When a god dies, do their powers die with them? What if what remains holds an ancient evil at bay? What if that evil were set free?
When we last left the original companions, they were given an impossible task: find the staff of the missing god of light and remove it from his tomb. If not, the city of Penwick would meet an icy death at the hands of a maniacal dracolich.
As promised, here at long last is the first excerpt from Tomb of the the Gods, the fourth entry in the Rise of the Thrall Lord. At the end of Protectors, the original companions had a deadly encounter with the dracolich, Jinkolothos. That encounter left Glolindir frozen solid and Seth gone in a cataclysmic implosion.
As far as the rest of the companions knew their friends were dead. Somehow they needed to pull themselves together and find the Staff of Law before Jinkolothos destroyed the city. Yet, what if their friends weren't dead? What if, against all odds, they had somehow survived that fateful encounter?
The following excerpt is from the first chapter of Tomb of the Gods, entitled Mostly Dead:
The grayness stretched out in all directions as far as the eye could see. No being or thing lay in sight, no other colors marring the emptiness. Not a single sound penetrated the stillness. Nothing seemed to exist here except for the empty void. Closing his eyes, Glolindir gingerly rubbed his temples. When he reopened them though, nothing had changed.
The tall elf floated in the midst of a still gray void with nothing else in sight. Not even a light shone through the dimness, though somehow, he could see in this dull gray gloom.
His memory foggy, Glo shook his head in an effort to clear it. How had he ended up here in the first place? The last thing he remembered was entering the basement of the vampire lord’s castle in the Shadow Plane. That chamber had been huge, though thick fog covered most of the floor.
As Glo struggled to recall those memories, something stirred in the emptiness before him. The grayness began to swirl, colors bleeding in, out of nowhere. When the swirling stopped, an oval image had formed in the grayness in front of the flaxen-haired elf.
Glo stifled a gasp. That’s the basement of the shadow castle!
The vision started to play out the memories at the forefront of his mind.
A sudden chill ran up Glo’s spine. Something huge emerged from the mists, towering over him and his companions. It was an enormous skeletal dragon, eerie hollowed sockets staring down at them from where its eyes should have been.
Glo watched in horror as a glacial blast burst from the creature’s massive maw straight downward. The wizard felt his chest tighten as he heard himself cast a desperate spell. A split second before the barrage of sleet struck, a translucent globe of shimmering mana formed above them.
The arctic blast slammed into the globe, the force of its sheer power swiftly overwhelming the wizard. Glo’s heart raced as he heard himself cry out a last desperate plea.
“Lloyd, get them out of here!” His voice sounded strangely muted, as if traveling over a great distance. Behind him he saw a red blur as the warrior leapt into action.
A second later the barrier broke. The vision zoomed in as a frigid wave of ice and sleet poured over the hapless elf. The image faded after that leaving him alone again in the endless grayness.
Glo floated there feeling even more lost than ever. What happened once he was gone? Had Lloyd managed to save the others?
At the thought of his friends, the grayness before him began to swirl once more. Colors filtered in again mixing to form yet another image. A tall red-clad figure came into focus.
Lloyd! Glo gasped in earnest.
The warrior stood against a dark background wearing a gaunt expression. Andrella’s head lay upon his broad shoulder, tears openly streaming down her cheeks. The vision widened to show the white-robed Aksel across from the duo. The quiet Xellos stood off to one side, with an uncharacteristically subdued Alys seated on the ground next to him.
Glo breathed a heavy sigh. They did get away safely.
A long row of grey tombstones surrounded his companions, stretching off far into the distance. He immediately recognized the place. It was the Olde Town Graveyard in Penwick; the place where the shadow castle first appeared over the city.
It was then his eyes fell on the still form laying in the midst of his friends. Garbed in purple robes, the figure had long flaxen hair with the tip of a pointed ear jutting out from beneath the pale strands.
A lump welled in the back of Glo’s throat. That must be me, he thought numbly. It felt almost surreal gazing down upon one’s own body.
Their eyes fixed on the body in their midst, his friends appeared to be talking amongst themselves. Once again, the sound seemed muted, as if heard through a long tunnel.
Glo strained his ears to hear their words, when a voice abruptly rang in his ear. This one sounded clear as day. “I thought I told you to stay out of trouble?”
The startled elf spun about to find a familiar visage floating in the gray void not far from him. It was a woman garbed in a short red top with a long red skirt tightly affixed around her waist. A matching red hood draped over her black cap which in turn was embossed with a set of yellow stars. A luxurious mane of honey-blonde hair flowed from beneath her cap perfectly framing her heart-shaped face. A sarcastic smile adorned the woman’s lips, but he could see the fear hidden behind those striking violet eyes.
Glo’s heart melted at the sight of her. The immortal seeress was the love of his life—or had been, he corrected himself. He’d forfeited his life and with it anything that might have been between them. His delight at seeing her shifting to pain, his face contorting into a grimace. “I didn’t exactly have a choice.”
The seeress’ face softened, her eyes filled with understanding. “I know,” she murmured.
Down below, the others were discussing what to do next. It abruptly dawned upon Glo that Seth was not among them. Perhaps the halfling was skulking around somewhere invisible, but he still should’ve been able to see him.
Glo let out a short sigh. Either way, his friends had brought up a good point. What now? I can’t just float up here forever, can I? He cast a curious eye at Elistra. “Shouldn’t I be seeing a white light or something?”
A slight giggle escaped the seeress’ mouth. It was not at all the reaction he expected.
A single eyebrow traveled up Glo’s forehead. “What’s so amusing?”
That wry smile returned to her lips. “Oh, my dear sweet Glolindir. You’re not dead.”
A wave of confusion abruptly washed over him. He glanced down at his frozen body, his brow knitting into a deep frown. “I’m not? Then what am I doing up here?”
A sudden touch on his shoulder nearly made him jump. Elistra now floated next to him, her eyes twinkling with a mixture of compassion and mirth. “You’re in a form of hibernation.”
Glo eyed her sharply. During the course of his studies, his father pushed him to research a wide variety of subjects. One of those areas happened to be nature. “You mean like the animals do in the winter?”
Elistra pursed her lips together, her head bobbing back and forth. “Yours is a bit of an extreme case, but yes.”
For the first time since he woke in this strange, gray empty void, Glo felt a spark of hope ignite in the very center of his chest. Almost afraid to hear the answer, he tentatively ventured a follow-up question. “Does this mean—I can possibly be revived?”
Instead of answering, Elistra moved closer and placed her hands upon his chest. Though her touch felt warm and calming, he could see the uncertainty in her eyes. “I believe so, but I’m not quite sure of how to go about it.” She paused, her gaze falling from his.
Glo had known her long enough to sense there was more to it than she was saying. He put his hand under her chin and lifted her head until their eyes met once more. “What aren’t you telling me?”
Elistra let out a soft sigh, a wan smile crossing her lips. “Am I really that transparent?”
For the first time since he found himself up here, Glo let out a soft chuckle. “Only to me.”
She fixed him with a piercing stare, then took in a sharp breath and let it out. “Very well. It’s just a hunch, but I feel if your body were to thaw out naturally, it might not survive the shock.”
Glo arched an eyebrow at her. It certainly wasn’t what he wanted to hear, yet she hadn’t rung his death knell either. There was still a chance, albeit slim. Gulping down his fears, he put his arms around her waist and forced himself to smile. “Thank you for giving me even the smallest hope. As for the how, there are some extraordinary wizards and healers in Penwick. Perhaps our friends could ask for their help?”
Hope glimmered in her violet eyes as she met his gaze with a firm nod. “I will let them know.” Before he could say another word, she stood up on her toes and pressed her lips against his.
Glo’s head swam as he lost himself in the warmth and comfort of the only woman he had ever loved.
Sorry, but we'll have to end things there. In coming months I'll have more excerpts from Tomb, in particular revealing what happened to Seth. Beyond that, I am almost finished writing the entire novel. If things go as planned, it should be up for preorder in the next month or so with a release date this spring.
Thanks and feel free to leave comments below!