Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Nathan Barham - Alora's Tear Blog Tour

Alora’s Tear, Volume I: Fragments
(all books in the trilogy are available)

There is no magic in Vladvir...

Tucked away in a quiet valley, the community of Tolarenz offers a refuge and safe haven for its people, keeping persecution at bay. One young citizen—Askon son of Teral—is destined to lead them, but first he must leave them behind: one final mission, in service of the king.

In the north, leering nightmare creatures known as the Norill gather. Their armor is bone and skin; their weapons are black and crude and cold. They strike in the night, allies to the darkness. It is to them Askon marches, his men a bulwark against the threat.

For there is no magic in Vladvir.

What Askon finds when he arrives seems impossible: smoke and fire, death and defeat, and all around a suffocating sense of dread. The Norill seek something they call ‘the Stone of Mountain,’ but in the half-remembered stories from Askon’s childhood, it was always ‘Alora’s Tear’: a gem with powers great and terrible. A gem that cannot exist.

Unless there is magic in Vladvir…

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Marten & Halan

Beyond the farms, two buildings stood twice again as far from the town hall. The first was Askon’s own home. The other was the home of the falconer, Halan. Not only was Halan the last of the villagers in Askon’s tour, the two also had unresolved business.

Everything in and around Halan’s home seemed tailored to the creatures he kept. The trees were tall with many bare, solid branches to act as perches and roosting places. Wood shavings from the carpenter’s shop back in town littered the surrounding grounds. The sheer number of birds was startling. Some hopped from branch to branch along the walkway toward the door, and others, too noble to stoop to such childish games, merely watched like feathered gargoyles until Askon was out of sight.

One such creature, a sable gray merlin who had originally been perched amongst the larger peregrines, glided from tree to tree, stopping periodically to pick through the brown and white feathers at its breast. It followed Askon step for step as he app-roached the fork in the narrow walkway.

To one side was the falconer’s home and a long dock that jutted out over the lake; on the other, the pathway led to the ramshackle mews. Askon passed it by and headed for the water. The merlin swooped fluidly along the ground behind him. On the dock, a figure stared across the lakeside, watching the birds of prey circle and dive.

“Halan?” Askon called. He continued out onto the wooden planks, his steps echoing between water and wood beneath the platform.

“Askon,” Halan said. “Marten and I have been waiting.”

Halan, who was half a head shorter than Askon, appeared every bit an elf, though even he was not fully pure. The long straight hair, lengthened ears that extended out to fine points, sharp features, slight build, and brilliant green eyes made his heritage unmistakably clear.

“Aren’t they just inspiring?” He spoke with a soothing hum that helped to relax his birds. The sound had a similar effect on Askon. “Every movement is pure freedom.”

Askon looked across the water and into the sky. There, in the glare of the midday sun, winged shapes of all sizes soared in great circles above them. He thought to himself how free they did look, but remembered that they were, in a way, Halan’s captives. Askon lowered his eyes to the opposite shore. There he perceived his own measure of true freedom. The people of Tolarenz moved through their daily chores, some studying the arts and others partaking in more menial tasks. Warm pride swept over Askon. The people of Tolarenz were happy and free, and soon they would be in his charge.

“They are indeed inspiring,” he said.

Taking Askon’s meaning, the falconer turned and started back toward the mews. “You’re here for Marten,” he rumbled. “He has spent most of the day in the trees on the outside of the property. He generally prefers to associate with the peregrines. They protested at first, but I think he’s proven his worth to them.”

“Heh, that sounds like him all right,” Askon replied. “I take it he has fully recovered then?”

“He has, but you should try to keep him from being too active. His wings aren’t quite ready for full-time hunting just yet. You can take him home, though.”

The merlin, who had been watching the conversation fixedly, dove from one of the dock’s support pillars and flew in a wide circle just inches from the surface of the lake, so close in fact, that each flap of his wings sent water rippling behind him. When he had finished his demonstration of recovery, he fluttered back up and perched lightly on the leather pad that rested on Askon’s shoulder.

“Feeling better, I see,” Askon said, smiling. The bird bobbed his head in response and looked out across the water. “Thank you for your help, Halan.”

“Always a pleasure.”

About the author

Nathan spends most of his working days with the students of Genesee Junior-Senior High School in Genesee, Idaho. Whether it’s essay structure, a classic literary work, or the occasional impromptu dance routine, he strives to keep students interested in the fun and the fundamentals of the English language.

When he’s not teaching, he wears a number of hats, though the one that says “Dad” is the most careworn and cherished (it says “Husband” on the back). It hangs on a hook in a house where music is a constant and all the computers say “Apple” somewhere on their aluminium facades. From time to time it is said that he ventures into the mysterious realm called outside, though the occasion is rare and almost exclusively upon request by son or daughter.

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