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Scions by James Wolanyk

By Lauriej
Scions by James Wolanyk
Scions by James Wolanyk
Scions by James Wolanyk
ScionsThe Scribe Cycle #3by James WolanykGenre: Dark FantasyPub Date: 4/9/19
Three years have passed since the devastation of Golyna. Anna, once the maker of immortals, continues to fight the evil she unwillingly created through her rune-carving magic. Secreted away in an isolated mountain monastery, she works as a teacher to young scribes, guiding them toward runes that foster peace rather than endless war. So when the tracker who murdered her brother comes to Anna’s redoubt, begging for his eternal runes to be undone, Anna agrees to grant his wish on one condition—that he aid her in rooting out the remnants of Volna, a genocidal regime bent on destruction.
In this brave new world where old foes can become allies, so too can former friends sour into deadly enemies. With the tracker’s help, Anna is propelled into a confrontation with Ramyi, her former apprentice. Grown bitter and disillusioned, Ramyi now wants to lay waste to the world—but not before she completes an apocalyptic ritual that could have dire consequences for all of existence. To stop Ramyi from unleashing chaos, and restore peace to a broken world, Anna must be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
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Scions by James Wolanyk
Four hours since the midnight bell, seven since she’d snuffed out her chamber’s lone candle and sat to follow her breath.
The razor-mind did not stir, did not blink, did not wander as the steward came to her door and rapped on the bronze face. Instead, it curiously trailed the seed of a thought blossoming in absolute stillness: Why?
“Knowing One,” the steward croaked in river-tongue, “have you risen from slumber?”
Anna lifted the latch and opened the door. Her steward’s wide-brimmed hat dripped incessantly, flopping about with the breeze, but could not mask his concern. Every wrinkle and weathered fold on his face bled a horrid truth. “What’s happened?”
“Nothing so severe, I imagine,” he replied, wringing his hands within twill sleeves. “Brother Konrad has sent for you.”
“At this hour?”
“Yes,” the steward said. “Precisely now. Yet the reason for this summoning will not pass his lips, Knowing One. Forgive me for my vague words.”
Nothing so severe. She met the steward’s blue-gray eyes, full of haunting curiosity, then gazed down at the monastery’s craggy silhouette. Few truly understood the austerity of Anna’s practice, the importance of cloistering herself for weeks on end. Even fewer knew better than to summon her during the rituals of purification. She counted Konrad among those few.
As she followed the narrow, stone-lined path that carved across the slope, she took in the foggy sprawl of the lowlands and the black clouds blotting eastern skies. It was dead now, free of the ravens and hawks that often wheeled over the ridges, utterly silent aside from their boots crunching over gravel and earth. The monastery was a dark mass, not yet roused for its morning rites. Not even the northern bell tower, a black stripe looming against muddy slate above her, showed any sign of the watchman and his lantern.
Yet something had come.
Jutting out over the lowlands was the monastery’s setstone perch, which hadn’t seen a supply delivery in close to three cycles. Only it was not empty, nor was it occupied by the violet nerashi that Golyna or Kowak often sent. Anna glimpsed a sleek, battered nerash resting behind a sheen of mist, seated directly above the iron struts that bolted the perch to an adjacent outcropping.
“What is that?” Anna asked the steward, clenching her hood against a howling gust.
“I know not.” His words were thick with unease.
In the main hall, a group of Halshaf sisters worked to light the candles lining the meditative circle. Each new spark and flicker drove away another patch of blackness, revealing glimmering mosaics upon the walls, banners emblazoned with Kojadi script, the reflective bronze bowls that hummed their celestial song each morning. The sudden flurry of footsteps upon crimson carpeting did not interrupt their soft, tireless chant in a dead tongue:
With this breath, I arise. With this breath, I pass away. Scions by James Wolanyk
Scions by James Wolanyk
SchismsThe Scribe Cycle #2
Three long years have passed since Anna, First of Tomas, survived the purge in Malijad after being forced to use her scribe sigils to create an army of immortals. Safely ensconced in the shelter of the Nest, a sanctuary woven by one of her young allies, Anna spends her days tutoring the gifted yet traumatized scribe, Ramyi—and coming to terms with her growing attachment to an expatriate soldier in her company.Away from her refuge, war drums continue to beat. Thwarted in her efforts to locate the elusive tracker and bring him to justice, Anna turns to the state of Nahora and its network of spies for help. But Nahoran assistance comes with a price: Anna must agree to weaponize her magic for the all-out military confrontation to come.Dispatched to the front lines with Ramyi in tow, Anna will find her new alliances put to the test, her old tormentors lying in wait, and the fate of a city placed in her hands. To protect the innocent, she must be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. For even in this season of retribution, the gift of healing may be the most powerful weapon of all.
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Scions by James WolanykA door squealed on its hinges.Anna pivoted around, yuzel unclasped and drawn in both hands, eyes focused to the slender ruj barrel emerging from the seventh doorway. A dark hand followed, swathed in leather strips far too thick for northern fighters. She slid to the left and squeezed the trigger.It was a hollow whisper in the corridor, perhaps a handful of sand pelting mud, a rattle down her wrists. Iron shavings collided as the magnetic coils accelerated them, sparking in brilliant whites and blues and oranges. The wall behind the shooter exploded in a burst of dust and dried grass, sendingmetal shards ricocheting and skittering across the floor. A scream ceased in a single gust, as bone and cloth and flesh scattered just as quickly.The shooter staggered forward in the haze, howling as he stared at the stump of his wrist.Anna fired again.When the dark cloud vanished, the shooter’s upper half was strewn down the corridor and dripping from the ceiling. She spun away, sensing the tremors in her hands and the hard knot in her throat, and started down the stairwell. Three years of violence hadn’t made killing any more pleasurable, nor even easier, but decidedly more common. In fact, time had only made her more aware of how warriors were shaped: The nausea and terror remained, but everything was so perfunctory, done as habitually as breathing or chewing. Not that she had the luxury of being revolted by that fact. As she descended she  unscrewed the weapon’s empty shaving pouches and replaced them with fresh bulbs.


SLIDESHOW

Scions by James Wolanyk

Scions by James Wolanyk
ScribesThe Scribe Cycle #1

Pawns in an endless war, scribes are feared and worshiped, valued and exploited, prized and hunted. But there is only one whose powers can determine the fate of the world . . .
Born into the ruins of Rzolka’s brutal civil unrest, Anna has never known peace. Here, in her remote village—a wasteland smoldering in the shadows of outlying foreign armies—being imbued with the magic of the scribes has made her future all the more uncertain.Through intricate carvings of the flesh, scribes can grant temporary invulnerability against enemies to those seeking protection. In an embattled world where child scribes are sold and traded to corrupt leaders, Anna is invaluable. Her scars never fade. The immunity she grants lasts forever.

Taken to a desert metropolis, Anna is promised a life of reverence, wealth, and fame—in exchange for her gifts. She believes she is helping to restore her homeland, creating gods and kings for an immortal army—until she witnesses the hordes slaughtering without reproach, sacking cities, and threatening everything she holds dear. Now, with the help of an enigmatic assassin, Anna must reclaim the power of her scars—before she becomes the unwitting architect of an apocalyptic war.

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Scions by James Wolanyk

Scions by James Wolanyk

“Give me your arm,” she commanded. Julek obeyed with hesitation, and Anna took hold of his wrist with one hand and seized a wad of his tunic with the other, dragging the thin boy to his feet and bracing his body against hers. “Just like the fields, okay?” She dropped into a narrow squat and allowed him to lean forward, bearing his full weight across her back and meshing his hands beneath her chin. “I’ll keep you safe, little bear.”On any other day, Julek would’ve been considered light. Most of his muscles were atrophied from years of housework and bed rest, and unlike the other boys—indeed, unlike Anna—his daily meal was a mug of boiled kasha. Their father could still lift him with a single arm. But today it was all wrong.Anna had been too nervous to eat for days. She’d traveled a league in total darkness, and another two in marshlands. Her feet were waterlogged and bleeding, her legs threatening to buckle with every step.Lukewarm sweat beaded along her brow and stung her eyes. When she stopped listening to the wet pulse of her own heartbeats, she heard boots stomping through the brush behind her, quickening as they drew closer. With every exhale, her ribcage constricted. Stagnant air burned in her lungs as she emerged from withered grass and into the mire, hemmed in by drowning trees.Her boots sank into the muck, squelching as she fought to move on. Flickers of memory, rusted trapper’s teeth and bloody bear flesh and desperate animal thoughts, exploded into her awareness. Escape. But every step pulled her deeper, swallowed her boots to the ankle. Julek’s weight damned them. Anna worked to free her boot, her legs cramping with the effort, but it remained trapped. “Julek,” she said, still pulling, “if I let you down now, could you walk?”He made no response.She repeated the question, tugging at the boy’s trouser leg. “It’s very important.” The calm of her voice died with the crunching of nearby branches. She knew they were within sight, but she couldn’t afford to look, especially with Julek clutching her. The boy’s muffled prayers fed the dread in her gut. “Julek,” she whispered to the shuffle of unbearablyclose steps. “I want you to stay beside me, no matter what. I know you can do that.” Anna bent at the left knee, struggling to remain upright as Julek swung himself around and dangled freely. She reached down to pull his limp legs from the water, but the boy clutched her tighter. “Don’t worry. Just hold onto me.”Her knees gave way, and she toppled to the left. But before she could feel the lukewarm water she collided with moss and termite-ravaged wood. Her pale arm slid into the notch between branches and exposed her own cuts, much deeper and brighter, running down leaf-littered skin from elbow to palm. But her flesh was bare, devoid of the sigils she sawon everybody else. A scribe carried no essence, they said. No protection against the bloodshed from which they spared others.“It’s okay,” Anna whispered. Boots thumped nearby.Julek stared up at her with wide, swollen eyes, his grip tightening around her neck. He was trying not to cry, trying to be like her. “Home, Anna. We need to go home.”Behind her the screeching that once seemed so distant was now deafening. It was a guttural moaning, no doubt muffled in some way, communicating starvation that only trackers could put into their beasts.Flesh wasn’t enough to satisfy it now. It needed violence.In spite of the blood, Anna’s mouth went dry. She stared at Julek as her vision blurred, and the tips of her ears turned cold. Before long the crackle of leaves overtook her ragged breaths.“You’re quick,” said a passionless voice, no more than ten paces away.“You must be exhausted. Set him down, rest against the tree. There’s no need to hurry.”
In Anna’s mind it was a simple thing to retrieve the hunting blade tucked into her belt. But it seemed impossible to move her hands. When the beast growled behind her, close enough to rustle her trouser leggings  with its hot breath, she lost her nerve.

Scions by James Wolanyk
Scions by James Wolanyk
Scions by James Wolanyk
James Wolanyk is the author of the Scribe Cycle and a teacher from Boston. He holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts, where his writing has appeared in its quarterly publication and The Electric Pulp. After studying fiction, he pursued educational work in the Czech Republic, Taiwan, and Latvia. Outside of writing, he enjoys history, philosophy, and boxing. His post-apocalyptic novel, Grid, was released in 2015. He currently resides in Riga, Latvia as an English teacher. 
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