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The Redemption of Wist Boxed Set: Books 1 - 3: The complete collection, page 1

 

The Redemption of Wist Boxed Set: Books 1 - 3: The complete collection
 


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The Redemption of Wist Boxed Set: Books 1 - 3: The complete collection


  The Redemption of Wist Boxed Set: Books 1 - 3

  The complete collection

  Tapasya

  Pyrite

  Prasad

  The Redemption of Wist Boxed Set: Books 1 - 3

  By

  David Gilchrist

  Kindle Edition

  First Published 2017

  By David Gilchrist

  Copyright © David Gilchrist

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except where permitted by law. This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  The Redemption of Wist Boxed Set: Books 1 – 3

  In the attitude of silence, the soul finds the path in a clearer light,

  and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.

  Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.

  Gandhi

  Dedication

  For Lynds x

  Book 1 Tapasya

  Prologue

  1 - Unleashed

  2 - The Struggle Within

  3 - The Warning

  4 - Leaving Hope

  5 - Something Real

  6 - Dream of Mirrors

  7 - Empty Vision

  8 - When The Sun Rose Again

  9 - The Flood

  10 - The Frayed Ends of Sanity

  11 - Heart of Darkness

  12 - Out of Exile

  13 - Remembrance

  14 - At First Light

  15 - Red War

  16 - New Faith

  17 - Pieces

  18 - Temptation's Wings

  19 - Transform

  20 - Ash and Debris

  21 - To The Wall

  22 - Very Little Daylight

  23 - All Secrets Known

  24 - Gallows Pole

  Epilogue

  Book 2: Pyrite

  1 - Self-Inflicted

  2 - With Barely A Breath

  3 - If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day

  4 - Contempt

  5 - Fuel The Hate

  6 - The Line Begins to Blur

  7 - Out of Step

  8 - The Good Soldier

  9 - Overkill

  10 - Rainbow's Gold

  11 - The Path

  12 - Venom and Tears

  13 - Getting Smaller

  14 - Beneath The Tides

  15 - Sacred Ground

  16 - Starblind

  17 - From Heroes to Dust

  18 - The End of Silence

  19 - A Fragile King

  20 - A Fine Day to Exit

  21 - Addicted To Pain

  22 - Tread Lightly

  23 - Oblivion

  24 - Brighter Than A Thousand Stars

  25 Waiting for the Sun

  Book 3: Prasad

  1 - Gone

  2 - Dark Ages

  3 - Wandering Star

  4 - Not to Touch the Earth

  5 - Ghost

  6 - Corona Radiata

  7 - Infinite Dreams

  8 - The Crystal Ship

  9 - Punishment Through Time

  10 - Beneath Black Skies

  11 -Moonage Daydream

  12 - By Starlight

  13 - Long Way Back from Hell

  14 - Isolate

  15 - Any Place but Here

  16 - We Who Are Not as Others

  17 - Blood Mountain

  18 - Splinters

  19 - Memories Remain

  20 - Run Silent, Run Deep

  21 - Words Darker Than Their Wings

  22 - Forget the Night Ahead

  23 - Deceiver of the Gods

  24 - The Death We Owe

  Glossary

  The Redemption of Wist

  Book 1 Tapasya

  Prologue

  The figure fell through the undefended north gate to Mashesh as the storm’s prelude gathered pace. He should have been surprised at the abandonment that the normally bustling courtyard displayed as, otherwise, it had changed little in the three and a half centuries since he was last here.

  The rough stone of the city’s streets reopened the sand-clogged wounds on his arms and he would have cursed the pain in his hands, but it was the least of his worries. If he did not find aid within moments, he would die, without a soul noticing his passing.

  Forcing his eyelids to move, the lone man drew moisture back to his desiccated eyes. Blinking to reclaim his lost focus, he noticed that something had changed here. A single figure now stood in the exact centre of the courtyard, carved from blonde sandstone. Fully twelve feet tall, the monolith cast its shadow like a finger pointing to an unheralded doom, suffering etched into its visage.

  As the broken man’s vision cleared, recognition dawned. He knew the figure cut from sandstone. He knew him all too intimately.

  Oh God, what have they done?

  1 - Unleashed

  The wind beat sand into Aviti’s face, whipping her black braid across her back. As she and her brother wound their way through the narrowing streets of Mashesh towards the market square, the crisp, burnt air stung the edges of her lips. She felt exhausted from the journey. The mule pulling the cart fared little better and only her brother’s frequent use of his cane kept the beast moving.

  Traversing the city’s narrow streets should have taken longer on market day. Streets that should have resonated with life were still, animated only by the gusting wind. So she cursed her luck again. After the three-hour trek from her father’s small farm on the outskirts of Mashesh, with Cairn, a mule and half a dozen goats for company, Aviti was tired and thirsty. Her brother was in a fouler temper than usual, and in no mood for conversation.

  As she left childhood behind, Aviti yearned to become more than a farmer’s wife, but with her father’s poor health she was needed more than ever at home. She would often find herself daydreaming as she performed her chores on their isolated farm, imagining a life on the open road, burgeoning with adventure and excitement. She had spoken to her father about her dreams of travelling and he had always listened, joining in sometimes with fantastic tales of his own days abroad, far away from this forgotten city. Cairn would berate her for childish flights of fancy when he caught her gazing into the Great Desert.

  The guilt she felt over leaving her father tempered her anticipation of the day in central Mashesh with her brother. Aviti loved the vibrancy of the city on a busy market day: the trader’s shouts mingling with the sounds from the constantly shifting mass of people; the thrill of exotic wares from places of which she could only dream. She had thought of leaving with a traders’ caravan the last time she had come to market with her brother, but she could never abandon her father.

  ‘Curse these foul Lothrians and their winding streets,’ said Cairn. A scowl bit into the angular features of his face as he pushed through the growing tempest. It seemed to her that Cairn blamed all of his misfortunes on strangers. Aviti was careful though not to voice her opinions in front of him.

  ‘And quieten those beasts,’ he barked.

  At his latest outburst, Aviti shuffled around on the small plank, which served as their seat, to placate the frightened animals. Her relationship with her brother had never been an easy one. With their father’s failing healt
h, Cairn’s inheritance was imminent, and the accompanying responsibility did not sit easily on his shoulders. His huge, muscular body seemed permanently poised for release. Not that he was ever violent towards Aviti, but since the death of their mother five years ago, her brother cut an increasingly lonely figure.

  In many ways, she pitied him. Only a handful of years older than herself, he had never been given the luxury of a childhood. As the only son, Cairn’s duty was to learn the management and running of a farm. She did not blame her father though. A pragmatic and logical man, N’tini had known that after Aviti had been born, he would have no more children. Therefore, the yolk had been placed upon Cairn’s shoulders many years earlier than it should have been.

  A vicious blast from the growing storm shook her from her reverie. This storm looked as if it would last through until night. Appearing out of a clear, still sky, it had grown quickly, and now its malevolence hovered eagerly at the fringes of the city.

  ‘We will have to find shelter until the storm passes,’ Aviti shouted over the wind.

  Cairn shot a glare at her, but the fire in his eyes soon cooled. ‘Very well,’ he said, ‘but do you think that finding a place that will stable animals shall be easy? We may need to find an alley and hope to contain them.’

  Her brother was right. Finding someone to take them in with the storm approaching would be impossible now, and any spaces in the taverns would be filled with visiting merchants. Even the stables would have no space for them. They should have returned home when the storm had appeared earlier in the day, but she had been desperately looking forward to this trip.

  ‘We must try to find lodgings,’ she pleaded.

  ‘You know we are on the wrong side of town to find any welcome,’ he replied bitterly. ‘You are as likely to get a knife in the back as a door slammed in your face,’

  Lightning cracked a few miles off in the desert, stealing the retort that was on her lips. ‘We must!’ she gasped. ‘The storm will break over us soon.’

  The conversation ended as they both pulled up their cloaks to shield their faces from the sand. He whipped the cane on the mule’s flank to quicken its pace. When the wind eased, the narrow streets echoed with the snap of his cane, the creaking of the cart and the disquiet of their livestock.

  They passed through the archway that led into the city’s main market square. Sand billowed through the northern entrance to the city, obscuring her vision. When she lifted her head, the profile of Wist’s statue stood before her in the centre of the great square. She had never felt comfortable under its pitiful gaze. Cairn touched his wrists together and extended his arms as if to be bound, but Aviti neglected to complete the ritual act of worship and Cairn had noticed.

  ‘We do not have time!’ she said, a degree sharper than she had intended.

  ‘Wist will aid us, as he has always. Do not think I will forget this after we are done with the market.’ The edge on his voice made her tremble a little.

  The sky darkened; the clouds pregnant with a promise of violence. Another flash illuminated the sky and the accompanying roar from the clouds snatched her breath.

  She spotted a crumpled mass at the northern gate to the city. Was it cargo that a merchant had lost as they had rushed through the gates to avoid the storm? As Aviti looked again, she realised that it was human: a pale-skinned human.

  ‘Quickly, Cairn,’ she said, pointing to the fallen man. ‘We must help him.’ He brought the cart to a halt and looked where she had indicated.

  ‘It will be a runaway slave,’ he said dismissively. ‘Either that or one of the Damned escaped to spread their plague. Either way, it is no concern of ours.’ She had heard tales of the Damned. She shuddered at the thought of the walking dead, but she fought down her fear.

  ‘How many pale slaves have you ever seen, Cairn? In fact, how many pale skins have you ever seen in your life? Can you imagine the trouble when it is discovered that a rich merchant lay dying at our city gates while Cairn sought shelter for his goats?’

  ‘And,’ she continued, gaining confidence from her brother’s hesitation, ‘I would imagine that his family would be grateful to whoever aided their son. Besides, I will not leave anyone to the wrath of this storm.’

  Cairn paused for a moment. ‘Very well, go and see if he lives. This may cost our livelihoods as well as his life if we are not swift.’

  As if to underline his point, the wind picked up once more, swirling the sand in the courtyard around and up into their faces. She jumped down from the cart, landing lightly on her feet and in a few seconds, she was across the courtyard and beside the prone man. Blood and dirt streaked his face, congealing in places on his matted, black hair. A dark, ragged beard was the only colour on his pallid face. Shallow gasps broke from his crusted lips and he groaned mournfully. Blue eyes fluttered open, but they lacked any focus and soon closed.

  ‘I have come to help you.’ The fallen man gasped once more as she spoke to him, fighting for every breath. ‘Please, do not struggle. I will fetch my brother and we shall find shelter from the storm.’

  She rose and waved to Cairn. Seeing his sister’s movements, he tethered the mule and ran across the courtyard, leaning into another blast from the city gate’s cavernous mouth. He overbalanced, landing beside Aviti and the fallen man. Cursing his footing, he pulled himself to his knees and checked the prostrate man.

  ‘He has had the Nine Shades of Hell beaten out of him; paler than the moon itself. Still, he breathes, and none of his limbs are broken. Grab his feet and we shall move him to the cart.’

  Shoeless, the man’s feet were bloodied and lacerated, sand worn deep into the cuts. Aviti grasped his ankles, avoiding contact with his feet for fear it would increase his suffering: not that he would have noticed; his delirious state was all that preserved his life. Lifting him was easier than she had expected. The injured man was at least a full hand taller than she was, maybe even as tall as Cairn, but he weighed as little as a child. Together, Aviti and her brother fought the wind’s inconsistent force and carried him to the cart. Laying him down, she caught her breath while her brother checked on their livestock.

  ‘We need to move him,’ she said. ‘This storm will break any moment and he will surely not survive.’

  ‘Do not order me,’ said Cairn. ‘I have been more than patient with you today.’

  Anger burned within her chest, but this was not the time to push him further. Lowering her head, she conceded the point. She had learned to pick her battles. That was a lesson her mother had given her. Her heart still ached for her mother, and she was all too aware that soon her father would be taken from her also.

  Together they lifted the injured man to the seat of the cart. ‘We shall try Hasbalah’s,’ said Cairn. ‘It is quite a distance, but he owes me more than one favour.’ He grabbed the mule’s tether and forced the reluctant beast to move. They skirted the courtyard, heading for the first exit. As they passed through the archway into the side street, he turned to Aviti.

  ‘Did you notice that our fallen passenger is bloodied from head to foot?’ he said. ‘It is as if he has fought for many days and nights with the deadliest of foes. But there is something I cannot understand. Have you seen his hands? There is not a mark, nor blemish. Not even a spot of blood. It is as if his hands have been washed clean.’

  Aviti looked at the man’s undefiled hands. Then lightning bit at the city gates and the sky unleashed its pent-up fury.

  --* --

  Conti sat alone amongst the splendour of his chambers. The beautifully crafted, solid oak furniture sat like a testament to his position. This room remained cool throughout the day’s blistering heat, due to the enormous sandstone blocks that had been used in the construction of this Holy place. The whole structure was a sanctuary from the relentless onslaught of the Sun.

  Behind a massive sculpted desk, the High Priest of the Heirn sat on a plain chair. He had told the acolytes that this would remind him of his true standing. The removal of the macabre thro
ne that his predecessor had occupied had been his second action upon his ascension. Burying the evidence of the last High Priest’s “indiscretions” had been his first. Swift action had been essential to avoid widespread knowledge of Karn’s deviance, he had told the church’s high council. The final disposal of that evidence had been an unpleasant act, but one that had to be carried out for the good of his Church.

  He mulled over the coming day. Morning prayers had been observed and his next public act of worship would not be until nightfall, when the faithful would congregate in the main hall to hear The Words. The masses believed he sat in quiet reverie all day, seeking enlightenment and guidance. This image forced a rueful smile from him. The politics of this great city would not allow him such a luxury. He chided himself for his introspection and went to his antechamber to freshen up for the first meeting of the day. The captain of the guards was a brutally efficient man, and one of the deepest faith. Conti knew the points where pressure could be applied to this devout follower to achieve his goals.

  With his intricately woven robes properly rearranged, he returned to the main room of his chambers, where he found that his seat was no longer vacant. A slim, pale-skinned man sat behind his desk, fingertips resting on each other - hands below his chin as if in a mockery of prayer. Nobody had entered his private rooms through the single door at the front. And this room, buried deep within the maze of corridors and several levels underground, had no windows or portals of light.

  Magic? It had been outlawed shortly after the Purge, but he was well aware that its practice continued. This man was clearly dangerous - the room was charged with his potency.

  ‘An assassin?’ Conti asked reflexively. He refused to give this man the satisfaction of knowing the fear that rose in him.

  ‘Hardly,’ the figure replied. He paused for a moment, as if he was searching for the correct words. ‘You could call me a messenger, or perhaps a prophet would be more apt,’ a thin smile briefly touched the man’s lips, ‘given your line of work.’

  The glow of the oil lamps mounted on the wall gave the intruder’s pale skin a sickly pallor. His short-cropped grey hair and piercing green eyes complimented a well-defined face. ‘My name is Tilden, but that is irrelevant.’

 
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