Remeon's Quest is a prequel in the Realms of Chaos series.
A young man struggling to forge his own path… A priestess forced to conceive an heir… A forbidden love…
Captured in a sweep of beings from Earth to aid planet Remeon’s dying society, Jack is plagued by deep ceded deception and mind control from those on the planet who seek to dictate the end of life choices of their citizens.
Sides are chosen as ancient magical powers thought to be long dead align to intervene in the fate of the two young lovers forcing a chain of events in motion that cannot be undone.
Truths will be destroyed. Myths will find life. Whose ultimate power will reign?
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JACK LIVINGSTON PULLED his thin, baggy jacket tighter around himself as a barrier to Utah's February chill. He shivered, the cold reaching into his bones. Although the coat was buttoned, the loose fit offered little protection from the wind. He wrapped his wool scarf around his nose, mouth and neck, secured it under his coat and set a brisk pace toward the mine. A nod sufficed as a Good morning to those who passed by as he stopped at the general store to peruse the headlines. Ever since that awful day last year when the stock market fell to pieces, he vowed to stay informed; his mother now depended on him.
Jack scanned the headlines, reading quickly for the few minutes he had before the shopkeeper would find him and chase him from his store.
He locked gazes with the owner and flashed a quick smile as he returned the newspaper to the rack and continued on his way.
Who knew what to call it — this panic affecting everyone — almost like a sickness. People depressed and killing themselves. I'd say they were more far gone than depressed. How about the death of life as you know it or the loss of innocence maybe? Those would be more accurate descriptions. Many had it far worse than him; that's a fact. At least he wasn't alone. He had his mom, even if not his dad. When Jack had left home at the end of last year, he had vowed not to waste time pretending that his dad would return. Hope was silly. The past few months had taught him that, and all the horrors he had seen since that day had driven it home. Jack shook his head, releasing a frustrated sigh punctuated by his fists aching to be set free beside him.
That evening in October of 1929 when his father came home from work, he pretended — no, he lied — telling them everything would stabilize and return to normal. What did he know? The next day he left early for his job at the bank and never returned. They hadn't seen him since. Jack closed his eyes, shielding them for a few seconds from the wind. A stray tear fell down his cheek, and he brushed it away.
Dead or alive, the outcome was the same. His father had been weak. He had broken their family. Jack's job now was to fix it.
Jack loosened his scarf as he approached the mine. His walk in had warmed him if nothing else. He nodded to Gene, the general manager, as he barked orders to the men in the yard preparing to go down. Personally, Jack got along fine with the man. They had an agreement. Jack would do what Gene asked of him, and his boss would lie on the books about his age. Every miner here was eighteen or older "officially." But all the men knew Jack was only a few weeks shy of his seventeenth birthday.
Jack pushed through the doors of the mining office and headed to the back to change. The now-familiar scent of the mine assaulted his senses. The mixture of dust, dirt and gas commingled with the rotten egg smell produced a stench that never failed to make him queasy. He knew it would eventually pass. He took a deep breath as he pulled on his cotton shirt, overalls and hard hat. A wooden bin held his belongings. A change of clothes mostly. Ah, here's where I left it. Jack pulled out the book and opened the cover as he glanced at the time clock. Damn. No time. Inside the book he flipped to the second page and reread the inscription he knew so well. Forget your stupid dream of becoming a soldier. You are destined for great things, and war isn't one of them. Love, Sam. The corners of his mouth turned up, forming a grin. Sam, he meant well. Reluctantly he returned his copy of All Quiet on the Western Front to his bin and headed for the door, stooping by the basket on his way out for a day-old piece of bread. He chewed quickly, groaning with pleasure as the bread worked its way down his throat and into his empty stomach. Jack stowed an additional piece of bread in his pants pocket, then clocked in for the day.
He meandered into the mine's entrance. Not slow exactly, more of a pensive stride. Each day he had to prepare himself to go down into the mine's depths. He wasn't afraid; Jack just had to adjust his thoughts. The men below depended on him. Jack was a gopher of sorts; he was their lifeline aboveground. Three times a day he would go down to their location, determine any immediate needs, run and get those items, and return to the miners. This way the workers had ongoing communication during the day, through Jack, their intermediary.
The temperature dropped noticeably as Jack traveled deeper into the recesses of the tunnel, on his way toward his transport, the cage. His thoughts lingered only a few seconds each time he stepped into the latticework metal cage, wondering if it might be his last journey down, to be eternally entombed in the mine shaft with whoever was unlucky enough to be working below. It was the chance he and other men took daily. He couldn't dwell on it. So he let the rampant thoughts roam only upon the initial descent into the cavity, as the rattling cage swung from side to side and the darkness swallowed him whole. Next year when he turned eighteen, this would be his life for ten to twelve hours a day. There was no choice, no other jobs; his mother needed him. Jack would die before he let her down, and each and every day he was reminded that his underlying fear was a very real possibility.
Finally the cage reached its destination with a jarring thud. Jack adjusted the light on his hard hat and followed the dim trail of illumination through the mine shaft that would take him to the small group where Sam worked. First one step, then another. With each successive stride, his confidence increased. The damp was pervasive now and had permeated his system. He felt the black dust cling to his face as he made his way through the maze of tunnels, stooping through the structure when it narrowed too far to permit easy passage. When Jack heard the chisels and hammers clanging repetitively ahead, he knew he was close.
Moments later Jack found his way into the niche where the men worked. He had to duck his head to fit into the space but, once inside, stood again at his full height of six foot one. First one man recognized him, then another, and finally Sam laid down his chisel, then greeted Jack with a hug, sending circles of coal dust in puffs around their faces.
"Been wondering when you'd make it down. You were sleeping like a babe when I left you early this morning." Sam laughed good-naturedly, then patted him solidly on the back, sending new wisps of dust up into the air to resettle once again on the same surface in the stale air.
Jack smiled back at Sam, aware that only his teeth and eyes were visible in the darkness, just as from each man facing him. So he exaggerated the movements of both facial features, bringing laughs, then coughing, from the small work team.
"And I thank you for leaving me so, old man," Jack responded. At those words of endearment the men laughed, aware that Sam was only twelve years his senior. Although work in the mines aged a man, Sam Scott was hardly an old man at age twenty-nine.
Marty came alongside Jack and handed him a basket full of empty canteens. Then discussion began over the supplies crucial for the next few hours of work, after which the men would resurface for their lunch break. After haggling back and forth over the additional items that would fit into the basket, Jack turned to leave.
"Be back in jiffy. You won't even miss me."
"You're wrong there," George piped up, a worker closer to Jack's age at nineteen. "I've got a horrible thirst. Double time it, would ya?"
"You got it," Jack said, crashing into a dim low-swinging lamp in his haste to exit. He paused momentarily to right the light and gave one last glimpse of a toothy grin to the gathered men before heading back the way he came.
* * *
THE FEBRUARY DAY had warmed up nicely, unseasonably so to a balmy fifty degrees. Jack waited patiently as he read under a leafless sycamore tree with the supper pail that he and Sam shared beside him, the food within untouched. Occasionally Jack glanced up from his book in anticipation of Sam coming his way. His second descent of the day into the mine had been uneventful, completing his delivery of supplies and water to the men, along with the additional daily mundane tasks assigned to him while in the depths of the mine. The afternoon would bring more delivery trips and loading coal into shuttle cars for carting aboveground.
"There you are," Sam said, as a cloud of coal dust followed him while he situated himself on the ground beside Jack.
Jack blew the dust from the page, then carefully closed the cover, protecting its pages. "Yes, I am here, patiently waiting, not eating all the food within my reach." Jack sifted through the pail and pulled out two tin cups and filled them with water, while Sam divided the bread, honey and bits of cheese between them.
Sam took a bite of bread liberally doused with honey, then licked his coal-smeared fingers, eliminating the sticky excess.
"How's that book? Still think soldiering is the life for you?"
Jack readjusted his position against the tree. "Still think mining is the life for you?"
"You got me there, Start-Up."
One corner of Jack's mouth turned up, forming a lopsided grin at the mention of the nickname given to him by Sam. He had christened Jack "Start-Up" from their first meeting when Jack had told Sam how he would clean his clothes in exchange for food. Sam had looked him up and down, and said Jack was in no condition to start up a conversation about working for Sam when Jack could barely put one foot in front of the other and was on the verge of starvation.
Sam had taken him in that night, fed him, insisted on a bath, then had given him a place to sleep. And, as each successive day passed, Sam's role as Jack's mentor grew steadily stronger, each drawing benefit from the relationship. These days, unless one of them was in the mine, you rarely saw one without the other.
"Do you ever think of going back? You know? Joining the service again?"
"No, I don't, ever. How far along are you in that book? You still sound like you're chomping at the bit."
Jack grabbed the book and opened it to his bookmarked page. "Let's see. I'm on ... page seventy-five."
"If I remember correctly, that's far enough. The stuff between those pages is real. I lived it."
"So you've said. Learning how to shoot your gun isn't enough for me. I want the real thing. This — this is what I want," Jack said as he slammed shut the book and shook it at his friend.
"Jesus, cool it, Start-Up. No one wants war. That's your pain talking. I've spoken to kids younger than you, all gung ho, then their leg or arm gets shot all to hell. Who do you think they want then? Well, I'll tell you — their mama. So just calm down, all right? There's no rush. Plenty of time for that later, if you choose it when you're eighteen and if you've finished that book."
"Oh, I'll finish. Probably tomorrow or, for sure, the next day."
"Always in a hurry. Take your time. My home is your home. Right?"
Jack took a deep exaggerated breath, then exhaled loudly. "Right, okay."
Sam smirked. "Besides, it's not time for you to grow up yet. Go do what other guys your age are doing. Find a girl, make out. Heck, go to second base, if she'll let you. Be a kid for now. Just don't get anyone pregnant."
"Yeah, girls really go for this sooty-face look," Jack said as he animatedly pointed at his face. "Can't you tell? I'm fighting them off with sticks."
Sam half tackled, half grabbed him in a giant bear hug, then tousled his hair as the horn blew, signaling the lunch break was over.
"Meet you here after the shift. And don't be late, Start-Up. I'm taking you out on the town tonight. There are gals just itching to be found who will find you irresistible. Just wait and see."
"Yeah, right," Jack said to Sam's retreating back. "You maybe, not me."
"Oh, and the book stays home," Sam yelled back.
Sam disappeared into the mine. No maybe about it. It was a fact. Women did find Sam attractive. He was the only one in their circle of friends taller than Jack. And if it was Sam's combination of blond hair and green eyes that made women throw themselves at him, well Jack was outta luck. While Sam wasn't serious about anybody currently, when the two of them went out together, one or two women always ended up hanging all over Sam. But it was only seldom he didn't make it home for the night. People were drawn to him. Sam's different than most. He cares.
Jack focused on work, loading coal for the duration of the afternoon. Exhausted from the day, and feeling permanently bent over, he changed out of his sooty coal-covered grime, back into his everyday grime, chugged some water, grabbed his book and headed toward the entrance. He had decided. He was beat and filthy dirty to boot. He didn't want to go anywhere but to bed. Sam would have to go out on the town alone. Jack took a step toward the entrance, then the floor rumbled underneath him, followed by yelling, then screams that chilled Jack to the bone.
Gene almost ran him over. "Get outta here, kid! The whole place might collapse. Go!"
Jack turned back toward the mine, and the scene altered as if in slow motion. Sam. Jack hurtled toward the mine shaft and was instantly trampled by the deluge of injured pouring from the opening leading to the cage.
Gene jerked him back and yelled through the chaos. "Stay clear, kid. You're getting in the way. Move! Let the men through."
* * *
JACK PACED OUTSIDE the mine entrance. The flood of men had slowed. They were coming in sets of two, individually or assisted. He scanned them, covered in filth and blood, some only recognizable by their eyes, all the while hoping to find Sam or someone from his work team so Jack could get some news.
A smaller secondary explosion jarred Jack from his stunned state, and, armed with the only aid he had, water, he moved toward the growing mass of men. The stench increased as he neared the group. He recognized the gas smell. It was part of working in a mine, but he had never been around it with this degree of concentration. His throat constricted, and he coughed. They must be covered in it. Jack paused, grabbed his bandanna from around his neck and pulled it over his nose and mouth, and tightened the knot. The gas still permeated his senses. He gagged and fought to control the unrest in the pit of his stomach as others vomited around him.
Jack made his way through the small gathering of miners. He overheard Gene say thirty-five miners had been below when the explosion occurred. Jack kept a mental tally as he moved among the men, offering water and inquiring about Sam.
"Jack? Is that you?"
Jack turned his head to the familiar voice, then breathed a sigh of relief.
"Marty, are you all right? You look okay," Jack said as he patted his friend's arm and briefly checked him over.
"Just a few cuts, burns. I'll be fine. But, Jack, it's bad."
Jack's gaze shifted uneasily toward Marty's face. "Marty, where's Sam? I can't find him."
Marty looked down at his sooty bloodstained hands and wrung them together. "Well ..." he stammered. "He's ... still below."
Jack's eyes bulged, and he pulled Marty closer by the collar. "What? And you left him?"
"Jack," he started, his voice almost a whisper. "He's trapped. We couldn't reach him."
"Oh, God." Jack slid to ground. "He's still down there ..."
Marty met his gaze and nodded slowly. "Six of them are."
Jack scrambled unsteadily to his feet, then felt a strong hand jerk him swiftly back to the ground.
"You can't," Marty said.
"Sure I can. My family ... is down there," he said as he choked back a sob.
"A search-and-rescue team is already below. Besides, Sam said to keep you safe, aboveground."
Jack gasped. "You talked to him? After?"
"Yeah." Marty cleared his throat. "We were separated. The rest of our group, except me and George here, went aboveground after the explosion. I had to help him, so I volunteered to stay and wait."
Jack scrunched his brows together. "Wait for what?"
"For these," he said, reaching inside his jacket. Marty pulled free several crumpled pieces of paper. Scribbled bits of writing showed through the soot-covered notes. "You'll have to look through them. I don't know which is his. Not sure you'll even be able to decipher the handwriting."
Jack automatically clutched his own chest, where, had he been wearing his mining attire, individual pieces of paper and a pencil stub resided, just in case of an emergency, if a quick note was ever necessary.
Jack felt a tear escape and fall down his cheek as he accepted the last written words of his friends. "I'll hang on to them for now," he said, his voice hoarse, and shoved them into his pocket. "Why weren't you two with the group? And you said George was with you. Where is he?"
"Yes. That's right. We were working in the tunnel beside the main anteroom when the explosion happened." Marty shrugged, then tears fell down his face, leaving a grimy trail among the soot and ash. "I guess you'd call George and me the lucky ones."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Remeon's Quest"
Copyright © 2019 J.W. Garrett.
Excerpted by permission of BHC Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Remeon’s Quest is the next book in the Realms of Chaos series and takes us back in time from Remeon’s Destiny. In Quest, we follow the path of a young Jack Livingston as he experiences life like no other human has known. One of J.W. Garrett’s many literary talents comes in the form of character development. She knows how to put Jack through his proverbial paces. To use a metaphor, she puts him high up in a tree and throws everything at him, including the kitchen sink. Does she take him down? You’ll have to read the book to find out. The trick is not making it seem contrived. And like a magician, Garrett wields her pen…or keystrokes as a master illusionist in a way that compels the reader to follow jack willingly from one hardship to the next, from one world to another, both losing and gaining much in this glorious saga. First, there is Sam, Jack’s rock and father-figure, and then Harry, Jack’s BFF. But when Jack meets Whisterly, she turns both the worlds he now knows upside down. The author also has a way of clearly defining her characters through their actions and dialogue, as opposed to exposition, making the characters both unique and complex as well as the narrative exciting and engaging. Garrett masterfully combines the genres of contemporary, sci-fi, and fantasy fiction into a captivating love story about life and death that’s literally out of this world. Pull up a chair, sit back, and be amazed.