Valley of the Ancients: Book Three of the Restoration Series

BOOK: Valley of the Ancients: Book Three of the Restoration Series
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Valley of the Ancients: Book Three of the Restoration Series

 

By Christopher Williams

 

Published By Christopher Williams

 

Copyright 2011 Christopher Williams

 

 

 

http://BooksbyChristopherWilliams.com

 

 

 

Other books by Christopher Williams

 

The Guardians: Book One of the Restoration Series

Ossendar: Book Two of the Restoration Series

 

Red Lightning

Nephilim

 

 

For a map of Telur and the surrounding kingdoms, visit:

http:// booksbychristopherwilliams.com/Restoration-map.jpg

 

 

The Three Forms of the Mystical Arts

 

Magic:

Magic is a learned art. All that is required to learn magic is a good mind. The magic user focuses on their need, and then casts the appropriate spell. Spells can be as simple as single words or chants, or as complex as multi-person rites and rituals. Magic is by far the most common of the three forms of the Mystical Arts.

 

Sorcery:

Sorcery, unlike Magic, is something a person is either born with or not. It can not be learned. Sorcerers are born with the unique ability to control their spirit and use it to manipulate things in the world around them. Touching other people's minds and moving objects with just a thought are some of the more common uses of Sorcery.

 

Wizardry:

Wizardry is the use of the elements to summon demons. Wizards use their will to control the demon and force it to do their bidding. Wizardry has been forbidden for two thousand years, ever since the destruction of the Demon Lord War.

 

 

Prologue
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In that day, there will be a New One to replace the Old One

The World will tremble at his appearing

 

Destroyer of the World

His name a curse for all time

The hope of the innocent

 

The wielder of Ossendar will bring death to his enemies

On his head, he will have a Halo of Fire

His clothes will be like the Night Shadows

Flowing Stone will protect him

 

Excerpt from the Kelcer Prophecy, translation provided by the Church of Adel

Chapter 1

 

Derek craned his head around, looking for the followers that he knew were back there somewhere. He knew they were being pursued, they all knew it, but they weren't sure how close their chasers were. The not-knowing was one of the worst things he had ever felt. The constant fear of being caught drove them all on. They had gone way past exhaustion days ago.

They had been ordered, along with Flare and the other Guardians, to retrieve the ancient sword Ossendar and return to Telur. The sword was a powerful relic and one of the signs of the restoration of the Dragon Order. They had all been surprised at their mission, especially since Flare seemed to fit so many of the descriptions that Kelcer had used to describe the monster who would restore the Order.

They had split into three groups and intended on meeting up in the city of Helum. From there they had planned on travelling east to the Silver Mountains. The sword was believed to be under the catacombs of an ancient ruin. Derek's group had been caught and never reached Helum. They had been taken to an ancient ruin called Fort Dahl-Rucka and put into a torture room.

Derek, along with his fellow Guardians Kara, Trestus, and Enstorion, had been rescued from their torture chamber in the ruined fortress of Dahl-Rucka by the fifth person in their party. Prince Keenan claimed to be of the royal lineage of the kingdom of Tizen, a kingdom destroyed nearly two thousand years ago in the Demon Lord Wars. Perhaps he did have a claim to the throne, but there wasn't any way to be sure and anyone who had a better claim would probably keep quiet. The kingdom of Tizen had been destroyed and its peoples hunted. Being descended from a citizen of Tizen was a secret that a person guarded closely. Even after two thousand years, the best such a person could hope for was to be chased away from town, which was preferable to some of the other things done to Tizens.

Their little party had fled Dahl-Rucka eleven or twelve days ago. He had lost track of time as the exhaustion was taking a brutal toll on all of them. Initially there had been twenty in their party but two days into their flight, they had split into four groups of five. It had been part of Keenan's plan all along. By splai/litting up into multiple groups, their pursuers wouldn't know which group to follow. It was a good plan, but they all knew that each group would still be pursued. They were just hoping that their pursuers were slow enough not to catch them or few enough in number that the Guardians could fight them off. Personally, Derek was fighting hard to hold on to hope of reaching Dalar before being overtaken.

The first couple of days of their flight had been along the base of the mountain range and they had made good time over the hard ground. When the group had split up, they had turned northwestward and left the Silver Mountains. Their pace had slowed down considerably as they traveled through a low-lying boggy terrain for better than a day. Gradually the bogs turned into forests and their pace had picked up a little. The forests were better footing for the horses, but it was still slow going due to the closeness of the trees and undergrowth. Several times their path had been completely blocked and they had been forced to backtrack. The whole time they had been retracing their steps, they had all been terrified of running into their pursuers.

Early on the fifth day, they had stumbled across a small trail. It had the look of something used by a goat herder, but nevertheless it had sped up their pace considerably. They followed it the rest of the day until they hit a half overgrown farmer's road near sundown. They had followed the country road until it intersected with another road; this one in slightly better shape. This road had led them to another road in yet better shape, and so on until they had reached the southeastern spur of the Arium Highway.

On the country roads there had been little to no traffic, but even from afar off, they could see the wagons moving along the Arium Highway. Several farmers' wagons lumbered along behind a seven wagon caravan. Travelers walked along on foot and, here and there, horsemen rode along at a leisurely pace.

Momentarily, relief had flooded over Derek. It seemed that it would be easy to get lost in those travelers, follow the road to a big city and then get lost in the crowds. It seemed like the perfect plan but Keenan had refused it.

"No," he said pointing to the west of the highway, "we need to stay out of sight. We'll follow the main highway but from a safe distance."

The words had caused an explosion of anger from the Guardians. All except Kara, who was still absorbed in her own problems.

"We can get lost in the people," Derek had argued. "They'll never find us."

"On the contrary, Prince Zalustus has many spies in these Southern cities and along the highways. If we travel these main roads or enter these towns then we will get caught. We have to stay hidden until we reach Dal-Arium."

In the end, they had followed Keenan's advice, although none of them were very happy about it. The constant riding during the day, broken up by leading their poor horses for short periods of time, was taking a toll on them and their horses wouldn't last much longer either.

Ever since finding the Arium Highway, they had shadowed the road in the grasslands that lay just to the south of the thoroughfare. They tried not to be seen, while all the time keeping a wary eye on the road. They traveled in this manner for another five or six days. Derek was beginning to lose focus; his mind wandering.

Turning around, he scanned the way they had come. Nothing. No sign of pursuit, but that only meant they were too far back s oto be seen.

"Whoa," Trestus called out from the front of their small group. It was mid-day, and he held a hand up to block the sun out of his eyes.

Suddenly alert, Derek kicked his horse up beside Trestus; Prince Keenan was already there on Trestus' right side. The prince looked a little sour and it was easy to see why. Trestus was ignoring him, waiting for Derek to join them. The prince was not used to being made to wait.

Trestus waited for Derek to reach him before pointing out what had caused them to stop. They had been following the highway for some distance now; the road running northwest on their right side. In front of them, another road ran from the southwest, joining with the road on their right and turning due north. On the far side of the new road was an enormous forest, stretching out into the distance.

There was a lopsided grin on Trestus' face, "We're getting close to Dal-Arium. Finally we can get a good night's sleep." The grin looked good on Trestus, mainly because he rarely smiled anymore. His brother died defending Fort Mul-Dune in western Telur and it had been months before he had laughed again. A week in the torture rooms had definitely set him back.

Derek resisted the urge to sigh at the thought of that torture room. None of them had been physically tortured. Instead they had been forced to watch a man they all knew being tortured to death. It had been nearly unbearable, and the whole time the torturers kept telling them they were next. It was an agony he wouldn't wish on anyone.

"A real bed would be nice." Kara's quiet voice said from just behind the three men. "And a bath."

Surprised, Derek turned and regarded the priestess of Adel. He was quite sure that she hadn't spoken in days. If Trestus was a little sad, then Kara was in an abysmal state of despair. Kara had been ordered by the church of Adel to help them follow Flare and the others on their mission to retrieve the sword of Osturlius. She had reluctantly helped in the beginning, before tricking the church followers into trailing a gypsy caravan. He knew what her secret fear was. She feared the church would cast her out. She would probably willingly allow herself to be executed, as long as the church did not turn its back on her.

Derek smiled at Kara, silently promising himself that under no circumstances would she be executed. He would die before he let that happen. Then his vision slid past her and his blood went cold. "Horsemen on our trail."

The other four riders whipped around in their saddles, straining their eyes to see the approaching horsemen.

"Damn!" Keenan said, turning his horse in a tight circle to get a better view. He squinted for a moment, "Looks like they're charging. They must know we've seen them." He took a deep breath and looked around at their surroundings. "We have to go now."

"You're not in charge," Trestus snapped. He then pointedly turned in Derek's direction.

Frowning, Derek glanced sideways at the two men. Trestus was exhausted and he didn't like Keenan giving orders. Keenan was used to being in charge and despised being questioned or ignored. Sighing, he looked back to their pursuers. "Enstorion, how many are there?"

The riders were still far off, too far off for any of the humans to make an accurate count, but Enstorion was not human, he was elven. He studied thghte riders in the distance for a moment, "I believe there are twelve of them and they're moving fast."

What was left of Derek's optimism fled at these words. Not good odds, as they were outnumbered by better than two to one and their pursuers' horses must be fresh to be moving that fast. He absentmindedly fingered his belt knife. There was no way he was going to be captured alive. He would not go back into that torture room, even if it meant stabbing the knife into his own heart.

"So we have to go now." Keenan said again, this time he spoke through clenched teeth.

Derek spoke quickly, before Trestus had a chance to say anything. "You're right." He pulled his horse around and the others quickly followed. "Northwest as fast as we can. Once we hit the highway, we're going to follow it north."

"We can't outrun them to Dal-Arium," Trestus said frowning.

"If I give the command, I want you each to dismount and head west into the forest. Split up and hide. It should make it harder for them to track us." Rumors and stories abounded about the forest around Dal-Arium, perhaps their followers would refuse to enter.

The others paled at his words but it was Keenan that spoke. "Absolutely not! I'm not going in there!"

"Fine," Derek said over his shoulder as he moved off. "Then you can greet them alone on the highway." He kicked his horse in the side and the poor beast reluctantly stumbled forward.

 

They ran their horses all afternoon, barely even slowing down to let the animals catch their breath. Derek knew they were running the horses to death but they didn't have many options. He had been watching the road since they had spotted the horsemen behind them, but they hadn't seen a rider all day. He shook his head at the strangeness of it all. They had been shadowing the highway to avoid the farmers and caravans, but now that they might use those very same caravans for shelter, there wasn't one to be found.

Reaching the highway, they paused to study the progress of their pursuers. It was sickening how much closer the riders were now.

"We can't make the city for at least a couple of days," Trestus said, looking around for anything that could help. The area here was flat, with the grasslands they had been riding through beginning to turn into forest.

"It'll be dark in an hour," Derek said. He knew better than to hope to lose the enemy in the dark. He kicked his horse in the side. For a moment, he was afraid the horse wouldn't move, but with several more kicks he got it moving again.

They rode for less than a quarter of an hour. All the while, Derek kept looking back over his shoulder. The riders were getting closer and they had to know their prey was about to keel over.

The right side of the highway, the eastern side, was intermixed grasslands and copses of trees. The left side, however, was nothing but forest. It was so thick that they couldn't see more than a few feet in, and the darkness gave it an eerie feeling.

BOOK: Valley of the Ancients: Book Three of the Restoration Series
11.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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