TITLE: Lament the Blade
GENRE: YA High Fantasy
When The Long Dark casts half the world into an almost perpetual night, the four youngest mages in the lands east of the Silver Sea seek its cause to stop their world from falling into shadow. They're too young to know how much it will cost them in blood and personal sacrifice and too powerful not to try.
Cyran Averne often practiced killing imaginary enemies with a makeshift wooden sword. When the time came to actually kill a man, all the playacting in the world couldn't prepare him for the real thing.
The shackled prisoner stood in front of an old tree stump, his ragged breath visible in the chill air of the early winter morning. When Master Swordsman Gent arrived, a soldier shoved the prisoner to his knees. Battle-hardened, Gent was a survivor of the War of the Long Dark. Scars crisscrossing his cheeks told the tale.
He surveyed the recruits. "Which one of you skinny runts is up to a kill?"
Cyran froze, hiding behind a fringe of pale hair that had fallen into his eyes. Surely this was a test, but what was Gent testing? Strength? Skill?
When no one volunteered, Gent pointed to Cyran's best friend Balar, whose bony limbs and gangly appearance got him the nickname 'Scare The Crows'.
Gent held out a huge sword almost as long as Balar was tall. "You'll have to do. Have at him."
"What?" Balar's face blanched. "What do you mean?"
"Separate him from his head."
Balar took the sword, but the heavy blade dropped to the earth, the tip sticking in the mud.
"Dark be damned!” Gent said and took it back, wiping it on his trousers. He shoved Balar aside. "Who among you can hold a sword?" He walked around the group, eyeing them up and down.
Gent pointed the blade tip at Cyran. "What about you?"