And we finally arrive at the final book in the whole of “The Tower and The Eye” series. Unlike the previous four, this one never actually got published until Blue Hour Publishing released the whole series in one book!
This is a full size novel. It’s the culmination of the overarching storyline, bringing the whole story to a close…
The Midwinter Solstice Beacons snake across Quargard as the Aracan Katuvana plots his next move. The surviving Heroes of the Dungeons gather to plan his demise. The Gods watch the Heroes and wait.
Behind it all the Jar completes its designs, setting into motion a conflict that is intended to set the Dark Gods free once more.
Who will prevail? Not even the Gods can tell…
I searched through the book looking for an excerpt that didn’t spoil the story… and failed! So here’s a snippet featuring a character that has been mentioned in every book, but hadn’t yet appeared…
Lady Eliethoriellina stretched before she turned to the next page in the grimoire she studied.
Some of the books in the Magi Library had been collected by the elves since the beginning of the kingdom of Alethdar; others had been brought in more recently after she arrived in the guild. Still others had been looted from libraries in the dungeons of the Aracan Katuvana and were considered too dangerous for any, except the most powerful mages to use.
It was one of these tomes that she was currently employing in her research, and it had thrown up some interesting, if not entirely virtuous areas for her to incorporate into her latest project.
She scribbled a few notes onto the scrap of parchment she was using and shut the book, wrinkling her nose at the dust which puffed up from the pages.
“I’m going to have to speak to the Shelfkeepers about the state of these books again,” she muttered as she hefted the volume and slid it back onto the shelf behind her desk. She ran her finger along the thick layer of dust on the exposed wood and shook her head. “They’re getting lazy.”
“Talking to yourself again, Lady Eliethor?” a voice startled her out of her reflective reverie.
She turned to find the tall, handsome form of Aranok standing in her doorway. Beside him stood the impossibly beautiful cleric he seemed to have become responsible for.
“No more so than usual, Aranok. Welcome to the Magi Library, Lady Kalytia. How may I assist you this evening?” Eliethor gestured to the chairs in front of the desk. “Please, be seated.”
“It’s morning actually; and you have to eat something. The Shelfkeeper on duty upstairs said you’ve been down here since Midwinter night without refreshment. That was three days ago.” Aranok looked pointedly at the bell pull beside the door. “Or would you rather I did it?”
Kalytia smiled at the severe expression on the half elf’s face and seated herself in one of the chairs, pulling a small book out from under the cushion behind her.
“Ah, I’ve been looking for that. It’s Nidin’s ‘Theory of Good and Evil’.” Eliethor took it from her. “I’m working on a spelled cube that will define the degree of beings of either orientation for the Temple of Espilieth. They need some help with the yearly examination…” she placed it on the shelf, still murmuring to herself.
“Eliethor. Do you want something to eat and drink?” Aranok asked again.
“What? Oh, yes, refreshments would make this a wonderful visit. Maybe your cleric friend can help me with the device I am working on for the temple of Espilieth.” Eliethor nodded rapidly as she sat down, almost falling off her chair as she collided with the desk.
Aranok sighed ruefully and rang the bell. After a moment, a novice mage appeared at the door. Aranok gave him an order and the novice ran off, pelting up the stairs as if a dragon spawn were after him.
“So how can I help you, young Aranok? Where’s your sister got to? She was supposed to report back to me after you went to Valdier.” Eliethor was surprised when Aranok’s eyes filled with tears. “Oh dear me. What’s happened? Do you want a handkerchief, my boy?” She rooted around in a drawer in her desk and pulled out a piece of soft white linen, which she passed across the desk to him.
He wiped his eyes and steadied his breathing. Kalytia laid a gentle hand on his arm and whispered something. A light surrounded his head and sparkled before disappearing.
“Oh my. That’s a calming chant.” Eliethor frowned and her lips moved silently as she ran back over what she had said since the two of them had entered the room. Then it hit her. “Arianadrialla didn’t return from Valdier did she?”
Aranok shook his head. “We were caught up in a dungeon raid on Grof and she tried to use the Tear of Espilieth. The goddess saved her spirit before it was sucked into the stone, but she died.”
“The Tear of Espilieth? Where did she find that?” Eliethor asked excitedly. “That’s one of the few objects of true power that could destroy the Ara…”
“Lady Eliethoriellina, please.” Kalytia interrupted her. “Where she found the gem isn’t an issue. Aranok brought it to me in Galivor and we travelled to Alethdar together as Espilieth ordered us to.”
“You have it with you? Can I see it?” Eliethor sounded like a child at Midsummer, hoping for a present from Fiorna.
Kalytia lifted a pendant from under her robes. At the end of a blue-silver chain shone a cloudy white gemstone, with all the colours of the world writhing in its heart.
Eliethor sighed. “Only the Ruby of Kaela Mensha can rival that gem’s power; and only the chosen adherent of Espilieth can wield it. I knew it was gone from the Library’s vault almost as soon as Ariana left. It brings a kind of peace to the books, especially those which detail evil magic.”
“She took it because she was fated to, Lady Eliethoriellina.” Kalytia tucked the gem back into her robes. “She was meant to bring it to me in Galivor, as Espilieth intended. However, she and Aranok went to Grof before My Lady Goddess could inspire them to travel north.” She sighed unhappily.
“What exactly is going on, Aranok?” Eliethor’s voice became as sharp as the penknife on her desk. “The Deities of Light are forbidden to meddle in mortal affairs. Why did you go on this Dungeon Raid?”
Aranok looked down at his feet like a scolded child.
He was saved from answering by the novice who chose that moment to enter with a tray of food and drink, enough for three. “Lady Lianadriella sent a message, Lord Aranokkinadiel.” He said to the half elf as he placed the tray on Eliethor’s desk.
“Oh?” Aranok hastily wiped his eyes as if dust had got into them. “What does the Princess wish of me?”
“She told me to tell you that Vox had returned and your party will be leaving the day after tomorrow.” The novice laid out plates and poured wine into cups. “She also said that you were to bring Lady Eliethoriellina to the palace with you when you leave here, as the Queen would like to consult with her over dinner.” The boy finished his task and stood back. “Is there any return message?”
Aranok shook his head. “No, thank you.”
Eliethor handed the novice a small red wooden token and he slipped it into his pouch as he bowed, and left the room as quietly as he had entered.
“What is the token for?” Kalytia asked.
“It is his payment for the service he rendered up. It allows him an hour’s lesson with the Guild Mage of his choice, or he can save them and exchange them for gold once he has a hundred.” Eliethor sipped her wine. “Most novices use the tokens for lessons beyond their scheduled ones, of course.”
“That is an excellent idea.” Kalytia mused.
Eliethor nodded enthusiastically. “It was my idea. Before, the parents of the student had to pay for extra lessons; now they earn them. Makes getting menial tasks done a little easier.”
“Ladies, can we please get on with the reason for our visit?” Aranok interrupted what seemed to be turning into an educational meeting of minds.
Kalytia smiled at him. “Sorry Aranok.”
“We have a mission that requires us to enter the tunnels under the Heart Mountains,” Aranok said. “We were hoping you might have a map or two, seeing as you come from Viraldin”
Eliethor beamed. “Oh yes. I have maps from all over Quargard and at least ten of the tunnels alone.”
“It would be helpful if they were fairly recent,” Kalytia told the excited mage.
“I have just the one. From the one hundred and third year after the tower was created. I brought it with me from…” she tailed off looking at the two suspiciously.
“What’s wrong?” Aranok asked, taking a slice of dried apple and wrapping it in ham before taking a huge bit out of it.
“You’re taking the Tear into the Tower, aren’t you.” It wasn’t a question.
“My Lady Goddess is sending us into the tower, yes.” Kalytia tilted her head. “Is there a problem with that?”
“I came from the Undercity, not Viraldin,” Eliethor replied slowly. “The temples there are all dedicated to the Dark Ones and I remember hearing a story when I was very small. All I remember of it now is a single line…” the mage squinted into the distance.
“What was it?” Aranok asked.
“A drop gleams against the dark, light consumes the body foul,” Eliethor recited. “I was always told that it was a teaching tale to do with the crystals that connected the dungeon to the Tower and how they turn those who touch them, but now I’m not so sure.” She looked at Kalytia. “As I said, the Tear is as powerful as the Ruby of Tzeentch. It may help you.”
Aranok snorted. “The maps would be more helpful.”
Eliethor pushed herself up from the desk. “Of course. I’ll get them for you.”
Aranok and Kalytia watched Eliethor mutter and sort through a pile of folios in the corner of her office. She picked up one massive one and moved it across to a table. As she flipped through the maps inside, her voice quieted.
“Here,” she said, almost in a whisper.
Aranok stood and moved to the table, peering over her shoulder.
“It’s a maze and a half down there then? Are there any short cuts?”
“These are the original tunnels.” Eliethor traced the red lines. “These are ones that were added as the Undercity expanded. The city itself fills the whole of the valley underground and expands past these mountains into Viraldin.”
Kalytia joined them. “How did you get out?”
Eliethor prodded at a mark on the map in the Viraldin side of the mountains.
“A hole developed in the ceiling of the cavern and I levitated myself out.” She blinked rapidly. “My family has… property in this area of the Undercity and the walls of our house were close to the cavern ceiling there.”
“Does that hole still exist?” Aranok sounded thoughtful.
The Archmage shook her head.
“No. My exit disturbed the mountain side and buried the gap. Reddalia tells me that the cavern roof collapsed inside and buried several guards on the walls.”
Aranok looked disappointed. “No easy entrance then. Hmm.”
“What are these tunnels?” Kalytia pointed to a green line.
“Those were the latest ones to be dug. They would probably be the busiest ones at the moment.” Eliethor’s fingers lingered over the map near the spot where her life had changed.
“May we have a copy of the map, Lady Eliethoriellina?” Kalytia said softly.
“Call me Eliethor, my dear.” The Archmage looked up and smiled. “Aranok is obviously your mage protector, so that puts us on more casual terms than normal.” She paused and rummaged around in the bag of holding attached to the sash at her waist. “Now where did I put that…” eventually she came up with a black velvet bag that contained a flat clear crystal stone, not much bigger than her palm and as thin as a small book.
“What’s that?” Aranok reached for the stone.
“Oh no you don’t, young man. The last time I loaned you a magical item it didn’t come back.” Eliethor used her free hand to slap his away and placed the stone on the map at one end. She murmured an incantation and the stone moved slowly across the map.
When it reached the opposite end, Eliethor ended the spell and picked it up. “Take this Mapstone, Kalytia. It has the map stored in it, along with a few others of that area and Quargard. To work it, tap it twice slowly and say Entula a’ moinayamen’. To find the map or page that you want to use, slide your finger across the stone until you find the picture you want, then tap it once. To turn it off, just tap the stone twice rapidly.”
Eliethor demonstrated the stone, then turned it off and slid it back into its bag, which she handed to Kalytia.
“Thank you, Eliethor.” The cleric put the Mapstone into her own bag of holding on her belt.
“Come on Eliethor. The Queen wishes your presence at the palace for dinner.” Aranok’s patience was eroding rapidly. “You can talk to Kalytia all you like at dinner.”
Eliethor closed the folio of maps and picked up her staff and cloak. “Uuma dela, Melloneamin. We’d better hurry if we’re to make it back to the Palace for dinner.” She strode out of her office with Kalytia and Aranok following, bemused expressions on their faces
There are two places that you can read more of this story and find out how the rest of the book turned out. The first is in the ebook:
The second is in the Omnibus Book which is available in both print and electronic forms: