Authors: Mike Simmons
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance
To any person, living or dead, any place, events
Or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The
Characters and storylines are created from
The author’s imagination or are used
Original Map Artwork by Mike Simmons, ©Copyright 2012
Original Cover Artwork by Rayce Bird, ©Copyright 2014
I dedicate this novel to my boys. May your dreams and creativity always fly free. Don’t be scared of your imagination; use it and it will grow.
Special Thanks :
– The cover work is amazing. Thank you for bringing my characters to life. Every adventure we have been on has inspired me, and your life is inspiration for me to achieve my creative dreams. Thank you, brother.
Daniel and Alicia
– Thank you for helping me get my act together and helping me with my summary. Sometimes it just takes someone to refresh your vision a little bit. Alicia, you have a way of putting me in order, and it has helped me get this finished.
My wonderful wife
– Without your support none of this would be possible. I love you, and may this be the beginning of something special.
– You keep me on track when I doubt myself and help me work through the tornado of ideas that are always going through my mind. Without your counter ideas, I’d still be stuck. You played a huge part in the completion of my book.
– Thank you for editing this book. I appreciate that you took time out of your busy schedule to help me; you are a lot better at editing than I am.
MY GAMERS (Josh, Brandon, Gentry, and Kenz)
– You guys make it possible for me to express my ideas. Your continual support has kept me going. I owe you guys a lot.
And all those at work who kept on me to get my book finished, you know who you are. I personally thank you all.
All Rights reserved. No part of this book may
Be reproduced or transmitted in any form without
The express written permission from Mike
Copyright © 2012 by Mike Simmons
All rights reserved.
“When a prodigy, born of a half of whole, sets to open locked doors, a warp in standard ways will bring death. While in blackness, he who will be born under the Red Star must be sheltered. Violence and death will pursue. The time of man will come to an end.”
Garvin Windtalker, Seer of the Council of Kings, Age of Creation
Nightmare Bindings, Page 6, Paragraph 2, King’s Vision Room
“Four bonded shall travel to meet the end of the world, the blood of one, their guiding light. Eighteen arms on three bring death, and the blood of the Red Star will be spilled twice. A breaking of a barrier will bring three to pass, as then only two of the Red Star remain.”
Hion Starseer, First Knight, Brotherhood of Seers, Age of Creation
Book 76, Page 2875, Paragraph 9, Library of Knowledge
“Love, hate, fear, and duty will burden one in unison, a question born. The answer will weigh upon the world’s future. The rain this day will turn red. Two tears could be shed, one the death of man, one the death of woman. Upon the death of man, waves of scorn will cleanse, leaving Mother forever changed, by herself. Upon the death of woman, waves of the righteous will guide, until a whisper changes ally to enemy. Man will bleed at both. A helping hand will lose its fingers. One man, one decision. The world in its wake.”
Written down in
, a book by Toren Lieye, First year, Age of War
“When five fingers aflame reach towards broken skies, the eve of the Day of Silence will be born. The tears of women will be unheard this day. Fire shall rain from the skies, and the earth will break. The hope of a King will fall with his men. Four will stand in the midst of beauty and death, and the war of Blood will begin. If blood is thicker than water, the winds of death shall sweep the lands with relentless fury. A decision of one will determine the fate of all.”
Ugdar Palindine, Owner, Skillful Traders, Age of War
Personal Journal, Page 81, Writings of a Bad Dream.
Empress Aurora sat slouched in her throne; her legs crossed, staring deep into nothingness. Her waist long, auburn hair draped over her chest, covering the "A" stitched in gold atop her right breast. She stroked her chin between the thumb and forefinger of her right hand. Unconsciously with her left hand, she rubbed the scar on her belly that ran down from her belly button to below her seam line, underneath her robes.
Light reflected off the polished, white marble floors through one of the open windows that dotted the walls to either side of the throne. The grey ribbons of color that ran through the floor made organized designs all the way up to the elevated terrace that held the matching marble throne. Solid support columns ran from the floor up to the ceiling, decorated with streams of brightly colored ribbon that swirled around them, three on each side of the crimson red carpet that lead out to the halls. A tapestry behind the throne depicting three diamonds, one atop the other two, encased within a circle, shed brilliant color along the gloss of the floor.
The soft sound of footsteps grew as another woman entered the room. Her red robe, trimmed at the neck and wrist cuffs with a contrasting yellow band, seemed dull compared to the redness of her straight, shoulder-length hair. She smiled slightly as she stared at the slumping beauty filling the throne.
“Why do you look so glum, sister? We have crushed Lord Reinhold’s forces at Footman’s Hill. As we speak, Jenaveve is marching the Flame Legion towards Darrow’s Hold, and Savanah is leading the elementalists along the Paraline River up to counter Reinhold’s troops stationed at the boundary. This is going as you thought it would. You should be pleased.”
Although both women looked nearly identical, from their hazel eyes and high cheekbones, to their thin red lips, their mannerisms and demeanors were completely different. Aurora had an intimidating coldness about her. Aurora stared at the ground, then looked up at Ivy from under her eyebrows. Her face shadowed evil. The second of silence made the grin melt from her sister’s mouth. With brow angrily clenched, a wicked smile shot across Aurora’s lips, showing her teeth. She sat upright in her chair, hands gripping the edge of the throne arms with white-knuckle strength. Ivy took a small step backwards as a frightened look stretched across her eyes.
“I’ve got it, sister,” Aurora said with a hint of urgency. “We have been defeated twice in Tormain’s Ravine. We have to be able to cross there; it takes far too long to go around the Tusk Mountain range. Our losses have been substantial every time we attempt to fight there. Send word to Leena in Hollshire. Tell her we need her to meet with the Blade Maidens north of Oakridge; we will need her considerable talents to pull this off. If we cut off the supplies to Reinhold’s troops from his side of the mountains, he will be forced to travel down the rocky face of the Tusk for provisions, where we will be waiting. We will have the ravine camped on both sides. It does not matter which way they go, they will lose their terrain advantage once they are out of the peak. The handful of troops stationed there will be no match for our girls. We should be traveling through Tormain’s Ravine by midweek.”
Ivy opened her eyes fully, absorbing all the information with strict obedience.
“But we will suffer huge losses if we attempt to take Oakridge, and Reinhold won’t allow us to keep it. He will send his best men to regain control; Castle Belkin’s only six days ride from there. Even if we travel the ravine, we’re out fourteen days from our closest stronghold, twice that much again if we have to go around the Tusk.”
“We don’t need to keep Oakridge. We only need to occupy it long enough to capture the ravine. Once we have it in our control, move the Blade Maidens out, and have them join the rest of the girls at the peak. By the time that is finished, we should have enough of our forces near Jellindor to secure the west trade roads. That will give us a clear advantage. We will have free travel this side of the Tusk." Aurora paused for a second, looking deeply into her sister’s eyes, another grin splitting her wet lips.
“You see sister; war is not always what is obvious. You have to make sacrifices, and suffer certain losses, in order to advance in the game. Do not question me; see that my wishes are done.”
Ivy paused, and keeping her eyes locked with her sister’s, she bowed her upper body to the floor.
“Yes Empress, your wish is my command. I do your bidding." Ivy snapped her feet together as she stood, spun on her heal and exited the room.
Aurora’s eyes followed her retreat until she disappeared down the hallway.
When she spoke, an enormous man, dressed in nothing but an elk-skin loincloth and a black leather bondage mask, approached the throne. He dropped to his right knee in front of the stairs before her throne, his forehead bowed to the floor.
“Yes, Empress Aurora, your wish is my command. I do your bidding. Please instruct me." His voice, incredibly deep and boisterous, filled the hall. His sun-darkened skin reflected his life; scars of all shapes and sizes scattered randomly over his massive, rippled muscles. Princess stood at least three heads taller than normal men, and the width of his shoulders and chest dwarfed them. His monumental figure made Aurora seem as small as a child.
“Princess, look at me. I want there to be no confusion about what I am going to tell you. Look directly at me and hear what I say. Do not blink until I tell you to. I want your full and complete attention."
Princess’s head snapped up to catch her gaze. She stared down at him, looking at his ice blue eyes through the uneven cuts in the black leather mask that covered his head like a tight, black balloon. She looked down to the open silver zipper that revealed his lips underneath. Aurora kept quiet for a few seconds as she stared into his eyes waiting for him to blink, but he did not.
As if ready to speak, she took a breath and released her air, waiting one more second. Still, Princess kept his eyes locked and unblinking.
“The Council of Wisdom has informed me of something troubling. Apparently, Corinne has broken one of my cardinal rules; she was intimate with a man she met in her travels.”
A small twitch in his brow indicated his unawareness of the woman she indicated.
“Corinne is the newest member to my council. She is gifted in the Mind Sphere, Illusion, stage two, I believe. She was the one selected to relay my word to our forces out of magic’s reach.”
Princess interjected, “But Empress Aurora, I do not understand, all villages and towns within the Kingdom house no men. I thought women were the only . . .”
Princess’s shoulders shot up to meet the sides of his head, as his entire body quivered in agony. His lips drew back, showing his gritted teeth. With his eyes pinched tight, he let out a horrific scream. He fell to his side, writhing in pain. His fingers stretched out, almost backwards, as he flailed his legs in hopeless torment.
Aurora spoke in a whisper, her face as unmoving as stone. “Princess, if you interrupt me again, I will riddle you with this pain until you beg me to die. Every second, I will increase your suffering until you can no longer move. When you have had enough, I will continue. Those muscles of yours will thrash your bones apart with the relentless volts of pain I will give you. Are we clear?”
Princess jolted on the floor, unable to speak normally. “Yes . . . yes, Empress Aurora.”
Aurora’s hands gripped the arms of her throne once again with viscous hold, her voice booming. “What did you say?”
“Yes . . .” A pain shot through his body, making his back arch upward. “Yes . . . Empress Aurora,” he said, as he forced himself to take a quick breath. “Your wish . . . is my command. I . . . do your bidding.”
Princess instantly relaxed as the pain subsided, trying to gain his breath. Although difficult and awkward, he pulled himself to kneeling position once again, with watery eyes locking on Aurora.
“Now where was I? Oh, yes, to answer your question. Corinne relayed my commands to more than the people living in Cloudkeep Kingdom. As you are obviously unaware, I have informants and spies scattered up through Karpathos Kingdom. At some point during her travels, she met man and became more than friends with him. My Sensors picked up the conflict within her as soon as she returned. This is inexcusable. Men have no right to women. I am sure he put his evil hands upon her, and she let him. The thought alone makes me sick!" Aurora’s lips gnarled, revealing her teeth.
“Take her downstairs; I want her to learn that I make these rules for her safety. I enforce the laws so she does not have to bear the burden of what happened to me." Aurora stared into nothingness, lost in memory, rubbing the scar on her stomach through her robes. A tear welled up in her eye as she gritted her teeth. “Teach her, Princess. If she forgets this lesson, you will be the one I punish, and I will not be as lenient as I was a moment ago.”
With a stern look in his eye, Princess nodded his chin that he understood. “Yes Empress Aurora. Your wish is my command. I do your bidding." He stood to attention and headed out of the room.
Corinne had an elegant beauty to her. She excelled ahead of the other girls in her class; her skill with illusions surpassed the other girls her age. Her light blonde hair hung to her shoulders and shimmered in the candlelight. She swirled her hair around her finger as she turned the page to the study book in her lap with her other hand.
“Illusion is the stimulation and alteration of electric pulses of, and relating to, the occipital lobe, located at the back of the brain, behind the parietal lobe and temporal lobe,” she whispered to herself, trying to memorize it. “The concentration of magic, into and around this lobe, as well as the wielder’s ability to channel this magic, will determine the effects, and reality, of these illusions." She looked up at the ceiling, trying to recite the words as she read them.
The door swung open, startling her, making her slam the book shut. Princess strode into her room. He looked to the right, and swiveled his head left until his eyes met with Corinne’s.
“Princess, what are you doing here?” she spat out, her voice laced with worry. Princess did not make visits unless something needed urgent attention.
“Corinne, Empress Aurora ordered me to take you downstairs. Please come with me. I would hate to have to make you. Please, come with me on your own accord." His eyes conveyed the seriousness of his words. Princess never held any discontent towards the women of the castle, no matter how much they tortured or hurt him. He followed directions like a dog, submissive and loving to his master. He always forgave and tried his best to please his master. He loved Empress Aurora, and he would die fighting with every last breathe in his chest to protect her.
“What’s the problem Princess?" Her eyes darted to the left and back on him, a small glint of guilt stained across her forehead. She knew why he visited. She knew better but she could not help it; Timothy was so handsome. How could she hide something when her Empress could read minds? Did she think she could hide this from Aurora? She damned herself for being foolish. This would not be good. She realized she would be in a world of pain.
“Please Corinne, the sooner you come with me, the sooner this will be over. Empress Aurora needs me to teach you. I need to make you learn. Please. I know this will not be pleasant for you, but time will heal. Let’s move.”
Corinne stood there, holding her breath. “This is about
, isn’t it?" Princess stood in the doorway, one hand holding the door, the other motioning her out. She walked out the doorway, slowing realizing what would soon happen. Princess strode in front of her, keeping a steady pace, looking back every few minutes to make sure she still followed behind him. He walked down a long hallway decorated with ornate suits of polished armors on either side of the green carpet. Princess’s trunk-like arms brushed the suits of armor on both sides of them, while Corinne followed down the middle, nowhere close to touching the armor. The smell of moist dirt filled the hall and the chill of the air made her grip her opposing arms with each hand. Princess stopped and opened the solid, worn door at the hall’s end, which had bars about eye level through the small glassless window. This door lead to the dungeon. Corinne burst into tears as she brought her hands up to cover her eyes, realizing where they were going.
A massive hand with sausage-sized fingers gripped her shoulder and pulled her towards the entrance. She sniffed the tears away, trying to be strong. Her mind went back to the night with Timothy. Memories of their intimacy flooded her mind, how he touched her body, and how she kissed him. She arched her back on top of him, moaning with delight as she dug her fingernails into his chest. She never felt so exhilarated. Was it worth it? She did not even love him, but the moment they shared overtook her. She knew she made a mistake and nervously awaited her punishment.
Empress Aurora planned to rid the world of man. That was her conquest. All of the women of Cloudkeep Kingdom were pounded with repetitious teachings that men were terrible and abusive creatures. She said that men prevent women from living a true life. They hold them back, and make women slaves for sex, and laborious chores. If you do not give men what they want, they will take it from you.