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Nightmare in Quentaris - Michael Pryor

In Nightmare, I wanted to explore the dark side of Quentaris. The city has suffered giant monsters, dragons, headless skeletons and other bizarre threats, but I wanted to look at something more insidious, something that was unsettling on a more individual level.

At the same time, I wanted to continue to look at Nisha’s sometimes troubled personal life, especially her feelings about her past and how she fits into the ‘family’ of the Old Tree.

On top of this, I wanted to explore the Old Tree Guesthouse more fully. The inns and taverns in this sort of society were hives of industry, full of people and life, with so much going on at all times – it seemed like it deserved a closer look.
Arna Greentower and her Old Tree Guesthouse are experiencing difficult times. Employees mysteriously disappear, deliveries go astray and business is faltering. Arna’s foster-daughter Nisha, a fire magician, and her friend Tal are determined to uncover the secrets behind a forbidden room in the guesthouse and the memory-eating powers of its menacing occupant. But he is only one of Arna ’s enemies. Former business rival and fugitive Gorv Vildish is back in Quentaris and looking for revenge.

Michael Pryor is the popular author of many award-winning novels and short stories, including Quentaris in Flames, Beneath Quentaris and Stones of Quentaris. Michael currently lives in Melbourne with his wife Wendy and two daughters, Celeste and Ruby.
That night, the drums began first.

It was a heavy rhythm, the heartbeat of a great beast. It rolled over the crowd and echoed around the courtyard of the Old Tree Guesthouse, but the drummers could not be seen.

The people edged together, huddling, looking for the source of the sound, eyes shining red, catching the light from a single lantern hanging over the entrance to the courtyard.

The beat pounded on. The men, women and children gathered in the courtyard licked lips, clenched fists, prepared themselves as best they could. Fear was among them.

As one, they cried out when the lantern erupted, becoming a sheet of flame, a curtain of flame, a wall of flame that consumed the buildings on the eastern side of the courtyard. Dazzled, they threw up hands to ward off the heat that clawed at them. They backed away from the flames, seeking escape, and smoke rose up through the leaves of the old tree that looked down on them all.

Through it all, the drums grew louder and louder, until those cowering in the courtyard put their hands over their ears.

Suddenly, a figure stepped through the flames and stood on a low platform in front of the crowd. The drum that hung from his neck was nearly as tall as he was and his hands were alight.

Sparks flew as he struck the drum. He gazed at the crowd and grinned, fiery-handed. Then he began to drum faster. The beat was wild and swooping. It was the noise of wild things, of unruly times where disorder was just around the corner.

The people in the crowd held their breath and wondered. What were they seeing? A fire elemental? A demon? A fire magician?

‘Hah!’ the drummer shouted and the tempo lifted again. A dozen other drummers stepped through the curtain of flame as if it wasn’t there, their hands alight, hammering at their drums.

The faces of the drummers were shiny with sweat as they stood with their backs to the fire. The tendons and muscles on their arms stood out as they pounded. The sound surged over the crowd, a fierce wave that made the people stare and wonder.

Nisha Fairsight sat on the roof of the stables, facing this spectacle, her back to a brick chimney. She was frowning, concentrating hard, her attention on the leader of the drummers. She wielded her fire magic with utmost care.

‘Come on, Tal,’ she muttered, ‘you didn’t go on this long when we rehearsed.’

bullet The Gimlet Eye
Equen Queen
Battle for Quentaris
The Spell of Undoing
Vampires of Quentaris
The Skyflower
The Prisoner of Quentaris
Pirates of Quentaris
The Forgotten Prince
Stars of Quentaris
Stolen Children of Quentaris
Nightmare in Quentaris
The Murderers’ Apprentice
The Cat Dreamer
Princess of Shadows
Rifts Through Quentaris
The Plague of Quentaris
The Mind Master
Treasure Hunters of Q.
The Ancient Hero
Angel Fever
Stones of Quentaris
Dragonlords of Quentaris
Quentaris in Flames
Swords of Quentaris
The Revognase
The Perfect Princess
Slaves of Quentaris
Beneath Quentaris

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