About the Author
Pat Nelson Childs currently lives in Maine with his faithful cat, Bo. He was born and raised in Rumford, ME. In previous lives, he owned a clothing store in Provincetown, MA and worked as a computer support technician for a large international corporation based in Ann Arbor. He presently mentors GLBT youth and is at work on his latest book. When he’s not writing (which is rarely), the author enjoys reading, watching movies, cooking and traveling. He also likes watching football, baseball & hockey and hanging out with friends.
About the Book
Seven years have passed on Firma since Rokey’s narrow escape from The Order of the Bone. All of Firma is now at war. The living god, Cyure, and his merciless hordes have succeeded in conquering all other realms save two – the kingdoms of Iceberg and Glacia, far up in the Northern Expanse. As refugees pour into these kingdoms from all over Firma, Rokey, Flash and their companions are working constantly to stay one step ahead of Cyure, who still wants ‘The Scion’ alive in order to steal his awesome, but still largely latent power. Just as things look blackest, High Mage Ellispon and his fellow scholars happen upon a key which at last will enable them to translate the ancient scrolls taken from Moribar years before. It is from these scrolls that they learn of a magical object known simply as “The Heart”, which offers them the means to finally unlock Rokey’s enormous power. The only problem – The Heart is not even in Firma! And so the final quest begins – a race to find this fabled object and to give Rokey the power he needs to confront Cyure at last, saving both the people he loves, and the land that he has already given so much to defend.
the roof of the hut burned like a torch, as Ellispon and the two scholars hurried to gather together the scrolls and all the notes that covered the table. A chunk of burning debris fell on Bantion, setting his tunic ablaze. In a panic, he screamed and ran out the door.
“Bantion!” Valengyll screamed, and ran out after him, dropping his pile of papers. Ellispon went quickly to gather them up, jumping to dodge another section of the burning roof as it fell. Rokey watched through the doorway as Valengyll tackled Bantion and forced him to roll around on the ground to put the fire out. The elf then leapt up and drew his sword to defend the two of them from a pair of attacking ogres. Groog flew outside and assumed his fiery dragon guise, then swooped down to aid Valengyll. Ellispon rushed over to Rokey, the precious documents clutched to his chest.
“I’ve got everything,” he yelled over the melee. “Let’s go!”
Rokey led the way outside, his sword drawn to protect the old mage. He looked around quickly. There were bodies everywhere, but he saw no other enemy fighters close by, so he hastened to aid Valengyll as he struggled against the ogres.
‘Ellispon!’ he heard Groog send, ‘there is a clear path to a large brush patch straight behind you. Take the documents and hide there with them.’
Though he felt guilty about leaving, Ellispon obeyed without hesitation. In this situation, he knew that he would only be a hindrance. The other three continued to fight, Groog distracting the ogres as the other two engaged them with their swords. The battle did not last long. Rokey’s swordsmanship had grown superb over the years, and Valengyll, though he lacked skill, fought ferociously to protect the injured Bantion. After one ogre had been dispatched and the other had fled, Groog returned to his normal size, while Rokey helped Valengyll carry Bantion, severely burned and moaning in pain, out of the clearing and into the brush patch where Ellispon awaited them. All around, they could hear the battle still raging.
“I’ve got to go find Flash,” Rokey said in a panic.
“Rokey, you can’t,” said Ellispon. “It’s too risky.”
“Master, what would you have me do…just leave him out there?” Rokey protested angrily.
“Rokey, if we lose you, we’ve lost everything,” Ellispon reminded him. “You’ve got to get out of here – open a door to No-When and go. Take these documents with you. If Flaskamper is still alive, he’s already heading this way. If not…if not, then you’d only be throwing your life away for nothing.”
‘Ellispon is right, Rokey,’ Groog sent. ‘You must escape. You are Firma’s only hope. I will fly out and try to find Flaskamper.’
Rokey was about to argue further when Valengyll spoke.
“Is there anything you can do to help Bantion?” he pleaded. “He must be in terrible pain.”
‘I’ll find Flaskamper and tell him where you’re hiding,’ sent Groog, and flew off before Rokey could argue.
Though sick with worry, Rokey found that he could not ignore the young elf’s plea for help. He crawled over to where Valengyll sat with Bantion’s head cradled in his lap. It took Rokey only a moment, though, to realize that Bantion was beyond all help. He broke the news as gently as he could.
“But he can’t be dead,” Valengyll sobbed quietly. “He can’t be. He was – he was my life.”
With these words, Rokey felt his own heart tearing in two, for he knew that Ellispon was right. All around them the woods were beginning to erupt into flames, and they could hear the cries of the dying everywhere. It would be suicide for him to go looking for Flash. On the other hand, just like young Valengyll, he couldn’t imagine going on without his love. A he sat there, stunned and unable to act, Ellispon suddenly seized him by the shoulders.
“You have to go now, son!” he insisted. “All of Firma is depending on you. You have to escape before it’s too late!”
A nearby tree exploded, showering their hiding place with flaming debris. As the dry evergreen needles around them began to smolder, Rokey suddenly felt all of his emotions draining away. Yes, there was only one choice. His own life might be over, but ‘The Scion’ had to go on. There was too much at stake to let his personal feelings cripple him now.
“Very well,” he told Ellispon, “but I need you with me, and you must make Valengyll come too. I need you both to help finish translating the scroll.”
When Ellispon agreed, Rokey closed his eyes and began to reach out to the nearest articulation. He found it nearly impossible to concentrate, but he had performed this task so many times now in practice, it was now much less difficult for him. Still, the process required him to harness and manipulate a tremendous amount of energy, so once the process was underway, Rokey found himself becoming more and more focused on the job at hand. Soon he had constructed a stable doorway for them between two nearby trees.
“Go now, Master,” he told Ellispon. “Take Valengyll.”
The High Mage stood, still holding the valuable papers in his arms.
“Valengyll, you must come with us now,” he commanded gently but sternly.
“No!” said Valengyll defiantly. “I won’t leave him!”
“There will be a time to avenge him, Valengyll,” Ellispon tried. “I swear to you there will be. But now is not that time, son. We need you now. Firma needs you now.”
“You don’t know what you’re asking, Ellispon,” Valengyll said.
I know, Valengyll, Rokey thought, desperately scanning the trees behind them for any sign of the dragon or Flash. I know.
As Ellispon continued trying to persuade the young scholar, Rokey spied a person running toward their burning hut. For a moment, he dared to hope, but as the figure drew closer, his heart sank. It was the Princess Alengra – alone.
“Princess Alengra!” he yelled, shaking off his growing feelings of dread. “This way!”
Alengra turned and ran toward him.
“Where’s Flash?” he asked when she reached him.
“I don’t know!” she cried. “He and Briander went someplace to talk. I was supposed to meet them here, but then the attackers came and –”
Her knees began to buckle. For a moment, Rokey worried she might faint. He could not risk destroying the doorway in order to catch her. Fortunately she recovered herself.
“Leni,” he said, “we have to get out of here. Go through the doorway with my two friends there.” He gestured toward Ellispon and Valengyll.
“Doorway?” said Alengra. “What do you mean?”
Just then Rokey saw a group of enemy fighters break from the trees and start running toward them. There was still no sign of Groog or Flash, but now he could wait no longer.
“Come on!” he yelled, grabbing her arm. Though clearly confused, she accompanied him willingly. “Ellispon! Valengyll! Inside now!”
Ellispon entered the shimmering doorway just ahead of Rokey and Alengra. Valengyll, however, did not follow. Rokey turned back, only to find him rushing, his sword drawn, toward the pack of encroaching soldiers. There was no way any of them could stop him. Valengyll had chosen to stay and fight – to give his life avenging his slain lover. It was a supremely selfish act, and yet, as Rokey pulled the doorway closed, watching the young elf charge fearlessly into the overwhelming onslaught, the emotion he felt most keenly of all – was envy.
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