Last Friday, I posted the first part of the prologue of my upcoming fantasy novel The Silver Cage. Today, I’m going to post the second (and final) part. But first, check out the cover art!
Too cool, huh?
Wondering what the wolf is all about? I’ll never tell, but wolves are a rather important part of the story.
And there be dragons, too.
And other less familiar creatures (some of which you’ll meet below).
They’re all quite important, and all quite different than your standard wolves, dragons, magic, faeries, and other creatures. At least in my experience. ;-)
Anyway, on to the second part of the prologue.
Check back next week for the first part of chapter 1. Chapter 1 is available here.
Prologue (part 2)
Far from Candelar, in a massive cavern on the island of Phanta, Riak, Chosen of Sytan, stood before a towering slab of black obsidian polished to a mirror finish. But the smooth surface did not reflect the regal countenance of the dark‑skinned, leathern-winged man, nor did it show the sable, blunt-muzzled visages of the dozen or so movoi crouched at his booted feet. Instead it showed the chamber beneath Castle Nemik where Princess Alexsa knelt beside a True Spring.
“His name is David,” the princess said. “He is mine.”
The movoi responded with pleased moans and mutterings and inched closer to the scrying mirror on long, silken-furred limbs.
“He is mine,” one said, his voice pitched high in imitation of the human girl.
The movoi’s short tails wagged, their long, pointed ears pivoted, and they snickered.
“She is mine,” another said and licked thin lips, black eyes bright with hunger.
“No, that one belongs to Beallus,” said another, a female.
“That one controls Power,” a fourth said. “Power to kill Phantans. Kill or trap.”
“In a silver cage,” several movoi chorused in careless unison.
“No,” the female said, “the royal one is not an enemy to the Phantans.” Her gaze darted to Riak. “Tell us, Riak. The royal one brings hope, yes? She brings the Pureblood to open the Portal and free the Phantans.”
Riak nodded, a tolerant expression on his youthful features. His scaled black armor threw off sparks of red‑orange light reflected from the braziers lighting the cavern. “Yes, we will be free, if Beallus does her job.” He returned his silver, slit-pupiled eyes to the mirror.
“Beallus does well for us,” the female said. “Beallus brings freedom.”
“And shakorn for our supper.” The hungry one brushed a long finger along the mirror’s tarnished frame where carved images of one-horned shakune’or battled for the right to lure gentle shakorn to their bowers with gifts of beauty or Power. “Through the Portal the Phantans go,” he sang, “to find shakorn for our supper.”
“Not yet,” the female said. “First, the Pureblood must come.”
“Not yet,” the first movoi repeated and swatted the hungry one’s hand.
The hungry one spun, sharp teeth bared. The first one growled, and others joined in.
Riak swung a clawed hand into the mass of movoi. “Cease!”
One movoi melted into the form of a raven and flapped away in an explosion of black feathers. Another ducked and elongated to become a snake that slithered between the feet of those scurrying to escape Riak’s half-hearted swipe.
“No more.” Riak glared at the creatures. “Or when next you serve Sytan, it will be as supper, not Caretaker.”
The movoi settled before the mirror again.
“Soon,” one whispered. “Soon we will go through the Portal. To taste sweet meat. Shakorn, faery, horse, human. So sweet. Soon.”
“Yes, soon, soon,” another said.
“Not so soon,” a new voice rumbled through the cavern with a sound like tumbling boulders.
“Sytan speaks!” one of the movoi hissed.
The others craned their long necks and gazed over their shoulders.
Riak turned. The rock that formed the far wall rippled, and the movoi shuffled closer to the huge creature that seemed now a part of the wall, now separate.
“Not so soon,” the voice boomed again. Glowing red eyes opened high on the wall, and portions of the rock face seemed to shudder and sway, revealing the mammoth winged form of Phanta’s Great Lord, the ancient wyrm Sytan. His huge horned head dipped toward the large, crystal-studded boulder at the base of the wall. Massive claws on powerful legs stroked the Stone.
Riak bent one knee and cupped his wings around him, clawed tips curled in reverence. “Great Lord, welcome from your slumber.”
Sytan’s eyes swept over him, unnoticing, to regard the Stone.
“What does Sytan see?” the female movoi asked, her voice cracking with nervousness.
“Tell us, Sytan,” said another and trembled.
“What see you, Great Lord?” asked the hungry one. “Does the Stone speak? Does it show you shakorn for our supper? Sweet faery-fey?”
“Not so soon.” Sytan’s claws continued to caress the boulder. “Not so soon . . .” His eyes drooped shut, and his enormous dark-scaled head settled onto the Stone.
“A prophecy?” The female flattened herself against the ground and inched closer. “Sytan, tell us.”
Sytan’s head lifted from the Stone, and his eyes opened. “Pureblood Power heeds not blood royal. Pureblood hope helps not Phanta clans. Not so soon . . .” His eyes drifted shut.
Riak rose and settled his wings behind him. The gathered movoi moaned, then grew silent when Sytan spoke again.
“Pureblood spilt, Pureblood tainted.” His flaming eyes opened and stared far beyond the cavern walls. “Trapped in a cage, the tainting kills.” The cavern shook with the wyrm’s laughter. “Still, Portal opens. Still. Portal opens to Phantan’s will.”