Daughter of Aithne
The Silver Web - Book #3
by Karin Rita Gastreich
Date of Publication: May 2017
Across the Furma River, Taesara of Roenfyn is drawn out of seclusion and into an ever-more vicious game of intrigue and war. Subject to the schemes of her uncle and the mysterious ambitions of the wizards of Galia, she fights to assert her will while defending her daughter's inheritance.
In the climactic finale to The Silver Web trilogy, threads of love, honor, betrayal, and vengeance culminate in a violent conflict between powerful women, opposed to each other yet destined to shatter a thousand-year cycle of war.
Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Orb Weaver Press
Number of pages: 386
Word Count: 119,000
Cover Artist: Thomas Vandenberg
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"Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes...with a romantic thread." -Publishers Weekly review of Eolyn, Book One of the Silver Web
“Lush, evocative descriptions carry readers through an unforgettable journey.” –Kirkus Reviews review of Sword of Shadows, Book Two of the Silver Web.
Taesara left the kitchen and climbed the narrow stairs that led to the Mother’s study and a handful of chambers set aside for receiving guests from the outside world. The rest of the cloister was stark in its furnishings and modest in decoration, but here the chairs and tables were finely carved. Tapestries graced the walls with images of men and women called by Thunder during the long and difficult history of Taesara’s people.
When she entered the study, the man standing at the window wheeled about and pinned her with a stern gaze. His long face was framed by graying hair, his sage cloak richly embroidered with silver threads.
“My Lord Regent.” Taesara sank to her knees, deeply troubled by this unannounced visit.
A rustle of skirts indicated the Mother’s approach. The old woman laid a frail but steady hand on Taesara’s shoulder. “If it pleases you, Lord Regent, I will take my leave now, so that you may speak with your niece.”
Taesara looked up at the Mother with a mixture of hurt and trepidation. “Dear Mother, I have no family in this world, not since I—”
“Hush, my daughter.” The Mother took Taesara’s face in her hands and studied her with kind eyes. “I know the vows you took when you entered this place better than you. I do not doubt the devotion with which you have served the Gods as part of our community these many years. Your family has indeed been dead to you, but now Thunder wishes to call you back to the world of the living. Listen to your uncle, for he seeks to resurrect your heart from its grave. The news he bears will bring you much joy.”
“But I don’t want—”
“Know that whatever you decide, you have my blessing.” The Mother kissed Taesara and left, closing the door quietly behind her.
Taesara lowered her gaze to the floor, burdened by a terrible uncertainty she had not felt in years.
Sylus Penamor, Lord Regent of Roenfyn, strode forward and extended a gloved hand to his niece. “Rise, Taesara.”
She obeyed, stiffening as Penamor took her chin in his fingers and subjected her to cold inspection. After a moment, his frown deepened and he shook his head. “Only the Sisters of the Poor could take a woman at the height of her flower and turn her into a dried-up weed.”
Taesara bristled. “There is no place for vanity within these walls.”
“Apparently not. They’ve made you skinny and sallow. Though it is nothing, I’ll wager, that a bit of sun and some proper food cannot remedy. What are these rags they dress you in?”
She stepped away, clenching her jaw. “This is all I need. All anyone needs, to live at peace in this world.”
Penamor snorted. “Indeed.”
“Why are you here?”
“I’ve come to fetch you home.”
“This is my home.”
“This was your temporary refuge. A foul place, but one of your choosing. We were generous enough to let you stay, first your father and then I, as we put the outside world in order. Now it is time for you to return.”
“I am not going back.”
“Oh, but I think you will.” Penamor spoke with an odd tone, at once menacing and full of promise. “War is at hand, and you will be the one to lead it.”
Taesara forced a laugh. “You know I will have no part of it. Eliasara would die at their hands if we so much as—”
“They do not have Eliasara,” he said. “We do.”
Shadows flashed through Taesara’s vision. She stumbled and caught hold of the back of a chair. A chasm opened inside her heart, swallowing the vines and trees with which she had concealed her love and pain during all these years. The bitter flood of anguish returned full force.
“Where is she?” Taesara did not look at her uncle, her mind consumed by the image of King Akmael’s stony countenance, his dark intent, his merciless heart.
“About a day’s ride from here. She has been asking for you.”
“Is she…whole? Have they harmed her in any way?”
“Do you mean have they turned her into a witch? No. Eliasara is a true daughter of Roenfyn. She has remained faithful to her memory of you, and to the convictions of her people. And she is beautiful, Taesara, as lovely as you were at her age, with the same sweet smile and golden hair.”
“She will not recognize me. She had only just begun to walk when we were separated.”
“She will know who you are. That is enough. She wants a mother to love, and one who will love her. She needs you, Taesara.”
Unable to endure the weight of the moment, Taesara sank to the floor. Oh, sweet Thunder, help me.
“What is this unbearable work of the Gods?” she asked. “How has such a thing come to pass?”
“That is an amusing story to tell.” Penamor knelt at her side. The smell of leather and horse stung her senses. “The wizard Tzeremond often said that the magas always betray their own, and so that old hawk’s wisdom has once again proven true. The Witch Queen’s greatest student, a maga warrior by the name of Ghemena, broke into Eliasara’s prison with two of her companions. They slew the Mage King’s guards and brought the Princess to Roenfyn, to me. Now the magas stand with us, ready to fight.”
Fire surged through Taesara’s veins.
“Who else?” she demanded. “Who else stands with Roenfyn?”
“Galia has agreed to support our cause, and new messengers have been dispatched to Antaria. We await their response. We also have allies inside Moisehén: noble families whose loyalty I have cultivated in secret; mages who pretend to serve King Akmael; and others among the Witch Queen’s guard who are anxious to see the line of Mage Kings dissolved. This is our moment, Taesara. Your moment. To exact vengeance on the King of Moisehén and his villainous harlot, to kill their bastards, and to see your daughter and all her descendants claim the Crown of Vortingen.”
Taesara straightened her back, withdrawing from her uncle’s grasp and taking deep breaths as she tried to steady her pulse.
After a long moment, she leveled her gaze at him. “I don’t care about any of that, Uncle. All I want is to see my daughter.”
A smile of triumph touched his lips. “As well I knew you would.
Karin Rita Gastreich
writes stories of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. An ecologist by vocation, Karin has wandered forests and wildlands all her life. Her pastimes include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance. In addition to THE SILVER WEB trilogy, Karin has published short stories in World Jumping, Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.