• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:


    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!

     

     

Mary & Frank Victoria win at the Sir Julius Vogel Awards!

On the weekend Mary Victoria’s ‘Samiha’s Song’ took the prize for best novel at the Sir Julius Vogel awards – and the cover for ‘Oracle’s Fire’ by her husband Frank took away best artwork!  Congratulations to you both on your well deserved wins!

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Bran the Betrayer Part 11 ( a short story by K.J. Taylor )

Here’s part 11 of the new short story by K.J. Taylor, set in the world of her Fallen Moon Trilogy for some weekend reading!

Bran the Betrayer Pt. 11
Bran returned to his cell and found Laela hiding under the bed. She looked frightened, and came out eagerly when she saw him. She clutched at his leg until he picked her up.

‘She’s a quiet one,’ a guard outside remarked. ‘Just as well. Why’s she in here with yer?’

‘She’s my daughter,’ Bran said stoically. ‘I’m the only family she’s got. No-one’s takin’ her off me.’

‘Well I hope you got someone else she can go to when yer dead, mate,’ said the guard, not without sympathy.

Bran silently shook his head, and sat down on with Laela in his lap. A short while later food arrived for them both. Bran fed Laela before he ate, as he generally did.

‘Gods, Laela, I dunno how I’m gonna get us out of this,’ he muttered to her. ‘But I gotta do somethin’.’ Yet again, he remembered what would happen if he didn’t manage to clear his name. If he died, she would die as well. Or, if she lived, she would have no-one to protect her. In the end the outcome would probably be the same.

Either way, it meant that it was more than his own life in danger here: Laela’s was as well. But without proof, how could he save them?

He thought it over while he ate his own meal, desperately seeking for something, anything, that could clear his name. But what? How could he prove those witnesses were lying? And why were they even lying in the first place? There must be someone behind it, he thought – someone who’d persuaded or bribed them into lying. Someone who wanted Bran dead. But he couldn’t tell who that person might be, or why they would hate him so much. He had no enemies that he knew of – the only person who had ever seemed to really dislike him was Erian, but he was long dead and he’d had no powerful allies, or none who were still alive.

Bran finished eating and put his plate aside, still deep in thought. Maybe he should just give up on trying to defend himself and find some opportunity to escape? But that didn’t look very likely to work, and he didn’t like it much either. He already knew all too well what happened to escaping prisoners.

He found himself thinking of the only other time he’d been locked up like this. He remembered the cell under Warwick, in the North. He’d left Malvern with Kraeya, and gone in search of his old friend. Once called Arren Cardockson, but now known as the Dark Lord Arenadd Taranisäii. Bran had hoped to warn him about what his enemies were doing, and maybe get through somehow to the man who had once been his oldest friend.

He had come too late. By the time Kraeya landed at Warwick it had already been overrun by Arenadd’s rebels. Bran had been captured by them, and locked up. Arren… Arenadd had questioned him personally, and had threatened to torture what he knew out of him. Seeing the cold-eyed, vicious thing his old friend had become, Bran had thought he was doomed.

But everything had not been what it seemed. That night, while Bran waited for death, Arenadd had come to him and secretly helped him to escape from the city.

You saved my life once, he’d said. Now I’m saving yours. For the memory of Arren Cardockson.  

Arren no longer believed he was Arren. He had lost his memory of the man he’d been before Dan’s arrow sent him off the edge of Eagleholm. But some little piece of Bran’s old friend had still survived, and it had saved his life.

Now, though, he wouldn’t be so lucky. There was no-one here who could save him, as far as he knew.

‘Oi!’ a voice interrupted his thoughts.

Bran looked up gloomily. ‘Yeah, what?’

‘You got a visitor,’ said the guard.

Bran sat up and looked out through the bars. He had already guessed who the visitor must be.

Sure enough, it was Dan. He was alone, without his partner, but nowadays he dressed more finely than he had back at Eagleholm, and when he waved the guard away he went without complaint.

Bran stood up and went to the other side of the bars, smiling broadly. ‘Dan! It’s good to see yeh, mate.’

Dan reached through the bars and thumped him good-naturedly on the shoulder. ‘Hey, Bran. How’s life on the inside?’

Bran shrugged. ‘Could be worse. Us griffiners get better cells.’

‘Yeah, I can see that,’ said Dan. He lost his smile. ‘Bran, I’m so sorry about all this. If I could get you outta here, I would, but there ain’t much I can do, even if I’m a griffiner now. I ain’t so high up here, see. Only a junior griffiner, bein’ new an’ not that great at griffish, an’ with Kakree being just a youngster. There’s too many griffiners about nowadays, what with Eagleholm an’ all.’

‘It’s all right,’ said Bran. ‘It ain’t yer fault I’m in here.’

‘I know, but if there was just somethin’ I could do…’ Dan shook his head. ‘I’m sorry about Finna. I could hear what she said. She’s been sayin’ that sort of thing ever since yer dad died.’

‘How’d he die?’ Bran asked quietly.

‘It was a fever what got him,’ said Dan. ‘I was there with Finna; we looked after him. He died ravin’ with the sickness. We did what we could for him, but…’

Bran felt himself shiver internally. ‘He didn’t… he didn’t really…?’

‘No,’ said Dan. ‘He never died cursin’ yer name. I don’t reckon he believed yer did any of it. He was always proud…’

But Bran had already spotted his hesitation. ‘Don’t lie, Dan. Not about this.’

Dan bit his lip. ‘He… he did say you never shoulda been friends with… with Arren. He said it was beneath a Redguard to go about with the likes of him, an’ you never shoulda closed yer eyes to the stuff he got up to.’

Bran shook his head. ‘He wouldn’t talk to me after the fire. I thought it was ’cause he didn’t think it was right for a Redguard t’be a griffiner. But he didn’t really…?’

‘It was the fever,’ Dan insisted. ‘The fever made him say it, but Finna wanted t’think he meant it, so…’

Bran felt sick, and cold. ‘He did say it, then. He said I wasn’t a Redguard no more.’

‘Yeah,’ Dan said, with obvious reluctance. ‘He said you was a disgrace to his name an’ you weren’t his son no more. He said it right at the end before he died, he said you should’ve been there for yer family instead of chasin’ after that bloody blackrobe. But he was feverish,’ Dan added hastily. ‘He said all sorts of things he didn’t mean.’

Bran said nothing. He felt glad, at least, that Dan was there and that he cared enough to try and soften the blow.

‘What about Finna?’ he asked instead.

‘She ain’t been the same since yer father died,’ Dan said sadly. ‘She blames you for it; reckons he died of grief. But it ain’t true. Try an’ forgive her, Bran; she’s been through a lot. I’m just glad I got Kakree. Now I’m a griffiner I can do a bit more to take care of Finna. I’m hopin’ we can start a family here. Children might help her get better. Don’t forget, she lost a father too.’

‘I know,’ said Bran. ‘Look, Dan, what’m I gonna do? I gotta clear my name somehow, but I dunno what to do. What’s goin’ on? Why did all those people lie? You know they were lyin’ right?’

‘I do,’ Dan nodded. ‘I know you never would’ve done any of that stuff. An’ anyway, I know for certain they’re lyin’.’

‘How?’ asked Bran.

‘Someone paid ’em off,’ said Dan. ‘Or threatened ’em. I know because he tried it on with me too. But I said no. I already reckoned you was innocent, an’ then when he came an’ offered me money to lie for him I knew yer were.’

‘Who?’ Bran demanded. ‘Who’s behind this? Who wants me dead? Dammit, Dan, tell me!’

Dan leant closer and lowered his voice. ‘It was Anyon.’

….

We’ll post up Part 12 next Friday 11th May!

K.J Taylor is the author of the Fallen Moon Trilogy:

The Dark Griffin, The Griffin’s Flight & The Griffin’s War

Bran the Betrayer Part 6 ( a short story by K.J. Taylor )

Here’s part 6 of the new short story by K.J. Taylor, set in the world of her Fallen Moon Trilogy, to get you through Friday afternoon! Don’t forget to comment if you like it, or if you’ve got any questions for K.J. !

Bran the Betrayer Pt. 6

A month or so after this, Bran was in his room trying to coax Laela into eating some bread he’d cut up for her when every single griffin in the Eyrie burst into an earsplitting din.

‘Augh!’ Bran dropped the plate and covered his ears. Beside him, Laela burst into tears of fight. He picked her up and hugged her reassurringly while he went to see what was going on.

As he was entering Kraeya’s nest, he heard a thump as the red griffin landed on the perching ledge outside. An instant later she came bounding in in a rush of feathers and flailing tail.

‘Bran!’ she called. ‘Quickly, you must prepare to fight.’

‘What’s goin’ on?’ Bran asked sharply.

‘Enemies have come,’ said Kraeya. ‘Many of them. We are under attack.’

Bran’s stomach lurched. ‘The Northerners?’

‘No,’ said Kraeya. ‘Wylam and Withypool.’

Swearing, Bran ran back into his own room and put Laela in her cradle while he rushed to strap on his armour. His old short guard sword hung on the wall; he lifted it down and buckled it on, then grabbed the spear he had been given for his official duties.

Then he went to see what was happening for himself, darting out onto the balcony with Kraeya close beside him.

His heart leapt into his mouth when he saw it.

Griffins. Hundreds of them, swarming into the city. They moved together, as a flock, but with a purpose and organisation no other flying creature would ever show. As Bran watched, a group of them broke away and swooped low over the city. They were too far away for him to see what they were doing, but he found out moments later. Flames blossomed into the air, and a moment later a dull thud shook the ground.

‘Son of a bitch!’ Bran swore. ‘They’re usin’ shooting stars! Bloody shooting stars on their own people!’

Sure enough, a second contingent swooped down as he watched, and this time he could just barely see the huge clay jars full of burning liquid as their bearers dropped them onto the city. When they landed they exploded, destroying houses and setting large areas of the city on fire.

Nor was that all. While Canran’s griffins flew to the attack and archers took up position at windows and doorways, other, larger Withypool griffins flew up and onto the clifftop. Bran could see the human figures dangling from their talons.

‘What’re they doin’?’ he asked.

‘Bringing their human fighters into the Eyrie,’ said Kraeya. ‘They will fight their way through to here and take the Eyrie.’

‘Right.’ Bran pulled himself together. ‘What’re we gonna do? Fly away?’

‘No,’ said Kraeya. ‘Out there we will be an easy target. Here we cannot be attacked from above. We must stay here and defend this place. We should find others and fight beside them.’

‘But what about Laela?’ asked Bran. ‘I can’t take her into a fight, an’ I can’t leave her here. What’re we gonna do?’

Kraeya scratched her flank irritably. ‘You are right. I do not think that they are here to kill us all; this is a conquest, not a slaughter. And I am unwilling to die for this city.’

Laela was still crying.

‘I’m gonna stay here,’ Bran decided. ‘I’m gonna defend this room, an’ her, as long as I can. If we try goin’ anywhere, we’ll get caught in the open.’

‘Then we will stay here,’ said Kraeya. ‘I will defend you.’

So Bran stayed in his new room, and got ready for a fight as well as he could. He moved Laela’s cradle into a corner where it would be protected by the stone wardrobe, and blocked the door with any other furniture he could move. While he did that, Kraeya took up position in the outer entrance to her nest, ready to fight off any other griffins who tried to get in.

Bran readied himself, with his spear in his hands. If anyone broke down the door, he would stab them over the furniture barricade. It should hold out. He just had to hope that Kraeya would be able to protect his back.

He gave Laela a quick cuddle to try and quiet her, and gave her her favourite fluffy griffin toy. ‘It’s all right,’ he told her. ‘We’re gonna keep yeh safe. Promise.’

Laela huddled down in her crib, and chewed on the toy’s already well-chewed wing. The sight of her helped to bolster Bran’s determination. He picked up his spear again, and rolled his shoulders to loosen them.

‘All right, yeh bastards,’ he muttered. ‘Come an’ get some.’

But after that, nothing happened for a long time. Bran stood by the furniture barricade for a while, and then gave up and sat on the bed. The wait dragged on, and he fed Laela the last of her food and ate a quick snack to give himself some energy.

‘Come on,’ he muttered.

After a while, he started to hear it. Faint thumpings and the low murmur of voices shouting in the corridors above him. They were coming.

He stood up again, and readied his spear. In her nest, Kraeya looked up from her grooming. Laela had fallen asleep.

And then the silence shattered.

Without warning, Kraeya leapt to her paws and rushed into the entrance that led to the open air outside her nest. And not a moment too soon. As Bran turned, he saw the other griffin drop onto the balcony outside and launch itself at his partner.

Kraeya was ready for him, and as the enemy landed she powered forward and struck him directly in the belly. Knocked off-balance, the other griffin stumbled backward and fell off the balcony. It was over before Bran could get there to help, and half a heartbeat later his own time came.

The door to his room rattled as someone tried to open it from the outside. Bran hurried back to the barricade and silently braced himself, hoping the soldiers outside would give in before they realised there was someone inside.

The door stopped rattling, and silence came. For a short time Bran hoped they might have gone. But they hadn’t.

A thud shook the door, and then another. They were trying to break it down.

Behind him, Bran heard a screech from Kraeya. He looked back over his shoulder, and simultaneously, a crash came from the door as it broke down.

As Bran raised his spear ready to defend himself, he saw something that made his stomach twist horribly inside him.

A griffin stood there on the other side of his makeshift barricade. Only half Kraeya’s size, but a griffin all the same, its beak open to scream a threat at him.

Bran didn’t hesitate any longer. As the griffin started to clamber over the barricade to get at him, he lunged forward and thrust his spear directly into its throat.

The beast screamed again and stumbled backward, blood soaking into its feathers from where the spear had impaled it. Bran braced himself against the barricade and pulled back, hard. The spear point came free, and a gush of blood followed it.

The griffin thrashed in agony, breaking the legs of the table Bran had used to block the doorway, but its struggle didn’t last long. The gush of blood slowed along with its movements, and then the griffin slumped down and slid back onto the floor, its eyes dimming as it died.

But Bran had no time to celebrate this small victory. A gang of soldiers came quickly on the griffin’s heels, and they had too much sense to try and climb over the barricade. They too had spears, and another had an axe, and while he hacked away at the barricade his friends thrust at Bran. Bran drew his sword and knocked the spears away.

‘Sod off outta here!’ he roared over Laela’s cries. ‘Can’t yeh see there’s a baby in here?’

To their credit, they hesitated.

‘We won’t hurt the baby,’ the man with the axe called back. ‘Or you if you surrender.’

Bran hesitated as well. ‘What d’yeh want?’

‘We’re here to conquer the city,’ said the axe-wielder. ‘Not tear it t’bits. Once the Eyrie Master surrenders we’ll stop.’

‘What’ll yeh do with us?’ Bran asked.

‘You’ll be taken prisoner an’ set free if you swear loyalty to Eyrie Master Penrin or Eyrie Master Kyran.’

Bran shot the man a suspicious look. ‘You’re attackin’ yer own people here. Why’d I believe anythin’ yeh say?’

‘Look,’ said one of the spear-wielders. ‘We don’t like fightin’ other Southerners any more’n you do. We’re just followin’ orders. But we’ve been told not t’kill griffiners unless we have to.’

Bran glanced uncertainly at Kraeya. She had fought off the other griffin, and now came to join him. Laela was still crying. Maybe if he surrendered, it would be better. He didn’t want to kill other Southerners, and the attacking Eyries would have no reason to kill him. Maybe he could find a place with one or other of them, and was this really his fight anyway?

‘Do not surrender,’ Kraeya said harshly. ‘I will not lose another fight.’

A screech came, from somewhere outside the Eyrie. Everyone there stopped to listen.

Kraeya tensed. ‘That was Dekrak.’

Bran was about to ask how she could tell, but then the screeching grew louder, and he could make it out. It wasn’t just a call, but a word.

‘Surrender!’

Kraeya groaned. ‘Dekrak is defeated and he is ordering us to surrender. But-,’

But Bran had already thrown his spear and sword down. ‘Fine,’ he said. ‘I ain’t gonna fight other Southerners an’ I ain’t gonna let Laela get hurt. Help me take this barrier down, lads, an’ I’ll come with yeh.’

They looked relieved. ‘Thanks, mate,’ one said.

‘It’s all right, Kraeya,’ Bran said as he lifted the damaged furniture away. ‘This ain’t our fight. Let the Eyrie Masters decide what t’do next. I’m a follower, not a leader.’

Kraeya looked irritated, but she didn’t argue. ‘Perhaps we will find favour because we are not councillers and have not been here long.’

So, resignedly, the two of them went with their captors. Bran wasn’t allowed to bring any possessions, but he carried Laela with him, and one of the soldiers he’d surrendered to brought his sword along.

*

We’ll post up Part 7 next Thursday 5th April!

K.J Taylor is the author of the Fallen Moon Trilogy:

The Dark Griffin, The Griffin’s Flight & The Griffin’s War

Reign of Beasts Launch pics!

Photo by Tehani

Tansy Rayner Roberts had a fantastic Launch at Hobart Bookshop  for her latest book Reign of Beasts!

She has loads of great pics up on her blog and there are more taken by her friend available in Flickr here. Check them out!

The Hobbit trailer is out!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know that Peter Jackson has been filming a 2 movie version of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of Rings “prequel”  The Hobbit! Not surprisingly, we’re pretty excited about it!

While there’s been a steady trickle of images from the movies coming out  of the dwarves and Martin Freeman as Bilbo, there’s been a lot left unseen. The MTV movie blog did a nice list of things we’re hoping to
see in the trailer here: http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2011/12/19/the-hobbit-trailer/

Well, the news is, we don’t need to wonder any longer! The official Trailer for Part 1: An Unexpected Journey came out today. We won’t go spoiling it for everyone, but suffice to say, it looks brilliant!

Head here to check it out for yourselves!

PS. It looks like LEGO have got the license to produce Hobbit & Lord of The Rings toys. We’re so getting some for the office!

An early Christmas present from Nicole Murphy

It’s the season for giving and Nicole Murphy has embraced the Christmas spirit with a free short story based around the Dream of Asarlai trilogy.  Nicole told us that she published the story as a thank you to all the people who read and loved the trilogy.  

 Kenyon Audley doesn’t care much about his secret gadda heritage, preferring to travel the world searching for the perfect wave. In Japan, he finds a different kind of perfection but his chance at happiness could be ruined by the demands of the gadda.

 You can read the full story at Smashwords.

The Death of a City part 2

Roland went about his work that day in a kind of trance, brought on by tiredness and gloom. He paid particular attention to the griffin chick Arren had stolen, which had been brought back by the adult griffins who had hunted him down. The little creature didn’t seem to be any worse for wear. Arren might have abducted it, but he hadn’t hurt it. In fact, the story went, it had hurt him.  

Roland crouched by the chick’s pen, noting the small bloodstain on its feathers. ‘I’m so sorry, little one,’ he told it. ‘But you’re all right, aren’t you?’

The chick eyed him. ‘Food!’ it chirped. Most chicks couldn’t say much more than that.

Roland smiled ruefully and stood up with a shake of his head. At least the chick was all right.

And then, chaos erupted.

All at once, as if they had been given some kind of signal, every single chick in the room went mad. They began to screech loudly – the panic screech that Roland had only heard a few times before, once when a large stray dog had wandered into the Hatchery. Too young to fly, the chicks started to run around inside their pens. Some of them threw themselves at the gates or burrowed in the corners, trying desperately to escape. The more timid ones cowered in their nests, calling pathetically for help.

Roland turned around sharply, expecting to see some sign of danger, but there was nothing. But still the chicks panicked. Over in one corner, in their hanging cage, the live rats kept for feed ran about in terror, making their prison swing gently back and forth.

The hair on the back of Roland’s neck prickled, and an irrational fear started to sting at him as well.

‘Who’s there?’ he called stupidly. ‘What’s going on?’

Without warning, the door that led into his room at the back slammed. Roland started in fright, but ran over to investigate.

As he drew closer to the door, the fear grew in him. Very cautious now, he reached for the handle and inched it open. He couldn’t hear anything coming from inside.

Roland peered around the door, and once again he sensed a presence. ‘Is someone in here?’ he called.

‘Shh,’ a voice whispered back.

Roland jerked backward. ‘What the-? Who is that?’

‘Nobody,’ a melancholy voice replied as he pushed open the door.

But there was someone there. A thin, hunched someone sitting at the table and staring at the candle that burned on it, just as Roland had done the night before.

Roland relaxed slightly. ‘You’re tresspassing, you know.’

‘I do,’ said the voice. It sounded low and hopeless.

Roland entered the room. ‘Is there something I can do for you?’

‘No,’ said the stranger. ‘Not any more.’

That was when Roland finally realised the truth, and that was when he froze. ‘I know that voice,’ he said aloud. ‘I know that… but… but that’s not possible.’

‘I wish it weren’t,’ said the stranger, finally looking up at him.

Roland’s breath caught and twisted in his throat. ‘You,’ he rasped. ‘It is you.’

Arren Cardockson stood up. ‘I suppose so,’ he said.

‘But you’re-,’ Roland began. ‘Bran said you were dead.’

The bitter lines on Arren’s face deepened. ‘Of course he did.’

‘He lied?’ said Roland. ‘To help you escape?’

‘No,’ said Arren. ‘He let his friends kill me.’

Roland went silent for a moment, regarding his one time apprentice. The last time he had seen him, Arren had been a shadow of his old self – ragged and dirty, full of bitterness and self pity. Now, if anything, he looked worse.

He had trimmed his grubby beard into a small, neat pointed chin-beard, and now his curly hair, grown long over his shoulders, had been washed and combed. The wound that the griffin chick had torn on his face had been cleaned and had already begun forming into a scar. He wore a robe now – the traditional black robe of a slave. The same one Bran had been carrying in the Temple.

But it was the eyes that had changed the most, and the eyes that put terror into Roland’s heart. They were black, and full of hatred and despair. There was no soul left in them.

‘Arren,’ Roland said. He could feel himself trembling lightly. ‘What are you talking about?’

Arren laughed a laugh that had no humour in it whatsoever. ‘I’m not Arren,’ he said. ‘There is no Arren. Arren died. He fell thousands of feet and broke every bone in his body. It’s over, Roland.’

He’s mad, Roland thought. ‘Why have you come back here?’ he asked. ‘You’ll be caught.’

‘I came back to say goodbye,’ said Arren, sounding a little more normal. ‘Tonight I’m going to leave Eagleholm, and I’m never coming back.’ His shoulders hunched, and for a moment he looked as guilt-stricken as Rannagon had done. ‘I’m so sorry. For everything. I’m sorry for what I did, and I’m sorry for what I am.’

‘It’s all right.’ Roland came closer, holding out a hand. ‘Arren, it’s all right.’

‘Don’t touch me!’ Arren jerked away. ‘You don’t want to touch me. I’m cold.’ He relaxed and smiled weakly. ‘So damned cold. You know what I wish, Roland?’

‘What is it, lad?’ Roland asked.

Arren turned to look around the room. ‘I wish I’d never come into this Hatchery. I wish I’d never become a griffiner. I wish I’d never been born.’

In a moment of insanity, Roland almost wanted to laugh. ‘And I’m sorry too, Arren.’

Arren turned back. ‘For what?’

‘I should never have left you alone here. I should have done something to help you before it was too late. I should-,’

Now it was Arren who came closer. He reached out and touched Roland’s face. His hand was cold and lifeless. ‘It’s all right, Roland,’ he said. ‘It’s over. I don’t blame you for anything, and if you ever did anything to hurt me, then I forgive you. I shouldn’t’ve have done what I did, and I’m sorry. Thankyou for everything you ever did for me.’ He took his hand away. ‘And now I should go.’

Roland let him pass. ‘Where will you go?’ he asked. ‘What are you going to do?’

‘I’m going to end this,’ said Arren. ‘The gods have given me a chance to do what I should have done when I was alive, and I’m not letting that chance go. Goodbye, Roland, and good luck.’

And then he was gone.

That night, the Eyrie burned.

Roland heard the news of the fire, and like many others he came running to see for himself. But there was very little that he or anyone else could do.

He stood in the semi-darkness, watching the flames billow out of every window. The fire had already consumed most of the building, and it was now too dangerous to go inside. But a gang of guards were still trying. Roland saw two of them emerge from the Eyrie’s ground-floor entrance, dragging a couple of bodies. Others had formed a line, keeping the onlookers from getting any closer. Roland could hear the screams as people struggled to get past them.

‘Let me go!’ one man yelled. ‘For gods’ sakes, she’s still in there…!’

Roland kept back. All he could do in that moment was stare at the burning Eyrie, while Arren’s face appeared in his mind and intoned those last words again.

I’m going to end this… do what I should have done when I was alive.

‘Oh gods,’ Roland whispered.

An almighty crack split the night air, and a portion of the Eyrie’s outer wall crumbled inward. Screams rose from the crowd.

I’m going to end this.

‘Arren, what have you done?’ Roland said to the invisible presence. ‘What have you done?’

He knew that Arren had done it. Who else would have, or could have? The people of Eagleholm had destroyed his life, and now he had destroyed Eagleholm.

Roland stared dully at the flames, and wondered if Arren was in there somewhere. Had he lit the fire and stayed there so he could finally die – properly this time? Surely if he’d escaped he wouldn’t have gotten far. After all, he was the only Northerner in the city.

Whatever had happened, that was the night that Eagleholm died. The Eyrie burned, the Eyrie Mistress and the members of her council perished in the flames, and after that there would be nothing left to bind the city together. Arren Cardockson had taken his revenge.

Sometime later, while Roland watched helplessly from the crowd, a little group of survivors came over to him. He heard one of them calling his name, and sighed in relief when he recognised the voice.

‘Flell!’ he called, pushing his way toward her. ‘Thank Gryphus you weren’t in there.’

Flell’s pretty face was deathly white with shock, and tears and soot had stained her cheeks. Her young partner, Thrain, perched on her shoulder, cheeping in fright.

‘Roland,’ Flell said hoarsely.

Roland put a comforting arm around her shoulders, and looked at the young man who had come with her. He had never seen him before, but nevertheless he looked familiar. He was stocky and broad-shouldered, with a strong jawline and tousled blond hair. His eyes were bright blue, and red-rimmed from the smoke.

A griffin walked beside him. She was as young as her partner, and she too was blue-eyed, with sandy brown feathers.

‘Senneck,’ Roland said, nodding to her. ‘And you-,’ he looked at the boy. ‘I know who you must be. You look just like your father.’

‘Thankyou,’ the boy said grimly. ‘You’re Lord Roland the Hatchery owner, yes?’

‘I am,’ said Roland. ‘You’re Erian, aren’t you? Rannagon’s son.’

Erian’s shoulders hunched, and a terrible sadness showed on his face. ‘Yes,’ he said softly. ‘Yes, I am.’

Senneck hissed bitterly. ‘What a cruel night this has been. At last I choose a human, and in one night the Eyrie we would have lived in has been destroyed. If only I had known, I would have killed the Northern pup the moment I saw him.’

‘So Arren did do this?’ asked Roland.

‘Yes he did,’ Erian growled. ‘We saw it.’

‘Were you in there?’

‘Yes. We’ve been helping other people get out, but it’s too dangerous to go back in now.’

‘Who got out?’ Roland asked urgently. ‘Did Rannagon-?’

Flell started to sob.

‘He’s dead,’ said Erian.

‘The fire-?’

‘No,’ said Erian. ‘The blackrobe murdered him. We saw it. He broke into the Eyrie and killed him and Shoa. Then he lit the fire and ran away.’

Roland closed his eyes for a moment. ‘What happened to Arren? Dead as well?’

‘Escaped,’ said Senneck. ‘But he will not get far.’

‘How did he get away?’ asked Roland. ‘Surely, with the fire, he would have run straight into the arms of the crowd here.’

‘He had help,’ said Senneck. ‘The black griffin. They fought together, and it was the black griffin that killed Shoa. They are partnered now.’

Roland gaped. ‘Arren… with the black griffin? That’s not possible! Why would Arren want to be with him? He killed Eluna. Arren hated him so much he wanted to kill him; he told me so himself.’

‘Don’t ask us,’ Erian snapped. ‘They’re savage beasts, the pair of them. They were made for each other.’

Roland shook his head sadly. Once he would have argued, but not after this. ‘So they flew away together.’

‘Yes, and in the morning, Senneck and I will go after them,’ said Erian. ‘We’ll catch them, and I’ll kill that murdering scum myself.’

Roland looked sternly at him. ‘Revenge won’t bring you peace, lad. Do you imagine that Arren feels better having done this?’

‘Justice must be done,’ Erian said stonily. ‘My father taught me that.’

‘Yes…’ Roland turned away wearily to look at the burning Eyrie. The fire was starting to die down now, and the building looked close to collapse. He hoped that Erian would never find Arren, for both their sakes.

Stay tuned for the final part tomorrow!

KJ Taylor is the author of the Fallen Moon Trilogy: The Dark Griffin, The Griffin’s Flight & The Griffin’s War