The Children of Never
The War Priests of Andrak Saga Book 1
by Christian Warren Freed
Genre: Epic Fantasy
The war priests of Andrak have protected the world from the encroaching darkness for generations. Stewards of the Purifying Flame, the priests stand upon their castle walls each year for 100 days. Along with the best fighters, soldiers, and adventurers from across the lands, they repulse the Omegri invasions.
But their strength wanes and evil spreads.
Lizette awakens to a nightmare, for her daughter has been stolen during the night. When she goes to the Baron to petition aid, she learns that similar incidents are occurring across the duchy. Her daughter was just the beginning. Baron Einos of Fent is left with no choice but to summon the war priests.
Brother Quinlan is a haunted man. Last survivor of Castle Bendris, he now serves Andrak. Despite his flaws, the Lord General recognizes Quinlan as one of the best he has. Sending him to Fent is his best chance for finding the missing children and restoring order. Quinlan begins a quest that will tax his strength and threaten the foundations of his soul.
The Grey Wanderer stalks the lands, and where he goes, bad things follow. The dead rise and the Omegri launch a plan to stop time and overrun the world. The duchy of Fent is just the beginning.
Baron Einos awoke to unfamiliar sensations. Cold, almost unbearable, filled his bedchambers. Winter was a memory and spring well underway. This southern duchy was well south of the northern ice flows and far enough east of the Barbacus River to avoid the heavy winds. A thick blanket and small fire in the hearth were more than sufficient for keeping Einos warm throughout the shortening nights.
The Baron wiped the crud from the corners of his eyes, yawned, and sat up. His bearskin blanket fell away, exposing his naked chest. Young for one of the ruling class, Einos was broad across the shoulders and slabbed with muscle. His sand colored hair draped across his shoulders. Bright green eyes scanned the chamber.
His wife, still sleeping, shifted beside him and exhaled deeply. Einos resisted the urge to rouse her, at least until he was satisfied nothing was amiss. Not finding anything of concern in the immediate area, he slipped from the bed and donned a thick robe that fell to the floor. The fire had gone out, leaving the chamber in darkness. Frowning, Einos reached for the short sword he kept beside the bed. Fent was a relatively peaceful duchy, but one does not rise to power without creating enemies capable of extreme violence.
He took a step, then a strange noise froze him in midstride. Einos gripped his sword tighter. “Who goes?”
The sound of sobbing returned. Einos frowned, certain he’d heard a child. There were numerous children in the keep, though none his own. Aneth, his wife of nearly a decade, was heavy with child and due by the end of spring. He suspected the draft coming through the cracks in the walls provided the strange sounds, but one could never be too cautious.
Einos fumbled for a match and lit the candle nearest his bed. Soft light turned his bedchamber into a shadowed realm. Einos remained still, listening against the dark. His efforts were rewarded by uncontrollable sobbing coming from the far corner. Sword in one hand, candle the other, the Baron of Fent took a step closer to the sound.
His exposed toes kicked the chamber pot, spilling old piss over his foot. Einos snarled a curse and kept going as the sobbing intensified. A wall of light crept across the stone floor until it reached the huddled figure of a young child. Einos cocked his head as he tried to get a clear view of the face. Knees drawn with arms wrapped around them, the child, a girl by the length of her hair, had her face buried.
“Child, why are you here? Who let you in?” he asked, his normally rough voice softened so as not to frighten her further.
The sobbing increased as the girl lowered a fist and began pounding on the floor.
Einos, concerned, set the candle on the nearest table and crouched. “There is no need for that. You are safe here. Tell me your name, child.”
Curls fell over her shoulders as the young girl lifted her head and turned to face him. Einos tripped and fell backwards as he gazed upon what remained of her face. Both eyes were gone. Dried blood streaked down her cheeks.
She reached a hand for him and cried, “Why did I have to die?”
The girl screamed. The candle flickered, then went out, leaving the lord of Fent alone in the darkness. Einos scrambled back and managed to light the candle after several tries. When he cast the light into the corner, he found only stone. The girl, if she had ever been, was gone.
Christian W. Freed was born in Buffalo, N.Y. more years ago than he would like to remember. After spending more than 20 years in the active duty US Army he has turned his talents to writing. Since retiring, he has gone on to publish 17 military fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as his memoirs from his time in Iraq and Afghanistan. His first published book (Hammers in the Wind) has been the #1 free book on Kindle 4 times and he holds a fancy certificate from the L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.
Passionate about history, he combines his knowledge of the past with modern military tactics to create an engaging, quasi-realistic world for the readers. He graduated from Campbell University with a degree in history and is pursuing a Masters of Arts degree in Military History from Norwich University. He currently lives outside of Raleigh, N.C. and devotes his time to writing, his family, and their two Bernese Mountain Dogs. If you drive by you might just find him on the porch with a cigar in one hand and a pen in the other.
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