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Authors: Terry Mancour

Hawkmaiden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawkmaiden

Spellmonger
Cadet Novel #1

By Terry Mancour

 

 

First Kindle Edition

Copyright © 2015 by Terry Mancour

 

 

 

Dedicated To Morrigan Laine Mancour

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author’s Forward

I started writing the fantasy series known as the Spellmonger series even before my kids were born.  Writing good, compelling, and adult fantasy was my goal.  As the Spellmonger novels have progressed, so has my life; I now have three children who, alas, would likely love to read my stuff, but there are too many naughty bits.

The Cadet novels, the first of which you now read, are my answer to this.  It’s hard finding “Young Adult” fantasy that doesn’t treat either the issues of youth or the imagined realities of a fantasy world without feeling trite, patronizing, and fluffy.

Hawkmaiden isn’t fluffy.  But it isn’t brutal, either.  It isn’t an adult novel, but it doesn’t talk down to its reader, either.  Only time and the market will determine whether or not it’s popular, but my goal was a fun, challenging read that requires kids to look up words they don’t know, because that’s how children educate themselves. 

Please enjoy the book.  You may always write the author at
[email protected]
, and I particularly encourage you to do so if you’re a kid who liked this book – or if you didn’t.  Tell me why, either way.  I love hearing from my readers, and your feedback is important to how I write things in the future.

Because that’s how writers educate themselves.

 

Terry Mancour,

January 22, 2015

 

The Falcon’s Call!

From the moment Dara of Westwood spied the Silver Headed Raptor nesting in Rundeval Peak, the precocious redheaded twelve year old girl was enchanted.  The youngest daughter of the Master of the Wood lived in ramshackle Westwood Hall, in the independently-minded Westwood estate of Sevendor.  Her determination to capture a baby falcon and train it wasn’t hampered by the fact that Dara had never climbed a mountain, had never been trained in falconry, or even remotely had permission rom her father to do it.  Dara wanted the falcon . . . and the only thing in her way was the mountain, an angry mother falcon, and her own fears.

But the daring climb up Rundeval and actually capturing the fledgling falcon is just the beginning of her troubles.  Actually learning falconry and training the willful bird is a responsibility she had barely considered.  Worse, there is trouble afoot in the domain: a new lord has come to rule over Sevendor and all of her people, replacing the corrupt old Sir Erantal.  While everyone welcomes the change, the new lord is a wizard: a magelord, the first of his kind in four hundred years: Lord Minalan the Spellmonger.  And he’s not alone.  He’s brought thousands of oddly-dressed Wilderlanders with him, families escaping the wars in the west. . . . and settling in Sevendor.

Within weeks of holding his first court as lord of Sevendor, the wizard's magic begins to cause problems.  Magelord Minalan turns Sevendor Castle, the entire mountain of Rundeval, and a good portion of the Westwood –including Dara’s home – into enchanted white stone when a spell goes unexpectedly awry one fateful night.  As a result, Dara learns that she, too, may become a mage someday.  Soon after she discovers that she can see through her falcon’s eyes and share her thoughts, the talents of a beastmaster, opening up a brilliant new world for her.

The folk of the valley have enough to eat for the first time in a generation, there are wizards all over Sevendor, and the castle glows with a magic light at night. The fortunes of the Westwood estate rise.  But the Magelord finds foes as well as friends in Sevendor. 

Though prosperity flows from the Magelord’s benevolent rule, the changes are frightening to some who have lost power since the Magelord came.  Outside the Westwood, the other natives of the domain are upset by their magical lord and his strange new people, and there are whispers of rebellion.  And outside of the domain, the neighboring lords, urged on by sinister forces, conspire to plunge Sevendor into war – with Dara and her family along with it!

What can one girl and her falcon do?  When the Magelord leaves on business and his enemies close in on her home, Dara discovers she may hold the answer to saving them all!  The fate of the entire domain rests with Dara of Westwood, the girl they’ll call the Hawkmaiden!

 

 

 

Hawkmaiden

 

Table Of Contents:

 

Chapter One                            The Eyrie On The Ridge

Chapter Two                            The Cottage In The Nutwood

Chapter Three                                                        Stealing Rope

Chapter Four                                                                      Rundeval

Chapter Five                                                                      Frightful

Chapter Six                                                                                    Training

Chapter Seven                                                        Sevendor Castle

Chapter Eight                                                                      The Blizzard

Chapter Nine                                                        Wizards Of Sevendor

Chapter Ten                                                                                    Market Day

Chapter Eleven                                                                     
To Arms!

Chapter Twelve                                                                                    Under Siege

Chapter Thirteen                                                                      Sevendor At War

Chapter Fourteen                                                                      The Magical Corps

Chapter Fifteen                                                                      The Lifting Of The Siege

Chapter Sixteen                                                        The Spellmonger’s Trial

Chapter Seventeen                                                                      The Witchstone

 

 

 

Chapter One

The Eyrie On The Ridge

 

“It’s
beautiful!
” Lenodara said, barely able to speak above a whisper as she watched the magnificent hawk soar across the sky.  It was massive, she could tell, even without anything around it for scale. And the way it soared through the air was majestic . . .

“It’s deadly,” her oldest brother informed her in a low voice.  Kyre was five and a half years older than Dara (as everyone but her Aunt Anira called her), but unlike her other siblings (or her father, Anira, her cousins, or just about every other resident of sprawling Westwood Hall) Kyre never acted as if she were still a baby.  He treated his youngest, twelve-year-old sister like an adult.  That was just how Kyre was: mature and thoughtful.  He pulled himself up the giant spruce tree limb by limb, barely disturbing the needles of the spruce as he climbed, until he had found her perch.  

“It’s a Silver Hooded Raptor,” he continued, authoritatively, after studying the bird with his dark eyes a few moments.  “They’re the king of the birds-of-prey in the Uwarri ridges.  They can see a mouse take a leak six miles away, Uncle Keram says.”   

Their favorite uncle would know . . . in his youth their father’s younger brother had been apprenticed as a falconer at Sevendor Castle, briefly.  “Lords pay real gold for them – they’re supposed to be the best hunters in the world.”

“They can be trained?” Dara asked, not taking her eyes from the bird as it soared majestically above. “To hunt?”

“If you have the nerve,” Kyre chuckled, indulgently.  “And the time.  It requires a lot of patience and conditioning to train a bird to hunt. Keram has done it, though not with a raptor,” he added.  “From what I hear, they’re too hard to manage, much less capture.”

“It’s a beautiful hawk!” she sighed, watching its graceful wings against the perfect, cloudless blue sky.

“It’s not a hawk, it’s a falcon,” corrected Kyre, shifting his weight on the branch to get a better view.  “Hawks kill with their claws, usually, and are larger than falcons, who use their beaks mostly.  
Usually
,” he emphasized.  “The Silver Hooded Raptor is one of the largest falcons.  Larger than many hawks.  They nest on the highest peaks, in the most inaccessible spots in these mountains.  That one must be new – I don’t remember that eyrie on Rundeval’s peak from last year,” he added thoughtfully.

If a Westwoodman didn’t remember a beast or bird in his wood, he wasn’t worth the name, Dara knew.  The Westwood was the largest of Sevendor’s seven Yeomanries – manors and estates organized for production – and its economy depended upon the forest that gave the manor its name.  And while Kyre wasn’t the most experienced woodsman in the manor, he was more woodwise than many men twice his age.  

Of course he looked half-wooden himself.  His dark hair and eyes and his dusky complexion told him out as a Westwoodman as much as his thick leather vest over his woolen tunic.  The Westwoodmen stood apart from any other people in Sevendor Vale.  None of the Sevendori from the other yeomanries were nearly so dark as the men of the Westwood, though they toiled in the fields under the sun.

She, in contrast, had pale skin, red hair, and freckles that seemed to multiply every time she found herself in front of a looking glass.  It was a rarer combination in their little land, but considered lucky – the birth of the “fire-haired” was seen as a blessing from Briga.  

Her late mother Gessi had been similarly “Flame-kissed”, and had borne six children before she died bearing Dara, twelve years before –
“flame spreads quickly!
” was a Westwood proverb associated with the many children red-haired folk were reputed to have, and Gessi bore out the saying.  Fertility wasn’t the only talent associated with red hair, however.  Many of her flame-haired ancestors were rumored to have possessed second sight or other gifts from the gods.  Westwood Hall had more than a few figures of legend the Flame had touched.

But to Dara’s knowledge she hadn’t shown any signs of greatness in her twelve years of life.  In fact, to most of the folk of Westwood Hall, Dara was a pure nuisance.  She was known among her kin for being impetuous and unrealistic, a dreamer.  She had no idea how such an unfair opinion of her had developed.

“How can I
get
one?” Dara asked, her eyes following the bird carefully.

“You
can’t
,” her brother said with a chuckle.  “When I say they nest in the highest peaks, I wasn’t kidding.  Look, that one is nesting . . . at the crest of Rundeval!” he said, as the raptor landed on the tallest peak on the next ridge.  “No one’s climbed Rundeval in twenty years.  Not to the peak.  Not even Father or Uncle Keram.  I’d start with something a little more manageable anyway, if you want to learn falconry, Little Bird.  Perhaps a kestrel or a goshawk. Or an owl.”

“I don’t
want
an owl,” Dara insisted.  “I want a Silver Hooded Raptor.  I want
that
Raptor, Kyre, I want it!  I want
that
one!” she said, as the bird wheeled perfectly over the wood, slowing down so quickly she wondered how it stayed in the air.

“You can’t just go capturing a full-grown falcon to train,” her brother said, chuckling at her enthusiasm.  “It doesn’t work that way.  Adult birds are too wild.  You have to get a nestling in the autumn, before they take flight, and train it from before it’s got its full fledgling wings.  
That’s
a full-grown bird.”

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