Authors: Scott Duff
Tags: #fantasy contemporary, #fantasy about a wizard, #fantasy series ebook, #fantasy about elves, #fantasy epic adventure, #fantasy and adventure, #fantasy about supernatural force, #fantasy action adventure epic series, #fantasy epics series
Copyright 2014 Scott Duff, all rights reserved
Cover design by Jonathan Okarku
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My lungs burned as I broke free from the
brush and skidded to a halt in the road. My arms and legs were numb
from beating against bushes and small tree limbs. I knew it would
only last as long as this adrenaline surge, though, and then it’d
hurt—all the tiny cuts and scrapes. I took off again; I had to
I used the firebreak road instead of cutting
across the forest, even though it was little more than a rutted
path in the dark. At least it was a path I could see in the
moonlight. At the top of the hill, I stopped again and looked
around. The lake was a thin ribbon of darkness to the south behind
me in the moonlight. I snorted a laugh at that, chest still
pumping, trying to catch my breath. Big outdoorsman, I can locate a
huge lake by sight.
Then I saw a flash of light nearby and perked
up. That had to be them. I took off down the road again. I crested
another small hill and swerved, barely missing a small tree,
tripping through the brush. I crashed into the ditch on the other
side. The pick-up truck roared past me before I could pick myself
up, so I just lay there for a moment.
The dust hadn’t settled back onto the road
yet when I got up. The adrenaline was playing havoc with my
emotions as I looked down the road the truck had taken. They were
supposed to be my friends and they’d ditched me in the middle of a
forest in the middle of the night. At first, I felt like I
belonged, then pitied, then I got angry. Anger won the day, though.
Anger bubbled around inside of me until it was a red-hot ball of
How could they do this to me? They were
supposed to be my friends! I threw the heat of my anger at the
embankment across the road, just like it was a baseball. I threw it
with all my anger and frustration attached to it, and even though
there was nothing in my hand, a red hot ball of fire flew from
me and hit the ditch hard, sending dirt and debris high into the
air with a soundless explosion. I just stood there, dumbfounded, as
the dust and dirt covered me, mixing with sweat and blood to create
mud all over me. Ick.
“That is going to cause one awful headache
soon,” said a voice behind me.
I jumped, startled. I put my hands up, ready
to fight, even though I knew I couldn’t fight my way out of a wet
cardboard box right then. Too tired. Been running a long time.
“Who the hell are you?” I asked, shouting at
the dark figure in the road. The man stood about fifteen feet away
in the darkness. The moon was to his back so I couldn’t see his
face very well, but he was a big man, about six feet four, and
muscular. Very muscular. He had long hair plastered to his head and
a beard helping to hide his face in the shadows. He was wearing a
light colored T-shirt and jeans. It looked like he was
“Kieran,” he replied in a deep baritone.
“Were you trying to hurt them?”
“What?” I stammered. The question surprised
“The boys in the vehicle,” he said, fairly
softly, “Were you trying to hurt them? Or was your fury meant only
for the drainage ditch?”
“No,” I said, subconsciously relaxing a
little, turning back to the road, “I was trying to stop them from
leaving me in the middle of a national forest.” I ran my hand
through my hair, feeling the dirt and grit collected there. I
really needed a bath now.
“Why would they do that, if they were your
friends?” asked Kieran.
I turned back to him for a second and now he
seemed closer. I hadn’t heard him move, but still, he seemed
closer, bigger, even. “I don’t know,” I said, “It could be bunch of
different things, I guess.”
I thought about it for the first time. I
didn’t really know why and there could have been a number of
different reasons. Not that I actually understood any of them.
Definitely not what my father called “The Good Ol’ Boys Network.”
For all I knew, I could have looked a little too long at a girl one
of them liked. Or, I had money and they didn’t. I thought it was
just good natured fun on their part when they started throwing
firecrackers around at the campsite. I didn’t think that much of
it—it was kind of fun. When Jimmy pulled out the M-80s and
everybody centered on me as the target, I still didn’t think much
of it. I just ran for the trees. I was having fun.
They didn’t know I had my own “firecrackers”
available. It was the only trick I knew how to do, and I could do
it pretty well, too. I could fill a little pocket in my head with
light or sound and throw it. I’d learned it from watching one of my
tutors teaching his kid to do it years ago at home. I wasn’t
supposed to be there, though, and he stopped immediately once he
saw me, shooing me away back into the house. So I practiced in
When I was hiding in the trees, Billy saw me
toss one of my little flash-bangs at Pitch—I have no idea how he
got that nickname—ten feet away from me. Of course, there was
nothing to see in the toss until it exploded at Pitch’s feet,
scaring the hell out of him. I hadn’t seen Billy there, but I heard
him tear through the underbrush in retreat, then the M-80 he’d just
lit exploded where he’d dropped it. I hadn’t realized he’d seen
anything, so I just ran deeper into the woods and back toward a
stream that fed into the lake, laughing the whole time.
I stopped at a hilltop after a few minutes of
silence in the woods and peered back the way I came. Orienting on
the river, I found our campsite and saw Jimmy, Billy, and Pitch
throwing everything of value into the back of the pick-up rapidly.
That memory brought me back to here.
“I was just looking for a few friends,” I
said tiredly, mostly to myself but I’m sure the man heard me.
Mostly because he was a lot closer than he was a moment ago. A lot
I took a half step back and asked, “What did
you mean by ‘that’s going to cause an awful headache’?”
“You’ve been throwing around a lot of
energy,” said Kieran gently, “and that last bit was highly
emotionally charged. Your body is going to object to that
He stood a little outside of arm’s reach now.
I could see his face a little better but it was still shrouded in
darkness. His teeth flashed white when he spoke. His arms hung
loosely at his side and he made very little movement, except
apparently, when I wasn’t looking at him.
“You’ve been watching me,” I said,
disconcerted. This strange man has been watching me from the woods.
I didn’t like that. It was more than a little scary.
“For the last hour,” he said. I barely saw
him nod in the dark. He went on, “Yours is the brightest aura for
several miles, outshining your friends’ like the moon to the
stars.” He raised his left hand to indicate the sky. From my
perspective, it looked like he was holding the moon up himself. I
wondered if he had intended that or if it was purely coincidental.
Had to be the latter.
“So what are you doing wandering around a
national forest in the middle of the night gawking at little boys?”
I asked, suspicious.
Kieran snorted out a laugh, then said, “I’d
hardly call any of you ‘little boys’ and I am a little lost.”
“That makes two of us, then,” I said, trying
to hold back the sarcasm but not succeeding very well.
“And I saw the mark of my kinsmen on you,”
said Kieran, cocking his head slightly as he looked at me.
“What mark?” I asked, suspiciously. I didn’t
have any birthmarks and certainly no tattoos.
“On your aura,” he said, “You bear the mark
of the Pact.” He watched me as he said this, gauging my reactions.
I didn’t know what to make of him. I knew what an aura was, because
I could see them surrounding people. My mom and dad’s, for
instance, were both really bright and vibrantly colored. This guy,
though, didn’t show anything. Might as well have been a rock on the
“I don’t know what that is,” I said.
“Curious,” he muttered. Raising his right
hand to shoulder height, a soft blue energy flowed from his
fingertips. “This is the Pact sigil,” he said, as the neon-like
energy flowed and pulsed into a form I recognized from one of my
father’s books, his genealogy book. He kept it locked in a drawer
in his desk and I’d only seen it once. The image pulsed in my mind
and for the first time a space opened for me in my head. That’s
what it felt like anyway. A huge cavern in my head just opened up
and there sat a duplicate of what this man was showing me, sitting
at the bottom like a gleaming jewel in the dark. I gasped as I
“touched” it in my head. It was far more beautiful than the one in
front of me and it felt like mine. Wholly mine.