Firehurler (Twinborn Chronicles Book 1)
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Eventually I started writing books based on the stray stories in my head, and people kept telling me to write more of them. Now, that's all I do for a living. I enjoy strategy, worldbuilding, and the fantasy author's privilege to make up words. I am a gamer, a joker, and a thinker of sideways thoughts. But I don't dance, can't sing, and my best artistic efforts fall short of your average notebook doodle. When you read my books, you are seeing me at my best.
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My ultimate goal is to be both clever and right at the same time. I have it on good authority that I have yet to achieve it. Kyrus had lived a quiet life as a scribe until his dreams begin seeping into his waking life. Fanciful tales of magic and battle turn out to be real. In his sleep, he witnesses the adventures of his twin. Kyrus is swept up in the intrigues of those who know of this connection between worlds Carl Ramsey is an ex-Earth Navy fighter pilot turned con man. His ship, the Mobius , is home to a ragtag crew of misfits looking to score a big payday but more often just scratching to pay for fuel Population: 1.
Her name is Eve She is the result of a year project by the robots of Earth to restore the planet after all life was wiped out in Cadmus Errol is the greatest inventor that Tellurak has ever known. His clockwork graces the spires of cities across the world. Yet in another, darker world, he lives the life of a slave. There, humanity is held underfoot, bound in service to the victors of a war fought untold generations ago Esper is a vigilante Samaritian with more moral fiber than business sense While leading the survivors to regroup and prepare the empire for the inevitable war, Brannis struggles to understand why a scribe from his own dreams, suddenly seems to be able to perform the magic he never could.
As the two discover the reality of their connection, their comfortable lives begin to unravel. Now they have to share knowledge between worlds to stay a step ahead of the mysteries piling up. Who is behind the unprovoked goblin attacks? How will a world dominated by reason react to the presence of magic?
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Just won this in a goodreads giveaway! Looks like a fun, fantasy read. The tent was originally meant to hold eight men standing around a table so ten men seated, even without the table, was rather cramped. But Jodoul was in no condition to stand for any length of time, and they needed to know everything he had seen, so they accommodated his present weakness. Over the next several minutes, Brannis and the others came to understand the scope of the enemy they were facing.
Jodoul, though, left out his own actions around the time of the battle, Brannis noticed. There was something in the way he avoided such mention that made Brannis suspect the man had not acquitted himself well; Sir Aric most likely had the right tack in questioning why he was the one who survived, but Brannis had more immediate concerns than potential cowardice in the face of the enemy.
The only matter remaining unsettled was when they would arrive in force. If the goblins knew they were here, the campfires would only be of aid to the human army, for goblins tended on the whole to see much better in low lighting that their human counterparts. Dousing the fires would not serve to hide them but rather help to hide their small foes from them. Iridan nodded, then half-closed his eyes and began to chant, Zoina emintari koactu fununar, at the same time sweeping his hands back and forth in front of him, palms downward, in a close approximation of a swimming motion.
He repeated the chant and continued to gesture. A fine wispiness coalesced in the air about his fingers, growing into a light fog and drifting to the ground. Within moments, the fog had spread throughout most of the campsite and was growing both thicker and deeper by the moment. Brannis, who knew the chant at least as well as did Iridan, caught himself silently mouthing the words in time with the chant. He could almost imagine that it was his own powers creating the fog in response to his own chant.
As he watched the ever-growing fog, his better sense grabbed hold of his daydreaming and shook it aside. Umm, Iridan, stop before you get it chest-high—your chest, not mine—because we still want to be able to see where we are walking. I just want to make it higher than the goblins can see over. Iridan was nearly a foot shorter than Brannis, so the admonition was not an idle one.
Brannis wanted to be sure that his men had every advantage he could manage to find. Iridan finished the spell, satisfied that the human soldiers would still be able to see over the thick bank of fog that now obscured the campsite. It was a simple enough spell and had hardly tasked his strength at all. He glanced around, trying to think of anything else he could do to help prepare for the expected attack. Remembering the wolves, he whistled to summon them to his side.
A few seconds later, he felt hot breath on his legs and heard their panting. So effective was the fog cloud that he could not even see the animals, though they were right in front of him. It was a command he had taught them so would aid in the search for game.
Firehurler: Twinborn Chronicles, #1
He hoped that the wolves would not make too strong a distinction between deer and goblins as far as acceptable prey was concerned. He was not too worried, though—the creatures seemed to be quite territorial. Had his magic not deluded them into thinking of humans as part of their pack, he was sure the wolves would have attacked the soldiers already. Iridan wracked his mind thinking what else he might be able to accomplish before the battle started but could not come up with any more ideas.
He looked around, hoping to catch sight of Brannis or one of the other knights to see if one of them might have need of him. Iridan winced at the sounds of a struggle: growling, snarling, a rustling of the underbrush, and finally nothing but a few whimpers that quickly died out. They had been waiting for hours. After the goblins had killed their wolves, Brannis had expected that they would attack the encampment soon, while they might still gain some surprise. But there sat Brannis and his knights, with Iridan as well, still waiting. Reluctantly, Brannis had ordered the men to try to get some rest, and there had already been two changes of the sentries.
Few could sleep, though, knowing that their enemy was lying in wait, preparing to attack at any moment. Sleeping in chain armor was difficult enough without it also serving as a reminder of the imminent attack.
Brannis finally gave in and decided to try to get what sleep he could while he still possessed a choice in the matter. His eyelids were drifting lower by the minute, and it was taking a conscious effort to hold them up. He left Sir Lugren on watch, and he would be in command for the first few moments of battle should the enemy attack while Sir Brannis slept. Iridan watched as his friend pillowed his head on a bundled bedroll and tried to sleep wearing plate armor, right in the middle of the camp with the rest of the knights.
Even as he saw Brannis grimace in discomfort as he tried to find a position where his armor did not push at him awkwardly, he envied his friend. For his part, Iridan was planning to stay awake as long as it took, for if his magic was a few seconds too late when battle was joined, he might never join it at all. Getting up to renew the fog as the fires slowly burned it away also helped to keep his mind alert.
The channeling of aether might drain the body, but there was something about it that invigorated the mind—something not entirely unlike the effect of jumping into a body of cold water. The effect was quite temporary, but Iridan needed whatever aid he might find in keeping awake. The other knights drew lots to determine who slept and who would keep watch. Every cricket, every toad, every breeze might have concealed the sound of approaching goblins.
It was more a matter of who would take watch standing and who would lie awake on the ground. As Iridan mused on the curious arrangement, he heard a slight throaty rasping. A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth as he recognized the sound of snoring. Brannis, at least, had found a way to get to sleep. Kyrus Hinterdale groaned and rolled over, turning his face from the offending light, knowing it was his own fault for leaving the window open last night.
It was not that he particularly needed the extra sleep; he was quite well rested. Now I cannot even remember! Kyrus often remembered bits and pieces of his dreams, not just in the groggy moments immediately after awakening. As a scribe, Kyrus had little enough to add excitement to his days, without forgetting the interesting bits his slumbering mind conjured up for his entertainment each night. With a resigned sigh, he sat up in bed, rubbed the last remnants of sleep from his bleary eyes and threw off the bed sheets.
Shambling across his small room, Kyrus reached the basin he kept on a table in the corner. He splashed some tepid water over his face and looked at his reflection in the small, polished, silver mirror that his employer, Expert Davin, had given him. He would have shaved it off, but he looked young enough that on the rare occasion he indulged in wine, the barkeeps would always ask him whether he had reached the age of accountability, which indeed he had—five years ago.
Once out on the city streets after a quick breakfast, Kyrus stretched and let out a yawn, filling his lungs with the fresh morning air. If there was a better way to start off a day, Kyrus was not aware of it. Kyrus managed a leisurely pace, his full stomach slowing his normally brisk pace somewhat. He used the extra time his early rise bought him to give himself a chance to try to figure out what Expert Davin was planning. Expert Davin had been telling him all week that he had a big surprise planned for him.
It was a high-minded plan and one that deep down he knew was doomed to failure, but until he actually sat down to start working, Kyrus entertained thoughts of keeping to it.
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The problem was that nothing he could think of made much sense. Davin had been promising for some time now that he would get Kryus admitted to the Scriveners Guild as a full member, but that was almost a formality. He could not picture Davin getting as worked up about the whole affair if that was it.
His favorite theory, which had Davin playing matchmaker for Kyrus with some mysterious niece, would at least explain why Davin had been so jovial lately. Davin had expressed concern a number of times to Kyrus that if he did not get out more, he would end up like Davin: an old man with no family of his own. However, Davin had told Kyrus he had only one sibling, a brother some eight years or so his senior. Kyrus snorted in amusement at the very thought.
And my dear Juliana, I would like to introduce you to your future husband—Oh my, wait. That cannot be any apprentice of mine, looking like some sort of ink-speckled shut-in. Kyrus grinned to himself, trying to imagine Davin introducing him to some fictional niece he could not possibly have. It was a bit of a stretch of course; Davin was less likely to notice a bit of ink and an unruly mop of hair than he was to suddenly grow his own hair back. And besides, who knew when he might run into a woman without Davin having arranged it for him.
The wooden sign above the door hung out toward the street on a wrought-iron bracket and swung gently in the morning breeze, proclaiming the building to belong to Davin Chartler—Expert Scrivener. The carved wooden letters were bold and plain and had been painted over in white to make them more visible against the dark-stained background. The letters were the only feature of the sign, which made it quite unique among the establishments of Scar Harbor.
Most other businesses would have carved a symbol on their signs, indicating what sort of work went on there, many without even lettering to accompany them. A great many of the folk who lived in the kingdom of Acardia could not read and found the places they needed by picture. Expert Davin had little use for the illiterate professionally, so he forewent the customary quill-and-ink pot that graced the signs of scribes throughout the rest of the kingdom. His stance had likely cost him a bit of business over the years, penning letters and writing up contracts for those who could not write, but his moral stance had gained him respect among the guild membership and freed up more of his time for other work he considered more rewarding.
Shutting the door, Kyrus was once again surrounded by a stuffy feeling in the air, at once both comfortable and a bit stifling. Visitors to the establishment frequently complained that it smelled strongly of equal parts musty old books and cat. The cat was a grey mongrel of indeterminate breeding named Ash, who had free run of the building.
Ash was a mouser and quite a good one. He had worked for Davin longer than Kyrus had by some years, and his skills had given him quite a large girth; he weighed more than some dogs Kyrus had seen. The chair was high-backed and solidly built out of oak, and the hard seat gave Kyrus awful aches—or at least it used to. Ever since he had gotten a cushion to pad the seat, Ash had taken to napping on it.
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Knowing he would not be allowed to remain in his favorite napping spot once Kyrus managed to cross the cluttered room, Ash stretched himself out and, with a sidelong look at Kyrus, hopped to the floor. Kyrus lost sight of the animal as he stepped around a small table with a chessboard on it, careful not to disturb the pieces.
Kyrus could not help but smile. Get your tail out of my face! How many times do I…. It was nearly half an hour later before Davin emerged from upstairs, suitably dressed to meet the day. He was of an age at which a more wealthy man would have considered retiring to the countryside. Over the years, Davin had grown thick around the middle from good eating and little strenuous work, though he could hardly be considered fat. He occasionally joked that his hair behaved like a flock of sparrows: each year it migrated north, but unlike the sparrows, it inconveniently forgot the trip back south.
What little was left of his once-black hair had long since gone to grey. His eyes seemed to be those of a much younger man, twinkling from behind a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles and reflecting the joy from a broad smile. Has it found you yet? Davin took the jest in the spirit in which it was given, and they settled into their morning routine.
Kyrus watched Davin write for some time while feigning interest in his own work. His own quill had grown bone dry, and he had been scratching at the same beleaguered piece of parchment for over an hour. He did not want to upset Davin by spying on him, especially when tonight was supposed to be the end of his week-long ordeal of curiosity, but he could not help himself. His work had fallen behind, but he silently assured himself that he would be able to catch up starting tomorrow, once he knew what all the mystery lately had been about.
Until then, he more or less just gave up and tried to covertly indulge his curiosity, hopeless as it might seem with Davin apparently committed to keeping his secret until the promised time. Davin was an honest man, almost to a fault. But if the king ever had need of a spy, Kyrus doubted he would be able to find one craftier than Davin. Kyrus got the feeling that Davin had been hanging clues in front of him all week, enjoying the opportunity to have a little fun with him. He was sure that whatever Davin was writing had something to do with what he was going to find out that evening.
He wiped his ink-stained fingertips on his handkerchief as best he could, though a black tinge of it remained, which never seemed to go away anymore. Hurrying up the stairs, he splashed a little water on his face and ran his more or less clean fingers through his hair to straighten out the tangles a bit.
After a glance at his reflection in the mirror, he pronounced himself fit for public viewing. Kyrus generally did not give much thought to his appearance, but tonight was likely to be a bit of a spectacle, if he had judged Davin correctly. He would hate to be an embarrassment to his friend should he arrive looking like he had just lost a fight with his own ink pot.
The sun had just cast its last rays of light over the horizon and was giving way to twilight. Shopkeepers were closing their doors, peddlers packing up their carts and wagons, and fest halls were admitting their clientele for the evening. Kyrus passed a man carrying a large tin jug, reeking of kerosene, who was making his way down Westfall Street, lighting and refilling the lamps that kept the cobblestone street lit through the night.
Kyrus nodded a greeting to the man, whose name he had never learned, and received a sidelong glance in return.
- Firehurler (Twinborn Trilogy, #1) by J.S. Morin;
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- Firehurler: Volume 1 (Twinborn Chronicles).
Kyrus paid little heed to the indifferent response, since he evoked similar reactions from the majority of the people in town. He was not rich or good-looking or even particularly sociable, so he figured he had no reason to expect any better. As he walked, he tried to mentally prepare himself for a letdown, knowing that he had built the whole thing up in his mind all week to the point where anything short of a knighthood or a visit from King Gorden himself would have been a disappointment.
Whatever it turned out to be, he would not want Davin to think he was not pleased with it, even if it turned out not to be as grand as he had thought. The old man had been so kind to him over the years of his employment that he could not bear the thought of hurting his feelings. He practiced beaming his best surprised smile until it occurred to him that he must have looked like a simpleton to the few passersby he came across, grinning at nothing in particular as he walked.
He eventually reached the front door of the Brown Elk Tavern, a modest two-story structure with whitewashed walls and brown shutters. Light shone from the yellowed windows, casting a blurry tableaux of shadows onto the street that hinted as to what transpired inside. Raucous laughter and shouted conversation mixed with the tinkling of glass and stoneware to give the tavern a welcoming air. He breathed deep and steeled himself for whatever lay inside, then painted his best expectant look on his face and pushed the door open in front of him.
The Brown Elk was a well-loved establishment among the locals of Scar Harbor. Most nights, the large common room was filled to capacity, and on busy nights, the mezzanine level overlooking that common room would be close to overflowing its railings. That night, however, things were a bit out of sorts. A number of the small square tables that normally stood scattered about the room had been pushed together by one wall to form a makeshift banquet table, with a large tablecloth draped across them all to make the whole arrangement look quite proper.
Crowded around the table were a great many people that Kyrus was familiar with, though many were just passing acquaintances. At the head of the table sat Expert Davin Chartler himself, laughing at something one of the men next to him had said and hoisting a mug of ale. Next to Davin, and not taking a seat, was a distinguished looking older gentleman, dressed in black and standing straight, as if a board had been tucked down the back of his shirt. A great cheer greeted Kyrus as his arrival was noted, and a number of tankards and mugs were raised.
Have a seat, friend, said Greuder, owner of a local pastry shop, who sat near the far end of the table from Davin. Twenty or so people were more than he spoke to in a typical day, and he felt out of place at the center of their attention, like an actor thrust into a role at the last moment, never having read the script. Words failed him utterly. He must have stood there stunned for longer than he thought, because the next thing he knew Greuder had a hand on his shoulder, guiding him to his seat.
No, no, not at all, my boy! You are here right on time, as usual. It is just that I had arranged for everyone else to be early, you see.
Firehurler (Twinborn Trilogy) (Volume 1)
Davin smiled, apparently at his own cleverness. He withdrew the contents—several sheets of parchment—and tapped them on the table to straighten them out a bit. Turning his attention to his guests, he cleared his throat. Well, let us get down to the reason for this little gathering, shall we? Davin said.