Shadewings Exclusive Excerpt

Centuries ago, in a time before the divided governance, an elderly monk named Seol changed the fate of all the lands. During the course of one endless Winter night’s meditation he discovered secrets meant for no man—a means to access the Halls of Black, and gain audience with the spirits contained within the walls. The knowledge plagued his waking mind with thoughts of corruption and the destruction of Tsulan’s verdant lands, while his dreams were haunted by memories of atrocities at the hands of the forsaken souls. Seol almost succumbed to the lure of madness, but vowed instead to keep his silence and take the nightmarish knowledge to his deathbed.
But, as Seol burnt what he believed was the last scroll containing mention of the Keep of the Damned, a young acolyte of the temple crept away under the cloak of night. The acolyte had served under Seol, training to become his aide once he came of age, but the temptation of forbidden knowledge had been too great—he had copied in secret several passages with details on the means to travel between Tsulan and the Keep.
Generation after generation, these passages were handed down, kept as a secret within the family until by pure luck they were discovered for what they truly were; the knowledge to open a gateway and travel to a place no living soul should enter. Knowledge which in the wrong hands could bring about the destruction of all life on Tsulan. In a haste driven by fear, the scrolls were buried deep within the woodlands of the border between Zaer and Havchö and left to be forgotten.
It was unfortunate then, that while out hunting game birds in the woods, a young nobleman was unhorsed as his mount took fright. Falling backwards onto the soft soil he watched the sky flash over him before the wind was knocked from his lungs. Servants hurried over to assist him in recovering his dignity, only to be dismissed as he pushed himself up unaided. After waving away the flustering servants, the young Lord noticed with curiosity the recently turned patch of soil beside him.

With a barely audible click the chamber doors shut, sealing in the blackness within. The chamber was still, almost silent. Besides the barely contained thundering of a panic-fuelled heart the only noise was of something stirring deep within void. The Scriptures of Old spoke with reverence and warning of the Labyrinth—of Halls of Black—the antechamber to the Keep of the Damned. The prison-home for spirits deservedly forsaken by the Edy. For any spirit to wander the Labyrinth was tantamount to suicide; death would come either as a merciful starvation or at the taloned hands of the emaciated inhabitants. He had searched far and wide for all knowledge of this place, yet even prepared as he was, the primal longing to live called him to leave this place, lest he forever lose his way.
“You are expected,” a serpentine voice from within the blackness rasped. “We understand you are here to negotiate your terms…”

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