Excerpt for Door in the Wind by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



Door in the Wind

By Meyari McFarland


Other Mages of Tindiere Stories:


In Reading Order:

Transplant of War

Transplanted Destiny

Inina's Blessings of Joy

Threads of Hope

Threads of Hate

Threads of Birthing

Blue Red Green

Boiling the Ocean Away

Tiny Gifts of Peace

A Lone Red Tree

Running From The Immortals

Hearts of Magic

Triumph of the Artificer Mages

Artifacts of Awareness

Tending the Temple

City of the Dead


You can find these and many other books at www.MDR_Publishing.com.






Copyright ©2017 by Mary Raichle


Cover image


© Orson | Dreamstime.com - Tear Paper - Abstract Back Photo

© breakermaximus | Dreamstime.com - Knight Photo


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.


Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be emailed to publisher@mdr-publishing.com.


This book is also available in TPB format from all major retailers.


Dedication:


This story is dedicated to my father for feeding my love of fantasy and great stories. So much of this is directly related to the things he gave me to read all those years ago.



Table of Contents

Door in the Wind

Excerpt: City of the Dead

Afterword



Door in the Wind

Wind whipped around them, icy one second and then dry as a desert the next. Akuchi stood firm against it. As firm as he could. Gust buffeted him, trying to shove him away from the path that led to the Door in the Wind. The mossy stones under his feet did not help. Blackened slime coated them where sickly green moss did not. It made for most uncertain footing.

He wouldn't have expected a Door like this in a forest. Well, a glade, actually. The grass further away was perfectly healthy, green and bright and lovely. It was only as one approached the Door in the Wind that the blight became obvious. Akuchi traced the lines of the sickly green moss as it slowly expanded outwards and frowned. Perhaps it wasn't as healthy a glade as it seemed.

There were pockets of moss all the way out to the birch and spruce that surrounded the glade. Some of the birch had moss and slime creeping up their trunks. Those trees had few leaves. They were dying, life sucked out of them by the Door in the Wind.

Not that that seemed to bother Xun Rosario, Slayer of Gods.

She stood, her scarf pulled up to cover the pale gold of her mouth and chin. Above the scarf, her skin was the color of coagulating blood, a reddish-brown that looked distinctly like she'd been splashed with blood and allowed it to dry on her. Which she had. Godly blood, thus the stains. Hair that had once been black as night whipped in the wind like strands of fire adhered to her head. That at least was a bright red instead of the browner red of her skin.

"Not sure what I expected," Xun called over the wail of the wind. She turned and looked up at them, one eye brown, the other blood red. "Sure not this, though."

So tiny to have killed Dorji Kita, just five feet tall, but truth be told no one else could have done it. Just as none but the five of them could have come to seal the Door in the Wind. Akuchi was just a warrior, nothing special, but the others were all legends walking.

Keanu Marchetti, demi-god who had charmed Dorji Kita into submission so that Xun could kill it, stood by Akuchi. He smiled at the Door as if it was delightful. Leaning against Keanu's shoulder, Prince Cyrille nodded, eyes calm, distant, then loving as he flicked his gaze Akuchi's way. Warmth flooded Akuchi's heart. Legacy of their bond, the bond that had sparked a war and then ended it days later, the bond that had kept them both alive while they languished in Dorji Kita's Temple of Thorns.

"I can't see what's keeping it open," Garnett Daugherty growled.

His temper was always as foul as his looks, scowling, heavy dark brows shading his eyes so that one could barely see their color a foot from his face. One hand ran over his chest where he kept dozens of charms hidden until needed.

"We could stab it?" Akuchi suggested because that was always what he suggested, if only because it made Prince Cyrille grin and Keanu laugh.

They did. And, as always, Xun shook her head while Garnett glowered at him. She tugged down her scarf and the contrast between her stained cheeks, eyes and forehead with her unstained chin was twice as shocking. Droplets of godly blood had crept down her cheeks, leaving trails like tears along the corners of her mouth.

"Stabbing doesn't work for everything," Xun said. She smiled at him, sudden and bright and as wild as the wind shoving at them all, while pushing her hair back out of her face. "Wish it did. Would make life a lot easier sometimes."

Akuchi laughed softly. She did have a way of drawing one in, always. Xun turned to Garnett who sighed and made a face, hand roving over his chest only to drop to his side once more. Then she turned to Keanu who clapped his hands, sending sparkles of godly magic right back in his face as the wind abruptly turned on him. Keanu spluttered and coughed, eyes going apologetic even as he laughed at himself.

"I've read of Doors like this," Prince Cyrille said. He left Keanu's side to tuck himself under Akuchi's chin with a contented little hum that made Keanu beam at them. "They're not as rare as one might think. They only stay open when something gets stuck on one side or the other. I'd venture a guess that someone went through and then didn't return as they should have. The Door has stayed open waiting for the traveler's return."

"Huh," Xun grunted. "Well, that's something then. Not sure what pruning shears will do for this but we'll give it our best try, I guess."

She turned back to the Door, hands on her hips as she studied the Door. It was strangely unimpressive, perhaps because looking straight at the thing was nearly impossible. Akuchi could see hints of the opening of the Door, approximately oval about two feet off the ground at the very center of the Glade. But the wind was so strong that it stung tears into his eyes when he tried to look for more than a couple of seconds.

"If someone went through and didn't return," Akuchi said, slowly because he wasn't sure if he had much to offer, "do we know if the person came from our side and went there or their side and came here?"

All of them stared at him, Xun with a raised eyebrow, Keanu with his mouth dropped open and Garnett with an even darker than normal scowl. Prince Cyrille hummed and hugged Akuchi, the warmth changing to the sensation of running your fingers through a high-mountain brook as it babbled its way down a steep hillside. Approval, delight, love. Akuchi smiled and kissed Prince Cyrille's forehead. At least they now understood this private language of theirs. Being trapped by Dorji Kita had been worthwhile for that alone. And nothing else.

"Good question," Xun said. She nodded once, decisively, and then marched back the way they'd come. "Let's go see if we can find out."


+++


Akuchi strolled behind Keanu and Prince Cyrille, guarding their backs though there seemed little reason to do so in a town as small as I'timad. Odd name for a town but that was what the sign outside town had proclaimed it to be. I'timad had two streets, set at a forty-five-degree angle to one another. The 'main' street followed along the river. The other street was one block long on their side of the river and two on the other.

Squat houses made of sturdy mud brick sat well back from the street. Local building tradition dictated huge roofs that overhung the mud brick houses by at least six yards on each side. Most of the roofs brushed against their neighboring eaves despite the houses being set so far apart. The open spaces under the eaves were filled with supporting posts. All the roofs, walls and posts were spotted with the unnatural moss.

Underneath the roofs, well out of the sun, small children sitting listlessly with three wandering too-thin dogs that whined and then yelped when the children chased them away with weakly tossed rocks. The children were clearly affected by the drain of the Door in the Wind. Their skin was too sallow, yellow and sunken on their cheeks. What hair the little ones had hung limp against their skulls. All of them, one or two under each roof, looked too sick to run or play. No wonder they chased the dogs away.

Still. A terrible thing to do, attack dogs. Dogs were the companions of the Gods. To harm one was to harm your home, family and the futures of your children.

Though looking around this dingy little town, Akuchi suspected that they had already fallen so low that there was no harm in breaking that tradition. Much like the glade, there was a sense of illness to the town that made the skin crawl on the back of Akuchi's neck.

"Lovely place," Keanu murmured. He laughed, winked and then shrugged when Akuchi stared at him. "No, but truly. The houses are so clever. Given the amount of rain they have here it makes so much sense for them to build so that they have covered spaces outside to work under. I quite like the houses."

Akuchi sighed while Prince Cyrille shook his head. Someday Keanu would find something that he didn't like. That he didn't immediately approve of. He hoped that he was not there for it because it might be the moment were Keanu's power sparked into full godhood and Akuchi liked living in this body.

He'd rather not be melted in Keanu's magical birthing fires.

"This place is as messed up as that meadow," Xun observed. "Close to as bad as the Valley of Thorns."

She had her scarf up over her nose and mouth again but he could see her disapproval all the same. Squared shoulders, fisted hands on her hips and that little huff that billowed out her scarf were clearer than pursed lips ever would be. When she looked towards the children, they turned away, picking idly at their shapeless smocks that hid bellies like shrunken from hunger and illness.


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