Authors: Dennis Foon
Tags: #ebook, #book
This book is dedicated to
Dr. H. Mirakal
a.k.a. Ron Foon
IN THE SHROUDED VALLEY, THE PEOPLE OF LONGLIGHT EVADED DESTRUCTION. FOR SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS THEY QUIETLY THRIVED, ISOLATED FROM THE WORLD, NURTURING A SMALL FLAME OF HOPE. IT TOOK LESS THAN ONE HOUR FOR THEM TO BE ANNIHILATED.
âTHE BOOK OF LONGLIGHT
is the second volume of The Longlight Legacy.
The first volume,
The Dirt Eaters
, tells the story of Roan, one of two survivors of Longlight. Injured while trying to prevent a raider from capturing his younger sister, Stowe, he wakes to find his village destroyed and its inhabitants slaughtered.
Sifting through the wreckage of his former home, Roan is discovered by Saint, a man who leads a band of warrior-Brothers devoted to a god known as the Friend. Under the tutelage of the Brothers, Roan begins training in the art of war, never forgetting his desire to wreak revenge on those who massacred his people. But soon Roan becomes suspicious of Saint's unwavering interest in the use of power to dominate others, and also of Saint's second-in-command, the manipulative Brother Raven. Just before Roan reaches the final stage of his initiation into their sect, he discovers the dark truth they're concealing. Committing his first act of violence against another human being, he flees, striking out into the uninhabitable lands known as the Devastation.
Haunted by visions of his lost sister, Roan treks through the ravaged landscape, hiding from marauders and fighting off wild dogs. There he meets Lumpy, a young man disfigured by wounds and scars caused by lethal insects called Mor-Ticks. The two decide to travel together, their destination a hospital rumored to have medicines that will help ease Lumpy's pain.
Throughout the journey, Roan visits a separate plane of reality where mysterious beings (the Dirt Eaters) have been advising and assisting him since his stay with the Brothers. These beings cannot warn Roan of the Brothers who lie in wait for him at Lumpy's fabled hospital. Though the two friends manage a narrow escape, they find themselves trapped in a labyrinth deep below the hospital's ruins. But just as they are on the brink of death, they are rescued by the Forgotten, a seemingly ageless people who live hidden below ground in a community called Oasis.
In Oasis, Roan and Lumpy gradually recover from their journey, forging new friendships with Kamyar the Storyteller, Orin the Librarian, and Lelbitâamong others. But when Roan's need to find Stowe is stirred up by a series of new visions, he decides to leave Oasis and press on.
Suffering a near-fatal injury crossing hazardous terrain, Roan, feverish and only semi-conscious, is carried by Lumpy to the destination of his visions: Fairview. There, he is tended by a healer named Alandra
who enlists his help in saving fourteen special children from certain death.
When Brack, the Governor of Fairview, uncovers Roan's true identity, the friends must make a dramatic escape with the children. With Saint and the Brothers in close pursuit, Roan, Lumpy, Lelbit, Alandra, and their precious cargo reach a chasm that should lead them to a safe haven. And it is there that Roan has his final showdown with Saint.
, Roan's quest to find his sister leads him to the City, where Stowe is engaged in her own struggle against the Masters. Both discover that their experience of abduction and betrayal is a crucial part of a battle for control of their worldâand perhaps for life itself.
ONE ROSE FROM THE ASHES, KEEPER OF THE LIGHT
NINE CLOSE THE CIRCLE HOLDING HIM HIGH
TWENTY-ONE GUARDIANS OF HEARTH AND HOME
TEN, EYES SCOURING THE HORIZON
FORTY-ONE ARE MASTERS OF THE CITY
âTHE WAR CHRONICLES
IRT THAT BURNS THE THROAT,
scorches the insides, makes one see without eyes and journey without feet to far places. Dirt that cleanses, lifts, and makes one whole. Breath of life in a golden bowl. Dirt. Cherished by the Masters of the City. How they hoard it. How they try to shield it from those pilfering cowards, the Eaters. But they fail.
Darius is forever swallowing Dirt. It stains his fingertips, glows violet on his narrow lips. He sits so perfectly still. His watery eyes open in reptilian slits. He looks feeble, translucent skin stretched across a beardless face so tight his head's a living skull. His new lungs wheeze as his latest heart pumps blood that's changed twice daily. He is the Eldest.
His eyelids flutter and open wide. Alert, he listens. His hands grip the sides of the chair as he rises. Now he is not weak, he is all strength and control and cunning. He is the Keeper of the City, Archbishop of the Conurbation, the Great Seer, and he fills the room with a magnificent, terrifying power.
“Now,” says Darius, and with a flick of his wrist, the room is brought to maximum illumination.
The doors open and two clerics, heads bowed, drag in a ragged, yellow-haired detainee, blinking blindly in the glare. His skin has the raised orange blotches of interrogation scourge. Nothing unusual in that, yet he's different from the other prisoners who have passed this way before. He has not been enabled. Who is he?
Darius nods to the clerics, who bow obsequiously, awe glazing over their eyes. They owe all to the Eldest One. Privilege, status, health, and most importantly, that tiny bulge behind their ears.
The dazed prisoner is left sitting on the marble floor. Alone with the Keeper. He poses no danger. So what was his crime?
As the crumpled man's eyes adjust to the light, they focus on the portraits that cover the mahogany walls, paintings of Darius, of the Great Pyramid, of a small girl, Icon of the City. His gaze follows the chrome and crystal desk, the porcelain hands, the ancient body until it finally rests on the visage of the Master. A smile spreads across his face. The man's body expands with delight.
“Oh, Keeper! Keeper, seeing you in such good health fills my heart with joy.”
“How quaint that you still hope to flatter your Archbishop,” murmurs Darius.
“He should have been executed,” declares a dark voice.
The prisoner painfully rises as the tall, thin-nosed man enters from the hall. “Ah, Master Kordan, still imagining threats where there are none. You would be wasting an invaluable resource. The Keeper is wiser. He has conceived of a use for me. Have you not, good Master Darius?”
Kordan frowns. A trace of a smile crosses Darius's face. “An opportunity.”
The sniveling scarecrow's face lights up.
“Yes, you love opportunities, don't you?” observes the Keeper.
Kordan steps past the threshold, moving deeper into the sanctum, but a cold glance from Darius freezes him. Poor, bitter Kordan. He never should have voiced his opinions, especially when there was a chance they would clash with the Eldest's.
Darius turns to the prisoner. “I've kept you alive because once you served me well. You discovered the location of the settlement I sought and helped deliver one of the two I desired. Not a complete success but still a worthy feat.”
“My Keeper, I live only to serve.”
“You live to lie and cheat and plunderâbut that can also be useful.”
The captive smiles, the gleam in his eye signaling his eagerness to have his many talents exploited.
“Saint has become a martyr to his cause,” says Darius. “A true saint. I know you can appreciate the irony. Your former brethren, the Brothers, sow rebellion. The donor deliveries have stopped. Produce is withheld.”
The prisoner gives Darius a wary look. “What will you have me do?”
“You know of the Lee Clan. The Fandors?”
“They command half the Farlands,” says Darius. “Use them to neutralize the Brothers.”
“You honor me, Keeper. What can I offer them in exchange for their services?”
“Our resources are at your disposal.”
The man lets out a high-pitched cackle, bows, and makes for the door. “Consider it done.”
“You'll want these,” Darius says, touching the wall. A large panel, hidden in the polished wood, opens and a glass shelf glides out. Neatly arranged on the surface is a brilliantly feathered gown and behind it, a box. It must be one of those stupid costumes, a consolation prize given to those the Dirt rejects. Poor man, never able to fly the Dreamfield, he's now condemned to walk the earth covered in feathers.
“May I?” the man whispers.
“Of course, Raven.”
Look at him! Lovingly caressing the robe with his bony fingers. What a pathetic fool. Doesn't he realize the costume marks his humiliation?
“Thank you, all-knowing one,” Raven sighs. He delicately dons the robe, and opens the box, revealing a helmet with a long yellow bird's beak.
Seeing it, Stowe screamsâbut of course they cannot hear her. She'd gouge out their eyes but her hands are not flesh and she can only hover impotently above them.
No other Bird Man has a mask like that. The harbinger of the end of Longlightâit was Raven, and Longlight was surely the settlement he discovered. It must have been Darius who ordered the Brothers to burn her village to the ground. Darius who required that the Brothers kill every last resident, except for two. The two that he wanted: her and Roan. Raven had the Brothers deliver her directly into the Seer's eager hands, but he failed to bring Roan. And that's why he was punished.
Raven, the first visitor to ever come to Longlight. Raven, with his magical cloak of feathers. Before he came, she'd only seen black crow feathers, white chicken feathers. But he had a rainbow of dazzling plumage. She made Roan tell her all the names, made him write them down. Peacock, eagle, swan, cardinal. She would have given anything for those feathers, more than her two favorite bowls, she'd have gladly given a finger or toe. Roan was so somber that day when he told her about the long-dead birds. He didn't want to talk, he kept looking at Daddy, at the councillors. It wasn't until Mama woke her up and she saw the village burning that she began to understand. What a stupid little girl she was, craving feathers.