On the Arlid Bridge

The Five:

Freelorn


Errant prince. Outlaw. Reluctant demigod-in-training. The last, best hope to save the Middle Kingdoms from their final downfall... and a very bad bet.

As the only known child of Arlen's last king, the path of Freelorn stareiln Ferrant stai-Héalhrästi to the Throne of his forebears should have been straightforward. But what was seen as Lorn's early tendency toward bookishness, along with a stubborn refusal to fall in with the expectations of the political power-brokers surrounding the Throne, complicated matters.

So did Freelorn's slow-growing relationship with the young lord-in-waiting of the Darthene Brightwood. The political movers and shakers among the Four Hundred chief nobles of Arlen were troubled by the prospect of a King who might be overly influenced by a vassal of the crown of Darthen. Freelorn—initially not taking at all seriously the country-boy "prince" he'd met on a royal visit to the Wood, and later on surprised to find himself taking Herewiss very seriously indeed—ignored the politicians' qualms and concentrated on enjoying the company of the thoughtful young man he was slowly coming to love.

But ignoring the Four Hundred was a tactical error. So was rebelliously spending so much time in the Brightwood with Herewiss, when Lorn should have been in Arlen consolidating local support that he would someday seriously need. So when Freelorn’s father King Ferrant suddenly dies just as he’s left on one more of many journeys to visit his loved, Lorn is disowned by the Four Hundred in favor of a more politically-manageable "sharing-son" of his father's, whom they install on the Arlene Throne in his place.

Stunned by grief and the shock of his father's death, Freelorn flees across the Kingdoms with a small group of friends as he’s declared outlawed in Arlen by his usurping half-brother Cillmod. But eventually Lorn realizes that running away was yet another error. Had he stayed and dared the Nightwalk through Lionhall—the perilous initiation ceremony in which the demigodly White Lion confirms the kingship of his heirs—Freelorn might have forced the Four Hundred to relinquish the Throne to him without bloodshed. Now, though, any such attempt would see him killed before he got within ten leagues of Arlen's capitol city Prydon. His only remaining chance at kingship is to return at the head of an army... if he can find one that will support him.

Seven years of being hunted across the Kingdoms by the usurper's paid minions leaves Freelorn little time to find allies—let alone any willing to destabilize the Four Realms by venturing an army on his behalf. But as time passes, Lorn comes to understand that both Arlen and Darthen are suffering for his choices. Without an initiated king of the Lion's line on the Throne, the royal magics that keep both lands whole are crumbling. Freelorn realizes at last that army or no army, he must return to Arlen and attempt the Nightwalk, or die trying. He turns his face homeward.

And hard on the heels of this decision comes the pair of miracles after which he finds himself the beloved not only of the first man in millennia to focus the blue Fire, but of the woman whose fierce loyalty to him has led her down paths that made her the Emissary of all humankind to the powerful and mysterious race of Dragons. Now for the first time, with their help, Lorn has a chance to achieve what he must. And now, for the first time, that's not what matters most to him.

His return to Prydon will be ferociously opposed. The Goddess's ancient enemy, the Shadow, sees the destruction of Lorn's incipient kingship as a way to bring about Its long desire—the end of the world of men. Already It is bringing every force at Its command to bear against Freelorn and his allies: the monstrous Fyrd, the inimical Reaver folk from overmountain... and creatures far worse. Now only Lorn's determination to take back what's his, and the Power of the people who love him, can save the Four Realms from destruction. But will it be enough?

The events of the Great War for the survival of the Kingdoms are told from Freelorn's point of view in The Door Into Sunset.

There's never enough time to get the reading done  The road to Bluepeak   From TALES OF THE FIVE #3: THE LIBRARIAN: "The Discussion, Part 2"   Freelorn and Healhra   Freelorn in the wheat   In Lionhall  Paying the price