Bitter cold engulfed the young woman as she realized the truth. She would not live to see the dawn.
“Stay in the house!” her husband had cried to her. Less than an hour ago, that’s where she’d been: curled up next to the fire and falling asleep with her head against his arm. Now she stood in the middle of a pasture, clutching a tiny package to her chest with all her strength. Tears cascaded from her cheeks at the sight of the two figures before her. Mere yards away, they clashed in the night, sparks flying each time their blades met. In spite of her husband’s warning, she’d followed him. She wouldn’t cower inside while he fought for his life and those of his family! As long as she breathed, she would never abandon him, nor would she relinquish her cherished bundle that the pair of them, against all common sense, had created together.
The fiercest spark yet lit up the pasture, and a moment later a sword arced through the air toward her, landing on the ground not a foot away. Frantically, she stared into the darkness, and she just barely made out the silhouette of a disarmed man on his knees, pleading. His triumphant opponent paid no heed and stabbed deep into the defeated man’s chest.
With a single glance at the sword before her, the woman knew which fighter had fallen. She wailed in the night at the death of her husband.
At the sound, the murderer turned and walked slowly toward her. The woman froze, so filled with fear she couldn’t think. She gazed upon the villain’s foul blade, still dripping with her husband’s blood. Tracing with her eyes up the killer’s arm, she beheld the face of her death. The murderer hesitated briefly and then, fist clenching around the hilt as though steeling for what would come next, swung.
The woman felt surprisingly little as the blade sliced through her neck, and shock, more than pain, caused her to drop to the ground. As she fell, her tightly guarded bundle came loose from her arms and rolled a short distance, coming to a stop next to her fallen husband’s sword. The cloths protecting it fell away, revealing a tiny infant boy, the tip of his shoulder resting gently on the blade’s hilt.
As the attacker readied the third death blow of the night, the dying mother beheld her son open his eyes, his piercing sky blue eyes. She flashed back to earlier that night, when those same eyes, this time belonging to her husband, stared at her with worry. “He will be hated,” he’d told her, “just as I am hated.”
“He will be loved,” she’d declared without the slightest doubt, “just as you are loved.”
He’d smiled at her, the same sad smile that made her fall in love with him, the one that hid nothing of his grief. Just once, she wished she could have seen him smile at her genuinely, from the other side of that pain.
Instead, the last image the woman saw was the downward thrust of the murderer’s blade toward her son.
From fantasy author Josh VanBrakle comes an epic new trilogy of friendship, betrayal, and explosive magic. Lefthanded teenager Iren Saitosan must uncover a forgotten history, confront monsters inspired by Japanese mythology, and master a serpentine dragon imprisoned inside a katana to stop a revenge one thousand years in the making.
Lodian culture declares lefthanded people dangerous and devil-spawned, and for Iren, the kingdom's only known Left, that's meant a life of social isolation. To pass the time and get a little attention, he plays pranks on the residents of Haldessa Castle. It's harmless fun, until one of his stunts nearly kills Lodia's charismatic heir to the throne. Now to avoid execution for his crime, Iren must join a covert team and assassinate a bandit lord. It's a suicide mission, and Iren's chances aren't helped when he learns that his new katana contains a dragon's spirit, one with a magic so powerful it can sink continents and transform Iren into a raging beast.
Adding to his problems, someone on Iren's team is plotting treason. When a former ally launches a brutal plan to avenge the Lefts, Iren finds himself trapped between competing loyalties. He needs to figure out who - and how - to trust, and the fates of two nations depend on his choice.
"A fast-paced adventure...led by a compelling cast of characters. Josh VanBrakle keeps the mysteries going." - ForeWord Reviews
Genre – YA epic fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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