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Shadow on Concrete Wall

Withered
Wizard

This is the sixth book in an eight book fantasy series. The 6th novel is being drafted. It is expected to be available for presale on Amazon in early 2024.

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Back of book cover

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On a medieval planet, the Four Crowns have been split into three groups. Grand Wizard Preem goes south toward Lowmouth to prepare for a wizard's battle. Wizard Brodia goes north to weaken the wizard's academy. And Jisana goes east, where she'll find a kidnapped prince.

Meanwhile the enemy, Grand Wizard Quon uses his Academy of Wizards to create students trained in the art of a wizard's battle so he can swamp the Four Crowns.

Planned for a

winter 2024 release

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Tropical Leaves

Withered Wizard

 

In the fourth kingdom of planet Vosj, in the sixth year of Queen Foliana’s reign, young Denizia’s nightmare would soon be over.

Meanwhile, the sudden summer shower whipped around Preem as he walked along the cart trail leading to Otanmouth twenty leagues ahead. Few people traveled along this path, giving him an excellent chance to avoid all human contact before the port city. The strong breeze swept over the clifftop thirty paces to his right, causing the rain to cut into the group of three travelers. Preem used his blanket like a shawl to keep the biting droplets from his black face. Of course, using magic to protect himself from what the Gods decreed was abhorrent to him.

Beside him, tall Ibun walked in the righthand cart track with Preem’s nephew, Sarn. In six years as his apprentice, Ibun had developed into a worthy wizard on the cusp of becoming a grand wizard. He only needed to find how to shimmer his magical fists before taking on an apprentice of his own. Little Sarn was only twelve, too young to use magic, but events intervened to circumvent Preem’s long-held beliefs. So now the boy walked between them with his cap pulled down to shield his eyes from the rain.

It was easy to imagine the wind-whipped rain blinding Preem’s two companions, so Preem used the magic from the d’dec hidden in his boot to perceive the pathway, keeping them safe from the clifftop’s edge. No amount of rain could blind a blind man. He used that same perception to scan half a league ahead to ensure no other travelers were nearby. All day his scans revealed a deserted pathway, but this time he sensed people approaching from a distance.

“Six people approach,” he said. “I don’t detect any d’decs.”

Ibun gave a simple acknowledgment of the unexpected information. He was a good student, calm under pressure while fast to action when needed.

Preem felt the shower ease as they walked. Soon it passed over them, followed by the sun warming his skin again. The travelers approaching them were a quarter league away, giving them no more than ten minutes to prepare for the meeting.

“The fishing villages use this route to cart goods to or from Otanmouth,” Preem said. “Normal travelers don’t walk this way.”

“Should we hide?” Ibun asked. The forest was forty paces inland on their left. “We have time to be well out of sight.”

It was the question Preem had grappled with since he first detected the group approaching them. He was debating with himself over hiding when the itch at the back of his neck began. The Gods must want him to meet these travelers. “No. We will bid them a good afternoon before moving on. I sense something intriguing about them. However, we should suspend using magic until we are past them. Guide me, Master Sarn.”

Preem took Ibun’s ornate walking stick carved in the shape of an eel climbing a stout stick. He rubbed his fingers over the masterfully carved eel’s head at the top. Ibun had removed his d’dec from the eel’s head, hiding it in his boot like Preem.

Sarn hooked his arm inside Preem’s elbow. As they walked slowly, Preem wondered how this must appear to his nephew, who was living a quiet life in a fishing village just days ago. The boy confessed to wanting adventure and here would be his second episode after their recent escape from enemy soldiers by falling off the cliff.

Since then, Preem asked Ibun to begin the boy’s training to become a wizard’s apprentice. Initially, Ibun was unsure how to teach the young boy, but Preem reminded him about his first lessons. “Do the same as Brodia did to teach you,” Preem suggested. Now, two days later, Ibun was comfortable guiding the boy in improving his awareness of his surroundings. Each evening, Ibun helped Sarn prepare for that first magical breakthrough.

The young boy was getting close to entering the mysterious cave that existed only in a wizard’s mind. It was the only way into Ibun’s d’dec that Sarn had to hold 6ix inches from his head. So far, the heavy curtains continued to resist his efforts to penetrate the cave. Preem smiled when he recalled Ibun’s nickname for his nephew. Squirt was a new tradition for a novice as it was the same name Brodia gave to Preem’s second apprentice, Roon, who was tragically killed during the collapse of Kefnu Palace six years ago. So much had changed since then, yet so much remained the same. Harpin was still his enemy, with Harpin’s grand wizard, Count Quon of Broditch, his mortal adversary.

Of course, Preem asked no questions about Sarn’s nightly progress after practicing with Ibun on the beach. It was the start of the sacred bond between teacher and student. Meanwhile, Preem continued Ibun’s training after Sarn went to sleep. He taught his apprentice how to communicate through the d’dec. It was a new skill that Preem’s five-year-old daughter developed. So far, Ibun took a second to send each syllable, while all he could manage was ‘yes’ or ‘no’ through the d’dec. However, it was a worthy beginning that would help Ibun discover the shimmering spearpoint.

Whenever Preem thought of his young daughter, Tresela, a melancholy wrapped around his heart. He missed his precocious daughter, who he may never see again. She was with her mother, Brodia, who was venturing north into Harpin. So it fell to Preem to attract the attention of Quon to give Brodia time to deal a death blow to Harpin’s power.

As he walked with Sarn’s guidance, Preem wondered who else would be traveling this route near the edge of the cliffs. Preem came this way to avoid meeting people; maybe these six travelers felt the same. He found himself hoping they were rebels he could recruit to help him reach Lowmouth. He asked several times if Sarn’s young eyes could see the strangers.

The news was disappointing when Sarn finally admitted to seeing some people in the distance. Sarn said that he saw flashes of blue on the taller men. Ibun again suggested finding a hiding place, but Preem said it was too late.

“Be careful, Master Sarn; remember I am Jastur. You two are my sons, taking me to Otanmouth to live,” Preem told them. “I feel the Gods want us to meet these soldiers, though I don’t understand why.” Sarn continued guiding Preem as Ibun confirmed it was four Harpin soldiers with a boy and girl.

When Ibun stated that the teenage boy wore a bright yellow sash, Preem warned them not to react to any feelings of magic. “This apprentice has no d’dec to protect himself, so I cannot fathom what his mission is.”

Ibun stated his concern, “Jastur, these soldiers may be searching for the mysterious blind man.”

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