The novel Eolyn focuses on this struggle, and while a full resolution of the conflict is not achieved by the end of the first book, a sort of uneasy truce is established between Eolyn and the Mage King.
In this scene, taken from Chapter 1 of High Maga, Akmael and Eolyn meet after some three years of having gone their separate ways. Akmael has now consolidated his power as king, and Eolyn has established her own Aekelahr, with students and followers of the tradition of Aithne, in the highlands of Moehn.
There is, needless to say, a lot of water under the bridge here. Old passions, desires, and resentments are bound to flare. But beneath it all, the thread of mutual respect runs strong, and the pain of disappointed love lingers. Without further ado, here is everyone's favorite maga, and the Mage King whose heart she might still command:
High Maga, excerpt from Chapter 1
There was a knock at the door, followed by Sir Drostan’s muffled baritone. Akmael bade the knight to enter, and kept his gaze steady upon Eolyn as Drostan crossed the room and laid a long package wrapped in well-oiled leather on the table. The knight paused and cleared his throat, looking from High Maga to Mage King as if to say something, but then he merely bowed and took his leave.
Akmael removed the leather wrapping, unsheathed the sword therein and set it before Eolyn. The hilt was inlaid with ivory, the blade shone silver-white. Her throat went dry when she recognized it.
“This? Where did you get this?” she asked.
“I have had it since the Battle of Aerunden.”
Eolyn sat down, so great was her shock. “Kel’Barú. My brother’s sword. All this time you have had it?”
“I wanted to keep it,” he confessed. “It is a fine weapon, and you seemed to have little use for tools of war. But the Galian wizards gave this sword a will of its own, and it has done nothing these past years but weep for you.”
She stood and lifted the sword, one hand sustaining the ivory hilt, the flat of the blade resting on her long fingers.
Eolyn, it sang in the quiet hum of metals. Eolyn, Eolyn, Eolyn.
“I want you to learn how to use it,” Akmael said.
At once she set it down. “No.”
“I will not argue this with you.”
“Stop it!” Every fiber of her body ignited with anger. “Stop it, Akmael. Why are you doing this?”
A moment passed before she realized her transgression. She lowered her eyes. “Forgive me, my Lord King. I didn’t intend—”
“Do not apologize. It pleases me, to hear you say my name. I would have you say it more often.”
There was such unexpected kindness to his tone that the rage slipped through her fingers. She managed a hesitant smile. “Thank you. I mean no insult by questioning your gift, but you know my feelings on this matter. We have no use for knights and walls and swords. This is an Aekelahr, not a military outpost.”
“This is a fragile community of magas cultivating seeds of great power. You are not to go unprotected.”
“Moehn is a peaceful province. That is why I chose it. We are well received here. No one wishes us harm.”
“It is not Moehn I worry about.”
“Who, then? There won’t be any armies emerging from the South Woods, and no one can get through the Pass of Aerunden without crossing the kingdom and defeating you first.”
Akmael let go a slow breath. The turmoil that stirred behind his dark eyes disturbed her; as if there were something of importance he could not bring himself to reveal. He picked up Kel’Baru and proffered it to her.
Eolyn shook her head, hands clenched stubbornly at her sides. “We tried this, a long time ago. You know I have no gift for weaponry.”
“You are not the frightened girl you were then. You have strength, balance and speed. And you have a sword that loves you. Borten can teach you how to use it.”
“I’ve seen how your men fight. I could never hope to—”
“No, you could not!” He struck his fist against the table and gestured angrily toward the courtyard where his guards waited. “One of those men—trained from the time they were children—one of them could kill you in a heartbeat. But with this blade in your hand, it might take them two heartbeats. Or three. Or fifteen. And that might be enough for someone to come to your aid before it is too late.”
“I am not without defenses. I have my magic and my staff. I can invoke almost every manner of flame known to our people. I have even cast the curse of Ahmad-kupt, though I hope never to use it again.”
“Your magic will not be enough.”
He glanced away, set his jaw. “I want you to have every tool at your disposal, for whatever may come.”
Come back next week to meet the antagonists of HIGH MAGA:
Rishona, Mechnes, and the Naether Demons