About the Book
The news goes far and wide. The Keeper of the Mountain has broken his long silence. Oron Amular, home of the fabled League of Wizardry, had been lost to mortal memory, but suddenly the legends are awakening again. Lords and princes, heroes and wanderers, all have felt the call of the Mountain. Curillian, the restless king of Maristonia, receives an invitation that cannot be ignored, knowing that invitations have also gone to his allies and adversaries alike. A Tournament is to be held, the like of which has never been heard of. The contestants can only guess at the purposes of the Keeper; all they know is that the prize on offer is Power Unimaginable. All are eager to claim the riches of a lost ancient world, but who can even find the Mountain, let alone survive what awaits them there? When the maps are blank and the loremasters at a loss, another way must be found. Such is the hour when a mysterious stranger crosses the threshold of Maristonia’s capital, someone with a call of their own to answer.
Curillian settled himself in a seat and studied the message while Lancoir went to find the queen. The message was contained within a leather pouch, covered with runes and designs of the most outlandish sort. He was still scrutinising it when the queen entered with Lancoir in tow. Curillian was just about to jump up and greet his wife, but she moved swiftly to him, kissing his forehead and encouraging him to remain seated. Then she took another of the seats. Both then looked at Lancoir. Curillian tossed him the pouch.
‘Do the honours old friend.’ He raised an eyebrow when Lancoir, normally so efficient and unflappable, hesitated, looking worried.
‘Sire, the message was expressly for your eyes only…on pain of… maiming.’ Concerned and intrigued in equal measure, the king leaned forward and took the pouch back again. ‘Well, if my enemies have hatched some plot, it’s been a long time in coming…’
Not without a little trepidation of his own, he untied the thongs knotting it shut. No sooner had the knot come undone than the message sprang out of the king’s hand as if it had a life of its own. Lancoir stepped backwards, hand flying to his sword-hilt, and Carmen rose in alarm, but Curillian remained sitting, hunched forward in fascination. Suspended in mid-air of its own accord, the unfurled message looked just like an ordinary letter, but then it started glowing at the edges, as if being held too close to a candle. All of a sudden, it burst into a kaleidoscopic mirage of colours and forms. These filled the air for a fleeting second before suddenly contracting and coalescing like an explosion reversed. A small incandescent orb was all that remained, but slowly it grew, until a face could be discerned in its midst. On first glance the face seemed to belong to a tired old man, but then a mantle of snowy hair, like a garment of wisdom, and grey eyes full of memory and knowledge, became apparent. The face spoke, and its voice was invested with age-old authority.
Kulothiel, Keeper of Oron Amular, and Head of the League of Wizardry, to Curillian son of Mirkan son of Arimaya, King of Maristonia, greetings in Prélan’s name. You must excuse the theatrics, but in this age of suspicion and doubt, I deemed it necessary to preface what is to follow with a small token of its authenticity. The world is changing, and my place in it is fast diminishing, but I find that my office has one duty yet to discharge for the benefit of the Free Peoples. Even as a third stormcloud gathers in the North, I invite you to a Tournament here in Oron Amular. Upon the first full moon of summer, many are invited to gather here. The prize for which you shall compete is an heirloom of Power Unimaginable. Other rewards you may also find. I trust I do not misjudge in appealing to your restless talents. Prélan’s speed.
The mellifluous voice ceased and the whole vision faded. The room was recalled to normality from the stuff of dreams. As if a string had been cut, the letter dropped to the floor. Gingerly, Lancoir picked up the object. The leather packaging remained as it had looked before, but the page within was blank.