The Last Grand Master

By: Andrew Q. Gordon

(Champion of the Gods)


Chapter 1





PRINCE FARRELL OF HAVEN sat cross-legged, hovering three feet above the ground, dwarfed by the stone pillars on either side of him. A gentle spring breeze swept softly over his skin and lifted his long brown hair as he faced the mountains. The morning sun had just crept over the horizon to begin its westward journey.

Stifling a yawn, he shook his head, remembering how his mentors had talked him into getting up this early. Next time they offered to make him dinner, he needed to find an excuse to eat elsewhere.

He closed his eyes and felt the area around him, from the dips and curves in the land forming a shallow bowl before him to the hoof-hardened Plains of Gharaha at his back.

The nape of his neck tickled as a droplet of sweat ran down, but he tuned it out, feeling instead for flaws in the rock in front of him. He needed the dimensions to be perfect. Anything less threatened his chances of defeating Meglar, the greatest and darkest wizard of their time.

Balance and symmetry, that’s how this weapon would work. He blinked, satisfied. The twin stone monoliths were six hundred feet apart and fifty feet tall. A section of the mountains had been smoothed and polished to a height of exactly three hundred feet. From tip to tip, his work extended one mile on either side of the gates directly in front of him. When closed, the gates would be entirely undetectable. Even by a great wizard. Even by the greatest wizard.

Yes, the left side felt perfect; now for the right.

As he closed his eyes and refocused on the right side, an eagle screeched in the distance. Another screech cut through the air, and with it came a tingle. No matter how he tried to ignore the piercing sound, he couldn’t. No ordinary bird called to him.

Reaching out with his senses, he tried and failed to locate what his ears told him he should find. Startled and annoyed, he roused himself and looked up. A pair of brilliant blue eyes, mere inches from his face, greeted him.

Discipline and training couldn’t stop him from pulling back. Mouth agape, he stared at the enormous white eagle hanging motionless before him. An avatar.

“Most Holy Sky Father,” Farrell said, slowly lowering one leg and then the other to kneel before the image of Honorus, first of the gods. “How may I serve you?”

“Rise, favored son. Your labors in My service have earned you the right to stand tall before Me.”

Farrell stood and took a quick breath. The force of an avatar’s voice in his mind always unnerved him. He sought some measure of calm in the pale blue eyes of his God.

“My Sister, Lenore, has need of you. She will send Her servant, who will explain what is required. Her need is great, and, loathe though I am to ask you to suspend your work here, I believe this will ultimately aid you in the fight with Meglar. I ask that you accompany Her servant and render such aid as you may.”

Farrell bowed his head once in acknowledgment. “Master, whatever assistance I may give, I shall. Can I know the nature of the aid they require? And how will I know Her messenger?”

Did he see amusement in the avatar’s eyes? Could an avatar even be amused? “You will be told of your task by Her servant, and you will know Her servant on sight.”

“I hear Your words, Lord, and will serve Your Sister to the best of my abilities.”

“I expect no less of you, my son.” The white eagle began to fade, adding, “Know this, Farrell. On this quest you will find your mate among those who serve Lenore. Be not afraid to embrace love even in these trying times. Strength can be found in the love of another. Do not maintain the walls you built to shelter yourself from hurt. The union   between you and My Sister’s servant will grant you strength in the difficult tasks that await you both. Consider it My gift for your unswerving devotion to Me and the arduous path I set you on. My blessings on you and your labors.” With that, Honorus vanished, leaving Farrell to mull His words.

Before he could digest what had happened, detection spells warned him that someone approached. Thoughts of avatars and a life partner vanished as years of training spurred him to action. Peering across the almost-empty prairie, Farrell instinctively gathered power.

Still some distance away, a mount galloped hard for his position. Flat, treeless, and magically kept free of tall grass and scrub, Gharaha offered little cover for any who made their way through the hidden, guarded pass. Yet the rider had made it more than halfway across the plains already. Why hadn’t the spells worked properly?

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