Book three of the Shadows Trilogy
Baric has already failed once to stop the horror of the dragon, Doomrage, who continues his attacks against the people of Hir from the realm of shadows. Baric and his new-found companion, Ramura, the Lord of the Lions, must journey to find an artifact of great power created by an ancient race from a previous era of Hir.
Still hoping to save the soul of his lost love, Whisper, from the monster’s shadowy prison, Baric doesn’t realize that Doomrage now has full control and has sent Whisper’s simulacrum to slay the very man in whom she once placed her hope, and the deadly assassin now tracks the Rangers on their quest to find the ancient relic they need to defeat the equally ancient dragon.
The world of Hir now stands on the brink of war with the demonic Manenase and their massive horde of Morok minions. The armies of the civilized races of Hir come together and gather to meet this threat from the Great Divide, as Baric, Ramura and the Zumarian, Sainsha, journey to the haunted Ghost Swamp to find the lost Amulet of Thiranor, which holds the key to stopping Doomrage, once and for all.
In the epic conclusion to the Shadows Trilogy of the Rangers of Laerean series, much lore from the ancient past is learned, and the history of the ancient magical creatures known as the Mythica is discovered, while the shadow of the great Dragon Spirit, Narwyrm, looms over them all.
He listened to the sound of the trickling sand, but soon realized it was not stopping. Tilting his head, he then also realized that it was not pouring sand he was hearing, but something moving across it.
“Ramura?” he called aloud. “Is that you?”
A mental voice came into his mind, but it was not the voice of Ramura. It was a hissing voice, like the sound of the wind in the trees.
“Ramura? Don’t tell me my old friend hasss come to visit,” said the blood-curdling, raspy voice. “I’ve not ssseen that old cat in many thousssandsss of yearsss.”
Baric realized that whatever it was, it was speaking to him in the same fashion as Ramura, telepathically. And the voice did not have a friendly tone, despite the fact it called Ramura an old friend.
“Who are you?” Baric asked.
There was a sudden burst of flame as several torches stuck into sconces along a stone wall behind him were ignited, seemingly on their own, and the room in which he now lay was opened wide to his vision. But it was not the room or its enormous size that captured Baric’s attention. It was the occupant.
Coiled in the center of the room was a gigantic, blood-red snake, its body over three feet thick. It had to be over thirty feet in length, but that was hard to determine as it was coiled like a spring, with its head rising above its body.
The head was enormous, nearly four feet in length, with a long snout that ended in an upturned set of huge nostrils. The bright-green eyes on that head, with the slit pupils of a serpent, gazed at him, looking down on him, while a red, forked tongue slithered in and out of its mouth. The thought did not escape him that a mouth such as that could easily swallow a man whole.
“I am Udak, ssson of Sssosssian, and Keeper of the Flame,” came the proud, sibilant voice within his mind. “Now, ssshort-eared creature, would you like to tell me who you are, before I make a meal of you? Your meat ssseemsss far more appealing than the ssscorpionsss and lizardsss of thissss desssert.”
“You’ll make no meal of this one, brother,” came the familiar voice of Ramura, as he walked into the light from the darkness, his white fur glowed in the light from the torches.
“Ahhh,” hissed Udak, turning his attention to Ramura. “Then you’re here after all. I’m sssurprisssed you ssstill live, old friend.”
“No more surprised than I that you have survived,” replied Ramura. “I see you’ve not changed much in all these millennia.”
“Why are you here?” asked Udak. “Why have you come to a placcce that died ssso long ago?”
“I could ask the same,” was Ramura’s reply, being understandably secretive and cautious.
Baric did not need a wild imagination to get the gist of their conversation. They were not friends, but enemies. Ancient enemies. Udak was another of the Mythica.
“Ssso,” Udak said in his hissing voice. “Are we to fight onccce again?”
“That depends on you, Udak. I’ve no desire to do you harm, but I also won’t be so foolish as to cozy up to a snake. Especially one who serves Narwyrm.”
Udak eyed Ramura for a moment, his eyes reflecting the malice and loathing he felt for Ramura. “You mussst be ssseeking sssomething, or you wouldn’t have entered the desssert to find thisss placcce. What do you hope to find among the dead?”
Ramura’s magic was the stronger of the two of them, and he could prevent Udak from telepathically hearing any communication he shared with Baric.
Ramura sent Baric a quick instruction, “Say nothing. He can’t be trusted. He serves our enemy.”
Ramura continued to allow Baric to hear the conversation between the two Mythica, and Baric kept silent, resting his aching ankle.
“First,” said Ramura to Udak, “tell me why you’re here. Why do you haunt these ruins?”
Udak made a sound that might have been a chuckle, but it was difficult to tell. “The world isss cold, I ssseek the warmth of the sssandsss. Nothing more.” Though Udak could not hear the thoughts of Baric and Ramura, he was aware of the mental barrier Ramura had established. “You’ve sssomething to hide from me, yesss?”
Baric suddenly felt the warmth of Ramura’s healing magic on his ankle and Ramura’s thought in his mind. “Prepare yourself, Ranger. We must fight.”
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About the author website
Entering the realm of novel writer late in life, Tom Fallwell, at an age of more than sixty years, jumped into that world with both feet. Having always had a fascination with fantasy world-building, even from early in his life, Tom wanted to create his own world filled with rich history and lore. His Rangers of Laerean series does just that, painting a panoramic landscape that is both magical and deadly, in which to set the stories of his Rangers.
Tom lives in the greater Oklahoma City area, in America’s homeland, and spends much of his time with online gaming and watching movies, when not writing his latest work.