Book Title: Aetherstorm
Series: Songs of Sarin (Book 1)
Author: Alexander Ferrick
What is the Aetherstorm?
They said it was a tournament to discover the mightiest warrior in the land, but it is far more…
To the Demons, it is a chance to reclaim their former glory…
To a Prince, it is a chance to prove himself worthy of the crown…
To a Rebel, it is a chance at freedom…
To an Orphan, it is a chance at justice… or vengeance…
…What is the Aetherstorm?
The Aetherstorm is a trap.
When demons disguised as elves begin inviting the citizens of Sarin to a fighting tournament, Prince Maronir takes it upon himself to go there in secret and discover what the demons are up to.
Along the way, a botched assassination attempt forces Maronir to join Luca and Garron, two human orphans who are also going to the tournament to find the man who killed their adoptive father and mentor.
As the prince and his new friends journey across Sarin, he finds himself confronted by the harsh reality of his kingdom, and learns that the greatest tests of kingship happen far from the battlefield.
Will those lessons matter after the demons true plans are revealed? Time will tell…
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“Son of a bitch,” Garron shouted, “it’s a bloody gravity mage.”
“What’s a gravity mage?” Thorisg’Ad murmured.
“It is the worst nightmare of a smith like you,” Garron answered, “The magic uses Luca’s armor against him. The more crap he’s got to carry, the less he can move, and the heavier the mage’s rod becomes. Luca will die in there if the fight isn’t stopped right away.”
Garron watched in horror as the cloud of dust from the last blow cleared, and Luca stood up out of it, with his left arm hanging useless and out of joint at his side, complete with the mangled hump of metal that had been his shield. The limb was broken in at least three places.
“Stop the fight you damned fool!” Garron shouted at Shane, leaping over the partition into the arena, “Can’t you see his arm’s broken?” An outstretched hand from Shane stopped Garron’s approach, and Luca smiled up at the two of them.
“Just a scratch, brother,” Luca grimaced, “I’ve had hangnails worse than this.”
Luca had always had a rather interesting relationship with pain. He liked it. The more something hurt, the stronger Luca knew he would be at the other end of it. Nothing had ever hurt like the sensation in his arm at the moment, and Luca relished it.
“That’s a neat trick,” he called to the mage who stood opposite him. The elf was visibly stunned that Luca was even standing after the blow he had just received. Luca dropped his blade to the ground, and used his one good hand to un-strap all of his armor, allowing the beautiful metal to sink with a heavy thud into the sand.
“Would you care to see how we fight in the human villages?” Luca called, playing off of the elf’s fear. He remembered what Maronir had said about how humans were viewed, and he decided that if he was already cast as a nightmare in this man’s mind, then he had better live up to the part.
Without his armor weighing him down, Luca was almost able to walk normally in spite of the gravity mage’s spell, and he allowed his mutilated arm to hang in front of him as a visual threat to the elf. Micah had taught him years earlier that most creatures could not survive a broken bone. They would pass out immediately from the pain and shock. Even the infamously hearty dwarves occasionally died on the spot form a wound like this. The only creatures in all of Sarin that could survive such an injury were humans, and that was part of what made them so frightful to the others.
The elf trembled in fear as Luca closed the gap, and he swung out wildly with his scepter, but his eyes were half-closed. Luca ducked under it and reached out with his good hand to seize its shaft, pulling it away from the elf, while kneeing the man in the gut for his trouble. Once he had wrested the weapon free from its owner, he kicked the elf to the ground, and stood with the scepter over his shoulder, and his foot planted on the elf’s chest. Luca looked over at Shane, expecting the match to be ended in his favor immediately, but instead he saw the smirking elf shake his head.
“Continue, human,” the referee ordered, and Luca looked down at the terrified elf, and felt sympathy. He threw the scepter away, so that it was well out of reach, and he began to kick the elf in the ribs, aiming for the strongest parts of the wooden armor, so that his adversary would not be too gravely injured. Shane looked on in frustrated silence while this went on for several minutes, and unfortunately, Luca did feel at least one rib break in spite of his efforts at mercy.
“Enough,” Shane said at last, and then after he had loaded the elf into his cage, he leaned into Luca and whispered, “you will not defy me like that again, human.” Luca watched him with gritted teeth in silence, and once the referee was a safe distance away, Luca fell to the ground and passed out. Garron followed close while his friend was carried to an infirmary under the coliseum, and was pleased by the care the attendants gave him. He stood watch over Luca’s sleeping form until his own name was called that afternoon…
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