The Unspeller and the Book of Days
Aesa opened his eyes and choked. The smell of fire and ash filled the air, and the green trees of the
forest were gone, replaced by blackened towers and twisted ruins.
A cold wind blew across the desolate space, swirling fine ash and pieces of burnt wood in the breeze.
The ground smoldered, the thick scent of burnt wood rising into the air. The last thing he remembered was
the waterfall. Where had it all gone?
Looking up, his blood froze. A host of outstretched Arkenian wings, ink-runed bodies and cold
Arkenian stares stood in the ashes. Different hues of colored wings shuddered in the smoke, from dark green
to pale, translucent blue.
Frightened, he moved away from them, only to find that a beautiful Arkenian woman with a mark
across her red eyes blocked his path. A flicker of recognition welled up in him. She held his gaze for a few
moments, then rose above the ashes, the fine gray dust moving up from the ground and clouding the air. The
other Arkenians rose with her and disappeared.
As the swirling ash settled he saw his family. Dalynara shone in a pillar of magic, a dark ring writhing
at her feet, Dex beside her. Gesta's long wavy hair hung loose, her face streaked with ash, as was Tandrick's
lean solemn face. Loken, Killian and Jasper stood in a line, protecting their mother and the twins, Killian's
eyes blazing. They looked as if they had been in battle.
Aesa realized the only one missing was his father.
His mother stood with her hands over her mouth, her eyes stricken. She looked as if she was
watching the dead rise again, awed and disbelieving. Without a word she broke from the line of his brothers
and ran to him.
Aesa stumbled towards her, his whole body weak and shaking as he walked. She embraced him and
he put his arms around her. She was thinner and there were dark shadows under her eyes. Dread filled him as
he let her hold him. He didn't know what had caused such grief in her, but it scared him. And where was his
A keening, unearthly cry sounded above, and Laeron crashed to the ground, crushing burnt trees as
he landed. There was a peculiar clumsiness about the dragon's landing and his black scales were dull among
the charred remains, his wings tattered.
What happened here? Aesa asked Laeron, unable to take his eyes off the wreckage.
We fought the Arkenians for you. You did not answer me for a long time, and when you did you asked me to be
silent? The dragon rebuked him, a cloud of ash swirling around him as he circled Aesa, his neck winding
around into a circle of protection.
Why would I do that?
His mother let go of him, and he looked in her eyes, searching her face for the reason behind her
sorrow as he listened for Laeron's reply.
I don't know, why would you? What did the Arkenians do to you?
I was with the Arkenians? I don’t remember.
A rumble of impatience growled up in the dragon's throat. The Arkenians who captured you. You called out
for me and said you would be here in the meadow so they must have let you free. Don't you remember?
No. I don't remember any of that.
Laeron growled. Arkenians. They said they would find you but they didn't say they would alter your mind.
Had his mind been altered? His body felt weak, not his mind. His memories of lying in the sun with
Laeron and then running through the forbidden trees of the Arkenian realm were clear. Their sharply detailed
colors and sounds and scents came back like a newly wet painting. There was nothing after that except waking
in the burnt ashes of the forbidden forest.
The dragon cocked his great head. I searched for a long time and finally I bur ned...I bur ned until the Arkenians
battled with me and your family. When the Arkenians would finally listen, they promised to search their realm for you. I have
been waiting many days for them to find you. Despair and exultation tinted his mindspeak. And now you are found.
“Where is Father?” he asked his mother.