Read the beginning of the Prolog to The Dagger of Adendigaeth by @melissagmcphail

AT LONG LAST, the reason for the blessed Adept race’s decline has been discovered: powerful beings known as Malorin’athgul are disrupting the Balance and preventing Alorin’s Adepts from awakening to their gifts. Who are they? Where are they? And how can they be stopped when they wield a power meant to unmake the universe itself?

The Dagger of Adendigaeth

(A Pattern of Shadow & Light)

Melissa McPhail

Her Website


Three moons ago in Alorin…

The Hermit closed his eyes against the blinding afternoon sun and shifted his position on the rocky cliff. He’d been sitting there for hours, his way of relaxing, of meditating…of atoning. His deeply tanned skin testified to this habit. While his iron-grey hair and the lines at his brown eyes proclaimed a man who’d seen a half-century of life, the sinewy muscles beneath his linen tunic and wide-legged pants seemed to belong to a much younger man—indeed, much, much younger than his actual age, though he had long ago forgotten how many centuries that numbered.

Far below his seaside cliff, surrounded by olive orchards and pastures and farmland, the Agasi village of Talieri appeared as a dusting of tiny red-roofed houses cramped up against the sparkling inland sea. Toy fishing boats puttered through glassy waters, leaving wakes twenty times their length, while larger craft hoisted breezy sails to head south toward the violet-hazed mountains on the far horizon.

The Hermit’s home comprised a landscape of chalk cliffs, green hills, and depthless blue sea-lakes that beckoned to fishermen and barefoot boys with equal appeal. Further north, in the foothills of the high mountains of Tirycth Mir, lay the Solvayre, a region of lush pastures and vineyards where grapes were grown and pressed and fermented into Agasan’s famous wines.

Even on cold days, like this one, the Hermit liked to come down to the bluffs where the easterly wind always blew, where the only sound was the call of the birds circling midway between cliff and sea. Peace dwelled in the wide-open spaces of the world, where freedom seemed a birthright to man and eagles alike. Only there, naked beneath the vast expanse of mountain and sky, did the Hermit’s overactive mind find rest.

For he was a man possessed.

Possessed by demons of his own devising—as is so often true—tormented by the chains of obligation that weighed heavily upon his conscientious soul. We are the sculptors of our destiny, his mentor had often told him, as much as the victims of it.

His mentor had taught him this truth, unpalatable as it might be, so many ages ago. The Hermit smiled at the thought of his mentor, his confidant…his friend, who was renowned as Alorin’s enemy yet remained its only hope of salvation. Could one man be so many things?

Yes, he thought, if his name is Björn van Gelderan.

And where are you now, my old friend? What role have you assigned yourself during these darkest of days?

The Hermit knew Björn had returned to Alorin, though he’d found only the briefest trace of him on the currents—Björn’s only card of calling to those who watched and waited for his coming. The Fifth Vestal had mastered the art of hiding his presence on the tides of elae—the most difficult of any undertaking with the lifeforce. Even Raine D’Lacourte would not find him on the currents unless Björn himself allowed it.

The Hermit closed his eyes and exhaled a sigh echoic of the ages he’d witnessed. Björn van Gelderan had forever changed the course of his life, and the Hermit was bound to him now, for good or for ill.

And you are Markal Morrelaine, he reminded himself, not some witless recluse gone mad in his old age. You have work to do.

He did, though he dreaded it—especially of late. The things he’d been seeing on the currents were shocking enough to bring an agonizing sense of fear into his daily work. He should have felt a measure of vindication—were not their earliest suspicions now justified?—but his heart knew only a dire sense of unease and a nagging guilt that had been tormenting him for ages like an indigestible, poisonous root. That everything was proceeding according to plan offered no solace; after all, Alorin’s Fifth Vestal had devised it.

Our plan.

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A Pattern of Shadow & Light

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