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Day Of The Fastle
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-319-9
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Dark Fantasy
eBook Length: 213 Pages
Published: July 2016

From inside the flap

A man with no memory has only one clue to his identity: a four-sided insignia engraved on his sword and ring. He has barely begun his quest to learn who he is when he’s confronted by a knight named Sir Borus Renovar, who demands his name and asks if he’s signed something called a “fastle pledge,” the work of someone known as the “Ordseer.” The man invents the name “Stone Falconer” and denies signing any pledge. That’s the wrong answer, and Stone and Sir Borus duel to a draw. Sir Borus leaves, threatening to return with more men.

Now a fugitive, Stone meets a woman named Brook and soon learns that she, too, has no memory. Even more astonishing, she possesses a dagger and ring with the identical four-sided insignia. They ally themselves and soon meet Bennald, a man who can communicate with animals. Like Stone and Brook, Bennald has no memory, and he has a shepherd’s staff and a ring that bear the familiar four-sided emblem. Stone and Brook head for civilization, but Bennald stays behind to live in the forest.

In Drumkin, a young man named Kaemon Krowe recognizes Brook’s ring. Kaemon, who escaped with two companions from nearby Redmond Province, says the Ordseer is using fastle pledges to turn Redmonders into thralls. He also tells them the meaning of the four-sided insignia. Stone and Brook admit that they have no memories and don’t know why their rings and weapons bear the insignia.

As Sir Borus and his Black Cloaks search for Stone, an army of thralls is on the march. Unbeknown to Stone and Brook, Bennald is in danger. When Kaemon and his companions leave Drumkin for a secret encampment of free Redmonders, Stone and Brook are left to deal with the threats.

An epic battle raises troubling questions about the Ordseer’s plans, and the appearance of a mysterious woman named Aliya complicates Stone’s already perilous life. Soon, cities are descending into chaos as people take sides over fastle pledges and fight one another in the streets. Amid the turmoil of war and civil unrest, Stone discovers an ability that just might let him learn his true identity.

Miles away, Kaemon encounters Thig Grennell, the king’s wistlord, and they decide to find Stone, Brook, and Bennald. But the Ordseer is searching for them as well, and soon the three fugitives are in a place from which they might never escape. Meanwhile, Aliya is pursuing her own agenda, and a new villain, a dark enigma named Hake, shows up to complicate matters. To save themselves and defeat the Ordseer, Stone and his companions must learn to use powers they don’t yet know they possess.

Day Of The Fastle (Excerpt)


Chapter 1-Stone

The most surprising thing about waking up with no memory was how long it took him to realize it. At least ten seconds-maybe fifteen-passed between opening his eyes and the sudden realization that he didn't know who he was. In those seconds, as he lay on his back on a carpet of cool grass, something like a fever dream scuttled through his half-awake, half-asleep mind, but when he wakened fully, the visions were gone.

He scrambled to his feet and looked around, peering at his surroundings-rolling green grassland sprinkled with red and white wildflowers, a range of low hills looming in the distance, a nearby forest to his right, a road between the forest and himself. None of it looked familiar, and he felt the cold, sharp edge of panic begin to bite. He spoke aloud, if only to hear his own voice-"This is not possible"-but even his own voice was unfamiliar.

"This is madness," he murmured, frowning and shaking his head. He turned all the way around, peering at the forest, the road, the distant hills. "Hello," he called out. There was no answer.

A clear blue sky above gave him some slight comfort, and the sun felt warm on his face, but panic tugged at him again. He shook it off, closed his eyes, and searched his memories. A fleeting image from his dream tried to surface, but it slipped away before he could grasp it.

"This is madness," he muttered again, still straining to find a memory.

A sudden thought seized him, and he felt his heart freeze in his chest. Perhaps a sorcerer had robbed him of his memory, a sorcerer who might be lurking nearby to observe the results of his dark magic. But no, he was quite alone. He considered what to do. He looked at the wide meadow, wondering which way he had come, but the grassland gave away none of the secrets of his passage through it. It occurred to him that his manner of dress or something on his person might provide a clue to his identity. He glanced down at a pair of finely worked black leather boots, which came nearly to his knees, and the plain gray trousers tucked into them. His dark blue tunic was unadorned and equally devoid of clues. His felt his chin and discovered a close-cropped beard. Then he saw the sword, a fine one-handed weapon hanging from his waist in a plain leather scabbard.

He drew the sword and gripped it tightly, savoring the feel of it in his hand. He hefted the weapon and felt its perfectly balanced weight, listened to it whip the air as he flicked the point with snaps of his wrist. When he sheathed the sword, he noticed a small quatrefoil insignia etched on it just above the hilt, with a small faceted blue gemstone in the center of the insignia. At the same moment, he saw a ring on the third finger of his right hand. The ring bore the same quatrefoil emblem and also had a faceted blue gemstone in the center. He stared at the jewel and the symbol, searching his mind for scraps of memory. Once again, he found none. He slipped off the ring and peered closely at the inside of the band, but it was smooth and unmarked. He put the ring back on and headed for the road. When he reached it, he stopped and looked one way and then the other, but he saw nothing to suggest which way he should go. After a moment, he turned north and began walking.

He had been walking for nearly an hour when he heard the sound of cantering hoofbeats behind him. He turned around and saw in the distance a horseman heading his way. For some reason that he couldn't have explained even to himself, he fled the road and ran toward the forest, running in a low crouch, hoping he might conceal himself in the tall grass between the road and the woods. As the sound of hoofbeats became louder, he dropped down and lay as still possible. The hoofbeats stopped.

"You there, skulking in the grass." The voice was gruff and unpleasant.

He stood up, brushed himself off with as much dignity as he could muster, and faced the horseman. "Good day to you, sir," he said as evenly as he could.

"Identify yourself," the man growled. He was massive, with a torso the size and shape of a cask of ale and a dark red beard that fanned out from his jaw like an old straw broom. He wore a black mantle over a chainmail tunic, along with black leggings, black boots, and a plumed black helmet. The front of the mantle bore an insignia, a triangle inside a circle. The triangle was subdivided into four smaller triangles of equal size, and another triangle, smaller yet, was set in the middle. The man was clearly a soldier or a knight of some kind. "I said identify yourself," he repeated.

"I'm only a poor traveler."

"Do you have a name, traveler?"

"Who is it asks for it?"

"I don't want your impudence, I want your name."

He glanced up and saw in the distance a pair of falcons spiraling against the blue sky. "Falconer," he said without hesitation. "My name is Falconer. Who is it wants to know?"

"And your given name?"

"Stone," he replied quickly.

The knight frowned. "Stone Falconer, is it? The name has a whiff of guile about it."

"With whom am I speaking, if you please?" the newly named Stone Falconer asked.

"You are speaking with Sir Borus Renovar, special courier of His Excellency the Ordseer."

Stone Falconer wanted only to be gone, but he stood his ground, waiting and watching.

"Where are you bound?" Sir Borus asked.

"The next village."

"Tallindin?"

"Aye, Tallindin."

"What's your business there?"