A Prophecy Fulfilled
(The Vaelinel Trilogy #3)
Publication date: December 9th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Regrouping after their escape from the Light Elves, Irewen and her companions fear the worst after black smoke plumes on the horizon. Allowing compassion to rule over reason, they ignore Finnwyn’s warning and return to Lilendvelle, hoping to help some of the survivors stranded in the city’s wake. Instead, they run into a trap.
Completely surrounded by an endless army of Drulaack, they fight for their lives, but their efforts aren’t enough. Irewen is captured and dragged into the heart of the Corrupter’s lair.
Having his prize, the others in the company are granted their freedom, but at a great cost: the one named in the prophecy who is meant to unite the elf forces and stand against the Corrupter is lost to the world – trapped beneath the Corrupter’s talons.
With the aid of his mother’s spirit, Brendell must now find a way to gather an alliance strong enough to march against the Corrupter and his army, but his time is running out. Each day that passes brings Irewen closer to death.
And the world closer to destruction.
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Slowly opening her eyes, Irewen braced herself for the fresh wave of pain she knew awaited her. Despite expecting it, nothing prepared her for the intensity of the agony ravaging her body.
She yearned to be back in the Spirit World where the misery of her injuries had been severely dampened. Trying to lift her head, she flinched and dropped it back to the cold stone. There was no going back. This was now her life. This was her normalcy.
Following part of Elthad’s advice, she found something to fixate her attention on, in this case, a small crack in the stone where the wall met the floor.
She studied the jagged line, imagining it into different shapes and scenarios. Time slowly passed, and her pain gradually lessened, but her situation remained just as dismal as ever.
Elthad’s gift needed to be used strategically. She couldn’t unleash the weapon unless the timing was perfect. Elthad wouldn’t respond. For the time being, she was trapped.
Irewen turned her thoughts to her last minutes with Elthad’s spirit. It all seemed so surreal. Although she’d witnessed it first-hand, she couldn’t quite believe that she had Elthad’s weapon in her possession.
She mentally rubbed the small lump now tucked safely behind her right ear. Half the size of her pinky fingernail, it now hid what her cousin had claimed would be the answer to her problems. It afforded her a certain sense of security, but at the same time, her peace of mind was an illusion.
This wasn’t a weapon in the traditional sense of the word. Unlike a dagger or bow she could wield with her hands, or a spell she could summon, it was an intangible theory based solely on trust. Trust that Elthad hadn’t been lying to her. Trust that his power would be released in time to save her life.
Trust that he would do anything at all.
Any promises she’d had of escaping from the Corrupter’s prison vanished. Blinded by her desire for freedom, she’d been a total fool. Elthad had given her hope. Nothing more.
The faint clicking of boots on stone pulled her from her musings. She stiffened as the slow, deliberate steps drew nearer. The hair along the back of her neck stood on end. A villainous aura emanated from the newcomer, permeating the already clammy air. The footsteps stopped, and she took advantage of the silence to study the crack in the wall with a newfound concentration.
A man cleared his throat.
She didn’t need to look at the person standing before her to know it was him.
“It’s nice to see that you’ve returned.”
Irewen’s body shuddered at the sound of his voice. Staring straight ahead, she fought off the sensation of thousands of bugs crawling over her skin.
“Welcome to your humble new home. It’s not much, but I’m certain you’ll be quite content here, given time.”
His words slithered about her like poison.
“After all, you have nowhere else to go, now that those in the Spirit World have rejected you. It’s such a shame that you can’t return to the welcoming bosom of the dead. Still, that means you’ll be able to spend more time with me. Doesn’t that excite you?”
Clenching her jaw, Irewen fought the urge to answer. Every part of her ached to tell the Corrupter what she thought he could do with his home and his time. Instead, she kept her mouth shut, replaying Elthad’s warning repeatedly in her mind.
“Don’t give him the fodder he desires. He wants you to react. He feeds off of seeing the effects his words have on others. He craves it. Remaining impassive and silent will be far more distressing for him than any insult you could spew. Never grab hold of his bait.”
“So,” the Corrupter continued after a time, his voice thick with amusement, “you’ve decided to answer me with silence. Never fear, there are many ways to make someone talk. I doubt you’ll survive the first treatment, but that won’t be of any loss to me. Silevethiel and that elf prince you’re so fond of will be the ones you’ll end up destroying. I look forward to it. You’ll have done a large part of my job for me. Those two have been a nuisance.”
No! Irewen mentally screamed at herself at the mention of Silevethiel and Laegon. Don’t react! Don’t bloody react!
Gritting her teeth, she stared at the crack more intently than ever before. It seemed to grow, slowly tripling in size until she swore it would reach out and suck her in to its depths. Eventually, her ire dissipated, and the huge fissure returned to its normal, puny size.
She focused on keeping her breaths slow and even, growing increasingly more thankful that she’d decided to swallow her pride and listen to Elthad. Without his insight, she wouldn’t have been able to recognize what the Corrupter was attempting to do. She would have fallen right into his trap, unraveling like he wanted.
A sudden chill filled the air. The Corrupter’s anger seeped into her being, and she smiled inwardly. It was working. Even in her pathetic condition and imprisoned in some god-forsaken cell, she had the upper hand. All she had to do was keep her focus and not give him what he craved.
“You have quite a stubbornness about you,” the Corrupter finally said, his voice thick with disdain. “You’re just like your father, but you will eventually crack. Your father did.”
Without waiting to see if she’d respond, the clicking of boots resounded about the stone walls as the Corrupter left her to muse over his words. She held her breath, waiting until the sound of the footsteps faded completely before trusting herself to let the air out of her lungs. She wanted to scream but couldn’t bring herself to make a sound. She had no way of knowing who or what would be nearby to hear.
Closing her eyes, she visualized the crack from the wall. Completely worn out, all of her muscles relaxed, and she felt as though she was melting into the floor. She had no idea how long she could keep up this charade, but she needed to until the Corrupter cracked.
The first tendrils of sleep began to take hold. Before she fell completely into unconsciousness, she wondered if she would survive his outburst when he finally exploded. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so terrible if she didn’t.
Andi O’Connor is the award-winning author of The Dragonath Chronicles, The Vaelinel Trilogy, and The Legacy of Ilvania. The Speaker is the 2018 Independent Press Award Winner for Fantasy and a Finalist in the 11th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards. Andi’s novel, Awakening, is a 2018 Independent Press Award Distinguished Favorite for Fantasy. Her critically acclaimed novel, Silevethiel, is the 2015 Best Indie Book Award winner for Science Fiction/Fantasy and the 2015 New Apple Official Selection for Young Adult. Silevethiel was also named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2013.
You can frequently find Andi as an exhibitor and guest panelist at Comic Cons throughout the country including the Rhode Island Comic Con, Awesome Con, Philcon, Conclave, and Chessiecon. For more information, visit Andi’s website at http://www.andioconnor.net
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