In The Citadel of Fire, the boundaries of credibility are stretched beyond the limits of the imagination. This is an easy-to-read story for both young readers and old, a quest and an adventure into the world beyond, one which will both amaze and delight; with an inventive plot and thoroughly engaging characters.
The Novels of Vincent Gilvarry
This is the second book in the series, The Memoirs of Yumi Master and in this excerpt, Addric and Dheago and several hundred intrepid adventurers have crossed over into the world beyond in an effort to find the source of a problem which could destroy their world. On their very first day, they encounter the menace known to some as the Volkori and to others as the dark riders. Addric gets to see at first hand the power he will one day have at his disposal when he becomes a fully fledged Yumi Master.
A VOLKORI ASSAULT
We were up before daybreak the following morning, preparing for whatever this day would bring. Breakfast was already underway and the familiar aroma of the many and varied offerings of the Krugwah kitchen drifted through the air. I was happily making my way through a plateful of scrambled eggs when I noticed a black cloud on the horizon.
‘That doesn't look good,' I said.
‘Perhaps it’s a storm cloud,’ said Dheago.
‘Somehow or other, I don’t think so, D. That doesn’t look like any storm cloud I’ve ever seen before.’
‘Whatever it is, it be a very angry looking thing,’ said Wimple.
The light of day was just spreading its wings and the view over the tree tops was breathtaking. We were camped on a ridge overlooking a cliff which rolled away towards a forest of ancient trees.
A blanket of blue-tinged mist and vapors drifted above everything, adding a touch of unreality to an already unreal situation, but the anomaly which had caught my attention had now become an item of singular interest to many others as well. It may have had something to do with the atmospheric conditions, but most of us didn’t think so.
‘That is definitely not a storm cloud,’ said Hector.
A storm cloud was a natural occurrence with which we were all familiar, but this was obviously something else altogether.
‘It's some form of dark energy,’ said Odin.
‘’If I am not incorrect,' said Elon, 'it's a Volkori storm cloud, dark riders, thousands of them. That's how they make their first appearance, disguised as a black cloud. We have learnt to recognise it immediately and it definitely means danger.'
‘They have been unusually quiet these last few weeks,’ said Demetra, ‘their absence has been of some concern. I had a feeling they might be preparing for something.’
'Let's take a closer look,' said Hector.
He withdrew a compact leather pouch from his pocket and pressed one of several buttons on the side. A black LCD screen popped up and expanded to several times its size.
‘A powerful, telescopic lens,’ he said, ‘the most compact form we have yet devised.’
‘Take a closer look Elon and tell us what you think.'
Elon did so, never having used such a device before, a strange combination of magic and magnification was somewhat of a surprise.
‘They are definitely dark riders, I would know them anywhere,’ he said.
‘What do you think they're doing?’ I asked.
‘I couldn’t say,’ Elon replied, ‘but they can appear and disappear at will. It is advisable if we are prepared for whatever happens, just in case.'
We had discussed this routine over dinner the evening before, but Elon and Starion were seasoned veterans and before we even realised it, two hundred battle ready warriors were on their feet and ready to defend us in a moment.
That moment of peace and quiet did not last much longer than thirty seconds. It was shattered by a sound which brought us to our feet. This was a place we knew nothing about but to hear the cries of a child screaming for his father was almost incomprehensible.
I looked around, only to see a Volkori rider lifting Barclay off the ground and up into the air. It had assumed the appearance of a column of black smoke swirling above his head, but it was the look of pure terror on Barclay's face which I have never forgotten.
Slinky had no idea what to do or which way to turn, he was panic-stricken and if it had been in his power, he would have done the impossible, but he was powerless to intervene.
Barclay's life was about to be extinguished, he was about to be enveloped in the dark rider's web and if it had not been for Odin and Elon, he would have been incinerated on the spot.
The events which followed were both frightening and amazing and, as I realised later, they were a portent of my future, a revealing insight into what it would mean to have the power of the universe at your fingertips.
If I thought Odin's reaction was lightning fast, it was not nearly as fast as that of Starion or that of his warrior angels.
'Leave that child alone,' Odin roared.
Over two hundred highly trained warriors turned on the black rider in an instant, engulfing it in a blistering white light. Their power did not just stream from their fingertips; it flowed through every cell of their body and glowed like white hot metal.
Barclay dropped to the ground only seconds later, but there was little of the black rider to be seen. Its remains, now nothing but residue lay smoldering on the ground, filaments of white hot ash which were about to be extinguished by the cold morning air.
Slinky had never moved so fast; he had Barclay in his arms within seconds and was holding him to his chest and whimpering.
‘Why, Dad?’ Barclay cried. ‘Why he do that to me?’
Odin was at his side in an instant; he took Barclay in his arms and held him to his chest. For those of us observing this situation; it seemed that he did so for reasons which only he understood.
Once Barclay had settled down, Odin laid him on the ground and began moving his hands across his body. He held one hand for somewhat longer than usual above Barclay’s right shoulder and then said, ‘Allow me, Barclay, I have to unbutton your shirt.'
One single mark was visible just below Barclay’s right shoulder, the black mark of a Volkori rider and one which was barely bigger than a fingerprint.
‘I thought so,’ he said. ‘If you had remained in the rider’s grasp for a moment longer, you would have remained eternally in his hands. You are a very lucky boy indeed.’
He carried Barclay to one of the wagons and then made a bed from whatever he could find; a few robes and several pieces of cloth and then made sure that Barclay was comfortable.
He then turned to address us and said, ‘There is every possibility that the riders know of our presence and they will be following our every move. We will be at their mercy, whether we stay here or not.’
‘Sabu,’ he said, ‘we will be ready to leave as soon as we have packed. We must head down that road and towards the mountain. The river that we seek is beyond that, I am sure of it.’
‘That is the Sacred Mountain master. I have travelled that road several times, but that is no ordinary mountain. I could not get any closer even though I travelled all day. I do not know why that is so.’
‘If that is the case, it might be a portal,’ said Lezula, ‘and, if it is anything like the great Mystic Mountain, it will require our combined skills and powers to even reach it.’
‘Nevertheless, we have to get out of here,’ Odin said, ‘get ready to move within ten minutes.’
While we were packing, he stole a quick moment to talk with Adartha, Emphora, Lezula, Darko and Elon.
‘That mark on Barclay’s shoulder will continue to spread until he has been consumed by its poison. We must do everything we can to delay its progress. If we cannot, we will lose him before he sees the light of another day.’
‘Between us all, we have the power to prolong his life, but we must take it in turns to be near him at all times. The children are to travel together.'
'Those such as ourselves must walk beside him, but one of us must travel in the wagon. He must never suspect anything, why we are with him or even that he has our protection, but we must keep a close eye on his health at all times.’
‘I will ride in the wagon,’ said Elon.
‘Very good,’ said Odin, ‘but I have no idea if our passage will be an easy one.’