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The above picture shows the western entrance gate to Frelli, the capital city of Erian. In the past, many wars had been fought between Erian and Grosmer, and Frelli developed as a fortress city. On this side, the Grosmer side, the gate and walls fill the narrow valley.
Here is a bit about the book.
After finding Sauvern’s Sword, the companions set off to help a friend rescue his child from kidnappers. Instead, they stray into Erian and find preparations for war. They are drafted into the Erian army but are recognised by an old enemy, who arrests some of them and takes them to Frelli, the capital of Erian, where they are put in jail.
The Master of Erian frees them and offers them work. Meanwhile, Carthinal has to face some unpleasant truths about himself. Is his desire to further his magical career more important than his friends and country? After they discover terrible truths about the Master and his magical research, they will need to escape in order to tell the leaders of Grosmer about the plans for war.
And an extract.
Carthinal, Randa, Davrael, Kimi and The Cat have been taken to Erian’s capital, Frelli as prisoners. The Master of Erian has freed them and is treating them as valued guests, although they are not allowed to leave the castle.
There is a mysterious tower that all are forbidden to enter, and the Cat decides to climb the walls to find out what is going on.
Carthinal had said there would be traps, probably magical, but the Cat decided that no one would bother to put traps on a window so high above the ground. It had to be fifty feet at least. Glancing down, he saw that there were people beginning to move around in the courtyard below. Should he risk it now, or leave it till nightfall? Both were risky. At night, though, he would not be able to see well, and he judged that it was unlikely that anyone would bother to look up, and if they did, would not believe they saw someone climbing on the walls. People usually saw what they expected to see.
He decided to take the risk and go now. His curiosity as to what was in the tower was burning him up. Tell him not to go somewhere, and that is precisely what he wanted to do above all else.
Scrambling up onto the window ledge, he felt to his left. Yes, there was a secure hold. He gripped it with the fingers of his left hand then felt with his left foot. He quickly found a foothold, and then repeated the movement with his right hand and foot. He was now hanging, face pressed against the rough stone of the wall, next to his window. Moving with great care, he repeated the procedure and moved slowly to his left and the walls of the tower.
Twice he thought he was going to have to retreat as he could find no purchase, but then the smallest ledge made itself felt. Once he almost fell, putting too much weight on a crumbling stone. No one called out from below that someone was climbing on the walls. His luck was holding.
It took him about an hour to reach the tower and manoeuvre himself to below the window. Whenever he thought he heard someone below him, he paused, knowing that movement was what attracted attention. Then he began to climb. This was easier as he could look up and see ledges and crannies, and knowing where they were, could put his feet in them after releasing his hands to find the next cracks. After about a further half-hour he reached the window ledge.
He was sweating profusely by now. The sun was climbing the heavens and it was only about two sixdays until the solstice and the warmth of the sun plus his exertions had made him hot. He paused to get his breath. After a couple of minutes, the burglar hauled himself onto the ledge of the tower window. He peered in. There was no glass here, and the shutters were open, but he could see nothing inside for it was dark after the sunlight outside. He squeezed through and dropped silently to the floor, crouching and listened carefully.
Breathing. Very quiet breathing. Someone in here was trying to breathe so as not to be heard. Of course! Stupid person. He was obviously getting out of practice. His body would have been seen blocking the light from the window. Shit. Suppose this person were to jump him? He remained crouched beneath the window for a second, then slowly and silently crept to one side.
As his eyes became used to the dark he could pick out a shadowy shape sitting on a bench opposite the window. A human shape. It too was sitting absolutely still, as though trying not to be noticed. He moved a few more paces.
The tower room was circular it seemed. It must cover the whole of this floor of the tower. He moved again, felt behind him and touched wood. A door most likely. He was nearing the person on the bench when he heard steps approaching the door. Someone coughed and The Cat froze. Were there enough shadows in this room to hide him when the door was opened? Would the person entering have a lamp? Probably.
More importantly, would the person on the bench give him away? Who was it? Was he (or she, he added to himself) working here or a prisoner? If the latter, why were they being held here and not in the dungeons? So many questions passed through his head in the seconds it took him to leap for the window and pass through to hang, breathing heavily, on the window ledge outside.
Fortunately for him, the man entering took several seconds to unlock the door. When he entered, The Cat heard him speak and recognised the voice of Wolnarb. Gone was the charming man who had wined and dined them and the voice now had a grating quality that made the Cat shudder. He ventured to peek round the edge of the window.
He could see little, but could just make out the shape of a small man standing before the bench on which he had spotted the figure previously. He held his breath, hoping that the person on the bench would not give him away, though he felt that he was fairly safe here, as it appeared the other was a prisoner. He listened to the words being spoken, but could understand little as Wolnarb spoke in Erian.
Wolnarb’s words elicited a slight whimper from the person on the bench and he (for it was indeed a man as The Cat could now ascertain) moved away, shuffling along the bench. Wolnarb laughed an unpleasant laugh, and then he spoke again. The man shook his head and lay down as though in resignation.
Wolnarb laid his hands on the man, his left on the man’s forehead and the right on the man’s chest, where his heart was as much as The Cat could ascertain. Words flowed from the magister that made the hairs on the back of the Cat’s neck stand up. He was aware that magic was being done in that room. He had had sufficient dealings with Carthinal in the past to be aware when magic was being performed. The man in the room screamed once, convulsed, then fell to moaning.
Soon, the murmuring stopped and the man fell back as though he had just performed a great feat. Wolnarb laughed again, not a pleasant sound, then spoke. He indicated a tray he had brought with him, spoke again and left.
‘What is going on here?’ thought The Cat. He considered whether to re-enter the room or go back to his own rooms and tell the others what he had observed. Then he heard the prisoner approach the window and speak. Again he could not understand the words, but decided to re-enter the tower and see if he could make any sense out of what was going on.
After climbing back through the window, he made his way to the bench. On it a young man sat with a tray of food.
The young man spoke as though in great pain.
‘I’m sorry, I don’t speak Erian,’ The Cat told him. ‘Mo hambro Erian.’
‘You from Grosmer?’ a heavily accented voice asked. ‘I speak a little but bad. How you get to window?’
‘Climbed, but why are you here? What was going on?’
‘Climbed? It high. It smooth. Why man from Grosmer here?’
‘Not too high or smooth for a cat burglar. Plenty handholds. As to why I’m here in Erian, I’m not sure, myself, and it’s a rather long story. I’m with some friends though. We’re housed not far from here.’
The young man coughed.
When The Cat looked at him, he saw he looked grey and ill. ‘You’re not well. You need a healer. Tell me, why are you in the tower and not in the dungeon if you’re a prisoner, and what did you do to be held?’
‘I a special prisoner. My crime, being young and strong and believing Wolnarb.’
It took The Cat longer to get back to his room as the day had grown quite warm and the climbing was not so easy in the heat. He was relieved to be back in his rooms, which were cool, facing north as they did. He ran his hands through his hair and hurried off to see Carthinal.
To read the book, click on the book cover in the sidebar, or here to go to Amazon where you are.
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