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BVC Announces The Seagull by Sylvia Kelso

The Seagull by Sylvia Kelso
The Seagull
Sylvia Kelso
Book One of Rihannar Chronicles: Second Generation

The one thing worse than being made a wizard is to be born a wizard.

Phaz is the eldest son of a wizard family. His father wards the great desert of Hethria. His mother was a crown princess. Mighty Assharral wants him as imperial heir. What choices does he have for himself?

Especially with a family who fear that evil is his nature’s bent?

He could always run. But Phaz has his own Art, that offers glimpses of the future. Run or stay, his is not somewhere you’d choose to be.

About the Author: Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia, and writes mostly novels, in fantasy, SF and mystery/time-travel genres, with alternate North Queensland or analogue Australian settings. Two of her novels have been finalists for best fantasy novel in the Aurealis Australian genre fiction awards.

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Chapter 1

When I was fourteen years old my father struck me for the first and only time. Though he used hand rather than mind, it was a heavy blow; indeed, it has shaped half the passage of my life.

It all came about through a state visit to Everran, or rather, I should say, a visit to my uncle, the king of Everran and his family, whom we children had never met. My parents rarely crossed their own land’s frontiers, though within those frontiers they were perpetually on the move. My oldest memories are of motion: in a back-sling, in the crook of my mother’s arm, a grey horse’s rump or wither moving below me, and the landscape of Hethria undulating past to the swing of a horse’s stride. Ranks of curved red sand-dunes, endless red gibber plains, belts of spiny olive-green torjer grass, glaring white salt lakes, chines of rusty or faded indigo range. The vivid green oases of Sathellin dassyx, caravan staging points on the roads across Hethria, from Everran to Assharral, or the labyrinthine channels of Kemreswash, the border river. And always the red monoliths of Eskan Helken, climbing slowly over the horizon at journey’s end.

From the bay at the towers’ feet, with its oasis of seepage water and its anomalous spread of fresh green grass, you scrambled up a rock cleft to the spring where little black and white saeveryrs twirl, chirring bird-welcome amid the ferns, with the secret pocket’s grass and tree-shade laid out above. My father would glance from them up to our hut, above the two graves at the pocket head, then back to the saeveryrs. Then he would tell my mother, with the smile that never failed to light his eyes when they fell on her, <They’re still there, ‘Thar.>

To which she would retort, <Why not, Rockface? So am I.>

It was a private joke, I decided, when I grew old enough to read such mind-talk, and would never be explained to us.

There was considerable explanation of our visit to Everran, mostly lectures on what we should or should not do, mostly going straight over our too-excited heads. We all knew my mother had come from Everran. Times beyond count we had been lulled to sleep by stories of its folks, lands, lore, legend and history, and aedric children remember more than those of humankind. We knew the four Resh names, Tirs, Meldene, Stiriand and Gebria, the look of their apple-vales and grey hills and vineyards and dusty red plains, and how Everran exported Stiriand wine and Meldene hethel oil to the yet more remote and romantic Confederacy. We knew how the white walls and red roofs of the capital, lovely Saphar, would climb from the blue loop of Azilien to the palace walkways and sunrooms, with the lofty spike of Asterne thrust like a stempost from the plateau’s eastern end, and the huge red sweep of the Helkent ranges behind. We even knew King Sazan and our cousins’ faces, having used farsight on them as soon as we learnt the art. And none of it appeased our hunger to see the whole thing in the flesh.

The official reason for the visit was that our grandmother, now a very old lady, had not seen this particular brood of descendants yet. This collapsed as soon as Perrithar, knitting her tawny brows which had the exact curve of my father’s, inquired, puzzled, “Then, Mi, why did you tell Da that a nice long jaunt just might cure your itchy feet?”

“Oh, Four!” said my mother, eyes meeting my father’s as she broke into a rueful laugh. “See,” she added with mock indignation, “what it is to breed a pack of wizard brats!”

The smile shimmered in my father’s eyes. He seldom smiled with his mouth, but his amusement was unmistakable. Perrithar and Thannis and I have blue eyes after my mother’s type. My father’s are pure grey, clear as air and almost as colorless, turning the irises’ motion to a play of light in light. Until they brighten with that smile, or blaze blinding white in the heat of Ruanbrarx, the aedric arts.

He answered demurely, <Shall we try again?>

She threw a spoon at him. He stopped it in mid-air with Axynbrarve, the high art, then plucked it down and tucked it in his belt. “Zam!” she yelled. “Give that back! You’re worse than the three of them at once!”

He took it out again. Examined it, asked innocently, <Another cake-stick?> And she broke down at some other ancient joke.

We giggled in company, for if we missed half the references, it delighted us when they played like that. Then we yelled warnings as she advanced on him. But he held the spoon out at once, saying meekly, <I surrender. As usual.> Glancing at us, he added soberly, <Everran won’t be like this.>

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