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Laila & Tokar and the Chaos Scroll [MultiFormat]
eBook by Larraine Stacey

eBook Category: Young Adult/Fantasy
eBook Description: Step into a world of wizards, magic and monsters. Armed only with an ancient scroll and an enchanted stone, fifteen-year old Tokar and his twelve-year old sister, Laila, must battle the evil wizard Var to save their father, friends and homeland. When Tokar and Laila become separated, each acquire new, unique traveling companions. Something sinister is following Laila and her party, the loyal half-dwarf/half-elf Bareen and the exotic princess Angenine, as they search for Tokar. Tokar has been entranced by the beautiful Lady Vipera, who has a tangle of snakes instead of legs. The parties grow in numbers as they approach the final battle; but it is Tokar and Laila who gain unexpected fulfillment in this exciting tale. In a world of magic they discover the powers within themselves.

eBook Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing, Published: DDP, 2002
Fictionwise Release Date: December 2002




Prologue

Briana opened her eyes to nothing but black space. Her head slowly cleared and she realized she was being carried -- thrown across someone's shoulder like a hunting trophy. Still she saw nothing but blackness. The stench of dirt and sweat-soaked taracloth confirmed her confines as a hunting sack. Flashes of bloodied animal parts, victoriously being dumped on the ground after a successful hunt and divvy, raced through her mind. Nausea overwhelmed her. Then panic.

With all her strength she began to kick and squirm inside her woven prison. One hard kick hit its mark in a lower region of her captor, sending him stumbling to the ground, dropping Briana hard. Without hesitation she wriggled out of the bundle onto the dirt of a wooded path.

As her eyes adjusted to the moonlit night, she sat up to face her abductor, a mutant holding his groin area and rolling in agony on the nearby ground. His distorted face was a valley of deep wrinkles leading to a slick gray bald head. A gasp escaped her lips at the hideousness of the muscled brute dressed in leather and brass. Fear and revulsion rushed through her veins as she desperately scrambled out of the taracloth tote tangled about her legs. Still dazed, Briana struggled to her feet.

"No! Master said get. Must bring to Master." The disfigured creature held up one hand in terror as panic filled his raspy, breathy voice. In a frenzy he lunged forward and grabbed Briana's shoulder, drawing back his fist.

Briana looked into his huge, white eyes, flecked with streaks of red. She dropped her head and sobbed. "Why are you doing this? I have a family that needs me. Please don't hurt me."

"Master told Kemur bring pretty lady. Must bring."

"What Master? Why does he want me?"

"Var want wife."

"But I am already a wife. Kemur -- is that your name? Please, Kemur, you must let me go home. I'm sure there is a woman somewhere for your master, someone who will love him and want to be with him. That woman is not me. I have a husband and a child. Please let me go."

"Master said bring you, no one else. Master not know you married."

"But my husband will send men to find me. Lots of men. Then your master will know that I'm married. And I have a family. Think, Kemur. This isn't going to work. Stop this now. Please! Let me go."

Pity softened the creature's hideous face for an instant, then fear replaced the compassion in his eyes as Kemur delivered a hard blow to Briana's right jaw. Everything blurred, then again went black.

Sore and confused, Briana awoke to the smell of burning wood. Kemur's silhouette hovered over her as a fire danced in the background. "Drink. Feel better. Drink." Kemur shoved a cup against her mouth, spilling its sour liquid as he poured it down her throat. Briana coughed and choked on the strong elixir, then felt the drug take control of her body, leaving her helpless, unable to move, drifting into sleep.

Broken moments of awareness interrupted Briana's dream state. Voices penetrated the blackness of her trance. "She's exquisite, even more lovely than I imagined," a deep voice murmured through her blurred hearing.

A moment of coherency jolted Briana as she heard the voice shout, "You tricked me. You'll regret the day you came into your miserable existence." Briana's eyes focused enough to see Kemur writhing on the floor as a tall, slender form in a long red robe stood over him, shooting streams of flame into Kemur's flesh. Kemur cried out, begging for mercy.

"Throw him in the most miserable hole in the dungeon," commanded the man in red to the faceless guards standing near, "and make sure his death is excruciatingly slow and saturated with pain."

Briana faded into black again.

* * *

"The men can go no further, Sire. We need to rest. Let's camp here for a short while and enter the desert before sunrise. We'll still make good time before the afternoon heat. We need rest," Father Finley advised.

"You and the men rest here. I must go on. I can't stop while she's in danger." Zernue squinted through bloodshot eyes at the charred, dead land stretched out in front of him.

"You're exhausted. You must be able to fight for her. You won't do her any good if you die needlessly when just a little rest could make the difference. We have walked for three days. Rest for a short while, then we'll all go together." Father Finley put his arm around Zernue and led him across the clearing to a place where two men were building a campfire. Other men busied themselves clearing brush and spreading sleep sacks.

"You're right, of course, Father." Zernue smiled at the prolific young man who already had set a record for having the most children in the valley.

Zernue sat down, slump-shouldered, aching and drained. Too tired to sleep, he watched the fire as the darkness deepened. An uneasy feeling put him back on guard. He stiffened, sat up straight, and turned instinctively as a stranger entered the camp. The intruder appeared as if from the air itself.

Very tall and thin, the stranger wore an all-white cloak with a large hood that almost entirely covered his face. Though the cloth looked soft, it shone like armor. He had a supernatural glow about him. He carried only a long staff, but a sense of power flowed from him, giving the impression that he could destroy the entire camp with one powerful blow if he so desired. Some of the men gasped and backed away; others grabbed for their weapons.

Zernue stood and faced the intruder. "May we help you, stranger?"

"I am a friend. I only want to warm myself of the night chill by the fire."

Zernue quieted the others with a stern look and invited the man to rest and eat. The stranger graciously accepted the hospitality but didn't touch the sparse offerings of bread and warm soup stock. He sat quietly by the fire, stroking his long white beard in deep concentration.

When all but the guards had reluctantly gone to sleep, the stranger moved closer to Zernue, peered deep into his eyes, and spoke in a low whisper. "I know whom you seek. She is in the hands of Var. I will help you."

"How do you know this?"

"Var is my enemy, too. I also know that the child Briana carries shall one day save many good men and bring about the destruction of his reign. He does not know this, or he would kill them both now. She must be freed before Var sees the threat. You cannot hope to defeat him."

"My wife is not expecting. Our son is already born, a year ago. He is in the valley, staying with Mother Finley. Briana would have told me if we were expecting another."

"Believe me, she will soon bear another child. We must now concentrate on getting her away from Var before it is too late."

The stranger gave Zernue a leather pouch containing a round white stone veined with pinks, blues, purples and golds. "This stone contains extraordinary powers. I will instruct you in its use, then I want you to keep it for me. But you must not use it unless absolutely necessary. It can also be very dangerous."

The two men spoke in whispers throughout most of the night. Zernue cupped the enchanted stone in his hands as he repeated incantations. The stone glowed brightly, changing colors as new mantras were whispered.

Zernue awoke and realized the entire camp was asleep, including the duty guards. The stranger was gone. Confused for a moment, he wondered if he dreamed the encounter with the man in white. Then he felt the leather pouch tied to his sash. He quickly woke the other men.

"Where did the stranger go? Did anyone see him leave?" As he questioned the men about the stranger's departure, heads began to turn with astonished looks toward the desert.

Briana walked into the camp. No one knew where she had come from or how she had escaped from Var. She was just there. Whispers spread through camp that the stranger had freed her. Though many questions remained unanswered, Briana was safe, and they all returned to the valley.

* * *

Briana did not seem to remember what had happened during her captivity. She never spoke of the grueling trip, the days she spent with Var, or how she escaped. Her eyes often strayed to far-off places, unseen by anyone else. She became withdrawn, rarely leaving the house. She spoke only when necessary, and even then she didn't always make sense. She would sit quietly and stare into the air for long periods of time, as if listening to a voice no one else could hear.

One cold winter night Briana gave birth to a baby girl. She called her Laila, child of light. The lullabies Briana sang to the new baby were sad and distant. If anyone spoke of Briana's ordeal, or asked questions, she would pick up the baby, cradle Laila in her arms, and sing a soft, sorrowful song.

Then one day the young mother disappeared. Zernue and the village men searched everywhere. A violent storm of sleet, rain and powerful winds howled all day and late into the night. All tracks were lost. The next morning Briana's shawl was seen floating in the river at the edge of the valley, soaked in blood, torn to shreds by the force of the water. The search continued for six days. Her body was never found.

Copyright © 2002 by Larraine Stacey


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