffered more in his silence. She moved swiftly to change the subject. “So did everyone finish the work for Sir Wytund’s class? I just couldn’t—“
“It’s okay, Myah, they know.”
Myah’s eyes darted around the group. “They do?”
“Well, it was pretty hard not to. It wasn’t exactly a quiet night on the fourth floor,” Jayl replied.
“No worries chum, I was sleeping too much anyway,” Heret said, smiling. “And besides, if you can’t sleep why should any of us?” He laughed, playfully slapping Calum and Rishi on their shoulders.
Calum nodded quickly and returned the smile. “He’s right, Jayl. Don’t worry about it. It was nothing. Everyone has nightmares.”
Not like mine, Jayl thought to himself. The horrific images of desperate burned out landscapes and snarling beasts flooded Jayl’s mind. From childhood he had been haunted by the same recurring night terrors. They had become so dreadful even his father had stopped dismissing them as nothing more than childish fantasies. Myah alone knew how devastating the dreams could be on him.
“What’s this now? Did anyone else just hear Calum agree with me?” Heret said, feigning a shocked expression.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Calum said, shaking his head.
“In Salum, we use a form of deep thinking to ease our sleep. Maybe I could show you it sometime, Jayl?” Rishi said.
“Huh? Jayl forced a smile. “Sure, Rishi. That sounds great.” He pushed back from the bench, stood, and gathered his things. “I’ll see you guys in class, alright?” Before anyone could answer, he was through the door and gone.
* * *
Sir Salvren’s class, which turned out to be a mix of humanities, history and laws, was in a small auditorium in the farthest corner of the castle’s eastern wing. The worn wood seats and row tables ascended in a semi-circle up eight wobbly levels from the black-painted dais. Along the stone walls hung row upon row of dusty banners from just about every region of Tiertyn. The oddest, yet most interesting part of the room was the ceiling. Made entirely from differently shaped glass tiles, the panels both reflected and refracted the light that shone down through them. The effect could be quite marvelous on a sunny day. This day however, perfectly reflected the feeling Jayl had in the pit of his stomach. It was dark, and gray, and decidedly gloomy.
The embarrassment Jayl had felt at breakfast in the dining hall was well on its way to fading. However, the remnants of last night’s vivid dreams still clung to his waking thoughts. It had been horrible. He’d dreamed he was standing on the very edge of an exploding mountaintop. Hot gaseous molten rock was spewing all around him and running down the sides in wide, hissing, fiery channels. It was impossible to stand for more than a few seconds before another shudder would throw him down on the black, sizzling ground. While frightening, this was not what had made Jayl scream.
He remembered looking towards a low growling sound that seemed to be coming from the lip of the red gaping chasm. His eyes stung and watered fiercely, but he could make out a large beast, waddling on all fours. It was moving away from where Jayl crouched, gripping the bare rock, and it wasn’t until a blistering cloud of smoke thinned that Jayl saw the creature’s destination. There, lying motionless on a grey slab outcropping, was a prone solitary figure. Instantly Jayl recognized the face. It was older than he expected, but familiar. It was Myah.
“Good morning, Jayl,” Sir Salvren said, pulling Jayl abruptly from his thoughts. “A little early, aren’t we? Is there something you wished to speak with me about?”“Oh, no. Just got here fast, I guess,” Jayl replied.
Sir Salvren stepped closer and peered over his rimmed half-moon reading glasses. “Is everything all right? You look unwell.”
Jayl squirmed in his seat and cleared his throat lightly. “I’m fine, really.”
Sir Salvren leaned in slightly. “If you say so. By the way, I’ve been hearing some things about you.”
“Good things, good things, I should have said,” Sir Salvren added quickly. “Yes, Sir Wytund mentioned you just this morning. I’m glad to see you’re taking your time at Tivedon seriously. It is unfortunate, but also the way of the world, that not all who come here appreciate what it is we wish them to. Many great leaders have left this place, but alas, a few have taken a path opposite of what Tivedon was created for.”
“Really?” Jayl replied, thankful that the conversation seemed to be steering away from the topic of his health. “Who? And what happened?”
“We’ll have to wait and see, won’t we?” Sir Salvren replied, smiling as he turned and headed towards the dais.
Jayl took a seat as the rest of the class started to file in and were now taking their seats around the auditorium. Myah gave Jayl a warm smile and squeezed his shoulder briefly as she climbed to the third row and sat down just behind him. Jayl’s returned half-smile quickly faded as the image of his sister on the mountaintop once again flashed before his eyes. He shook his head clear just in time to see Calum and Rishi find spots next to Myah.
Everyone settled quickly as Sir Salvren walked back over to the auditorium’s entrance and, with his hand on the large iron handle, slowly began closing the thick oak door. At the last moment, Heret dashed through sideways, nearly losing half of himself as the door closed heavily with a wooden thud.
“S-Sorry, Sir Salvren,” Heret said breathlessly.
“Quite alright, Mr. Olhm. I’m sure you had a good reason. At least I hope that will be the conclusion I draw when you explain your tardiness after class,” he replied, returning to the dais.
“Uh, yes Sir,” Heret said, still out of breath. He wiggled into the seat down beside Jayl.
There was a low but audible chuckle from the back of the auditorium. Jayl turned to see Krevan, Brone, and a handful of others clearly enjoying Heret’s moment of shame.
Sir Salvren stepped down from the dais and walked towards the first row. “Before we begin, I have some troubling news. Some of you may have heard of the murders that happened in the city last night.”
A collective intake of breath hissed throughout the auditorium and Sir Salvren waited a moment before continuing. “Although details are not fully known and we are quite safe here in the castle, we thought it best that we advise all students to be wary none the less.”
Jayl leaned forward and raised his hand slightly. “Do you know who was murdered Sir Salvren?”
Sir Salvren looked sharply at Jayl, but then his visage softened. “Yes Jayl, they were all fine people. I knew them.”
Jayl opened his mouth to say more but Sir Salvren cleared his throat and continued. “Now, back to our subject for today, does anyone know the story of King Lerill of Ulkaq?”
“Mad King Lerill?” Calum replied.
Sir Salvren moved in front of Calum and tilted his head. “He’s been called that in some tales,” he said, pausing. “Please enlighten us.”
“Well, I only know the one story…but it’s kind of a children’s tale,” Calum began slowly, now seeming a bit embarrassed by his outburst.
A ripple of laughter carried across the auditorium but was quickly silenced by Sir Salvren’s raised eyebrows.
Calum took a deep breath and started in. “There was this king a long time ago that ruled the Island of Ulkaq. Before the ‘Great Silence’ I think.” He paused, trying to remember the rest. “Anyway, he ended up going mad after a bloody fight with his brother, who was the ruler on the Island of Smyrl. He then set a torch to his bedroom chambers with his entire family locked inside. After their screams stopped, he threw himself to his death off the highest tower of his castle. They never found his body, though. The story ends with his ghost forever haunting the castle’s halls and catwalks.”
Sir Salvren walked up a few steps to stand behind Calum’s row. “Quite a story, hmm?” he said, peering at all the students before settling his gaze back on Calum.
“Enough to frighten me when I was little.” Calum shrugged. The classroom filled with laughter before Sir Salvren’s voice silenced it again.
“The story of King Lerill has been told and retold thousands of times in the north, but I’ll bet you never heard it down in Salum, did you, Rishi? …Or Terra? …Or perhaps even you, Brone?” He looked at each one in turn.
“Not exactly,” Rishi began, “although my people do have a story that is similar. It’s the story of—”
“Zyiratha Shan perhaps?” Sir Salvren finished with a sly smile. “And you Terra, have you heard of Count Nuwana? Or you Brone, have you been told the story of the Great Sand King of Amak?”
A few moments of silence followed as the students began to nod their heads in recognition. At the same time, an eerie collection of shadows cast down by the clouds filtered through the tiled glass ceiling and rippled around the room.
“But all of those stories aren’t about the same person, are they?” Jayl asked, slightly distracted by the change in the room’s light. “They couldn’t be, could they?”
“And why not?” Sir Salvren asked.
“Well…because … I mean … we’re all from different parts of Tiertyn. Hundreds and even thousands of miles separate us. It must just be a coincidence…”
Stepping back down to the auditorium floor, Sir Salvren spun around with his arms extended out from his sides. The shadows danced, almost life-like now, around him. “Ah, a coincidence you say?
“Evil should never be tied to coincidence, Jayl. For that is when it has the most power over us!” Sir Salvren’s voice had taken on a fierce tone as the shadows continued to writhe and flit. “Whole worlds have been swallowed in the blink of an eye because rather than see evil for what it is, we ignore it and pass it off as coincidence. Stories that once steeled the will of society against the tyranny of oppressors turn into tales to chase toddlers to bed. That story that all of you recognize in one form or another is no coincidence…. No, it is the story that brings all of us—the entire land of Tiertyn—to this point…and this place. That, my friends, is story that explains the beginning of the evil Rimyaroth!”
Jayl felt rather than heard an audible crack, like two massive stones coming together, as Sir Salvren finished speaking. The shadows that had been whirling around him shot outward like arrows toward the walls of the room and fled upward to the glass ceiling. Then, in a blink, they were gone. The light in the room dimmed for a split second before returning to normal. A stunned silence washed over the students as Sir Salvren eased himself back towards the dais, as if the words he had just spoken had taken an exhausting toll. Jayl noticed his eyes had a reddish cast to them and looked unfocused. Jayl looked over to Heret, who was noticeably shaken and wide-eyed. Heret blinked a few times before looking back at him and forcing a half-smile.
“My apologies, everyone,” Sir Salvren said, still shaky but recovering quickly. “I have seen too much that now clouds my thoughts and words. Class dismissed. Please look on the board in the common room for what is to be finished for next class.” And with that, Sir Salvren strode swiftly out of the auditorium.
“Well, that was entertaining,” Heret said as the door closed. “Perhaps a bit on the dramatic side, but worth the price of admission!”
It was more than a few minutes before anyone ventured to breathe normally. Krevan cleared his throat noisily, and motioned for his small entourage to follow him. Soon after, the rest of the students began to file out of the room. Jayl noticed there wasn’t one who didn’t look about guardedly as they went.
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