"The author of The Killing Frost moves from space opera to epic fantasy in a fast-moving story that should satisfy fans of classic quest adventures." Library Journal
The Piaras Legacyby Scott Gamboe
Long ago, so the legends say, the Necromancer Volnor invaded the continent of Pelacia. His legions of undead soldiers ravaged the land unchecked, until the three nations united and pushed their evil foes back into the Desert of Malator. But that was centuries ago, and few people still believe the tale. Other, more worldly matters occupy their time, such as recent… See more details below
Long ago, so the legends say, the Necromancer Volnor invaded the continent of Pelacia. His legions of undead soldiers ravaged the land unchecked, until the three nations united and pushed their evil foes back into the Desert of Malator. But that was centuries ago, and few people still believe the tale. Other, more worldly matters occupy their time, such as recent attacks by renegade Kobolds. But Elac, an elf who makes his way as a merchant, is too concerned with his business affairs to become involved in international politicsuntil a marauding band of Kobolds attack Elac's caravan and he finds himself running for his life. Befriended by an elfin warrior named Rilen, he travels to Unity, the seat of power on the Pelacian continent. There he is joined by a diverse group of companions, and he sets out on an epic quest to solve the riddle of his heritage and save the land from the growing evil that threatens to engulf it.
When elven merchant Elac's caravan is attacked and destroyed by an army of kobolds, he finds unexpected help from Rilen, an elven warrior who journeys with him to the city of Unity. There, Elac discovers that he has a role to play in the current conflict involving not only kobolds, but hosts of undead and a group of Necromancers whose wars have continually threatened the Pelacian continent. Along with a small group of companions, Elac seeks the answer to his destiny in the haunted ruins of Piaras Keep. The author of The Killing Frost moves from space opera to epic fantasy in a fast-moving story that should satisfy fans of classic quest adventures. A good choice for most fantasy and YA collections.
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The Piaras Legacy
By Scott Gamboe
Medallion Press, Inc.Copyright © 2008 Scott Gamboe
All right reserved.
Chapter OneElac's horse splashed noisily through the ford, crossed the Unity River, and dashed off once again toward the perceived safety of the land of the Elves. His wiry frame did little to slow his charger, and it ran with long, smooth strides. He wore a tight-fitting cap over his short-cropped brown hair, and was dressed in plain gray merchants' robes. The long grasses of the Northern Plains whipped at his horse's legs as he raced across the rolling landscape.
The problem was, the Kobolds were gaining on him. He sneaked a quick glance behind, and caught a glimpse of their standard waving defiantly, a black and white banner bearing crossed swords. The brazen soldiers drove deeper into the Kingdom of Palindom, land of the Humans, following him with implacable determination. With the Kobolds so blatant, they would have no qualms about a border violation with the Elven nation of Caldala, which meant his only hope was for a random Elven patrol to cross his path. The normally peace-loving Elves would attack the Kobolds on sight.
He found the Golen Road, and his spirits soared while he pounded his way down the unpaved lane to the nearby village. Clouds of dust rose into the air behind him, drifting ponderously higher on the gentle spring breeze. Elac turned and looked back at the Kobolds behind him, and his heart dropped to his toes. The patrol chasing him had closed the gap considerably, and several of the lead riders were plainly visible, less than a mile behind him. Their fur-covered, muzzled visages appeared grotesquely Human from a distance.
After another league, his horse lost speed. The faltering beast had given everything it had. Minutes later, the horse stumbled and went down, throwing its rider onto the dusty road and thrashing about in agony. Elac rolled to his feet, cut his equipment loose from the exhausted animal, shouldered his longbow and quiver, and continued on foot, a hopeless race against time.
Elac decided he had gone as far as he could, and knew it was time to make a stand. The Kobolds trotted closer, less than a hundred yards away. He nocked an arrow, watching while the Kobolds formed a circle around him, still fifty yards out. The ring slowly contracted around him, his hunters howling with anticipation. Elac drew his arrow, took aim, and fired. The shot went wide, narrowly missing its target. The circle of Kobolds collapsed upon him.
An arrow hissed past Elac to sink into the throat of a Kobold, who fell, gurgling, from his saddle. Then there was another arrow, and another, and within moments, a half dozen of the Kobolds lay dying in the road, while the rest roared in helpless rage, trying to find the source of the barrage. For the moment, Elac was forgotten, and he took the opportunity to dash off the roadway into the concealing grass.
A new figure appeared in the fray. He arose without a sound from his concealed vantage point, his sword sliding from its sheath with a steely hiss. His round shield was embossed in black and overlaid with a golden eagle in flight. He wore loose-fitting brown and green clothes with his hood thrown back, his short brown hair untouched by the breeze. The Elf faced his opponents with a proud bearing that exuded confidence, fixing the Kobolds with a deliberate stare. He stepped into the open and prepared to meet the raiders.
Two Kobolds broke off from the group and charged, bearing down on the lone figure in the roadway. The Elf stood his ground, bringing his shield and sword into a defensive posture. The first Kobold gave a quick swing at the Elf's head. He easily deflected the blow with his shield, and a retaliating slash of his sword nearly cut completely through the Kobold's leg. The Kobold tumbled from his horse, blood gushing from his thigh. The other Kobold reined in, circling cautiously and waiting for the remaining four Kobolds to join him. One, presumably the leader, dismounted and approached the lone Elf. The other Kobolds also warily dismounted, and Elac emerged from hiding to stand beside his would-be rescuer.
"Stand aside!" the first Kobold ordered in his growling, harshly accented tongue. "We have business to finish, and you would be wise not to interfere."
"You have invaded the country of Caldala," the Elf replied with aplomb, once more assuming a combat stance. "In the absence of Elven troops, I find I must act in their stead. Leave, or die."
"You are one, against five. You have no chance."
"It used to be one against twelve," the stranger reminded his antagonist with a shrug. "Five more dead Kobolds won't make much difference to me."
Elac wasn't sure what had the greater chilling effect on the Kobolds: the Elf's threatening words, which he was probably capable of backing up with action, or the absolute dead calm with which one Elf faced down an entire squad of Kobolds. A terrible silence hung in the air, and even the wind stopped blowing, the long prairie grasses no longer undulating. It was as if all of nature was holding its breath, awaiting the outcome of the confrontation.
The wait didn't last long. One Kobold, who had lounged indolently off to one side, abruptly lunged, a sword stroke already falling toward the Elf's unprotected back. Suddenly, the Elf was a blur, countering the stroke and launching a furious counterattack, disemboweling his foe even as the other Kobolds closed in. Elac raised his bow and fired at the leader, and this time his aim was better. The Kobold fell hard to his knees, numbly staring in shock at the arrow protruding from his chest. Elac nocked another arrow, but he could only watch in stunned disbelief while the Elf systematically destroyed the Kobold patrol. When the one remaining Kobold turned and fled for his mount, the Elf drew a dagger from his belt and threw, all in one fluid motion. The dagger flashed through the air, striking the Kobold's back with a solid thunk. The final attacker staggered into his horse, then fell limply to the ground.
With the threat finally vanquished, a wave of reality washed over Elac. His bow dropped from his suddenly nerveless fingers and he crashed to his knees, shaking violently, the realization of how close he had come to dying washing over him in a wave. If it hadn't been for the timely intervention of a lone Elf, Elac would surely have been killed, like the others in his party. He caught his breath while his rescuer calmly rounded up the remaining Kobold horses. Elac rose unsteadily to his feet and approached the other Elf.
"I'm Elac," he began, his voice shaking. "I want to thank you for saving me."
"Rilen," the stranger replied shortly. "Where did these Kobolds come from?"
Elac shook his head. "I'm not sure." He briefly recounted the day's earlier events.
"I'd say you were lucky. I was out this way hunting and happened to see all the dust they were kicking up chasing you on the Golen Road." Rilen's eyes narrowed. "What did you do to make them chase you this far? Kobolds never chase someone into Caldala."
"Nothing! We were taking a shipment of goods to Fort Julan when they attacked."
Rilen shook his head. "Something is wrong about this. Kobolds are terrified of the Elven army. They wouldn't follow you this far without good reason."
Rilen examined the bodies of the fallen Kobolds. Each wore a black pendant with the emblem of a coiled snake, and he planned to collect them all. When Rilen reached the first Kobold he had fought, Elac could see the Kobold still lived. He had lost a lot of blood from Rilen's sword stroke, and his injured leg was twisted grotesquely to one side. Elac edged tentatively forward, a morbid curiosity overcoming caution, and he took a closer look at someone who, mere minutes earlier, had been trying to kill him. Though his face was contorted in excruciating agony from his wounds, the Kobold still managed to glare defiantly at the two Elves. He even made a weak attempt to push Rilen away, but Rilen slapped the Kobold's hands down and removed another of the black pendants, then firmly grasped the bloodied front of the Kobold's tunic.
"What's your name?" Rilen demanded harshly.
After a moment's consideration, he responded, "Lecarse."
"Why did your patrol attack this man and his friends?"
Lecarse shrugged, grimacing in pain. "Wrong place, wrong time. The Kobold High Command is afraid to move against the West. We aren't."
"So your group was a band of entrepreneurs looking to make a profit?"
"We will restore the glory of the Kobold Empire."
Rilen rose to his feet. "We'll see." He drew his sword, placing the tip against Lecarse's throat.
"Wait!" Elac interrupted, leaping forward to grab Rilen's sword arm. "You can't simply kill him in cold blood!"
Rilen looked at him menacingly, and his expression chilled Elac to the bone. "He would have shown you no mercy. Besides, he referred to his group in the present tense. That means there are more of them, maybe even close by. Do you want him telling them where to find us?"
Elac met his gaze for as long as he could, then looked away. "I would rather you didn't."
Rilen shook his head in disgust. "Suit yourself. Take one of their horses and follow me. I'll see you to safety. We can try to find your horse later, when we have my militia to help us."
They continued along the road to Golen, following the hard-packed lane, which meandered through the rolling countryside. They were close enough to the village to have reached the extensive farmlands in the surrounding area, fertile ground where patient farmers worked the land in an endless cycle of seasonal toiling. The spring crops had already emerged, pushing green shoots toward the sapphire blue sky. Here and there, Elac saw an Elf working the fields, most of them clearing away weeds they knew would stubbornly come back within a matter of days. Each plot of land was divided from its neighbors by a low row of stones, decorated with flowers and an occasional tree.
They finally entered the village, an orderly place Elac found to be slightly larger than the term "village" implied. Their horses' hooves clattering hollowly on the cobblestone streets, Rilen led the way purposefully through the hamlet. They passed through the central square, where merchants shouted out a cacophonous din, trying to draw attention to their wares. While most of the villagers were Elves, there were a significant number of Dwarves and even a few Humans. As with any Elven settlement, however, there were no Kobolds to be found.
Finally, Rilen guided his mount off the road and into a barn, which was attached to an average-sized log cabin home. Three disinterested-looking grooms emerged from the barn's dark recesses to take the reins of their horses after they dismounted. Rilen gave several brief orders concerning the disposition of the horses taken from the Kobolds, then motioned for Elac to follow him into the cabin. Elac obliged without a word, walking tiredly through the small courtyard and into the cabin. When he retired for the evening, his dreams were troubled ...
* * *
The sun was high overhead, and the fine spring morning carried the promise of another beautiful day. The caravan rolled along noisily, the wooden wheels of the wagons bouncing off the holes and snags in the uneven thoroughfare. Elac was surprised at the road's state of disrepair, and made a mental note to bring it up to the commissioner of public works.
The Paheny Mountains were clearly visible in the distance, but the terrain they traveled was fairly flat. They were near Fort Julan, where an area anomaly had developed a series of jagged rock formations. The towering stone projections were a dazzling array of colors, each in its own layer. When he could stand it no more, he told the caravan master he was going to ride out for a closer look, and would catch up shortly. The gruff old Dwarf leading the caravan merely shrugged and grunted, and Elac galloped across the grassy plateau.
Elac reined in his horse and dismounted. He ran his hands along the smooth sides of the colossal stone formations. They seemed to be made of some sort of sandstone, and grains of the rock slid away at his touch.
He heard a rumble like distant thunder. Puzzled, he checked the sky, but there was not a cloud to be seen. He returned his attention to the stone, but the sound repeated, rolling on and on as if it would never end. He was able to ignore the clamor until he heard the screams. His heart pounded in his chest like a sledgehammer, and fear caught him in its icy grip.
The thunderous racket grew louder, and Elac poked his head around the corner of the rocks. A Kobold cavalry ran alongside his caravan, which was rolling away as fast as the wagons allowed. They were no match for the Kobolds, who easily overtook them. The Kobolds drew their swords and systematically slaughtered the caravan guards. The poorly trained fighters tried to gather into a defensive knot, but they all fell beneath the Kobolds' swords.
The Kobolds didn't stop with the defenders. Although the merchants from the caravan fell to their knees and begged for mercy, the Kobolds rode up and down the line, swords hacking. Some women were dragged kicking and screaming into nearby wagons, while everyone else was slaughtered where they stood.
Elac dashed to his horse, leapt into his saddle, and was off at a gallop. He heard shouts and cries from the caravan, and a dozen Kobolds broke off their attack to take up the pursuit. His wits slowly returned, and he cursed himself for not staying hidden. There was nothing he could have done to help the caravan, but he would have still been safe. Now, he needed to find a place to hide ...
Excerpted from The Piaras Legacy by Scott Gamboe Copyright © 2008 by Scott Gamboe. Excerpted by permission.
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The Piaras Legacy is a great fantasy novel that truly has all aspects of a great read. I love reading series (because it makes me feel like I have more time with the characters), however I was very pleased that this story was in one novel. It was a classic epic fantasy quest tale packed with adventure, romance, magic and more, and was written so well it didn't need to also be epic in length. Gamboe keeps a great pace throughout the entire novel and you aren't left feeling that some parts of the book were slow. There is action immediately from the beginning and will entertain people of all ages. Very highly recommended to all fantasy and quest lovers!
Led by the Necromancer Volnor, a legion of the dead invaded the three countries that make up the continent of Pelacia. They killed everyone in sight ravaging the land in a blighted earth policy. Previous rivalries are put aside and the trio of nations united they successfully repel the enemy horde forcing Volnor and his minion to take refuge in Desert of Malator. --- Over time that great saviors¿ war became part of the ancient mythos with nobody believing that a malevolent soulless one raised the undead into an army as there are more pragmatic concerns for those residing on the continent today. In that environs Elac the Elf makes a living as a merchant with no thoughts on legends. However, renegade Kobold marauders attack his caravan leaving him fleeing for his life. Rilen the Elven warrior rescues Elac who joins him on his journey to Unity where the former hopes to gain support while calling the alarm that Volnor is back. No one except Elac and a hand full of travelers heeds his warning so that the only hope resides within the soul of the merchant who, if he can figure out what it means in today¿s context, has ties to the last successful repelling of Volnor and his evil. --- This is an exhilarating fantasy due to the two elves, Rilen and Elac, and the threat of Volnor, deftly handled to increase the suspense. Rilen is like a Jeremiah ignored by the leaders who scoff at the return of a mythological necromancer. However Elac is the more fascinating character as he is a successful businessman who suddenly is thrust at the head of a save the world quest in a sort of coming of age way. Fans will appreciate Scott Gamboe¿s fine fantasy and seek his previous science fiction thriller, THE KILLING FROST. --- Harriet Klausner