And Yeshua said, "His ears will be a sign to you."
A time-travelling warrior elf on a manhunt for an evil genius.
A state-of-the-art robot from New Los Angeles.
And a carpenter's son from first-century Israel.
Entering the Portal, they join forces with a princess of the Sapphire Monarchy to defy their power-mad adversary.
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Mike Lynch Books
Lehkahn’s eyes were half-open in the dreamless sleep of the elves. Dreamless, he nonetheless saw something not there—something part imagination, part memory. His wife stood before him, smiling, holding their infant son.
Something moved in the corner of his right eye. Before his heart’s next beat, he was on his feet, his sword yanked free of its sheath, ready to destroy whatever enemy prowled this place.
“Hold it, hold it,” whispered Char in the common tongue. “It’s just me.”
“Char,” Lehkahn said in a soft voice, sheathing Eleutherotes—called in the Black Rock speech the Liberator. “I didn’t hear you. No son of men has ever approached me before without me hearing him.”
“You were asleep.”
“True. Yet your stealth increases. Well done.”
“Thanks,” said Char with his wide toothy grin. At twenty-one years old one could say he was a grown man, though his height hadn’t increased much since the day Lehkahn first met him. Char had been twelve then, a small, half-starved human boy. He remained as bone-thin as ever, even though he ate endlessly. But now his arms and legs showed wiry muscles that weren’t there before and there were blond hairs beginning to sprout above his upper lip and on his chin.
“Why did you wake me?” asked Lehkahn softly.
“I thought I heard something, sir. Outside camp—but I couldn’t find anything.”
“Very well, let’s look.”
The elf and youthful human strode towards the edge of the camp, which itself was on the edge of the Saheel Oasis, the last source of water on the nomad road to Balal. They moved past the border of the sandy desert, a bowshot distance away from the nearest tent, moving to the left in a great circle.
They stopped and listened. It was past the middle of a moonless night, into the second watch. But the sky was clear and the stars shone like sparkling jewels, so Char could see a little of the desert, Lehkahn, whose eyesight had been recounted in many a tale, could see very well.
Other than a jackal moving parallel to the camel track headed east, toward Balal, there was nothing much to see. Lehkahn began walking again.
They moved like this for a long while, in short silent stages, followed by stops to listen and look. When they walked, each of them moved as quiet as a cat. It took Char a little longer to cover ground with that sort of stealth, so each time he fell perhaps a dozen paces behind, catching up only after Lehkahn had come to a halt.
After stopping about halfway around the camp, Char crouched down and rubbed his shoulders, moving his hands inside the sleeves of his wool tunic, his left hand passing over the three lines scarred into his right shoulder—a number three in the style of the Latins. He’d been born into the Brotherhood of Black Rock; the number stood for the number of times Sargon of Balal had destroyed their city. Every member of the Brotherhood longed for the day of Sargon’s destruction, especially Char. At the age of nine, he’d been captured by Sargon and forced to join his “Son’s of Eternity.” He’d escaped, the only boy ever to have done so, by climbing down the massive wall of Balal barehanded and swimming the vast Pishon River.
“I’m cold,” he whispered.
“It’s the desert,” replied Lehkahn.
“Yes. Be hot by noon, I guess.”
Lehkahn saw no reason at all to reply to this. After listening a bit longer, he started out again on his silent walk.
After rounding a large boulder, Lehkahn noticed a reddish star near the horizon, not far from the bright planet Haleel. Something about the flicker of light set low in the sky drew his attention, as if it was calling to him. He stopped to look.
“Lehkahn!” shouted Char, a dozen paces back. The young man’s tone of voice told him all he needed to know.
He swung around, pulling Eleutherotes free. A dark shape rose from the sand, a shadow darker than the night itself, nearly invisible, even for his eyes. He knew without thinking that Char had found this monstrosity with his ears, without seeing anything. And himself, he had heard nothing.
Lehkahn hurled himself in the air, back towards the beast, but before he could reach it, Char advanced, swinging his own sword wildly, blindly. The manmade steel blade was useless against this creature of the abyss. Yet the shadow still turned back and wrapped its darkness around the young man and injected its poison into him.
Lehkahn landed and with two slices of his golden blade left the creature a pulsating mass of blackness, no longer shadowy. It was a Nightslayer, creatures used as assassins by Sargon Balal. This assassin had meant to kill him, waiting for him to pass by so it could attack from behind. Clearly, it had never expected that a mere human would know it was there. Not until after it killed Lehkahn, anyway.
Char was on his back, twitching. His face paled, his skin beaded with cold sweat, he breathed fast and shallow. Lehkahn knelt next to him.
“Let Black Rock rise again,” said Char with as much power as he could muster. It was something all the members of the Brotherhood swore to say with their dying breath. But it was hard for him to really mean it. He’d never even seen the place Black Rock had once stood—and death isn’t a good time for slogans.
The next thing he said came more naturally, “Kill Sargon for me, will you? Stop him…”
“I will,” answered the elf, “Sargon’s rule is finished.”
“Yeah…” The twitches in Char’s body were becoming a stiffness that would soon cut off all breathing. A skilled healer might have saved him, but they were all too far away.
“Without you, the beast would have killed me,” said Lehkahn, “I thank you.”
“Do I get an extra ration of sweet bread for that?”
He let himself smile at the joke. “For a hero like you, two extra rations.”
“Oh good…I wouldn’t want to die for nothing...”
“I will tell the Brotherhood of your deed.” This made the young man smile, briefly, a flash of his old grin.
“Stay with me…will you?” These were the last words Char forced from his mouth.
“I will stay,” said Lehkahn. He took Char’s right hand and held it until the very end.