ONE PEOPLE, ONE DUTY
As far back as Ancient Er, all elfyn tribes understood, whether they be of the Sky, Ocean, Sun, Forest or Earth, that they were One People, with One Duty: to protect the Orb and all who lived in it. Always and forever.
But the Eurthans, under a power of a Theocratic despot have forgotten their past and broken the Taboo: elfyn do not war against elfyn.
Now a small outpost, on the edge of the Sulani Federation is forced by fate to confront a colonial force who believes they are defending their own. A cavalier of Falls Gate Keep finds herself in the midst of war and romance, as she attempts to do her part in their collective duty to defend the land of their foremothers, the Sunqueens.
But do the brave women and bold men of Falls Gate have a chance against superior magical technology from an Empire that does not see them equals?
...The trees stopped moving, branches swaying in a final dance of whispering rustles and the Dwen climbed down. The sucker that had embraced Eld unwound, straightened, then froze. It would grow like this into its own tree in time. Absently, Eld realized she still held her sword. She gripped it harder, looking in the ferns for where the Eurthan had fallen. The Dwen were standing around the area she was last seen. Eld heard Tafli say: “And now you will feel the revenge of the forest!”
Eld rushed forward to see the warrior was almost covered with vines and tree roots, not just seeking to bind but to crush. Aredheli and Yeladrin looked on grimly.
“No!” Eld shouted, grabbing Tafli and jerking him around. “Our orders are to drive them home!”
“Your orders.” He pulled himself out of her grip. “We will take our vengeance for the boys stolen. Do not take liberties with your hands!”
“Look, I know about you and Alhern!”
“You know what?” Tafli demanded, green eyes flashing. “That I bring kin to help is all you know!”
“Fine! But the commander has made it clear we are to let them flee if we can!”
“They do not deserve mercy!”
“Not for mercy! But so we don’t give them a reason to return!”
Yeladrin sighed and looked away. She knew their orders.
“This is true,” the ranger said. Eld was shocked to see it wasn’t Captain Draeyn as she’d assumed, but Orinac, the ranger Tafli evicted. “I am not the best soul when it comes to the matter of men--” Tafli snorted-- “...But by letting them flee they may stay away. And not come back for revenge.”
“They never needed a reason to invade the Forest before except for sport,” Aredheli said. “They have seen the might of the trees and two witnesses escaped. Let this one feed the Forest!”
Mothers forgot that men too could be murderous, especially if their calls for justice had gone unrequited. A horrible screeching sound of thickening roots squeezing metal came from where the warrior lay. Then suddenly the ferns exploded and Eld ducked to avoid flying pieces of armor.
Blinking she saw the vines and branches waving in active wood-essence, holding pieces or partial pieces of black armor. Leaping to her feet was the warrior inside, now only in the padded black skin suit, grabbing her sword from the remains of her baldric harness...