Legends of the Dragonrealm Vol III Part 82
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Her father must have read her expression. "Their realm was collapsing. Shade-Shade sacrificed himself to destroy their pattern. The chaos incinerated the lead necromancer-"
"Ephraim!" she gasped.
"Ephraim," Cabe corrected himself. "As to the others, the last I saw, their castle, their world, was crumbling, and they were caught by their own magic. They may be no more, but I'm not counting on it."
"Whatever the case," Gwen interjected, "they are nothing to fear, at least for the moment."
But Valea no longer thought of them. She recalled her father's other words. "Shade-he sacrificed himself?"
That made no sense. "But Gerrod-the-the ghost of the original Shade-he was supposed to take over and use the body for the Lords' purposes. They had him under their control."
"Somehow, Shade overcame him, I suppose. It's what saved us."
No. Valea understood enough to know that only by Gerrod's own decision could Shade have withstood the possession. Gerrod had decided that his manic desire to live had been outweighed by what he would cause to happen afterward.
But it had not been that alone. Some part of her, some part that was and was not Valea, suddenly reminded her of Gerrod's love of Sharissa. Sharissa would have despised what Gerrod would have become. In the end, the ghost had likely come to that conclusion, too. He had instead given Shade the opportunity to undo the necromancers' evil and help the spirit of the woman he had loved.
"You said-" Tears wanted to flow freely from her eyes, but Valea fought them back. Tears for both aspects of one man. There was an emptiness in her heart at the sacrifices and the thought that he might be no more. "You said . . . he's dead?"
The grim expressions on both her parents's countenances grew. Her mother pursed her lips and quietly said, "This is Shade of whom we speak."
So he very likely was not dead . . . but they feared what he might have become.
"Darkhorse is already searching," Cabe added, growing more determined in his tone. "I've alerted the Gryphon and King Melicard of Talak. They have the resources to watch also."
Gwendolyn Bedlam nodded. "From what I've gathered, he could be more terrifying than ever, my love. He is more whole now. The Lords may have unleashed a threat that would make theirs comical by comparison."
"We won't let him. Shade will be hunted down no matter what."
The elder Bedlams continued to discuss the possible danger. Valea listened to them, but she did not feel the fear that they did. Instead, her heart seemed to leap to life.
He was alive.
Her parents, the others, they recalled the past all too well. But so did Valea. She recalled the past even better than them, she believed. In her memory were not only the events of Galani's life, but a hundred and more others-all her reborn again and again, in some ways just like the warlock. More important, Valea also remembered what she had learned in the castle and that, most of all, gave her hope.
I've got to find him before they do, she thought. If I do . . . if I do . . . he may have a chance yet. He might become mortal again. This time he has a chance . . .
Her face a mask, she listened to her parents talk . . . and began planning.
HE SAT UPON the winter peak, high above alt.i.tudes where most creatures could breathe. The winds whipped at his hooded form, but could not in the least dislodge him. Far, far below and some distance south, the young Dragon Emperor struggled to hold together his people. Farther on, near the base of those mountains, an aging king and his beautiful witch of a queen hoped that the dire news that they had received would not mean a return of fear to their realm. Much more south than that, where the lionbird ruled, the anxious monarch worried that his newborn son might be a target.
They all feared him. He could taste their fear. Shade looked to the horizon, looked to where the length and breadth of the Dragonrealm lay and sensed fear of him in every direction.
He had died saving them-saving her. They all knew what that meant. He had reformed, fully grown and garmented as his curse ever demanded, in the hot, fiery lands of the h.e.l.l Plains. His mind had been addled for a time-as always-but gradually cleared enough so that he could recall what had happened. He remembered his surprise at the ghost's decision to give itself to him, not take over as planned by the Lords. He remembered memories of his far past filling him and feeling more whole than in all his monstrous existence. He remembered the choices he had made and the results, good or ill, of each.
And as his mind organized itself, he came to that point, as he always had, when either the light or the darkness seized him, directed his newest mockery of a life.
But this time . . . this time nothing happened.
This time, he felt no different than when he had looked into the eyes that had been Sharissa's, Galani's, and all the others-but had especially belonged to a young, arresting enchantress who was the daughter of those most likely to now seek his destruction.
He had not transformed. He had not fallen to the side of darkness as the curse demanded. His face, which he had gazed at in a river, was still but a blur, yet Shade felt the same within as he had when he had chosen to sacrifice himself for his companions-and especially her.
The warlock sat upon the mountain, knowing he would have to flee from Darkhorse's probing spells soon, pondering this astounding turn of events.
Pondering and, for the first time in a thousand false lifetimes, hoping.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR.
RICHARD A. KNAAK is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Legend of Huma, WoW: Stormrage, and more than forty other novels and numerous short stories, including works in such series as Warcraft, Diablo, Dragonlance, Age of Conan, and his own Dragonrealm. He has scripted a number of Warcraft manga with Tokyopop, such as the top-selling Sunwell trilogy, and has also written background material for games. His works have been published worldwide in many languages.
In addition to this third volume in the Legends of the Dragonrealm series, his most recent releases include Wolfheart-the latest in the bestselling World of Warcraft series, the graphic novel series Rune Keepers-and Dragon Mound-the first in his Knight in Shadow trilogy. He is presently at work on several other projects, among them Wake of the Wyrm-the sequel to Dragon Mound-and, most significant to the series you have been reading, The Tower of the Phoenix-a brand-new Dragonrealm novel featuring the tragic sorcerer Shade.
Currently splitting his time between Chicago and Arkansas, he can be reached through his website: www.richardaknaak.com. While he is unable to respond to every e-mail, he does read them. Join his mailing list for e-announcements of upcoming releases and appearances. He is also on Facebook and Twitter.
Legends of the Dragonrealm Vol III Part 82
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Legends of the Dragonrealm Vol III Part 82 summary
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