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Excerpt: The Memory of Souls by Jenn Lyons

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THE LONGER HE LIVES
THE MORE DANGEROUS HE BECOMES

Now that Relos Var’s plans have been revealed and demons are free to rampage across the empire, the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies—and the end of the world—is closer than ever.

To buy time for humanity, Kihrin needs to convince the king of the Manol vané to perform an ancient ritual which will strip the entire race of their immortality, but it’s a ritual which certain vané will do anything to prevent. Including assassinating the messengers.

Worse, Kihrin must come to terms with the horrifying possibility that his connection to the king of demons, Vol Karoth, is growing steadily in strength.

How can he hope to save anyone when he might turn out to be the greatest threat of them all?

The Memory of Souls is the third epic fantasy in Jenn Lyons’ Chorus of Dragons series.

Please enjoy this excerpt of The Memory of Souls, available 08/25/20.


Part 1

Rituals of Night

Kihrin found Thurvishar in the library, or rather, the three thousand years of accumulated detritus that had passed for a library to a bachelor who had never once considered that another person might need to look through all his centuries of research. Books littered every room of the tower, along with notes, diagrams, junk, and objects whose purpose and providence were unfathomable. Kihrin had no idea how most of it hadn’t rotted away, besides the obvious: magic. But then, there was rather a lot of magic here. The walls stank of it, the floors vibrated with tenyé sunk into every pore of granite and quartz. The stone was a battery for wizardly power, although not enough power.

Never enough power for what they needed.

The D’Lorus Lord Heir didn’t look up from his reading. “May I help you?”

A bang made Thurvishar glance up as Kihrin dropped a large, heavy book on the table. Kihrin had to shove a stack of papers out of the way so Thurvishar might actually be able to see him as he spoke. “Are you going to write another one?”

Thurvishar paused, then closed the text he’d been reading. “I’m sorry. What was that?”

“Are you going to write another book? Like the one you wrote about finding Urthaenriel?” Kihrin gazed at him intently.

“Technically speaking, I didn’t write—”

“You did,” Kihrin said. “You may have had those transcripts, but you can’t tell me you didn’t make up large chunks of it. Senera wasn’t wrong about that.” The golden-haired man paused. “I think you need to do it again. You need to write another book.”

Thurvishar straightened. “To send to Empress Tyentso, you mean?”

“Sure, that too.” Kihrin drummed his fingers on the book he’d returned. “I just think if we don’t, they will.” He didn’t clarify who “they” were, but it was obvious: Relos Var and his associate, Senera. And likely his new apprentice, Qown.

Thurvishar studied the book under Kihrin’s fingers and pursed his lips. “So I take it you finished both accounts, then?”

“Yeah,” Kihrin said. “And I think your conclusions are right.” Then the young man sighed. “But I want . . . I want to cover what’s happened since then. I know you were there for almost all of it, but I keep thinking that there’s something we missed. Something we could have . . . I don’t know. Something we could have done differently.” He shook his head. “I keep telling myself that it didn’t have to end this way.”

“Kihrin, are you—” Thurvishar grimaced. “Are you going to be all right?”

“What do you think?” Kihrin snapped, and then he stopped himself, exhaling. “I’m sorry. But no. No, I don’t think I’m going to be all right at all. Maybe never again.”

Kihrin picked up a page from the stack of papers he’d moved earlier, and glanced at it. When he realized what it said, he raised an eyebrow at Thurvishar.

The wizard cleared his throat. “I may have already started. But I was going to ask you for your input, I promise.”

Kihrin’s mouth quirked. “No time like the present.”

1: An Interuption

(Thurvishar’s story)

When the gods descended on the Atrine ruins, they interrupted an assassination.

Thurvishar hadn’t perceived the danger at first. Yes, soldiers had been pouring through the eight open magical portals set up on a small hill next to Lake Jorat, but he’d expected that. A mountain-size dragon had just finished tearing the second-largest city in the empire into rubble and fine quartz dust, with an incalculable body count. Morios had attacked the army right along with the civilian populations—populations now panicked and displaced. Of course there were soldiers. Soldiers to clean up the mess left in the attack’s wake, soldiers to help with the evacuation, soldiers to maintain a presence in the ruined, rubble-strewn Atrine streets. And the wizards? They needed to render Morios’s body into something so discorporate the dragon couldn’t re-form himself and start the whole messy apocalypse all over again.

To add fuel to the fire, the damaged dam holding back Lake Jorat, Demon Falls, had begun to fail. When the dam blew, Lake Jorat would empty out. Millions would die, if not in the flooding itself, then by starvation when Quur’s breadbasket1 found itself twenty feet underwater. The wizards would focus on stopping such a catastrophe.

In hindsight, Thurvishar had been too optimistic; he’d assumed the Quuros High Council would care about saving lives.

Janel’s fury alerted him, furnace hot, a bubbling cauldron usually locked away behind a fiercer will. He felt Kihrin’s anger a moment later, sharp and lashing. Thurvishar paused while discussing spell theory with an Academy wizard and looked up the hill. The same soldiers he’d ignored earlier had set up a defensive formation. They weren’t dressed as normal soldiers. These men wore the distinctive coin-studded breastplates of a particular sort of Quuros enforcer.

Witchhunters. He couldn’t see who they surrounded, but he made assumptions. Thurvishar debated and discarded opening a portal to their location. That might provoke the very reaction he sought to avoid.

So instead, he ran.

What he found when he arrived qualified as a worst-case scenario. No one tried to stop him from pushing to the front. He was, after all, Lord Heir to House D’Lorus. If anyone had a right to be here, he did. More witchhunters gathered in this one area than he’d ever seen before. They didn’t stand alone either; he recognized Academy wizards in equal number as well as High Lord Havar D’Aramarin and several Quuros High Council members.

All for three people: Kihrin D’Mon, Janel Theranon, and Teraeth. Neither Kihrin nor Janel held obvious weapons, and while one might argue they didn’t need them, with this many people?

The outcome seemed predictable.

“What is going on here?” General Qoran Milligreest pushed aside several witchhunters as he strode into the confrontation’s center.

“It seems our thanks for helping is to be a prison cell.” Janel clenched her fists.

“Vornel, what’s the meaning of this?” Milligreest turned to a Quuros man without acknowledging his daughter.

Vornel Wenora, High Council member, snorted at the general’s question. “I should think it obvious. We’re dealing with a threat to the empire. Which is what you should have done.”

“Threat to the empire?” Qoran pointed toward the giant metal dragon’s corpse. “That is a threat to the empire. The impending rupture of Demon Falls is a threat to the empire. These are children!”

Thurvishar scanned the crowd. The witchhunter minds stood out as blank spaces, as did some wizards and all the High Council. But where was Empress Tyentso?

Vornel shrugged. “So you say, but all I see are dangerous people who are a grave threat to our great and glorious empire. This is the man who killed the emperor and stole Urthaenriel. Then we have a witch who flaunts her powers in public and a known Manol vané agent. Yet for reasons I cannot begin to fathom, you’ve done nothing to put a stop to them. Why is that, Qoran?”

“Because I understand priorities!” the general replied.

Thurvishar raised an eyebrow at Vornel. While the accusations had merit, they missed the truth by an astonishing margin. Plus, none of the High Council members were giving Thurvishar so much as a glance, when he was the far more appropriate target for their anger. Vornel’s accusations seemed disingenuous, less true outrage than a savvy councilman sensing a perfect opportunity for a power play, and too arrogant, petty, or stupid to temper his ruinous timing.

Councilman Nevesi Oxun, old and thin with silvering cloudcurl hair, stepped forward. “It doesn’t matter, Milligreest. By unanimous vote—”

“Did I vote in my sleep, then?” Milligreest growled.

“Nearly unanimous,” Oxun corrected. “If you act to prevent us from doing this or interfere with these men in their lawful enforcement, we will be forced to conclude you’ve fallen under the sway of foreign powers and remove you from the High Council.”

“How dare—”

Kihrin started laughing. Thurvishar grimaced and glanced away.

Of course. Tyentso.

“You don’t want us, do you?” Kihrin said. “You couldn’t give two thrones about us. But Tyentso? She’s the one you think is a ‘grave threat to the empire.’ ” The young royal, still wearing a Quuros soldier’s borrowed clothing, held out his hands. “If you geniuses think Tyentso’s stupid enough to show herself now with all these witchhunters present, I’ve got a gently used bridge by the lake to sell you.”

Thurvishar’s own anger rose. Kihrin had called it. The High Council considered Janel and Teraeth inconsequential. They might have regarded Kihrin more seriously if they studied the Devoran Prophecies. But they cared a great deal that the new Quuros emperor had somehow managed to insult them all by being born a woman.

If they had their way, she’d have the shortest reign of any emperor in recorded history.

“I wouldn’t start forging deeds to bridges just yet, Scamp.” Tyentso appeared on top of a nearby tent, balanced there through literal magic. “I might be that stupid. Or maybe just that cocky.” She waved the Scepter of Quur—currently wand-like— to trace a delicate path in the air. “This is a fun toy. I want to practice.”

“Men, kill her—”

Which was when the gods arrived.

Copyright © Jenn Lyons 2020

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