Trevor H. Cooley Author of the Bowl of Souls Series.

Author Archives: Trevor Cooley

Messenger of the Dark Prophet Now Available on Audiobook

Hey folks!

Good news! Messenger of the Dark Prophet is finally available in Audiobook format. It is out on Audible now and will appear on Amazon and Itunes in the next few days. James Foster once again provides the narration. Get your copy now and let us know what you think!

MOTDP cover 2013 e

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Messenger-of-the-Dark-Prophet-Audiobook/B00SHKM1XY

 

I know that most of you are wondering where The Ogre Apprentice is. Please believe me, I’m as tired of handing out excuses as you are of hearing them. I will keep you informed as soon as I know exactly when it will be available. I am working on it.  It’s not far away. I promise.

 

Trevor H. Cooley

Thoughts on 2014 and 2015 goals

It’s the last day of 2014. If you had talked to me in December 2013, I would have had no idea I’d be in the situation I am today. What a crazy year.

This year we went from living in a suburb in Idaho to living on a farm in Tennessee.

I finished the first two books of the Jharro Grove saga, (One book less the minimum planned).

I released Eye of the Moonrat on audiobook.

My grandmother passed away and I struggled with the worst case of writer’s block I’ve had.

So here I sit on the cusp of a new year and I have goals to make. I’m not so sure I like the idea of putting out my resolutions publicly, but as many of you have been around with me from the beginning I feel like you are, in a way, part of my family. So here goes.

2015 goals

1. Release at least three books, hopefully four. Starting with The Ogre Apprentice.

TOA-ebook

It will be done before the end of January. I know I have been delaying the release for months now, believe me I struggled with that every day. But it will happen. It’s a fun story and an exciting direction for the series, but for some reason it has been the hardest book for me to write. I am almost finished, I just really want to make sure that the book is as good as I want it to be.

2. Release the rest of the Moonrat Saga on Audiobook.

James Foster has finished narrating Messenger of the Dark Prophet and we have listened through the majority of it. We will be sending it on to Audible in the next few days and then it just has to go through their review process, so that should happen in mid January as well.

3. I have other resolutions, lose some weight, get into shape, but for the most part, 2015 is an open book.  I stand here looking forward and I have no idea what is going to happen. I hope that it is not as tumultuous as 2014 was. I hope it is a bright and successful one.

I wish you all a Happy New Year. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for reading. And thank you for loving the characters and the world that I have created. I get chills every time I hear from someone new.

Trevor H. Cooley

The Ogre Apprentice: Chapter Three. Merry Christmas!

Howdy folks and Merry Christmas to you! I really wanted to finish the book by now, but I’m still not quite finished. I do have a few pieces of good news, though.

First, despite the delays I am closer to finishing the book. I don’t want to give another firm date because I keep missing them, but it won’t be long. Second, James Foster has finished audio work on Messenger of the Dark Prophet. We hope that it goes through audible’s system quickly and it will be available early in January. Third, as an apology and as a surprise Christmas present to you, here is chapter three of The Ogre Apprentice. This is the last preview chapter I’m going to post. Please enjoy and let me know what you think!

In case you missed it,

Chapter One HERE

Chapter Two HERE

 

Chapter Three

 

Fist quickly donned his apprentice robes and grabbed Squirrel’s pouch. The little creature jumped in and he ran out the door after Darlan, trying to pull the leather glove onto his right hand with his teeth while holding his mace in his other hand. Thankfully, they hadn’t gone far. Mistress Sarine had paused just outside of the building and was talking away. Fist joined them, Charz and Alfred right behind him.

“ . . . And as I was saying earlier, I keep being struck by how much has changed around here. Don’t misunderstand me, dear. The new clock tower is lovely, as are the fountains in the center square. Just enchanting. But this entire side of the grounds with this testing center and all these warehouses . . . well, frankly they’re just an eyesore.”

The dwarf, Bill, was nodding and stroking his beard thoughtfully. “Well it wouldn’t be so bad, Begazzi, if we could go back in and add some scrollwork along the edges and perhaps redo the roofs with decorative tile.”

“Some colorful paint and some flowerbeds would help, too,” added Kyrkon. The elf was as odd as the dwarf in his own way, with brown hair cropped short and wearing the clothes of a common farmer. He also wore riding gloves and a thin sword with an ornate pommel was hanging at his waist.

“Oh!” said Sarine, clapping her hands together. “That sounds wonderful! What do you think, Darlan? Bill could oversee the work. He loves that sort of thing. Would the rest of the council have a problem with that?”

“I don’t see why they would,” she remarked. “Though Wizard Beehn is the main one you’d have to run it by. He is the one in charge of the grounds, after all.”

“Well, this is all exciting conversation,” Maryanne said, yawning with boredom. “But what I really want to know is where your archery range’s at.”

“It’s a school for magic, dear,” Sarine reminded her.

“But the academy has one,” Fist offered. “In their training grounds out behind the new barracks. They won’t mind if you use it. As long as it’s not already crowded with students.”

The gnome gave him a grateful smile. “See? Look at this big man, Sarine. He’s my hero.”

Fist blinked. Maybe she was confused by his clothing. “Uh . . . I’m not a man. I’m an ogre.”

“Oh, I know,” she replied, raising an eyebrow.

“Don’t you start on him, Maryanne,” Sarine warned, wagging a finger at the gnome.

“I’ll be at the range if you need me, Sarine,” the gnome replied. She brushed past Fist as she walked by and said softly, “You can join me there if you like,” before heading towards the academy buildings.

Oooh, sent Squirrel, his head peeking out of the top of his pouch.

Fist watched her go, his cheeks reddening. She had spoken to him in much the same way female ogres teased a prospective mate. Surely she wasn’t serious. Was she making fun of him?

“That didn’t take long,” said Bill, sharing amused looks with Kyrkon.

“Sorry, ogre,” the elf added. “She tends to fall for the muscular ones.”

Fist frowned. Now he was sure she’d been making fun of him.

Sarine sighed. “Oh my. I feel I should apologize for Maryanne. She is my newest bonded and she still hasn’t grown past a few of her former flaws, the poor dear.”

“Well I don’t like it,” said Darlan and Fist saw that her glare was following Maryanne’s lithe figure as the gnome jogged away. “See to it that you have a talk with her, would you?”

“Oh, don’t worry about her,” Sarine said, dismissing the idea with a gesture. “She’s harmless.”

“Uh, Mistress Sherl,” Fist said, wanting to change the subject. “I had something I’ve been wanting to talk to you about all morning.”

She didn’t look away from the gnome. “Yes, what is it?”

Fist knew how Darlan would react and didn’t want to go over all the details in front of everyone. He cleared his throat and stepped closer, speaking softly. “It’s about Justan. I spoke to him last night and I’ve got news.”

That got her attention. Darlan turned her gaze on him, her brow furrowed in concern. “Did they make it into Malaroo alright?”

“Well, he’s okay, but . . .” Fist tried to give her a look to tell her that he’d prefer to speak alone.

“But what?” she asked, making an impatient gesture.

“I just think that maybe we should-.”

“Stop making faces at me and tell me what happened!” she snapped.

Fist winced. His attempt at subtlety had backfired. Now everyone was looking at him. “Well, Deathclaw and Gwyrtha finally caught up with him yesterday, but when they crossed the Malaroo border . . . they were attacked.”

“Attacked by whom?” Darlan asked warily.

“Was it Jhonate’s father?” said Alfred.

“More basilisks?” Charz asked.

“Oh dear, what has that boy gotten himself into?” Sarine asked, bringing one hand to her mouth.

Fist groaned inwardly. “No! Well, yes. Kind of. They were there, but-.”

“Use complete sentences, Fist,” Darlan told him.

The ogre tried to answer all the questions, “There was an army of the wild people, the Roo-Tan. And they had merpeople with them. Justan and the others fought them for awhile and then some of Jhonate’s people showed up and helped them.”

“Jhonate’s people helped this army?” Darlan said.

“No. Jhonate’s people helped Justan,” Fist corrected. “They defeated the army of wild people together. But then, when the battle was over, the nightbeast snuck in and killed Yntri Yni.”

There was a moment of stunned silence after this statement. None of them knew Yntri well, but Darlan, Charz, and Alfred had met him while Justan’s party had stayed at the Mage School for a couple days. Charz had even shared a bottle of pepperbean wine with him.

“How horrible,” Darlan said.

“Yntri Yni?” said Kyrkon, his face pale and his voice strained. At that moment, Fist saw something in the elf’s eyes that told him Kyrkon was much older than he looked. “Of the ancient ones? But how?”

“The nightbeast snuck into the camp looking like one of Jhonate’s people. It . . .” Fist shuddered as he recalled the memory Justan had shown him. “It stabbed him while Justan was watching. It looked into Justan’s eyes while it did it.”

The elf swallowed. “This is a terrible blow. I should send a message to my sect.”

“You can send a pigeon from the Rune Tower,” Alfred suggested.

“Thank you,” Kyrkon replied. “I remember where it is. They haven’t moved it in the last two hundred years, have they?”

“Not that I know of,” said Alfred. “Some of the droppings look at least that old.”

The elf didn’t smile at the joke, but nodded somberly and began walking towards the tower. He gave Sarine a quick glance along the way and she gave him an encouraging look in return. Fist had been bonded long enough to know that a mental communication had just taken place.

“The Prophet will be so heartbroken,” Sarine said. “John knew that elf for a long time.” She frowned. “But why would someone send a nightbeast after one of the ancient ones? What would they have to gain?”

“It wasn’t after him,” Fist replied. “It was after Justan. Yntri Yni was just in the way.”

“Poor Justan,” Darlan said. “He must be wracked with guilt over it.”

“And just who sent a nightbeast after my great grandson?” asked Mistress Sarine. There was real anger in her voice now.

“Someone in Malaroo,” Darlan said. “We don’t know who for sure, but there is the distinct possibility it could be his future father-in-law.”

“The leader of the Roo-tan? And you let him walk right into it?” Sarine said to Darlan, dumbfounded.

“It’s wasn’t Jhonate’s father,” Fist said. “Justan met Xedrion after the battle and found out that he had nothing to do with it.”

Darlan’s shoulders slumped with relief. “Well that’s good. Does he have any other ideas who it could be?”

Fist shrugged. “Justan has no other enemies that he knows about.”

“It still has to be someone in the Roo-Tan,” Darlan said. “Someone that doesn’t want an alliance between their people and the academy. When you speak with him tonight, tell him to look into any other people among the Roo-Tan that have the kind of wealth needed to hire a nightbeast.”

Fist nodded, but he was pretty sure Justan and Jhonate were already doing just that. “Okay.”

Darlan turned to Sarine and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Please excuse me, Mistress Sarine. I’ve just realized that I have more matters to attend to. I’m sure Alfred can show you the rest of the changes in the school without me.”

“I would be happy to,” the gnome warrior replied with a short bow.

A slight bit of irritation rippled across Sarine’s features, but she put on a polite smile. “Of course, dear. We will have plenty of time to discuss things later.”

“That we will,” Darlan replied, returning her smile. Then she grabbed the arm of Fist’s robe and yanked him in the direction of the Rune Tower.

Fist followed along meekly, relieved that they were leaving the bonding wizard behind. Fist had found the old woman troubling. She had an intangible quality about her that made her presence overpowering. Perhaps it was a family trait because Darlan had it too. With those two women standing side by side, the large ogre had felt positively small.

Darlan headed straight for the moat around the Rune Tower. They followed along its bank until she was sure that they had moved out of eye and earshot of her grandmother. Then she stopped and turned around to face Fist.

“Alright, listen. I had to get you away from her before you blurted something I hadn’t prepared her for.”

“You mean, about the Scralag?” the ogre surmised.

“I haven’t told her about that yet. I told her about the rest of Justan’s bonded earlier, but not that one,” she said. Darlan reached up and rubbed at her temples. “I haven’t told her about Artemis yet for a few reasons. First of all, I barely know the woman. I have no idea how she’ll react to the news that her husband’s soul is still around, trapped inside my son’s chest. Secondly, I am angry at her.”

“You seem angry a lot of the time,” Fist remarked, then winced, regretting the words as soon as they had left his mouth.

Stupid, Squirrel agreed. The ogre braced himself for a dressing down or perhaps even an incineration but, to his surprise, she chuckled.

“Oh Fist, if I’m angry with you it’s because I care. I don’t waste my emotion on people I don’t care about.” She poked his chest with a stiff finger. “I am still furious with you about the trick you pulled earlier, by the way.”

“I know. I’m sorry,” Fist said.

“What got into your head?” she asked.

The ogre shrugged. “I wanted to try the spells again, but I thought you’d be in a meeting all morning, so I got Charz. I knew that I couldn’t hurt him with them and I didn’t think I’d hurt myself.”

“You think your spells didn’t hurt him?” Darlan said, an eyebrow raised. “His skin was smoking when we got there. Patches of his back were glowing hot. Sure he healed up afterwards, but you owe him an apology.”

Fist’s face blanched. She was right. He had known that the spells would cause the giant pain and he had ignored the fact. “I will try to make it up to him.”

She folded her arms. “So what went wrong with the spell?”

“I tried my other spells first and I think I used up too much of my magic,” he said. “I made the cloud and built up the lightning but when I let it go, I didn’t have enough earth magic left to protect me.”

Darlan nodded. “That’s a danger with large spells like cloud lightning. They are usually used as a last defense and you are often already exhausted by the time you’re in a situation where you need to use them. You need to learn your limits or you will kill yourself one day.”

“I understand,” the ogre said.

“Hmm. I think it’s time we trained your stamina,” Darlan said, stroking her chin as she thought. “Alright, this is how I want you to do it. Each night, just before you go to bed, drain your magic completely.”

“How?” he asked.

She smiled. “It’s an old trick my master once taught me. What you do is you make a ball of light. Then you focus on keeping it as dim as possible.”

Fist frowned. Making a ball of light was one of the first spells she had taught him. It required only a low amount of focus, but it was very inefficient, taking a lot of energy and making a bright light. Dimming it required tightening up the spell, which meant pouring more energy into it. That was why wizards still preferred to use candles or runed light orbs. Still, there had to be faster ways to drain his magic.

“If I try to make dim it, it will just go out,” he complained.

“Then you’ll just have to expend more energy to keep it going,” she said. “The dimmer you try to keep it, the faster you’ll drain your magic.”

“But why will that help?” Fist asked.

“Think of it like training your muscles,” she replied. “The more you push your limits, the further your limits grow. You won’t be able to increase your magic’s strength very much, but you can increase your capacity. In addition, you will better learn how to tell when you’ve exhausted your resources.”

“Okay,” he said, his brow furrowed thoughtfully. This would send him to bed completely exhausted each night. How would that affect his conversations with Justan? Would it be harder to use the bond over such a long distance if he was that tired?

“Alright, now I wasn’t lying to my grandmother when I told her that I have things to get done. I want you to go to the library and study until lunch time. Then we’ll speak again,” Darlan said and turned to stride away. “And when we do, you’re going to tell me all about how Justan’s meeting with Xedrion went.”

“Yes, Mistress. Oh! But what about my punishment?” he asked.

Stupid, said Squirrel, shaking his head.

Darlan stopped. “I imagine that the pain you went through, added to the guilt you must feel are probably punishment enough.” She turned back to face him again and her look was deadly serious. “But next time you feel the compulsion to train behind my back, think of this. Most people don’t learn the spells I have taught you until they are mages. Some of the spells, like cloud lightning, are only used by a handful of full wizards.

“I didn’t decide to teach you advanced war spells just because I like you. I do it because you’re bonded to my son and Justan needs you. Most of the council thinks I am crazy, but I do it anyway despite their objections. If you screw up like this again, whether you live or not, I am the one who will have to face the repercussions. Do you understand?”

Fist swallowed. “Yes, Mistress Sherl.”

“Good,” she said and strode away.

Fist stood there alone for a moment, staring into the water of the moat as the dark forms of the perloi swam lazily by. He wouldn’t let her down. He couldn’t. She was right. Justan needed him.

That was the real reason he wasn’t with Justan in Malaroo now. Fist needed to become stronger. Another war was coming. The prophet had foretold it. Sooner or later the Dark Prophet would walk on the land again. John had told Fist that Justan would need his strength when that happened and the ogre hadn’t forgotten.

Tightening his fists in determination, Fist followed the moat around to the Rune Tower’s main gate. Once there, he passed over the bridge into the tower and strode down its gilded halls towards the library.

The Mage School in Dremaldria boasted one of the greatest libraries in the known lands, topped perhaps only by the enormous libraries in the Gnome Homeland. Scholars had debated which was greater for centuries, arguing whether it was the number of the books or quality of the books or size of the structure that mattered.

As for size, the Mage School library was huge. It was as long as the Magic Testing Center and six stories tall, with wide staircases connecting each level. Hundreds of bookcases stood in rows radiating out from the circular main desk. A half dozen students wearing assistant sashes stood behind it, checking out and bringing in books.

The main desk is where Fist had his eye because that is where Vincent lurked. The gnomish head librarian did not like Squirrel and the ogre wanted to avoid a scene. To Fist’s relief, Vincent was not in his customary seat.

It was mid-morning now and most students were in classes, but the library was bustling with activity. The long polished tables were crowded with students of every rank preparing for their afternoon classes. It was considered impolite to raise one’s voice in this place, but the room was filled with the low roar of a hundred whisperers.

Fist turned to the right of the main doors and faced a large wardrobe that had been repurposed as the official library weapon closet. A new rule had been instituted after the war. Anyone that wanted to use the library had to leave their weapons inside. Fist thought it a silly rule. What were they worried about? Sword fights breaking out over books?

Fist opened the wardrobe and fumbled briefly with the mage staffs that threatened to spill out. Grumbling, he placed his mace inside and walked to the center desk where he waited in line for his turn to speak with one of the librarian assistants. He was only five back in the queue, but he did not make it to the front.

“Droppings!” accused an aristocratic baritone.

Fist winced at the sound. He knew that voice. He turned to see Vincent’s long nose hook over the top of the desk. The gnome peered up at him, his eyebrows twisted with irritation.

“You! Ogre! Come here this instant!”

Fist walked around the desk to the place where the gnome was crouched. Vincent backed out from under the desk where he had been when Fist had entered the library. His tall and slender frame uncoiled as he stood. The gnome was nearly seven feet tall and gaunt with dog-like droopy ears and a two pairs of glasses perched on his high forehead.

“Droppings!” The gnome announced again, shoving his hand out to Fist palm up. “Do you concur?”

There was a scattering of tiny raisin-like ovals on the gnome’s palm. “Uh, yeah,” Fist said. “Those look like poop to me.”

“Indeed they are,” Vincent said accusingly. “And I have been finding them everywhere. In my chair. In-between pages of my books . . !”

“You might have mice,” Fist suggested.

“Mice? Don’t be absurd,” Vincent said.

“Maybe rats, then?”

The gnome’s eyes narrowed and he pursed his lips, wrinkling the pencil thin mustache above his lips. “There hasn’t been a mouse or rat in the library for decades, young ma- . . . ogre! No, there is only one rodent that has been allowed in this auspicious space and that is your little pet!”

Squirrel squeezed out of his pouch and scurried up to Fist’s shoulder where he affected a look of surprise, pointing at himself. Me?

“Gosh, I don’t know, Mister Vincent, sir,” Fist said. “Squirrel is really clean. I don’t usually find his poop anywhere.”

Squirrel snorted and nodded in agreement and Fist suddenly became suspicious. Where did Squirrel put all his droppings? After all, he was constantly eating. They had to go somewhere.

He shook the thought away. He really didn’t want to know. “I think those are rat poops.”

“Again, I say to you, absurd,” Vincent insisted, tossing the handfull of droppings onto the desktop in front of him. He picked up a thick book from the desk and leafed through it. “I researched the matter. This is Bierbaum’s Twenty Third Treatise on Flora and Fauna in Dremaldria and the Region Thereabouts. It belongs on floor two, aisle thirty six. My evidence is on page two hundred and eighty seven. It is a chapter on the distinction between rodent droppings.”

Fist wrinkled his nose. Someone wrote books about that?

“Bierbaum says here in paragraph two, very clearly I might add, that there is a distinct variation in shape and color between the various squirrel species and the common rat. He states . . .” The gnome cleared his throat and began patting his chest with his free hand. “Where are my glasses?”

“On your head,” Fist said.

“Right,” Vincent said pulling a pair down onto the bridge of his nose in a quick manner, causing the other pair to fall off his head and land on the desk in front of him with a clatter. He gave the end of his nose a tug. “I quote, ‘The common rat lays ovaloid droppings usually black in coloration in much the size of a grain of rice. Squirrel droppings are much the same size and shape. However-!”

The gnome raised a skeletal finger and there was a smattering of laughter from the students nearby. “‘Squirrel droppings are slightly lighter in coloration because of their more specific dietary choices and, whereas rat droppings are marked with an angular taper on both ends, squirrel droppings have a distinctive rounded edge.’ Close quote.”

He picked one of the droppings up of the desk and held it out to Fist. “See? Dark brown, not black, and with rounded edges. You may think that this not conclusive proof, but wait, there’s more.” He placed the dropping back on the desk and picked up another book from a nearby stack. “Pritchard’s Animal Almanac volume seven. From floor two, aisle thirty-six, row four, page hmm, let’s see . . .”

There was more laughter from the students and Fist turned his head in time to see that Squirrel was mimicking the librarian’s gestures, fiddling with an imaginary pair of spectacles and moving his mouth along with the gnome’s.

“Stop it, Squirrel!” Fist whispered, then sent through the bond, You’re going to get yourself banned from the library again. Luckily, Vincent hadn’t seen Squirrel’s little performance. He hadn’t even looked up from his book.

The gnome flipped a few pages. “Ah, here it is, page one hundred and thirty-six, paragraph two. Quote, ‘The common rat also has the distinction of leaving its droppings scattered here and there without any discernible pattern as they defecate as the urge hits them. Squirrels, on the other hand, are neater and tend to leave their droppings in piles.’ End quote.”

He looked back up at Fist. “And there you have it. Piles of droppings under my desk. Piles of droppings in my hat-.” He lifted a felt hat with a short brim from the desk and jiggled it so that Fist could hear the tiny droppings rolling inside. “And piles of droppings in my pockets!” Vincent reached onto the breast pocket of his tweed vest and pulled out a tiny handful of droppings that he then piled onto the desk in front of him. “Proof definitive! This was no mouse or rat.”

Fist looked at Squirrel and the little beast gave him an exaggerated shrug. The ogre could feel the intensity of his amusement through the bond. The ogre swallowed and said, “I don’t know how it could be Squirrel. Because I keep him close when we’re in the library and Squirrel stays with me at night.”

“He’s got a good point, Vincent, sir,” said one of the assistants standing nearby. “That’s a lot of droppings and he’s just one squirrel.”

Fist nodded in agreement. “Yeah. And how could he have got them in your pockets? Squirrel’s too big to fit in your pocket.”

The gnome’s thin lips twisted into a scowl. “I do not have a full explanation, but it is obvious that the little devil placed them in there somehow.”

“I will talk to him, sir,” Fist promised. “But he says he didn’t do it.”

Squirrel shook his head innocently.

“Nah, it wasn’t Squirrel,” said one student.

“Oh please don’t tell me we have rats,” worried another.

Vincent frowned at all of them. “I’ll find more proof,” he argued. “Why I am sure that there is more research on the second floor. Perhaps in Professor Varder-.”

“Vincent, sir?” Fist interrupted, remembering one of Justan’s tricks. “The reason I came here was that I want to research the War of the Dark Prophet.”

The gnome blinked for a moment and his demeanor changed. He was suddenly quite professional. “Histories, then. Floor three, aisles fifty through fifty-five. It’s a broad subject. What part of the war specifically?”

“Oh, uh, the Prophet’s companions,” Fist said.

“Aisle fifty-two, then. Look on the third shelf. Grennedy did some of the best work,” the gnome said. “Watch your step. Your feet are quite large for those stairs.”

“Thank you,” Fist said and turned towards the staircase. The gnome’s politeness at the end had made him feel guilty for lying. That was close, Squirrel. You need to stop being so mean to Mister Vincent.

Mean? Squirrel replied. He didn’t see it that way. Funny.

Well, he doesn’t think so, Fist replied. How did you carry all your poop in here anyway? Squirrel started to send Fist a series of memories and the ogre cut him off part way through, his stomach turning. Just don’t do it again.

“Fist!” shouted a loud male voice. drawing a frown from Vincent and the attention of the students nearby. Fist saw that it was Roobin, one of the academy graduates on guard duty at the school. He was dressed for battle in full chainmail, with a broadsword at his belt and he was breathing heavily.

The guard trotted up to him. “Good, Wizard Sarine said you would be in here.”

“What, Roobin?” Fist asked. He didn’t know the man very well. He had fought along side him during the war but hadn’t seen him much since.

“There’s a group of ogres at the wall,” Rubin said.

“Ogres?” Fist said in surprise. “Are we under attack?”

“We don’t think so,” Roobin replied. “There’s ten of them and we have them surrounded, but they say they’re not here to fight. They want to talk to you.”

“Me?” Fist asked. “Why?”

“One of them says he’s your father.”

 

END CHAPTER THREE

The Ogre Apprentice – Chapter Two

Howdy folks!

I told you I would do this, so here goes. Chapter Two.

Some cool reveals in this chapter. This is stuff I have been wanting to get around to telling for a long time so this is pretty exciting. A lot of the chapters in this book are this way. There is so much information I want to tell the readers, it is a lot like Mother of the Moonrat in that way.

At any rate, here it is:

 

And SPOILER ALERT. If you haven’t read all the other books in the series, read those first.

 

 

Link to Chapter One HERE if you missed it.

 

Chapter Two

 

Fist sent threads of earth magic into the ground, causing a column of dirt to erupt from the ground under the oncoming giant’s feet. Charz, having seen Fist use this spell before, anticipated the attack and jumped, letting the force of the blast launch him into the air towards the ogre.

Startled, Fist dove to the side, barely avoiding the prongs of Charz’s trident as they pierced into the ground where he had been standing. “Hey! We’re not trying to kill each other.”

Charz chuckled and whirled to face Fist again. “You wake me up this early and expect me to go easy on you?”

“No,” said Fist. “But be careful. If you stab me with that thing, I might bleed to death before the wizards could heal me. I don’t heal as fast as you.”

Charz snorted. “I’ve been fighting for centuries. You think I can’t avoid a mortal blow when I want to?”

“I guess,” Fist said suspiciously. The real question was whether, in the heat of battle, the giant could control himself. He took several steps back and squared his shoulders. “Then let’s start again.”

Charz grinned and charged.

Fist sent threads of magic into the ground again, but enacted the spell sooner, launching the earth further in front of the giant’s feet. Charz felt the rumble under his feet and leapt, but this time the column of dirt struck him in the chest, knocking him backwards to land on his back.

Charz laughed. “Good one!”

But the spell had served a secondary purpose. The force of the eruption had also sent a cloud of dust into the air, setting up Fist’s next move. The ogre sent out a web of water, condensing in the air around the giant.

While Charz stood, the water and dust mixed creating a fine mist of mud that hung suspended in the air. Then Fist triggered an air spell and the mud was sucked against the giant’s body, hardening as Fist drew the moisture out. Within moments, Charz was encased in two inches of solid clay and looked like a sloppily formed sculpture.

Fist let out a whoop of excitement that the spell had worked. Darlan had been drilling the particulars into him for weeks, having him practice on various objects. This was the first time he had used it against a living combatant.

Fist paused, breathing hard. That spell had taken a lot out of him. In addition, his ear was bothering him again. The itch had become a throb. He ignored it as cracks began to appear in the statue.

The ogre took a few steps back and began preparing his next attack. He sent another web of water into the air. A cloud of fog-like mist began forming in the room.

Charz shattered the rock around him with a roar, sending pottery-like shards of hardened clay everywhere. The giant stepped out of the broken rock around his feet and swung around to face Fist, managing to look both angry and amused as he peered through the thickening fog towards the ogre.

“Good one, Fist. But I’m kind of mad that we haven’t struck any blows yet,” Charz said, shaking his trident, which was still encased in thick rock. “You have any magic left in you after that?”

“Yes,” the ogre replied, though truthfully he wasn’t sure whether he had enough left in him to make the next spell work. It was the biggest one and the most complicated. This spell was the main reason Darlan hadn’t wanted him to go with Justan and he definitely knew she wouldn’t like him trying it now, but he began to enact it anyway. He began increasing the vibration of the earth and air magic around him.

Charz smacked his trident against the ground but was only able to knock a chunk of rock loose. “And we’ll fight after you’re done messing around?”

“If I can still stand,” Fist replied, drooping slightly as he poured more and more energy into the vibration.

“You trickster, you’re about to fall over now,” Charz sneered and tossed his unwieldy weapon aside. He pointed at the ogre. “I’m gonna get at least one punch in, I’ll promise you that.” The giant charged again.

It was time. Fist roared, putting everything he had into the spell. He sent the vibrating and crackling threads of magic away from his body in a violent burst. Charz leapt toward him, his large arms spread wide.

The room filled with a blinding light as bolts of electricity blossomed into existence, arcing through the air using the thick watery mist as a conductor. For a fraction of a second, time stopped for Fist. He saw the spell clearly with his mage sight as well as his regular vision. White lightning filled the room, completely engulfing the oncoming giant.

He had done it. He had enacted the spell Darlan had told him about. The one that she had told him was too dangerous. Maybe now he could show her and she might change her mind and let him join Justan in Malaroo!

Then the fraction of a second ended and Fist was hit by the effects of his own spell. The same arcs of electricity that had struck the giant pierced through the meager barrier of earth magic that he had hoped to use to protect himself.

He barely registered the deafening crack of thunder that followed the lightning as the giant’s hurtling body struck him.

 

The next thing Fist heard were the words, “-you idiot!”

A hand wrenched his nose and the ogre’s eyes fluttered open. Darlan’s angry visage came into view and Fist grimaced. “Ow! What-?”

“That’s right, Fist. Wake up!” The wizardess pried back his eyelids and caused a flickering flame to appear in front of his face. For some reason she was kneeling beside him. She glanced away from him. “His pupils are responsive.”

“You mustn’t be so harsh with him, Darlan dear,” said an older woman’s voice. “He has been through quite a bump.”

Darlan didn’t look at the woman who spoke. “I will deal with my apprentice in my own way, thank you very much.” She placed her hands on Fist’s chest and he felt a slight tingle of magical energy enter his body. Fist groaned and tried to sit up but searing pain shot through him at the attempt and he collapsed.

“Stop moving, you big dumb ogre!” Darlan demanded, her face tight with concentration. “Stay still while I examine you.”

Where was he? He turned his head and saw a stark, empty room with gray walls. He was still in the testing center and he was lying on the dirt. Despite the pain, he felt sleepy and it was hard to focus his concentration.

Stupid! Squirrel barked and Fist felt the creature’s worry surging through the bond. He turned his head the other direction to see that Squirrel was sitting next to him. His little fists were clenched and one foot was tapping the ground.

I’m okay, Squirrel. I think.

Fist slowly realized that there were several other people in the room around him. It was hard to focus, but he saw Wizard Larus and Mage Ella standing nearby, both excellent healers. Charz was there too. Patches of his rocky skin were blackened and he was frowning at Fist while he spoke with Alfred. There were also a few others the ogre didn’t recognize. An old dwarf, a short-haired elf, and a female gnome were standing next to Charz, looking at Fist with their arms folded, amusement in their eyes.

The old woman who had spoken earlier was standing behind Darlan and looking down at him with a kind and sympathetic smile. She wore a white robe with an odd symbol embroidered on her sleeves in silver. Fist wondered why the old woman had just called Darlan by her chosen name instead of Sherl.

He tried to speak to the woman, but it was hard to stay awake. His deep voice was slurred as he said, “Wh-who are y . . .”

“Hey!” Darlan wrenched his nose again. “You look at me when I’m speaking to you.”

“Ow. I-I’m sorry Misstresss Sherrl,” Fist replied, forcing his eyes to stay open. He groaned. “Oh, I hurts all over.”

“Of course you do!” Darlan snapped. Her normally winsome features were pinched with anger and worry. “This is what happens when you get struck by a direct bolt of lightning.”

“Oh . . . right.” Fist’s eyelids began to droop. “Sso tired.”

“He has mild burns throughout his body,” Darlan announced, speaking to the others. “Even in some of his internal organs.”

“Ohh,” Fist said. The damage must truly have been extensive because there wasn’t a part of him that didn’t hurt. “Thhhat was how I feels. Like when I burnn my fingers, but all over. Hey, Misstress Sherrl. Whhhy do I sound drunk?”

“It’s a possible head injury, dear,” said the old woman looking over Darlan’s shoulder. Despite her sagging cheeks and wrinkles, the woman had vibrant blue eyes. Strange how much energy was in them at her age.

“You have prretty eyes,” he told her.

“Why thank you,” the old woman replied.

He returned his bleary gaze to Darlan. “Can I ssleep now?”

“No sleeping until after we’ve healed you,” Darlan said. “And focus on what I’m telling you.”

Had she been talking? “Sorry ‘bout that.”

“Don’t you ‘sorry’ me, Fist!” She waved the healers over. “Alright, Ella, you take his limbs. Larus, please see to his organs. You’re better at that kind of work than I am. I’ll work on his head. Let me know if you need my assistance.”

They crouched beside him and Darlan scooted over until she was kneeling above his head. She placed her hands at either side of face and nodded. All three of them began healing him at once. Fist cried out in surprise at the intensity of the magic that surged through his body. All thoughts of sleep ended and all he could do was clench his teeth and endure the sensation.

The healing went on for several minutes, Fist wincing as repaired nerves fired back up. The last thing that was fixed seemed to be his memory, because it wasn’t until they had nearly finished that he realized how much trouble he was in.

Finally, the tingle of their magic left his body and the healers stood. While Darlan thanked them, Fist climbed to his feet. He swayed a little, feeling almost as tired as he had before they had healed him. But this time, his mind was wide awake. The healers waved at him and he called out a thank you as they left.

Then Darlan punched him in the arm. “It was the ‘Cloud of Lightning’ spell, wasn’t it?” she demanded, shooting him a glare that he was sure would burn holes in his skin. He opened his mouth, but she didn’t bother to wait for his response. “Did I not tell you that spell was too dangerous to try on your own?”

“Yes, Mistress Sherl, but-.”

“Did you know that you stopped breathing?”

Fist’s eyes widened. “I did?”

“Indeed!” she snapped. “You are lucky that Charz was here to revive you.”

He turned grateful eyes on the giant. “You revived me? Thank you, Charz.”

“I ain’t talking about it!” the giant said.

“He was breathing the life back into you when we arrived,” said Alfred, holding back a laugh.

“I told you I didn’t want to talk about it!” Charz growled.

Darlan sighed, running a hand through her hair. “I was looking for you all over this morning. Luckily Alfred pointed me this way. I was right next to the testing center when Squirrel fell out of the tree next to me.”

“You fell out of a tree?” Fist asked in surprise.

Squirrel had climbed up the ogre’s body while Darlan was berating him. He was sitting on the ogre’s shoulder, his back to Fist’s head. I’m angry.

“He struck the ground, stiff as a stick!” Darlan said. “I fear the shock of what happened to you nearly killed him.”

Fist swallowed, a surge of guilt rising inside him. “I-I didn’t think-.”

“No you didn’t!” Darlan said. “You are a bonding wizard, remember? If you die, Squirrel dies too. Think these things through before you do something stupid!”

Fist’s shoulders slumped. I’m so sorry, Squirrel.

The old woman put her hand on Darlan’s shoulder and said sweetly, “Come now, dear. Look at the poor boy. He understands. You’ve berated him enough.”

“Oh have I now?” Darlan held her hand out towards Fist. There was something in her palm. “Tell me, Fist. What’s this?”

Fist squinted at the item on her palm. It looked like a small plant. “I . . . don’t know.”

“Are you sure? I found it in your ear while I was healing you,” she said accusingly.

“Oh, you shouldn’t put things in your ear, dear,” said the old woman, shaking her head.

“It’s a honstule sprout,” Darlan continued. “I’m surprised you could hear. Its little roots were digging into your ear drum. At the rate these plants grow, it could have done major damage in a few more hours.”

“Squirrel did it!” Fist declared, pointing at the beast.

Squirrel snorted and turned his nose up at the ogre.

“You shouldn’t place blame on others,” Darlan replied with a frown.

“He did!” Fist insisted. “He was being naughty last night. He shoved a bunch of seeds in my ear when I was sleeping.”

Darlan placed a weary hand on her forehead. “What am I going to do with you two?”

“Oh they’ll be fine,” the old woman told Darlan, patting Fist’s arm as she spoke. Her hair was silvery gray and she kept it tied back behind her head in a braid. She reached up to tuck a stray hair behind her ear and Fist noticed a rune on the palm of her left hand. This woman was named.

“Children always are,” the woman continued. “You know, your father was terrible with that kind of thing. Always sticking things where they shouldn’t go. His nose or ears, whatever holes were handy, really. Artemis was worried half to death about it. But I told him that the boy would be fine and I was right. He grew out of it.”

“I’m not a child. I’m twenty years old,” Fist said in protest, but then something she said struck him. “Did you say Artemis?”

“Yes, dear. My late first husband,” the woman said, smiling at some distant memory. “He was a sweet man. A good man. I still miss him terribly.” She shook her head, dismissing the memory. “But that was long ago.”

Fist blinked. Surely it was a coincidence. The woman was old, but surely she couldn’t be that old. Humans didn’t live that long. Did they?

Darlan cleared her throat. “Fist, I should introduce you. This is my grandmother, Mistress Sarine.”

Fist’s eyebrows rose. So he was right. “Your grandma? Then she was married to Justan’s great grand-.”

Darlan gave him a warning look. “Yes. That’s right, Fist. Not only is my Grandma Begazzi still alive, I found out last night that she’s actually better known as the ‘famous’ Mistress Sarine, one of the Prophet’s companions!”

Fist wasn’t well versed in human history, but he had heard Justan mention the Prophet’s companions. They were the group of warriors and wizards that had marched on the Dark Prophet’s palace. That meant that this woman would have been at the Prophet’s side when the Dark Prophet was defeated two hundred years ago.

“She is also our new council historian,” Darlan continued, a bitter note in her voice. “Another in a long list of facts I learned when she arrived last night.”

“Why Darlan, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you weren’t happy I’m here,” Sarine scoffed.

“I . . .” Darlan’s mouth worked for a moment before words finally spilled out. “It’s just sudden and bizarre, don’t you think? You’ve been alive my whole life without telling me. Even after my father and mother died and I thought I was completely alone! And suddenly you show up calling me, ‘dear’ like you had been around the whole time?”

“Firstly, I’m an old woman. I call everyone ‘dear’,” Sarine protested. “And I have been around! As much as I was allowed. I couldn’t come in person, but I sent you letters. And gifts!”

“Right . . . The packages from my mysterious auntie, living with the elves in Khalpany,” Darlan said.

“It was true. Except for the ‘auntie’ part,” she admitted. “But that’s where I’ve been. In the Pruball Elf Homeland.” She gestured at the elf standing next to Charz. “The olives I sent came from Kyrkon’s own vineyard.”

“Oh! You’re the one who sent Mistress Sherl the elf olives!” Fist said in understanding.

Darlan had been receiving boxes of Khalpany Olives every few months for years. The intense elven magic in them is what had been keeping Darlan and Faldon young for so long. As far as Justan had been able to figure, his mother was over 150 years old and his father at least a hundred.

Fist looked at Darlan. “But you said that an old client of yours was sending them.”

“My ‘auntie’ swore me to secrecy,” Darlan replied in a half grumble. “Her letters said that she was sending me the olives as part of a promise to my mother.”

“It was!” Sarine said indignantly. “I promised your mother that I would look after you and I did the best I could from afar.”

“I told you she wasn’t gonna understand, Begazzi,” said the gray-haired dwarf standing by Charz. He was dressed in brown travel clothes that looked like they needed a good washing and he had the oddest beard. His upper lip was clean-shaven, but the beard was so long that he had tucked the end of it into his trousers. “It’s gonna take a while.”

“Oh, Fist, I have been remiss!” Darlan said. “I should introduce you to these fine people as well. The dwarf here is named Bill. The elf is Kyrkon. And the Gnome is Maryanne.” She forced a smile. “They are Sarine’s bonded.”

Fist’s jaw dropped. “She’s a bonding wizard too?”

Darlan nodded half-mockingly. “Interesting how they left that part out of the histories.”

Sarine sighed, “Yes, dear. I am a bonding wizardess and a sorceress. Now do you understand why I had to stay in hiding? At the time of the ban, my name had become famous in the land as a wizardess, but I am a spirit magic specialist. I have no elemental talent whatsoever. I couldn’t hide in plain sight like some of the others.”

After the Dark Prophet’s defeat two hundred years previous, the Prophet had banned the use of spirit magic in Dremaldria. He had forbidden all of the Mage Schools from teaching it and had even taken all mention of it out of the schools’ libraries. The wizards that specialized in its use went into hiding. By the time Justan was born spirit magic was all but forgotten. Its existence hadn’t been acknowledged until the Prophet had lifted the ban just a few short months ago.

“I’d still be in Khalpany if John hadn’t sent me a letter saying that I could return,” Sarine continued. “The letter from Wizard Valtrek offering me the position on the council arrived only a week later.”

“Odd how he didn’t tell me about that,” Darlan said and from the irritation in her voice, Fist knew that Valtrek’s letter was news to her.

“Please understand, Darlan. I had no choice but to submit to exile,” Sarine said. “A command from the Prophet is a command from the Bowl of Souls itself. As a named wizardess, I could not disobey.”

Some of the hardness left Darlan’s eyes. “Please, Mistress Sarine, forgive me for being upset. Your dwarf-, uh, Bill is right. It will take some time for me to get used to this, but I’m . . . glad you’re here.”

Sarine put on a look of deepest understanding and grasped her granddaughter’s arm. “Oh, Darlan. I know. I know. It has been a difficult return for me as well. I never wanted to leave this school and now that I’m back-.” She waved an arm. “Well, it is so different. This big ugly building, for instance. It wasn’t here in my day. Do you mind if we leave this dreadful room and go outside?”

“Of course,” said Darlan, trying her best to sound as cheerful as Sarine. “Come, Fist. You should tag along while I think of a fitting punishment for your chicanery this morning.”

Fist blinked. “Uh, I think you mean skullduggery, Mistress Sherl.”

“Shut up and follow me,” she replied, leading Sarine to the door.

Sarine’s bonded began following after them, but the female gnome paused in front of the doorway and turned to face Fist. Maryanne looked young for a gnome, with long auburn hair that covered her droopy ears and a petite mouth that was turned up in an assessing smile. She was well over seven-feet-tall and lithely muscular, wearing a skin-tight suit of elf-made leather armor. She had a rune encrusted bow slung over one shoulder while a quiver bristling with arrows was slung over the other.

“So you’re bonded to Sarine’s grandchild, huh?” Maryanne said. She traced a finger down the muscles of one of Fists massive arms. “I think you’re kinda cute.”

She turned and trotted out the door and Fist looked back at Charz with wide eyes. The giant shook his head slowly and with a roll of his eyes said, “Gnomes.”

Alfred laughed.

 

END OF CHAPTER TWO

The Ogre Apprentice Cover Reveal

Howdy folks!

This one has been a long time coming. Or at least it has been a long time for me. I first came up for the idea of this cover back in August after polling my Facebook page. I asked whether or not Fist should be featured on the cover and I was surprised by the response. It was split with both sides equally enthusiastic. “Yes! I want to see Fist!” or  “No! Fist should stay in my mind’s eye where he belongs!”

Well, guys, I heard both of ya.

 

TOA-ebook

I decided to ask Renu to depict Fist, but not to show his face. Therefore he is facing away from us. Only Squirrel (wearing one of the vests Darlan made him) gets to be fully seen. The reason I chose this particular image is that I wanted to show the odd nature of Fist as an enormous ogre studying at the Mage School. He is wearing his black robes, denoting his strength in earth magic, and is also wearing his mace sheath strapped over the robes. It is a fashion faux pas to be sure, but what can I say? He’s an ogre.

Here are two of the most common I have heard from the few people who have seen it so far:

Q: Why isn’t Fist’s skin green?

A: He isn’t Shrek. Ogres in the Bowl of Souls world are big brutish neanderthal types with skin tones similar to humans.

Q: Why is Squirrel wearing a vest?

A: Darlan started making vests for Squirrel in Book Five. He has an assortment of different colored ones in his pouch and changes in and out of them often like a four year old who just learned how to dress himself.

Here’s the blurb on the back cover:

A Bowl of Souls Novel

Justan’s time in Malaroo isn’t going well. A deadly shape-shifting assassin seeks his life and he is struggling to win over Jhonate’s father.

Fist is the only ogre ever to train at the Mage School. He is determined to make the most of this opportunity, but his plans are derailed and his burgeoning powers tested when he receives a visit from the tribe he had long thought dead.

An army closes in on the grove, a new race of monsters emerges from the swamps, and a great evil grows in the mountains. The survival of the known lands may depend on the strength of The Ogre Apprentice.

 

I know you guys are wanting an update on the release date and I know I have been nothing but full of excuses the last two months. I’m sorry for that. What I can say is this. I am working on it. I am close. We are talking hopefully before Christmas. I feel terrible about the delay and I will post chapter two here on the site between now and then. Thank you all for your patience.

Please let me know what you think of the cover.

Trevor H. Cooley

The Ogre Apprentice – Chapter One

Howdy folks!

Well I was hoping to have the book finished by now, but I am still working on the ending. There is so much potential in it and I want to get it right. Unfortunately this means that the release is being pushed back a little bit more.

“How much?” you ask.

As little of a delay as possible. Once I finally have the book completed, my wife and I will do our final editing pass and we will release it immediately. When that happens I will let you know right here.

There have also been some delays in getting the cover finished. I hope to be able to reveal that soon.

So in the meantime, I thought I would try to tide you over with chapter one.

SPOILER ALERT if you have not finished Protector of the Grove, you should stop reading here. Otherwise, enjoy!

 

Chapter One

Fist’s dreams were disturbing and violent. This wasn’t unusual for the ogre. He had lived a life often filled with violence. It was part of him, something at odds with his gentle nature. What made these dreams stand out tonight was how vivid they were.

They began with a recurring dream. It was one that Fist had dreamt dozens of times since leaving the Thunder People tribe. It was always similar with only minor variations, and had become so commonplace to Fist that it didn’t cause him anxiety anymore.

He was wearing his apprentice robes and reclining, floating peacefully on a bed made of cloud, unafraid of being so high in the sky above the earth below. Life was perfect. After all, he was learning so many things and he had friends now and Justan had survived his meeting with Jhonate’s father. Fist relaxed in the fluffy softness, content just feeling the hot sun on his body.

His peace was interrupted by a thudding noise. He sat up and turned his head to see his father Crag running at him, his large feet obliterating the clouds beneath him with every step. Fist didn’t know how his father had gotten up there, but following closely behind Crag was an army of winged beasts, dark and terrible.

Crag yelled at him to stand up and fight, but Fist didn’t want to. He laid back on the cloud and closed his eyes, focusing on the warmth of the sun, the part of him that knew this was a dream willing the darkness to go away. But it didn’t work. The sounds of his father’s footsteps and the approaching army grew louder until Fist opened his eyes and Crag stood over him, blood running down his body from several open wounds. His face was as pummeled and swollen like it had been the last time Fist had seen him; beaten nearly to death by Fist’s own hands.

“Go away father,” Fist said sadly. “You’re dead.”

“Toompa!” his father yelled and swung his arm down in a mighty punch. Crag’s fist caught Fist in the chest and knocked him through the cloud. Fist watched his father’s disappointed face get smaller and smaller as he fell unprotected through the sky towards the earth below.

Normally Fist would plunge into water at this point, but this time the dream shifted and he never struck the ground. Instead, he was back in the mountains of his youth, at the edge of the Thunder People territory. His robes were gone and he was wearing only fur wraps like he had in the old days, but he was carrying the mace Lenny had made for him. It was a good thing too, because he needed it for the horde that approached him.

It was at this point that he forgot it was a dream. It was real and Fist was angry; angry and fearful because his tribe was under attack. His face contorted with rage as he swung his weapon back, its magic enhancing his speed. The mace was long and heavy with a spherical head. One half of the head was covered in wicked spikes, the other half with rough ridges and Fist put it to good use.

He punctured and tore through flesh with the spikes and bashed in the heads of the enemy with the ridges. He couldn’t identify the assailants right away. Their faces were blurry. But what did it matter? They fell around him as if they were made of melons, smashing and splattering to pieces, showering him with gore.

Fist exhulted. The battle was easy. The enemy’s attacks were weak, leaving nothing but superficial wounds on his skin. Why had he been so fearful?

He looked around for the rest of his tribe and found himself battling alone, surrounded by the enemy. Had the others fallen to the enemy or had they abandoned him? He didn’t know the answer, but he fought on, destroying the enemy with tireless strikes.

Then something caught his eye. A lone boulder rose above the enemy ranks. The faceless horde clawed at the rock, trying to climb it. Sitting atop the boulder was Squirrel’s leather pouch and by the way it contorted, Squirrel was still inside!

Fist shouted and began forcing his way towards his friend, but the enemy resisted. Something about them had changed. No longer did they burst apart and yield before him. They held firm, each one of them taking several strikes to bring down. Their weapons improved too. Several times Fist felt daggers pierce his flesh.

He ignored the wounds and fought on, bellowing for Squirrel to flee. The pouch continued to move as the enemy climbed toward it, but Squirrel did not come out. Fist arrived at the boulder and started to climb, pulling the enemy climbers down as he went, ignoring the fierce stabbings of the assailants behind him. Finally he reached the top of the rock and stood exhausted. Blood dripped from his body, some of it his, but most of it the enemy’s.

He looked down at the crowd surrounding the boulder and a haze lifted from his mind. The enemy was no longer faceless. To Fist’s horror, they were men and dwarves and elves and even ogres. These were people he recognized. Many of them he had met during the war. And he had mown so many down.

Fist shouted apologies, but their familiar faces didn’t seem to recognize him. They screamed mindlessly, clawing at the rock. Shaken, he picked up Squirrel’s pouch and peered inside.

Squirrel wasn’t there. In his place was a monster. It was a huge thing, a mix of wild beasts, and way too large to fit in that small space. Before Fist could drop the pouch it leapt out, increasing in size and bowling Fist over, sending him plummeting off of the rock into the howling masses below . . .

 

Fist’s legs spasmed and his eyes flew open as he awoke with a gasp. Breathing heavily, he realized that he was in his room in the Mage School dormitories. He was lying on his side in the oversized bed Darlan had procured for him and his head was pressed into his honstule flower pillow. He was also sweating profusely.

With a groan, he threw back his blanket and sat up. As he did so, a pile of seeds fell out of his ear, striking his shoulder and cascading down his hairy torso in a tiny avalanche.

“Squirrel!” he grumbled, brushing the seeds off of his body. Several of them had fallen onto his bed and he swept them off of his mattress with one large hand, knowing that he would have to sweep them off of the floor later, but preferring that to returning to a bed with little seeds in it.

This was a constant game Squirrel played. He had started it the day they had first met. Whenever Fist was asleep, Squirrel would hide nuts and seeds somewhere on the ogre’s body. In the beginning he had done it because he felt safe with Fist and it was his way of claiming Fist as his new home. But along the way as Squirrel’s mind had grown larger and more complex, his reasons for the little game had changed. For awhile it had become a test of his stealth as he tried to see how many seeds he could hide on Fist’s body without being caught.

Now Squirrel’s game was more of a prank, made all the easier because of large variety of food available at the school. People were giving Squirrel nuts and seeds all the time and as a result, Fist found them everywhere. Not just when he woke up in the morning, but everywhere he looked. Squirrel left them in the pockets of his robe, in his books, in his coin purse, and in every drawer Fist used. Squirrel thought it was hilarious.

Fist yawned and, from the stuffy sensation in his ear, he knew there were more seeds in there. He leaned over and shook his head, fumbling at his ear with one thick finger, trying to get them out but he was only able to dislodge a few. He smacked the side of his head, but to no avail.

Squirrel! he grumbled again, this time through the bond, not wanting to wake his roommate. Fist looked around for his bonded, knowing that the mischievous creature was close by.

A sliver of early morning light peered in the room through the one small window, illuminating a tidy place with two beds, two desks, and two wardrobes. Out of necessity it was the largest room in the dormitories and Fist shared it with his friend, Jezzer.

To Fist’s relief, he hadn’t woken the man. Jezzer had already risen, making his bed before leaving. The old man had a habit of waking early and was often up and gone before the ogre. Jezzer was sixty five and the oldest cadet at the Mage School in centuries. He claimed that the older he got, the less sleep he needed. Fist envied the man that ability.

Knowing that he was alone, Fist reached up and palmed the light orb that was mounted in the sconce above his bed. Wincing at the sudden brightness, the ogre’s eyes fell on Squirrel’s pouch. It was sitting on Fist’s desk where he had left it the night before, the runes stamped into it’s deerskin surface glowing softly to Fist’s magesight. It was a gift from Beth and she had made it well. It was nice and roomy, silk-lined, and had extra pockets for storage. The large lump in it told him Squirrel was still inside. The beast was ignoring him, pretending to be asleep.

Squirrel!” Fist commanded both aloud and through the bond. “I see you in your pouch. Come here.”

What? Squirrel replied innocently. His little head popped out of the top and he yawned, pretending that Fist had just woke him.

“You’re not fooling me,” Fist chided him. “Now get these seeds out of my ear.”

Squirrel let out a chattering laugh and exited the pouch, leaping from the desk to the bed to Fist’s shoulder in a series of bounds. His little laugh was an odd thing, sounding more like a snicker than anything else. He had just developed it in the months after the war. He was wearing one of the small vests Darlan had made for him. This one was red with tiny gold trim.

My seeds! Squirrel exclaimed, peering into the ogre’s ear.

“Yeah, you put them in there. Get them out,” Fist complained. His ear canal was itching now. “Why did you do it anyway?

It is funny, Squirrel said.

“No. Not funny,” Fist said. “And not nice.”

Though Fist couldn’t see him, he knew Squirrel was rolling his eyes as he reached one dexterous paw into the ogre’s ear. He messed around for a moment, pulling out seed after seed. It tickled horribly and Fist winced as he tried to stay still, hoping that the animal wouldn’t scratch him with his little claws. Finally Squirrel stopped.

“Did you get them all?” Fist asked, turning his head to look at him.

Squirrel stared back at the ogre, his mouth hanging open in a parody of disgust as he held out an arm caked up to the shoulder with clumps of ear wax. A small black seed was clutched in his hand. He let go of the seed, but it remained stuck to his hand. He shook the seed off and looked around for something to wipe his arm on, worried that he would stain his vest.

Fist could feel his irritation through the bond. The ogre snorted. “Don’t look at me like that, Squirrel. It’s your fault for sticking them in there.”

Sill stiffly holding his arm out to the side, Squirrel began walking down Fist’s arm towards the bed.

“Don’t wipe that on the blankets,” Fist warned. Squirrel let out a little grumble and hopped down to the floor, then went under the bed to wipe his arm on one of Fist’s dirty socks.

Fist stood and stretched. It was an abbreviated form of a stretch instead of the full stretch he wanted to do. When fully erect, the ogre was eight feet tall and the hair on his head brushed the ceiling. His morning stretch now consisted of arching his back and rotating his shoulders, his arms sticking straight out to the sides. His back popped in a series of cracks as he did so.

“I had such a bad dream, Squirrel,” Fist grunted and walked to the wardrobe to retrieve his clothes. “It felt so real.” Indeed, he had been able to feel the blood of the enemies sticking to his body. He’d smelled their viscera as it spilled to the ground. He felt a wave of nausea at the memory and swallowed. “Why did I have a dream like that?”

Squirrel didn’t respond directly, but Fist felt a trickle of sympathy come through the bond. This was often the way they communicated with each other. Even with the growth of Squirrel, many of the things Fist felt and experienced didn’t make complete sense to him. Yet the animal always tried his best to understand. Sometimes he even surprised Fist with his observations.

Fist tried to shake the dream from his mind as he dressed, putting on a button-up shirt and linen pants before donning his apprentice robe. The robe was voluminous and made of a light material so that it wasn’t too warm for comfort. The colors represented Fist’s magical strengths. The main color was black representing Fist’s strength in earth magic, while the blue and gold trim work on the sleeves and hem represented his secondary strengths in air and water. Darlan had even modified it, further since he was training to be a war wizard. She had added a runic symbol to the back, a large blue circle with a lightning bolt through it.

Fist looked at himself in the room’s lone mirror and shook his head. He had been wearing student robes for nearly six months and still didn’t feel natural in them. While wearing the robes he didn’t look like an ogre at all. Someone who had never seen an ogre might think him just a giant of a man with a brutish face.

He waved a dismissive arm at the mirror and turned to look at the large shield and breastplate that stood next to the wardrobe. Now those were the things he felt most comfortable wearing. Despite everything he was learning at the Mage School, Fist was a warrior at heart. At that moment he wished that he was in Malaroo with Justan. There were battles going on there. He could have been making a difference.

Frowning, he sat back down on the bed to put on his socks and boots. The boots were a gift from his half-orc friend Bettie and were runed to keep the leather strong and supple despite the punishment he put them through. He liked them. They were quite comfortable. The socks, on the other hand, were something he wore at Darlan’s insistence.

That thought reminded him of his first business of the day. He needed to tell Darlan what Justan been through the day before. He had spent the first part of the night talking to Justan about it through the bond and the ogre had promised Justan that he would let his mother know.

Fist stood and moved to the window. The dim light outside had told him it was early and a quick glance at the clock tower confirmed it. Darlan had told him she had a council meeting this morning and it would be at least an hour, maybe two before she was done. He scratched his head. What to do until then?

“What do you think, Squirrel? What should we do this morning?” Breakfast was being served at the Dining Hall. He could eat first, but then what? “Should we go to the library and study?”

No. Squirrel jumped back atop the table and shook his head, pulling a nut out of his cheek to chew thoughtfully. Boring.

As much as Fist enjoyed the library, Squirrel became stir crazy after just a few minutes. Lately this meant that the creature spent his time messing with people. The gnome librarian Vincent was his favorite target.

“Hmm.” Rubbing his itching ear, Fist opened the top drawer of his desk and pulled out a thin book. On the cover, written in Justan’s staccato handwriting was the title, Fist’s Book of Words. Justan had given it to him as a gift before leaving with Jhonate to work on rebuilding the academy. The pages were filled with complex words and their definitions, each word marked with a date.

Fist’s new word of the day was a tradition that had started back during their time at Coal’s Keep. It was a way for the ogre to expand his vocabulary and Fist enjoyed it. Justan hadn’t wanted the tradition to end while they were separated, so he had added enough words in the book to last the ogre a year.

“Let’s see,” Fist mumbled while flipping through the pages to find the current date. He ran a finger down the page. “My word of the day today is . . . skullduggery. Ooh. It means, ‘Underhanded and devious dealings. Trickery and scheming’.” He tucked the book away in one of his robe’s many pockets, a wide smile splitting his face. “That sounds like you, Squirrel!”

Squirrel cocked his head at him wryly.

“I know what we’ll do this morning,” Fist said, thinking of something that better fit his current mood. He pulled Squirrel’s pouch over his shoulder and held it open. “Let’s go visit Charz.”

Okay! Squirrel replied. He climbed to the top of the pile of books on the desk and dove inside.

Fist reached back into the pockets of his robes and withdrew a supple leather glove that he pulled over his large right hand. Then he used that hand to grab his mace from its resting place leaning against the desk. Protected from the weapon’s magic, he rested the haft of it on his shoulder and headed out the door.

The ogre didn’t get to carry his mace with him very often at the school. Though the increase in academy soldiers at the Mage School since the end of the war had led to a loosening of weapon restrictions, it was generally frowned upon for students to walk around armed. Darlan had arranged a few exceptions for Fist since he was training to be a war wizard, though. He was allowed to carry the mace with him when practicing war spells with her at the Testing Center or when sparring. This morning he planned to do both.

Fist smiled as he exited the building. It was the tail end of winter now and most of the region round about was still starting out each morning with a hard frost, but not here. Fist breathed in the fresh and balmy air of the Mage School and sighed. What a beautiful morning. He looked up into the blue sky and raised his arms, letting loose the mighty stretch he had wanted to do earlier.

One perk of staying at the Mage School was that it never got too cold in the winter. Or too hot in the summer, for that matter, thanks to the magic of the Rune Tower. Darlan had explained it to him once. Evidently, in a time long past, the Rune Tower had been infused with a special weather spell. Throughout the year it absorbed any excessive heat or excessive cold. It stored this energy, expelling it when needed to counteract the ambient temperatures and keep the Mage School grounds at comfortable levels. This allowed their gardens to continue producing food even in the harshest winters.

Charz’s quarters were located across the center square in a building next to Professor Beehn’s cottage. It was only a five minute walk from the dormitories, but Fist wanted to stop by the Dining Hall first and that would take him out of his way and all that walking around was going to suck away his time. Smiling, he switched the handle of his mace to his unprotected left hand and ran.

The magic of the mace increased his speed, helping him to run nearly twice as fast as usual. It had been an awkward feeling to get used to in the beginning, but he’d had the mace long enough by now that he was used to it. The downside of using the mace was that the increase in speed was tiring, which was why he carried it in the gloved hand most of the time.

Fist sped around the edge of the dormitory building and cut across the green towards the Dining Hall. The ogre made a fearsome sight, running at high speed with his wicked mace in hand. Luckily, it was still early enough that the area wasn’t crowded with students. Those few that were up and about took a few wary steps back when they saw him coming.

Fist switched the handle of the mace back to his right hand and slowed down just as he reached the open doors. He stumbled inside, his mace held high, causing several students to gasp. Breathing heavily, he lowered the weapon.

One old wizardess stood from her table and wagged a finger at him. “Be careful, ogre! Don’t you know that thing’s dangerous!”

“Sorry, Professor Landrine,” he said sheepishly.

“I don’t care what the new rules are. Weapons do not belong in the Dining Hall,” she grumped, sitting back down.

“Sorry,” Fist said again, bowing his head and hoping that she didn’t demand he leave and return without the weapon. Rules were one thing, but he was an apprentice. If Landrine told him to do something, he would have to do it. To his relief, she returned her attention to her breakfast and the open book beside her plate.

“Fist!” said a younger voice and the ogre turned to see his friend Neau sitting at a table nearby. Neau was a portly young cadet wearing a red and blue robe, showing his strengths in water and fire. Jezzer was sitting next to him in his gray robe. The two men had half-eaten plates of food in front of them. “Come sit with us. ”

“Oh, I can’t,” Fist replied. The two men were part of a small group of friends Fist had cultivated at the school along with Charz and Antyni the elf. He reached up and rubbed at his ear again. “I’m just grabbing something quick and then I need to go to Charz’s place.”

“He won’t like that,” Jezzer warned in his aristocratic tenor voice. “You know how he is about his mornings.”

“I know,” Fist said. The giant liked to sleep in. Some days he wasn’t up before noon.

“Then stay here instead,” said Neau. “We were talking about what happened last night. Did you hear about the newest council member?”

Fist’s ears perked up at that. There had been a lot of speculation over who the last member would be. The rest of the council had been silent on the matter, including Darlan. “Sorry. I’ll meet you at the library later for study. You can tell me then. I have stuff to tell you, too. You won’t believe what happened to Justan yesterday.”

The two students nodded and Fist went to stand in line. To his relief, the queue was fairly short and he didn’t have long to wait. He grabbed a dozen boiled eggs and all the cheese-filled rolls he could stuff in his pockets. The manager of the kitchens, Chef Richard, gave him a dour look and Fist explained that he was taking food for Charz. With a resigned grumble, the man stuffed a stack of sausages in a bag of waxed paper and handed them over.

The moment he left the Dining Hall, Fist switched the mace to his left hand and ran away, the sack of sausages clutched in his gloved hand. The quickest way to Charz would be to cut across the center square and head between the class buildings, but he knew there would be too many people there. So Fist took a more circuitous route, sprinting around the main part of the square.

He enjoyed the run. Moving at such a fast speed was the closest thing Fist could imagine to flying. He laughed as the wind whipped past his face, ignoring the stares of the passersby.

As he passed the buildings, the wide expanse of the grounds opened before him and he looked past the manicured lawns with their winding paths, to the wall that surrounded the school. Fist’s laugh faltered. If there was one obvious thing that showed the Mage School was different after the war it was the wall.

What had once looked like a fifty-foot-tall cliff hanging over the grounds was now only half its original height. Earth wizards worked on raising the wall higher every day, but it was slow going. The taller the wall became, the heavier it was and the more magic it took to get it to rise. In the beginning it had risen several inches a day, now it only rose a few inches a week. Some of the wizards predicted that, at the current rate of decline, it would take years to bring them to their former glory.

The other major change at the school was the academy presence. As Fist crossed the main road he could see the new cluster of buildings and barracks at the base of the wall. Until work on the new academy was finished, students were being taught here. It was part of a bold new relationship between the warriors and wizards, one that was hoped to be beneficial to all. Fist couldn’t see why it wouldn’t be.

Once he had bypassed the main square, he curved towards the storage buildings. While the class buildings were finely built with ornate trim work, these were little more than squat warehouses. Charz’s place was actually a section of one of the storage buildings that had been walled off for his use.

By the time Fist stopped at Charz’ door he was breathing heavily, his energy drained by the use of the mace. The last few months he had spent focused on magical studies had really reduced his stamina. Fist knew that Justan would have had him training more. He made sure never to bring it up during their late night talks.

He didn’t bother knocking. Charz would never have answered. So, his mace gripped in his gloved hand, Fist pulled open the heavy warehouse door and walked in, leaving it to hang open behind him to let some light in.

The interior of Charz’s place was dark and dank, almost cave-like. Wizard Beehn had built in a few windows, but Charz had boarded them back up. The light from the open door illuminated a room quite different from Fist’s. For one thing it was much larger, a necessity when housing a ten foot giant, with ceilings twice as high as Fist was tall. It was also a mess.

There were multiple dressers and wardrobes and desks around the room for the giant to use, but they were mostly empty. Charz was what Darlan called, ‘a pile person’. He kept his clothes piled on top of one table, his other various belongings piled on top of other various pieces of furniture. Scraps of garbage were cast around everywhere else.

As for the giant himself, Charz was sleeping in the corner of the warehouse farthest from the door. He was laying face down on a pile of fine mattresses that Beehn had hauled up from somewhere deep inside the Rune Tower. Charz thought the mattresses a hilarious waste since, with his thick rocky skin, he would have been just as comfortable sleeping on straw or wood shavings or gravel. Fist figured that the giant would have been fine with anything, as long as it was a pile.

The ogre walked up and prodded the giant with his foot. “Charz! Wake up.”

“Mpf,” The giant mumbled and planted his face more firmly into a mattress that looked to be covered with pink silk. The wide wet spot under his face told Fist that Charz had been drooling in his sleep. Fist nudged the giant again, but he refused to respond. The ogre pursed his lips, pondering the best way to wake him, preferably without getting beat on.

Me! said Squirrel and the fuzzy beast exited his pouch, a chunk of bread clutched in one hand. Fist raised an eyebrow. He didn’t remember putting a roll in Squirrel’s pouch.

Squirrel jumped down and scrambled across Charz’ back, heading towards the giant’s head. The little beast let out a little snicker of anticipation and Fist took a couple steps backward, knowing what was coming. “Careful, Squirrel. He might squish you.”

Squirrel crept in close, sneaking over Charz’s neck to press his furry face into the giant’s ear. He then let loose with a loud high pitched, “Chi-chi-chi-chi-chi-chi!”

Charz rose to his knees with a roar. Squirrel skittered away just in time to avoid the rocky hand that slammed into the side of the giant’s face with a thunderous crack.

“Gah!” echoed his booming voice. His mouth was wide open, his eyes confused.

“That’s enough!” Fist said in alarm. But Squirrel was already at the giant’s other ear.

“Chi-chi-chi-chi!”

Charz yelled again and grabbed for him. “Die, you fur-covered mosquito!”

One thing most people underestimated about the rock giant was his speed. Charz’s body was enhanced by magic and despite his size, he moved as fast as a man. Luckily, Squirrel was faster. The little beast darted out of his grasp, then slid down the giant’s back and skittered across the floor of the warehouse to hide behind one of the piles of trash.

“Calm down, Charz!” Fist said, holding out a pleading hand. He hastily began preparing a spell in the back of his mind.

“What the hell was that, Fist?” Charz demanded. He jumped to his feet, towering head and shoulders above the ogre. He was wearing nothing but a tight pair of small clothes and a heavy iron chain with a crystal pendant that hung around his neck.

“I came to ask for your help with something,” Fist said.

“Well that was a stupid way of doing it!” The giant growled, his lips twisted with rage.

“I didn’t know what Squirrel was going to do,” Fist lied.

“Yeah, right.” Charz said and some of the anger left his voice as he let out a wide yawn. “What time is it, anyway?”

Fist knew the giant wouldn’t be happy about the hour. He shrugged and generalized, “Morning time.”

“Morning? You woke me up early and you brought your mace?” Charz asked, eyeing the weapon. “You know better than this.”

“I know you like to sleep longer, but-!”

“And I was up late last night, too! The new council historian arrived and I had to carry all her heavy stuff into the tower!” Charz complained. “Blasted old lady with her trunks full of books . . .”

“I brought breakfast.” Fist lifted the paper bag. “Sausages and eggs and cheesy rolls.”

Charz sniffed at the savory smell rising from the bag and jerked it from the ogre’s hand. “I guess I do usually miss breakfast.” He stomped over to the nearest table and shoved a pile of empty liquor bottles off of an oversized chair. He plopped down onto it, causing the chair to creak in protest as he looked in the bag. “There ain’t that many sausages in here.”

Fist rubbed at his ear again. It really was itching something fierce. Maybe Squirrel had scratched him somewhere deep in there. “I was kind of hoping we could share them.”

“Don’t push your luck,” Charz grumbled, tossing a handful of sausages in his mouth. He spoke while he chewed, “You said something about eggs and rolls?”

Fist dug a half-dozen eggs out of his pockets as well as several rolls and set them down on the table next to the giant. He grabbed another roll out and bit into it himself. As with all Mage School food it was really good. The bread was crusty and the cheese was savory and, as he swallowed and took the next bite, he could already fill the stirrings of extra energy that only magic could provide.

Charz looked at the food in front of him and snorted. “More of a snack, really,” he said and tossed two eggs into his mouth, not even bothering to peel them.

Fist heard it crunching in the giant’s teeth and wondered what it was like? He had never tried eating them that way before. Did the shells have a flavor of their own? He pulled one out of his pocket and bit into it. He chewed, grimacing at the way the shell shattered under his teeth. Not pleasant.

Charz finished off another egg and bit a large roll in half. “What are you doing here, anyway? Ain’t you supposed to be studying with Sir Edge’s mom in the mornings?”

“She’s in a council meeting, so I thought I would come and get you to spar with me,” Fist replied. He took out another egg, but shelled it this time.

“Spar?” The giant raised a hairless rocky eyebrow as he chewed some more. “You mean you want to try out your new spells on me.”

Fist looked away from Charz and chewed the egg, wishing he’d had some salt and pepper. “While we are sparring, I will use my magic. So, yes. That too.”

The thing that made Charz an ideal sparring partner for Fist was the giant’s unique ability to shake off damage. The crystal pendant that hung from the iron chain the giant wore allowed him to heal from most types of wounds. Fist had seen huge holes blown into the giant by Justan’s bow. He’d even seen the giant half melted to glass. Both times, the magic had healed him back to normal.

“But you’re not supposed to be practicing those spells without Sherl around,” Charz said. He pointed a finger at Fist. “She says they’re ‘too dangerous’.”

“I know,” Fist said, rubbing his ear against his shoulder. “But we’re going to do it anyway and hope she doesn’t find out. It’s called, ‘skullduggery’.”

Charz frowned. “I don’t think that’s what that word means.”

“Yes it is. It’s my word of the day,” Fist replied. “It’s in my book if you want to look.”

The giant rolled his eyes. “Whatever you say. Still, you’re crazy if you think I’m gonna just stand there and let you shock me with lightning spells.”

“It’ll be more than that,” Fist promised. “We’ll fight, too. I need the exercise.”

“Yeah, right. If you really wanted to fight, you would have brought your shield and armor.” The giant upended the paper bag into his mouth, knocking in the rest of the sausages.

“I know you like the challenge,” Fist said in a tempting voice.

Charz’s attitude was quite different from the way it had been when Fist first met him. At one time, the thrill of the fight had been the only thing the giant cared about. That mindset had gotten him into trouble and he had spent a century imprisoned next to a cave. He was reformed now and wasn’t a danger, but the thought of a good battle still excited him.

“Hmph,” Charz said, his mouth full. He gave Fist a sideways glance, then swallowed. “You are one of the best fights in this place, I’ll give you that much.”

“Then you’ll come?” Fist said.

“I guess so. I-.” He slammed a heavy fist on the table, barely missing Squirrel, who jumped out of the way at the last possible moment. “Don’t you even think of eating my food, you little weasel!” He swung his hand, causing Squirrel to jump over to Fist and scurry into his pouch. Charz gestured at the ogre. “You tell him that I’m not forgiving him that easy. He’ll have to make it up to me.”

“He hears you,” Fist assured him. He dropped a roll into the pouch. Thanks for waking him. He received a satisfied chuckle through the bond in response.

“Alright, let’s go then,” Charz said. He stood and walked towards the door.

“You’re not going to get dressed?” Fist asked.

Charz’s shoulders slumped and he walked over to the table piled with clothes. He shuffled through them and pulled out a torn pair of pants and a shirt that wasn’t too badly stained. He began pulling them on. “I’m tired of these stupid wizards, insisting I walk around dressed all the time. I’m terrible on clothes.”

“I know what you mean,” Fist said. And he did. No matter how well humans tried to tailor clothes for him, they usually ended up damaged in some way. “Better material is what we need.”

“I know!” Charz replied. “I keep telling Alfred that all I need is a pair of pants that stretch.”

He bent over beside his pile of mattresses and picked up his trident. The three-pronged weapon was large and frightening, as tall as the giant was. The two outer prongs were sharpened like swords while the taller center prong was shaped like a spearhead. The metal had been etched with water runes and Fist knew wounds it made were slow to heal. His goal for the day would be not to get hit by that thing.

They left the warehouse and headed west towards the Magic Testing Center. It wasn’t too far away. Just a quick stroll and they were there. It was a large rectangular building consisting of rows of rooms specifically made for the purpose of testing out dangerous types of spells.

Fist stopped just outside the main door and opened Squirrel’s pouch. “You should get out, Squirrel.”

Squirrel didn’t argue. He usually liked to watch when it came time for Fist to fight, but this time he knew what kind of spells the ogre planned to use. He left the pouch and darted over to the nearest tree.

Fist and Charz entered the building. The female mage on duty saw the two of them approaching and smiled as she handed out a key. “Try not to break the place, you two.”

“Thank you,” Fist said as he took the key from the woman.

It wouldn’t be a problem. Each wall in the place was reinforced by multiple runes protecting them from magical or physical damage. They headed down the hallway and soon arrived at their assigned door. The rooms were all pretty much the same.

Fist opened the door to a space slightly larger than Charz’s place. It was wide and open and empty with a dirt floor. Perfect for the ogre’s purposes.

Charz walked to the center of the room and turned to face him, his trident at the ready. “Let’s get started.”

“Just a minute.” The ogre stabbed the spiky tip of his mace into the ground, then took off his glove and removed his robe. He then placed both the robe and Squirrel’s pouch into a rectangular trunk next to the door where it would be protected from his spells.

Fist picked up his mace, feeling the quickness of its magic overtake him.

“You ready?” Charz asked with an eager smile.

Fist sent out threads of earth and air, wrapping them around his body. He started the strands vibrating. Shimmering sparks of electricity flared up all around him. “Let’s fight.”

Charz laughed and charged.

 

END OF CHAPTER ONE

Chapter Two HERE

The Ogre Apprentice Update

Howdy folks!

I’m sorry that updates have been a bit sparse lately. October has been a rough month. My grandmother died and after I came back from the funeral it was difficult for me to get back into the flow of writing. It really sucks and writer’s block is something that I have had difficulty believing in in the past. For me it is usually just something that I can power through, but this time it was a bit different.

As a result, I am afraid there is going to be a delay in the release of The Ogre Apprentice.

I am up and writing strong again, but it looks like the release will be pushed back to mid November. I hate to do it, especially after posting here that it would be finished by the end of the month, but I have no choice. Fear not, there will be more upcoming news regarding the adventures of Fist and Squirrel soon. I will be posting chapter one later this week for your reading pleasure and I will be revealing the cover as soon as it is completed.

In the meantime, here is the back cover blurb: SPOILERS if you have not read Tarah Woodblade and Protector of the Grove.

Fist is the only ogre ever to train at the Mage School. Yet he forces himself to learn faster than the other students knowing that Justan will soon need him. Justan is far away in Malaroo, struggling to win over Jhonate’s father while a deadly shape-shifting assassin seeks his life, endangering those around him.

Fists plans are derailed and his burgeoning powers tested when he receives a visit from the tribe he had long thought dead. An army closes in on the grove, a new race of beasts emerges from the swamps, and a great evil grows in the mountains. The survival of the known lands may depend on the strength of The Ogre Apprentice.

Here is more information I can give you about the storyline. Like with Protector of the Grove, this will focus on two storylines. Mainly, that of Fist and Squirrel and that of Justan and his adventures in Malaroo. There is not much else I can tell you without spoiling a lot of fun revelations, but stay tuned.

Thank you for your patience,

Trevor H. Cooley

 

In the meantime, please check out the audiobook for Eye of the Moonrat, available on Audible, Amazon, and Itunes! Please give it a listen and leave a review. I need reviews!

 

Eye of the Moonrat Audiobook is available now!!

Hey folks! Great news.

Eye of the Moonrat is available on Audible right now! I had approved the audio files just over a week ago and I was just waiting to hear back from Audible. Well, surprise! It’s here.

Here is the link: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Eye-of-the-Moonrat-Audiobook/B00OGHSQ54

EOTM-ebook
It will show up on Amazon and Itunes in the next few days.

EDIT: It is on Amazon and Itunes now. http://www.amazon.com/Eye-Moonrat-Bowl-Souls-Book/dp/B00OI2HPO0 and https://itunes.apple.com/nz/audiobook/eye-moonrat-bowl-souls-book/id929809441

I have already listened to it and James Foster, Audiobook Narrator does a fantastic job narrating it. Please listen. There is a sample on the page.

For those of you unfamiliar with Audible, here is how it works. It is a monthly subscription service. $14.95 a month and you get one audiobook a month at not additional cost, plus discounts on all the other books they have available. (Which is almost every book that has an audio form.)

They offer a one month free trial, so if you start the trial and get Eye of the Moonrat, you get it for free! In addition I get a bonus each time Eye of the Moonrat is someone’s first book as a member, so please go for it. I should note that I only get credit for it if the person who gets it stays a member for three months.

At any rate, IT’S HERE. Please share, especially if you have friends that only do audiobooks. I know there are many people that told me it is the only way they read.

Thanks,

Trevor H. Cooley

 

Early October Update and Eye of the Moonrat FREE This Weekend!

What a crazy month it has been since my last post. I have some cool news to share.

First, The Ogre Apprentice release will be late this month. I have been delayed a bit by the passing of my grandmother. She was a great woman and very important to me. I’ll miss her.

Second, I have received the finished audiobook files for Eye of the Moonrat. I am reviewing them right now and they sound great. James Foster did a fantastic job. You guys are going to love it. I will update you again when I am sure of the release date. As soon as I have finished my listen through, I will pass it on to Audible and their quality control review could take another week or two. I am hoping it is out by the end of the month but since this is my first go around with them we will just have to wait and see.

Third, the lovely and talented Renu Sharma is already at work on the cover for The Ogre Apprentice. I love the idea for the cover and I think you will too. I will reveal it as soon as it is finished.

EOTM-ebook

Lastly for now, Amazon is running a promotion for Eye of the Moonrat. The kindle edition will be offered for FREE from today, October 3rd through Thursday, October 7th. Please if you have not yet started the series, pick it up now. This is also a great opportunity for you to share the series with your friends. Please let them know that the book is free. They can pick it up and read it through the Kindle App on their phones, laptops, or tablets if they don’t have a Kindle. Link HERE

Thank you so much. You guys are going to love this new book. So much great Fist and Squirrel interaction!

Trevor

Book Eight Title Announcement and Audiobook Narrator

Howdy folks.

It has been a full month since the release of Protector of the Grove and the response was been wonderful.

August 20th was also the one year anniversary of the day I quit my day job of fourteen years to write full time. I really want to thank all of you for taking your valuable time and actually spending it on reading my books. And for those that tell their friends about them, thank you even more. It is crazy to think that this is my job. I still get a thrill every time I think about someone new reading about these characters that have occupied my mind for so long.

Now to the promised announcement. When I finished Protector of the Grove, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to name the next book. I knew the general plot, of course, but my wife and I argued back and forth about the title. There were several that I liked, but for one reason or another, they didn’t quite fit. Finally I came up with one that both my wife and I could agree on.

Book Three of the Jharro Grove Saga will be titled, THE OGRE APPRENTICE.

If you haven’t read Protector of the Grove yet, MINOR SPOILERS BEGIN

Yes, most of you have guessed what the title means. Fist has a major role in the next book. Somewhat like Protector of the Grove, it will mainly follow two parallel story lines. Fist’s and Justan’s, with Tarah’s adventures taking somewhat of a minor role for now. The release date is planned for October. (Sorry I can’t get more specific than that.) Stay tuned for more details as we get closer to the release.

END OF SPOILERS

Announcement number two has to do with the audiobook for Eye of the Moonrat. After going through many auditions, we found the person we felt best suited the job. His name is James Foster. He has a number of other books under his belt and he is professional and great to work with. You can read more about him and listen to samples on his site http://jamesnarrates.com/ or at Audible. Please contact him and tell him how excited you are to listen to Eye of the Moonrat.

He should be finished with the narration by the end of October and then we will need to submit it to Audible for approval. Again, stay tuned here for updates as we get closer.

Thanks,

Trevor