Book II The Cole Twins Saga

Keyquest

Book II

The Cole Twins Saga

 

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1 - CALL TO ARMS

 

 

Wandren sat on the bed across from Aunan, waiting for her to wake. “A caravan of Panish folk came in the night,” she told her as her eyes opened. “My brothers have gone below to get news of the war.” Aunan washed in the basin that stood beside the door and then followed Wandren through the hallway to the outer steps. There, she stopped, stunned by the sights in the courtyard below.

Open slat carts, horses and oxen crowded near the building. Women in torn skirts knelt in the carts, caring for the open gashes of the warriors lying there. The ground was littered with torn strips of blood-soaked cloth. A dead horse lay in the courtyard, its flanks pierced with broken shafts of arrows. It struggled until its last breath to bring its wounded rider to safety. Barefoot children carried buckets of steaming water to the women in the carts and a row of wounded men lay beside the road. The innkeeper and serving girls were going from the inn to the courtyard carrying platters of food. Everywhere there was shouting and moaning. Haggard faced men and boys were lifting the side of a cart, trying to repair a broken wheel. Their armor was dented and smeared with blood; their dark curls of hair were matted with sweat and mud.

Aunan hurried down the steps toward one of the carts to help the wounded. The people around her stopped all they were doing and stared at her. Silence spread over the courtyard. The men and boys who were fixing the wheel dropped the cart and turned. Women bowed and tapped their wrists together, the Panish salute of honor. Men of armor put their sword hands to their breastplates. “Hail the Redeemer of Tenmanchent!” shouted a woman nearby. All around the courtyard the shout repeated. Aunan turned, looking for the one who they honored. All eyes were on her. Ilthee pressed through the crowd. “We’d best go inside,” he said, bowing as he would to a queen. Taking her by the arm, he hurried her inside the tavern.

“They mistake me—” she said, following Ilthee into the tavern. The room was abuzz with talk of the war in Panish. Again, as she entered all became silent and looked to her. Ilthee took her to a table where Carden sat. He was writing on a piece of parchment the names of Panish warriors who were still strong enough to fight. One of the warriors from the courtyard followed her. He stood before them, his smashed helmet under his arm, his lips quivering.

“What is it?” asked Carden.

The warrior saluted. “The High Lord’s army promised peace if we surrendered one such as she, with hair of red. Is it true? Are you she who will throw down the High Lord?”

“No, I am....” Aunan started. She was motioned to silence by Ilthee. “Aša,” he announced. “This is the one of prophecy, she who will smash his reign.” The warrior knelt to her, bowing his head, then stood. Turning, he let out a jubilant whoop and ran outside, spreading the news. In moments, there was an excited pitch in the courtyard and the haggard people were walking more erect, many came into the room to gaze at Aunan.

She turned to Ilthee. “Why did you say that? Olan said I am to follow the keys command, nothing more.”

“We must give them hope,” he answered. “Besides, can you say you are not? You carry two of the keys made by Gaff in the Lake of Light. They must have a purpose. The news from Panish is not good. Tenmanchent armies have swarmed over the land, killing, torturing and burning villages. They’ve surrounded the capitol. These people escaped the city, the last, they say, to get out. It’s a siege.”

“But how can telling tales change that?” she asked. “I am only a slave girl. True, the keys have called me to do their bidding, but to what end they have not told.”

“If the illusion of one foretold to throw down the High Lord can raise their hopes. It will help much. I entreat thee, do not toss their hope aside.”

“Ilthee has asked the Panish warriors to ride south with us,” said Carden. “If we can raise an army to attack the flanks of the siege, more might have a chance.”

“They’ve already petitioned for peace once,” said Wandren, pulling out a chair and sitting. “The heads of their emissaries were thrown over the walls in the night and their bodies were found spiked to the gate. All in Panish will fight to their death now but that won’t be long unless we strike.”

They sat for a long moment in silence. Upon hearing the news of Aunan, nearly a score of warriors, men and women, crowded into the tavern, giving their names to Carden. They would ride south to raise Mekoria. Many stood at a distance watching her. They were a ramshackle group, their armor torn and dented, some without swords in their sheaths and those with bows carried empty quivers. Ilthee stood. “We will raise the army of Mekoria. When the villagers of Mekoria see what is coming their way and hear what is happening in the West, they will leave their plows and oxen to join us,” he proclaimed.

Some of the men stepped forward toward Aunan, laying their swords and bows across the tabletops. Some bowed, while others saluted. “At the service of the Redeemer of Tenmanchent!” they swore.

There was an excited murmur outside the hall. A young girl was heard shouting, “we’re in a land of legends!” Children screamed in bewilderment and dogs barked. Aunan looked across the room to the open doorway. There stood Tabber, his clothing ragged and golden hair matted with mud.

“I thought it was just make-believe,” said a young child, his mouth agape, staring at Tabber.

“You— you must help me,” he stammered to the people towering around him. “My lady is lost in the dragon caverns, please!” He was staggering, all color was drained from his cheeks and his lips were trembling.

Aunan jumped from her chair and ran across the room. She flung her arms around him, hugging him and kissing his cheeks. “Oh Tabber! Tabber!” she said joyously.

Tabber hopped up and down, hugging her back, his arms around her neck. “M’lady! M’lady!” he called. Tears of joy ran down his cheeks and he could not tell if they were his or Aunan’s. He held her at arm’s length, looked at her and hugged her tight again. A broad-shouldered warrior, wearing torn armor and a dented helm, looked on. “Yes, we are in a land of legends,” he said, smiling.

Aunan and Tabber went to a table and talked of all that happened since their parting. Carden and Wandren sat with them and listened to Tabber’s tale of searching the tunnels for Aunan. Tabber was awestruck by the new key, but quickly turned his attention to a meal of honey cake and boiled oats. He ate so much it astonished the warriors watching passively from the side. Ilthee strode into the tavern from outside. His cape was thrown back and the armor breastplate he wore shone brightly. He held a red-plumed helmet at his side. Aunan looked up at him. He looked so handsome and bold. “We must make haste. All warriors mount,” he commanded.

Outside, the caravan of the wounded, children and their mothers was preparing to leave for Murion Keep, the fortress castle to the north of the Mekorian plains. A few warriors would ride with them as guards. The others were mounted and ready to ride south to help gather the army. Tabber watched doubtfully as a small horse was led to him. His head barely reached the stirrup. “I think I’d rather walk,” he said.

“We go with great speed young woodling lord,” said Wandren as she helped Aunan into the saddle of a large brown mare. “Her name is Hitha. You needn’t worry, she’ll follow along with the others,” she said to Tabber, who was still standing back from his mount, arms crossed and face set with determination. “Come then, you can sit in front of Aunan. We’ve chosen the strongest and gentlest of mounts for her. She won’t mind the extra weight.” She put her hand out and helped him into the saddle.

Tabber gritted his teeth as he settled into the high perch. He closed his eyes tightly and clung to the saddle with both hands as the horses started at a bounding trot. The dogs of the inn barked and chased them as they made their way up the road. South they rode, into the rolling hill country of Mekoria; a vast expanse of yellow grass and scattered oaks before them.

Ilthee rode beside Aunan, casting long glances at her, admiring the golden red wave of hair dancing down her back with each movement of the horse. Aunan caught the inexplicable look of admiration in his eyes and felt nervous, but couldn’t stop herself from stealing glances of him whenever his eyes turned away. It made her feel uneasy that he told the soldiers she was one prophesied, even more so that he said it with such conviction. Now, the warriors believed she would defeat the High Lord. She didn’t like at all. How could she, a village girl of fifteen winters, defeat even a single warrior of Tenmanchent? She tried looking far into the distance, as though she could somehow learn her future from the view. Floating on the eastern horizon was a sunlit streak of silver. “Those are the White Mountains,” said Ilthee, breaking a long silence.

“Will we cross over them?” asked Aunan, glad his stare had ceased.

“No, they are much further than they seem, four or five days ride, but we’re not going over them. We’ll take the foothill road, then south through the villages, spreading the word. We’ll pass west of the capitol city of Threeia to the mining and timber towns of the south.”

 “Is Threeia a big town?” she asked.

“Big! A walled city, the capitol of Mekoria, built by the Warrior-Kings over twenty ages ago. It’s the center of Mekorian culture. A fine city of artists, poets, and composers.”

Tabber’s interest in legends was aroused. He relaxed his grip on the saddle and turned to look at Ilthee. “Warrior-Kings? Who are they?” he asked.

Ilthee held his head high. “The Murions were very close with them,” he said, glancing at Aunan. “The Warrior-Kings were protectors of the high passes. They held grand castles there— a few still stand today, but they’re empty. It’s said they came from Azmerith, sent by Gaff to protect his people in the new world.

“For a time after the six Light-Lords led their people from Azmerith, there was peace here in Lemuria. There had to be, as Gaff forbade more war. Then the trolls began their raids, trolls of Samael, streaming down out of the mountains. Our people were slaughtered. No one brought weapons from Azmerith. Then the Warrior-Kings came, they beat back the trolls, built castles to protect the passes, defended the weak and battled for justice.”

“But where are they now? Won’t they help with the war?” asked Tabber.

“No— soon after the High Lord took the tree city of Danral, the people noticed the castles were quiet. No Warrior-Kings came to the cities. It was said they went to attack the High Lord in defense of the tree elves, but no news of them was heard again. They vanished and have never returned.”

Throughout the day, they rode south over the rolling hills and plains of Mekoria. Through two villages they passed and from those villages a few more riders joined, mostly young men and women who herded their family’s cattle in the grassland. In the late afternoon, they crossed a river and the troop dismounted, making camp on a hill dotted with scattered oaks. They set camp atop the hill, where they would have a commanding view of the river and plains beyond. The horses were hobbled and released to graze along the river shore. Both Aunan and Tabber limped around the camp, bow-legged and sore from the long ride. Wandren assigned watch duties, sent some of the men to gather wood to keep fires burning through the night and told others to begin preparing food. Carden and Ilthee followed her orders to go amongst the men and horses, tending to any wounds and reporting back to her on the condition of the troops. Even Tabber and Aunan were assigned a duty: cutting cotton wood shoots from the trees along the river for the archers who would fashion arrows that night as they sat at the fire. Aunan was glad they could stretch their legs and do something useful. A warrior lent them his sword to cut the shoots and an archer showed them the length and thickness best for arrows.

As the sun set, campfires were lighted and small groups gathered around each to eat and talk until the stars were bright overhead. Ilthee sat across the fire from Aunan, gazing at her as the fire’s soft glow lit her features. She looked into the fire, avoiding the probing intensity of his eyes, not knowing what to say and wondering why his gaze made her feel uneasy. Tabber sat with them, poking at the fire with a stick, looking deep into the flames, imagining he could see tiny fire-fairy houses within the embers. None of those magical fire beings were present in Hestia’s kingdom that night but still he enjoyed remembering the times they visited the fires of the Dew-dancers and danced around in the flames, skipping in and out of their tiny glowing caverns.

One of the young Panish women came to their campfire and sat with them. She was a lean, muscular woman, with skin bronzed from working in the sun. She wore tightly fitted red-leather riding pants and a loose fitting white blouse with a small, dark-green vest. Her blond hair was tied in braids that hung to her waist. Slung over her shoulder she carried a quiver and in one hand was a long bow. “Thank you for the arrow shafts,” she said, sitting on Ilthee’s side of the fire. “The men over there said you are the red-haired child prophesied to throw down the High Lord. Is it true?”

“Some say it is,” answered Aunan, looking up into Ilthee’s eyes. “It is true the Keys of Azmerith have called me. I am answering the call.”

“Keys? What keys? Do they open the doors of his chamber so one can enter to kill him in the night?” She looked to Ilthee and leaned toward him as if expecting him to answer the question.

“No, I don’t think so,” answered Aunan, suddenly aware of not liking the way the woman was looking at Ilthee.

“They are keys of old,” answered Ilthee, turning toward her. “Keys once carried by Light-Lords to Lemuria long ago.”

“Really?” the woman asked, leaning toward him. “You must tell me more about them. It sounds interesting. We don’t hear many of the old tales in Panish anymore.”

“In our hall a tale was told of one of my ancestors, one of the Warrior-Kings, carrying a key from Gaff’s treasure chamber, a gift from Gaff in olden days.”

“There!” exclaimed Tabber, “Glisha was seeing the past. Remember? She saw one of the keys in Gaff’s treasure.”

Aunan nodded, staring at the archer who now moved closer to Ilthee. “So it has crossed the sea,” she said, distractedly. “Do you know where the key is now, Ilthee?”

His gaze turned back upon her. “I wish I did M’lady,” he answered. “Many things of old are kept in Murion Keep, but in all the treasure, there is no key I have seen.”

The girl stared admiringly at Ilthee, about to say something, but as she saw the intensity of his gaze at Aunan, she hesitated and looked downward.

“Do you have enough arrows?” asked Aunan. “I see your quiver isn’t quite full. There are more willow shoots by the oak over there.” She pointed.

The girl smiled at her and looked again at Ilthee who was still gazing across the fire at Aunan. “You’re so right,” she said rising. “And such a lucky one,” she added, leaving them for the fire of her Panish companions.

The next day, a few more warriors joined from the scattered villages of the Mekorian plain. Word spread of Wandren and her Murion brothers gathering an army. Those without horses were sent north to set up an encampment at the crossroads near the Inn of Glad Tidings. Riders were sent to outlying villages and towns to spread the word still further. Throughout the day they rode hard, making haste for the southern farmlands.

The sun was climbing high and the horses sweating heavily. The column rode silently in the clinging heat. At last, in the late afternoon, Wandren called for a halt. Water was found in a shallow stream slipping between the hills. The horses were allowed to drink while the warriors stripped off armor and sought the scant shade of the oaks, though there was little relief from the heat, even without armor. The drone of flies filled the air as the warriors flopped to the ground for rest. Water flasks passed through the troop and all drank heartily. The horses were unsaddled and rolled the sweat off their backs in the dry grass nearby. Warriors with open wounds washed them and applied new bandages.

Carrion birds circled overhead, spying on them for a while, then flew west. “Damn beasts!” said one of the Panish warriors, standing and throwing a rock skyward. “They fly to my country to feast on my brothers,” she explained.

Wandren watched the departing birds and jumped to her feet as she saw them circle again. Someone or something just west of them caught the flock’s attention. Shielding her eyes from the glaring sun she saw something rising to the crest of a hill in the west. Thirteen sal’awas with caped riders came into view. Like black shadows against the blank afternoon sky, they stopped, facing the warriors. Conversation around the trees evaporated at their sight. Eyes turned toward the armor that lay with the saddles beside the stream. The riders wore capes of fur with deep hoods pulled over their heads. That they cared not about the heat bespoke of the evil beneath those heavy capes. The carrion birds flew over them back and circled in the sky above.

“To arms,” cried Wandren, as the riders drew swords and charged. The warriors ran for armor, the riders almost instantly in their midst, long swords drawn, screaming as they attacked.

“Stay here,” commanded Ilthee to Aunan. Drawing his sword, he rushed at one of the riders. The rider saw him and spurred to the attack. The rider’s sword swept the air with a swift side cut. Ducking beneath the blade, Ilthee spun and thrust his sword at the rider’s side. The blade vibrated as it struck solid metal beneath the fur cape. The rider swayed but did not fall.

Aunan, standing beside a tree, watched through the dust as Wandren engaged a dismounted rider. A sal’awa lay on its side, the shaft of an arrow piercing its neck. Standing on a rise near the battle was the woman archer who came to the fire the night before. She was drawing back her bow with another arrow ready.

Wandren’s sword sung and flashed, countering smashing blows of the enemy. Around her, Panish warriors were falling, no match for the mounted swordsmen. Leaping upward, she delivered a strong side stroke to the rider’s neck. It caught him just above the breastplate. Staggering, the enemy fell.

Carden and a handful of Panish warriors ran to the horses and mounted bareback, riding amidst the invaders. Closer to Aunan, separated from the main battle, Ilthee pursued his fight with the caped rider. The sal’awa turned, clods of soil spun from its claws and the rider made another sweep with his sword. Ilthee jumped back. The rider’s blade struck his hand, knocking Ilthee’s sword to the ground. The sal’awa wheeled and stopped atop Ilthee’s weapon. Grabbing a thick oak branch from the ground, Ilthee swung at the rider, striking him across the chest. The branch cracked and shattered as the rider’s sword began its sweep. Ilthee leapt back, his exposed chest slashed open where the tip of the sword sliced him. Blood gushed in rivulets through his tunic. The rider feigned another blow, laughing, and drew his sword back to make a final plunge. Ilthee stepped backward, his heel catching on a rock. He fell flat on his back beside the sal’awa’s front paws. The sal’awa’s forepaw tore into Ilthee’s leg, pinning him to the ground, preventing escape. The rider leaned forward from the saddle for the final thrust.

 

2 – The Fire of Hain

 

The Broadsword of Hain blazed white as Aunan ran toward the rider. The demon’s sword froze in mid-thrust as he saw the red hair streaming behind her. Ilthee’s life was spared as the sal’awa turned to face her. Kicking his mount to the charge, the rider let out a deafening battle cry. The muscled legs of the sal’awa, every fiber taut and in motion, leapt toward her. The rider’s fur cape flew back, revealing a thick black breastplate etched with the face of a demon, like the faces she dreamt of in the tower of the castle Mucwiel, only now, the smoldering red eyes blinked and turned to stare back at her. This was no Akvan. Within the shadowed opening of the hood was a face of swirling smoke and charred stone, with eyes of raging fire. The sal’awa’s fore paws tore the ground nearing her.

The rear legs of the sal’awa thrust forward beneath the beast, claws digging into the ground. Aunan looked at Ilthee lying on the field, his chest streaming red with blood, a deep gash in his leg, his fists clenched and his face locked in a grimace of pain. She saw the battle beyond, dust rising, swords in mid-strike, warriors lying upon the field, blood streaming from wounds. An arm, still holding a sword, was lying upon the ground, not far from an armless warrior, his face ashen and eyes fixed in death. There was fear in the face of every warrior yet standing. She saw them and knew they too saw her. 'This is battle’ she thought, ‘everything here carries in it life and death, every beating heart, every drop of sweat, the glimmer of every eye looking for its future; will this day end; will the sun shine no more in these eyes?'

The rear claws of the sal’awa dug deeper into the ground. The toes tensed as the rear legs drew into a crouch preparing to spring. Time itself held still, like an arrow drawn in a taunt bowstring. She peered into the Sal’awa’s gleaming yellow eyes and there saw how they marked her, not with malice but with a cold and mocking dispassion. The beast cared not that she possessed life. She was the thing its rider would destroy. The beast needed no rein; the rider lent it no intention; it knew battle and it longed only for the feast of victory. The ears of the sal’awa were back, flat against its head. The neck lifted as the fiend now pushed forward with its massive rear legs. 

There was a small white scar on the sal’awa’s neck, just beneath the third vertebrae. Aunan saw it, recognizing it as a battle scar and dismissed it from her thought. The sounds of battle, the clattering of swords and screams of warriors, seemed distant and muted now as she took in every detail of the moment, searching for anything that could prepare her to meet death or deliver it to the demon riding toward her upon death’s steed.

The gloved sword hand of the rider tightened on the hilt of his sword. His blade caught the gleaming sunlight and cast it back. The shoulder of the rider rose, lifting the sword up behind the furred hood flapping in the wind, its edges undulating. With a powerful thrust the rear legs of the sal’awa now leapt from the ground, bringing with it the thing that rode on its back; the rider, the demon, the sword and perhaps death. The sword came forward over the head of the demon, at an angle to take it through her neck. She saw scratches on the blade where it was ground to a fine edge; one scratch clotted with dry black blood. Ilthee’s crimson blood still stained the tip.

Aunan felt a surge of strength pass through her as the dagger in her hand came alive. It drew upward toward the falling sword, pulling her hand behind. Her arm became rigid, as though it turned to the same metal as the dagger and was now a part of the blade in her hand. The demon’s descending sword touched the tip of the dagger and slipped down its length with a long grating ring. Her arm moved back and down with the force of the sword, her knees bent to receive the force. The sword’s path diverted by her blade swooped over her head. The sal’awa’s front legs sprang forward, gliding past her, its long tail whipping the air behind and slapping across her face.

The rider pulled on the reins, turning the sal’awa’s head back to face her. Again, she looked into the yellow eyes of the beast and saw how they marked her, judging the attack for the rider, to bring him close with his sword, to bring death. and again, clods of dirt exploded from its paws as it leapt toward her.

The sword rose above the hood of the rider and started down, driven down to deliver death as the rider raised himself in the saddle and twisted his body to put full weight behind the blade. Knowing its place in battle, the dagger rose to meet the sword. The sword struck the tip of it and deflected, this time sweeping past her chest, slicing through the side of her tunic. She felt it pass next to her side, like a shard of burning ice across her skin. The rider, thrown by his weight toward the point of the dagger, struggled to right himself. Aunan felt her body stiffen. Both hands now gripped the hilt, her arms straight and knees bent. Her blade touched fur, it slid easily through the pelt of the cape and into the hide. The rider’s legs gripped tightly around the sal’awa’s belly, struggling to stop the fall. Aunan's knuckles were white as her grip tightened to hold the dagger in place against his weight. The sal’awa’s head turned, a look of terror in its eyes, as the weight of the rider threatened to pull it to the ground. Suddenly it kicked its rear legs high into the air, dislodging the rider. The Broadsword of Hain didn’t hesitate. Sinking through the armor, the blade burned with silver light so blinding it seemed to all on the battlefield that the sun itself descended to the battlefield to take the rider.

The rider’s scream rang over the battle, wrapping all in the sound, freezing all in a void of time suspended. Swords stopped in mid-sweep, horses froze in stride, as the demon remained poised above her, impaled on the blade. The sal’awa’s eyes went dark, dull, and then they looked as the eyes of the dead, a hollow blackness. The scream turned to a lamenting cry and a wind exploded from the breastplate; it howled over the battlefield like the wretched last gasp of a terrible storm departing, smiting the land, lifting dust, leaves and dry grass into a cloud darkening the pale afternoon sky.

The rider fell, his full weight upon her, motionless. The feet of the sal’awa thundered past, bolting from the battlefield. Swords rang and clashed. Dust swirled. Men screamed. Carden and the Panish warriors attacked the other caped riders. Knocked to the ground, Aunan pushed the weight from her, finding it was suddenly very light; a metal breastplate, its eyes now dull black metal, draped with a cape of fur, were all that remained of the demon. She stood and ran toward the battle, the Broadsword of Hain blazing in hand, her red hair flying behind. The remaining riders saw her, saw her glowing hair, saw the burning dagger and turned their sal’awas to flee.

Carden and the mounted warriors rode after them, galloping with swords at the ready, but the horses were soon outdistanced by the swifter Tenmanchent sal’awas. Wandren and Aunan ran to Ilthee. He was laying on the ground, propped up on his elbows, his fists and jaw clenched. “Damn cowards,” he said. “Attacking unarmored men— cowards!” Wandren checked his wounds. His hand was cut, one leg torn open and there was a deep gash across his chest. She sprinkled white powder into his wounds to stay the flow of blood and felt his ribs near the cut. “Gaff damn! Don’t touch there!” he yelled.

“At least two of your ribs are broken, brother. We’ll have to wrap your chest,” answered Wandren, She went to her saddle to get the cloth from her cargo bags.

Carden and the other unwounded put their armor back on before starting the burial. Fourteen Panish warriors had fallen. Several others were deeply cut and would need care to survive. Only a few remained unwounded. “Only two of them killed! We’ll not remove our armor again,” called Carden to the men. “We were fools to think we were safe in Mekoria. Nowhere is safe anymore. If we sleep again before this war is done, they’ll not catch us in the night without armor!”

“Tabber! Where’s Tabber?” yelled Aunan, not seeing him on the battlefield. She looked with dread to the line of corpses.

“Here I am,” sounded his voice, as he swung down from the limb of an oak tree. “I ah— didn’t want to get underfoot,” he said, his face turning crimson. Carden came to him with the dagger of a fallen Panish warrior. “You may need this in the future, not always will there be a tree to find safety in,” he said, strapping it around his waist. “And we’ll get you some armor fitting your size when we can.”

Tabber pulled the dagger from the sheath and felt the fine edge. He put one hand on his hip and thrust the dagger into the air, jabbing back and forth. “Take that! And that!” he said. “Next time I’ll be more help.”

At Wandren’s order, shallow graves were dug beside the road for the fourteen Panish warriors. Ilthee and Carden went to the body of the rider Aunan killed. Ilthee kicked at the blood coated cape and looked at the thick metal armor. “This is where my sword struck,” he said, pointing to a small dent. “And this! This is where the death wound was delivered.” He showed Aunan the jagged rip through the metal.

“The armor must have been flawed here. You’re lucky your dagger struck this spot. It would never have pierced through otherwise.”

“Huh!” exclaimed Tabber. “There is no armor the Broadsword of Hain cannot cut!” Carden and Ilthee cast appraising looks at Aunan’s sheath, for the first time realizing  she carried a magical blade.

The adventure continues In Keyquest

Book II of The Cole Twins Saga

by D.G.Stebbins

 

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SYNOPSIS

There was once a girl, born on Earth of a mother from another world, foretold to bring justice and harmony to the enchanted land of Lemuria. That girl died, trapped by the spell of an evil river. Her soul was captured by the corrupt Masters of Rebirth, but she escaped the chamber of souls with little but vague dreams and an unexplained call of destiny to guide her in a new life, that of an orphaned slave.

WHAT ARE THE KEYS? 

The keys were made by Gaff, the god-like creator dragon who slumbers in the Lake of Light beneath the mountains of the ancient kingdom of Azmerith, a legendary land beyond the sea.

Each of the magical keys was given to a different race of beings as they left war-torn Azmerith to settle on the new continent of Lemuria. Each represented one of the great virtues of true magic. But, over time, each had become lost, their magic forgotten, their power faded. It is only through the virtues of Aunan that the keys may once again be found, united, and their power renewed.

Perused by Akvan trackers, demons riding sal’awa, a jackal-like beast with square ears and dagger-like fangs, Aunan must find the keys and unite their power to prevent her own land from falling under the rule of the Evil High Lord of Tenmanchent.

Yet finding the keys and saving Lemuria from the dreaded High Lord isn’t the only destiny of Aunan. Within her soul lies a mission from her previous incarnation, that of Karolyn Cole, fifteen-year-old Catholic School brainy girl who drew spooky gothic drawings of dragons and mystical landscapes. As Aunan travels, her own consciousness growing, she gradually discovers and recovers her true mission as the history of her soul becomes clear. It is through the merging of the life of Aunan with her past life as Karolyn that her true quest is reborn.