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Soul Seeker: A Novel of Lasniniar (The World of Lasniniar Book 3)

Soul Seeker: A Novel of Lasniniar (The World of Lasniniar Book 3)

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Midnight. The world of Lasniniar lies in silence, except for the patter of the falling rain.

Iarion walks alone on Traitor’s Road. His elven eyes pierce the darkness. The Jagged Mountains loom over him. Their oppressive shadow adds to his unease.

...That, and the goblin arrow wound burning his shoulder.

Goblins. In the heart of the continent, in friendly territory. In Lasniniar, that can only mean one thing.

A warning of dark days to come.

Meet a new generation of heroes in this third novel in the World of Lasniniar epic fantasy series.

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Iarion walked alone on Traitor’s Road. Midnight had already come and gone. The world of Lasniniar was silent, except for the patter of the falling rain.

Was he truly alone?

He kept his pointed ears strained for any sound of pursuit. His elven eyes pierced the darkness with ease, twin points of silver-shot sapphire.

Nothing.

Iarion shivered. He was already soaked through. His shoulder throbbed in pain from an arrow wound. He had managed to pull the shaft free, but his left arm hung limp at his side. As far as he could tell, there was no festering burn of poison, but it was difficult to say for certain. Every drop of rain that trickled into his pierced flesh stung.

He cursed his inattention. He was used to traveling alone and taking care of himself. He should know better. But he was in familiar territory and so close to home that he had allowed himself to become complacent.

Had he killed all the goblins? He thought so, but there had been so many. There shouldn’t be any goblins in the midlands, so far from their home in the north. It was a bad sign.

The Jagged Mountains loomed to his left, keeping the road cloaked in darkness. Being Goladain—a Shadow Elf—had its advantages. If anyone was following him, at least his dusky skin and silver braids would make him difficult to spot.

Iarion muttered a curse as he shifted his pack, pulling his injured shoulder. At least Dwarvenhome was close by. He had already planned to visit Barlo before returning to his own kind in Melaralva. Now that visit had become a necessity. He smiled to think of how the dwarf would scold him when he saw Iarion’s wound.

Iarion was careful to maintain his tense vigil for the remainder of the journey. Of his goblin attackers, there was no sign. His aching muscles went slack with relief when the dwarf stronghold came into view. The huge stone entryway was an imposing work of beauty, carved right into the mountainside. It was guarded by several dwarves bearing axes. Various clan tartans were visible among their armor.

One of the older dwarves recognized Iarion and gestured for him to pass, while the younger ones looked on in surprise at their elven visitor.

Had it been that long? Iarion used to know all the guards.

Under the mountain, the polished stone streets were empty. Iarion followed the lamplit route that led to Barlo’s home. Carved reliefs of dwarven history and legend, accented with metal and gems, flickered as he passed. Barlo’s clan lived in the eastern section of the sprawling dwarven city. As Dwarvenhome’s Chief of Clans, Barlo had the largest dwelling.

Iarion arrived at the arched stone doorway marked by a flag of Barlo’s personal tartan and tapped softly with the bronze knocker. After a few moments, he heard the sound of muffled footsteps from inside. The door opened a crack and a pair of sleepy, deep blue eyes peered up at him.

“Narilga,” Iarion whispered in the Common Tongue so as not to wake the dwarven children who slept inside. “It’s me.” The door opened, revealing a dwarven woman with long, tousled black hair wearing a linen shift.

“Iarion.” She nodded a greeting, as though late night elf visitors were a common occurrence. Her eyes narrowed as she noticed his limp arm.

“Well, it seems you’ve gone and gotten yourself injured again. You’d best come in.”

She stepped aside to allow Iarion to enter, holding a finger to her lips. Iarion had to duck his head to get through the door.

“You sit there,” she said in a hushed voice, gesturing to a couch by the fireplace. “I’ll go wake Barlo and put the kettle on.”

Iarion hung his dripping cloak on a peg by the door and took a seat near the banked embers of the fire. A few moments later, Barlo shuffled into the room on bare feet, rubbing his eyes and yawning hugely.

“So you’re back.” He cracked his brown eyes open wide enough to get a good look at his friend. His roving gaze stopped at Iarion’s shoulder wound.

“You’ve hurt it again? Well, that’s what you get for traveling without me, you fool elf. What was it this time?” He rubbed at his thick, brown hair before trying to smooth down his beard.

Iarion rolled his eyes and smiled before turning serious. “Goblins. They were in the Narrow Pass.”

“Ha! They even jumped you in the same place. You should have been paying more attention. But seriously, goblins shouldn’t be this far south. No one’s seen any dark creatures ’round here since you got jumped twenty years ago.” Barlo tossed a fresh log into the fireplace and stirred the flames back to life.

“I know. That’s why they caught me off guard. They attacked under the cover of darkness as a storm was coming in.”

“Too crafty by half for goblins. I don’t like it. Saviadro’s up to something.”

Narilga came back into the room, bearing a tray of bandages, herbs, and steaming water. She jerked her chin toward the elf.

“Let me see it.”

Iarion pried off his tunic with a hiss. His dried blood had stuck the fabric to his skin in some places. He crouched so Narilga could get a better look.

“Well, it’s not as bad as it could be,” she said. “It doesn’t look to be poisoned. If it were, you’d have passed out by now. Still, you’re lucky those wretched creatures don’t use arrowheads. Now let me patch it up for you.”

She poured the boiled water on the wound. Iarion bit back a scream. For a moment, his vision swam.

“That was the hard part,” Narilga said. “This should help the pain and keep it from going septic.” She smeared some mashed up herbs on his skin. A cooling sensation spread across Iarion’s shoulder. He let out the breath he had been holding and blinked his eyes to clear them.

“There. Now, I’m just going to bandage that up for you.” She bound the shoulder with deft fingers. “All done. You’re going to want to try to rest that arm for the next few days.” She gave Iarion a pointed look. Iarion did his best to appear meek.

“Men!” She sighed in frustration, rolling her eyes. “Well, I’m going back to bed. I’ll see you both in the morning.” She picked up the tray and left.

Barlo gave Iarion a wince of sympathy. “Want something to drink?” Iarion nodded.

The dwarf left the room and returned a few moments later with two full tankards. Iarion took a sip. The cool liquid slid down his throat. Although he preferred wine, he had developed a fondness for dwarven ale over the years. He leaned back on the couch and sighed, basking in the heat of the fire. The new log crackled, filling the air with a fresh, pine scent. A warm languor suffused his limbs as he allowed himself to relax.

“So where are you coming back from this time?” Barlo asked.

“The western lands.”

“And? What did you find there?”

“Empty, untamed wilderness,” Iarion said, tasting bitterness. “I never found any civilized people.”

“So your search continues.”

Iarion nodded and slumped his shoulders. Would he ever find the answers he sought? He had searched for so long… But until he succeeded, he was doomed to spend eternity wandering. Thousands of years had already passed since he had been born into this life, longer than the lifespan of any of his kind. Iarion was tired. He was also running out of places to look.

“Where will you go now?” Barlo’s words startled Iarion from his reverie.

“There is only one other place that I have not tried,” Iarion said.

“Melaquenya.”

“Melaquenya.” Iarion nodded. “The Linadar have the best chance of helping me.”

“The Light Elves. Why haven’t you sought them out before?”

“The Linadar and the Goladar have lived apart since before I was born.” Iarion shrugged his good shoulder. “The Linadar are what we strive to become. We do not intrude upon them lightly. As far as I know, no Shadow Elf has entered Melaquenya since the Age of Betrayal.”

Barlo looked away for a moment. The Age of Betrayal was not a proud time for the dwarves. “Do you think the Light Elves would help you?”

“I would like to think they would, if it were within their power. Even if they aren’t interested in my problem, they should know Saviadro’s creatures are abroad in the midlands and organized. As you say, he’s up to something.”

“Whatever it is,” Barlo said, “it doesn’t bode well for the Free Races.”

They contemplated the dark truth of his words in silence for several long moments until Barlo stood, stretching.

“Well, if we’re going to set out tomorrow, we’d best get some rest.”

“You’re coming with me?” Iarion gave a wry smile.

“It’s been too long since our last journey together. I’ve been stuck here with the children, sitting in on clan meetings. It’ll be good to get away. Besides, you need a sturdy dwarf to watch your back, since you’re clearly incapable of taking care of yourself.” Barlo chuckled before turning serious. “I just hope the missus doesn’t kick up a fuss.”

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