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Storm Rider: A Novel of Lasniniar (The World of Lasniniar Book 4)

Storm Rider: A Novel of Lasniniar (The World of Lasniniar Book 4)

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A sacrifice made. A magic reunited.

Iarion paid the ultimate price to fulfill his elven destiny and save Lasniniar from the machinations of the Fallen One.

Now his best friend Barlo finds himself visited by a dream. A true dream—despite his dwarf status. One that shakes him from the mundane complacency of his life beneath the mountains.

But not even Barlo knows what strange and dark new places the trail of dreams and visions might lead him.

Explore uncharted lands, riddled with new dangers that threaten the very heart of the World of Lasniniar in this fourth novel in the epic fantasy series.

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Barlo’s eyes snapped open. Slowly, the dark confines of his bedroom came into focus. He tried to slow his rapid breathing. Beside him, Narilga continued to doze, her light snores undisturbed. As the reality of the waking world set in, Barlo grasped at the details of the dream.

Could it be true?

As much as he wanted to believe, he didn’t think he could bear to have his hopes dashed. He had never had a true dream before. He didn’t know any dwarves who did. It seemed more like an elf sort of thing. Still, the dream had been so vivid. It was unlike anything he had ever experienced.

He wished Narilga were awake so he could talk to her about it. She would understand. But she looked so restful, it would be a shame to wake her. It would have to wait.

Barlo closed his eyes and tried to drift off, but the memory of the dream haunted him. His thoughts chased one another in an endless circle. Suppressing a groan, he gave it up as a lost cause. Moving silently to avoid waking Narilga, he rose from the bed and dressed.

Sinstari roused from his usual place in front of the sitting-room fire when Barlo entered. The wildcat stretched before looking up at him with blinking, green eyes.

“Come on then,” Barlo muttered, beckoning the cat to follow him out the door. Sinstari padded after him into the underground streets of Dwarvenhome, his mottled gray, gold, and silver markings blending into the shadows.

The city was quiet. Barlo smoothed his beard as he walked, in case he came across another early riser. It wouldn’t do for the Chief of Clans to be seen wandering the streets looking as though his wife had kicked him out of bed. Even though Khalid made most of the rulings these days in his stead, Barlo knew his eldest son would be appalled to learn he had left their home without so much as brushing his hair. Despite his cursory grooming, he met no one on the way to his forge.

Sinstari settled in an out-of-the-way corner while Barlo got the fire going. Barlo decided some detailed work would be best to keep his hands busy and give his whirling thoughts something to focus on. Drawing some polished gems from a strongbox, he sat at his worktable, and got started on a brooch for Narilga. Her naming day was coming up, and the sapphires would bring out her eyes nicely.

Barlo soon lost himself in his work, the images of the dream fading to the recesses of his mind. Hours passed before he heard a knock on the forge door. Fidar’s head appeared through the doorway, his eyes bright with excitement and his cheeks flushed above his dark beard.

“Father, you must come quickly.” Barlo’s youngest son’s voice was breathless. “An elf is here to see you. An elf with wings!”

Barlo leaped from his seat and hurried to put out the fire. He stashed his half-finished brooch in the strong box and urged Sinstari and his son out the door.

Sky Elves often served as messengers, but few had come to Dwarvenhome since the Third War of the Quenya. The realm of Lasniniar had been at peace since then. Barlo’s heart hammered in his chest.

Did the Sky Elf’s visit have anything to do with his dream?

The idea was ridiculous. But it seemed eerie that the messenger had arrived the same day. Barlo suppressed a shiver as he walked behind Fidar, who scurried toward their home. Sinstari paced beside him on silent paws.

Barlo followed his son inside. Even though he had known what to expect, the sight of an elf perched on a stool, his blue and gold feathered wings neatly tucked behind him, shook him. Narilga was serving the exotic creature from their best silver tea set. No elf had been in their sitting room since... Barlo shook his head, brushing the painful, half-formed thought aside to focus on their guest.

The Sky Elf stood. “Greetings,” he said. “You are Barlo, yes?”

Barlo cleared his throat and forced himself to speak. “I am.”

“My apologies. My Common, it is not good. I have been sent by the Lady Iadrawyn with an important message for you.” The Sky Elf drew a scroll from his messenger bag and handed it to Barlo. It bore the golden wax seal of the Ruling Lady of the Light Elves. Barlo’s hands trembled as he took it.

Narilga gave Barlo a penetrating look. “Is anything wrong?” she asked him in Dwarvish. Unable to articulate an answer, Barlo shook his head.

Everyone stared at him, waiting. While part of him wanted to rip the scroll open, hoping it was somehow related to his vivid dream, he dreaded the idea of learning the contents were about something completely different. As long as he held the scroll unread, both outcomes were equally possible.

He closed his eyes and took a steadying breath. He was being ridiculous. The message could be anything. He was Barlo, a practical dwarf and Chief of Clans. Surely he could open a simple message.

Peeling back the seal with his thumb, he unrolled the scroll. The message was short, written in the Common Tongue in Iadrawyn’s flowing script. At first, his eyes passed over the words without making sense of them. He read them again. And again. By the third read-through, their full meaning began to sink in. The scroll dropped from his numb fingers to land on the floor.

“Barlo?” Narilga placed a hand on his shoulder, anchoring him to reality.

Barlo gave a whoop and planted a kiss on Narilga’s lips. Her blue eyes widened. Fidar and the Sky Elf watched in curiosity as Barlo danced a happy jig.

He couldn’t believe it! Somehow, he had been granted a true vision. He had waited for so long, but now it had finally happened! Barlo danced around the sitting room, unable to contain himself, barely avoiding tripping over Sinstari. He wrapped his arms around the cat as the others looked on in bewilderment.

Narilga bent to retrieve the message. She read it in silence. Her eyes met Barlo’s, a grin spreading across her face to match his own. She ran across the room with a cry of delight to embrace him.

Iarion had been reborn.

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