Firelight flickered against the ancient slate walls as the men in blue and black masks marched deeper into the catacombs. Footsteps shuffled and scraped the ground, and the soft sound of their cloaks dragged against the sandstone. The masked men halted as they came to a dead-end and silently waited.
Decius, a tall young man with a lean build, emerged from the heart of the gathering and strode to the wall, blocking their path. A single bracket was fastened to its center, harboring a weak blue flame. Decius’s pale hand extended from under the white silks of his cloak, reaching up to staunch the dying flicks of fire in the bracket. Whispers of flames circled his hand, spraying along his palm, engulfing it entirely like a glove of electric blue fire.
With his other hand, he pressed the tip of a slim black wand into his fiery palm, and a pulse of blue light slithered from the base to its top. The wand transferred the flame into its core with a faint sound like an exhale of relief.
“Astha, Hurath, Asthaka, Hurathako!” Decius boomed, his voice muffled beneath the mask. He waved his wand in a semicircle then pressed the wall with its tip. The blue fire shot out, igniting the wall, casting a sinister glow upon his mask.
Decius flicked his wand, making tiny jabs and light pops. He traced a familiar pattern against the stone, leaving a dazzling trail of electric fire in its wake.
“Astha, Hurath, Asthaka, Hurathako,” he hissed, and the blue fire ignited once more. Behind him was a ruffle of cloaks as his men retrieved their own wands.
“Astha, Hurath, Asthaka, Hurathako!” they chanted in perfect unison, joining in with Decius’s eager, steady movements. The tunnel erupted with pale blue light, and the wall rumbled in front of them.
“Stand back,” Decius commanded, and the masked men obeyed.
As a crack hungrily etched itself down the center of the stone, the tunnel began to shake. Small chunks of rock fell from the top of the wall, releasing clouds of dust. Dirt poured from the crack in the wall, slowly filling the narrow tunnel. The crack struck the single bracket, letting out a resounding clang like a bell being struck by a hammer. It rang deep, echoing against the bedrock like a blood-curdling scream. The tunnel quaked, threatening to collapse.
A high-pitched cackle escaped Decius, resounding above the continuous clang of the struck bracket. “Astha, Hurath! Asthaka! Hurathako!” he roared. Raising both hands, he summoned the power of his Inner Eye from the darkest fragments of his soul.
He waved his wand, creating a small force field before him. An explosion of fire, light, and burning rock viciously blasted through the swelling crack, spraying blue lava into the tunnel. Screams of agony cried out behind him as some of his men were engulfed by molten fires.
Decius chuckled maliciously as the barrier continued breaking apart. His comrades attempted to douse the fires of the burning men behind him, and without remorse for his men, he climbed into the cavernous chamber once concealed by enchantments of old.
The air was foul and dank. Movement in the darkness alerted him but did not frighten him.
“Astha, Hurath, Asthaka, Hurathako,” he murmured into the darkness. The shadows shifted in the chamber, and a body scraping against the stones confirmed to Decius his summons had been heard. He raised his wand as a massive form slithered toward him. It crept closer, slinking, hunched. A bone cracked. Decius flicked his wand. The tip ignited with a pale blue flame, illuminating the chamber just enough. The shadow sprung backward, exposing nothing more than an empty cavern.
“Astha, Hurath, Asthaka, Hurathako!” he yelled.
He directed the firelight toward the furthest corner of the chamber, revealing thousands of tiny animal bones and maggot-ridden carcasses. Grimacing, he stepped back.
Something brushed him from behind. It breathed on the side of his neck. Something sharp like razors grazed his flesh followed by a long sniff.
“I have summoned you, beast. I have broken the spell,” Decius said. There wasn’t a trace of fear in his voice.
A haunting voice muttered, “You don’t smell like the meat I’ve grown accustomed to.” It ran its tongue across Decius’s neck.
“I have come to release you from this wretched prison.” Wand in hand, he spun away from the beast’s chomping teeth.
He pointed his flame-tipped wand in its direction. The blue light illuminated the terrifying image of a pale, starved man, one who hadn’t seen daylight in centuries. A sheer layer of skin with a bluish sheen stretched across his unaged face, and dark apathetic eyes sunk deeply in his sockets. Decius scoffed at the pathetic sight before him. “It’s true then—you’ve been imprisoned in the body of a man. Maybe I have no use for you after all.”
Decius smirked beneath his mask. He knew when the beast was imprisoned, the powers of the Nymphs, Elves, and Fairies were accidentally transferred to the beast as well. Without meaning to, they had turned the monster with an endless thirst for the blood of their people into a vastly powerful immortal. Yet, here the immortal monster was, sealed in a secret chamber beneath the catacombs unable to escape.
“What is your name, beast?” Decius asked. He twirled his wand in his hand. Blue flames spat and sprayed eagerly from the tip, casting flashes of blue light and shadow across the chamber.
His dark eyes gleamed with remembered ferocity. He whispered, “I was once known as Haldoron the Bloodlust.”
“And you shall be Haldoron the Bloodlust again,” Decius said. “I will remove you from this pathetic existence. I will return the glory you once knew.”
“I have sat in this cage for centuries, starving and living off rats. Unable to break the bonds of the enchantments, for I didn’t know the words to speak. Yet, you claim you can set me free? I am no fool.” Haldoron asked, “What is your price?”
“This will be the greatest war history has ever known. When I call, you will answer. You will fight for me. That is all.” Decius pressed his wand directly against Haldoron’s throat. “And if you don’t, I’ll fill this chamber with a molten fire and then seal it to melt the flesh from your bones.”
Haldoron chuckled, his eyes flaring beneath the glow of the eerie blue flames. He bared his razor-sharp teeth at the young man. “What choice have I then? To join you, or to die?”
“You were already dead,” Decius replied. “I have brought you a chance to live again, to be reborn. Join me, and you will breathe the air of the seasons once more. You will spread your wings across the skies. Fight for me, and I will free you from this body of which you are a prisoner!”
Haldoron gazed at Decius, surveying him for any indication of falsehood. He grimaced and forced a razor-sharp smile. “How can you make such promises? What power have you? You are just a young blood,” he said, sniffing in his direction.
“I am Decius the Unfallen, commander of the Black Magic Sorcerers. I have the power to remove the enchantments which bind you to this body, and I am the only Sorcerer in the Eastern and Western Realms that has this power. Deny me, and you shall feel the true strength of my power!”
“Decius the Unfallen,” Haldoron murmured thoughtfully. “Release me from this body, and I shall be your faithful servant.” He cracked a mischievous grin, revealing several broken teeth amongst the sharpened points.
“You take me for a fool, Haldoron? I won’t do anything until a blood oath bound by black magic is performed. After centuries of feeding on rats and bones, I imagine you have a deeper thirst that needs quenching. I shall not be made into your meal.” Decius commanded, “Give me your left arm,” keeping the flaming wand pressed against Haldoron’s throat.
“Very well.” Haldoron extended his left arm. “Do what you must.”
Eyes locked with Haldoron’s, Decius grasped the frail arm before him. He lowered his wand slowly and pushed the blue tip into Haldoron’s arm. He dragged the point of the wand down from his elbow to his wrist, leaving a blazing trail of blue in its wake. The smell of burning flesh filled the chamber.
Haldoron growled in agony as his skin began to bubble, exposing newly blackened veins. His skin melted down the sides of his arm, dripping onto the chamber stones.
Decius whispered, “Hamuna, Hasthava.” He studied Haldoron’s painful grimace. His dark eyes bulging as his scalded flesh melted away.
“I call upon the power of the sorcerers, the Black Elves, the Dark Nymphs, the banished Flesh Eaters and Demon Fairies. I bring to you Lord Haldoron the Bloodlust, restorer of balance to the realms and faithful servant to the Black Magic Sorcerers. Release him from this prison! Astha, Hurath, Asthaka, Hurathako, Hamuna, Hasthava!” Decius’s scream echoed off the barren walls and back to them in menacing distortion.
Haldoron let out a low growl, and the fire behind his eyes ignited. They sprung alive from the darkened gleam of midnight to a raging inferno of blood red.
“Astha, Hurath, Asthaka, Hurathako!” In a flash of movement, he retrieved a small dagger from his cloak, and gripping Haldoron’s arm fiercely, Decius drove the point of the blade into his exposed vein.
Haldoron cried, attempting to wrench his arm back, but Decius’s grip was stronger than a vice. Decius slowly dragged the tip of the blade down, splitting open the vein which spewed a sludge-like substance.
Decius roared, “Too long has Haldoron been confined to this cage! Too long has Haldoron been a prisoner of an unbreakable enchantment! Those banished to the Realm of Shadows, grant me your infinite power and release Haldoron from his bonds! By my blood and his, and the power of the Black Magic Sorcerers, bind us. Bind our blood, bind our powers, and bind our lives. Bind us as master and servant! I command you to release him from the body of which he is a prisoner!”
His eyes rolled back. Wicked shadows soared through the chamber and into his body. He immediately slashed open his arm, allowing the red blood to spill and blend with the blackened mess of Haldoron’s. He stowed his dagger. With their bleeding arms side by side, he ignited his wand with the blue fire once more. He drew a fiery circle in the air before lowering it into their flesh. The electric blue flames sizzled into their skin, sealing the black magic blood oath. Then, the flame died away, revealing a circular scar which stretched across their forearms, half on each arm, binding master to servant.
Haldoron let out a monstrous growl. Already, the change had begun. Decius stepped, smirking as Haldoron’s body began to shake violently.
Haldoron doubled over and dropped to his knees. He let out a bloodcurdling scream and held his hands over his face as the skin began to boil. His screams became shrill cries of agony. His bones cracked. The body which confined him fell away, breaking the cage of the enchantments of old. He let out sharp gasps and long steady moans, dragging himself across the ground. His arms seemed to tremble under the immense weight of his restored body. Claws like scythes sprouted from his hands. They scraped the stones as he pushed to his knees. Now comparable in size and strength to a giant, the winged beast, with the dagger-like claws, stood. Three curved horns grew from his massive head. His red eyes pierced the darkness. His black membranous wings reached an alarming twenty-five feet, nearly touching the walls of the chamber.
Then, he turned his attention to Decius. This was the Haldoron he had heard about. In an abrupt movement, Haldoron sprung forward and slashed at him. The tip of one of Haldoron’s claws raked down the side of Decius’s face.
“Wretched fool!” Decius spat, blood spilling through his split mask.
Haldoron scoffed, “I swore I wouldn’t eat you. I never said I wouldn’t leave my own brand upon you!”
“Do that again, and you’ll never see the light of day. I’ll bury you so far beneath the catacombs—”
“And you’ll fill my chamber with molten fires.”
“Fool, I should’ve let you rot.” Decius carefully peeled the mask from his face. He grimaced as he felt the steady flow of blood trickle down his cheek and neck. Without the mask, the gash opened wider. He hissed as the air bit at his wound.
“You made a good decision, Decius the Unfallen, Commander of the Black Magic Sorcerers. Come forth, and I will share some of my power with you.” Haldoron grinned devilishly as he extended his massive hand, retracting his claws in a gesture of good faith.
“So you can rip my arms off? May I remind you that if you try to kill me, the black magic blood oath will drain you of your power and life. You will become less than what you were when I found you.” Decius pointed the wand right at his face.
“I am forever in your debt. Forgive me, Master. Come to Haldoron. I will heal your wound and fill you with a ferocity more powerful than any living being in the realms.” Haldoron flashed his teeth at Decius, attempting a friendly smile.
Reluctantly, Decius stepped forward. One hand clutching his wand and the other cradling his split face.
“Remove your hand,” Haldoron instructed, then he blew on Decius’s wound.
Scalding hot air passed over Decius, ruffling his hair and stinging his eyes. The curved gash across his cheek pushed back together. Sealing itself, it left a thick scar in its wake. Haldoron stepped closer and placed his hand on Decius’s chest. He roared fiercely, shaking the chamber beneath the catacombs.
“I have granted you immense power, Decius. Use your Inner Eye and awaken this power now!”
Decius grinned. He immediately felt the change. New power awakened inside of him, vibrating through his veins.
A great wall of blue fire erupted from his hands, filling the chamber with a vicious blast of heat, but it didn’t stop there. The blue fire swelled, growing larger than Haldoron himself, flaring up and exploding across the walls and floors. A cyclone of fire spun dangerously around them, transforming into the shape of a great winged monster: a dragon. It spread its wings, spreading flames with each flap.
As Decius the Unfallen, commander of the Black Magic Sorcerers, malevolently controlled the blue dragon, he cackled, “The Eastern Realm will be mine. The Western Realm will be mine. Ciimyria will be mine!”
Haldoron kneeled, grinning wickedly. “What is your will then, Master?”
“Find the princess and bring her to me. Kill everyone who stands in your way.”
Thank you for taking time to read the prologue of my book, The Journey to Oclesedor. The Journey to Oclesedor is Volume 2 in The Legacy of King Jasteroth Series and can be read as a stand-alone.
Readers, if you love high-fantasy, epic battle scenes, innovative magic and a strong female lead, you need to read this book.
Back cover blurb: After uncovering King Jasteroth’s secret plot to conquer the Eastern Realm, Princess Ariella and her Royal Guards must embark on the perilous journey to Oclesedor.
Still unsure about The Journey to Oclesedor? Read more reviews written by REAL readers on Goodreads.
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