Date Published: 7/6/2013
The night before his Coming-of-Age, Ghyll and his two friends escaped their castle on a clandestine hunt that would forever change their lives.
They returned just in time to see their island castle destroyed by strange warriors from a dragonboat and flocks of burning birds.
Ghyll’s birthday turned into a nightmare as they fled into the night.
This begins an epic journey to find out who is trying to kill them... and most importantly, why?
Fortunately, they can count on colorful new friends to assist, including a sometimes overly enthusiastic fire mage, an inexperienced paladin and a female beastmaster who is a ferocious mountain lion.
In a world filled with jealous priests, corrupt magistrates, bored aristocrats and power-hungry magicians, they try to survive dark wizards, murderous golems, and fire bird attacks.It soon becomes apparent that not one but several assassins are after them. Who are these members of an obscure, long-forgotten organization?And whose cold hand reaches across the boundaries of space and time to threaten weakened Rhidauna?
While the time is running the friends undertake a quest that leads them through a large part of Rhidauna. Following them, the reader is carried along on an exciting journey through a colorful world, whose people, culture and atmosphere are described with great attention to detail without the story losing momentum.
After an hour or two, they came to a ruined castle, overgrown with ivy, with a round tower of which only the lower part was still intact.
Ghyll decided it was time for a halt. He liked the location of the old ruins, at the forest’s edge, with a beautiful view over the river. A pleasant place for a hunting lodge, he thought. Not as dull as Tinnurad. He bit his lip; this was something he had thought often enough before, but now it made him feel ashamed.
Along the side of the ruins lay a lawn, large enough for the horses. Ghyll thought to see a glimmer of sunlight on water, so they could drink. An ideal place for a pause, but Ulanth didn’t agree.
‘What is it, boy?’ said Ghyll. His warhorse snorted and laid his ears flat against his neck. At first, he refused to put a foot on the lawn and when he did, he was tenser than Ghyll had ever seen him. Surprised, he looked around him, but he saw nothing wrong. Even the other horses showed no signs of distress. He shrugged and slid from the saddle. ‘You are seeing ghosts, boy,’ he told Ulanth. ‘There’s nothing amiss.’ The warhorse threw back his head and snorted.
‘Quiet!’ said Ghyll with a laugh. ‘Behave yourself.’ Then he joined the others in the shade of an old hawthorn.
Just as he sat down, Ulanth screamed.
Alarmed, Ghyll turned on his heels. The curse on his lips evaporated at the sight of six black figures running at them from the castle tower. He sprang to his feet, caught his toes on a gnarled hawthorn root and tumbled sideways into the grass. At that same moment, a bolt of lightning shot past him and exploded on the spot where he had just been sitting.
Brandishing his sword, Ghyll wanted to run to the castle, but Bo’s hasty ‘Wait!’ froze him in mid-step. The young mage took a dramatic pose, with his arms outstretched to the sky. Between his spread fingers sparks flashed back and forth. A large ball of fire shot away from Bo’s hands, bounced once and then rolled like a comet toward the ruins, leaving a black tail of scorched grass. Ghyll heard how inside the tower a cry of fear drowned in an explosion. He looked around at his foster brother. Olle stood legs apart, hacking at a golem with his great sword. As always, Ghyll was struck by the brute force that radiated from Olle, a power he knew he would never be able to match. It was clear the golem could not, either, for it defended itself like a novice. Was the makeman so unskilled in single combat, or would it be the death of the golem master? Before Ghyll could think this idea through, he sensed movement in the corner of his eye and spun around. Just in time, he managed to hit an opponent hard under the chin with the pommel of his sword. The golem stumbled backward, giving Ghyll time. With a quick overhand swing, the young man brought his sword down on the crystal in the golem’s head. The monster fell to the ground like a bag of mud. Panting, Ghyll looked around. He heard Olle shouting his maniacal ‘Ayooo!’ His foster brother had finished off two opponents already and was busy on his third.
Bo attacked a fourth with his spells, but like those in Tinnurad, this golem was indifferent to fire. With terrifying slowness, he came towards the mage, a long dagger in each hand. Ghyll saw Damion run towards them, armed with nothing but his hunting knife. Damion, who was no warrior and forced to watch while his comrades fought. Crazy brave, thought Ghyll, but he would be too late. The golem had come to within four feet of Bo. The young mage seemed to realize that his magic was useless. His aristocratic face contorted, his fists clenched in a futile gesture of defiance. The creature pulled back an elbow to strike and Ghyll gasped.
From somewhere, the sound of a snarling cat broke the tension and a silver-gray mountain lion pounded into the golem. Sharp claws tore the skin of the makeman open and the ooze splashed around, while the golem fell backwards under the weight of the cat. The mountain lion looked at Ghyll. Eyes the color of honey, the young man thought. Does it want to tell me something?
With a faint growl, the cat turned and ran across the lawn to finish off the next golem. At the same time, Olle relieved the last makeman of his head and with that the battle was over.
Ghyll walked to Bo, on his knees beside the fallen golem. The mage was giggling, with tears running down his face. ‘Stop it,’ said Ghyll and gripped Bo’s shoulders. The young mage hiccupped and turned his tearstained face towards Ghyll. ‘Pardon,’ he said weakly. ‘It was the shock.’
Ghyll nodded and let him go. ‘I know,’ he said a bit awkwardly.
Bo wiped his face and tried with his trembling fingers to get his hair back in place. ‘Thanks. I’m all right now.’
Ghyll looked around over the unexpected battlefield. So that’s what we’ve been training for all these years. He rubbed his hands over his face and found to his surprise that they trembled. I wasn’t scared. He grinned.
Damion came to him, his face contrite. ‘My father would kill me. All those wasted fighting lessons he gave me, nothing stuck! I could only watch.’
Ghyll squeezed his shoulder. ‘I saw you running for Bo,’ he said. ‘That was very brave of you.’
The youth blinked. ‘I had to do something.’
Then both looked at the mountain lion, which stood at ease in the middle of the lawn. The animal stretched and yawned. Its yellow eyes stared at Ghyll. Its tail swung back and forth as it took a step toward him. Without thought, the young man stepped back. The sleek look of the cat inspired him with more fear than all the golems together. His hand went to his sword.
At that moment, the animal faded. Ghyll’s mouth fell open when instead of the mountain lion a girl appeared, in the most exorbitant clothes that he had ever seen. She wore a high-necked charcoal gray gown adorned with all kinds of necklaces and amulets. Her face she’d painted white; her lips were painted black and her eyebrows were two thin lines running high. She had shaven her dark hair at the temples, except for two braids. On the top of her head, a silver hairpin held it backwards, covered by the welter of black feathers she wore as a veil to her shoulders. She was young, thought Ghyll, and not so tall. But whether she was pretty or plain, slim or plump, he could not say. She regarded the company with obvious reluctance and Ghyll got the curious feeling that she avoided his gaze.
‘I told you it wasn’t a real mountain lion,’ said Damion triumphantly.
‘Sure I was real,’ snapped the girl. ‘Shall I show you the strength of my claws?’
‘Nonsense,’ said Damion stubbornly. ‘If you’d been a real mountain lion, I would’ve heard you.’
‘What?’ The girl’s voice became shrill. ‘You think you’re a beastmaster, huh?’
Damion shrugged. ‘I don’t know what a beastmaster is, but I do know that I can hear animals.’
‘Ho, ho,’ said Ghyll. ‘Don’t fight. Thank you for helping us,’ he told the girl. ‘You have saved Bo’s life.’
The young mage watched with an expression on his face as if he would rather have died. ‘A wikke,’ he spat.
‘A wikke,’ said the girl. ‘I’d rather have seen the golem cut you into slices than have to save you, temple slave. But I’ve got my orders.’
‘Hush,’ said Ghyll, giving Bo a stern look. ‘She’s helped us.’ He held out his hand. ‘I am Ghyll Denhalf.’
With some hesitation, the girl shook hands with him. She looks guilty, thought Ghyll. Why?
‘I’m Uwella,’ said the girl. ‘A wikke of the Gray Order.’ At that moment, Olle appeared from the half-collapsed tower. When the girl saw him, she grimaced and her hand went to the high lace collar around her neck.
Olle looked at the wikke with raised eyebrows. ‘Who is she?’
‘The mountain lion,’ smiled Ghyll. ‘Meet the wikke Uwella.’
Olle shook his head. ‘You can explain in a moment.’ He gestured toward the tower. ‘The golem master is dead. I wouldn’t look if I were you. Bo’s fireballs are quite effective; they roasted that scoundrel alive. Here,’ he threw Ghyll a long chain with a dark crystal. ‘That’s the only recognizable thing left.’
‘Was it Vasthul?’ asked Ghyll, slipping the chain into his saddlebag.
Olle shook his head. ‘No, it wasn’t. This fellow was much taller than that brown cloak. His face was, um... not quite in good shape, but he seemed younger, too. ‘
The fire mage walked to the ruins, but returned in minutes, even paler than before and his eyes wide with horror. ‘Olle was right.’ He grabbed Ghyll’s arm as if he sought support. ‘I’ve never done this to a real opponent. I had no idea...’ He swallowed. ‘It looks quite different in the practice halls.’
Ghyll nodded. He suddenly realized that the golem master had tried to kill him, and it was like a kick in the face. ‘I think it’s better to go on tomorrow,’ he said, while a shiver ran through his body.
‘All right. Not inside the tower, that sorcerer’s bad company. A night out in the open won’t hurt us.’ Olle looked around the field. ‘Under the tree.’ He looked from Uwella to Ghyll. ‘And we need to talk.’
Paul E. Horsman
Lives in Roosendaal, The Netherlands.
I was born in Bussum, The Netherlands, in the year 1952.
After many years in business, I ended up in 1995 in education. My school was specialized in Dutch language and integration courses for foreigners. Unhappily, due to changed legislation this beautiful work stopped in mid-2012. My age, five years from retirement, makes it nigh on impossible to find something else, so now I am building up a career as an independent author.
SF and Fantasy have fascinated me since my high school days, but apart from some juvenile trash, I never seriously tried to write anything.
It was in 2007, I took the first steps in what is now the fantasy kingdom of Rhidauna. After several false starts and associated discouraged intervals, a spark began to grow and mid-2010, the first two parts of Shadow of the Revenaunt were more or less written.
With the Revenaunt-series, I had in mind something in the way of days gone by. A heroic tale with sympathetic protagonists and black villains, in which good always triumphs in the end. Something to counterbalance the modern gritty style.
In 2012 the first book, Rhidauna, was traditionally published in The Netherlands. The second book, Zihaen, followed in March 2013 and book three, Ordelanden, is scheduled for September in NL. Now I’m selfpublishing the international edition, well-translated and edited. The English version of Rhidauna appeared in July. Zihaen is being edited for later this year.
Next to the Revenaunt-series, I’m writing The Shardheld Saga, a trilogy, of which the first, Shardfall, appeared on Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, etc, in May 2013. The second book, Runemaster, is being edited and scheduled for September.
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