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The Fall Castle Aenir Above the Veil Into Battle The Violet Keystone
 
Book Cover Into Battle
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The Dark World is in danger, for the Veil is vulnerable. War is soon to come. On one side are Tal and the Underfolk rebels, struggling vailantly for freedom. On another side are Milla and the Icecarls, preparing to assault the Castle in order to preserve their world.

And on a third side lies the most sinister force of all – a force of evil that has only now chosen to reveal itself – a force of such power that it could unleash the ultimate destruction.





The Suit of armor didn't open. It blew apart. Thousands of red-hot shards flew in all directions, falling into the lake like strange hail. One fell near Tal’s foot. He could feel the heat from it, even through the ash and crystal. Adras didn't spring up into the air as Tal had planned. He stayed where he was, until the last flaming fragment of the armor fell to earth.

"Lokar didn't tell me it would do that," croaked Tal. His mouth had gotten suddenly dry. "What if I'd been standing next to someone?"

"They'd be very cross," replied Adras. He was slowly billowing out to his full size.

"I hope no one...nothing noticed." Tal looked around. The surface of the lake was still and there was no sign of any activity off in the lit-up areas.

Adras launched out of the ash and floated above Tal’s head. He didn't look any the worse for having supplied breathing air for several hours, or for being compressed in the suit of armor. But he was clearly much happier to be out. Tal held up his arms and winced even before Adras grabbed him. For some reason the Storm Shepherd knew only one shoulder-dislocating technique for picking Tal up.

Cloudy hands met around Tal’s wrists and the expected savage jerk came. For a few seconds Tal’s legs trailed in the ash, bringing unpleasant images of fishing expeditions and brightly colored lures. Then Adras rose higher and Tal came free.

"Don't get too high," cautioned Tal as they rose up to forty or fifty stretches above the lake. The moon was bright, bright enough to cast a shadow from the flying Storm Shepherd and the Chosen boy dangling beneath him. Tal watched the shadow flicker across the lake. It was strange to think that here in Aenir, shadows were only ever dark reflections and nothing more.

The Empress’s island looked peaceful enough by moonlight. Looking down at it, Tal could see that most of the place was taken up by carefully ordered gardens. There were statues spread among the gardens, and several pools of what must be real water, silver in the moonlight. Off on the southern side there was an L-shaped house, its windows mostly dark. It was roofed with with crystal tiles that had to be sprinkled with Sunstones, for they twinkled in different colors rather than reflecting the moonlight. In front of the house there was a courtyard covered by a canopy of crystal leaves. There were Sunstones shining brightly under that canopy, but Tal couldn't see what they illuminated.

It all looked very pretty and comfortable. But there must also be guards of some sort, Tal thought. He would have to evade them, and somehow get enough time to tell the Empress of the danger Sushin presented, of the threat to the Veil and the whole Dark World.



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