Eclipse by Dirk Strasser

Eclipse – The Lost Book of Ascension

Can you see the story breathing?

What happens if the days keep getting shorter?
And shorter?
Until there is an eternal night?

What happens as the darkness grows?
And the creatures of dusk take control of the Mountain?
And the quest for the third Book is the only hope?

The Mountain is in its death throes as the Nazir send their wraiths to finish what the dusk-rats and grale had begun. Soon there will be no daylight to protect the Maelir and Faemir, and with each twilight there are fewer places to hide. Will the Mountain finally collapse under its own instability or will Atreu and Verlinden’s descent find the words of salvation in the Lost Book of Ascension?

Chapter Eight

In the growing dusk the Source took on an increasing dream-like quality.

Atreu became aware of his own breathing, and soon the air around him seemed to be pulsing in time. A soft lap-lapping of water merged with the rhythm of his breaths. After a while he realised that the dark figures on the lake were coming closer. As they approached, he could see that the cowled monks were sitting bolt upright on the floating prayer mats and paddling slowly to shore.

By the time the monks reached the edges of the lake, Atreu was mesmerised by the serene poetry of the scene. Over a hundred Source Holy Men now reached the shore and stood up from their mats in the same fluid motion. Each one remained perfectly still, facing the cliffs with their back to the lake, as the others arrived at the shore. Finally the last one arrived, and Atreu waited, expecting something to happen. He could detect no signal or sign, but as one, the monks gave out a deep sonorous tone that filled the air like honey. As he listened, the tone grew deeper and sweeter. It so enveloped him that he could not be sure that his own voice had not joined in the twilight chorus.

And when he thought no sound could be richer, he became aware that the monks by the lake had been joined by the monks in the cliffs behind him, and the chorus seemed to reach a height and depth he had never imagined. He had been moved by Felsen chanting before, but what he was hearing now was on another plane. No pictures or visions ran through his head. This was pure sound, devoid of any content or images. It was as if his head was being cleared, and filled with a single resonant note.

The cliffs, the water, the air itself, seemed to become one with the tone, adding to its depth and flavour. And then, just as Atreu lost any sense of a world that wasn’t made of the sound, it faded, the last note lingering like the sweetest of aftertastes.

About the Author:

Dirk Strasser has won multiple Australian Publisher Association Awards and a Ditmar for Best Professional Achievement. His short story, “The Doppelgänger Effect”, appeared in the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology, Dreaming Down Under. His fiction has been translated into a number of languages. His acclaimed fantasy trilogy, The Books of Ascension – Zenith, Equinox and Eclipse – has been published in English (Pan Macmillan / Momentum) and German (Heyne). A collection of his short stories, Stories of the Sand, will be published in November. His most recent short story publications have been “The Mandelbrot Bet” in the Tor anthology Carbide Tipped Pens, “At Dawn’s Speed” in Dimension6 #2, and “2084” in the international anthology The World to Come. He founded the Aurealis Awards and has co-published and co-edited Aurealis magazine over 20 years.


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