The 'Chronicles of War' is a series of seven complete and self-contained novels that narrate the fabled career of Epsilon Three, Holy Warfarer of the Martial Rite. Orphaned as an infant into a pagan cult of war, Epsilon Three (named for the month and the day he became a foundling) learns the strategies and tactics of war as a prodigy learns physics. Triumphant at the Festival of Alcorde, Epsilon's ultimate reward is banishment beyond the Great Barricade of Empire into a mysterious realm of magic and monsters. The third volume of the series, Draven's Revenge narrates Epsilon's journey with his companions across the forgotten highlands of the Earthbones Ranges and through the stinking ruins of Bac Tur. There, they assault the capitol keep of their most powerful adversary, Vandegarte the Wall Builder. Before the assault can succeed, however, Epsilon must survive the hardships of Bac Tur to claim a sleeping army of the undead that legend has named 'Draven's Revenge'.
On waking the next morning, they found the same sort of feast laid out awaiting their pleasure, though the last watchman, Alanetti, swore he had not fallen asleep and that he had heard or seen nothing. This seemed an odd thing to say, since the tables had been cleared and festooned mere sticks distant from the sleeping crew. The superstitious men further whispered of hated ghosts, but the crew's conversation remained abnormally subdued otherwise.
Each man thought of the cool savannahs high overhead, and of the roasting desert down below. Each man thought of home, and of how far remained before they returned there, and of how near at hand lay the salvation of Verdune. Each man thought of the Lucky Lady, of her foreboding presence that represented rescue as much as doom. Each man eyed the quite, cool pools of sloshing water at the solarium's center and longed privately never to leave. Though leave they must.
All save the three pilgrims and their cargo of fertilizer. Epsilon and Vespuzia often exchanged glances over the fare of this, their final meal together, but they did not speak.
Silently, Becker rose with his crew to fill the ship's water vessels and return them to the Lady's empty holds. By noon, it was finished, and Captain Tipper made ready to sail.
He stood at the highest step, the ten thousandth step, and exchanged grips with the Ritesman. Osgarthe stood there also, and shared in the parting.
Vespuzia declared, "Never have I met a man so true. I value your company as I value that of the good Osgarthe, of the faithful Becker. I hope we shall have cause to meet again in happier times."
"I return to you the same fond wishes. And you, Osgarthe. It is a good brother that will not allow his siblings to have truck with dishonor. Keep yourselves both safe and sound, and know you are loved by a man of the Martial Rite." He proffered a sheath of signed vouchers, good to draw from Oreset's brimming vaults, which the captain accepted with a leer and a dip of his floppy hat.
With that, the two sailors turned to follow their crew down the steep stairs. After several paces, the trader paused and turned back, however, to say, "If you are quickly returned from your mongering of war in the east, Epsilon Three, then come to this place, this brooding Verdune. I first sail to Bahia Sud to spend your gold, with the intention of returning soon to Oreset to claim the rest of my reward. By way of voyaging there, I will make a final call in this cursed valley. If you are here waiting, I should be happy to carry you home across the Desert Ocean."
Epsilon nodded gratefully, and smiled. "I will not forget."
"Good. Happy voyages, my friend. May all your winds blow fair and true, and may your skates never fall silent!" Then the trader was truly, finally gone without another glance backward.
The Ritesman stood in the burning sun and reveled in these cooler temperatures of the heights, even as he felt sympathy for his friends, who must so quickly return to hell. As Lucky Lady lifted her heavy catch spurs and her canvass wings rose to catch the breeze, Epsilon waved back at the lone figure waving from the boat's stern rail. It was Block, could be no other. Was that his tiny, young voice calling 'farewell, farewell, farewell'? Or a morose stir of the air that only resembled human speech?
From the shadows of the facade at his back, Pandolyn asked, "You have truly claimed the reprehensible Captain Tipper for your friend, of all the scoundrels in the world?" Her tone sounded mild and only slightly mocking. She heaved a reluctant breath, and amended her opinion of the trader. "Perhaps my initial judgments of him were premature and misplaced. Perhaps I am blinded by my own prejudice."
The Warfarer grunted, and the reflections of a pitching sandboat shined in the gloss of his liquid irises. "I know not what has previously transpired between you two, but you were not wrong to judge Vespuzia a scoundrel. You were instead wrong to deem me a reasonable man. There is no reason in this world," he grumbled, at last turning away. "No logic. And nothing and no one is sacred or holy."
"Not even your beloved Martial Rite?"
"Especially not the Rite." He penetrated the shadows beneath the ornate facade entrance, into the cool, shaded antechamber beyond.
Ten thousand pounds of polished niter lay there unmoving, gathered in ponderous sacks of five stone weight. Too much for even a large man to carry far.
Pandolyn approached at his back, her mouth a gaping maw of bristling teeth. "You are wondering how we shall bear our load to our destination. It must seem an impossible task to move so much so far and across mountain ranges so high. And it is. And so we shall not carry it one foot."
"Is it useful to us here?"
"No. We must have it where we will go, but shhh, do not say it. Not so near to the great danger." Meaning, do not mention the word 'Ilmacht'.