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The Practice of Power 3

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An ancient force threatens to devastate the world... again

In the Dragonlands, magic is might, and the mighty Azhal Empire ruthlessly persecutes those who wield it. Feroh is one such outcast, born into a fugitive clan notorious for destructive powers. Sheltered in a remote village, he dreams of escaping his cursed legacy to join Azhal's cause.

But when violence forces Feroh onto a desperate path, his hopes of sanctuary lead only to slavery. Captured by those who hunger for his latent power, Feroh becomes an unwilling harbinger of chaos. Yet as chains bind his magic, an unyielding spirit stirs.

Feroh vows to reclaim his freedom and master his destructive birthright, before sinister forces exploit it to ruin. His journey unveils shadows of his clan’s dark past and a looming new threat rising in Za’al’dum, the land of a thousand tombs.

Here, an emerging faction embraces their gifts without restraint or mercy. Feroh stands at a crossroads, torn between the lure of unfettered power and harnessing his knowledge for change. With salvation and ruin blurring, he must confront the question haunting his soul:

What if wielding magic's full potential requires unchecked destruction?

  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ July 31, 2023
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1364 KB
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 412 pages

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Read a sample

Empty nooses swayed from the charred gallows.

The red-robed monks of Vetru had pronounced the wood sufficiently pure. They kept a fire burning day and night in the Field of Peace where the northern revolution had begun. Thousands had died there, and the wood scorched by those sacred flames traveled the land, purging and purifying.

Feroh, a Dyers Guild apprentice, made his way through the crowded plaza toward a stone wall from which he could look out over the crowd. A woman hissed at him when he brushed her arm, rubbing it as if he’d pricked her. Her face contorted, and she rattled off a series of curses. He pulled his hood closer around his face.

He clambered atop the retaining wall, which supported the shops on the north side of the plaza. Two other men were already there. They inched further down the ledge to make room for him. Behind them was an olive oil shop, and the pungent scent filtered out through the latticed wall. Other young men followed Feroh’s example and joined him on the thin ledge. From this vantage point, they could see the entire plaza.

Gentle hills blanketed by rows of olive trees tumbled down around the town to a sandy beach. Fig trees heavy with young fruit, a local fertility symbol, lined the new plaza, too grand for a backwater town like Bokhal. Canvas tarps strung up on poles hid the unfinished Hall of Truth and the other administrative buildings erected for their new magistrates and the empire’s representatives, the masters they’d chosen for themselves. The largest building in the plaza was the district council seat, a marble building with two massive columns representing the twin virtues of the Azhal: truth and justice. In front of it was the platform erected for the occasion. Atop it sat a row of sacred gallows, dark against the brilliant white marble.

Behind the marble buildings, the Silt Sea shone like beaten bronze in the noon sun. This time of year, the skies were clear, blue, and hot. The dense air, the close bodies, all conspired to make Feroh sweat.

At least he’d shaved his hair recently. Sweat trickled down his body beneath cool layers of Kolas cotton. Some people in the crowd wore traditional linens. No one was certain what Azhal thought of the Kolas since their league had made a tentative cease-fire with Ithka, the ancient overlord, only a month ago. The Azhal Empire’s war with Ithka had not ceased. The magistrates could interpret the smallest action as a sign of support for the evil Ithka perpetrated on the people of the Dragonlands.

Feroh wore the cotton because it was the best tunic he had.

He had more pressing worries than what the cloth he wore said about him. He’d not put the tincture in his breakfast porridge. It didn’t take more than half a day for his corn silk colored hair, or his pale green eyes, to break out of the brown the tincture tried to impose. The more he ate, the less it did. He’d also not shaved for days, and his sandy stubble drew attention. He shouldn’t even be at the event at all—his father had forbidden it—but he had to see for himself. It was a once in a lifetime event. Someday he’d tell his children and grandchildren that he’d seen the Hero of the Karal, the Consul of Azhal, the bearer of the Sword of Truth.

The people of Bokhal, folk from surrounding villages, trading posts, and plantations had all come for that same purpose. Feroh teemed with excitement, thrilled to see for himself the young man tasked with joining their town and the surrounding region to the Azhal Empire, the beacon of freedom for all Ithka’s enslaved peoples. Feroh had dreamed of this day, of seeing the hero who’d conquered Karal, the city-bridge between Azhal and Kopis. Because of this victory, Kopis was more inclined to side with Azhal, and the word was it would soon declare itself free from Ithka. The Consul was the youngest to preside over the senate—not that it was a very great feat to be so young. Azhal had only gained its independence thirty years ago, and its elders had died in the war of independence. It was not just a young empire, but also an empire of the young.

The crowd cheered as high-pitched, silver trumpets blared.

Feroh beamed at all those around him. He baked in the heat as the sun continued its rise. The people in the plaza covered their heads and fanned themselves. All around, people laid down mats on the hot tile roofs to watch from a distance. Feroh grinned so hard his face ached. He couldn’t help it, and didn’t want to.

Even though they’d not offer him citizenship initially, he hoped that someday, if he did all the right things, if he proved himself an exemplary member of the empire, Azhal might make him a citizen.

Below him, level with his knees, a woman with one child in her arms and two others grasping her skirt, turned and muttered something to him. She patted the child’s head as it held in a cry.

The men on the ledge stared at him, frowning. Feroh bobbed his head apologetically. He plucked at a strip of striped linen about his neck—a sign of his apprenticeship to a local guild. He withered under their gaze, but they turned away as the trumpets blared again. The crowd surged toward the platform and more people entered the plaza to fill the vacancy. With each blast, the people roared. Between the heat and excitement, they quickly reached a fevered state.

Feroh let out a deep, anxious breath. “Vetru, let him come,” he whispered to the Azhalite spirit of justice and truth.

“He’ll come,” said another woman below him. Her face was ecstatic, her hands clasped firmly to her breast. Her two small children hugged her thighs like she’d fly away.

Wind disturbed the nooses, and they swayed. The crowd roared their approval. Surely it was a sign of favor.

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