The world in which Kern Heights takes place is one that is much like Earth, and at the time of the book it is at a technological and political place similar to that of the 5th or 6th century C.E. It is a world whose inhabitants believe in magic, though very few can claim to have experienced anything beyond simple conjurer's tricks and protective rites, and fewer can claim to actually practice it. It is dominated by humans, and though they may believe in thinking beings other than themselves, claims to have seen such creatures are rarely made by any but the drunken and disturbed.
Yet the mundane human world of fields and towns, of petty wars and provincial lives, is but a domesticated veneer over something far darker and more dangerous. For beyond the edges of their farms and walls lies a vast and trackless wilderness, wherein still lie the remnants of ancient times, times when, before the Great Wars that remade the land, true horrors walked about unimpeded. And there the last of these wait, ever-patient, for the time of reckoning that is to come...
Regional Map of the Lands of the Arcadrian Empire and its Neighbors
Kern Heights Book I: The Citadel of the Griffins
Deep in the mountains, where the southern edge of the Kingdom of Norwinon fades into pathless wilderness, stands an ancient fortress perched atop a cliff, the twin carven griffins above its entrance keeping silent watch over the valley below. For uncounted ages it languished, abandoned and unremembered, until rebels searching for refuge in their struggle against the Arcadrian Empire stumbled upon it and made it their own, naming it Kern Heights after the leader of their band. Now, a century later, with the war won and peace restored, it has become the training academy of the heirs to Kern's band, the knights of the Order of the Griffin. But hidden from view beneath its reworked surface, beneath paths trammeled by generations of aspiring knights, lie whispers from a time long lost to memory, a time of darkness, the remnants of which still lay hidden in the shadowed corners of the world, waiting.
For the young men and women in the current class of candidates for knighthood, this year seems like any other. They find friendship and sometimes even romance, take classes and make forays into the wilderness, and contend with harassment from older candidates and the demands of their instructors. But this is no ordinary year, and soon events will transpire that will change their lives forever.
Winter falls upon the mountains, and with it a new arrival comes to the Keep, Edmund Riever. Though classes have been in session for some months, he is quickly admitted and assigned to an existing fortet, along with Xavier Basilson, Kedrick Calderson, and Arthran Bryce. Yet he in many ways is kept apart from the other candidates, and it quickly becomes clear that a terrible secret haunts his past.
At nearly the same time, Xavier and Fastred, the Keep's priest, discover a hidden door in the tunnels that run beneath the Keep, tunnels previously thought empty and used for growing mushrooms and interring the dead. Behind the door is an ancient room filled with carvings that hint at the history of those who came before--and the remnants of a machine that looks to have allowed its users to take to the skies.
And then, during the winter festivities, the Keep is broken into and the female candidates' rooms ransacked. A dangerous new threat has come to Kern Heights, and its repercussions will change the candidates' lives forever.
Preview the Book:
Citadel of the Griffins is the first in a series of seven books for adults and older teens based on the adventures of Xavier, Edmund, and their friends. It is followed by The Flight of Broken Wing and The Warrior of the Garnofk, both of which are completed. The remaining four volumes are still in development.
Return of the Ülanre
Far to the north and west of Norwinon, separated from other lands by vast tracts of uncharted ocean, the Denkyali rise from the sea, a forlorn cluster of islands on which the Hùloril people settled, many years ago. The most northwesterly of these isles is Klewstra. Once, it was the site of a small Hùlor village, but now only one inhabitant remains, Foanru, the sole survivor of the terrible plague that killed all the others who did not flee in time.
Foanru's life is one of hardship and solitude, broken only by his monthly trips to the market held on the nearest inhabited island. That is, until the wreckage following a storm reveals a long-hidden artifact that provides strange visions, visions of a distant past beyond his imagination, and of a future that threatens to upend the world he knows.
Return of the Ülanre is available in its entirety through the links below.
Here you will find a collection of miscellaneous material about the world of Kern Heights and related stories. These include a variety of histories, maps, and other documents that detail aspects of the world beyond what is touched upon in the stories themselves.
The location for much of Kern Heights, the independent kingdom of Norwinon, formerly part of the Arcadrian Empire, is surrounded by the Arcadrian provinces of Aean and Gyaria on the south and east. Further east lie the lands of Perrinath and Muirland, also formerly part of the Empire. Though open conflict between the northern kingdoms and the Empire has ceased, tensions still bubble below the surface, and there are those on both sides who would like nothing better than to redress perceived wrongs from the past.
Though now in decline, the Arcadrian Empire still holds sway over most of the Western World. In times past their reach was even wider. But it was not always so. Over a millennium ago, the Empire was but a small city-state on the southern coast of the Middle Sea, hardly different from many others like it. This timeline describes the events that led from those humble beginnings to the Empire that would hold sway over millions.
Many men have sat upon the Imperial throne from the beginning of the Empire until the present. Here all are laid out, including those whose reign was later deemed illegitimate.
An accounting of the conquest of Norwinon by the Arcadrians as written by Robilon, a priest and soldier who fought against the invaders.