Excerpts OneTrant paused, choosing his words Carefully. "What are you?"
Seth was taken aback. “What do you mean? I’m me.”
“Hold on now. Don’t stare at me strangely, lad. Of course, I know who you are. But the more important question here is what are you? I mean, we’re all human, from Volve to Alfendari. Even Krech are a wee bit, in their own corrupted way. But here’s the thing with Warders: we read mental signatures—all of them, without exception. Get me within fifty yards of someone and I’ll tell you what they are. When I first entered camp you had a signature. Fuzzy and confusing but definitely something. But now . . . you might as well be a tree for all the information I’m getting.”
Both looked equally befuddled. “I don’t understand,” Seth said. “Has this happened before?”
“Never,” Trant said, staring at him. “Never in the history of the Trench.” He laughed suddenly. “You must have confused the hell out of your parents. From what you’ve told me, I don’t think they could figure you out either. You have something special going on in there. Steg sensed it, and I felt it the moment I set eyes on you. Hell, I’d venture to say that everyone feels it—most just don’t realize it. Ever notice how people just kinda like you? You glow like a warm coal on a cold night, lad. That beast of yours sees it, and you can bet your Alfendari scout is picking up on something awfully compelling or she wouldn’t be sticking to you like pine sap.”
Excerpts TwoSeth had no clear idea why or how...
Seth had no clear idea why or how he did what he did next. The bear was almost on them when Seth was enveloped by a sudden sensory wash. A low buzzing, like the sound of distant bees, began to vibrate in his head, and a hazy white mist painted his view. His senses seemed to flare in intensity, and the buzz and mist clarified rather than clouded the violence exploding around him. With the slumping ranger still cradled in his arms, Seth felt the leather bandolier beneath his hands. His body moved of its own primal volition as, in one swift motion, he freed the harness and flicked one, two, then three dirks in lightning succession into the broad, frothing face of the advancing monstrosity. The huge bear instantly wheeled in pain and confusion, one eye blinded and gouts of blood arcing from its huge skull.
As Seth whipped off two more blades with deadly accuracy, he felt a second wave hit, and suddenly everything was moving in brilliant, slow-motion clarity. He saw Wike conscious again and staring wide-eyed from the ground behind him. Wren was hurling stones at the beast’s bloodied face, and to his immense relief, he caught the darting yellow figure of Tag dashing and slashing at the bear’s haunches. The bear spun toward Wren just as he unleashed two more knives. The second took out its remaining eye but was unnecessary—the first had buried itself hilt-deep into the bear’s right ear, killing it instantly. It crashed to the ground, a small mountain of blood-spattered fur, less than a foot from the dwarfed Alfendari.
Excerpt ThreeIn the murky light of afternoo...
In the murky light of afternoon, with warm steam rising from the muddy floor, Scourgemire was a dark slice of prehistoric jungle. Snakes slithered in the tangle, and iguanas froze where they lurked at the stealthy approach of the lean young man. A badger padded hurriedly down the path, but it reversed course and waddled away on busy feet to bolt off the trail into the hedge of ferns.
Seth made less noise than the furry hunter as he glided through the overgrowth. The tracks of the Kiza were easy to follow, but that wasn’t what commanded his eyes and mind as he followed the signs. Evidence of Tag’s passage was thick and crimson in the packed mud of the path. He had lost a lot of blood.
Worry and despair threatened to overwhelm him. Even if he managed to reach his dog before the Krech did, Tag might have lost too much blood to do anything more than just lay down and die. Any hope of catching up with the raiders before they reached their camp had dwindled to zero. Wren’s body was likely lying in the middle of the Kiza encampment by now. Tag and Wren had been with him from the beginning. They were his loyal friends, protectors, and family. If this was the way it had to end, it was fitting that they all go on the same day. Neither would have left without him, and he would not abandon their bones to molder in some Krech refuse heap.
Other Krech prints dotted the damp earth. They were older impressions—the camp would be near. Tag was slowing; he could tell by the tracks and the blood trail glistening in the mud. Using what he’d learned from long hours under Greythorn’s stern glare, he pushed back the wave of panic rising from his gut. His left hand unconsciously clutched at the Mineti talisman. The sound of his Warder’s ring against the twist of metal was somehow reassuring. He felt a low buzz centered deep within his chest. When the wave rose again, it came not as a surge of panic, but as a tide of puissant energy that seemed to course through his veins with raw avidity. Seth clenched his fists and steeled his mind, gathering the wild might into a controlled internal dynamo. He had known that feeling before; this time, it would be unleashed on his terms.