The Ferryman & The Flame Series Book #2
By: Rhiannon Paille
How far would you go to destroy yourself?
Krishani always knew he would have to go to the Lands of Men, but he never thought it would be like this. Enemies everywhere, an ancestor he can’t respect, elders he can’t trust, a curse he can’t stop and friends he can’t help but hate. Desperate to end the pain, he sets out on a quest to find the other Flames and face the enemy that took everything from him.
Pux frowned. “Can you tell me something?” He didn’t know where to begin. Atara said nothing. “I thought I saw her eyes change color. She said she was a Flame, but I’ve never heard of them before.”
Atara hung her head. “The Flames are what the Valtanyana want. They are unlike any other being Across the Stars. Each one is created differently. Kaliel was the Amethyst Flame, one of the most important, from what lore has to say about her.”
Pux’s eyes widened. “You mean there are volumes about her?” He never ventured into the library in Orlondir. He never had a reason to read, but if there were books about her, he would read every day for the rest of his life.
Atara shook her head. “Their lore is kept in the Great Library with Kemplan. Even I was not aware she was a Flame. Not until it was too late.”
Pux’s heart dropped. All memory of her was being erased and there was nothing he could do to hang onto the pieces of her that lingered. One day she would be distant in his mind. He feared what life would be like years from now when he was an Elder, and she was still dead.
“I think I’ll go to the orchards,” Pux said. He drifted down the corridor towards the courtyard and Atara didn’t follow him.
“Seek Grimand. He will be leaving for Evennses soon.”
Pux gritted his teeth and turned to face Atara. “I don’t need him to return to Evennses.”
She sighed. “You cannot walk alone, it will take you days.”
His emotions unwound as he became angrier and sadder at the same time. “Kaliel would understand. How can I return to the forest when every tree reminds me of her? When we lived in the same house, ate the same food, played in the same trees? Knowing she was alive and well in Orlondir was all that made it bearable. Even the Great Oak thinks I’m invalid. How do you expect me to return without her?”
Atara hunched her shoulders. “Be patient.”
Pux stared at her with disbelief. For all of his new found knowledge she still treated him as though he was completely unworthy. His mouth dropped open, but he had no words to say. He clenched his fist tight and thought about the orchard. “If all I am to you is useless, I’m better off invisible.” He turned and vanished.
“That’s no battle scar,” he said. He sized up the boy, focusing on his hand. “You’re turning. This is because of your calling.”
Krishani regretted returning to the castle. Not more talk of Ferrymen. He wrenched his hand out of Mallorn’s grip. “I don’t want to be the Ferryman.”
Mallorn scoffed. “You can deny it all you want, but you cannot escape it.”
Krishani went down the hallway. He knew Mallorn would follow him, but he needed air or relief, something to help clear his head. “I’m nothing.”
Mallorn grabbed his forearm and pulled up his sleeve to show him the black marks. “You have no choice. This will spread until you are no more.”
Krishani half-smiled. Mallorn meant it as a deterrent, but it made Krishani happy to know there was a way out. After all he had been through there was a way to die.
“The end of me,” he breathed.
Mallorn whacked him across the back of the head. “Stop it. The Ferrymen are important.”
Krishani let his head throb. He didn’t raise his hand to rub the spot Mallorn struck. From the dream he knew just how important the Ferrymen were. People died by the thousands in the Lands of Men and no one protected them. He stopped at the sixteenth corridor. “I have nothing to live for.”
Mallorn’s forehead creased in tight wrinkles. “Death. You must live for that.”
Krishani wanted to smack him for his answer. Instead, he balled up his fist and descended the stairway, heading towards the kitchen. “Hernadette!” he called. There had to be another answer, a cure for his condition or something to alleviate the aching he felt throughout his body. He passed the archway and paused at the mouth of the kitchen. A plump woman in soiled linens appeared in the doorframe.
“You’re well!” she exclaimed.
Krishani shook his head. “Alive.”
“Which is well. Do you need something?”
He extended his hand. “I need a cure for this.”
Hernadette covered her mouth with her fingertips. “That is a plague.”
Krishani pulled his robe over his hand and shrank away from the kitchen. When he turned around, Mallorn stood in the hallway, staring at him. The Kiirar had a soiled gray robe underneath his cloak, a cord tied around his waist.
“Come to Nandaro with me,” Mallorn said.
“Avristar will sentence me to death.”
“You should leave before that happens.”
Krishani’s face twisted into disbelief. “She loathes me that much?”
“It is the price one pays for that crime.”
It was like knives stabbing his insides as the land he called home turned against him. “Does she blame me for the existence of the foe, too? Does she blame me for Kaliel’s death?” He sunk to the floor and covered his face with his arms.
“Nandaro was the last place she called home,” Mallorn said gently.
Krishani couldn’t stay. He couldn’t face Avristar’s wrath. Defeated, he glanced at Mallorn and nodded reluctantly.
“Aye,” he whispered. “I will go to Nandaro.”
Dark figures moved through the fields with precision and grace. The four of them stretched across the land like an impenetrable wall of riders against thousands. Hooves hit the ground, leaving marks with spiked horseshoes. Nostrils flared, smoke billowing out, rising into the sky. They hit the trees and forged a path of ashes through it, trees catching fire. The riders had no souls; they were remorseless creatures traipsing through unconsecrated lands, destroying everything they came into contact with. Their faces were covered in darkness, hidden beneath long flowing cloaks draped over the backs of the giant beasts. Their hands were covered with shiny armor concealing their flesh. One of them gripped the reins and made a sharp right. The others followed in succession as they found the east shore. There were thriving lands across the channel. The riders wanted to bring nightmares to their children, burn their houses, hear the cries of women as they devoured the towns in haste.
Their minds were full of nothing but blind hatred and hunger for blood. There was no sense in reasoning with them. Death came swiftly by their hands, and when it came, so did the Vultures, and when they came, the souls were silenced.
The Horsemen thrived on silence.
It was far better than the screeching noises filling their ears. No matter how far they traveled, it wouldn’t stop. The constant agonizing sounds followed them, and when the souls were devoured, the screeching ceased. It remained quiet until the beating hearts of souls in the distance caused it to start again.
And then they hunted them.
To silence them.
Their horses were beast-like, with sharp teeth, red eyes, scales. Their armor covered what little bristles of prickly hair they had. Their hooves were covered with sharp spikes. They breathed fire. Only their riders could control them, because there were no words for what these beasts were.
Krishani watched in horror as they hit the shores and led the beasts into the foamy waters of the ocean. He watched until their forms disappeared under the waves, and shuddered as one of them turned back and glanced at him. Krishani averted his gaze and saw a little girl. She had beautiful midnight black hair that fell to her ankles. Her skin tinged blue, her lips bruised purple. She had coal colored eyes, full of hatred. But she was under four feet fall. A pale blue nightgown fell to her bare feet. She pointed at the sand and he followed her gaze. Blood lapped up against the shore, covering his boots in a thick red paste.
The sight of the blood made him jolt. He wrenched out of the cot, a fierce ringing in his ears. He clenched his fists to the sides of his head and tried to quiet his urge to scream. He was alone in the hut, on the west shores of an island on Terra. He closed his eyes, but the image of the girl clouded his vision, a little girl, one that called the Horsemen to do her bidding.
She was one of the Valtanyana.
Rhiannon is an up and coming Indie Author that writes Young Adult Fantasy books and some non fiction. She has a PhD in Metaphysical Science and Parapsychology. When she’s not writing books she’s reading minds, singing karaoke, burning dinner and sipping iced cappuccino despite her allergy to coffee. Some day she’d like to own a unicorn—as long as it doesn’t eat her. She’s sold over 25,000 copies of her books worldwide.