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WolfSinger Publications

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The City Under the Bridge
- Laura J. Underwood

When  Anwyn Baldomyre stumbled upon Stonegorge, he was fascinated to find an  entire city built under a bridge.  But the moment he stepped under its  tall arches seeking shelter for the night, he knew something was amiss.  Stonegorge was being ravaged by the rising river that threatened to wash  its foundations away, as well as a frightening creature the locals call  The Water Lady, a creature who drowns men on dry land.

Soon, the river will tear out the foundations of the bridge if nothing  is done. So Anwyn embarks on solving the mystery of the Water Lady and  seeing what he can do to help the folk who live at the base of the  bridge known as The Depths. But there are those who would just as soon  the Harper Mage not learn the truth, for that would spoil their plans to  run those who dwell in The Depths from their homes and put the wealth  of Stonegorge into their own pockets.

But silver eyes and a golden voice and magic songs may not be enough to  save The City Under the Bridge unless Anwyn can solve the riddles buried  in Stonegorge itself.


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The  sight of the gorge dropping several hundred meters to the rushing river  below took Anwyn Baldomyre’s breath away. He had heard the thunder of  the water well before he crested the rise in the mountain road, but the  magnitude of the sound had not prepared him. What lay before him now was  so visually stunning, he faltered in his steps.

“Lords and Ladies, Glynnanis, will you look at that,” he said.

:Water, the harp sang in Anwyn’s head, and one note chimed like a rude snort. :I prefer not to, thank you.

Anwyn  shook his head and smiled. For a creature that had complained about  being kept hidden in the dungeons of Far Reach for so long, Glynnanis  showed little interest in the natural wonders Anwyn had encountered on  his travels through Lamboria.

He sighed and peered across the gorge. “I can’t see the other side.”

Indeed,  a mist as thick as wood smoke hovered over the rim, moving like a crowd  of ghosts and making it impossible to tell how high or low the other  side might be. By the Four, I must be up in the clouds! Alas that meant he did not dare risk using his Gate Song to cross the  gorge, not without a clear view of the other side. Rhystar of Far Reach  had warned Anwyn the magic song would only safely take the harper some  place he had already been, or some place he could see for himself. And  since Anwyn could not use each of his magic songs more than once a day,  he was not eager to waste this one, much less risk his life.

The road, he noticed, followed this side of the gorge. Perhaps it would lead to a way across as well.

Only one way I’ll ever find out.

:We’re going on? Glynnanis asked.

“I’ve  no desire to go back,” Anwyn said. Behind him lay a village he knew  would no longer welcome one of silver eyes, even if he had used his  limited magic to do them good service. The farther he got from  Nymbaria’s borders, the more superstitions he found. He glanced at the  unicorn head carved from white wood. Glynnanis was eyeing the edge to  their right.

:Then please walk a little closer to the left, the harp said. :You know I have no fondness for heights...or water.

“You have no fondness for anything, I think,” Anwyn said with a chuckle then moved that way.

The  road stayed on the edge of the cliffs and even began to descend into  the gorge. Soon, the cliffs rose like the walls of a great castle,  blocking the late afternoon light and plunging the world into bluish  shadows. Dark always came earlier to these mountains when one was not  atop their snow-clad peaks.

I shall have to find shelter soon,  Anwyn thought. The wind that rushed up from the depths of the gorge  whipped his cloak into ill-mannered wings and lashed his face with  strands of his own hair. It would be impossible to camp in this wind,  for no ordinary fire would last.

:Then you should make a magical one, Glynnanis scolded.

“And waste another spell song?” Anwyn retorted. “I’m trying to live as I should, without magic, Glynnanis.”

:It is foolish to be so frugal with magic, just because you have not made your sacrifice.

Here we go again.  Anwyn rolled his eyes and sighed. The one song that never changed was  the harp’s constant nagging about Anwyn’s refusal to make the sacrifice  that would release his power.

:You have great potential, Glynnanis said. :Why  do you waste your skill? You should use your magic. It will teach you  to handle it better, and teach you to love it. And eventually, to make  the sacrifice that will release your fullest potential as one of the  great magister like Rhystar.

Anwyn  frowned and hoped to swiftly find a cave before the temptation to drop  Glynnanis in the gorge grew any stronger. But then guilt tightened his  gut and banished the thought. Rhystar had made the harp for another who  died. He had gifted the harp on Anwyn when his own was burned by the  fire wraith that once tortured him.

Anwyn  shook those dark memories away, for the road ahead seemed to have no  end. As he walked on, watching the shadows grow longer, he saw the gorge  bent like an elbow. And as he rounded that turn, he froze.

The  gorge widened out ahead, and in that gap, someone had built a massive  stone bridge. But it was no ordinary crossing. Its topmost part was a  single arch with twin towers and what looked like an opulent palace  standing in the middle. He could make out gatehouses and stables and  garrisons at each end. Below the span, he saw structures that must have  been grand houses or temples, and in the sections below those stood tier  upon tier of buildings filling the space from the top to the bottom of  the narrowing gorge. In fact, the lower he looked, the more dense and  solid the arches and layers were filled. While the structures above were  stone and timber, and very lovely, all those below were made of  mortared stone and had colorful slate roofs. Many looked as though they  had been crammed in haphazardly to form a city gone mad. Tinier and  tinier they became until at the very bottom he could see the river  boiling out from underneath it all.

“Lords  and Ladies,” Anwyn exclaimed. To his wonder, a number of people were  going about their daily lives, moving in and out of streets barely wide  enough to admit a single horse, hanging out of windows and off balconies  to shout at one another above the roar of the water. Here and there  were terraced patchworks of green where gardens had been coaxed to life.  Lanterns that resisted the guttering effect of the fierce wind churned  up by the water were being lit along the edges. Laundry flapped in the  updraft, like giant birds about to take flight. A warm glow not unlike  the first dance of fireflies began to fill the gorge.

“What a wonder this is,” Anwyn said. “I hope we can find an inn...”

:You propose to sleep in that damp, dismal place? the harp retorted. :Are you truly so eager to warp me?

“Oh, Glynnanis, where is your sense of adventure? And anyway, it doesn’t look all that dismal.”

:My sense of adventure tells me to stay well away from water, Glynnanis said. :And I sense magic here, ancient magic and ill intentions. We should not linger.

“I  sense nothing,” Anwyn said. “I think you’re just in one of your grumpy  moods. Rhystar will be envious when I tell him of this place.”

:Clearly you and I have different ideas of adventure, the harp said.

Anwyn shook his head and hurried on. Shelter for the night. A sanctuary against wind and water and wolves and bears.

Still, he would make certain Glynnanis was well wrapped.

Just to be safe...

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