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Shadows Within the Flame by D.K. Holmberg (The Elder Stones Saga Book 2)

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Shadows Within the Flame by D.K. Holmberg (The Elder Stones Saga Book 2) Online And Download

Overview: The Forgers proved to be only part of a greater plan to gain the power of the stones, remnants from powerful beings lost to time. Their power has never been controlled by one person but now someone is close to changing that.


Having survived the last attack, Haern trains, working with the assassin Galen to hone his skills, learning about poisons and how to best use his control over metal. When he becomes the target of another attack, he must discover what the Forgers plan before it’s too late. His father might be the key to Haern’s understanding, but the more he learns about what his father has done, the less Haern wants to follow in his footsteps.


Shadows Within the Flame by D.K. Holmberg (The Elder Stones Saga Book 2) Read Online And Download Epub Digital Ebooks Buy Store Website Provide You.
Shadows Within the Flame by D.K. Holmberg (The Elder Stones Saga Book 2)





Shadows Within the Flame by D.K. Holmberg (The Elder Stones Saga Book 2) Read Online Chapter One


Daniel

Daniel Elvraeth Slid, appearing near the shoreline. Movement had caught his attention, and he followed it. It wasn’t his usual strategy to trail after others, but this had been strange, not least because he had somehow detected the Sliding.


When he emerged, a salt wind gusted, carrying to him. He breathed it in, looking out at the darkened night sky, listening to the waves crashing below. All of it was familiar to him from his time growing up in Elaeavn, though it was different enough that he felt like an outsider.


He shouldn’t have come alone.


Traveling to Asador, he had soon learned about the dangers found within the city. It was different than Elaeavn, and different even than many of the other great cities, the port and its harbor giving access to dozens of different peoples who moved in and out of the city, most coming for trade, though more than a few came for other purposes, not all of them good.


What had drawn his attention? He still didn’t know, only that he had detected the strange pulling. And he had noticed it moving. Daniel wasn’t sure why he should be aware of that. He’d never before detected anything quite like it.


With the wind gusting, there was more than only the waves crashing below.


A ship rocked just off the shore.


Could that have been what he had noticed?


There was no reason for him to have detected something like that. But then, he hadn’t expected to be able to sense anything, not with his abilities. Whatever it was had drawn him, and the longer he focused, the more uncertain he was of why.


He should have found Lucy and had her come with him. With her connections and enhanced abilities, she would be far more useful than him, but she was still struggling with trying to understand—and master—what it meant for her to have such strong abilities.


Could he Read anything?


His ability with Reading was limited. As much as he tried, he couldn’t get past the mental barriers most within Elaeavn placed. In Asador, things were different.


Somehow he found himself struggling more than he thought he should. Even Lucy had more difficulty than she should, especially with the enhancements she now had. She suspected there was something more to it, perhaps something the city itself did to protect the people within it, but they weren’t able to figure out what that was. Having seen the Wisdom Stone, he wondered if that was the reason.


And if it was, there might not be a way to Read the people of the city.


Daniel pushed those thoughts away, watching as the ship bobbed out on the water. This wasn’t the main part of the harbor, which suggested that whoever was here didn’t want to be discovered.


But why?


He didn’t have nearly enough control over his Sliding to reach the ship, even if he were willing to risk himself aboard it. There was no telling what he might encounter, and though he was Elvraeth, his eyesight wasn’t as enhanced as some. It left him in a difficult situation, struggling to decide whether he should attempt to find whoever else might have drawn him here, or whether he should return to Asador—and to Lucy—for help.


A voice nearby caught his attention, and Daniel dropped to the ground.


That might be a mistake. Sudden movement like that would likely give him away, but standing out in the open would give him away, too.


He pressed himself flat against the ground and crawled toward the rocky shoreline. He was situated up above, and as he moved forward, he made out movement along the shore. It was near enough that he could see it, but not so near that he could tell who was down there and what they might be after.


The voice came again, and he leaned forward, listening.


If only he had better hearing. Daniel wasn’t a Listener. He really didn’t have all that much in the way of gifts from the Great Watcher, not as so many others of his family did. A part of him felt more than a little jealous of Lucy’s augmented abilities. If he could somehow obtain the same augmentation, maybe he wouldn’t have to struggle as much to reach his abilities.


“Is that as close as you can get?”


The wind carried the voice up to his ears, and Daniel leaned closer, but there was nothing more.


Another voice mumbled something, but the wind didn’t carry it nearly as well as the last one.


“I understand the dangers in coming here,” the first voice was saying. “But where there is danger, there is opportunity. That is why we are here.”


Daniel frowned to himself. What opportunity would they be coming for? And who were these people?


“I’m not here for any opportunity you might think exists. I’m here for a single purpose.”


The other person laughed. The wind brought the sound to Daniel’s ears before carrying it away. He waited, listening for a moment before crawling forward once again. He needed to hear what they were saying, but he wouldn’t be able to do so from where he crouched.


He could Slide, but doing so risked drawing their attention when he emerged. Was there a place he could appear that wouldn’t catch their attention?


“I understand all too well what purpose you’re here for, Rolen.”


The other man started to say something, but the wind kicked up, making it difficult for Daniel to overhear anything more.


The men climbed into a small dinghy that had been hidden in the rocks and started rolling out from shore toward the larger boat moored in the harbor.


Daniel stayed low, watching, trying to determine whether there was anything he could observe about the movement. If he could discover something—anything—he needed to try, didn’t he?


He crawled forward, focusing on a Slide, and emerged on the rocks below.


That had worked.


It was a technique of Sliding that he hadn’t tried before, and he was surprised that he was able to do so without standing and walking. Some people—Lareth, notably—could Slide without even moving. It was a technique that Daniel couldn’t even fathom. His own ability at Sliding wasn’t nearly as profound, though he had grown stronger over the last few months, mostly out of necessity. He still wasn’t nearly as strong as Lucy, but that didn’t necessarily matter. He only needed to travel on his own, not to take enormous groups of people with him. His was more of an endurance rather than strength.


Down on the rocky shore, the salty spray splashed Daniel. He wiped moisture from his brow, trying to ignore it, but with each crashing wave, the splashing increased, to the point where he backed up from the shore, choosing instead to stay near the sloping rock wall.


The small dinghy grew ever more distant, disappearing into the darkness as it neared the larger ship.


He had noticed something, but what? He still didn’t understand what it was that had drawn his attention here, and he didn’t know if that even mattered.


It might have been safer to have remained in the city, but now that he had observed this interaction, he needed to alert someone. Would Rayen do anything?


If Carth were around, he suspected that she would have, but since they had stopped the attack on Asador, Carth had been missing. She came and went at times when Daniel wasn’t available, and he never knew when she might appear. He suspected that was the plan, not necessarily to conceal her presence from him but to prevent others from knowing when she might return. It was enough that people knew Carth still lived.


As he stared out at the ship, he watched for another moment before Sliding himself back to Asador.


The room he occupied was well lit. Two lanterns glowed on the table, pushing back the shadows of the night. The neatly made bed along one side of the wall called to him, but he would wait. Sleep always seemed to suffer when it came to searching for answers. A book lay open, the writing on the pages in his neat script, and he glanced down at his notes, considering whether he should take a moment to document what he had seen before changing his mind.


From here, he could easily walk down to the tavern room of the Dancing Wolf. It was a nicer tavern than some, and his quarters were separate from many of the others, giving him some solitude even when the tavern was raucous. Daniel should be thankful for that, but his room was too far from Lucy. The Binders preferred to keep her near them, wanting to work with her, training her, though Daniel wasn’t entirely certain what it was they taught. Lucy wasn’t one to share, either. Whatever it was they thought to instruct her in, she had decided to keep it to herself.


He headed down the hallway leading from his room and down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, music and voices drifted from the other side of the door, and Daniel hesitated with his hand on the door, wishing that he had better answers.


When he found Lucy, she would have questions, most of which would involve why he had thought to risk himself when others could do so much more safely. She didn’t seem to grasp that he didn’t want to be safe. More than anything, Daniel wanted to protect the people with him, which included Lucy.


He pulled the door open, standing in the doorway for a moment before stepping through. A trio of dancers—gymnasts, really—worked the far side of the room, stomping and flipping and twisting to the music. They were incredibly athletic, the way they moved nothing Daniel could ever accomplish, and everyone in the tavern seemed to watch.


He pulled his attention away, looking to see who wasn’t watching. It was the same thing the tumblers likely did, especially as the Binders hired them to provide the distraction, along with a measure of security. The tumblers were all part of the Binders, and from what he had discovered, they made their rounds throughout the city, a traveling troupe that went unnoticed in such a fashion. Who would pay any mind to acrobats and dancers? He doubted that he would have had he not known otherwise. And if they were willing to travel throughout the city, it was possible they also traveled from city to city, bringing their acrobats to other places.


The waitresses were the only spies the Binders had.


The more he learned, the more he couldn’t help but be impressed by the nature of the network. It really was quite something. More than anything, he was struck by how skilled most of the Binders were. They were able to gather information unobtrusively, without drawing attention to the fact that they were doing so. Most of the men who came through here had no idea that they were being spied upon. And that was exactly the way the Binders wanted it.


Daniel looked around the tavern, searching for Rayen. She had claimed she would be here, though he wasn’t certain whether she actually would remain as she’d promised.


His gaze skimmed across the tavern, taking in the various patrons, along with the women serving them. They were the Binders, the part of the network that surprised Daniel the most. They were the first line of the network, and most of them went about their tasks with smiles on their faces, drawing no attention to the fact that they were there. The men they spied upon had no idea what the Binders did, and thus they were free with their words around people who collected that information. It made them effective, and dangerous.


Surprisingly, the women didn’t do anything to hide their actions either. It wasn’t as if they concealed their presence, or tried to pretend they weren’t listening. And they had done nothing to conceal their efforts from him. They didn’t care that he knew of the Binders’ existence.


“Are you just going to stand there?”


Daniel started and spun. Rayen looked over, an amused smile on her face. Her dark hair blended with the shadows that swirled around her, practically concealing her along one side of the building. He marveled at how easily she controlled them, and he had seen just how powerfully she could manipulate the shadows.


“I might,” he said.


“Where have you been?”


“I followed someone, but I’m not sure who or what.”


Rayen chuckled. Daniel realized that she wrapped him in the same shadows, concealing him along with her, muting the rest of the sounds of the tavern while also muffling the sounds of their voice.


“You follow someone, but you don’t know anything about them?”


“I… I felt something.”


Her brow narrowed. “I would suggest that you not share that with Lucy.”


Daniel flushed slightly. “It’s not like that. There was a strange sensation that tugged on me. It practically demanded that I follow it.”


“To where?” she asked.


“North of the city.”


“North? There’s nothing but—”


“Rocks. I know, which is why it was odd. They had a ship and—”


Rayen grabbed his arm. “Take me to it.”


Daniel blinked. The sudden change in her demeanor struck him, and had he not known better, he would have suspected that she was concerned. From what he knew about Rayen, she didn’t get concerned.


He focused on the place outside the city, and then he Slid, drawing himself and Rayen there.


When they emerged, they were a bit away from the shore, near enough that they could hear the crashing of the waves, but not so close that anyone who might be there would have observed their sudden appearance. Daniel pointed toward the water. At this time of night, it was little more than a smear of darkness, a blanket of shadows.


It was those shadows that Rayen could pierce.


“There was a ship out here. The smaller vessel carried two men out to it,” Daniel said in a quiet whisper.


“You don’t need to whisper.”


“Because you have us wrapped in shadows?”


“Because there’s no one here.”


“How do you know?”


She turned to him, and shadows swirled around him. It was a strange ability, nothing like abilities that were found in Elaeavn, but he had seen how powerful it could be.


“I know,” she said.


He nodded. It made sense. Rayen had exquisite control over shadows, and with them, she was able to use the shadows themselves as a way to access a certain type of power. She likely was fully aware of anyone who might be here.


“Did you notice anything when you were listening to them?” she asked him.


“Nothing that made a whole lot of sense.”


She headed toward the shore, and Daniel followed.


“What is it? Why does it seem as if you’re concerned about something?”


“Because I am concerned.”


“Why?”


She didn’t turn to him, instead staring out into the darkness. Her face was twisted in concentration. “There has been no word of movement out there. That is why I am concerned.”


“No word?”


She nodded. “The Binders would have heard had someone come through here.”


“The Binders aren’t all-knowing,” he said.


“No. We aren’t all-knowing, but there is quite a bit that we do know. And if we’re dealing with people coming to the city, I would like to know about it.”


“You think they’re with the Forgers?”


Rayen breathed out heavily in a frustrated sigh. “I no longer know, not with any certainty,” she said.


She jumped down to the rocks below, landing on shadows. The control she displayed amazed him. He wondered just what she could do with the shadows, and how well she could control them; perhaps he hadn’t seen the full extent of her abilities before.


Daniel Slid, emerging next to her. She wandered along the rocky shore, heading close to the water, much more surefooted than he was. As she made her way along the rocks, she paused every so often, glancing out into the darkness before continuing onward. There was something here that she noticed, though what was it?


Finally, Rayen turned back to him. “Did they have an accent?” she asked.


“I don’t know. With the wind, it’s hard to tell.”


“Do you think there was an accent?”


Daniel thought about what he’d overheard, but he couldn’t recall detecting an accent. It made it unlikely that there was one. “No.”


“We’ll have to return to the city and see what we can come up with.”


“Are you sure it’s anything?”


“I’m not sure about anything these days. I never would have worried about random smugglers moving throughout Asador before, but after the attempt on the Elder Stone, I can no longer take those things for granted.”


She reached her hand out to him, and as he went to take it, there was a movement in the distance.


“Do you see that?”


Rayen hesitated, looking out into the night. Shadows faded, the night getting lighter, allowing him to See more easily. Had he not been with Rayen, he would have wondered if it was only his imagination, but with her here, he didn’t think it was.


There were three ships moving out along the water.


“Do you recognize them?” he asked.


She shook her head. “I don’t. And that bothers me.”


“Can you, you know, walk on the shadows and make your way out there?”


She turned and frowned at him. “Can you just Slide there?”


“With the ships moving in such a way, it would be difficult, if not impossible. I don’t know if I would end up appearing where I want to or not.”


She grunted. “A shame. It would be nice to know who’s out there and what they’re after.”


“Even if I could, I don’t know that it makes sense to suddenly just appear out in the middle of the ocean.”


“I would go with you. I could mask you.”


“How important is this to you?”


“I don’t know, which means it’s probably quite important.”


Daniel stared out toward the distant ship. If she could reduce the shadows enough for him to see a little more clearly, maybe it wouldn’t be as dangerous for him to attempt to Slide. It would still be dangerous, and it would still be something he didn’t necessarily want to do, but if it would help Rayen, he had to consider it.


“If you can make it so that I can See a little bit clearer…”


Her jaw clenched, and a trail of lightness traced away from her, the darkness of night parting on either side as it streaked toward the ship. Daniel took her arm, closed his eyes, and Slid.



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