Cloudbearer's Shadow (Sword in Exile, Book 1)

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9780061059773: Cloudbearer's Shadow (Sword in Exile, Book 1)

The Seeker

Gareth is the youngest and the last of the unfortunate lords of Skai. Called home from a lonely exile, he finds his father fallen into shadow. And worse.

For the Maedun conquest of Gareth's homeland is complete. The standing stones are silent, their webs of magic torn asunder. The Rune Blade called Bane has been lost forever to dark sorcery, and the somber riders rule the islands that were once home to Gareth's people.

Darigan stared at my ragged, wet figure.
"Are you then Prince of Skai?"
"No," I said, sheathing my sword.
"My father yet lives. Barley."

And the meeting that would reshape my fate--for good or ill--had come to pass on the steep slopes of Cloudbearer, the mountain of kings, or prophecies, and of death.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Ann Marston grew up back and forth across most of Canada, and now lives in Edmonton, Alberta. She has worked as a teacher, a flight instructor, an airline pilot and an airport manager and is deeply involved in her local Adult Literacy Project. She has two children, Laura who is a fourth generation pilot, and Daniel, who is a computer genius, and is currently owned by three cats, Pixel, Canrith Backspin, and Friend, who continually try to organize her but haven't quite succeeded. She writes fantasy because everyone knows pilots don't live in the real world anyway.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

A raucous clangor shattered the dream image of a sword bathed in waterlight, and brought me leaping and snapping out of sleep like a gaffed salmon. Dazed and disoriented, my heart pounding wildly, I sat blinking into the candlelit dimness, gasping for breath. Someone close by called my name, both urgency and impatience in the voice.

"Gareth, get up! Quick! There's a ship aground in the harbor mouth. Get up I "

I stared at him blankly. So deep was the dream, so thick the fragments that swirled through my head, a long moment passed before I remembered I was in my small room in the barracks at Broche Rhuidh in Tyra, and another fled before I recognized the clanging as the alarm bell in the Clanhold courtyard. My cousin Comyn dav Kenzie, who shared the room with me, impatiently shook my shoulder. He was already half-dressed, struggling with Ins kilt and shut, typical]y trying to do everything at once. His red-gold hair flew wildly about his face, gleaming in the light of the one small candle burning on the washstand. The single thick braid falling from his left temple bounced and swung, tangling with the golden topaz dangling from his earlobe on a fine, gold chain, as he hopped on one foot, pulling on his boot. He managed to get the boot on, then kicked at the bed. Not for the first time, I fancy.

"Hurry, Gareth," he cried. "Get up. We're needed."

My wits came back with a rush. I had forgotten we were standing as first rescue crew this fortnight. I swore and leapt from the bed, reaching for my kilt and plaid. Comyn was already on his way out the door as I thrust my feet into my boots. Buckling my kilt around my hips, dragging my plaid, I followed him at a dead run.

We found a wild night outside. A blast of wind spattered a sheet of half-frozen rain into my face and tried to snatch theflapping plaid from my shoulders as I ran out into the courtyard behind Comyn. I swore again. Why was it that whenever Comyn and I were called to rescue duty, not only was the weather the worst it had been for several fortnights, but ships had the bad timing to go aground in the dark? Comyn always firmly declared that the gods conspired against us. He might have been right. Tonight's weather certainly seemed toprove it.

I swirled the plaid about myself, pinned it as securely as I could on the run, and ducked my head down into the shelter of its folds. Shreds of cloud scudded low above the trees, hiding all traces of approaching dawn. The fury of the wind bent the trees beneath its force, and the stark, bare branches rattled and moaned like live things in torment. From far below, the rhythmic booming of the breakers crashing against the black, broken rocks at the foot of the cliff reverberated through my bones like the cadence of an enormous heart, felt deep in the blood itself rather than merely heard.

I glanced up at the boiling sky. Vernal Equinox was still a little less than a fortnight away, but on a night like this, it was too easy to believe the Wild Hunt of Samhain raged through the sky, seeking the wretched souls of the hapless and the hopeless. I shivered and ran across the cobbled yard behind Comyn.

Comyn commanded one small boat this shift, and Govan dav Malcolm, youngest son of the Clan Laird, commanded the other. I was in Comyn's crew, so I stuck close to him as we hurried across the wet, slippery cobbles to the shelter of the gatehouse, where several of our crew were already assembled. More appeared quickly out of the gloom, and we all gathered into a tight little group around Comyn.

Behind us in the courtyard, streamers of flame trailed from torches in the wind, fluttering like flags, as men and women moved purposefiffly through the night. The healers who would tend to the survivors gathered near the infirmary across the courtyard from where we stood. They moved about, deftly collecting the supplies and stretchers they might need. Men hurriedly hitched mules to the trio of light, twowheeled carts used to transport the injured or dead back to the infirmary. They worked swiftly and efficiently, with the ease of long practice, ignoring both the howling wind and the chill of the rain.

Comyn looked around, counting us over. When he saw we were all assembled, he nodded, then tumed and hurried us through the gate. The fourteen of us fell in behind him in an orderly file, hastening through the predawn gray toward the cli&.

The quickest way down to the harbor was by way of a narrow track plunging down the side of the cliff just below the forbidding gray-granite walls of the Clanhold. We slid and slithered down the treacherous path, buffeted by the rain and the wind that tried to pluck us off the cliff and fling us down into the shredded foam swirling around the rocks below. I followed blindly behind the dimly perceived plaid of the man ahead of me. The paling sky of approaching dawn gave barely enough light to see by, not yet enough light to distinguish color. It turned the men ahead and behind me into dark, anonymous shapes against the flying cloud, and made the drop-off only a deeper and darker area of amorphous shadow next to the paler stone and gravel of the path.

From out of nowhere, a strange image of a glimmering sword surrounded by wavering greenish light flashed into my head.

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