Realm Wardens, Book 3
When being a warrior and a healer can save the world.
Stuck between two worlds Tor struggles to remain true to herself. Born an orc and expected to become a warrior was the way of her people. But after losing both her tusks, her father shunned her from their tribe as a disgrace.
At a young age, Tor was sent to the Rejuvenation Monastery to become a healer and denounce her warrior ways.
Now faced with the aftereffects of the Blood Ceremony Tor is faced with the decision to choose the life she was born into or the one she was raised in.
Tor is the third installment in the high epic fantasy. It's filled with excitement, adventure, and humour. This conclusion to the three book arc will surprise and delight you.
OTHER BOOKS IN THE REALM WARDENS SERIES
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Hues of reds glowed over the hill on which Tor sat, the orc village of Kalfskeen decimated from the attack moments ago. It was not even a kilometre away, yet it felt like millions as her home burned. Tor gripped her father’s limp body tight as her childhood home became cinders, the heat singeing her skin. Her arm throbbed, bleeding from the gash one of the bandits had administered while she’d tried in vain to defend the youngest of her brothers. But it wasn’t the orc’s way to wallow, and she knew she needed to get up and go after those who’d killed her family and burned her village.
In other races of the region, hatred for the orcs ran deep—going back centuries. Even though the orcs rarely, if ever, crossed the swampland dividing theirs from that of men, man continued to cross into their land. The time for another war was coming. Even though Tor was a woman of healing now, her orc side wanted revenge.
Tor wasn’t even supposed to be home, she’d only returned for her brother’s joining ceremony. When Tor had received word her brother had been chosen as a mate her heart had filled with joy for him. It was supposed to be a happy time, the meeting of the two families from different villages and their coming together as one. It was a great honour to be chosen, and proved his prowess as a hunter and a warrior had spread far and wide. She had been gone for nearly ten years, learning how to be a healer at the Rejuvenation Monastery. So, her elation on just being invited—included—had her floating on air.
Tor held her father until there were only embers left of their home, the sun peeking over the horizon. Gently laying her father on his back she got to her feet, legs stiff and back sore. She took in a deep breath before moving toward the home, searching for the remainder of her family. Her two eldest brothers were laid out feet from each other, weapons in their hands.
Their eyes, now turning a milky white, stared toward a sky of radiant reds and pinks. Kertugrat, the eldest, was missing an arm, and a large gash opened his chest. Grammook, the second eldest, the one who was to be joined, had a blade protruding from his heart, and from the dark stains she knew he had a belly wound as well. Tor searched for another hour but couldn’t find Thrasoot, the youngest of the four. The last she time she’d seen him he’d been running toward the house before it was set ablaze.
He had not been formally weapon-trained, but he was twelve and at the age to start learning. She’d thought he was perhaps running for his weapons, but now she feared he’d never got out.
Tor spent the rest of the day building three pyres for two of her brothers and her father, and a vigil for the brother who had presumably burned. She prepared their bodies: washing them, stitching their injuries, dressing them in their war colours, and then placing them on their pyres with the weapons they would use to fight in the afterlife.
Tor wasn’t the only family member readying for the death ceremony; not one of the homes was left standing. There were at least two thousand in Kalfskeen Village, but it looked as though many were now ash like her own.
The men who’d come through numbered at least ten thousand, a small army. Tor didn’t know if they’d come from the north or the south, and she hadn’t recognized their colours. They wore cloaks, covering their faces, and held weapons she had not seen before. She’d felt the static emanate from those on horseback, a sign they were using magic. What kind she didn’t know, but it had left a metallic taste in her mouth. This was not normal for the magic in their realm, or any other she knew of. But it had been powerful enough to create a drop in the air pressure.
The ceremony lasted until the next sunrise. Tor was exhausted, but she had to remain on guard all night to ensure the fires did not go out until her father and brothers were nothing but ash. There was to be nothing left of their bodies in order for their souls to fully release.
As the embers died down she prayed to Goddess Thanroota, asking she take her family so they could once again dance and fight in the afterlife and be reunited with her mother, Abellah.
She turned her attention to the area around her home. Bodies of the enemy were strewn about; her family had put up a valiant fight. Before she’d arrived, her brothers and father had killed at least twenty of the enemy. It had been the last one standing who cut her arm before her father, Torerook, ran him through. Torerook had suffered his fatal blow just before, and the final look in his eyes, as he gazed at his daughter before he took his dying breath, would stay with her forever. He’d been disappointed in her as a warrior when she was young, and it was why she’d been sent to the monastery—at least part of the reason. And he had clearly been disappointed in her now as an adult, having not defended herself.
She had spent ten years at the Rejuvenation Monastery, becoming a cleric and learning the religion of healing, and was no longer considered a warrior amongst her people. Being sent to the monastery was more of an exile, since the clerics taught against everything with which she’d been raised.
Tor sighed as she bent down to pull the hood off one of the dead. He belonged to a race she had never seen before, with a deep set eyes and a square jawline. There were ridges above his eyes, his hair blacker than she had ever seen. The sight gave her a small chill. They were not men of Totriga, but the tattoo covering half his face intrigued her. Kneeling down next to the body, she grabbed his chin and turned his face to see the entire marking. Did it indicate a rank of some kind? Perhaps his tribal markings? The long, thick black lines ran from his ear to under his eye, and from his forehead to his strong jaw. Wiping her hands on her pants, she stood.
She checked a few more of the dead, hoping to find some sort of clue as to who these people were, and found both male and females amongst the dead. All with the same facial tattoo. She couldn’t leave the bodies where they were; she needed to pile them up and burn them. She grabbed the wrist of one of the females and the dead’s sleeve slide down, revealing more tattoos. Tor stopped to study them and saw hers was a simple straight line up the arm, with lettering she had never seen before. She had studied many languages, but this was not one of them. Perhaps a language from the four dead races? Was it possible they were not dead after all?
What realm did they come from? She could recognize all twelve races; were they from a distant land on Totriga? Tor furrowed her brow as she again took note of the lettering. When she returned to the monastery she would look it up in their extensive library.
Committing it to memory, Tor continued to drag the woman away from the village. She rolled the female onto her stomach, then returned for the rest. She piled them on top of each other, each face down. They would enter the afterlife with their backs turned so everyone would know they were cowards.
It took her to just past midday to complete her task. She was washing up when she spotted a young woman standing at the top of the hill overlooking the village. Tor climbed up to stand next to her, and the two shared a quick glance. Ormhilya was a cousin of hers. They were close in age, but Ormhilya had joined two years prior and had since bore a child. Her face was covered in blood and soot, but both her tusks gleamed white as ever.
Tor unconsciously touched her own face, highlighting the absence of her tusks. She had lost one in a grappling match with her eldest brother when she was twelve. In defiance of her father’s comments that she was no longer a proper warrior, she ripped the other out on her own to prove her worth. She’d thought this would make her more fierce, because what orc would be brave enough to do that to themselves? Only the strongest would dare such a feat. But she’d been wrong and won no favours from her father. An orc with no tusks had no honour, power, or strength. It was why he’d sent her away to the monastery. In his eyes, she was no longer an orc.
Ormhilya turned to watch Tor. “What will you do now, cousin?” Her voice was thick with the emotions she was keeping in check.
Tor shook her head. “I can’t stay here. Father barely tolerated me, and those left certainly won’t want me.”
Ormhilya nodded. “Perhaps you shouldn’t have returned at all.” She glanced over her shoulder to where Tor’s family now lay. “At least you sent them to the afterlife as they deserved. Perhaps Goddess Thanroota won’t pay mind to your lack of tusks. As long as you chanted the words fiercely.” She didn’t wait for a response, but headed back into the village. A small child was handed to her by an elderly orc.
The woman—her mother’s sister—looked up at Tor. She touched her tribe tattoo on her upper arm, and Tor mirrored the old lady. Her tattoo was covered by a bandage, but the familial gesture was still the same. The woman did nothing more to acknowledge Tor, and walked away.
Tor heaved a heavy sigh, grabbed what was left of her things, and headed east to the monastery. Although the clerics welcomed her, she knew she didn’t really belong there either. An orc among humans was thought to be unnatural by many.