Indie Book Spotlight: Phantom's Lament (The Shadow's Creed Saga 2), by Noelle Nichols
Updated: Apr 1, 2021
Time is running out for the Shadows.
Exiled from Vaiyene and armed with new information about the Skills, Kilo struggles to restore peace. The flames of war have spread, severing alliances, and dividing the people. With pressure from his friends building, Kilo sets out to confront the False Shadows, vowing at last to find an amicable solution.
Across the lands of Kiriku, Shenrae returns home. But when she does, Vaiyene is not the peaceful refuge she remembers. A rift has spread within the Shadows and not all approve of her actions. Torn between her duty and the ones she loves, Shenrae must face the darker truths of what it means to be a Shadow.
Back in Magoto, Hitori’s patience is nearing its end. Pushed by desperation, the chaos surrounding her begins to spiral, blackening all that she touches. But as the truth behind Hitori’s actions is revealed, the line between right and wrong wavers. Will Kilo and Shenrae be able to stop Hitori from destroying the Kiriku they love? Or will everything be plunged into darkness?
Phantom's Lament is the second book in the Asian-inspired series, The Shadow's Creed Saga. If you like stories about noble characters, vivid world building, and character torn between their code of conduct, you’ll love this epic adventure.
The ground shook under my bruised knees, rumbling in waves as cobblestone pavers groaned at the strain of moving earth. High stone towers crashed, causing plumes of smoke to engulf me, pelting my skin with rocks and debris. Holding my breath, I kept my eyes closed until the chaos passed.
I did not need to see the destruction to feel the emotion.
Children, men, women—their screams pierced through my body.
“Still your mind, and in time the ancient Phantom will speak with you.”
The Guardian who watched over Konro village had told me this almost a season ago. Day in and day out, I came to this place, to the moment of Zenkaiko’s destruction, in hopes I would be able to transcend the memory and speak to the ancient Phantom.
I forced my hands open, letting my stiff fingers uncurl as I willed my mind and body to let the moment pass. There was nothing I could do. Nothing but wait and see if the ancient Phantom would find me worthy enough to speak with me. The Skills had allowed me to be here, and I had to trust it was for a purpose.
And so, I waited.
For whatever clarity the ancient Phantom would bestow on me.
An unsettling silence took hold of the memory. With my palms on my knees, I breathed in and opened my eyes. It was like a bad dream, except the cold reality of death touched the atmosphere as sadness permeated the air.
The ancient Phantom’s emotion choked the scene.
And I struggled to breath.
Dust settled across the ground, raining down on the destruction wrought by the Phantom. The ancient Phantom’s sword scraped against the dislodged cobblestones. In earlier meditations, I had tried to draw his attention by moving into his line of sight or by calling out to him, but today—my mind was calm. My vision blurred at the edges as a shift in the memory touched my spirit. The ancient Phantom turned his head. Remaining still, I allowed the Skills within me to relax, not daring to get my hopes up.
Bear witness to the moment.
The ancient Phantom balanced the weight of his blade on his shoulder. At this distance, it seemed he wore a plain overcoat, but as he came closer, the black of his armor stood out. Broken into sections, the leather armor was affixed to his shoulders and shins, but his chest was unprotected. The sleeves of his robe draped down on either side, bunching up around his waist.
When he stopped before me, I bowed my head to the ground, my hands resting on the dirt, showing him the deepest form of respect his position merited.
“Who are you?” the ancient Phantom asked.
“A servant to the people, as you once were.”
It was a sentiment he would understand.
Lifting my head, I watched as he surveyed the ruins he was responsible for. The feeling in the air—his emotions—seemed to dissipate, as if the frozen memory could at last move forward.
“I see after all this time, nothing has changed.”
“Phantom?” I asked, unsure of his meaning.
With a deep frown etching his face, he slid his sword from his shoulder. The crumbled ruins quaked at his summons. He made a sweeping gesture with both hands, and the ruins and rocks shuddered and cracked. The memory world shifted beneath me. Ruins and rubble were replaced by paneled walls of delicate rice paper, which softened the light from the sun. The Phantom pushed open the divider, the aged planks creaking as he crossed over them to a wooden balcony
Rain plinked against the stone pavers on the roof overhead.
The ancient Phantom sat cross-legged, his back straight as his palms rested on his knees. Motioning in front of him, he indicated I should sit on the cushion opposite him. A tray of tea rested in the middle.
Kneeling, I sat back on my heels.
“I am Takezo, one of the Phantoms of Zenkaiko,” he said, looking at me expectantly. “What is your name?”
I set my palms on my knees. “Kilo. A Shadow and once a Phantom of Vaiyene.”
The ancient Phantom reached forward and poured a cup of tea before handing it to me. Sipping at the bitter contents, I watched him closely. He seemed to have pulled himself out of the memory and was fully conscious of my presence.
Phantom Takezo raised his own cup and paused, gazing into the tea.
“Becoming a Phantom requires taking an oath one cannot dismiss, even into death you carry it. Being a Phantom is what brought you here and what your actions reflect. Do not let go of that which is a part of yourself so lightly.”
I bowed slightly to him, acknowledging his words.
About The Author
Noelle Nichols is a manga artist and epic fantasy author, with a love of samurai and strong morals. Her favorite things to write about are Asian-inspired cultures, noble characters, and characters who question the world around them.