Shades of Glory, The Hidden Magic Chronicles Book 3
By Justin Sloan and Michael Anderle
“Remnant!” a voice shouted, then repeated itself again, “Remnant nearby, and they’re attacking a group led by Laird Lokane!”
Alastar sat up, confused, head hurting from an uneasy sleep, and then registered that it was Kia shouting as she ran past a barely alert guard. Several around the camp were rousing, all turning with confusion, and he glanced around, worried about his sister—only to find her curled up against Donnon.
Estair hadn’t been able to sleep near Alastar, much to his annoyance. Laird Summers had a protective watch over her, and still hadn’t warmed to the idea of her being friendly with a paladin.
Others were murmuring about the disturbance, some brushing her off as a silly girl, but Alastar knew better. Donnon and Rhona knew better. The three were at her side in an instant.
“What is it?” Donnon asked his daughter.
She repeated herself, saying she had seen the remnant out there and come across a man who said he was with Laird Lokane.
Donnon rubbed his temple and shook his head. “Remind me to scold you later for being out there without one of us.”
“You’re gonna hold my hand whenever I have to pee?” she asked, glaring.
“Something tells me that was not what you were doing,” Rhona replied, and the girl’s frown vanished, quickly replaced with a sheepish grin.
“Fine. Point is, they’re in trouble.”
Alastar turned to the spot where he’d laid down to sleep and grabbed his sword and armor. As he readied himself, he said, “Let’s get to it then.” Turning to address the rest of them, he continued, “You all heard her. There’re remnant out there that mean to do harm to humans. We won’t stand by and let that happen.
Summers was there a moment later, Estair at his side.
“Lair Lokane is no friend of mine,” Summers said, folding his arms.
“Well, he is of mine,” Estair argued, earning her a truly annoyed glare from the man. “And I’ll go to his defense.”
“We’re in no condition to run off to a fight right now,” Summers replied. “Let them fend for themselves, while we—”
“Cower?” Kia interrupted.
“Dear,” Donnon said, holding her arm. “We mustn’t speak to a laird so. But…” He looked for his weapon and then found it. As he picked it up, he continued, “She’s right, sir.”
Summers’ face went beet-red and he grumbled something under his breath. With a wave of his hand, he said, “Forget our safety when there’s glory and honor to be had.”
Alastar laughed, but quickly hid the amusement. He knew going to the defense of the others was without question the right thing to do here, but he didn’t want to get on the laird’s bad side.
Instead, he turned to Kia. “Lead the way.”
“I think you mean ‘point the way,’” Donnon corrected him.
Kia shook her head. “I’m part of this battle whether you like it or not, Dad.”
Donnon’s mouth fell open and he looked to the others for support, but Alastar just shrugged.
“She’s one of our most powerful magic users,” he noted.
“You’re all out to send me to an early grave,” Donnon said, wiping his brow before turning to his daughter and nodding. “Fine, but you stay in the rear. If you were to get hurt, I’d never forgive myself.”
“Trust me, Dad, I’m not a huge fan of pain.” She smiled and turned back the way she had come, shouting, “Try to keep up, old man.”
“She really is going to give me a heart attack,” Donnon remarked as he ran after her, battle ax in hand and the others close behind.
As Alastar sprinted, doing his best to hold his long sword at his side so it didn’t bounce around too much, he noted the hint of a smile on his sister’s face.
“I’m not allowed to smile when running into a fight?”
He laughed. “Is that who you are now?”
“Not exactly, no,” she admitted, “but it’s a relief to be going up against remnant instead of an army of sorcerers, wouldn’t you say?”
He had to agree with that, especially since the two of them were still figuring out how their magic worked. Maybe if they’d had more time to train or someone to show them how to use their magic, they wouldn’t have had to retreat after defeating the High Paladin.
Part of him still didn’t believe that was over, that he had slain the man he had looked up to for so long. Sir Gildon had been the closest thing Alastar had to a father; the only one who knew how to really use the power of light. And he’d been a liar, a murderer, and a traitor to his people.
Alastar would have been happy to go up against the paladins to teach them a lesson about loyalty and what was right in this world. Dealing with an army of remnant would have to do—for now.
A shout and then a burst of flame came from ahead.
More shouts, and then a flaming remnant stumbled toward him.