Every so often, an epic adventure emerges that makes the blood surge, the spine tingle, and the heart smile page after exhilarating page. Such is Whill of Agora, Michael James Ploof’s action-packed fantasy that visits strange new lands as it unveils how one exceptional young man named Whill makes full use of fierce wits, superior skills, and relentless will to help defend the land of Agora from the monstrous Draggard. With plenty of drama and action packed battle scenes, Whill of Agora will enthrall anyone on the quest for great adventure, good times, and an infectiously optimistic outlook on even the darkest and most dangerous of days.
It is the year 5170 in the land Agora, where humans, dwarves, and elves have existed in peace for centuries. Now, however, the human King Addakon has invaded and waged war on neighboring Isladon. The once peaceful Kingdoms of Agora are on the brink of continental war. The Dark Elf Eadon, Addakon's master, and his army of Dragon-Elf crossbreeds, the Draggard, threaten to conquer all kingdoms. The final hour has arrived.
Enter young Whill, a nineteen-year-old ranger with battle savvy and untapped abilities. Having spent years roaming Agora and training with his mentor Abram, Whill has become a bright intellectual and a master of combat. What he seeks most, however, is the identity of his birth parents. Instead, he finds a tumultuous terrain and a prophecy placing him in the center of the struggle.
Along the way, Whill encounters an equally inspired group of companions that are matched in skill and mission. These include Rhunis the Dragon Slayer, the young Tarren, the fearless Dwarf Roakore, the beguiling warrior Elf Avriel, and the powerful Zerafin. As Whill joins forces, he forges bonds far mightier than their escalating travails. With high adventure and fierce friendship, Whill of Agora will capture your imagination and grip your heart during every super-charged escapade that Agora’s bold and grinning brotherhood embraces.
The full moon lingered like a magnificent pearl in an ocean of black. Fresh snow gave a faint crunch as the riders’ horses made their way down the old road. Cold, tired, and hungry, Whill and Abram rode silently toward Fendale.
Usually they would make camp with the setting of the sun, but not tonight. The storm they had encountered the previous two days had set them back many hours.
“We should still be in time for the Winter’s End Celebration,” Whill said.
“As long as we do not wander into another of those damned storms, we should be plenty early,” answered Abram as he scoured the woods. Something was on his mind, but Whill did not bother wondering what; he had thoughts of his own. Like the feast they would enjoy the next night, and the music. The Winter’s End Celebration of Fendale was always a great treat. It had been going on as long as anyone could remember. People came from all surrounding towns and villages to take part. Abram had brought Whill when he was only eleven years old, and Whill had marveled at all the dancers, jugglers, acrobats, and animal tamers that had performed. The knights of Eldalon had put on a mock battle, and Whill sat in awe for hours watching them dual and joust. He had read their history in the books Abram had given him as a young child. To see them in person had been a surreal experience. The celebration had lasted all day and long into the night. The food had been fit for kings, and the children had received candy. Whill, now nineteen years old, was no less excited than he had been when he was eleven.
“Do you think that King Mathus will attend this year?” wondered Whill. Abram did not reply. He lifted his hand, motioning Whill to stop. Whill gently slowed his horse and was about to ask what was wrong when Abram put a finger to his lips.
Whill surveyed the surrounding forest, but he saw nothing but the silhouettes of trees and the darkness beyond. Pine branches bent under the weight of the snow, as did the birches, which in some spots bowed down almost to the road. It was a world of white and black, shadows and moonlights. Minutes passed, and still Whill neither saw nor heard anything. He looked over at Abram, who sat like a statue upon his steed. Something indeed was wrong. Abram was not suffering from his usual excess of paranoia: it was too quiet. Lost in his thoughts of Fendale, Whill had not noticed, but now he did. In an almost inaudible whisper, Abram told him to ready his bow. Whill did so as silently as he could, with a sudden and intense feeling that someone was watching, waiting. He resisted the urge to turn and look, but sat as still as he could, bow in hand, his arrow ready. Abram had also readied his bow, and with a quick dart of his eyes he indicated a part of the woods in front and to the left of himself. Whill peered at the spot and at first saw nothing. Then he spotted sudden movement beyond the trees. It was a strange black shape, quick and silent, darting from behind one tree to hide behind another. It moved like a shadow, and Whill would have mistaken it for one if not for the moonlight reflected in its eyes. Whill’s horse gave a whine and began to stir, now alert to some danger. With a jerk Abram turned to scowl at the scared beast, and as he did the forest erupted with movement.
Abram hollered, “Ride, boy, ride!”
His heart hammering in his ears, Whill kicked the flanks of the horse, which was eager to comply. Even as it began to speed into a full gallop, Whill saw five black wolves dart out of the woods in front of them with alarming speed. Without looking he knew that more raced at them from behind. Before he could think he let loose an arrow at the closest wolf. With a cry the beast went headfirst into the snow, an arrow protruding from its neck. Even before the blood could flow, Whill had pulled another arrow as Abram took down another of the approaching pack.
Instead of scaring the remaining beasts, the fall of the two wolves only seemed to infuriate them. Baring teeth, they charged ever faster toward the riders. In unison Whill and Abram let loose their arrows and dropped the two closest wolves. Whill reached for another arrow to take down the last wolf when suddenly two more wolves jumped at the legs of Abram’s horse. Teeth snapping, they bit fiercely at its legs. A terrible cry issued from the horse as another wolf attacked its front legs. Distracted by the attacking wolves, they had forgotten about the oncoming wolf, which was now upon them. The wolf jumped up, jaws snapping, into the face of Whill’s horse. Whill struggled to stay mounted and lost hold of his bow. His horse reared, almost throwing him to the ground. Alert to his trouble, Abram shot the wolf in the side as it rebounded and prepared to lunge at the horse once more. Whill was now facing the right side of Abram’s horse, whose legs were being ripped apart by the other three attacking wolves. Abram’s horse jumped and kicked, trying to throw off the beasts, but they were too many. Whill drew his sword, ready to charge, when another wolf attacked his own horse from behind. He turned to see the wolf clawing its way up his horse’s back, and with a swift blow he chopped its head clean off. He turned, and to his horror he saw Abram’s horse go down under the wolves’ relentless attack. The three attacking wolves then lunged forward as one onto Abram. Jumping from his horse, Whill could not see Abram, only thick black coats of matted fur thrashing and jerking where Abram had been.
With a cry Whill attacked with his sword. In a frenzy of slashing metal, blood, and flying fur, he killed the wolves. In his fury he barely heard a low growl behind him. He turned to see a nightmarish sight: six more wolves less than ten feet away. They stood, hair raised, teeth bared, ready to attack. They uttered low, menacing growls, all except the largest, which barked ravenously at him. Whill knew why they hadn’t yet attacked. They were afraid.
Not knowing if Abram was alive or dead, Whill was not afraid but angry. Rage welled in him and erupted into a primal scream. The wolves tensed and backed a step. “Come on!” he screamed, challenging the wolves. “Come on!”
The wolves backed up, confused, looking at each other, at Whill, and at one another again. Their mouths were closed. Then the large wolf answered Whill’s challenge and charged straight at him, drool falling from his open mouth, and lunged for Whill’s neck. Whill dropped to his knees, and as the wolf passed over him he gutted the beast from neck to tail. The wolf landed in a dead heap. Another charged, and Whill thrust his sword and impaled the beast with a sickening crunch. Heaving the limp wolf to the side he ran at the remaining four, eyes wild, his own growl now echoing through the forest.
With their leader dead, the wolves quickly retreated in the presence of this fearless foe. Whill ran after them, actually wishing they would fight. He was so enraged, he had forgotten about Abram.
As the wolves ran for the forest, Whill returned to his fallen friend. Abram’s horse lay dying. Abram was pinned under the animal’s great weight, and three more dead wolves lay atop him. Whill heaved the wolves off and was devastated by what he saw. Blood covered every inch of Abram’s face. Whill knelt next to him, tears in his eyes, and began to wipe the blood away. Abram moaned and opened his eyes. Then, to Whill’s surprise, he smiled. “I thought we were in trouble there for a minute,” he said.
“Are you all right?”
“Knock it off,” Abram grumbled, swatting his hand away. “I’m hurt but I’m not dying. The blood is mostly from the wolves. Now help me get out from under this poor horse.”
Whill heaved the saddle in an attempt to lift the horse enough to free Abram’s leg, but to no avail.
“Don’t bother. My leg isn’t broken. Just help me pull it free before those damned wolves get their courage back.”
Whill pulled on Abram’s leg above the knee. With many grunts and curses from Abram, the leg came free.
Whill now saw the wounds on Abram’s arms. Shreds of fabric hung from his sleeves, his hands were scratched and bloody, and large puncture wounds covered his hands and forearms where he had tried to fend off the beasts. Whill was amazed that Abram’s leg had not broken, but he guessed it was on account of the soft snow. He took some extra shirts from his bags to use as bandages, and a bottle of redclove.
“You did well,” said Abram as Whill began tearing the cloth into strips.
“Not well enough. You’re a bloody mess, and the horse is dead.”
“Stop being negative. It doesn’t become you.” Abram returned the smile. “You killed many wolves and haven’t a scratch. That’s quite a feat for any man.”
Whill began applying the redclove to Abram’s wounds. A quick hiss escaped Abram’s mouth as the liquid touched his torn flesh. Redclove worked well on such wounds but burned like a hot brand.
“Besides, we still have your horse,” said Abram through clenched teeth. “She can carry us both, and we can get a good bit of money for those wolf hides.”
Whill marveled at the way Abram could always find good in anything. Whill thought of the time their boat had sunk in the ocean. With no land in sight and their cargo lost, Abram had said, “Well, at least we still have our arms to swim to shore.” Whill had almost drowned laughing. Now he could only smile and thank the gods that Abram was with him. To lose Abram would be to lose his whole world.
Abram had taken care of Whill since he was a baby. His earliest memories were of living in Sidnell, a small town on the eastern edge of Shierdon. Abram had entrusted Whill to his sister for most of his childhood. Whill called her Aunt Teera, and she was a stout woman with an even bigger heart. She was the healer of Sidnell, and Whill had lived comfortably with her and her three daughters till he was eleven.
Abram stayed with them often but was usually gone for months at a time. Whill would beg him to stay, but Abram would tell him he had to go and that one day he would understand. Before leaving, Abram always gave Teera a list of things he wanted Whill to learn in his absence. In this way Whill learned the medicinal and culinary uses of every herb and plant in the known lands.
When Abram was home he taught Whill a great many things. Whill learned to speak Elvish and Dwarvish, though he had never met anyone of either race. He also learned a great deal of history of the kingdoms of Agora, its peoples, and its geography. He learned sewing, cooking, tying a variety of knots, and countless other skills. He never complained but mastered all that Abram set before him, out of sheer love of learning and his own pleasure in making Abram proud.
Whill knew that Abram was not his father, for he had told him so when Whill was old enough to understand. When he asked who his parents were Abram had only said, “I will tell you when you are ready, and I will judge when that time is. I know that it is the one answer you seek to know most, but you must trust me: some things in this world must not be known until the time is right. Bear no hard feelings for me because of this. I only do it to protect you.”
Whill had wondered about his true lineage since that day but never asked again, knowing Abram would not tell. Still, the question burned in him every day of his waking life. Perhaps this burden led him to apply himself so strongly to learn all else that he did not know.
Eventually the day came when Abram said he was leaving again, but that this time Whill would go with him. On that warm June night Abram took him to the seashore and said, “You have been very patient, and you are an excellent student. There is nothing more for you to learn from my books, and Teera has taught you much that I cannot. You are nearing manhood now, and I must now teach you how a man protects himself with the fist and blade, and how to live in the wild and on your own.”
From that day on Whill had been at Abram’s side as they traveled from one end of Agora to the other and back again. They sailed the seas together and braved the mountains, and always Whill was eager to learn more. Every day they sparred or practiced with fists. Abram had taught him to hunt, use a bow, throw a spear, use an axe, and wield a knife until Whill’s skill surpassed his own.
Now, sewing Abram’s larger gashes with needle and thread on this cold March night, that June day on the shore seemed like decades ago. Whill had become wise beyond his years and stronger than most his age. When he had finished suturing, he looked at his work. “They should heal with little scarring.” He began to bandage Abram’s arms.
“You are one of the most skilled healers I know. I’m sure they will heal fine.” Abram grimaced as he put on an extra shirt and coat. “I will remove what supplies I can from my horse, and make a fire while you skin all those hell-born wolves. I would help, but I don’t want to ruin your stitch work with too much movement.”
Whill collected the carcasses and went to work while Abram searched for wood dry enough to burn. With flint and dried moss from one of his bags, Abram managed a small fire. Whill worked tirelessly for hours until the first morning light appeared in the sky. When the last hide was finished, Whill washed his knife and arms with snow Abram had melted. After a breakfast of dried meat and cheese, they set out once again toward Fendale.
With two riders, the extra supplies, and ten wolf hides to carry, the horse’s pace was slow. “We are about twenty miles from Fendale,” Abram said. “At this pace we will be there in about seven hours, including a couple of breaks for our poor horse.”
“It will be nice to lie on a bed and eat warm food after that night.”
“Indeed it will.”
Could not put the book down!
At first I was not sure I would like it but once I got half way through the first chapter I was hooked. The book has many facets of interest, drama, adventure, action, love and even good times and funny scenes that will amuze most anyone. While it appears to be similar to other stories it has many unique and interesting facts that make this story a facinating and riveting read that I would recommend to everyone.
A miracle Read
I purchased this for my thirteen year old son and he loved it! This book was his choice over video games & his ipod. He even tried to sneak in a few extra minutes of reading it before bed. Any book that can do this to children today is a real "Miracle Read"! Kudos to the author.
Pleased and waiting for the next book
This book should be a 5 star rateing. I was real impressed with the whole thing. I lost a lot of sleep because I read mostly when I go to bed. I couldn't stop reading. Riviting, exciteing, comical, serious, wild, I can go on and on because it's all in this book. Did I say that I really liked it?