Aeris Legends Books 1-3: A Young Adult Fantasy Prequel Trilogy Leading to Redeemer Chronicles
Fighting for peace could cost them everything.
Daniel and Marina find themselves embroiled in a quest to unite Aeris's two magic races and defend the innocent against the Dark Man's grand plans to enslave the world.
The Huntsman and the Healer: A dangerous secret draws Marina and Daniel together.
The Dark Man's Wrath: The Dark Man threatens Marina in a bid to control Daniel.
The Lady's Grace: The Dark Man's attention turns to destroying Daniel and Marina's daughter.
They are willing to face the Dark Man's wrath, but will their convictions hold when the cost could be their daughter's life?
This is a prequel trilogy that follows the events of River's Edge Ransom and leads right to the beginning of Redeemer Chronicles. Aeris stories in order: River's Edge Ransom, The Huntsman and the Healer, The Dark Man's Wrath, The Lady's Grace, Awakening, The Holy War, Reclaim the Darklands.
Release date: July 16, 2020
Publisher: Julie C. Gilbert
Print pages: 514
Content advisory: none
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Behind the book
This contains the 3 books that follow Vic's parents.
Aeris Legends Books 1-3: A Young Adult Fantasy Prequel Trilogy Leading to Redeemer Chronicles
Julie C. Gilbert
Ch 2 The Huntsman and the Healer
Before the High Council
Deliverance Hall, City of Bastion
Daniel Saveron frowns down at the shiny floor. Every visible surface has been polished to a nearly painful gleam. He thinks back to the first time he stepped foot in these hallowed halls. To be honest, he’s almost as nervous now as he was then, but this time, the unease stems from worry rather than excitement.
“They’re ready for you,” announces Jordan Lekros.
The sound of his friend’s voice brings his head up from where it rested in his hands. Daniel quickly comes to his feet and follows as Jordan leads the way through a set of imposing double doors. The chamber beyond the carefully carved doors features a high ceiling that boasts a giant mural of the One’s work creating Aeris.
Jordan waves to indicate that Daniel should precede him into the room’s center. The chamber is set up like a small arena. Short flights of stairs rise at regular intervals, ascending to the area where the High Council members sit and gaze down upon those brought before them. Today, only five members occupy the nine honor posts. The number of High Council members can fluctuate from time to time, but of the current nine, only a minimum of three are necessary to hold such trials and action reviews. Only five are permanently stationed in the city of Bastion. The others occupy posts in the neutral cities or handle matters from Resilience.
The scribe’s pen sits below the Supreme Huntmaster’s post, which is close to the center but not in line with the door. The shift happened after a disgruntled huntsman took a shot at one of the past Council members. Daniel doesn’t recognize the scribe, but that’s not unusual. The position changes quite regularly to cut down on the possibility of corruption from that quarter. The section containing benches for spectators is nearly deserted. In fact, the only spectator present is Lady Christa Arrington. Daniel is not sure whether to be relieved or annoyed by the small turnout, but he suspects the Supreme Huntmaster, Christa’s uncle, made it a closed session. Even Jordan slips out after escorting Daniel to the appropriate spot.
Daniel quickly scans the Council members, trying to predict where they’ll stand concerning his case. Huntmaster Emanuel Ibish of Aridel has always been kind to Daniel. Huntmaster Eric Dillworth and Lord Oleg Wix are known traditionalists who will likely not look favorably upon his actions. The newest member, Lord Asalor Ravine of Urdik isn’t known to Daniel, but he’ll likely vote exactly as the Supreme Huntmaster does to curry favor. That leaves the Supreme Huntmaster, Ashton Cassel, as the only one Daniel must sway to his cause.
Soon after Daniel takes his place, the Supreme Huntmaster starts the proceedings with a formal statement.
“Huntsman Seeker Daniel Saveron, you have been summoned here to explain your recent actions concerning a silent contract.” The Supreme Huntmaster levels a stern gaze at him. “You are aware, of course, that such contracts are extremely rare as they must be personally endorsed by members of this august body.”
“I am, sir,” answers Daniel, bowing his head contritely.
“Then why would you break such a contract?” demands Lord Asalor Ravine.
The Supreme Huntmaster holds up a hand to quiet the man, but his eyes drill into Daniel, telling him he should answer the question.
“It would have been wrong to fulfill it,” says Daniel, knowing they’ll demand elaboration despite already having access to the report he submitted upon surrendering to Jordan yesterday.
“Careful, boy,” warns Lord Oleg Wix. “Choose your words wisely. You were sent to hunt down and terminate a Saroth Destroyer. By endorsing the contract, we asked this of you. Why would you break your sacred vows to the Guild?”
“Her name is Marina,” Daniel begins.
“Is she a Destroyer?” Huntmaster Eric Dillworth fires the question.
Daniel hesitates but nods to confirm it. Trying to explain the truth would lead to too many dangerous questions.
“Why do you feel fulfilling the contract would have been wrong?” Huntmaster Ibish delivers the question in a direct manner, but there’s no ring of accusation to it.
“She didn’t start or spread the disease that plagued the village of River’s Edge,” Daniel says, echoing his report. “Despite being a Destroyer, she tried to help those suffering from Surdan’s Bane. Killing her would have been murder, not justice.” He bites back a further statement about it being against everything the One and the Lady would want. Still, a warm feeling in his chest confirms the moral rightness of his decision.
All five Council members stare at him. Their expressions range from pity to outright hostility.
“I see,” says Huntmaster Ibish. He looks to each of his colleagues in turn. “If this is true, that would be grounds to nullify the contract, assuming of course that it stipulated the Destroyer die because of crimes against River’s Edge.”
“It did,” Daniel assures the Huntmaster. “I checked. I did not make my decision lightly.”
“I should hope not,” comments the Supreme Huntmaster. He too looks to each Council member in turn and receives a subtle nod from both Huntmaster Ibish and Lord Wix. The remaining two stare at him stonily for a second before also giving their approval.
Alarm causes Daniel to tense up. Nothing he can say will change their minds. They must have already discussed the issue at length without him.
Looking relieved, the Supreme Huntmaster gives Daniel a warm smile.
“The nature of a silent contract means that the terms are sealed and inaccessible, even to us, but we believe the matter warrants further investigation,” he says.
“Who commissioned the contract?” asks Daniel. Jackson Castaloni might have delivered the contract to Daniel in the guise of Huntmaster Fox, but he wouldn’t have the authority to bring the matter before the High Council.
“That doesn’t matter,” says Lord Wix. The haste of the protest tells Daniel the likely source.
“Silent contracts exist to safeguard the one who sets them in motion.” The gentle reminder comes from Huntmaster Ibish. “Besides, the knowledge would do you no good.”
Unfortunately, he is correct. Even if Daniel had irrefutable proof that Lord Wix had commissioned the contract on Marina’s life, it would only lead to more questions without answers. Given the man’s fine robes, money was probably his motive, but that wouldn’t explain who prompted him to do such a thing in the first place. The ultimate culprit was likely Jackson Castaloni.
“We have decided to give you a chance to redeem yourself.” The Supreme Huntmaster’s announcement pulls Daniel out of his thoughts.
“How so?” Daniel voices the question because he knows it’s expected of him. He knows perfectly well what they’ll ask of him. His hands form fists at his sides as he prepares to unleash a scathing reply once they present his redeeming task.
“The guilt or innocence of the Destroyer in question will be determined by a separate investigation,” explains the Supreme Huntmaster. “But regardless of that outcome, we cannot have a potentially dangerous person loose in our lands.”
They want to hold Marina hostage.
Despite the bluster about not being privy to silent contract details, the Council knows exactly who Marina Castaloni is and how valuable she could be to them.
“She is innocent!” Daniel insists. “I was there! I saw her actions, and she did nothing wrong. I swear this by the One and the Lady of Light.”
“Your opinion has been noted,” says the Supreme Huntmaster. “That does not change our charge to you. Find her and bring her here to tell us the story in her own words.”
“No.” Daniel’s one-word answer contains his disgust at the entire situation. Spinning on his right heel, he takes one step toward the doors, intending to storm out.
“Daniel, please consider their proposal.” The plea comes from Lady Christa.
“You are not—”
Lord Asalor gets cut off by the Supreme Huntmaster.
“Let her talk sense into him.”
Christa steps smoothly into Daniel’s way. He either has to physically knock her aside to pass or dodge around her awkwardly. Instead, he pulls up short and regards his friend carefully. Her hair has been swept up high on her head, but many strands of blond curls cascade down around her shoulders.
“Jordan and I will go with you,” says Christa.
“There’s nowhere to go with me.” Daniel barely refrains from growling at his friend. “I’m not going after her. She didn’t do anything wrong, and she doesn’t deserve to be dragged into political games.”
Unshed tears make Christa’s eyes glisten. Stepping close, she goes up on tip-toes and braces her hands on his shoulders so she can lean over and whisper in his left ear.
“You must!” Her words are fierce and uncompromising. “I believe you believe in her innocence, but if you don’t help them, they will send somebody else. I’ve read the contract prepared. It demands she be taken alive but grants full authority to use any means necessary to capture and subdue her. You know what that means.”
Daniel stiffens with rage, but it’s not directed at Christa. The phrasing means that any non-fatal wound can be afflicted in the course of the hunt.
“If you accept the new contract, Jordan and I will be allowed to accompany you,” Christa explains. “We’ll help you bring her in unharmed. Uncle Ash says she’ll get a fair trial.”
“You don’t believe that.” Daniel lets bitterness flow through the words. The trial will go whichever way will most benefit the Council when it happens. Bowing his head in acquiescence, Daniel turns away from Christa and faces the High Council. “I want to rewrite the contract before I accept it.”
“You should be grateful you’re getting a second chance at all,” says Lord Wix. “We could do this without your cooperation. Help or head down to the dungeons because those are your only options.”
“Breaking a contract is not a confineable offense,” says Daniel.
“But defying the High Council is,” says the Supreme Huntmaster. “What will it be, huntsman?”
Trembling with the need to hit something, Daniel steps over to the scribe and accepts the enchanted scroll. Each word of the contract becomes clear in his mind. Closing his eyes, he makes several swift changes. First, he makes sure that his friends have an equal share in the contract so they both have the authority to make the arrest. Second, he adds in several clauses to ensure that Marina is the only target so that no one else may be threatened to force her cooperation. Third, he corrects the wording so that she’ll be treated with the utmost respect and care throughout the entire event.
The Supreme Huntmaster checks his work and agrees to let the changes stand. Then, the relevant parties sign the contract.
I’m sorry, Marina. I would have never returned if I thought they would pursue you.
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...