The magic war has ended and the sorceress from the White Realm has eluded capture, finding refuge in Plyth, the land of the magic makers. Intent on finding and destroying the murderess of his mother, Simian, now king, and an Ebata warrior vanish into the clouds behind her. Concealed by a spell cast by the Ebata Hafina, they find their way into the village seeking the whereabouts of the sorceress. The royal warlock Daton sees through their invisibility and leads them to the magic caverns. Daton’s scheme to overthrow his brother Rethko, ruler of the magicians, is altered by the presence of the unwelcome visitors.
Princess Lila has taken to the life of the Lapisians with her love Locknair. Their dreams of peace and happiness are marred by the discovery that she has become the “light.” She will soon disappear, becoming one with nature unless all the Light Bringers are destroyed in an ultimate act of good. Alone, Lila enters the dead world of Plyth in search of her brother who holds the last of the talismans.
Time is running out for Lila and as she begins to vanish she finds a worthy challenge. The Dilian, guardian of Plyth has been released and it will be Lila who saves everyone at a very dear price.
The tales of the Lost Children continue: an unbelievable challenge, new allies, and magic realms wait.
Prologue and Chapter One
He remembered their childhood in a series of flashes; even then she had the power to bend him to her will. On one hot summer day, she climbed higher up the mountainside, taunting him, laughing, beckoning him to follow, and he did. That was the way it always was and had been until now….
Standing at the water’s edge, Simian watched the longboats close in on Lila. It reminded him of a hawk circling a rabbit trapped in brambles. Escape for Lila was impossible, and he didn’t care to find a solution.
Managrail had fallen, destroyed by the Fergay. Whether it was by luck or providence, many survived. Now Dirth, a village by the sea, was home, and had brought new adversaries. Moments away from capture, Lila called upon the Light Bringers for help. The magical talismans answered and she vanished.
It is time for stories of old to be retold and a council of war to form. The White Realm and the sorceress have been waiting for one hundred years.
Instinctively, I wrapped my arms around my body. The air around me cold and still, I thought, if I breathed too hard, the sky would break into a million shards. Blinded by the absence of color, I tried to grapple with the starkness of my surroundings. Am I dead? Am I in heaven? That would be surprising, based on my recent behavior. Something about this place seems familiar…. Have I been here before? I remembered what the sprites had said about the White Realm when they rescued me. “Evil lives here and evil hunts for the lost.”
Well, right now, I definitely fit into the “lost” category. The White Realm. Is that where I am? I closed my eyes, sucking in the air, and heard muttering from behind me. I turned and found myself facing the bedraggled longboat crew cowering in fear. “I can’t believe this!” Just moments ago, inches from their grasp, I had disappeared into blinding rays of light shooting toward the heavens.
Now facing me, one man whispered to another, “She must be witch. May all the gods protect us. How else did we land in hell?”
“Well, well, look who decided to join me. Now remind me, you planned to do what with me? Sell me into slavery? Tut, tut, not nice.”
“Please, lady, if we hadn’t followed our captain’s orders, we’d have been flogged or worse—keelhauled. If you are agreeable, we can be on our way. Everything forgotten?”
“To where, the sea? Can you guess where you are? For now, you stay with me, but don’t get too close,” I said pointing my finger, like a weapon. My bravado fooled them, but deep inside, I was a little shaky. I had no idea what to do. I thought I would somehow try to find a way out of this predicament.
Have you ever closed your eyes and tried walking in darkness? It seemed the same in the whiteness, teetering forward inch by inch. Somewhere an invisible artist started to color the outlines of the terrain in bright blue. My eyes squinted at the contrast. A map of sorts appeared, and the landscape seemed to wait patiently to be colored in. I am definitely in the White Realm. Again.
You would think, after creating so much chaos in the past, I would have had better sense than to charge off into the unknown. But I wouldn’t be Lila if I stopped and thought for even a moment, would I?
Going further into the land of strange unnerved me. I thought my eyes deceived me, or that I was possibly going a little mad. Something, or someone came straight toward me. I gulped in the frigid air, raising my hand to halt my followers. With one glance, I canceled their whispers. “Be quiet, you fools!”
I can honestly say my eyes had never set on the likes of what stood in front of me. Four statuesque creatures, shaggy hair touching their shoulders and running down their broad backs, stared at me with black soulless eyes. Each held a stave topped with some sort of blue crystal. Showing its sharp carnivorous teeth, one pointed its stave at me.
“Let’s keep this friendly,” I said, smiling back, fearful I might be its next meal.
Moving quickly to my sides, they pulled me forward, then stopped abruptly when the crew started to follow. Our captors turned, and blocked the men with a threatening gesture.
I saw the pleading in their eyes; aware their safety was in my hands. Silently, I vowed to protect them. As I looked the apparent leader in the eyes, I gently reached out and lowered its stave with my hand. I inclined my head, waiting for the creature’s response. It seemed to agree, and offered a nod to the others.
The snow was a new experience for me. Managrail is protected from the winter’s blanket, the crystals electing to attach themselves to the mountains beyond. A lake, deep blue as the cobalt eyes of my friend Arilya, laid in front of us, and the memory of the Lapisian Queen rescuing my brother Simian and me washed over me. I hesitated, and a firm grip pushed me forward. I wondered why they averted their eyes as we passed. It seemed the lake unsettled them?
The sea thieves had been so quiet I forgot about them until we were brought to a sudden stop, and the buffoons fell over one another. A portcullis and massive ice walls stood before us. The ice castle curiously watched our arrival. The cold crept over my skin sending shivers down my spine. One of my shaggy escorts hit his stave to the ground. The crystal glowed. The gates stretched open; inviting us inside, as the imposing city was revealed. The steps to the palace were worn smooth from years of entry. Immense doors beckoned, and we were ushered into the grand foyer. Once inside, the crew, without their agreement, was steered into a small chamber. I mouthed, “Don’t worry,” as the door sealed shut.
“Hello, can you understand me? Where are you taking me?” I wanted to see if this big, whatever would talk.
It grunted, guiding me to a large room where a statue on a throne sat center stage.
Now very late, I was tired and worn, and I wanted answers. The muscular chaperone thumped the floor with his stave, and directed its crystal at an alabaster statue. A vibration emanated from the stave as the statue began to change. Alabaster turned to porcelain skin, and long auburn locks fell about the shoulders. Beautiful and familiar, her violet eyes pierced through me.
“Greetings, Princess. I am Shantra, ruler of the White Realm. I have been waiting some time to meet you—and now here you are.”
“I’m a little confused. How did I get here?”
“Your thoughts made it possible.”
“Let’s say, your wishes may come true. I have the power to help you achieve your goals. In any case, you are my guest for the time being,” she said with an engaging smile.
“The men with me, well, they were going to take me prisoner. They think I am a witch, that I can do magic.”
“I’d say they are right. What is it you would like done with them? A slow death, or turn them into statues? My ideas are endless.”
I’ll bet, I thought to myself, but said, “No, don’t kill them! Maybe they can answer to me, at least for now. They’re afraid of me.” Processing the implications of Shantra’s offers, I wondered what I had gotten myself into this time.
“As you wish. A little taste of power should achieve what I want. Tothar will see you are settled. He will be able to speak to you, but be warned, don’t talk with anyone else.”
“He brought you here. Tomorrow you will learn more. I will enchant you and your charges from the cold, otherwise you won’t survive.”
Shantra closed her eyes, once again sheathed in her prison. Tothar spoke for the first time, “Follow me. I will take you to your chamber.”
“Excuse me, but why am I here?”
Shaking his shaggy head, the answer didn’t come. He led me up the icy staircase. The patterns of the ice crystals magnified, creating a patch work of art. Winter lived outside and in, and I doubted I’d ever greet a fertile spring again. I shivered, but not from the cold.
We arrived at my chamber, and Tothar extended his hand, gesturing at me to enter the room. Like everything else, it is ice. I stroked the smooth surfaces; they reminded me of polished glass. The bed strewn with fur blankets hinted coziness and warmth. I didn’t feel the cold. I wondered why anyone would want to live in an ice world. Before departing, Tothar pointed out a diminutive crystal box sitting on the table. He said should I need anything, just speak, and I would be heard. I nodded I understood.
“Tomorrow I will show you the city. Rest well, Princess.”
I crawled under the covers and cocooned the blankets around me, then lay back to think. I imagined Dirth, and hoped someone missed me. Sometimes you have to fool yourself. I began to slide into darkness, and as I allowed myself to freefall, my feelings of rage soon became my bedmate. Thoughts of my villager danced in my head, and I could still feel the jealously burning inside me that my mother was receiving the attention from the young man that I so wanted—and believed was mine to have.
Shantra was tantalizing me with the idea of power, and my cravings for it grew. Something else was going on in the Realm, and I believed I played a part in the story. There must be a reason for my presence, or maybe I was just being paranoid. My frayed nerves led me to believe someone watched me at every turn. I closed my eyes, blocking out any thoughts. Slumber came along with dreams of my brother, Simian.
For the first time in my life, he had turned his back on me. He didn’t save the day—or me. Playing it over repeatedly in my mind, the pit in my stomach grew. I awoke startled and wet, sweat pouring down my face, the fur blankets damp and sticky. Shantra! I’m sure she’s from Lapis. The porcelain skin and the auburn hair are the same, but her eyes aren’t blue. None of the Lapisians has violet eyes…. I wonder why she’s different?