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Karolyn Cole and the

Perilous Passage

Book V (Work in Progress)

The Cole Twins Saga

Target Publication December 2024

 

Commissioned by the Masters of the University of Mu. Translated in part from scrolls of the forest trolls and the memoirs of Karolyn Cole, Alexi, Chepi, and Sumati, the tale of escape and flight from Mekoria is as hair raising as it is heroic.

Attempts to gain information from the Abatwa proved most difficult as their written records are infinitesimally small and written on brittle leaf fiber scrolls. Their oral history is peppered with glorious fabrications of lofty deeds that even the giants of the archipelago would find difficult to achieve.

Arturo's part in freeing Karolyn from the chamber of bones was also difficult to obtain, mainly because of his feline pride. He didn't want it known that a saber tooth tiger could be chained by a witch. He only relented when convinced his later heroic actions would be told.

EXCERPT

The Road Less Traveled

An icy wind swept the Mekorian hills, lifting the spent leaves of fall in swirling dance. Karolyn drew her cape tight and leaned close to the unicorns’ neck, her hands seeking warmth beneath the silky mane. Far ahead, jagged spears of lightening smote the high peaks, igniting silhouettes that spoke warning, that only those foolish or desperate would attempt to scale their heights. Holding tight to Autumn’s mane, she whispered a count after each flashing spear, each count measuring another mile to the summits. At the count of fifteen she heard the wrathful grumble. “Fifteen miles, not so bad,” she said.

“Fifteen miles if you have wings and fly,” said Alexi from behind. “At least three times that on horseback, then the real climb begins to the Mysties valley. The pass is above.”

“This storm is a warning,” she worried aloud. She was not alone.

Those with her rode in stunned silence, the haste of their escape from Mekoria and the danger of their mission weighing on all. “If only this was a dream,” she said, wishing she could wake safe in her cozy attic room in Berkeley. With a heavy sigh she wished to return to a normal world where dragons, wizards, and demons existed only in fairytales.

She gazed at Chepi riding beside her, a short stout woodling woman with brunette hair, rosy cheeks, and a beaming smile. The museum keeper wore tan riding breeches, a green leaf-fiber tunic, and a dark-blue hooded cape. “If this is a dream, she’s a fragment of a memory, perhaps a midget women I saw in Berkeley,” she mused, “her image dug up from my memory to play her part in a nightmare.”

She looked back at the others in the party. They were riding saddled horses, wearing capes with hoods pulled up to hide their identity from prying eyes. Wrapped in their own somber thoughts, her companions rode in silence. They were fugitives, hunted criminals, wanted by the Mekorian High Council for treason, desertion, theft, and witchcraft. If caught, they would all be hanged, burnt at the stake, or worse. Each seemed an unlikely candidate to live in any but the darkest of dreams.

The closest riders were two Mekorian children, Alexei, and Sumati, both, like her, thirteen revolutions in age, skilled illusionists known as Illumine. A recurrence ago they rescued her from akvan slavers by casting the illusion of wolves. “They could be kids I saw in junior high,” she mused, “I passed them in the hall between classes or saw them sitting in the cafeteria at lunch. I didn’t pay any attention to them then but here they are in my dream.”

The others were not so easy to explain. Behind the two Illumine rode a kobold shape shifter, Anatolii, first met as a rooster on the balcony of Long Do’s pottery shop. Now in the guise of a woodling, he rode beside the strangest of them all, Samanya, a ghost met in an enchanted forest, now appearing as solid as one alive.

They rode a little used trail that would lead to a mountain pass. There they would find a forgotten fortress, the derelict carcass of a castle, once a stronghold of the legendary Warrior-Kings. Little more did she know except that beyond the pass their destination was a coastal city named Mer. There they would buy a ship and sail the sea to a far-off land known as Azmerith.

There, it was Karolyn’s hope that the Seven Keys of Azmerith would have their power restored. She would meet the creator dragon Gaff in his resting place, the Lake of Light and he would empower the keys to end the war in Lemuria.