Clyde B. Northrup

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Caverns of Fire: Chapter 7, Part 2

Posted by gwermon on May 24, 2019 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

24 May 2019


Welcome back to all our readers! Today, from the forthcoming Caverns of Fire: Book 2 of The Restoration, Newi lead Delgo to Chief Kora, who has information for the Ferghen. . . .


Chapter 7, Part 2


“Yes, my Ferghen,” Newi fawned, “Chief Kora wishes that you come to her, for she has new information that she wants to show you,” he finished, the nasal quality to his voice grating on Delgo’s ears. He wondered, again, why he didn’t replace Newi with someone less abrasive, and he answered himself, again, that it was because no one did the job better than Newi. Delgo drew a calming breath, letting it escape slowly.

“Where is she, chief?” Delgo asked.

“I will take you to her, my Ferghen,” Newi answered, bowing deeply and adding an unnecessary flourish.

“Lead on,” Delgo sighed, gritting his teeth to stop himself from saying anything more.

Newi led him west through the village, and then south along the edge of the cliff, where the waves used to crash against the rocks, but now the sea was far below, and he could see gulls and other seabirds flying in and out of view, their calls screechy over the background of wave rolling over the rocks below. Looking up, Delgo saw Kora standing with his Chief Maghi, Sera, who was short and stocky compared to the height of Kora, the two of them standing at the cliff’s edge, shading their eyes.

As Delgo got closer to where the stood looking down, he saw that Sera had her iron-gray hair tied tightly at the back of her head, hanging like a horse’s tail down her neck.

“Chief Sera,” Delgo greeted her and nodded to Kora, “you have discovered something?” he suggested.

Chief Sera turned her wrinkled face toward Delgo, her blue eyes bright and darting around oddly; she nodded to Delgo, although her eyes never focused on him, and he realized her far-sight orthek was operating.

“Only that the ship is stranger than we thought,” Sera said, her voice crackling with her age. She turned back and looked down, pointing with one hand.

Delgo shaded his eyes and looked where she pointed, but all he could see was craggy black islands with waves crashing into them.

“Does my Ferghen wish to see with far-sight?” Sera asked.

“Ah, no, chief,” Delgo replied, feeling his stomach twist inside. “That orthek makes be feel ill, along with an overwhelming desire to dive.”

“Then I shall do my best to describe what I see, my Ferghen,” Sera said. “The ship below is black, which is why it is so hard to see, and it looks like a barge, rather than a ship. I cannot imagine how it could actually sail across the ocean–the rigging and sails look too small for any significant movement. The people visible are fair skinned and fair haired, some of them so fair they look pallid.”

“It looks more like a floating throne room, my Ferghen,” Kora put in.

“I was getting to that, Chief Kora,” Sera snapped, her voice reflecting her irritation; Delgo saw Kora smile to herself.

“It does look like a floating throne room,” Sera went on, “there is a raised platform at the back, where the helm should be, and a female sits upon it, flanked by two other females, all of them white skinned and fair haired. The sailors on board do not pass these wetham, or come near them, without prostrating themselves on the deck. The two standing have whips and use them freely on the sailors. They are nothing like we have ever seen,” Sera finished, shaking her head.

“They sound like those northerners my daughter met,” Delgo noted.

“That is why I called you, my Ferghen,” Kora admitted, “for when we saw the three and the throne like upper deck, I also thought of those described by Captain Rola.”

Delgo stood silent for a time, with Kora and Sera waiting for him, the latter still watching the strange ship below.

“I think we should keep an eye on them at all times,” Delgo finally said, “to learn what they do here.” He turned and found Newi waiting just behind him. “Set up a detail of maghem and scouts, rotating every hour throughout the day and night, reporting on all that they see.”

Newi bowed again, still obsequious and fawning. “At once, my Ferghen,” he whined, turning at once to leave.

Delgo gritted his teeth again to stop further comments, turning back to Sera and Kora. “Can you make any suppositions about this ship or its people, Chief Sera?” he asked.

“None at this point, my Ferghen,” she answered. “Perhaps with more information . . . ,” her voice trailed off, her enhanced vision on the scene below.

“Notify me if you learn anything new,” Delgo said, turning to go. Kora saluted him again. He made his way slowly back to where Rola held open the archway, with Mistress Kesa still at her side, her hand now on Rola’s shoulder.

For a time, Delgo simply stood and watched as craftsman and farmers stepped from Hovar through the shimmering archway, Chief Malo continuing to shout.

“All craftsman move to the right; all farmers to the left!” Malo shouted, and Delgo noticed his voice was becoming hoarse.

Delgo moved closer to where his daughter and Mistress Kesa stood holding the archway open.

“How many more?” Delgo asked them.

Rola shrugged, her face slick with sweat; Kesa shifted, her face pale, so she could look back through the archway.

“It looks like this first group is nearly through,” Kesa noted, “maybe only a hundred to go.”

“A hundred!” Rola gasped. “I don’t think I can hold this door open much longer,” she added, her voice weak.

 

Next time, Delgo uses his authority to speed the passage of refugees through the archway. Until then, get our ebooks, or print books, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">here and share them with your friends. Good reading!

Caverns of Fire: Chapter 7, Part 1

Posted by gwermon on May 21, 2019 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

21 May 2019

 

Welcome back to all our readers! Today, from the forthcoming Caverns of Fire: Book 2 of The Restoration, we begin a new chapter, moving to the nefali village of Westu, where the Ferghen oversees the movement of refugees to their new home. . . .


Chapter 7, Part 1

“What is it, Chief Kora?” Ferghen Delgo asked as his chief scout jogged up to where he stood, overseeing his legions passing from Hovar to the nefali village of Westu.

The Chief Scout was a tall, lithe seklesa, with black hair chopped off at her earlobes. She flowed across the ground, having the gait of a huntress.

“We have sighted a strange ship moored to the west,” Kora replied.

Delgo turned and looked at her, the surprise he felt visible on his face. “A strange ship?” he repeated. “Pirates?” he asked.

She shook her head. “We don’t think so,” she replied. “Pirate ships are usually sleeker, and faster; this one looks like it lumbers rather than sails.”

Delgo looked at her for several moments before speaking again. “What’s a strange ship doing here?”

“We do not know, my Ferghen,” she replied, “but the scouts sighted it on their first sweep around the village.”

Delgo’s eyebrows rose and disappeared into his dark hair. “And why did no one report this fact?” he asked.

Kora looked down at her feet. “Because none recognized it until today,” she answered. “The ship blends too well into the volcanic rock; it was only the latest eruption that revealed the ship for what it is.”

Delgo looked at her for several long moments. “Just how close is the ship moored to the outlet of the Glufater?” he asked.

Kora looked up and frowned. “Not that close,” she replied, “but it rests near one of the southern islands.”

“Has anyone left the ship?” Delgo asked.

“It is too far away for us to see clearly,” she replied, shaking her head, “but there is no place for them to go. The islands closest to the Glufater are too rough and too hot for any exploration.”

“Exploration?” Delgo spat. “Why would anyone want to explore them?”

“I can see no reason, my Ferghen,” Kora admitted.

“Peculiar, Kora,” Delgo said, scratching at his stubbled face. He was silent for a short time, and Chief Kora waited patiently. “Have you taken any maghem to see this ship?” he asked.

Kora shook her head once.

“Take several and have them look with their far-sight orthek,” he instructed. “Maybe they can make something of this ship, even tell us who these strangers are.”

“At once, my Ferghen,” Kora saluted, placing one hand over her heart; she turned and jogged back the way she had come.

Delgo turned back to watch the progress of the Second Legion and saw that the last company was moving away from the archway, held open by his daughter, Rola. For a time, the Ferghen focused his attention on his daughter. He was glad that the maghi, Mistress Kesa, had paired herself with Rola, for he felt that she needed someone watching her at all times, lest, using this new-found power, she try again to rescue her twin brother, although her mother had forbidden it. Delgo knew his daughter well enough to realize that she was planning another attempt, and so both parents made sure that she was always busy, and too tired by nightfall to try anything.

In front of him, the first group of refugees began filing through, an unwieldy mass of people moving through the archway without any order. Success of their endeavor depended much on these displaced farmers and craftsman, and how quickly each group could reestablish themselves on the nefali island. One of the Chief Scouts, it looked like Malo, stood directing this new group, his voice loud and clearly audible.

“All craftsman move to the right; all farmers to the left!” Malo shouted, and Delgo smiled as the crowd of refugees began pushing in those directions, shoving each other out of the way. He knew that his Chief Minister was off to the left, organizing patrols to lead the farmers to their plots; one regular patrol was sent with a single engineer squad to help them set up temporary living quarters in communal areas, where they could be more easily guarded at night. Many of the refugee farmers had balked at this part of their plan, desiring instead to be allowed to set up on their new farms. They had to talk fast and promise that they would be allowed to separate, once the current crisis had been resolved. Delgo frowned to himself, wishing the kortexem would get here, to begin patrolling, freeing up his legions for other duties, including building a fortress in and around this village. They were too exposed here in this village at the edge of this island, and no one could tell them what those who enslaved the nefalem might do once they learned his forces were here, not even the old masters, Klaybear and Thalamar. He started to follow the group of farmers, to observe their reactions, when a voice calling his name pulled him up short.

“My Ferghen,” the voice called, a whining quality to it that always grated on his nerves, “you must remain here, where all the arrivals can see you. Your presence gives them hope.”

Delgo closed his eyes, wishing for patience, before turning to look at his Chief Messenger.

###

The Chief stood waiting, his back bent and his head bowed, acting as if he did not dare look up at his Ferghen. Delgo ground his teeth, recognizing his fawning behavior for what it was, an act.

“I was going to check on the arrangements, Chief Newi,” Delgo began, “and ensure that none of the farmers tried to slip off on his own.”

“My Ferghen,” Newi replied, “others have been assigned to fulfill this duty.”

“Yes, of course,” Delgo snapped, impatient with Newi and his act. “Is there some other reason why you interrupted me?”


Next time, the chief messenger tells Delgo that his other chiefs have news, and leads him to where they are waiting. Until then, get our ebooks, or print books, https://smashwords.com/profile/view/cnort9474" target="_blank">here and share them with your friends. Good reading!

Caverns of Fire: Chapter 6, Part 6

Posted by gwermon on May 17, 2019 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

17 May 2019


Welcome back to another installment from the forthcoming Caverns of Fire: Book 2 of The Restoration! Today, we conclude this chapter, Telor and Kovaine continuing to follow the megatri. . . .

 

Chapter 6, Part 6

“If Master Thalamar were here,” Kovaine began, “he could probably explain exactly why, with an explanation so long and complex, you will forget what you asked before he finishes,” she went on smiling mischievously. “I would think it has to do with the heat rising from the Glufater, entering all the openings in the cliff face and traveling up through the tunnels, collecting in the tops of the tunnels and warming the rock ceiling. Because this one is so close to the surface, the heat is visible to those who can see it,” she finished, beginning to move to the west.

“How do we know the megatri will continue to follow this tunnel?” Telor asked, still shading his eyes and watching the heat signature of the tunnel pass below them.

Kovaine directed their flight down to land lightly on the black stone. She squatted, touching her fingertips lightly to the stone that Telor could see was lighter than the stone around it. She held motionless for a time, and Telor waited to see what she would do.

“Touch the ground, Telor,” Kovaine instructed after several moments passed, “you should be able to feel the vibrations of the cart grinding its way forward, pushed by the nefali slaves.”

Telor frowned again but knelt beside her and touched the ground. “I think I feel something,” he agreed several moments later, and then he laid down on the ground, placing his ear to the stone. He listened for a long time, trying to understand what he could hear through the stone. His face lit up when he discerned the sound, the vibration, of the iron cart wheels grinding over the stone. “It’s very faint,” he said, standing and brushing himself off.

The sun set, and all light from it was suddenly cut-off. Telor drew a sharp breath, never having witnessed before the light of the sun disappearing so quickly. Now the line of the tunnel beneath their feet was clearly visible; the ever-changing glow from the Glufater dancing to his right. His eyes traveled to the horizon, which was as dark as the stone beneath his feet.

“Why . . . ,” he tried, looking up at Kovaine and pointing to the horizon, “the sun . . . , what just happened?” he finally asked, after several attempts to frame his question. “I’ve never seen the light from the sun disappear so suddenly; usually, it fades slowly to blackness.”

Kovaine looked at Telor for several, silent moments before speaking. “And you didn’t notice this occurrence as we sailed here?” she asked.

Telor shook his head. “No, not like this,” he admitted, and then added with a shrug, “I must not have been above board at sunset.”

“We are closer to the equator, Telor,” she replied, and then added, “the center of our world. When the sun sets, the light goes out, as if one is canceling a magluku. Sunrise is similar, going from darkness to light in an instant.” She frowned. “I’m sure you were on the deck during at least one sunrise, and you never noticed?”

“Not like this,” he replied.

Kovaine shook her head. “And you never noticed as we traveled north across this island, each morning and night?”

Telor shrugged and scratched his neck. “We better get going,” he noted. “We don’t want our quarry to get too far ahead.”

“For a profession that prides itself on noticing details,” Kovaine said, holding out her rod and stepping up onto her flying disc, “you seem to miss a lot!”

“I just never noticed before, okay!” Telor snapped, his old anger resurfacing, making his ears burn. He stepped up behind Kovaine, trying to regain control of his emotions.

Kovaine said nothing more, directing the disc up into the air to fly west, staying high enough that they could easily see and follow the outline of the tunnel below, landing periodically to make sure the megatri and his party continued traveling west.

 

Next time, we begin a new chapter, joining Ferghen Delgo in the village of Westu, new home of all those fleeing the grinding ice. Until then, get our ebooks, or print books, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">here, and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Caverns of Fire: Chapter 6, Part 5

Posted by gwermon on May 14, 2019 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

14 May 2019


Welcome back to another installment from the forthcoming Caverns of Fire: Book 2 of The Restoration! Today, Telor and Kovaine are forced to the surface by a tunnel collapse, continuing to follow the megatri from above. . . .


Chapter 6, Part 5


It’s just an earthquake, Telor, she replied in thought, and this tunnel appears to be unaffected by it.

Why then would the megatri order his slaves to move faster? Telor thought, panic again filling him.

It is likely that they stopped when the earth started to tremble, she returned, and so he was forcing them to move on.

The rumbling increased, and Telor had to cover his ears to protect them from the sound. He danced across the shaking floor, trying to keep his feet and keep his cloak tightly around himself.

It would be easier to fly, Telor thought, and a moment later felt Kovaine’s hand on his shoulder; his feet left the ground.

Much easier, Kovaine thought back, although I want to stuff something in my ears!

Flakes of black stone continued to fall, stinging Telor’s cheeks as they flew forward. Too quickly, they caught up with the megatri, and Kovaine slowed them to a stop. Stone flakes rained down on them as the tunnel continued to shake. Telor could see both nefalem with their hands raised to protect their faces.

“Move!” the megatri shouted again, punctuating his command with a double whip crack. The two nefalem put their hands on the cart and shoved it forward, the grinding of its iron wheels adding to the cacophony already filling the tunnel. Telor could not help it, he covered his ears with both arms, ducking his head. Below, he could see his cloak beginning to flap open, showing his hairy feet hanging in the air. He dropped one hand to grab and close the cloak, while trying to cover both ears with one arm.

“I know you follow, worm!” the megatri shouted above the din. “I won’t be caught by you, the way my brother was!” The monster’s huge hands shot up and into the ceiling, passing into the stone as if it were water. Telor watched in horror as muscle and sinew strained. A growl escaped from his lip, becoming a roar. A sharp crack sounded above the noise, and the megatri issued one final shout, pulling down with all his strength. Telor felt himself dragged suddenly backward, the ceiling of the passage between them cracked open, spilling huge boulder-sized chunks of black rock onto the ground. They flew faster, even as more of the ceiling tumbled down, filling the tunnel. When the sound of falling stone finally ceased, Telor heard himself coughing on the thick dust filling the air, in spite of the clean air orthek still active. He felt himself turn in the air, and saw the tunnel entirely blocked by stone.

“What now?” Telor spat in frustration. “We have no idea where they are going!” He gesticulated with one arm, pointing back the way they had come.

“Hmm,” Kovaine replied, and to his surprise, he saw that she was carefully cleaning her face, removing the stone dust. “It does slow us, a little,” she added thoughtfully.

Telor, his mind fixed on the cart filled with gemstones, a fortune in gemstones, looked back at Kovaine and shook his head in frustration. “How can we find out what is going on if we cannot follow them?” he asked, keeping his voice even.

“Easy,” Kovaine replied, turning them in the air to fly back the way they had come, “we follow the path of devastation from above.”

“But . . . how?” Telor stammered. “What if the tunnel turns south just after the point where we lost them, where he brought down the ceiling? We will not know, and will end up miles from where they are!”

“Trust me, Telor,” Kovaine replied, smiling down at him. They moved quickly back and out into the Glufater. Telor brooded to himself, still thinking of the gemstones. Kovaine flew up over the southern edge of the Glufater, and flew west over the rocky plateau, soon reaching the place where the ceiling of the tunnel had collapsed. Telor saw that it was obvious from above, a line of rubble and dust, a slash across the rocky landscape.

“I can see where the tunnel collapsed,” he admitted, “but I don’t see where it goes!” he complained.

“Look again,” she said, smiling at him secretively, “use your eyes, Telor.”

Telor frowned, shading his eyes with an arm, to block out the setting sun. He looked first to the west, past the line of destruction, and then he turned to look back where they had come, letting his eyes travel over the rubble and beyond. “I don’t . . . ,” he started to say, and then he looked again, seeing what he thought at first was only a trick of the setting sun on the folded surface. The edge of the cliff was brighter to his eyes, brighter from the heat emanating from below. Several feet from the edge and the rock went black, all traces of the heat gone. His eyes traveled over the rough surface, stopping when he noticed a line of color, slightly lighter than the black volcanic rock around it, roughly in the place and of the size of the tunnel beneath. He smiled and turned west again, shading his eyes. Beyond the collapsed portion of the tunnel, he could just see a lighter line, snaking its way west and soon disappearing in the dying light. He turned to look up at Kovaine. “How is that possible?” he asked.


Next time, we finish this chapter as our two heroes continue to follow the giant. Until then, get our ebooks, or print books, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">here, and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Caverns of Fire: Chapter 6, Part 4

Posted by gwermon on May 10, 2019 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

10 May 2019


Welcome back to another installment from the forthcoming Caverns of Fire: Book 2 of The Restoration! Today, after commenting on Telor’s performance, they continue to follow the megatri and his cart-pushing slaves. . . .

 

Chapter 6, Part 4

 

Telor’s insides filled with ice, wondering if she had read all of his thoughts; his face burned, forcing him to look down at his feet. “I . . . uh,” he stammered again, but could say nothing more.

“How did your weapons perform?” Kovaine asked, her voice sweet, belying the fear Telor felt.

“My weapons?” Telor repeated, confused by the change of direction.

“Yes, your weapons,” Kovaine repeated, her smile now mischievous.

Telor gaped at her, finally realizing his mouth hung open; he snapped it shut and turned away, pacing in a circle. When he faced her again, he stopped. “I . . . uh,” he stammered a second time, finally adding, “you confuse me.”

Kovaine’s grin widened. “Yes,” she agreed, “but there is nothing mysterious about what I did. I wanted you to stop thinking about running away. You did better than most when faced with their first true test. Much different than the first time you met these creatures and tried to climb the wall to escape.”

Telor cast his eyes and thoughts around, trying to think of a response but found nothing. He looked back over his shoulder where the passage, and their quarry, had gone. “We better catch up with the megatri,” he noted, turning and wrapping his cloak carefully around himself. He could feel her eyes on him, looking through him and seeing inside him. He made a note to himself to be more careful with his thoughts, lest he reveal too much. She moved up beside him and vanished, and he moved forward down the passageway, increasing his speed until he jogged, and it took them quite a while to catch up with the megatri. The two nefali slaves struggled to push the cart forward at a run, and they looked as if they had been running since entering the passage.

Telor felt Kovaine’s hand on his shoulder, slowing him. They proceeded with more caution, noticing the megatri cast furtive looks behind himself, and each time his eyes raked across Telor, the awemi wanted to flee in terror.

He knows someone follows, Kovaine’s voice spoke softly in his mind. Let’s hope he doesn’t know who, or he will lay more traps to catch us.

It is too bad we don’t know where he is going, Telor returned in thought. We could get ahead of him, and wait for him.

I don’t think his destination is much farther, Kovaine thought. The southern half of this island is populated with creatures that are truly terrifying; the nefalem hunted them for sport. I cannot imagine the megatri meeting anyone in that jungle. More likely that they meet somewhere on the plateau north of the jungle, high up in the mountains.

They were quiet for a time, simply following the megatri, until an hour had passed. Telor saw their quarry take a side passage that traveled due west instead of generally south. He turned to follow down this side passage, realizing at once that, not only were they changing direction, but they were also in a passageway that looked strange, compared to the others, for this passage was round, with ridged circles on the black, volcanic rock. The megatri had to stoop to enter this passage, and his two charges moved to the center of the passage, arms touching, to avoid stooping.

This is odd, Kovaine’s thought came to Telor. I cannot imagine where they are headed, her thought continued, and Telor could feel the hesitation in her mental voice.

It’s all beyond me, Telor answered in thought, shaking his head automatically, although he knew none could see him, but this passage is strange . . . and round. I can’t imagine who would hew a round tunnel out of this hard rock, and one so small that they would be forced to stoop to enter.

Not who, but what, Kovaine thought, I think some kind of boring creature made this tunnel; it was not made by either the nefali or the megatri.

Her thought shocked Telor. What kind of creature bores through stone? he thought. And how big is it? He looked down at the floor and saw the fresh marks from the iron wheels of the cart, slowly grinding the floor of this round passage flat.

It must be eighteen feet, at least, in diameter, Kovaine thought, and I would bet it eats stone.

Eats stone! Telor shot back, incredulous.

Yes, stone, she replied, like a worm eats dirt, making the soil better for growing plants. This one eats stone, and is giant-sized, although I cannot understand its purpose.

Purpose! Telor returned, his mental voice high and hysterical.

Relax, Telor! Kovaine commanded him. I doubt such a creature, if it still exists, would even notice you, unless you got in its way.

A distant rumbling sound rolled toward them, beginning to shake the passage where they stood, dislodging flakes of stone from the walls, floor, and ceiling. A shout from ahead echoed strangely down the round tunnel.

“Move!” the megatri’s voice echoed, even as the rumbling increased.

What? Telor thought to Kovaine.


Next time, the ground ceases to shake, and Telor continues to follow the cart, although a tunnel collapse forces them to follow from ground level. Until then, get our ebooks, or print books, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">here, and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Caverns of Fire: Chapter 6, Part 3

Posted by gwermon on May 7, 2019 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

7 May 2019

 

Welcome back to another installment from the forthcoming Caverns of Fire: Book 2 of The Restoration! Today, Telor and Kovaine continue to cross the Glufater, pausing before they reach the other side, afraid a trap might await them. . . .


Chapter 6, Part 3


Can you see any more of the opening from here? she thought.

Telor turned to look into the opening, again only seeing the dark violet of the walls; the heat rising steadily from below made it hard to see anything clearly. No, nothing other than the walls. He considered what he could do; he did not add anything for several moments. I might be able to hang from the edge of the floor, and get a better look inside . . . , he let his thought trail off.

Hmm, she replied in thought. I think the only thing to do is fly in fast and hope nothing is waiting for us.

Telor snorted before he could stop himself. That sounds reckless, he returned, and I am sure I don’t want to be a part of it.

Her laughter sounded again in his mind. It’s too late to change your mind, Telor, her thought came, and Telor felt them move suddenly, turning and flying away from the cliff face to circle in the air and fly directly through the opening. Telor braced himself, expecting some kind of blow. When none came immediately on entering the opening, Telor started to smile, but the grin died on his lips when his eyes saw something blocking the passageway directly in front of them

Panicked, he hurled the thought to Kovaine: Stop! Telor only had time to shield his face with his arms before they both crashed into the stone. Somehow, Telor could not imagine how, Kovaine raised an air shield that cushioned the impact, knocking Telor off his perch behind Kovaine, and sending both tumbling backward. Telor’s new cloak slipped off, leaving him visible to any who might be watching. He started to stand, his complaint already forming on his lips, when he froze, seeing with his awemi eyes the stone blocking the passageway move, part, and reform into the figures he feared, a pair of pursanem.

Telor scrabbled across the floor to where Lady Kovaine landed, unmoving and too close to the creatures of stone and flame. He shook her, and called to her, trying to wake her.

“Kovaine! My Lady!” he implored. “You must wake; we are under attack!” Kovaine remained silent and motionless. In desperation, Telor grabbed the collar of her robes and pulled her away from the pursanem, who had noticed them both and began sliding in their direction. Telor dragged Kovaine away from the creatures and stood, hearing the stone crack and pop as the creatures slid closer, trailing billowing smoke. For a moment, he considered wrapping his cloak around himself and moving away, the fear controlling him. It would be simple, that voice in his mind reasoned, Sir Blakstar would understand that you were outmatched by the pursanem, and only escaped with your life. One moment of hesitation and you will be free to pursue any course you choose. Think of the power and wealth you could take with your cloak! A vision of piles of coins and gemstones, all his, filled his mind.

Coward! a different voice thundered in his mind. After all she has done for you, you would let her burn?

“I cannot defeat these monsters!” Telor shouted, although no one heard him.

Idiot! the second voice shouted in his mind. Why did she give you my weapons?

For the first time since he strapped on the belt, Telor drew both sword and dagger, and was surprised when the edges of both blades flared with cold, blue flames, the light from both weapons lighting the dimness. Telor was shocked a second time when he saw the pursanem hesitate, the blue light dancing across the two molten forms. Drawing a sharp breath, Telor stepped forward, brandishing both sword and dagger. The two monsters separated, circling him in opposite directions. Telor lunged for the one moving closer to Lady Kovaine, stabbing through the center of what he saw as its head. Cold, blue flames flashed around the blade as it slid into the creature. The pursani shuddered, struggling to move away from the blade, from the icy pain. The monster’s orange glow faded slowly, and went out, and Telor jerked his sword free from the now solid, unmoving pile of still smoldering stone. He turned to face the other, feeling elated that he had stopped the first. The remaining pursani hesitated, and then began to back away, turning to flee. Telor pursued, lifting his flaming sword high and bringing it down on the creature’s head; it stopped fleeing, shuddered, and the orange glow faded away, even as the first had. Telor dragged his sword free, panting and looking around.

“Well done, Telor,” Kovaine said, sitting up and getting to her feet.

Telor gaped at her. “But you were unconscious!” he blurted. “How could you . . . how did you . . . ,” he stammered, his arms falling slack at his sides, the light surrounding both sword and dagger dimmed but did not go out completely.

Kovaine smiled at him, a smile that made him want to do anything she asked. “I was stunned by our crash,” she admitted, “but came to as you hesitated, contemplating running away; I wanted to see what you would do.”


Next time, Telor finds and continues to follow the cart filled with gemstones. Until then, get our ebooks, or print books, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">here, and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Caverns of Fire: Chapter 6, Part 2

Posted by gwermon on May 3, 2019 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

3 May 2019


Welcome back to another installment from the forthcoming Caverns of Fire: Book 2 of The Restoration! Today, Telor continues to follow the cart, momentarily losing it when it crosses the Glufater. . . .


Chapter 6, Part 2


Telor sighed again, being careful not to make any sound; he did hear Kovaine exhale softly, her grip on his shoulder relaxing. They started slowly forward, gradually speeding up to match the pace of their quarry.

Don’t lose your focus, even for a moment, Telor! Kovaine thought. Another slip like that and we will be discovered.

Sorry, Lady Kovaine, he thought back, turning his attention back to the tunnel and the group they followed. The passage was rising steeply, curving back on itself as it rose, and Telor noticed that the temperature increased rapidly, the scent of sulphur strong. He covered his mouth with his arm, using his sleeve as a filter for the air. As they continued to climb, Telor’s eyes began burning, the awful scent clawing at his throat.

I think it’s time for that clean air orthek, he thought to Kovaine. I will start coughing soon, giving us away.

So it seems, she answered back, stopping and touching his forehead; he stopped when he felt her touch, and heard her whisper the word, “nemfakenawet.” Instantly, the air he breathed cleared, as did his eyes. He turned to follow the megatri.

We must be getting close to the Glufater, Kovaine thought to him, and he nodded once in agreement, and grinned to himself, realizing that she could not see him. They passed around another corner, which turned them back to the south, and entered the Glufater. Heat slammed into Telor, the air shimmering before him with the intensity of the heat, the megatri and his cart-pushing slaves no longer in view. In spite of the orthek providing fresh air, Telor could still smell the sulphur, the scent of burning metal.

Where did they go? he thought to Kovaine, looking to the east and west along the edge of the molten rock filling the base of the huge crack in the island’s surface.

Kovaine’s musical laughter sounded in Telor’s mind. He looked around to see her, but she was as invisible as he was. You’re looking in the wrong direction, Telor, her voice came into his mind.

Wrong direction? he thought back, irritated by her laughter. What other direction?

Look across the lava, she answered, and he turned to look across the bubbling rivers of molten rock. In the shimmering air over the lava, he saw the megatri, the cart, and the slaves floating, crossing the rivers of molten rock like birds.

“How?” Telor said before he could stop himself.

Kovaine laughed, the music of her laughter sounded out of place here, the hissing, bubbling, and burning, by contrast, sounding violent and threatening. “The same way we will, Telor,” she continued to laugh, again gripping his shoulder gently, and Telor felt himself swooping up and over the molten rock, the updraft emanating from the lava causing his cloak to swirl around him; he clutched the fine material, as light as gossamer, pulling it more tightly around him. He tried not to look down, for that increased his fear, floating as he was without visible support over what he saw as certain, painful death. Instead, he fixed his eyes on the megatri and his party, a huge figure easily visible in the red and orange lights flashing from below.

The Glufater was wider than Telor had imagined, and he began to think that they would never reach the other side. Ahead, he saw the megatri and his party begin to ascend, and Telor traced the path of his flight, seeing a dark opening high up on the south cliff face. The sound and the heat diminished as they flew higher. The group ahead of them disappeared into the opening. Kovaine stopped their flight when they were twenty yards from the opening.

What do your eyes see, Telor, inside the opening? Kovaine’s voice spoke in his mind. It is the perfect place for an ambush, for there is no ledge, and so one must fly directly inside.

Telor focused his eyes on the space inside the opening, which was not dark to him but a deep shade of violet. He gazed upon it for a time, but he could see nothing moving inside, no bright shapes of the megatri and his slaves. I cannot see them, he thought to Kovaine, and cursed to himself, which traveled to her. Karsun! The heat from below makes it difficult to see inside, all the walls glow! What that means could be that they have moved on, or they are waiting just inside the passage, I cannot tell for sure.

That is what I feared, her thought spoke.

Telor’s eyes went to the cliff face all around the opening; the area over the opening was cracked, with many ledges, and he could see it would be easy for him to climb down from above, but difficult to see inside from that position. The areas below and right of the opening were smooth without crevices, at least any that would allow him to get close enough to the opening to see inside. The left side had one tiny crack that he might be able to use.

Can you see the ledge just to the left of the opening? he thought to Kovaine.

Kovaine replied by flying to the left and not moving forward until they were out of view from the opening. The reached the south face of the cliff, and Kovaine flew them slowly back to the right, pausing to hover.

Telor examined the crack more closely, and didn’t like what he saw: the crack was narrow, maybe too narrow even for his thin fingers, and there were no places below it that he could use as footholds. I don’t like it, he thought. There are places where even under my slight weight it is likely that the ledge will crumble, sending pebbles falling and alerting those who might be hiding inside.


Next time, Telor and Kovaine continue across the wide crack, afraid that there is a trap waiting for them on the other side. Until then, get our ebooks, or print books, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">here, and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Caverns of Fire: Chapter 6, Part 1

Posted by gwermon on April 30, 2019 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

30 April 2019


Welcome back to another installment from the forthcoming Caverns of Fire: Book 2 of The Restoration! Today we begin another chapter, return to Telor and Lady Kovaine, the former giddy over the gift of his ancestor’s legendary weapons and equipment. . . .

 

Chapter 6, Part 1

Telor felt a sense of freedom he had never known but always desired. He had grown up on the stories of his ancestors, of their exploits, and of the teka-powered devices they possessed, which were the source, all believed, of their great accomplishments. Now Telor knew the secret of their success, for he was wearing the sword, dagger, and cloak of his ancestor, Headmistress Elanor. A rustle beside him reminded him that he was not free, that he was bound by a solemn promise to Mistress Kovaine that he would never abuse these gifts, that he would only use them for the good of others. Well, that is why you are here, a voice spoke in his mind, and because it was a feminine voice, he now believed it was the voice of his ancestor, whose weapons he now bore; it was a voice he had often heard growing up, which he before believed belonged to his mother, a cynical voice that often reminded him that his current path or choice was foolish. He smiled to himself, and then was jolted back to the present moment by a hand clutching at his shoulder, halting him.

Telor glanced around, trying to see what had caused Kovaine to stop him. The tunnel looked the same as all the other tunnels they had passed through, following a single megatri leading a pair of nefali slaves pushing a cart filled with uncut gemstones. The walls, floor and ceiling were the same black stone, and the same green-glowing fungus illuminated the passage. The megatri held a torch that flickered. Periodically, he lashed the two pushing the cart, urging them to move faster.

Telor realized the megatri and his slaves had stopped and were waiting for something, He could see, with his awemi vision, several heat sources that reminded him of the strange rock-like creatures they had first met in the sewers beneath Oinosto.

This could be a problem, Telor thought to Lady Kovaine.

Don’t shout, Telor! Kovaine spoke in his mind, hardly more than a whisper.

Sorry, he apologized automatically. I’m still not used to this manner of communication. His eyes were still fixed on the tunnel ahead, and he saw that the megatri was allowed to pass the pursanem. I don’t think we will pass so easily, he thought, trying to use a soft mental voice.

We shall see, Telor, her thought came to him, carrying with it a calmness that he did not feel. He realized that he feared the creatures, and that he continued to dream about them, pursuing him, unable to escape them. The dream always ended the same, with one of them touching him and the searing pain it caused; he shuddered.

Ahead, the megatri whipped his slaves forward, causing the cart to move, the wheels grinding again over the black stone floor. The pursanem drew back together, effectively blocking the tunnel.

How do we pass? Telor thought.

Like this, she answered, and he realized that she still held his shoulder. Suddenly, he felt himself rising off the floor to hover just beneath the jagged ceiling; he floated forward slowly, hardly a rustle in the air, inaudible above the sounds of the cart wheels crunching and grinding across the floor. He clutched his ancestor’s cloak more tightly around him, praying the teka still worked, that the creatures could not see him.

Telor looked down and felt a twinge of fear as he passed over the pursanem, but neither creature gave any indication that they knew he and Kovaine flew over their heads. He landed lightly on the floor beyond them, breathing a soft sigh of relief, and they continued as they had done since they started following the gemstone filled cart. With Daka’s help, they had found the proper tunnel and had to wait only a few hours before the cart, nefali slaves, and their master ground past, and they had been following ever since.

We must be passing their outer defenses, Kovaine’s thought came to him, and I can see why no one has escaped.

Telor frowned, stepping carefully to make no sound. I don’t see why not, he thought back. If a large enough group attacked them together, some would get through.

Her musical laugh preceded her next thought. You assume that they would fight as you do! I would bet that they simply block the passage, making it impassable, and anyone foolish enough to try and get through them would be burned to a crisp.

I didn’t think of that, he replied, so it is good that they did not hear us . . . if they can hear.

They have some kind of senses, Kovaine thought back after they had started walking again, although what they are I have no idea. We would need to capture one of them for study, and I’m not sure that would be possible.

Telor snorted aloud, and then clapped one hand over his mouth. Sorry! he thought to Kovaine. It slipped out before I could stop it.

Kovaine’s hand grabbed his shoulder again and held him still; the megatri had stopped and was looking back. Telor could feel the eyes piercing him, and he wanted to scream and run, but her grip on his shoulder was vise-like. He continued to cringe away from the eyes of the megatri, who stared back down the tunnel, the sounds of the cart wheels grinding over the stone loud in Telor’s ears. Finally, he turned and took two long strides to catch up with the cart, lashing the two nefalem, causing both to yelp and shove the cart forward with greater speed.


Next time, Telor and Kovaine will continue to follow the megatri, losing him for a moment when he crosses the Glufater. Until then, get our ebooks, or print books, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">here, and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Caverns of Fire: Chapter 5, Part 6

Posted by gwermon on April 26, 2019 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

26 April 2019


Welcome back to another installment from the forthcoming Caverns of Fire: Book 2 of The Restoration! Today, we finish the chapter and the combat, the battle ending in the worst possible way, or so Baki believes. . . .


Chapter 5, Part 6


“This is wrong, Gelfi,” Baki said, feeling the pressure mount as Gelfi continued to attack, and the crowd around them continued to boo and hiss Baki’s lack of action.

You must fight, Baki! Sir Blakstar’s voice spoke in his mind.

“But he’s my friend!” Baki shot back, speaking instead of thinking.

“Liar!” Gelfi replied, his fury never waning.

No longer, Baki, Blakstar’s voice said. He has been duped by someone, likely Belmo, and will not hear you. Fight!

Baki did not try to respond; he slapped Gelfi’s blade aside, the tears now filling his eyes, driving his own blade into Gelfi’s shoulder, through the gap between breastplate and pauldron. Gelfi gasped, dropping his sword and sinking to his knees.

“Yield, Gelfi!” Baki snapped, placing the point of his sword beneath Gelfi’s chin, forcing him to look up.

“Not to a traitor!” Gelfi hissed, dropping his shield and tearing his dagger from his belt with his left hand.

“Do not do this, Gelfi,” Baki warned, “or I will be forced to kill you, against my will!”

“Never! Traitor!” Gelfi screamed, lurching forward suddenly to stab Baki.

Baki was again surprised by the vehemence of Gelfi’s anger, his foolish attempt to stab Baki, and before Baki could withdraw and step aside, the point of his blade drove into Gelfi’s neck; Gelfi choked, dropped his dagger and fell over, blood gushing from his open mouth, his eyes wide, finding Baki’s, asking without words why Baki had betrayed him.

Baki’s sword tumbled from his now limp fingers; he sank slowly to the ground, oblivious of the angry shouting from the stands. He dragged off his helm and tossed it aside, feeling the tears flow freely as he looked down on the lifeless form of his best friend, tricked into attacking him, dead because of the machinations of Belmo. New purpose filled Baki, and he stood again, looking up into the angry faces in the stands, his eyes finding Belmo, sitting in the front row, wearing a gloating smile.

“My friend,” Baki whispered, looking down at Gelfi, “your death will not be in vain.” He stood taller, looking around the arena, and speaking in a voice that boomed. “People of Karle, hear me!” he shouted above the din. “You have seen me prove myself, and prove my cause. Now, you will listen. You have a traitor in your midst, one who would keep you here to starve, one who refused me the right of conclave, one whose machinations have lead to the death of this member of our order. That Sir Gelfi will not have died in vain, hear me!” Silence fell, all eyes upon Sir Baki.

“To remain here in Karle is to die, a slow death of starvation,” he went on. “Even now, Ferghen Delgo is making plans to move the seklesi order to the nefali homeland, where it is still possible to raise crops and feed us all. We are here to bring our order to this new place, to fulfill our place, the purpose of our order, to protect the innocent while they raise the crops necessary to sustain all. The ice cannot persist forever, and in this way we will preserve some of our people for the future. Those who wish to follow us, those who wish to survive, prepare yourselves: we will return in five days to take all to this new land, this new chance for survival. I exhort all of you to listen to my words, to make preparations to leave, that my friend, my best friend, the only one who still believed me when all turned against me . . . ,” he sobbed as he looked down and pointed to Gelfi’s corpse, “that his sacrifice will not have been in vain.”

Baki turned back to leave the way he had entered; he saw Sir Blakstar smiling at him, banging his gauntlets together to give his approval. Baki felt empty; all the purpose that had filled him moments before drained away, the reality of what he had done filling him, weighing down on him, causing him to stumble. Sir Blakstar caught him before he fell, supporting him as the two left the arena.

“Well done, Sir Baki!” Blakstar whispered. “I couldn’t have said it better.”

“Will they listen?” Baki asked.

Sir Blakstar shrugged. “I think some will,” he replied. “The others . . . will get what they deserve.”

Baki nodded, but the thought of those who refuse to hear him, filled him with sorrow; he sobbed while Blakstar opened an archway, and staggered as he stepped through, feeling much warmer air caressing his cheeks.

 

Next time, we shift to Telor as he and Kovaine return to the nefali mines. Until then, get our ebooks, or print books, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">here and share them with your friends. Good reading!

Caverns of Fire: Chapter 5, Part 5

Posted by gwermon on April 23, 2019 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

23 April 2019


Welcome back to another installment from the forthcoming Caverns of Fire: Book 2 of The Restoration! Today, Baki refuses to fight his former roommate, Gelfi, but Blakstar insists that there is no alternative. . . .

 

Chapter 5, Part 5

 

“Not possible,” Baki shook his head, trying to ignore the sudden cold filling his guts, “he is only an initiate.”

The wide smile remained pasted upon Belmo’s face. “He was raised after you left, along with Grali,” he noted. “You will face him, or you will have no conclave,” he finished coldly.

Baki looked at Sir Blakstar, feeling as if the ground beneath him had suddenly fallen away, and he fell with it. He could not kill his best friend, but if he didn’t, he could not save his order from its short-sighted and foolish leader. If he failed, all in Karle would be doomed to die in the cold. In his mind he asked the question, how can I do this terrible thing!

Because you must, a voice spoke in his mind, and he knew it was Sir Blakstar, because the consequences of failure would be too terrible to contemplate.

“And the consequences if I succeed?” Baki spoke aloud before he could stop himself. A glance toward Belmo showed Baki that the Wesento’s grin was now triumphant.

It is the price you must pay to save our order, Blakstar’s voice spoke again in his mind.

“If you withdraw your request,” Belmo added, “then there will be no need to fight . . . to kill your friend.” His smile became beatific, and Baki knew he had no choice, he could not withdraw his words. Belmo must have seen it in Baki’s face, for his grin again widened. “I will make the arrangements for . . . ,” he went on, but Baki cut him off, gesturing with his right hand.

“No!” Baki interrupted, “we will do it now!”

Belmo looked up at his guards. “Issue the call for immediate action; call everyone to the field where we will witness an exhibition of knightly prowess between two of our recent graduates.”

One of the guards nodded and left the room.

“Prepare yourself,” Belmo said simply, standing and pointing to the door.

Baki followed his master as they left Belmo’s office, and then followed him in silence as he led Baki to the armory, where he helped Baki put on armor. A few minutes later, he found himself standing on the floor of the arena, a cold wind whistling around him, the cold making both armor and sword feel heavier than ever. The seats around and above him filled slowly, and when the streams of people entering slowed to a trickle, Baki saw Gelfi enter the other end of the arena, now clad in full armor, with sword and shield held ready. Following the forms, Baki moved toward Gelfi, saw him do the same, both with visors lifted, stopping only when they were only feet apart.

“I’m . . . ,” Baki began, trying to apologize to his friend, but Gelfi spoke over him, his face twisted with anger.

“You betrayed our order,” Gelfi hissed, “and broke your sacred vows. I will kill you for your betrayal.”

Baki took a step back, caught completely off guard by Gelfi’s words, and his anger. “I swear to you, Gelfi,” Baki said, “I am no betrayer; I have kept my vows.”

Gelfi laughed hoarsely. “Liar!” he spat. “I have spoken with Nela, and she told me how you spent your nights together, breaking all your vows!”

Baki took another step back, as if he had been struck in the chest. “We did no such thing!” he countered after gathering his wits and stepping forward again. “Someone has lied to you Gelfi. I say again, I never broke my vows, with Nela or any other wetha.”

“We shall see!” Gelfi hissed, leaping forward to attack.

Baki raised his shield to block, the crash of blade on shield echoing around them, drowning out the sounds from the stands. Gelfi did not slow or pause, but continued to attack, putting dents in Baki’s shield with each and every stroke, his fury forcing Baki to step back as he blocked and parried each stroke.

“You must believe me, Gelfi!” Baki tried again, blocking, dodging, and parrying Gelfi’s strokes, not attacking in kind. “We are . . . were friends; you know I speak only the truth. Someone is deceiving you.”

“The only deceiver here is you!” Gelfi hissed through clenched teeth, continuing to pound Baki’s defenses.

Baki saw an opening, but did not take advantage; Gelfi was out of his mind, and it would be wrong to harm him in this state. Baki continued to block, dodge, and parry Gelfi’s furious attacks, continued to give ground and move around the arena. The sounds of disapproval slapped Baki’s ears; the booing and hissing of the crowd at his refusal to fight back.

“Fight me!” Gelfi shouted. “Coward!” he added, hammering again at Baki’s shield, denting it further.


Next time, the combat rages on, reaching its unfortunate conclusion. Until then, get our ebooks, or print books, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">here and share them with your friends. Good reading!


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