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

Author Archives: Trevor Cooley

Hunt of the Bandham audiobook now available!

Hunt of the Bandham is on Audible NOW!

The review process with Audible took a little longer than usual, delaying it by a week, but it’s finally here.

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Hunt-of-the-Bandham-Audiobook/B00YSX88YA

One thing you might notice right away is that I have a new narrator. His name is Andrew Tell. He is a veteran voice and stage actor with a broad range of voices. He does a fantastic job with this book, making each voice sound unique and true to their character. I particularly love his rendition of Fist. He is also a big fan of the books which is a huge plus. He was a pleasure to work with.

The reason for the change of narrator was one of necessity. James Foster is very busy with a long backlog of projects he is working on.  After discussing the future of the series and what I wanted to accomplish, we mutually decided that it was better we move on.

The next audiobook in the works is Hilt’s Pride, which Andrew Tell plans to have finished by mid-July. Then it’s on to The War of Stardeon.

Please click on the link and listen to the sample. I think you’ll like his style.

 

Thanks,

Trevor H. Cooley

 

UtopYA Con in June and announcements!

Hey folks!

I will be appearing at the UtopYA Convention, in Nashville TN, June 18-20th.

Link to the Convention page is here: http://utopyacon.com/

This is a convention for writers and publishers and artists, and for fans. I will be in the exhibitor’s hall on Thursday and Friday, the 18th and 19th. I will be selling books and signing books and handing out free bookmarks. I will be sharing a table with Honor Raconteur, of the Advent Mage series. Also there will be my friend, Ben Hale, author of the Chronicles of Lumineia.

On those two days, you would need to have a convention ticket to get in. BUT, on Saturday, June 20th, there is a public book signing from 10AM-12PM and from 1PM-3PM at the  Millennium Maxwell House Hotel-GRAND BALLROOM. The author signing is hosted by Book ‘EM and is free to enter with a book donation or five dollars otherwise. All donated books and admission fees will go directly to them to help them with their two-part mission: to get books to children and teens in lower-income families who might not otherwise have books of their own; and providing volunteer readers to local pre- and elementary schools. Dozens of authors will be there and it might be pretty busy. Those coming to the signing are encouraged to bring their own books for the signing, (Or order from Amazon ahead of time) but I will try to have some available with me at my table.

I will be selling the books for $12 each, though I will sign anything for free. I will bring copies of all my books, but mostly Eye of the Moonrat and Tarah Woodblade.

If you are attending and want a book in particular, contact me using the contact form on this site and let me know what you want me to bring.

 

Also I have more exciting news. Work on the audiobook of Hunt of the Bandham is nearly completed. I hope to be able to submit the files to Audible in the next few days and then it will be 7-10 days before it is up for sale. I will update you when I know more for sure. Hilt’s Pride will be the next audiobook after that.

 

Finally, I am working on a new project that will take place outside of the Bowl of Souls series. It is a fantasy western and I am really excited about it. The first book will be out later this year, most likely after the release of The Troll King.

Thanks so much!

Trevor H. Cooley

The Ogre Apprentice Print Edition Available

Howdy Folks!

The Ogre Apprentice is now available in a print edition on Createspace. https://www.createspace.com/5350867

It will be available on Amazon within the next 3-5 business days.

The book is 16×9 trade paperback with a glossy finish and is a compact 415 pages. It sells for $14.99

Here is the full cover. Renu did a great job with the back cover.

TOA-paperback-jpeg

 

The Ogre Apprentice available now on Amazon!

It’s official!

http://www.amazon.com/Ogre-Apprentice-Bowl-Souls-Book-ebook/dp/B00U2F3762

TOA-ebook

 

Get you one!

It is already #1600 overall in the Kindle Store And Amazon has been having problems with their image processing so the cover doesn’t  show on the product page!

It is there on the copy you purchase, though, and they assure me that the issue will be fixed.

Please read it and leave a review. I need all I can get.

Also. share!

Now I’m off to see my kids for the first time in a few days

 

Trevor H. Cooley

The Ogre Apprentice is Finished!!

Howdy, folks!

This is just a quick note to tell you the book is done!!

TOA-ebook

 

The final length 150,000 words. That’s about the same length as The War of Stardeon.

So much craziness happens in this book, I can’t wait to hear what you think!

I uploaded it to Amazon mere minutes ago. It will be available for purchase in hours! I’ll post a link and more details when I get them.

Please post in comments when you get yours!

 

The Ogre Apprentice Update

Hey, folks. I know that many of you have been on pins and needles waiting for news for quite some time.

Please believe me when I say that I have been wanting to be able to tell you more. Here’s the deal. Every time I have given a date on this project, I have done so thinking there was no way I could miss it. Each time, something has come up to completely derail me. I could list each event here, but why deal out excuses.

This is where I stand right now.

The book is mostly complete. I have a handful of chapters left, the big ending of this third book in the series, and I am writing fast, back in the zone right where I have wanted to be the last few months. I have already done several editing passes on the chapters that are finished and my lovely wife/editor is doing her final pass. The hope is that I finish this thing early in the week and have it done with a couple days to spare in February.

Fingers crossed, but even if we miss that, it won’t be by much, a day or two. Barring an act of god, (Fingers crossed against power outages here in Tennessee) we are golden.

Without spoiling anything there is one fact I can share. Even though the number of chapters will not be many more than the last two books, they have been long chapters. By my current page count, I expect this one to exceed Protector of the Grove by 100 pages.

So there we are. And I am off. I still have twenty pages to edit before I sleep so that my wife can have a new chapter to read in the morning.

 

Trevor H. 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