“If I were a kind woman, I might tell you to lay down your weapons and surrender if you don’t want to die.” Iren had thought Rondel’s voice couldn’t get colder or more frightening, but he’d been wrong. “However, I am not a kind woman.” She drew her dagger with her left hand. Sparks jumped over the blade just as they did on her eyes. “I follow Okthora’s Law: evil must be annihilated.”
The bandits all drew their bows and began firing rapidly. Rondel had nowhere to run, trapped between the tall townhouses lining either side of the street at the edge of the square. Iren cried out again, but this time, determined to see the tragedy through, he kept watching as arrows bombarded her location. At first he didn’t follow what was happening. Then his jaw dropped.
Rondel was dodging the arrows, her body blurring as she did so. The arrows aimed for all parts of her, yet she easily avoided every one. Her ancient body swayed with precision and balance so fluid, she made King Azuluu’s finest dancers look clumsy by comparison. Iren couldn’t believe it. Rondel had said that Maantecs’ speed and strength surpassed those of humans, but surely not by this much. He considered it highly unlikely that he could dodge all those shots if he and Rondel traded places. He could barely see most of them, and he had an even harder time tracking Rondel’s movements.
The barrage kept up until every bandit fired every last arrow he possessed. When they saw that Rondel remained unharmed, three of the Quodivar threw down their weapons and fled. As soon as they did, Rondel dropped into a run, her body blurring across the distance. She crossed the square in under a second. Her dagger flashed, dropping all three thieves at the same time. The other bandits, probably hoping to catch her off-guard, drew their close-range weapons and charged as one. The hag simply looked up, her eyes still sparking, and ran forward to meet them at a blinding pace. Several flashes ensued as Rondel’s blade danced, and then she emerged uninjured on the far side of the Quodivar. All but one of her enemies collapsed. The lone survivor, the man who had jeered at her so confidently mere moments ago, knelt before her with panicked tears in his eyes.
“Wait!” he called out. “I didn’t mean it! Zuberi said he would kill me if I didn’t take over Veliaf! I had no choice. Please, you believe in mercy, right?”
Rondel’s sparking eyes stared unfeelingly down at him. “No.”
The dagger swung hard and fast.
From fantasy author Josh VanBrakle comes an epic new trilogy of friendship, betrayal, and explosive magic. Lefthanded teenager Iren Saitosan must uncover a forgotten history, confront monsters inspired by Japanese mythology, and master a serpentine dragon imprisoned inside a katana to stop a revenge one thousand years in the making.
Lodian culture declares lefthanded people dangerous and devil-spawned, and for Iren, the kingdom’s only known Left, that’s meant a life of social isolation. To pass the time and get a little attention, he plays pranks on the residents of Haldessa Castle. It’s harmless fun, until one of his stunts nearly kills Lodia’s charismatic heir to the throne. Now to avoid execution for his crime, Iren must join a covert team and assassinate a bandit lord. It’s a suicide mission, and Iren’s chances aren’t helped when he learns that his new katana contains a dragon’s spirit, one with a magic so powerful it can sink continents and transform Iren into a raging beast.
Adding to his problems, someone on Iren’s team is plotting treason. When a former ally launches a brutal plan to avenge the Lefts, Iren finds himself trapped between competing loyalties. He needs to figure out who – and how – to trust, and the fates of two nations depend on his choice.
“A fast-paced adventure…led by a compelling cast of characters. Josh VanBrakle keeps the mysteries going.” - ForeWord Reviews
Genre – YA epic fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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