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Again, Drake said nothing and again, his friend watched him carefully.  Where is
she now?
 By Mandarin Pond. She s alone. And I ve placed a shielding spell on her location.
Grolsch was silent for several moments more. And then he asked,  By the way, why
are there sword holes in your armor?
 I got into a fight with an elf.
Grolsch shook his head.  Lovely. Just lovely.
*****
Astriel did not bother to knock on the giant double doors that guarded the entrance to
the mage tower. He simply waved his hand before him and the large wooden doors began
to creak open. As soon as there was room, he strode through them and into the flickering
darkness beyond.
Torches lit with multi-colored mage fire burned, heat-less and mesmerizing, in
sconces that protruded, at intervals, along the stone walls. Bas relief carvings in the stone
depicted several infamous scenes in the ancient arcane legends that all Blue Robes came
to learn during their study under the master mage.
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The Chosen Soul
Astriel paid them little heed. He entered the main gathering chamber on the first
floor of the massive mage tower and scanned the interior. Blue and white banners hung
from rafters in the ceiling, and a giant hearth on one side of the room blazed and crackled
cheerfully, casting dancing shadows across the tables, chairs and bookshelves in the
room.
The chamber was empty but for one man. A Blue Robe with long black hair sat at
one of the long tables, his back turned toward the chamber s entrance.
Astriel strode toward him, his boots echoing clearly on the marble floor. The Blue
Robe did not look up at the sound of approaching footfalls and Astriel smiled at his
intentional insolence.
When Astriel finally stood directly in front of him, the Blue Robe slowly placed his
forefinger over a line in the book he d been reading and glanced up, a slightly bored,
slightly annoyed expression on his handsome face.
The Blue Robe looked him up and down and then smiled an utterly nasty smile.  Did
you get lost, your highness, or is there something I can help you with?
Astriel returned the smile.  I m looking for a book. Jaren was reading it when I saw
it last. It is a book of prophecies.
The black-haired man almost snorted. His lips twitched.  There are many books on
prophecies within these walls, your highness. I m afraid you ll need to be a bit more
specific.
 I want the book on the prophecy of Cruor.
 Oh? The Blue Robe raised one black brow.  Taking a sudden interest in mortal
affairs, my prince?
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Heather Killough-Walden
 My interests are none of your business, mage. Where is the book?
The Blue Robe slowly pushed away from the table and came to his feet. His gaze
locked on Astriel s.  You are not among friends, Lord Astriel. You may hold sway in
your court and among the mortals, however, when you enter those doors, he gestured to
the entrance on the other side of the room,  you enter the court of the Master Mage. The
Blue Robe s gaze narrowed and his smile turned positively nasty.  And his power is far
greater than yours.
Astriel s cruel smile never wavered. He shook his head admonishingly.  Honestly,
Azmith, these lover s tantrums of yours are unbecoming. Have you told Gray Beard of
your true feelings for him?
The Blue Robe opened his mouth to retort, but a sound across the room brought both
men s attentions around before he could say anything further.
From the shadows stepped a tall man, draped in sapphire and ebony robes. The
nature of his build was hidden beneath the sheer volume of his vestments, but he moved
with quiet grace as he silently entered the room. His facial features, though not ruggedly
handsome, were engaging and very charismatic. His dark blue eyes glittered like gems in
the firelight. His hair was long, straight and black, but his chin sported a graying goatee.
A vicious scar ran the length of one side of his face, from above his eyebrow to his chin.
Its effect did nothing to mar the man s charisma, and in fact merely intensified his
presence.
He approached the two men.
Azmith s smile became a sneer of victory and contempt and Astriel s face wiped
itself clean of any emotion whatsoever.
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The Chosen Soul
 Lord Astriel. Gray Beard greeted the prince with a slight nod of his head. Astriel
did the same. Neither man smiled.  Is there something you need? the Master Mage
asked, his tone low, unspoken insinuation lacing each word.
 The book of Cruor s prophecy. Your pupil, Jaren, had it last. And, as it goes, she
appears to be missing as well. She was not in her quarters.
Gray Beard took a deep breath and let it out in a slow sigh.  No. She would not be.
She insisted on investigating ideas she has that Cruor is on the verge of returning. He
spoke in a calm voice, but something dangerous rode each syllable, as if a reminder that
every breath he took was fortified with magic.  Why she would be interested in the
matters of mortals, I can not imagine. She left yesterday afternoon, taking the book and
several other items with her.
Astriel looked from Gray Beard to Azmith. The younger Blue Robe appeared as if he
desperately wanted to say something, but was holding himself carefully in check while in
the presence of his master.
The Prince turned back to the Master Mage and the two stared at one another for
some indeterminate amount of time. And then Astriel turned on his heel.  When she
comes back, please let her know I would like a look at that book, he said as he left the
room. There was no answer from behind him.
He had not expected one.
- 179 -
Heather Killough-Walden
The Chosen Soul  Chapter Fifteen
Malphas stormed through his palace of ice, Cainan imps and monsters of frost
scattering before his striding tirade, struggling to get out of the way of his indomitable
fury. His eyes burned a hellish red, a rare and frightening testament to a temperament that
reared its ugly head only once in a blue moon. And this day, it was his daughter that
plagued his fevered mind and raged his ancient blood.
His daughter and her various hunters, far too many as they were. And one, in
particular, whose power and aspiration had allowed him to come much, much too close to
Raven.
Though her recent struggles might yet merely serve to further her father s own dark
purpose and send her careening into her destiny, as he wished her to, he had to admit that
he did not like the invasive turn of events that had just transpired. The Death Mage was
far too impudent, playing a risky game with the devil s sole scion. Should the Blue Robe
succeed in capturing Raven, all that Malphas had worked for would be lost.
Malphas desperately needed Raven to realize her own power  her own ability to do [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]