Flood of the Fire (Paperback)
Flood of the Fire (Paperback)
Book 4 in the award-winning Outlawed Myth series
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An ancient prophecy, now an outlawed myth. A young girl who was never meant to be born. An empress determined to bring peace at any cost.
Tereka successfully led her friends to escape a prison camp, outwit pirates, and make a home as fugitives in the wilds. But the knowledge that someday her relentless foes will track them down drive her to make good on her promise to topple the rulers of her land—starting with her evil aunt Juquila.
Then an invading army conquers the southern part of Tlefas, and Tereka’s hopes raise. Could the invader be the Desired One of prophecy? Or does he bring greater evil to the land? Now she is forced to determine her role in the turmoil that sweeps the country. The wrong choice could prove to be deadly for her---and the peoples of two warring nations.
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Enjoy a sample of Flood of the Fire
Tereka wasn’t sure about many things, but she knew this. She had no idea how to start a revolution.
Nor did she have a clue how to keep her fellow fugitives in line. Some accepted her leadership willingly, others grudgingly, never missing an opportunity to challenge her.
Angry shouts filled the brisk spring air. Relio and Sebezh were at it again. All winter long, they’d maneuvered for dominance, the former prison brigade boss against his second. Usually, their fights were simply annoying. Today, their animosity could get someone killed.
Leaning against the parapet, Tereka surveyed the mountain slope tumbling away below her, the fresh green of early summer finally overtaking the gray, barren branches of birch and maple trees. An eagle soared beneath her, then dove into the canopy. If only she could gaze on the tranquil forest all afternoon. With a sigh, she turned and walked to the south side of the wide courtyard.
Naco was standing on the edge of the cliff, a rope twisted around his muscular forearm and tied around his waist, the breeze tousling his dark hair. Alikse picked up the rest of the rope and strode to a pine tree. He looped the rope around the thick trunk. With a smooth motion, he shifted the coiled rope to his massive shoulder and returned to Naco’s side.
At least those two worked well together, Tereka thought. Cheery Naco and silent Alikse were a good pair and could always be relied on. Even in the worst of times, like when the prison guards were plotting to execute them. She shuddered at how easily Alikse grabbed a guard’s head and snapped his neck. Good thing he likes me.
A few feet from Naco, thick-set Hinat sidled toward the edge of the cliff, whistling tunelessly through the gap in his front teeth. But while Naco stood with his face tipped to the sky, Hinat peered over the edge of the precipice, frowning doubtfully.
“Why are you making this harder than it is?” Sebezh shouted at Relio. He scratched his red, scruffy beard.
“Because I’m no durak.” Relio spat on the ground.
“No, just the spawn of a durak mated to a yanshyr.”
Tereka rolled her eyes and approached them. “What seems to be the problem now?”
Sebezh poked a finger at Relio’s chest. “Do you think I can’t hold him?”
Hinat’s eyes darted from Sebezh to the precipice and back. He didn’t look too confident in Sebezh’s strength.
“I’m the one going over the cliff,” Naco said. “If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather have a little assurance I won’t end the day in a broken heap at the bottom.”
Alikse chuckled. “Can’t say I blame you.”
Who would have thought building a pulley to help bring supplies up the mountain would have caused such a ruckus? “No one needs to die today,” Tereka said. “Why would they?”
“Great, now girly thinks she’s the expert,” Sebezh said.
Relio scowled at him, deep ridges forming in jowls covered with black and gray stubble. He motioned for Tereka to join him at the cliff’s edge. “The pulley goes here.”
“If her uncles get around to bringing it,” put in Sebezh.
Ignoring Sebezh as if he were no more than a buzzing insect, Relio continued. “Your uncles thought this was the best place. Here the cliff edge is hard rock. The problem is the rock juts out in a few spots on the way down. They suggested we chip some of it away, so anything we’re hoisting up won’t get caught.”
“If there’s one thing we know how to do, it’s chip stone,” Naco said, flashing a grin at Tereka.
He was right, but just thinking about their days mining for copper in the Prime Konamei’s prison camp made Tereka’s heart pound and her skin crawl. Shaking off the sensation, she surveyed the scowling faces. “So?”
Sebezh scratched under his arm. “That one”—he spit in Relio’s direction— “wants to loop the rope around a tree.”
“It will make it easier to hold the men chipping the rock. And it’s only a loop. You’ll still be able to let out more rope if you need to.” Relio crossed his arms.
“But it uses up twenty yards,” Sebezh shot back. “What if we need that length to send them lower?
“We can worry about that then.” Relio’s glare would frighten a warboar, but Sebezh didn’t seem to be intimidated.
“And you call me a durak,” he said, twisting his mouth into a sneer. “If you’re so smart, why don’t you hold the rope?”
Tereka stepped forward. No sense reminding Sebezh about Relio’s back pain. It was hard enough to get him to accept any direction from Relio. The last thing she needed was Sebezh deciding to exploit Relio’s weakness. “I think we should let Naco and Hinat decide.” She shrugged. “They’re the ones taking the risk.”
“I’d rather use the tree,” Naco said. “Anything to help the person holding the rope.”
Hinat nodded vigorously. “That will be safer.”
He must really be scared, Tereka thought as she surveyed Hinat’s pale face. He didn’t usually oppose Sebezh.
“Well, since that’s settled, let’s get on with it,” Relio said. A gust of wind blew down the slope and he cursed. “The day’s not getting any warmer. And we don’t want to wait until the wind picks up more.”
Sebezh stalked to another pine tree and wrapped his rope around the trunk. Wearing a sullen frown, he took his place near Hinat. Tereka noted the end of each rope was tied in a loop with a big knot. Probably to help Sebezh and Alikse hold on to it if they had to let the whole length out.
Naco stepped to the edge. He fixed his eyes on Alikse. “Ready?”
The big man nodded. He took a step back and gripped the rope.
Seizing his end of the rope, Naco lowered himself to the ground. Then he slid off the cliff.
Tereka’s heart raced. Would Alikse be able to hold him? The man’s biceps bulged as he slowly let out the rope. He seemed able to control how fast Naco was descending.
Hinat crept to the rim of the cliff. He glowered at Sebezh. “Don’t drop me.” He tied the rope snugly around his waist and wrapped it around his left forearm, then slid off the edge.
Sebezh took a few steps forward, then pulled back. He let more rope out. “See? This is easy. Even girly could do this.”
Shouts from below drew Tereka’s attention. She crouched on the rim of the cliff and gingerly peered over. Sweat dampened her palms. Naco and Hinat were brave to let themselves dangle over the precipice, high over the jagged rocks at the mountain’s feet. She shivered. She was relieved no one had suggested she do the job.
Both Naco and Hinat had reached the rock that jutted out like an accusing fist. They braced their feet against the face of the cliff. Naco wiped his forehead and pulled a chisel and hammer from his belt. Hinat clung to the rope for several moments before he did the same.
The gentle tap-tap of the hammers made Tereka wince. The chipping sound was a painful reminder of their days as the Prime Konamei’s prisoners, laboring in his copper mines. She shook off the dreadful memory, eased away from the cliff’s edge, and approached Alikse.
He glanced at her and grunted. “Good thing I’ve got skinny Naco and not that brute Hinat.”
Tereka grinned. Hinat and Alikse never had a kind word for each other. “Good thing, indeed. You’d be tempted to let him go.”
“Nah, just scare him a little.”
“Like this?” Sebezh dropped his coiled rope. Immediately, it began to unwind, pulled by Hinat’s weight. Hinat’s shriek cut through the air. Sebezh lunged for the rope and tripped, landing face-first on the ground.
By reflex, Tereka grabbed the looped end. Sebezh was groaning, his chin scraped and bloody. He’d never get up in time. She wasn’t strong enough to support Hinat’s weight. If she tried, they’d both plunge to their deaths. She thrust an arm through the loop, grasped the rope, and sprinted for the cliff’s edge. She held her breath, closed her eyes, and jumped.