This week’s episode features Chapter Twenty Seven of War of the Fathers. Click here to download it or press play below. Here is an excerpt from the show:  

Adar was greeted by thunder from the overcast sky when he stepped out of the arch into Zecarani. He turned around and saw that he had just stepped out of a large rock. Rather than move the rock, which was more than ten feet tall, the surrounding buildings had been built around it. There were scratches where it looked like somebody had tried to take a chisel or hammer to it, and he wondered if it had been protected in some way. There wasn't anything on this side to indicate that there was an arch hidden here.

The buildings on either side of the rock rose up multiple stories and behind it was another building of a similar height. The tall buildings kept Adar from discerning their location, and that bothered him. Time was too short as it was, he couldn't afford to waste time figuring out where they were.

As Tere and Karn followed him out of the arch, Adar wished that he had a better choice than to leave Tarner with the others, but if things came to a head with Tere, he wanted to deal with Tere on his own terms and didn't want Tarner interfering. His suggestion to bring Tarner and Karn had been calculated. As Adar had hoped, Tere demanded he replace Tarner, instead of insisting they both go. That’s why Adar also wanted Karn. Tere wasn’t likely to attack Karn, and Karn had already promised Adar not to interfere if it came to blows again.

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This week’s episode features Chapter Twenty Six of War of the Fathers. Click here to download it or press play below. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

Adar smiled as he faced the others. It wasn't his normal grim smile; it was toothy and full of amusement. It was the second time in two days that Jorad had seen his father smile like that. It had to be some kind of record. For several long seconds, nobody knew what to say. Jorad couldn't blame them. It was a good thing that Adar hadn't described how they'd enter the Arches or else he wouldn't have been able to convince anybody to come with him. As it was, Jorad was wondering if maybe Adar had slipped something into their food that was causing hallucinations.

Except for Soret, who was too worn out to care, most everybody else was affected. If Adar had turned the rock into a ship, she would still have been wearing that disconnected look.

Wes was the first to speak. “So, I suppose I'm the crazy one now.” He was squatting on the ground, with his back leaning against a rock. The look on his face was a mixture of awe and disbelief. He'd always held Adar in high regard, but Jorad could tell Adar had just gone up several more notches.

“What else have you been keeping from us?” Tere folded his arms, his eyes boring into Adar. His left eye was twitching, and his lips were pulled across his teeth.

“Are we going to stand out here all day?” Xarda walked towards the entrance. “There are Hunwei about.”

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This week’s episode features Chapter Twenty Five of War of the Fathers. Click here to download it or press play below. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Jorad struggled to keep his fear from overcoming him. It didn’t help that they were traveling at night, across unknown terrain, with only the light of the moons, while the Hunwei swarmed above them like locusts. He'd lost count of the number of ships he'd seen.

The tree branch he was holding to steady himself on the hill shifted, and for a moment he thought it was going to break. It held, but Jorad shifted his weight so that he wasn't as dependent on it for support. If it broke, he didn't want to go rolling down the hill. The tree had been dead long enough for the bark to lose much of its color and the branch felt rough in this hand. There was a small knot below his index finger that was digging into his flesh. He couldn't tell what kind of tree it had been, but it had been a large tree, the dead branches reached high into the sky. An oak? Perhaps a quaking aspen? The tree seemed to be an omen of things to come.

Death. Decay.

The ships had him on edge, and everywhere he looked, he thought he saw a Hunwei about to come for them. So far, they hadn't seen any Hunwei on the ground. That meant their luck was about to run out. With every minute that passed, the odds were getting better that they would run into a Hunwei patrol.

Zecarani didn't have much time left. The Hunwei had either already begun their invasion or would shortly. He regretted that they hadn't been able to take the Hunwei head to the governor as they'd planned. If only Tere had minded his own business. The man had been in Zecarani for less than three hours and had managed to foil their attempt to get the tablet.

After examining the ground ahead, Jorad released his hold of the tree and continued up the hill. There was a dead tree branch in his way ten feet ahead that looked like it had fallen from the tree he'd been using to steady himself. He shifted to go around the branch without disturbing it, doing his best to avoid leaving an obvious trail.

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This week’s episode features Chapter Twenty Four of War of the Fathers. Click here to download it or press play below. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Jorad held his blaster ready but the reassurance wasn’t enough, he doubted it ever would be, especially with Soret in danger. Instead of trying to push away the fear, he let it remain and ignored it. Soret was beside him, and he could almost hear her shivering. He breathed and focused on what was important, protecting Soret and finding the others again. He hoped that it didn’t come down to using his blaster, the weapon was loud enough that anything within a mile would hear, the situation would have to become desperate before he took that risk.

They had left their camp earlier that morning after escaping from Zecarani. Jorad was still a little bit shaken by the experience. He had come within a hairsbreadth of dying when an arrow had whistled by while they ran, just missing his neck. The incident had been bothering him all day. Not only had Tere managed to ruin their chance to get the tablet, but he'd almost gotten Jorad killed in the process.

At one point, while they were still fleeing, Karn had lost his temper with Tere. Surprisingly, it was Adar who talked Karn down. Jorad had been hoping that Karn would just solve the problem for them. For his part, Adar hadn't spoken a word to Tere since the incident. It was obvious that Tere had gotten himself mixed up in something far more involved than what he claimed. It was also obvious that any attempt to get more information from Tere would have to involve physical force.

Instead of focusing on Tere or trying to find another way to get the tablet, Adar had chosen to focus on getting them to the Arches. They'd left the road several hours earlier and had been following a trail that only existed in Adar's mind. After traveling all afternoon, they’d stopped to make camp at a comfortable spot, and at Adar’s insistence, everybody had split into patrols before resting. Jorad had partnered up with Soret. He hoped it would be a good opportunity for some time alone with her but not long into their patrol, they had spotted a ship and hidden.

Dusk was setting in, and he was feeling exposed. The surrounding countryside wasn't as thick as most of the forests they'd been traveling through recently. They were standing at the base of a thick oak tree, using the canopy of leaves overhead as cover to keep the Hunwei ships from finding them. They'd already hid from two. If anything were on the ground, though, the tree wouldn't help them much because the branches were too high to provide them with cover. Jorad scanned the area, trying to determine if it was safe to move yet. He wanted to get back to the others before it was dark.

He gritted his teeth and prepared for a long night, they couldn't stop to rest now. Adar would want to push forward to the Arches.

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This week’s episode features Interlude Two of War of the Fathers. Click here to download it or press play below. Here is an excerpt from the show:

When the doors to the Rarbon council chambers opened, Rend Rahid was greeted by the roar of the crowd and was taken aback by the sound. There was a slight breeze of warm air coming out of the large room, something that only happened when the place was packed. Another surprise in a day that already had too many. Surely a gathering this large couldn’t have been called without his knowing about it?

After a few seconds of thought, he remembered that it had been at least three days since he’d last left his office in the Rarbon palace. How could he have ignored his enemies for so long? It was foolish for him to have allowed himself to become distracted.

Three days was more than enough time for Buiz Jerard to cause Rend trouble. Jerard was a good man that saw the world differently. The two of them had been at odds for many years, but when Rend had won the election to become Ghar, Jerard had been pushed over the edge. Rend knew Jerard was angry, but would he risk the mainframe? If Jerard was willing to do that, Rend had underestimated him.

Rend gritted his teeth, Jerard’s lofty ideals or not, their people and the mainframe had to be protected. Whatever the cost. If Jerard had caught onto the plan to attack the Hunwei, he would use that as justification to make a deal with Araz. Rend took a deep breath, hoping it would calm his nerves. It didn’t. From his vantage point, every seat of the lower level appeared to be full. He imagined that the balcony would be the same. The air had a level of energy to it that under other circumstances, he might have found electrifying. Instead, it filled him with dread. Things were worse than he’d originally thought.

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This week’s episode features Chapter Twenty Three of War of the Fathers. Click here to download it or press play below. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

“How much longer until Zecarani?” Barc asked. The death of Hira weighed on him like a large stone, his every footstep dragged. Hira might still be alive if he'd done things differently. The last moments before the bomb that had destroyed his home played through his mind repeatedly, and it was only in the state of utter exhaustion that he had been able to find sleep. Even then, it was always tortured. Most days he wished that Neare and the others hadn't pulled him from the rubble of his home.

He hadn’t felt this way since the passing of his parents, but those wounds had healed and these never would. Hira had been with him for more than thirty years. The only thing now that kept him going was his need to find Soret and protect her.

“Not far now,” Erro said as he passed with Thon and Gorew, riding ahead to meet up with Neare. “Maybe an hour.”

Barc nodded.

The pain was such that Barc couldn’t see a time when it would ever leave, and he wasn’t sure he wanted it to lessen. Why Hira? He’d never been given much to wine, but now every night at the end of a long march, he found himself wishing for a drink. Of course, that wasn’t going to happen. Barc hadn’t thought to bring alcohol and doubted anybody else had either. It was just as well, he supposed the last thing that he needed was to drown his grief in the bottom of a cup. It was far better to learn to live with the grief, then to try to forget it. He had to keep his wits sharp if he was to have a chance of one day rescuing Soret from the Hunwei.

“We’ll find her,” Erro called back.

“I hope so.”

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This week’s episode features Chapter Twenty Two of War of the Fathers. Click here to download it or press play below. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Tere was standing off to one side of their camp, his arms folded, and staring at Jorad. Adar had confronted Tere about the cut that he was hiding and it had come out that he and Tarner been involved in a scuffle with some thieves. Tere had probably hoped to leave it at that, but Adar had continued to question him. After almost an hour without learning anything new, Adar had given up. It had almost come to blows between the two until Xarda and Karn had gotten in between them.

When it had come time to make a plan to get the tablet, Tere had insisted on coming, either going with them or following after. Adar had refused and told him that he'd caused enough trouble. The plan was for Adar, Karn, and Jorad to go to the town hall this morning while the others rested.

Soret was still sleeping by the time they left. Leron and Xarda were sparring while Wes watched, and Tarner wasn’t around. Jorad strapped on his sword, picked up his blaster, and nodded to Adar, who led them out of camp.

As they left, Tere joined them.

“You're not coming,” Adar growled.

“If you get into trouble, you'll want my sword.”

“We'll get into trouble if you're with us.”

“Kill me or get going.”

Adar reached for his sword but didn't draw it. Tere folded his arms. Neither spoke for several long moments.

“I'm leaving you behind if the thieves find you.”

The guards at the gate didn't say anything as they entered and Jorad sighed in relief. Tere had made eye contact with the guards as they passed by and they'd ignored him. Signs of the previous evening’s festivities were all around them as they headed toward the town hall. Lost clothing and bits of uneaten food littered the streets. Several unconscious people lay to the side of the road but mostly the streets were vacant and quiet. The further they got into the city, the more people they saw moving, but it was nothing like the throng from the previous evening.

The town hall was a four-story building located in the city center, a few blocks away from the town square. It had a spire that went up for several more stories from the top of the roof. It took up an entire block and faced the governor’s palace. A street that was double the width of normal lay in between. There was a large clearing in front of the town hall where there was a pillar that was several stories high. Jorad had seen it before on other visits to Zecarani but hadn’t thought much of it. Now, after seeing Vigorock, he realized that it had been made by the same people. It was shiny, metallic, and several stories tall.

Jorad nudged Adar.

“I know,” Adar said without looking.

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This week’s episode features Chapter Twenty One of War of the Fathers.  Click here to download it or press play below. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

Nelion smiled as she plucked a black rose from the tree, twisted off most of the stem, and placed the flower behind her left ear, it stood in stark contrast to her blonde hair and white dress. She was, as always, barefoot. Blades of grass poked up through her toes. That caused Adar to look down at his own booted feet. Should he take his shoes off? It seemed wrong that he wasn’t barefoot as well. Adar stooped and felt his sword shift on his back.

“You’ve been gone a long time,” she said. “I’d begun to wonder if you’d forgotten your way back.”

Sword? Why did he have a sword? He looked up at Nelion, afraid that she might be offended by his coarseness. He hadn’t been prepared to find her again. If he’d known, he would have dressed differently and left the sword behind. Their eyes met, and he knew it was okay. She reached out to him, causing him to stand, leaving a boot unlaced. Oh, how he longed for her touch, he reached towards her hand, but she took it away before they connected.

“Leave the boots and sword on for now.”

Adar ignored the voice in the back of his mind telling him something was wrong. Roses don’t grow on trees. Who’s ever heard of a black flower? But that seemed like such a little thing. What did he care what color the flower was? He’d found her again. It had been so long.

“I don’t need them anymore. I’m never leaving again.” Adar bent down to his boots again. He meant it. Never again. The rest of the world could be taken by the Hunwei, and he wouldn’t care. Aren’t you forgetting something? asked a voice in the back of his mind. He ignored it. “Never again.”

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This week’s episode features Chapter Twenty of War of the Fathers.  Click here to download it or press play below. Here is an excerpt from the show:  

The smell of roasting meat from a nearby farmhouse tickled Jorad's hunger, reminding him that he hadn't had a decent meal in over two weeks. It was too much to hope for a night of rest in an actual bed, but getting a good meal in Zecarani should be a possibility. As much as he wanted a soft bed and a hot bath, it was foolish to take the risk with the Hunwei so close.

Adar and Karn had scouted ahead and reported that Zecarani hadn’t been harmed yet, so they had continued on to the city. They needed supplies, and Adar was still adamant about recovering the tablet, perhaps more so now that Zecarani had days left, if not hours. Jorad didn't hold on to the hope that Adar did of finding out that the tablet was a weapon, but he understood Adar's perspective. When you were already grasping at straws, why not grasp at a few more?

They were traveling on the road again because they were close enough to Zecarani now that it was their only option. The Zecarani city wall was several stories high, but from Jorad's vantage point on the hill, he could make out the town hall and governor’s palace resting in the center. The governor was supposed to be an elected official, but as far Jorad knew, there hadn’t been an election in years. That wasn't an uncommon happening here on this side of the world.

His eyes focused on the town hall where Deren's tablet was supposedly kept. It was a tall building with a large indoor assembly center that had been built before the Severing.

If he remembered correctly, the stonework of the building had been chiseled with intricate scenes of stories long since forgotten. Rarbon's Palace and Council Chambers had been built for the specific function of protecting people. In contrast, the Zecarani town hall and the governor’s palace were meant to display wealth and grandeur. It was nothing short of amazing that these buildings still stood, unscathed more than a thousand years later.

As they descended the hill, he noticed a considerable group of men on horses approaching from the other direction. As they drew closer, he was able to make out the deep red-brown uniform of the Zecarani guard. The leader wore a helmet with three metal spikes at the top. His horse was a large gray stallion that bore a lengthy scar down his neck. Men with lances followed behind.

Jorad and the others were forced to move to the side of the road as the group passed. The leader stared at them as he passed. When he saw Xarda's sword, his eyes narrowed. A Radim sword wasn't common in these parts. That, added to the fact that Rarbon was one of the few cities to recruit women into its armies, told the leader where they were from. He looked like he was thinking of stopping, but he continued on.

Jorad counted five dozen cavalry and couldn't help but wonder where they were going that required so many men. Were there troubles with brigands or had the Hunwei done something to draw their attention? He wished that they had enough blasters to arm them. That, or Ou Qui weapons. If these soldiers were chasing Hunwei, they would only find death.

Jorad moved to stretch and stopped halfway through because of the pain in his lower back. Nobody in their group had much skill with healing. It turned out that Xarda had once apprenticed with a healer but hadn't picked up very much. She'd done what she could for him, but her skills were limited. Although he was grateful for her efforts, he was having trouble sleeping. If he wasn't able to find a healer today to examine his back, it would have to wait until Rarbon. He didn't relish the idea of facing the Rarbon Council with a lower back that burned with pain every time he moved. Or worse, beginning the trials in such a condition.

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This week’s episode features Chapter Eighteen of War of the Fathers.  Click here to download it or press play below. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

Jorad hadn’t seen Adar or the Hunwei for half an hour. He hadn’t been able to keep up, the pain in his back made it tough to run. If it weren’t for the mountain towering in front of him, he wouldn’t have had any idea which direction the road lay. He stopped, planted the tip of his sword into the ground and leaned against a nearby tree as he tried to catch his breath. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and looked up at the sky, trying to guess what time it was. It had cleared up for a little while earlier, but now the clouds had returned, more ominous than before. It had been hours since they’d first come across the Hunwei, and he figured it was late in the afternoon.

Did some of the Hunwei break off to go back for the others? Was Soret even still alive?

Jorad took a deep breath and tried to concentrate on the matters at hand, and was startled by the sound of a blast. Melyah, those things were loud. He gripped his sword and moved in the direction of the blast.

In moments, he faced a small clearing. Jorad crouched. Crossing it was out of the question, but maybe one of the Hunwei would. They didn’t take much care to hide. Why would they? Human weapons bounced off them with no harm. Confound it, they were in trouble.

 He listened, hoping for more sound to indicate which direction he should move. After several minutes of observation failed to reveal anything, he moved to the right and circled around the small meadow. He was almost to the other side when a Hunwei walked into the opening. Jorad froze but it was too late, he’d been seen.

The Hunwei pointed his weapon in Jorad's direction and fired. Jorad dove to the ground, rolled, turned to run and found himself face to face with the Hunwei they’d disarmed earlier. He was glad to see that the Hunwei still hadn’t retrieved the blaster as he burst into a sprint. That hopefully meant that Adar was still alive. The Hunwei grabbed for Jorad, but he twisted away, lost his footing and fell. His sword slid out of reach.

He crawled towards his sword, but there was a flash of pain in his side as the Hunwei kicked him. The air went out of his lungs, and he struggled to breathe. The Hunwei kicked him again, this time hitting the burn on his back. The scream that erupted from his throat caused the Hunwei to gurgle with laughter.

Jorad charged into the cackling Hunwei’s legs, grunting in pain when he made contact and taking them both to the ground. He could smell the creature. It was the same stink from the night they followed the shadows outside of Neberan. It was strange that he'd only now smelled it again, but perhaps that was because his mind had been so wrapped up in other things. He grabbed one of his daggers and stabbed down into the face of the Hunwei, refusing to die without a fight, no matter how futile his efforts.

To his surprise, the dagger plunged into the Hunwei’s eye, causing him to scream. Jorad pulled it out and stabbed the other eye, as the creature convulsed beneath him. Wrenching the dagger with both hands, he twisted and pushed it to the hilt. The Hunwei screamed again and wriggled beneath his legs. He pushed it in as deep as he could, pulled it out and stabbed into the neck repeatedly. Blue blood covered his hands when he stopped. He stood; shocked that he'd been able to kill a Hunwei. 

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