TITLE: Spirit Weaver
After Gaern’s unexpected disappearance, Lora abandons her army post to search for him, becoming an enemy of the king and awakening the desperation of an oppressed people. Captive to a prophecy she doesn’t believe, if Lora refuses to face up to her failure to become a Spirit Weaver, she will have little chance of saving Gaern from his dark path.
Lora thrust her ski poles into the knee-deep snow, raising a mittened hand to shade her face from the glare of the sun. She stared past the wolverine ruff of her parka hood, down the slopes to the evergreen forests rolling out like a legion of the king’s Honor Guard.
Now that she was here, the fear turned her gut into clenching coils—like a snake consuming itself. The snake twisted at the thought of what she might find in the valley below, twisting tighter at what she almost certainly would not find.
She searched for the smoke-haze of Eloedir rising up through the crowns of the distant conifers, though she knew all signs of her village would be hidden beyond the valley’s bend. Her own frozen breath was the only sign of life now, drifting back past the unstrung wooden bow protruding above her right shoulder. Over the other shoulder gleamed the mottled bronze hilt of a curved saber, engraved with the swan of the king.
Lora adjusted her pack, stamping her feet in their bindings to warm her toes. She pushed off down the slope, finally letting her eyes settle on the place below where five years ago her father and brother had been slain. She let the place come to her, refusing to change course because of a memory, though that memory had changed the course of her life. She felt the presence of her kin like ghosts haunting her with one silent question: “After all this time in the army, what mark have you left on the world?”