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Azaria M.J. Durant
(Darkened Destiny Saga #1)
Publication date: July 29th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
An ancient power long kept dormant stirs in the shadows once more as one boy embarks on a quest to earn his freedom and the freedom of his world!
Magic has turned to myth, the Vaelhyreans of old to legend, and the power wielded by the ancients has long been forgotten. However, with Ealdred, a mere half-breed slave boy, myth becomes real, the forgotten remembered, and the power of legend is reborn within him.
Ealdred is merged into a world of mystery, brimming with deceit, where the remaining Vaelhyreans are in a desperate fight for their very survival. When Ealdred is kidnapped by the power-mongering dark lord Zeldek himself, he must make a choice; to commit his newfound magic to Zeldek’s service or die. But when he meets Bellator, clever yet treacherous servant of Zeldek, an alternative is presented to him: to escape from Zeldek’s stronghold and embark on a quest to find a cursed arrow and free the Vaelhyreans from the spell that keeps their powers at bay.
Yet how can he survive in a world where magic is illegal, half-breeds are hated, and the four countries are on the brink of war?
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All I can do is stare in bewilderment as flames shoot from the bare skin of his palm and roll down the alley toward Banner, threatening to engulf him. But Banner, who I am sure is a sorcerer as well, puts up his hand just in time.
A violet flash counteracts the flames, engulfing them until they are extinguished. Banner then raises his right hand, and with a shout that I can’t quite make out, he sends a wave of purple light toward us both.
With a casual flick of Zeldek’s hand, the light fades to an ebony mist. It touches his long black fingernails, and in an instant, the mist is sucked into them.
I stare, eyes wide. That’s… not normal.
“Zikinkeria!” Banner cries, causing the cobblestones between us to explode in a shower of rocks and dirt.
A large root shoots out of the ground and twists around Zeldek’s sword to wrench it from his hand. But the blade bursts into flames, incinerating the root, which falls in ashes to the ground.
Banner sways on his feet, and he grasps the wall for support.
Zeldek laughs with scorn. “You are as weak as you have always been!”
“Zeldek, I beg you!” Banner’s plea has become desperate. “Leave him be, for another year. You owe me at least that!”
“I owe you nothing.” Zeldek’s voice is callous. “I will wait no longer!”
Taking the hilt of his sword in both hands, Zeldek points the blade at the beggar. Banner throws up his hands as a wave of flames rolls toward him, a shield of purple mist surrounding him.
“Run, boy, run!” Banner shouts as the fire engulfs him, but I am rooted to the spot.
How can I flee from a man who’s in danger because he’s trying to protect me?
Banner’s shield fails him. His garments catch fire and he throws himself to the ground with a cry of anguish. I leap forward to help him, but Zeldek shoves me against the wall and pins me there with his left hand.
Regaining control of himself, Banner puts his hand to his chest, and the flames disappear. He raises his head feebly, attempting to pull himself up. But his strength leaves him, and his head lolls to the side.
“Your power is pathetic,” Zeldek mocks. “You cannot protect yourself, let alone your last hope of redemption! Crawl back to Ulmer before I change my mind and cause you to suffer a fate worse than death!”
Anger wells in my chest. If there is one thing I despise, it’s a person who torments someone weaker than themselves. This Zeldek, king or no king, is no exception.
I struggled against the hand still holding me to the wall enough to reach the dagger on his belt. I snatch it, bringing the blade across the back of his hand, hard, leaving behind a sparkling trail of black liquid. Zeldek jerks it back with a yelp of pain, knocking the knife out of my grasp. Yet as he does, he loosens his hold on me, giving me the chance to twist myself free from his grip. I race around the crater created by the root’s growth and run to Banner’s side. His good eye has gone back to its normal shade of hazel and his face, where it isn’t scorched, is very pale.
“Get away, fool!” he rasps.
“No.” I crouch down and take his hand as gently as I can in my own. “I’m staying with you.”
“He’s here for you, not me! Go while you still can!”
I shake my head. “I can’t leave you here alone. Not after you risked your life for me.”
His gaze darts to Zeldek, who is rubbing his hand in suppressed rage as he stalks towards us. “You don’t understand. I have to protect you!”
I lean closer. “Why? Why are you protecting me? I need to know.”
He struggles to get the words out. “You are Elroy.”
I furrow my brow, not sure that I heard him right. Who is Elroy?
“Enough! You’ve said your goodbyes!” Zeldek is upon us now. He grabs my arm, digging his long fingernails into my skin, and jerks me away from Banner’s side. “I leave you alive now, Banner, so that when next we meet, the one you ‘defended’ for so long will be the one to thrust the knife into your heart.”
Then he raises his fist in the air. Dark mist comes in long wisps from the ring on his finger and encircles us. I try to struggle, to shout, to scream, to wake up from this nightmare I’m trapped in. But this is no nightmare. This is real, and I am powerless to stop it.
The darkness envelopes us and all else fades into oblivion.
Azaria M. J. Durant is a young, passionate writer of fantasy with plans to branch out into sci-fi and dystopian. She enjoys writing stories with action, adventure, unexpected plot twists, and fleshed out characters that challenge gender roles and expectations.
Azaria lives in Atlantic Canada with her family, cats, and dogs, and her big dreams to travel the world. In the moments when she isn’t writing, she is sketching concept art for her stories, participating in community theatre, or curled up with a good book and a bag of mint chocolates.
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