Raiders of the Dark Coast: Auric Priestess
A young, newly-anointed priestess, to what lengths will Thea go to save the life of another?
When we first met Thea Stealle, the fiercely independent young woman had forsaken her family traditions to become an Auric Priestess of Arenor. As such, Thea proved to be a powerful ally in defending her city from an undead invasion. Still, her decision to follow the way of the cloth had not been made lightly. Protectors touched upon the tragic events that led Thea away from the path of the spiritblade.
In Raiders, those traveling to the Dark Coast become embroiled in a rebellion, face deadly storms, ancient gods, and pirates of course. Saddled with this chaotic bunch, Thea’s faith and determination is sorely tested throughout the entire journey.
Did she choose the right path? Does she have what it takes to save those in her care? With the lives of her companions hanging in the balance, Thea must go above and beyond, risking her own life in the process. Yet, Thea does not give up so easily, for she is no stranger to death.
Here now is an excerpt focusing on the young priestess’ dire efforts to save one of her reckless companions:
Thea sat in the quartermaster’s cabin silently contemplating what she could do to help Seishin. He and Balthazar now lay in bed, both men in the deepest state of sleep. She had examined each in turn and healed their physical wounds in a matter of minutes.
From what Thea could determine, Balthazar’s state stemmed from a case of pure mental exhaustion. She was intimately familiar with the condition after years of dealing with her wizard mother. A couple of days of bed rest and Bal should be good as new.
It was Seishin’s condition that truly worried her. Thea had seen spiritual exhaustion before. Both her brothers had developed a case of it from pushing themselves too hard to master the art of the spiritblade. In each circumstance, a few days of rest resolved their issues. Unfortunately, in the Isandorian’s case, he seemed to be growing worse.
To Thea’s trained eye, his skin had further paled and his breathing had grown a bit too shallow. She placed a hand on his forehead. It was cool to the touch—too cool for her liking. What could have caused this?
She swept her eyes around the room, her eyes falling on the pieces of golden armor lying in the corner. Cyclone had piled them there before putting Seishin to bed.
Following her intuition, Thea strode over to the pile. She sensed a dull power emanating from the armor, but nothing major. She bent down and picked up the golden helmet. It felt surprisingly light in her hands. On pure instinct, she lifted the helmet over her head and lowered it onto her shoulders. As soon as she did so, a voice sounded in her mind.
Greetings warrior, I am Flandril.
Thea’s brows knit together into a frown. Wasn’t that the name of the last King of Lanfor?
It was indeed. I am his armor, the voice replied, but I can help any who are true of heart.
I see, Thea nodded to herself. Tell me, Flandril, just how do you do that?
The warrior’s spirit fuels my powers, Flandril explained. The stronger the spirit, the more I can do for him, or her.
Both Thea’s eyebrows raised at the same time. Tell me, Flandril, is that what happened to your last wearer?
Indeed, Flandril responded without the slightest hesitation. He wished for the power to strike at a godling. I warned him of the risks involved, but he chose to proceed, nonetheless.
So that’s what happened to him, Thea mused with sudden comprehension.
It is, Flandril responded.
Thea hadn’t meant the thought for the armor. Apparently, as long as she wore the helmet, it would continue to read her mind. Well, she might as well take advantage of the fact. Flandril, did the king ever deplete his spirit near the point of death?
Once, Flandril responded, its voice tinged for the first time with a touch of regret.
Thea found that quite surprising. Apparently, the sentient armor had been imbued with a sense of conscience.
What did he do in that case? She pressed on.
The Queen used the tower crystal to replenish his spirit, Flandril answered, or at least enough for him to recover on his own.
Thank you, Flandril, you’ve been most helpful, Thea told the sentient armor.
I do my best, Flandril replied with the vaguest trace of satisfaction. Let me know if I can be of further assistance.
Thea pulled the helmet off, her mind whirring now that she knew what she was dealing with. Unlike the Queen of Lanfor, she had no tower crystal at her disposal. Yet she had seen that crystal and knew it channeled spirit or soul energy.
Thea had spent the last four years learning to channel spiritual energy to heal bodies. She could even help heal minds to a degree, although that was an extremely delicate practice. Perhaps she could channel that same energy to reenergize Seishin?
Closing her eyes and clearing her mind, Thea prayed to her god.
Arenor, God of Life and Light, I need your guidance.
As it had been in the last four years, her prayer was immediately answered. Yes, my dear child. What is it you wish to know?
Thea swiftly explained Seishin’s condition to the deity and what she had gleaned from the sentient armor. There was a moment’s pause before Arenor answered.
This is doable, but the spell involved is of an order beyond your present abilities.
Thea balked at the god’s response. Seriously? A good man here might die and you’re concerned with orders of spell difficulty?
There is a reason for such things, Arenor replied, his tone calm as if talking to a petulant child.
“Dragon dung,” Thea said aloud. “I’ve been your faithful servant for four years now. I left behind my former life to follow this path you put me on. I think you owe me more than just ‘there’s a reason for such things’.”
Arenor actually sighed. It is to protect your own mind and soul from harm, my child. If you attempt such a complex spell, you could permanently damage yourself.
I accept the risk, Thea replied without hesitation.
The god of light did not immediately answer. When he did, his tone was one of extreme reluctance. Very well. It is your choice to make, after all. Prepare yourself. I will fill your mind with the pattern to use. Just be aware that you may not be able to retain it.
Watch me, Thea responded adamantly.
The auric priestess opened her mind and allowed her god’s guidance to flow through her. A pattern spread out in the forefront of her mind, one more complex than she had ever seen before.
It was difficult to follow at first and she had to start over three times before getting through the first part—and still there was more. The entire process was grueling and Thea’s head began to hurt after a while, but she refused to give in. Seishin’s life depended on it.
Pushing herself to her very limits, Thea retraced the pattern over and over again. She finally almost had it, but the last part seemed to elude her.
“Damn it all!” She cried aloud in bitter frustration.
Arenor chuckled in her mind. Is that any way to talk in front of your god?
Sorry, Thea replied with chagrin, but I am so close!
You are, in fact, Arenor acknowledged with the faintest hint of surprise. Why don't you try once more?
The encouragement in her god’s voice helped Thea to calm herself. Fixing her mind on the last part of the pattern, she traced through it one more time. Abruptly, she reached the end.
“Was that it? Did I finish it?” Thea gasped aloud.
You did, Arenor acknowledged with a hint of pride. Now go ahead and heal that young man.
Thank you! She replied in earnest as she rushed over to Seishin’s side.
Thea now stood over the warrior and gathered her will. She then traced the complicated symbol through the air in one pass. It took her almost a minute to finish the entire thing. The divine energy that flowed into the pattern surpassed anything she had ever dealt with before. It was so potent that it made her hair stand on end.
Once the symbol had been completed, Thea spoke the words of invocation Arenor had implanted in her mind. “Magna renovatio.”
The energy spewed forth from the symbol and swept around the body of the exhausted young man. A whitish-green light encircled him and slowly seeped into his inert form.
Thea watched with bated breath as the color returned to his skin and his breathing returned to normal. She touched his forehead. It felt warm again.
Thea breathed a sigh of relief. She had done it. A sudden wave of dizziness passed over her. Thankfully, it only lasted a moment. Or perhaps overdone it, she thought to herself wryly.
The auric priestess pulled up a chair and plopped herself down into it. Moments later she was fast asleep.
Sorry, but we'll have to stop there. If you'd like to read more about Thea and her adventures along the Dark Coast, ebook and print copies of Raiders are now available at multiple book stores.
In the coming months, I'll share further experts from Raiders and some audio clips from the Princess of Lanfor. I'll also present some teasers on what happened after that epic cliffhanger at the end of Protectors. Thanks for stopping by!