Everyone in the room leaned forward, desperate to hear Amroth’s strategy. The Quodivar were the greatest threat to Lodia’s economy in more than a century, and the vast majority of the nobles gathered here had strong ownership in at least one merchant company. Amroth provided hope not only for peace, but for fat wallets as well.
“My plan requires great risk, but it is the only hope we have. Large armies do not work against the Quodivar. My last mission proved this. Instead, I will assemble a small team, an elite force of Haldessa’s finest. With this team we shall seek out the Quodivar and battle them the way they battle us: with stealth and cunning. I come here tonight to name the two men with whom I intend to enter battle. I will trust these two with my life, and with the fate of Lodia itself.”
A young boy near the front cried excitedly, “Who? Who will save us along with you, Captain Angustion?”
Amroth smiled kindly at the child, apparently not begrudging the interruption at all. “The first is a man whom you all know as a fine swordsman, a capable leader, and a loyal companion: Sergeant Balear Platarch!”
The crowd cheered heartily, and Balear, seated about midway between Amroth and the back of the room, stood and waved his hand with an embarrassed gesture. He bore the vacant expression of someone who had clearly drunk too much. Amroth motioned for him to come to the platform and stand beside him. Balear tripped more than once, but in the end he reached his beloved commander.
Across the room, Iren arrived at the chandelier’s cord. He spun the knife in his hand expectantly. He would time it just as Amroth finished his speech. The moment they stepped off the stage, he would cut the cord and drop the chandelier. It would crash horrendously behind them, everyone would gasp, and he would have the pleasure of watching both Amroth and Balear pick themselves off the floor.
When the cheers calmed, Amroth became contemplative as he said, “The second person I have chosen you all know well, and yet, I would guess, also do not know at all. I have thought long and hard on this choice. I do not make it lightly. I make it for the sake of Lodia, for we must have the best to succeed in this endeavor. For the final of my group I have chosen Iren Saitosan!”
The shouts of praise died in the crowd’s throats. Iren whipped his head up, utterly shocked, and then it happened. As his body jerked to face the captain, his hand swung downward. The sharpened carving knife sliced through the chandelier’s rope without pause.
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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