Excerpt from The Fountains Of Aescalon

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The Fountains of Aescalon is the first of (so far) two novels in a setting that pays homage to Zelazny's Amber and Moorcock's Tanelorn, amongst others. There is a second novel out (The Monad Trap), two others in planning (working titles: The Bubbles of Creation and The Crazy Lady). Alexan is a unique character, essentially a ghost at the beginning of the story, although to tell you who he's the ghost of would be spoiling part of the story.

The blurb:

The first thing Alexan knew was standing over an impossible corpse with an ichor-stained sword.

Exiled from home for reasons of politics and health, he has to orient himself in a new home, but he still has the skills he was 'born' with, skills which make him a wizard in his new homeland. A blasted, sterile cavern has many portals, but the one he chooses leads to the top of a huge tree, the source of magical power for an entire world.

Power is plentiful in Aescalon, but those who have it want to keep it all for themselves, and the arrival of a new wizard upsets the balance. It seems everyone who doesn't attack immediately wants something from him - including a cursed demi-goddess desperate to escape her fate who thinks Alexan may be able to help her.

But Alexan can't even help himself until he unravels the secrets of The Fountains of Aescalon

******


The first thing I remember was a sword in my hand and a corpse in front of me.

The corpse looked human, but wasn't. Judging strictly by outer appearance, it would have passed. Looking inside at the organs and genetic material, a star dragon was more closely related. At least a star dragon came from a three dimensional being. This corpse in front of me was from a different sort of place entirely. The body I was looking at was put together in a place of differing geometry. Fractal iterations within it said that it came from a place where the third spatial dimension wasn't as developed as we're used to.

My sword was real, but felt wrong. It was a standard charged bondsteel blade, a glossy dark gray in color. It should have been sparkling blue and silver, but it wasn't. What had initially appeared to be blood dripping off it was now changing, reverting to its true state - a two toned ugly blue and blackish green - as the glamour faded.

How did I know these things?

Good question. I could not remember anything that had gone before. Not who I was, not what I was, not where I was, where I was from. Nothing. I couldn't remember anything about how my dead opponent had gotten there, how I'd killed it, how or why we'd fought.

Logically, my memories should have been accessible to me through auros, even if I couldn't remember normally. But they refused to come. I tried perception, hoping to read the molecules themselves, only to discover I didn't have any. I wasn't material at all; simply a self-perpetuating energy pattern.

That wasn't right, or at least wasn't the whole story. I thought of myself as human, I identified as human, my mind told me I was a loyal adherent of humanity and the Human Empire. I was, at some level, both human and somehow important within that Empire.

There had to be an explanation that made sense, I just didn't know what it was at the moment. Knowledge filled me - all about the Human Empire, its history, cultures, and technology. I knew an uncountable number of facts about the universe and how it behaved in exhaustive mathematical detail. I had skills and abilities beyond the average human - I'd read the corpse in front of me with perception and compared it to a large number of other biologicals. (the star dragon being a large predator of the interstellar depths and one of the most alien species humanity had encountered). I could even use those skills. I just couldn't have told you who I was - or even what I was.

I wasn't in custody, and was obviously considered a responsible adult, as I was armed not only with the sword, but also several other weapons, weapons that obviously belonged where I was wearing them. Nobody sane lets children or the insane wander about multiply armed. So the first hypothesis was that I had known who I was until the last few minutes at the very most. The second hypothesis was that my late adversary was somehow responsible for my loss of identity.

I couldn't detect any alarms going off, so whatever our combat had been, it had evidently escaped notice somehow. Nor were there any further evident threats, so I put the sword away, in a pocket made by kored. Not that there was anything unusual about being armed in the Empire, but having it drawn would draw attention. To unaided vision, I would appear unarmed. Not that appearances meant much in the Empire.

The excitement of the moment passing, I suddenly realized how weak I was. It was bad. With normal human eyesight, I could see through my visual projection. That was a sign that collapse of the field was imminent. My power levels weren't just low, they were practically empty.

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on September 19, 2022 7:00 AM.

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