thomas holland trilogy prequel

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


Thomas Holland

 

Trilogy Prequel

 

 

 

 

 

 

by

 

K. M. Doherty

 

 

Wizard Mark Press

New Hampshire, USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

copyright

Text Copyright © 2021, 2022 by K. M. Doherty

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.

 

Thomas Holland and all related characters and elements are TM of and © of

K. M. Doherty

 

Wizard’s Mark Press

 

ISBN-13 978-0-9915720-9-0

 

First Edition: Sept 2020

 

The Thomas Holland Series

Prequel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

 

When the forces of white magic, faeries and dragons, most notably, finally defeated the demons, banishing them to their dark realm, the Age of Darkness gave way to the Age of Light. No longer a world of swirling dark magics, poisonous gases, chaos and madness, death and decay; the Age of Light blossomed into the age of philosophers, queens and kings, scholars and monks, wizards and magic schools. And of course, the Legendary Library of Nalanda. Welcome to all, the great library stood as a symbol of hope and achievement.

It was a time of peace and friendship between the realms and the many races that inhabited them, both magical and non-magical. A wondrous time when all manner of creatures roamed freely without fear. A time when every elf knew and used magic.

The Prophecy of Elfhaven, however, warned that the Age of Light might one day collapse.

As foretold by the Prophecy, if the following four events should come to pass, the world would plunge into the second Age of Darkness.

First: Giants, faeries, and dragons cease to exist.

Second: The Wizards' Council disbands and the wizards themselves die out.

Third: The elves lose their ability to perform magic.

And the fourth and final event that portends the end of the Age of Light is the re-emergence of goblins.

To date, many of these prophetic events have already come to pass. Giants are long extinct. Faeries withdrew into a realm of their own making, a realm outside of time. There are but five dragons left, and they are all males.

A hundred yara ago, the War of the Wizards brought about the destruction of the Wizard's Council. And by the end of that war, all wizards were dead. Or so everyone believes…

Of the elves, only a handful of children yet possess magical ability, Avani being the most gifted.

 

 

Chapter 1: A view from afar

 

A grotesque creature, with rippling, sinewy muscles, strode purposely toward the ruins of the Library of Nalanda. Suddenly it stopped, sniffed the chill mountain air and frowned. The demon reached out a long, crooked finger. As its hand neared the rubble field, orange protection magic lanced out and blasted its hand away.

Rubbing its fingers absently, the demon tipped its misshapen head to one side, considering. Faint sounds, war preparations, brought the creature out of its musings.

Turning back, the demon strode through the petrified forest, the remnants of once proud wizards.

Stopping on the narrow ledge at the edge of the cliff, the demon gazed across the valley at the jagged peaks on the far side. Curling strands of smoke lazily drifted skyward from the troll siege fires ringing the dwarf city of Deltar. 

The demon blinked. Ropey bulges darted around beneath its thin leathery skin, beginning the transformation. The creature stretched its long neck, then its muscular arms. Suddenly, it began to shrink and change.

The demon had vanished. In its place, a small cave bat, lifted off, flew over the cliff, gliding across the gulf, heading toward Deltar.

 

A few myntars later, the bat circled high above a small clearing, ringed by massive trolls armed with knobby clubs and sharp pikes. A siege fire crackled at the center of the clearing. Beside the fire, a towering troll conversed with a darkly cloaked and hooded figure.

Other trolls, dressed in full bone battle armor, trudged past, hurrying when they spotted their troll commander and the hooded one, wisely giving the pair a wide berth.

 

Landing in the forest just beyond the clearing, the bat quickly transformed. Moments later, the demon extended a claw-tipped hand, brushed aside a branch, and peered at the scene beyond, watching and listening intently.

 

* * *

 

“Are your soldiers in position?” rasped the hooded figure.

The troll commander nodded. “Dey are, yer evil-ship. Shall I order da attack?”

“Have the dwarves sent messengers to the elves yet?”

“Dey try,” huffed the troll. “We stop dem.”

“Open a path. Let the messengers through—”

“But—”

“Make them believe they outsmarted your sentries. Wouldn’t want the dwarves to realize we intentionally let them escape. Once the messengers are past, then you may commence your attack on Deltar.”

“But if da dwarves reach Elfhaven, the elven king’ll—”

“I know.” The hooded one waved his hand dismissively. “King Dakshi will send the elven army to aid his friend, King Abban.”

“Why we not crush dwarves now? Wid out da elves help, Deltar’ll fall easily.”

Beneath the massive cowl, the slightest hint of a grin spread across the mysterious figure’s dark, rigid face. “My actual goal is the elven king’s death.”

The troll commander scowled. “Den why not attack elves, steada dwarves?”

“King Dakshi hides behind his precious barrier. You know trolls can’t pass through. At least not, without a wizard’s help.”

“But lord Naagesh. You is a wizard!”

“Do not–question—me, Phawta!” Sparks of emerald magic arced across Naagesh’s clenched fists.

Phawta flinched. “I jus’ meant, wid yer magic we could—”

“Silence! A magical event of that magnitude would alert the king to the fact that a wizard yet lives.”

The troll opened his mouth to speak, but stopped abruptly as the wizard’s magic brightened.

“I prefer not to let the king know I’m alive. Not yet.” Relaxing his fists, the magic snuffed out. “Besides, this way we can eliminate both kings with a single club stroke.”

Naagesh scanned the clearing. “Have half your troops hide, lying in wait to ambush the elven army when they draw near.”

 

* * *

 

From its hiding place in the dense forest thicket, having seen and heard all, the demon released the branch. The creature’s face morphed into a hideous grin.

For thousands of yaras I’ve waited and schemed, schemed and waited. And on this day, this glorious, wicked day, I Drekton, king of demons, now hold within my clenched fists the final two shards needed to complete my evil plan. The demon extended a long, sharp claw and scratched its left horn thoughtfully. First the father, and now the son? How deliciously fitting!

Crimson flames began to flicker deep within the demon king’s beady eyes.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2: Avani

 

 

Avani flipped strands of her long golden hair over her pointed elven ear and studied her surroundings. The sky was clear, and the Ring of Turin sparkled, a thousand twinkling gemstones in the night sky; its dim light barely illuminating the skeletal trees, giving them an even more ghostly appearance than usual.

Walking on, Avani brushed aside a branch. In response, thin finger-like twigs extended, wrapped around her hand and quickly tightened. Without thinking, and with long-practiced skill, Avani snap-twisted her arm, freeing her hand an instant before the wily branch ensnared her. The twigs drooped and withdrew as if in disappointment.

Continuing on, bright neon-blue sparks coursed over her body and she felt the familiar tingling sensation as she passed through the barrier.

Avani shivered. I shouldn't be out here alone, after dark, beyond the safety of the barrier. She’d been doing it more and more of late. She couldn't help herself. Ever since her father left a fortnight ago…

When she reached the center of a small clearing, Avani gingerly sat down the ornately painted vase she’d been carrying, careful not to let it tip over on the rocky, forest floor.

This better work. Grandmother’ll kill me if I break her favorite vase.

Taking a deep breath, Avani raised her arms and chanted an incantation. Heeding her call, glowing magical orbs rose from her palms and floated outward, surrounding the clearing, casting their warm golden glow on the area before her.

Father wouldn't approve of me practicing magic. Her thoughts drifted back to the last conversation she'd had with her father. Her heated words, and the disturbing events that led up to them…

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

Avani's leather moccasins slapped loudly against the cobblestones as she strode down Elfhaven's bustling main street. The sun had barely crested the Tontiel mountains, yet already, its golden rays warmed the roadway, the rustic shops, and the elves themselves.

Shopkeepers straightened their window displays and swept the boardwalk outside their stores. Passersby stopped to gossip, while pretending to admire the shops’ wares.

Avani took a deep breath, inhaling the moist pungent smell of fresh-baked tarts from the bakery, three doors down.

Turning the corner, banners atop Elfhaven castle flapped crisply in the morning breeze.

Suddenly, an elderly gentleman bolted past, shouting.

"What's wrong?" called Avani, but the fellow just kept running. All around her, people ran by yelling warnings. The shopkeepers hurriedly began closing shop.

Avani reached for a woman's arm. "What's going on?" The woman didn't stop either.

At that moment, Prince Devraj sprinted up. "Avani! Your father requests your council."

"What's going on?" she asked.

"Your father wishes to tell you himself."

"Where is he?"

"My father assembled a war council. All the King's advisers, including your father, are waiting in the great hall."

"War council?"

Devraj grabbed her hand, turned toward the castle, and tried to pull her along.

Avani jerked free. "What war council?"

"What do you think is going on?" The prince gestured to the chaos surrounding them.

"I asked you."

“Are you not aware of the heightened tensions with the trolls?”

“Of course. So?”

Devraj scanned her face. "Things have rounded a corner for the worse.”

“Worse?”

“The troll army has Deltar surrounded."

"What?" Avani’s jaw dropped. "The trolls and dwarves have been at peace for the last hundred—"

"Everything has changed since the event."

"The explosion?"

Devraj nodded. "And the strange flicking lights on the Eastern horizon, each night hence."

"That could just be the magic," Avani argued, "re-balancing itself after—"

"Do not be a fool. It is far more complex than that. The event—”

"What are you saying?!" Avani's face flushed angrily. "That the explosion is somehow related to—"

"Your father will explain. Come. We must hurry." The prince reached for her again. She glared at him until he dropped his hand.

Avani sprinted off toward the castle, Devraj struggling to keep pace.

 

 

* * *

 

 

Avani burst into the great hall. A half-dozen elves abruptly stopped arguing and stared at her, then promptly resumed their squabbling. Spotting Avani, her father broke from the other advisers and strode over.

"What's going on?" she asked.

He glanced back. King Dakshi, the elven king, stood conversing with a head palace guard. "This way," said her father, leading her from the room.

The scrape of his boots down the long hallway's polished marble floor slowly drowned out the muted rumblings of the war council behind.

"I'm not sure what's going on," her father confided. "Something’s rekindled the troll's hatred of the dwarfs."

"So Devraj said."

"Rumors suggest it’s further evidence that the Prophecy begins."

"The Prophecy of Elfhaven?"

Her father nodded. "Giants, fairies, wizards, all gone."

"But there are still dragons!"

He smiled. "When's the last time you saw a dragon?"

"Eight yaras ago," Avani began. "The night Kiran was born—" She paused. "The night Mother…" her eyes misted over.

Her father’s smile vanished. Taking her gently in his arms, he held her tight. "The night your mother died." He kissed her forehead. "Sorry. I forgot you spotted a dragon that day."

"Not just that day. The dragon flew past the exact moment you told me Mother died."

Avani wiped a tear from her cheek and stepped back. "Why did you summon me here?"

He sighed. "Almost a yara ago, the barrier began to fail. As head Keeper of the Light, I convened an emergency council of the Keepers. The Guardian of the Citadel told us 'help was on the way.'"

"Who's the Guardian?"

He hesitated. "I'm not supposed to tell you. Not till you perform the rites and become a Keeper yourself."

"But you said, as your daughter, I am a Keeper!"

"Well—tis true. The rites are but a formality."

"Anyway?" She raised her brow expectantly.

Half-grinning, he said, "Anyway, that was before the event."

Avani frowned. "The explosion on Mt Ogram?"

Her father nodded.

"So, what does this Guardian say about that?"

His grin widened. "'The Guardian' that you don't know exists?"

"But I will. Soon as I pass the rites!"

He snorted.

"What did the Guardian say?" she repeated.

Taking her hand gently in his, he said, "You're aware that the magic’s been failing across the five realms."

"Everyone knows that."

"Well, what everyone doesn't know is that the barrier started failing at the exact same moment as the magic."

"That makes sense. The barrier's magic."

He didn’t respond.

"Well, isn't it?" Avani studied her father's face. "There's more, isn't there?"

"Everything's inter-related. If what the Guardian told me is true, then—"

"You just said the Guardian told you everything would be alright."

"That was before."

Avani frowned. "Before?"

"Before the explosion."

"And now? What does the Guardian say now?" Avani's frown deepened. "That the failing magic, the explosion, and the troll uprising are all—somehow—connected?"

"Yes. And that the explosion was no accident. And that now, all hope is lost."

Avani's father inhaled deeply. "I have to go away."

"What? Where?"

"I need you to promise me something."

"Where are you going, father?"

He sighed. "I didn't want to tell you this way, but—" Echoing footsteps, down the hallway, caused them to turn.

"Keeper Dutta?" called a palace guard.

"Yes?"

"The council is reconvening. King Dakshi requests your presence."

"On my way."

The guard pivoted smartly and strode off.

"Sorry," said her father. "I've got to go."

"What were you going to tell me, father?"

He squeezed her hands. "We’ll continue this discussion this evening. Meet me at the Elfhaven library at dusk."

"The library?"

"I need to speak to you in private."

When Avani started to object, her father touched his finger lightly to her lips. "Without interruptions from your younger brother."

 

 

* * *

 

 

Later that day, Avani waited impatiently just outside the entrance to the Elfhaven library, its massive red door towering behind her. When her father finally rounded the corner, she dashed down the library’s wide stone steps taking them two at a time.

"What is it?" she asked. "What's so secret you couldn't tell me in front of Kiran?"

Her father took a deep breath. "I didn't want to frighten your brother, but—"

"Frighten Kiran? Father, you're frightening me!"

"I have to leave."

"You said that. Where to?"

“The dwarves are trapped. The trolls have Deltar completely surrounded. Dwarf messengers, somehow managed to sneak past the troll sentries carrying a desperate missive from the dwarf king, requesting aid from the elves. King Dakshi agreed, of course. He asked me, along with the other Keepers, to go with him.”

"But father—"

"I agreed."

"Father no!"

“The reason I wanted to speak with you in private,” he began, “is twofold. First: while I'm gone, I want you to keep the Cube safe. If there is a solution, a way out of this dire situation, the Cube contains the key.”

Before Avani could object, her father rushed on, "And second: if anything should happen to me." He laid his firm hands on her shoulders.

"It won't!" she assured him.

"No. But if it should—I want you to promise me you'll always protect Kiran."

Avani nodded.

"As well as Nadda and Nanni. Promise?"

"I promise."

He scanned her face intently. "It'll mean giving up your magic studies."

"What? No father! Becoming a wizard is all I've ever dreamt of since I was a little girl! You know that."

"I know,” he confided sadly. “But there’s no hope for it. The wizard schools have long since closed. All magical texts were lost when the Library of Nalanda was destroyed. And there are no more wizards." He took a deep breath. "How do you expect to become a wizard if there's no one left to apprentice to?"

Her father reached for her.

She stepped back defiantly.

He sighed. "And even if there were, studying to become a wizard requires complete dedication. Protecting Kiran and your family is a full-time job. You haven't time for both."

Her eyes misted over. "Father, please! Don't make me give up my dream."

"Protecting your family must come first."

“You’re not going to die!” Tears streamed down her cheeks. “But even if you do. I won't give up magic!” She spun around and stormed off.

“Avani, you promised,” called her father. “Avani come back!”

Avani ran and never looked back.

 

 

* * *

 

 

Her remembrance complete, Avani blinked away an unexpected tear and glanced around. Still, standing in the forest clearing, her glowing magical orbs still hovering obediently, their soft warm light still glinting off her grandmother's ornate vase.

Avani's lips twitched as she rehearsed the levitation spell her grandfather had taught her. Though he'd long since lost the ability to do magic himself, he could still remember the odd spell.

Relaxing completely, she raised her hands and spoke the incantation clearly, evenly and with total focus.

Bright, swirling, multi-colored magic engulfed her out-stretched fingers. Avani's dark, oval-shaped eyes opened wide with delight and she barely managed to keep chanting.

From her hands, tendrils of magical energy reached out and fastened onto her grandmother’s vase. It began to glow. Avani raised her arms and the vase likewise floated up off the forest floor. A wide grin spread across her narrow elven face.

Avani curled her fingers inward. Answering her command, the jug floated toward her, wobbling slightly on its way.

“There you are!” came a gruff voice from behind.

Avani’s magic faltered. The vase shuddered and dropped. Her magic lanced out again, and the vase stabilized, hovering just above a jagged rock.

“Devraj! You could have broken Nanni’s favorite vase!” Flicking her fingers upward, the vase rose once more.

Avani let out a long slow breath. “What are you doing here, Devraj?”

The prince walked up beside her and raised his brow. “I could have ruined it?” He paused. “Anyway, it was not my intent to startle you.”

“You didn't startle me!” she said, a tad sharper than she’d intended. She sighed again. “So, if you didn’t intend to ruin my magic practice, or destroy Nanni’s favorite vase then—”

The prince laid his hand gently on her shoulder. “I have news.”

Avani glanced from Devraj’s hand to his face, then back to the vase. “What news?” She flicked her fingers once more and the vase resumed floating toward her.

“The war with the trolls has begun.”

“Oh, no!”

He hesitated. “And there’s more.”

“More?”

As one, their heads turned skyward at the sound of a distance piercing cry. High above, the faint outline of a dragon cut a jagged swath through the Ring of Turin’s sparkling light.

Devraj said, “Your father is dead.”

The vase struck the ground and shattered.

 

 

 

*** The End ***


Submitted: July 06, 2022

© Copyright 2022 K. M. Doherty. All rights reserved.

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