The Weaver's Lament (Symphony of Ages #9) - Elizabeth Haydon Page 0,1

becoming part of the stars.

Blood gives new beginning

Earth gives sustenance

The Sky gives dreams in life—eternity in death

Thus shall the Three be, one to the other.

1

EASTERN BORDER OF THE FOREST OF TYRIAN

At the crossing of the trans-Orlandan thoroughfare and the eastern forest road, Achmed the Snake thought he had caught the faintest trace of woodsmoke in the air.

He reined his horse to a stop and inclined his head to the west, seeking to confirm what his nose had hinted at, but sensed nothing further.

The Bolg king wearily loosed the reins and rubbed his face vigorously, then ran his thin-gloved fingers through his hair, damp with sweat. He took another breath, only to be greeted with the warmth and heavy perfume of late summer, wafting over him on a brittle wind. Nothing more.

Achmed glanced around for a place to water his mount and located a nearby quick-running stream winding its way out of the forest in the distance. He nudged the horse toward it and dismounted, allowing the animal some rest with its refreshment and himself the whimsy of memory.

It had been just short of a thousand years since he had been in this place, owing largely to its status as a backdoor route into the eastern edge of the forest of Tyrian. There had been no reason to brave the hidden defenders that were invisibly guarding this part of the Lirin kingdom when he could just as easily enter Tyrian via any of its public entrances, as he had done whenever the spirit had moved him to do so in the past. There had been relatively few times that the spirit had so moved him; Achmed disliked forests in general and the Great Forest of the western part of the continent in particular. He preferred to do his visiting with the other two people in the world who, with him, made up what had been known long ago as the Three in the quiet solidity of his mountainous kingdom of Ylorc, where the ancient stone hallways and cavernous rooms were immune to prying eyes and free of the tattletale wind.

But since one of those two people was not cooperating, and the other would be arriving from the south shortly, he had decided to undertake a journey to check on his Wings, the network of carefully bred and selected horseflesh that he kept in secret stables across the continent for his personal use, which allowed him to traverse substantial distances in minimal time.

It was as good an excuse to leave the mountains without a guard regiment as any.

Achmed pushed his cloak back over his shoulders and crossed his arms, then turned around, taking in the sight of the forest to the west, the Krevensfield Plain behind him, and, in the distance, the jagged mountains to the south known as the Teeth, the cousins to the mountains of his own kingdom.

His eyes narrowed as the memory he sought returned.

The last time he had been here had been in the throes of the War of the Known World, the last intercontinental conflict the Cymrian Alliance, to which his kingdom was a signatory member, had suffered. A millennium had passed since those days, a largely peaceful time in which great advances in architecture, mechanics, medicine, and machinery had been made in Roland, the central nation in the breadbasket of the continent; political strife and diplomacy had been undertaken in the former empire of Sorbold, where now seventeen city-states, most of them members of the Alliance as well, had sorted themselves out of the destruction of that broken empire into independence; and his own kingdom had