Thirteen-year-old Steven is gifted. When he is chosen by the Sun God to help fulfill an ancient prophecy, Steven's mundane life is transformed into a journey of adventure and risk. Destined to eliminate the Guardians placed around the world by the Ruler of Darkness, Steven is immensely relieved that he has survived the first dangerous quest into the tomb of Seti I in the Valley of the Kings. But Steven has no idea that during his next mission he will be tested by challenges no thirteen-year-old boy has ever survived.
Steven's next quest takes him once again through the portal in his father's laboratory and into the pits of the terracotta warriors of Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang's burial site. Accompanied by an Egyptian priest, a Mau, and a dragon, Steven must search among several thousand warriors to find the Guardian responsible for wreaking havoc on mankind. Encumbered by obstacles designed to kill any intruder entering the tomb, Steven has just eight hours to find and release the Guardian from the Ruler's control and return home before his aunt finds him missing and discovers the perilous quests he has been forced to undertake.
Steven must find a way to operate the portal at will, before he is trapped in a tomb with evil forces determined to do whatever it takes to end his quest forever.
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The Guardian of Mount LiBOOK II OF THE GUARDIAN OF THE TOMB TRILOGY
By WILLIAM S. RUSSELL
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 William S. Russell
All right reserved.
Steven backed up toward the Portal as he watched the devourer struggle to remove the burning torch from her throat. her death was imminent as flames from the 1800° phosphorous flare started shooting out of the side of her neck. He heard her agonizing screams as he stepped into his parent's laboratory. Rushing over to the computer tower, Steven depressed the off button and shut it down. The Portal collapsed in a whoosh.
Exhausted from the adrenaline high, Steven dropped into his dad's black leather chair. As if too heavy, his head slumped between his shoulders. He was covered in dust and sand from spending hours searching the tomb of Seti I for the Guardian. The battle against the devourer seemed to place the finishing touches on his appearance. Steven jerked his legs out in front of him as they started to cramp from his rapid climb up four flights of stairs to safety.
"Is your arm okay, Steven?" asked the Seeker, floating over to inspect the long rip in Steven's jacket.
"Oh! my arm?" Steven said as he pulled back to reality. "What's the matter with my arm?"
"You have a long gash down the sleeve of your jacket. Did she cut you?"
Steven pulled off the denim jacket. "I'm fine. Not a scratch on me," he said as he inspected his shirt. "I can't believe I had the courage to stand and fight such a ferocious beast. I guess when you realize it's either to kill or be killed, you just do what it takes to survive."
The air in the basement was cool and clean, unlike the humid hot air 350 feet below the Valley of the kings in the tomb of Seti I. He looked up at the Seeker, Shu, and Bastet.
Bastet looked at Steven, then started grooming herself. Shu, the egyptian Wind God, hurled several burst of wind in her direction to help her get rid of the dust and sand. But the blast blew Bastet along the computer table and she lashed out with her right paw to grab an electrical cord.
"I'll have to clean the dust off the keyboards and monitors later," mumbled Steven, smiling. At least the air seemed to have cleared.
The Seeker floated closer to Steven and placed his hand on his shoulder. "I could not have released the Guardian without your help Steven. At first, I questioned the Gods' selection of you for this task. But I see their wisdom was far greater than mine."
"Does the ruler know what I look like or where I live?"
"No! When I left him bundled up in the tiny threads of incense, Shu stood watch to ensure he did not escape and come after us."
Steven felt a blast of air against his face.
"Shu confirms that the ruler was still lying on the second landing as we entered the Portal. You and your aunt are safe. Remember, the ruler can't step on the earth's surface. He must send servants to capture you."
Steven glanced at the wall clock and jumped up. "I have to get to bed before my aunt wakes up!" Bastet leaped from the table and followed him. "thanks, Shu, for saving Bastet and me from the scorpions," called Steven over his shoulder as he headed for the cellar door.
"I will return in three days to assist you in planning for our next trip. Get some rest," spoke the Seeker just as Steven reached the cellar staircase.
"I can't wait to jump into the next heart throbbing, bone chilling thriller," he mumbled.
* * *
"Good morning Steven," said his aunt as he walked into the kitchen. "you're up early."
No, this can't be happening to me. Not today!
"How did you get so filthy?"
"Oh, it's ... just a little sand."
"You are covered in dust from head to toe."
"Bastet and I went for a walk along the Sakonnet river. On the way back to the house, I tripped over a log washed up from yesterday's storm. I couldn't sleep, so I went back to the lab to read some more in mom and dad's journals."
"You have been up all night?" aunt Celia shook her head. "We will talk about this later, young man. Right now, you'd better go up to your room, clean up, and get some sleep!"
He muttered an apology as he left the kitchen, relieved that she didn't seem to notice his boots, flannel shirt, and levis—not exactly summer beachwear. Someday, it wouldn't be so easy. Someday he might have to tell his aunt what he was really doing.
Chapter TwoDrooling Slayer—The Search Begins
Drooling Slayer labored hard climbing through the dark lava tube toward the sunken plunge pool after leaving the ruler's cavern. The heat of the nearby magma, and a thick blanket of steam, had begun to drain his energy. The steam made him slip several times and soaked his leather tunic besides.
He hunched over to keep from scraping his head and back against the ceiling—not easy with his massive body and two short legs with their long flat feet. His hands, ending in long grasping fingers with sharp claws, helped him climb, in spite of the harp poisonous quills jutting from his arms and legs. Sweat laced with acid seeped from the pores in his skin and sizzled on the stone floor, making it even more slippery. Flying ahead of him was Batena a vampire bat. She was the ruler's pet scout assigned to assist him in searching for the boy.
He was in a foul mood and brandished the spiked club in his left hand. He wanted to use it ... On something!
As he emerged from the tube, a terrible growl rolled from his throat when the three Grool hogs suddenly appeared next to him. Smaller than he, they looked fearsome with their short, stocky arms and legs, thick necks, leathery brown skin covered with short spines, and large snouts.
He stopped to catch his breath, remembering that day he'd first met these beasts. He had journeyed aimlessly for three days on Mt. Saint Helen, searching for food and a place to rest out of the weather. The wind howled, and the driving snow had blinded him for a moment. Slipping on a patch of ice, he had careened off the rocks and fallen into a deep crevasse.
Bruised and bleeding, he slowly stood up in the snow. As he looked around, he saw a large rock leaning against the side of the mountain. forcing his way through the snowdrift, he squeezed through the hollow behind the rock. He sat in the dark for several minutes trying to shake off the cold. Letting his eyes adjust to the darkness, he finally saw an opening into the mountain behind him. A smell like rotten eggs came from it; nonetheless, he pushed his way into what appeared to be a long, narrow tunnel.
He had crawled through the seemingly endless tunnel, his leather pants torn, his hands and knees bleeding. The passage finally opened up just enough for him to stand upright. But when he did, his head brushed against a colony of bats hanging from the tunnel ceiling. He roared in rage, wildly swinging his club at the hundreds of bats he had disturbed as they dropped down from the ceiling.
He failed to see the three Grool hogs hiding in the shadows. Their attack had taken him by surprise and he was unable to react quickly. They pummeled his head with large clubs until they forced him down on one knee. He had managed to maintain a grip on his club; but overcome by their blows and unable to rise, he waited for the deathblow that never came. Instead, an argument erupted among the Grool hogs.
"Kill him, Krill," snorted Gos.
Krill had lifted his club high, ready for the fatal blow.
"No," Tol growled, stepping between Gos and drooling Slayer. "Do you want to be torn apart by the ruler's pets? our instructions were to take him to the ruler of darkness. He wants to deal with him. now, tie him up!"
"Easy for you to say," snapped Gos. "I have not eaten in three days!" He took a step toward drooling Slayer.
"Get back!" ordered Tol. He was the tallest of the three Grool hogs and he spread his two flat feet firmly on the stone floor, raising himself to his full height. He look directly into the eyes of Gos, and snorted several times waiting for the attack.
Drooling Slayer had lain still, slowly recovering his strength ... waiting.
Suddenly, Gos lunged toward Tol, club held high.
Knowing this was probably his only opportunity to escape, Drooling Slayer slammed his club into the gut of the beast nearest him causing it to fall. He pivoted on his knee and threw himself into Gos with the full weight of his body. Gos, thrown violently against the tunnel wall, cried out in agony from the combined effects of the collision and the poisonous spines that had penetrated his chest.
With lighting speed, drooling Slayer raised his club and swung at the third attacker. His club arced downward, only to be deflected off Tol's club, which slammed against his head. Stunned momentarily, drooling Slayer swayed, unable to maintain his balance. The first blow to the head was followed by a second, then a third. He succumbed to the clubbing.
After some time, he began to awaken slowly. Still barely conscious, he realized he had been bound and left in a lighted cavern. He was dismayed—he had never been defeated in battle before. But, there was something else! He looked around the cavern and saw a pair of red piercing eyes staring down at him. Immobilized by the bonds and too terrified to speak, he lay trembling on the stone floor. The evil emanating from those eyes overwhelmed him. That night he had became a servant of the Ruler of Darkness.
Drooling Slayer remembered well the instructions of the Ruler of Darkness during that first, fateful meeting.
"You are to search for the boy responsible for releasing the Seeker and the Guardian of Seti I. Find him and bring him to me alive, and you will be rewarded. Fail to do my bidding, and you will earn punishments far beyond your worst fears."
Drooling Slayer had learned quickly to take the ruler's threat seriously. If he failed to collect food for the ruler's pets as ordered, fiery tentacles lashed out from nowhere and wrapped around his body. They slammed him repeatedly against the ceiling and cavern floor until, finally released, he lay on the ground howling mindlessly. The wounds he received that day remain unhealed; every night they rent his sleep with twisting, wrenching nightmares of pain.
"Get moving," growled the Slayer, swinging his club at Batena—another reminder of that first day—who stayed just out of his reach. "What use is a bat in the capture of this boy?" he barked pointlessly.
"I know what he looks like, you don't," squeaked Batena.
"You had better keep up then!"
"I am not the one who will get roasted and fed to the hyenas," squeaked Batena. "Hurry up. I am hungry and can't wait to taste the blood of the dragon you have chained up in the cavern."
"If you can get through her armor, you can have all that you can hold," snapped drooling Slayer. Arriving at the sunken plunge pool, Drooling Slayer jumped upon the back of the dragon. Commanding the dragon to launch into the sky, Drooling Slayer, with Batena attached to the tail headed for Egypt.
Chapter ThreeThe Party—A Break from Terror
Steven rushed to open the door, his eyes glowing with excitement. Standing on the porch, were Charlie, rusty, Paul, and Scotty.
"Happy 13th Birthday," they shouted in unison.
Steven bowed. "Thank you! Come on in!" Not a lucky number.
"Hello, boys." aunt Celia smiled as she walked into the foyer from the kitchen. "Come into the kitchen and get your sodas. But don't get comfortable. The party is in the north Wing and will begin shortly."
Steven stared after his aunt as she walked away. He had not been in the north Wing since his parents died. Shrugging, he followed his friends into the kitchen where they each grabbed a soda.
"Follow me!" Steven led them out of the kitchen and down the hall to the wooden doors where his aunt waited.
"I have never been in that part of the house before," Paul whispered.
"Me neither," said Charlie.
"Enter," aunt Celia intoned, "into the World of Weird!"
"Awesome!" Scotty whistled.
Aunt Celia pulled on the bronze door handles, and the doors began to open with an eerie scraping sound.
Steven suddenly felt a slight breeze against his left cheek.
"Shu?" he whispered, thinking of the Egyptian Wind God who saved him from the scorpions during his first quest in the tomb of Seti I.
"Shoe?" questioned rusty. "What's wrong with your shoe?"
"What? N-n-nothing." Steven snapped back to the present.
The boys, peering into the gloom, hesitated at the door. As they entered, aunt Celia turned off the hallway lights, plunging them into near darkness.
The boys stopped, as if waiting for something else to happen.
"Welcome," whispered aunt Celia, and then she hurried down the hallway. "I'll be back."
Rusty took the lead and moved slowly into the room. He touched a light switch next to the doorframe. Nothing! he tried it several more times with the same result. Then he moved to the opposite side of the doorway and tried another switch. Still no luck.
"Lights don't work," rusty mumbled.
"Who needs lights," Paul said, with a slight quiver in his voice.
Just then, flickering lights appeared along the walls of the room.
"Cool," announced Charlie. "this friday-the-13th thirteenth Birthday Party idea is getting weirder by the minute."
Bastet dashed into the room and jumped on the coffee table, knocking over a picture. As the picture crashed on the hard floor, with a loud bang, Bastet howled and jumped down from the table, racing out of the room.
"Wow!" burst out rusty.
"Let the party begin!" yelled Steven as he headed for the table.
Scotty walked over to a bookcase along the wall "Wicked awesome!" he reached for "The Letters of Aristotle", then stopped. "these books are all upside down!"
Paul moved toward the opposite wall. "So are the pictures!"
"Steven," called rusty. "look at this. The table is turned over and the table cloth is spread out on the bottom of the table."
"Are you kidding?" asked Paul.
"Look for yourself. There's something under the cloth, too."
Steven picked up one corner, revealing silverware turned over, plates upside down, napkins covering the forks and nametags with names written backwards.
"Are we supposed to eat on the floor?" asked Steven as he looked at his friends.
Shrugging, they all sat around the table.
"What's underneath?" Steven said. "help me lift the tablecloth."
As they lifted it, Scotty laughed. "It's a double-layer cake turned upside down and there's a message written in red across the bottom."
"What does it say, Steven," asked Paul. "Bottoms up," broke in Steven's aunt as she entered the room. She got down on her knees with them and placed the presents in front of Steven. She wore a miner's hat with the light facing behind her.
"Aunt Celia, you are cool!" said rusty.
"Thanks!" aunt Celia said. "let the party begin! first Steven should open the presents, then we'll have some cake and ice cream, followed by pizza. How does that sound?"
"I don't know about any of you, but I think is fun," broke in Charlie.
"Start opening presents!" shouted Paul.
"Mine first," yelled rusty. "It's the one in white paper."
"They are all wrapped in white paper," roared Scotty, which set them all off laughing.
"Okay!" Steven pulled at the paper but the covering wouldn't break away from the package.
"How much tape did you use?" asked Paul as they watched Steven fight to remove the wrapping paper.
"Half a roll!"
Steven finally uncovered Rusty's present. 'The Stand, by Steven king'. "thanks, rusty!"
Paul's gift was next, a book called God's of Egyptian Mythology.
"Thanks Paul. Fits right in with my summer assignment."
Scotty's gift was next. Steven removed the last of the wrapper and turned the book over ... The Town below the Ground.
"For our class trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, in three weeks. It's about the hidden metropolis under the city. I thought it would be interesting to read before we get there."
"I like it," said Steven, flipped through the pages.
Steven reached for Charlie's present not knowing what to expect from the prankster. A gag gift would be a welcome change with all of the reading he had to finish. Lifting the gift slowly, Steven noticed how heavy it was. He placed the small rectangular box close to his ear and shook it.
Excerpted from The Guardian of Mount Li by WILLIAM S. RUSSELL Copyright © 2011 by William S. Russell. 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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Table of Contents
2 Drooling Slayer—The Search Begins....................4
3 The Party—A Break from Terror....................8
4 Return to Seti I's Tomb....................13
7 Researching Mount Li....................27
9 Game Plan....................33
11 Portal to China....................41
13 The Search....................48
14 Post Notes....................52
15 The Morning After....................55
16 Scotty's Program....................57
17 The Underground City....................60
20 The Hunt....................75
21 A Mythological Creature....................78
23 Morag's New Home....................87
24 Flight from Glencoe....................89
25 Home from Scotland....................91
28 The Forth Member....................99
30 The Search for Morag's Mother....................104
31 Tomb of the Terra-Cotta Warriors....................106
32 The Dragon's Lair....................110
33 Death to an Enemy....................114
34 Bastet—A New Life....................119
35 Bastet The Lioness....................122
36 The Guardian....................127
37 Mother's Death Revealed....................131
39 The Ruler....................137
40 Order of Battle....................139
41 The Seeker....................141