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In the exhilarating young adult novel, Son of Skye, Nickolous finds himself thrust into a world where the clans of the four-legged and the winged rule. The Sacred Flame, the heart of all living things has been stolen. Held captive by those who walk in darkness, hope wanes as it weakens for only a few hold the knowledge that if the flame is extinguished the ...
In the exhilarating young adult novel, Son of Skye, Nickolous finds himself thrust into a world where the clans of the four-legged and the winged rule. The Sacred Flame, the heart of all living things has been stolen. Held captive by those who walk in darkness, hope wanes as it weakens for only a few hold the knowledge that if the flame is extinguished the worlds of knowing will turn inward upon themselves, and the clans of earth and sky will cease to be. It is up to Nickolous, a half-son of Skye to lead the way through a forbidden valley to the Three. Forest guardians long passed into memory, their tomb the gateway that leads to the Beneath.
A son of both worlds, belonging to neither, gifted by the elders, those old ones who watch through the veil that separates the worlds within worlds, Nickolous has to look deep within to help the clans and himself as he begins a perilous journey into the unknown. Protected by Gabriel, a blue-eyed wolf and his mate, Chera, guided by the Old One, her voice the wisdom of untold turnings past, and Owen, a snowy owl, Nickolous’s journey takes him into a world where winged warriors watch from above and darkness and light meet.
Only he can wield the power of the sacred staff….
"It's beautiful." Slender hands reached out to pat Leah's shoulder in a gesture of unspoken fondness.
Leah came around to stand in front of her mother's easel. The painting was only partially finished, but even in its half-finished state, it was a thing of beauty. They were all there—not in their entirety, mind you, but they would be soon: all the old friends from that other place that was often thought of, but rarely spoken of, for fear the memories would vanish as a dream does after one awakens from a deep sleep. Looking at the painting, it was easy to see where Leah got her talent.
The sudden forlorn howling at the forest's edge shattered the morning's peaceful stillness.
"Chera!" Ignoring the overturned easel and the spilled paints, which ran and pooled across the ornately marbled floor, Leah raced to the window, her mother right behind her. The open space below them was empty.
"There's nothing there." Nickolous was peering into the morning's mist. If there had been something there in the shadows of the wooded area, there wasn't now.
"Wait!" Leah hissed between clenched teeth as she grabbed her brother's arm. "There. See?"
Nickolous followed her gaze. There was nothing. Nothing except the empty clearing rimmed at the outer edges with huge trees of oak and maple. To the left of this ran a narrow stream with tall grasses and a few aspen lining the bank. At night, long after the day was silenced, and the creatures that ruled the twilight emerged from their hidden sleeping places, Nickolous and Leah would lie in their beds, lulled to sleep by the musical, mystical sounds that entwined with the night.
"Well, whoever or whatever it was, it's gone now." Nickolous turned away from his sister, and for a moment he was standing alone beneath the tree from the mists of his dreams, and the nameless eternal being was beside him, silent, yet speaking of things not yet understood, nor seen.
Brown eyes met blue as Nickolous realized with a start where he was and hid his disappointment by placing an arm about his sister to draw her away from the window where she stood, straining for a glimpse of what was not there.
* * *
The day deepened into twilight, as all days do. Most of the day had been spent cleaning up the spilled paint from the marbled floor and repairing the canvas. No one spoke of the morning's events, least of all Nickolous, yet each knew the thoughts of the other.
Supper was quiet and uneventful, and when the rain began later that evening, it wasn't surprising that Nickolous threw on his raincoat and went for a walk to be alone with his thoughts. Neither mother nor daughter tried to stop him, for they knew he would not go far—they too, wanted to be alone with their memories.
Leah squinted in the fading light. It was almost too dark to paint, but she was determined to finish it before morning, and besides, she wasn't tired yet. The light cast shadows against the wall, which seemed to dance about as she turned her attention back to the easel to finish the last of the scenes depicted: that of a large silver-gray wolf running through a shaded glen, while above, in a blue sky tinged with gold, a beautiful white owl glided silently, keeping vigil over those it watched below.
So engrossed was Leah in her work that she barely heard the hall door slam shut of its own accord. It was the gust of wind which accompanied the slamming of the door that grabbed her attention—that, and the disheveled state of her brother as he leaned against the closed door, gasping for air as the rain ran in rivulets down his raincoat and pooled about his feet on the marbled hall floor.
"Nickolous!" Leah was out of her chair, halfway across the room, when she realized that there was a look about her brother that was of another place, and she knew what he was going to say even before he said it.
"Orith. There. In the rain. He was beckoning with his beaded staff. He looked as if he'd been ill."
Nickolous turned to look at Leah, his large blue eyes wide with excitement. He lowered himself into the chair his mother offered and buried his face in his hands. Feeling suddenly weary, he looked up.
"What are we going to do?" He looked beseechingly at the auburn-haired woman who stood silently gazing down at him, her dark eyes mirroring his concern.
* * *
Sometime during the night, the storm passed, while the moon, full and round, rose white and luminescent, her soft light reflecting against the rain-laden trees. The soft breeze that had arisen was enough to shake the heavy burden from their leaves, while the spattering of the water as it hit the sodden earth made little sound.
Nickolous wasn't sure what had awakened him, but the pale light streaming through the curtained window told him the storm had passed, the dawn still a few hours away. Throwing the covers aside, he stood at the now partially opened window, peering into the clearing below. It looked empty. He strained forward as a form detached itself from the shadows beneath the trees.
Nickolous refrained from calling out, afraid that when next he looked, the form would have vanished.
Orith, his companion of adventures past, waved weakly as he brandished his beaded staff skyward. White wings unfurled slowly as the great owl pointed south. Then there was only the starry night—that, and the curtains, which curled lazily around Nickolous's legs as the soft breeze wafted carelessly through the half-opened window.
* * *
"Well? Did you get through?"
The heavily cloaked figure shrugged wearily as Sarah placed a steaming gourd of tea in front of him. Orith accepted the drink gratefully, for the journey "between" had been difficult, and he had not yet fully recovered from his illness. Sarah patted him gently on his shoulder, her large brown eyes full of concern.
"I think I got through both times, although, with the rain, it was difficult to tell. The second time for sure," Orith answered as he drew a warm blanket about his frail form.
The sudden gust of wind caused everyone in the small room to look up. Chera, soaked and dripping from the rain, trotted in. Careful to avoid those huddled about the fire, she resisted the urge to shake herself, knowing it would not be polite or appreciated.
"Chera." Gabriel moved to make room for his mate. He nuzzled her gently before turning his attention back to Orith.
Orith still held the hot drink tightly, as if to draw warmth from the hollowed-out gourd's contents. The cavern was eerily silent as everyone waited for him to speak. He trembled slightly as he set the gourd on the roughly hewn table. "If I got through, then others might; with that in mind, we must be prepared. A-Sharoon may be hidden from our view, but her handiwork is not."
Chera nodded in agreement, for even though the storm had peaked in its ferocity, it still carried with it a warning that none could mistake. She sighed deeply, for she knew what Orith meant. Her short foray into the forest this night had revealed much. She met Orith's gaze openly, yet said nothing. Beside her, Gabriel, his blue eyes missing little, spoke; the words were meant to reassure the others; still, there was an undertone of something more—something best left unsaid for now in the words. "It's been a long day. We all should get some rest," he said decidedly, and the other companions agreed.
Long after everyone had gone off to the comfort of their beds, Orith sat at the table, thinking, his mind seeking the answers to unknown things while the flickering flame from the single candle danced with the shadows upon the earthen walls.
* * *
"You look terrible." This from Leah as Nickolous sat down to breakfast.
"Thanks," Nickolous replied sarcastically, as he reached for a hot croissant.
Saying nothing, but observing her son's tired expression, Nickolous's mother wordlessly passed the strawberry jam, then sat down across the table from her son, her expression one of concern yet guarded in its intensity. She shrugged slender shoulders as she pushed her dark hair back from a face that had seen much. Dark circles shadowed her eyes, and her high cheekbones with their alabaster skin bespoke of an unknown ancestry that her son and daughter shared. She sat back, watchful.
Nickolous tried to eat but found the food tasteless. Exhausted from lack of sleep, and haunted by Orith's visit, he wanted nothing more than to find a way back to that place that pulled at him day and night without a moment's respite. The final battle was yet to be fought, and it was obvious that they were needed. It was also becoming clear that somehow the magic had followed them; or rather, it had always been there, waiting for them to find another door; another entrance. Sighing deeply, Nickolous rose from the table, determined to find a way back to Skye and those he had left behind.
Leah glanced at her mother as her brother left the room, yet neither said anything, for they knew what he was feeling.
* * *
"How did the hunt go?" Chera asked, as Gabriel sent sentries to scout ahead of them. Confident that there was no immediate danger, Chera strolled leisurely beside her mate in the early morning's dawning.
"As well as can be expected," Gabriel replied, his voice low and throaty. "The vermin hide when they hear us coming, and for the few we find, there are hundreds more we don't see. Their hidden lairs run deep, and even the most stalwart of my pack hesitates at the dank tunnels when we come across them."
"And who can blame them?" Chera muttered beneath her breath, remembering all too well her own experiences from the not-too-distant past. She paused suddenly, her body taut, as a familiar sound reached her sensitive ears, her posture alerting her mate as he scented the air and that which was carried upon it.
The towering form, unexpected, was nonetheless a pleasant surprise, as Jerome, his round face beaming, lumbered out from the forest's depths to greet the two wolves.
Gabriel greeted the forest warrior warmly, glad that this fierce but gentle giant was on their side, for Jerome was of the old race. One of the most ancient of the forest clans, he and his kind held the ability to change their appearance when needed. Like the most revered of the forest guardians, the mighty oak, Jerome and his warriors could change at will and become like those mighty sentinels that watched over the forests that were ever changing. They and they alone remained the same while the world about them changed. They were the watchers of the forest; guardians of the smaller of the clans.
Yet Gabriel was also aware that Jerome, who could not possibly have had time to reach his home, could only have returned for one reason, and he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to hear it. "And the rest of your warriors?" Gabriel asked as Jerome fell into step beside him.
"The most trusted and fiercest of my warriors have been positioned at the gateways," Jerome answered, so softly that his companions weren't sure they had heard correctly.
"The gateways to the Before and After?" Gabriel asked incredulously.
"That cannot be!" Chera's voice was anguished as she stopped to stare up at the warrior of the forest.
The look on Jerome's craggy face said more than any words could ever say, and the wolves felt an unfamiliar panic at the news that the most sacred of the learnings were threatened by dark shadows.
"Not even A-Sharoon would dare such treachery," Gabriel growled, the sound deep and throaty, so that Chera, who knew her mate better than anyone else, glanced at him in concern.
"For the vengeance she craves, she would destroy all, even herself. That combined with the fact that she has aligned herself with a power that is darker and greedier than she ..." Jerome motioned helplessly with his war club, unable to say more, the emotions flowing through him so great that he fell silent.
* * *
Nickolous suddenly put his hands to his head, cradling it as if in great pain. The unseen watcher started forward as Nickolous crumpled to his knees, then stepped back just as quickly beneath the concealing shadows of the giant oak tree.
Nickolous had risen to his feet and was looking around, bewildered by what had just happened to him as the figure melded with the shadows, back into the forest depths.
Only the slight trembling of the tree's leaves caught Nickolous's attention as he gazed deep within the forest's depths, wondering ... for it was a day of no wind.
It was that kind of day.
* * *
Sarah was so busy gathering small pieces of driftwood for their morning fire that she failed to notice the hooded figure standing in the center of the path, watching her. "Old One!" Sarah dropped her armload of wood as she recognized the bent figure of her old friend.
The Old One, wizened and bent, her skin darkened by the sun to a leathery brown, was older than most; her turnings beyond count. She was one of the "knowing" clans. An old she rat, she saw what others could not or would not, and so she carried with her the unwritten knowledge of the before time deep within her memories.
As Sarah rushed to embrace the Old One, Timothy appeared at the forest's edge, his arms laden with fruit for their breakfast; while the Old One hugged Sarah to her fiercely, glad to be back among friends. Later, as Sarah retrieved the wood she had dropped in her haste earlier, the Old One fell into step beside Timothy, and for a time they walked companionably side by side; content to be in one another's company once again.
"Was your journey a good one?" Timothy asked as Sarah, arms once again laden with wood, hurried to catch up to them.
"First, let's eat some breakfast; then we can share our news," Sarah suggested, for she had noticed how tired the Old One looked. The shadows beneath the weathered eyes had deepened in the short time they had been apart. Something untoward had happened since last their paths had crossed, Sarah was sure of it.
It wasn't long before the cavern where they had taken shelter was filled with the aroma of flatbread, which had been baked on the hot stones placed over the coals of the fire pit, and tea, which had been steeped in a small earthen pot, resistant to the intense heat of the flames that struggled upward from the glowing coals in the very center of the pit. These were left uncovered so that the air circulating through the cavern could fan them into small flames from time to time, keeping the dampness out. Sarah also brought out some wild honeycomb she had been saving. This, along with the fresh berries that Timothy had gathered earlier, completed the simple meal.
All the unasked questions of earlier were put aside until the last crumbs had been eaten and the tea served. Then, as Sarah bustled about cleaning up, while at the same time reassuring the others that, yes, she was listening, the Old One began her tale.
The Old One, against the advice of her friends, had made the return trip alone. Everything had gone well until she had been caught in the eye of the storm. Cold and wet, she had taken refuge beneath a stand of ancient oak trees, their thick, sturdy branches entwined so tightly that she was kept reasonably dry and protected. Then, as the thunder rolled, and the lightning flashed, a shadowy form had appeared and briefly took shape.
By now, Timothy and Sarah were holding their breath, waiting.
Could it be?
Timothy leaned across the table to gaze into ageless eyes, and the question went unasked as the Old One shrugged her shoulders.
Excerpted from Son of Skye by Thérèse Pilon Copyright © 2011 by Thérèse Pilon. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted April 4, 2012
The Author has the talent to create characters that we can both see and feel. I am of Ojibway and Algonquin descent and this story is reminiscent of stories the Elders told. It also has echoes of tales told throughout the ages by all cultures. It is a page turner that leaves you with a desire to read more.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 31, 2012
Therese Pilon has the gift of keeping the emotions, fears and triumphs of her characters on a human scale even while supernatural forces are at play throughout the book. The story is filled with imaginative details that will appeal to the old and young alike. A great read that speaks to the strength of character, friendship and self sacrifice that ultimately demonstrates its power over evil. Can’t wait to read the sequel that takes on the path to Leah’s journey.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 10, 2011
I bought this book and could not put it down. A must read for anybody who likes to read. I cannot wait to see if there is a 2nd book to follow. Awesome,awesome,awesome.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 15, 2012
No text was provided for this review.