The Veredor Chronicles: Book 03 - The Gate and Beyond

BOOK: The Veredor Chronicles: Book 03 - The Gate and Beyond
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THE GATE AND BEYOND

BOOK THREE OF THE VEREDOR CHRONICLES

By E J GILMOUR

 

The Gate and Beyond: Book Three of the Veredor Chronicles

Including a comprehensive guide to Veredor

Copyright 2013 E J Gilmour

 

ISBN: 978-0-9923750-2-7

 

Hero Pages Publishing

www.heropagespublishing.com

www.ejgilmour.com

 

The Gate and Beyond: Book Three of the Veredor Chronicles by E J Gilmour is subject to copyright. All rights reserved. This publication must not be altered, printed, resold, shared, copied or redistributed without the written permission of Hero Pages Publishing. This publication is a work of fiction. All characters and situations in this novel are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to real people or situations is coincidental. Cover image: © depositphotos.com/wampa76

 

This novel is a direct continuation of The Journey West: Book Two of the Veredor Chronicles. It is recommended that you first read The Sword of Light and The Journey West to fully grasp the events of this story.

MAP OF THE WESTERN LANDS

CHAPTER ONE

Eben Awoke. The sound of water droplets echoed in the distance. He opened his eyes and could see a suspended layer of water floating about ten feet above. The upside down layer of water was acting as a ceiling. A school of fish slowly drifted by just above the surface. He turned his head and looked around. He was lying on the sandy floor of the ocean in a chamber with suspended walls of rippling water. The Sword of Light and the small glass case with the two candles had been placed beside him. He was clothed in a strange silky green material.

‘Welcome,’ said a soft voice.

He looked back. A man with an aged face, a thick grey beard, and big emerald green eyes was seated on the ground a little way back from him. The man was clothed in the same green material as Eben. His bright eyes glimmered in the soft light of the ocean floor.

‘Who are you? ’ asked Eben as he sat up. His hand went to where the wound should have been on his chest, but he found his injuries had been completely healed.

‘You were brought to us by a group of ocean sprites. They found you drifting beneath the waves. You were very close to death. You have been with us for seven days,’ said the old man. ‘My name is Casimir. I’m a friend of the mer. This place is the southern home of the merfolk.’

‘You are an Astarian,’ said Eben, sensing that Casimir was not a man.

‘Yes,’ said Casimir softly. ‘I am one of the three remaining Astarians in Veredor. Once my people were numerous, yet now my race is close to extinction. Veredor, our cherished home, shall pass on to others. We will be forgotten like a dream.’

Eben stared at him for some time before speaking again. ‘My name is Eben.’

‘And you are the Ecorian,’ said Casimir, smiling warmly. ‘I know who you are. I have been watching you from afar. I first became aware of you when you were in Zyran; I watched when you arrived at Faircastle, I saw you drink from the Pool of Radiance, I saw you duel with Callidus, and I saw you fall beneath the waves. Of course you cannot possibly drown; this event simply woke up the mer which was dormant deep within you.’

Eben stared at the aged Astarian, his eyes wide with wonder.

‘If you are an Astarian why didn’t you help me? Surely you could have helped us fight Callidus. Many good people died in the battle at Crescent Bay,’ said Eben, a deep feeling of grief rose in his chest. ‘Why didn’t you help us, Casimir?’ Eben thought of Chiara at the moment that she was murdered and the fallen Tabarian Knights who had been so loyal to him.

Casimir looked down at the sandy ground. Eben could clearly see the burden of grief the Astarian was carrying. ‘If I had intervened I would not have been able to help you now. There was more at risk than you know. I am the last living Astarian who opposes the Prince of Shadows. I resist his desire to completely control the Cosmic Gate. If I die the Prince of Shadows could instantly expel all men and mer into the deserts beyond Veredor. He would then rule Veredor completely unopposed, and he would entirely control the Cosmic Gate. Veredor would then fall beneath a veil of eternal darkness. Since you were in Zyran I have been protecting you from the eyes of the Prince of Shadows and his seers. When you arrived here I used most of my remaining strength to heal you; now I am greatly weakened. Saving you from death was the best way I could help you and our world.’

‘Thank you for saving me,’ said Eben. ‘But how can we defeat the Prince of Shadows. Is there any hope left?’

‘The battle is not over. The Prince of Shadows does not yet fully control the Cosmic Gate. There is still time to defeat him.’

‘But how? The Irvarians and Evedonians were completely crushed by his army. Callidus said there is another army of one hundred thousand muckrons marching on Faircastle. Who can possibly stand in their way?’

‘There are other men who will rise up to fight the invasion. You are the Ecorian; you must find a way to save our world. The Prince of Shadows is preparing for his final victory. He believes the battle is all but over. There is still a chance to save us all.’

‘But how can I? I was completely outmatched by Callidus.’

Casimir stared at Eben for a long moment. He pondered Eben’s question. ‘War is not the ultimate answer to this quest. If you are going to overcome the Prince of Shadows you must take control of the Cosmic Gate. It is the only way that you can expel him from Veredor.’

‘How can I take control of the Cosmic Gate?’ asked Eben.

The Astarians eyes drifted to look at the rippling wall of water. A small shark swam by just beyond. A few moments passed in silence. ‘When we first welcomed men and mer to Veredor we expected they would be able to cross the Cosmic Gate as freely as the Astarians. We were perplexed when they could not. We were surprised in those days when men began to build walls and fences to keep each other out. Men revere power. They seek power all their lives. The Cosmic Gate was built from the essence of Veredor, and Astarians are a part of that essence; this is how we are able to open the Cosmic Gate. My race formed a relationship with Veredor when we first arrived. Our connection has endured for many ages. If you are to defeat the Prince of Shadows you must find a way to establish what was never established. Fiora’s Bridge must be crossed.’

‘Fiora’s Bridge, what is it?’

‘Fiora’s Bridge is a way that few men ever choose to travel but when they do anything is possible.’

‘How can I cross Fiora’s Bridge?’ asked Eben, hoping that Casimir could give him a direct answer.

‘I know there is a way. I also know you must find that way. The way to cross Fiora’s Bridge is shrouded in mystery. I cannot tell you how because I do not know, yet the secret is closer than you think.’

‘What about the mer people? Can they help men defeat the Prince of Shadows?’

‘There are few mer remaining in Veredor. Their race has diminished gradually since the end of the Forgotten Age. They cannot help you complete your task. You are the representative of the mer, and you are also a man. If you succeed Veredor will continue to be a world of men and the mer will remain deep in the oceans. If you fail Veredor will fall under an everlasting shadow.’

Eben looked down at the sandy surface of the ocean floor. His mind raced. The mystery of the Cosmic Gate was beyond him. His thoughts then returned to his friends. He wondered if Red, Stella, Cassiel, and Meara had survived the battle at Crescent Bay.

CHAPTER TWO

‘They’re coming over the hill!’ cried Cassiel.

A large pack of muckrons were rushing over a ridge about a hundred yards behind them. Just ahead of him Arlen was leading Baftel slowly through the forest. The old frail wizard was struggling onward. The five Irvarian soldiers had remained with them since they had escaped the battlefield at Crescent Bay. The soldiers were helping Arlen to lead Baftel onward.

‘Uhka Shah!!!’ howled a muckron.

‘Hurry!’ cried Alren as they entered a small grove which was mostly cleared of trees. Cassiel focused his mind and lifted his glowing hands as the muckrons charged through the trees at a blistering speed. Lightning shot forward from Cassiel’s hands, cutting down a wailing muckron and another just behind it. Another muckron cast a spear, narrowly missing Cassiel’s head. Cassiel blasted the muckron with intense flames. The monster recoiled back and screeched in pain.

Arlen left Baftel sitting by a tree trunk and dashed back to help Cassiel. The wizard’s long grey hair blew back in the wind as his dark eyes looked ahead at the approaching muckrons. Instantly the whole grove lit up as whirls of swirling blue power rushed forward from Arlen’s hands. A large muckron with a boar’s head and massive tusks was sent flying back by the impact. Arlen focused his power. Intense blue flames knocked down two more monsters. Meanwhile Cassiel sent dozens of glowing blue darts at a group of muckrons who were trying to move around behind them.

‘We are outnumbered,’ cried Arlen. Cassiel felt his power was depleting as more muckrons appeared on every side.

Suddenly the muckrons turned and retreated back through the woods. Cassiel looked over at Arlen and smiled, feeling relieved that the monsters had given up. Arlen’s eyes narrowed as he looked back through the woods in the direction the muckrons had fled.

‘What do you see?’ asked Cassiel.

‘There is something coming,’ said Arlen in a low voice.

Cassiel’s eyes scanned the woods; he caught sight of three dark figures approaching.

‘Northern Sorcerers,’ whispered Arlen, wiping the sweat from his brow. ‘They sent the muckrons first to weaken us.’ Arlen looked across to Cassiel. ‘Prepare yourself, Cassiel. This will indeed test our strength.’

The leader was a tall man in a long black cloak. His short grey hair was oiled back, and he had a deathly pale face. His eyes revealed his confidence; a sly smirk crossed his thin lips. On his right was a short man with long black hair and a very thin face. On his left was a fat man with a bald head and a nasty snarl etched into his features.

‘Irilians,’ said the leader in a mocking tone. ‘Did you really think you could escape our grip?’

Arlen stared directly into the eyes of the leader. ‘We are not afraid of you.’

‘Of course you would like me to think that,’ said the leader. ‘The time of the Irilians has come to an end. The kingdoms of the Ecorian Arbiters have all but fallen under the hand of the Lord of Veredor. Soon Faircastle will be destroyed, and the remnants of the Irilian Order will be crushed. You are weak, Irilian. Your power is no match for the power that grows in the north.’

‘We will fight until the end,’ said Arlen firmly.

‘The leader shook his head and smirked. ‘My name is Kazmok. Remember my name when you pass out of this world.’

The Northern Sorcerer raised his hands. A beam of green energy blasted forward at Arlen. Arlen formed a shield of shimmering blue light, and the beam struck the shield like thunder. Arlen strained to hold off the attack as Cassiel prepared a counterattack. Cassiel raised his hands and sent dozens of glowing blue darts at the three sorcerers. Instantly a green rippling shield of energy appeared. The darts were easily deflected by Kazmok’s shield.

Kazmok laughed. ‘Is that all you have, Irilian.’ A swirl of green energy blasted forward at Cassiel. Cassiel formed a shield, but his shield was instantly fractured from the enormous power of the attack. Cassiel tumbled back and hit the ground heavily. Meanwhile Arlen sent several bolts of lightning at the Northern Sorcerers. The evil sorcerers combined their strength to hold off Arlen’s power.

‘You are strong for an Irilian,’ said Kazmok. ‘But you are not strong enough.’ The three sorcerers raised their hands together; a massive surge of raw power shot through the air at Arlen. Arlen again formed a shimmering shield of blue light. His shield was no match for the surge of raw power, and he was knocked to the ground. Cassiel quickly got to his feet and went to Arlen’s side. The old wizard looked exhausted. His strained eyes glanced up at Cassiel.

‘We cannot win,’ admitted Arlen as the Northern Sorcerers approached.

The five Irvarian soldiers stepped forward to protect Arlen and Cassiel. The Northern Sorcerers laughed and froze them in place with an enchantment. The soldiers were horrified at not being able to move at all.

‘Now you see the truth,’ said Kazmok, laughing down at them.

Instantly a shockwave of blue light knocked the three Northern Sorcerers off their feet. The sorcerers struggled to get up and stumbled back as another shockwave powered into them. A moment later Meara appeared from the woods with Red and Stella by her side. She held in her hand a brightly glowing gemstone. Kazmok unleashed a torrent of power at Meara, but Meara deflected the attack and struck back with a massive lightning bolt that lit up the entire forest. Kazmok’s face twisted in horror.

‘How are you so powerful?’ cried Kazmok in disbelief.

‘You should not underestimate the Irilian Order,’ said Meara.

The Northern Sorcerers backed away to the edge of the grove. They raised their hands together; a wave of bright green power surged toward Meara. Meara formed a shield, and their attack fizzled away into nothing. She countered with thousands of bright blue darts. The Northern Sorcerers attempted to shield themselves, but several of the glowing darts penetrated their shield. Kazmok was the first to flee. He turned and ran away through the woods and was followed closely by his two cohorts. A few moments later they were gone from sight.

‘Should we go after them?’ asked Cassiel.

‘No, let them go,’ replied Meara. ‘We must leave before they send an army of muckrons against us.’

‘I am glad you found us,’ said Arlen. ‘I thought we were finished.’

‘We have been following your tracks for several days,’ said Stella.

‘We are heading for Faircastle,’ said Arlen. ‘Everdon has fallen to the enemy. We plan to follow the path that leads along the edge of the Old Guardian Mountains.’

‘The main highways through Everdon are overrun with monsters,’ said Baftel. ‘Only the lesser known paths provide a way out.’

‘Can you see King Edric with your power, Baftel?’ asked Meara.

Baftel looked up toward Meara and nodded. ‘Yes, he has escaped the enemy and is now in the Southern Irvaria Plains with several thousand Irvarian soldiers. He is on his way to Faircastle.’

‘We must hurry to join him there,’ said Meara, her turquoise blue eyes revealing her deep concern.

**

Eben walked with Casimir through a tunnel of suspended water along the floor of the ocean. He could see up through the sea to the surface hundreds of feet above. Schools of fish were frequently passing above and often he would see other creatures of the deep: stingrays, sharks, and glowing jelly fish.

‘How is it that the water stays in place and does not fall in on us? Is this because of your magic?’

The Astarian smiled and laughed a little. ‘No, it is a gift of the mer. Mer can manipulate water. They can also breathe underwater, yet the ability to breathe underwater is secondary to their ability to create these underwater chambers. It is a magic that is instilled in them by nature.’

‘You said that the sea awakened the mer in me. Can I also manipulate water?’ asked Eben.

‘Of course you can. I’m sure you can do everything the mer can do,’ said Casimir.

‘Will I meet the mer?’

‘Indeed you will, but you must understand that the mer are very shy. When you arrived here they did not know what to think about you. Men are as mysterious to the mer as mer are to men. You must be gentle with them. After all, they are your people as much as men are.’

Casimir led Eben through a long tunnel for quite some time. Eventually the tunnel opened into a large chamber with high walls of suspended water that arched upward. Four stone pillars stood about twenty feet in height and were positioned in the corners of the chamber. At the top of each pillar was a large crystal ball, and each crystal emanated a soft white light that lit the entire area.

Casimir smiled and looked around. ‘They are still very nervous of you.’

In the distance Eben could see people in a chamber that was cut off from where he was standing with Casimir. They were about fifty meters away through the sea. Suddenly the water between the two chambers started to form a corridor. In the space of twenty seconds the tunnel through the water had fully formed. Five people approached from the far chamber. They looked like men, and yet there was something different about them. They were all exceptionally beautiful, and their skin was soft and fair. Their hair fell long and was like silk, and their eyes were like gemstones and glittered in the subtle light of the ocean floor. Two of them were mermen and three were mermaids. They slowly approached and stood still just outside the main chamber.

‘Eben, these are your people. This is Algorus, King of the Southern Sea.’

The tallest of the mer stepped forward and bowed low.

‘It is also a pleasure to meet you,’ said Eben, aware that he had heard their voices in his mind welcoming him to their home. ‘You do not speak as men do?’

‘No, they can, but they choose not to,’ said Casimir. ‘Often the mer spend long periods of time in the water. The mer have always had the ability to speak to each other without words.’

One of the mermaids stepped forward and handed Eben a small crystal ball. The crystal ball had a shimmering glow at its centre.

‘This is the greatest treasure of the mer,’ said Casimir. ‘It is the Sun Stone of the Astarians; one of the most treasured relics brought by the Astarians when my race first arrived in Veredor. The Sun Stone was given to the mer by the Astarian Fiora shortly after they arrived in Veredor. They have treasured it ever since.’

‘Why are they giving the Sun Stone to me?’

‘You must take the Sun Stone with you when you return to the world above. It is a great sacrifice for them to hand it to you, yet they know this is the only way they can help you defeat the Prince of Shadows. There will come a time when you will need the Sun Stone to move onward in your quest. One day you will meet someone who has only one hand; you must give the Sun Stone to such a person, and you must not show the Sun Stone to anyone else until that day.’

‘Who is this person you speak of?’

‘You will know when the time is right. A dark shadow is passing over the world above. Soon the shadow will cross the ocean and enter the deep. There is much evil afoot. I must warn you; the Prince of Shadows has brought a creature to Veredor that is evil beyond measure, a beast that rose out of a dark pit at the edge of the cosmos. He is planning his final victory, and you must go soon if you are to stand against him.’

BOOK: The Veredor Chronicles: Book 03 - The Gate and Beyond
10.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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