Title: Heartstone: The Drowned Tower
Author: Nicholas Rinth
Genre: Epic Fantasy
“If the future was bared before you, would it still be yours?
If the past could chase you, would you run from it?
If the world crumbled tonight, would you carve your own?”
Freedom is out of the question for practitioners of the Institute, and any supporters otherwise are dealt with violently. A system Sylvie Sirx neither refutes, nor endorses—born from an enviable family, talented in her skills, and entirely too content with her position, her path has always been a straight one… until now.
Her qualifications backfire when an elder from the north descends upon her home for a Choosing. He calls upon the Drowned Tower’s most sought after practitioners for a simple job that ends in blood, and then Sylvie’s blissful world erupts. She finds herself in the company of the Elementalist, Jacques Dace, an insufferable but deadly enthusiast of personal reform. Together, they’re swept into a spiral of powerful magic and ancient grudges. Where truth bends, stones whisper secrets of the past, and their home lies at the heart of what could very well be Ferus Terria’s next recorded war.
And for once, she is forced to choose a side, learning for herself what it means to master fate.
Come to me, the voice beckoned.
Jack’s eyes burned. He clutched his face and groaned in pain.
“What’s wrong?” Tiv asked.
Jack tried to respond, but the words died in his throat. They were replaced by a scream that had Tiv dropping down to his haunches and shaking Jack in worry. As he doubled over at the sensation of heat erupting from his sockets. His eyes didn’t melt. But they might as well have.
He gnashed his teeth together and muffled a scream. Hot tears trailed down his cheeks. They clouded his vision and only made his pain worse.
Jack’s blood boiled. It was too hot.
He heard voices. Men, women, children. They echoed in his mind, bouncing around as if they belonged there. He heard the clank of chains and burning fire. Children’s screams thrown into the mix like muffled background noise. They cried out to him. Their voices were pitiful whines. But what could he do?
Stop it! Jack dug his palms into his eyes, sorely wishing that he was a Healer. Go away! Leave me alone. I can’t help you!
This was his body. His. They had no right to play in his head. They could cripple him from pain, but he wouldn’t allow them to invade his mind. His thoughts were his own, and he’d sooner die than relinquish the reins that governed him.
“Enough!” Jack bit out, clawing at his throat. His magic burst forth out of instinct. His hands radiated a pale blue, before he conjured fire. The blaze encircled his form, spreading warmth over worn limbs and encasing him in a ball of scorching heat that distorted the air.
Tiv stepped back, his black eyes filled with confusion. He’d almost been burned.
“Jack! What’s going on?”
“I said, enough!”
And as if listening to him, the pain ceased.
Jack clutched his head for a tick longer. As the sparks of his magic died down. His head pounded with a vengeance that matched the erratic beat of his heart.
For fuck’s sake, was Jack’s first thought, what just happened?
His eyes were still sealed shut, and his mouth was clenched in frustrated silence. The tears left wet trails down his cheeks. They stung. But he made no move to wipe them.
Tiv squirmed a distance away. He took a cautious step forward. Close enough to assist, but far enough to run should Jack decide to sheathe himself in another circle of fire.
“Jack,” Tiv called, hesitant. “Are you alright?”
“Do I look—” Jack recoiled, just as Tiv flinched.
Black clouded Jack’s vision. He frantically looked around, trying to shake off the hazy tendrils obstructing his periphery. Despite the added darkness, his sight was unnaturally clear. Colors were enhanced. Lines more pronounced. The world flowed. Seamless. A harmony of utter perfection. It was almost too bright.
Jack heard a gasp and turned to see Tiv point a trembling finger at him.
“Your eyes…” Tiv stepped back in sudden fear. “What happened to your eyes?”
The Drowned Tower is Available for Purchase Here:
NICHOLAS RINTH lives lakeside in the southern graces of Savannah, Georgia. Where he spends his time fantasizing about other worlds and working on his next novel.
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