The fury and terror of all the world of darkness. The peace and beauty of all the world of Magic, for those who choose to see it. And amongst it all the faith and hope of one old man, and those he would call his family.
Welcome to the Núminway Chronicles.
Faith can be a strong thing, a powerful thing, when it is held to tightly. Even the faith of one, alone and unaided, can make all the difference in the world when through the doubting of others and the weathering of the years, its bearer refuses to let it go.
And so it is that, unbroken still through the passing of the seasons, an old man’s will holds strong into the winter of a life spent searching. Those he would call his family humour him and love him, sharing maybe more even than he in the delights and beauty of the quiet world of Magic around them, yet until now dismissing, even them, this greatest of his dreamings. Around them those who rule these last few unvanquished lands about their small surviving corner of the world scorn and hunt down with misplaced savagery and hatred the very beliefs which make them who they are. And about those lands an ancient darkness waits to swallow all; silent, vast and terrible; but will wait little longer. And against them all one man, and one man’s desperate faith.
But what to do when suddenly a lifetime’s dreamings become maybe, just maybe, more than dreams? And which way to turn then when out of those dreamings there is suddenly nowhere left to hide; when the only place left to go is through nightmare blacker even than the terror in which you are already caught? What to believe in, and how to believe, when believing means risking all you have, and all those you love…
And would those others, on your word, dare to risk it too?
Welcome to Azhera, the forgotten land. Welcome to the story of the Heart of Magic.
Welcome to the Núminway Chronicles.
And so begins the first completed chapter of the Núminway Chronicles.
The following are selected passages from the tale which follows, intended to give a sense of the feel and the atmosphere of the book, while not revealing too much detail of the events themselves…
” ‘Listen…’ said Leyon.
Crick tried, but he heard nothing. He waited; his breath instinctively slowed and quietened. And suddenly, with a terrible leap of his heart, he realised… There was nothing. No sound, no movement at all. The whistling of the wind through the rocks behind them had been slyly replaced with a deathly silence, as if the very soul had been ripped from the air. The beating of Crick’s heart suddenly seemed horribly out of place amongst this… this nothingness.”
“The shimmering blue tangle of light turned to face Aliya, and as it did so several others shot out from below her to join it. For a second the other side of the pool was alive in a bright blue glow, and then as one the spirits fell back away from her into the lake. Aliya hopped quickly across to where they had been, and in the water a few feet away she saw a dull light gliding soft but swiftly into the depths of the lake. It travelled a while longer, until the light was almost gone… and then with an explosion of blue mist a dozen bright blue sparks burst magnificently through the surface, spreading quickly out across the water. There they fluttered merrily about, over and around each other, skipping lightly across the water or diving briefly beneath it, emerging a few feet away in brief showers of tiny droplets…”
” ‘Quiet!’ Burn screamed with a great clatter of armour. ‘Nobody’s heard from any of them since long before you were born, boy! All because people like you thought they could hide, and wait, and outlast… Wait for the old Magics to return; for the old strength of witches and wizards to arise spectacularly to life from the graveyard of myth to aid us!’ He spat again. ‘And they were wrong! All of them!’ ”
“One by one they halted in the light, each straining to take in the at once simple and complex splendour of the scene before them. They had entered into a wide, almost impossibly high cave, capped with a distant domed crown which must nearly have touched the underside of the clearing in which a while ago they had been standing. The haze which had been spilling into the tunnel was here again, but thicker now, moving and tumbling as though blown gently by soft winds in numerous opposing directions all at once. Vast stumps and twisting spears of crystal rose sharp from the ground, and from the heights fell hundreds of long, shimmering strands, all at their tips curving inwards towards the centre of the cave…”
” ‘Something’s wrong…’
The words had left his mouth even before he had thought them. It was something about the way she was riding… It wasn’t just fast; it was purposeful. It was with… fear. In an instant he felt the air around him thicken…”
“The stormclouds spoke again, closer this time, as though they were making their slow, lumbering journey all the way here just to see and introduce themselves to her… Aliya smiled, wishing she knew how to answer them.”
“…sitting there, silent as the tall grass which flanked each side of the cart brushing lightly against the canvas by their heads, he could feel it now: the terror; the very source of nightmare, unfathomable in its scale and power. And all around them, watching them…”
“Yet, somehow, it seemed almost… not human, but close. There was something about the way it looked at them, studied them as it came to a gentle halt in the middle of the track which gave it a curious air of intelligence, or understanding, beyond anything that Aliya or the others could comprehend. It waited, watching them, rooted like a boulder into the bank, seemingly as much a part of the ground as the mud and ferns which drifted carefully about its great, golden feet.”
“As they passed beneath the dangling branches, their dense spines an assortment of dark green and silvery blue, a thick, black cloud seemed to sweep above the cart. Light and sound were suddenly reduced to their barest parts, creating a soft, pale world through which they travelled like visiting spirits of some distant plane…”
“The height of the mountain, far-off though it was, had grown level with where they were standing… then higher… and higher still it soared; fresh clusters of smooth, polished cliffs appearing with each passing second, incalculable in their number and their height, tapering slowly inwards until finally, barely discernable amongst the churning whites and greys of what surely had to be the roof of the world a single, great peak was revealed, blazing with a perfect, shimmering light…”
” ‘Any knowledge that’s ever been passed down to the main of the City and the rest of the Heartlands has been sieved and corrupted a hundred times over by the Council… Anything which may benefit them in some way, either then or sometime in the future, they hold back for themselves. There’s so many centuries of history and secrets hidden within the City, they’ve probably forgotten half of it themselves… ’ ”
” ‘…No, I can think of nothing more hopeful than the course upon which you have already set out, bleak as it is. I know no more than you as to what they have built within the city of Magic since the second coming of the Darkness, but it would seem to be our best hope. Perhaps our only.’ ”
” ‘…The Magic known by your time is like –’ he paused, thinking hard for a moment, seeming determined to make the comparison as accurate as possible, ‘– like the heat which lingers long after a great fire has died. It is a memory; the faintest… aroma of the past.’
“He didn’t want to go back there; didn’t want to leave… It was dark here, but darker by far out there, amongst that gathering storm, that endless night. He didn’t want to go…”
“Somewhere to his left the sun had dipped low behind the ridgeline which continued far into the north-west, but it was still half an hour or so from setting altogether. The sky before them was empty, and endless, as though painted on a grander canvas than ever it had been before. And from the hidden western horizon, a light of vivid orange streamed back in wide, expanding shafts across a flat, boundless desert wilderness of sand and bright red rock thousands of feet below him, scorching every distant mile of sight, creating a blazing majesty of landscape Crick had never known; a deep, spectacular world of fire without flame…”
” ‘…I make no apologies for my abruptness, or that of any of my men. We are as we need to be; no more and no less.’ ”
“Crick watched his parents move for a while amongst their surroundings, whispering gentle words and rhymes, some of which in places took him instantly back to his earliest years, although he couldn’t remember the detail of any of them in particular… As he did so, dozens of bushes, branches, weeds, vines, grasses and flowers of all types seemed to uproot or detach themselves from their surroundings, sprinkling the cart in a steady cascade of cool rain, meandering slowly along behind and around them. Whether one single, separate being or rather a strange, ancient consciousness rolling through the forest, drifting into and through each tree and patch of undergrowth in turn, Crick couldn’t tell, and for a long while he could extract no answer at all from his parents… ”
“There had been several varied assertions on first sight as to the building’s original purpose – perhaps the foundations of a guard-tower to watch over the road, or a storehouse to keep passing armies and nobles fed and cared for. Or perhaps an entrance to one of the lost great mines which would have supplied materials and jewels for the powerful cities to north and south. Or perhaps simply a home…”
“Something turned within Aliya’s chest; all feeling disappearing in a flash from her limbs… She had heard the simple words so many times before, and with the greatest of efforts Url had spoken them little different now to how he always did. But never, in all the words and screams of terror that Aliya could remember, had she ever heard anything so frightening…”
“…And with that and a sharp heave of the reins he rose up and charged like a rolling of thunder away from the gorge, forcing a path through the close limbs of silver, the sword held high and alive with the unleashing of his rage, the last of them to be seen as they vanished amongst the deep shadows of the trees, each bellowing loud and fierce as the other into the sudden igniting of the night…”
” ‘…Hope. A hope and a brightness in these dark lands and times such as I have not seen for an age.’ ”
[These passages taking the reader to the beginning of Chapter Thirty-Five, and the final act of this Chronicle…]
Magic’s Heart is available…
- And as a multi-format download with the first 50% free to sample on Smashwords.
- Also available as paperback on Amazon (link is to the UK site – US version available here) with a free eBook edition for those who purchase it.
And so following the tale of the Heart of Magic, we leave, at least for a time, and move onto another of the Chronicles: the tale this time of…