"Do you want a book with a lot of shocks, fantasy and the most amazing storyline? Then I highly you suggest you pick up this book. It was such a fun and amazing read, the characters and storyline are brilliant [...]" Amber, Goodreads (#1)
Water & Fire (#1)
There is a legend that everyone knows- the legend of the Dragon Pillars. Every several hundred years, darkness befalls the land. The Dragons awaken and choose their Pillars, humans strong enough to withstand their powers, and together they drive back the darkness.
In the towering cathedral of Vivdaugas, students flock to study the archives built upon the legend and train to reach the glory of its heroes. Garred Conway is preparing for his test to become a true Defender when a storm threatens to destroy the citadel, and the land around it. Trapped in the catacombs, desperate to save those he cares for, he finds help from the most surprising place- the Water Dragon Aysu. Now, as Aysu's new pillar, he finds himself with more responsibility thrust on him than he could have ever imagined.
Garred was racing down the stairs instantly. He stumbled, rolling down a few steps before he was able to right himself. With scraped knees raw and bleeding, he staggered to his feet and continued downward.
A thin layer of water already coated the floor of the catacombs. He splashed through it, racing through the darkness back towards where he left Elam. Debris floated past him, and he shoved it aside to keep moving towards the dark hallway where the water was rushing in from.
The level rose to his ankles as he pushed forward. It continued to greedily rise up his leg, slapping angrily against his calves. He sloshed forward, his boots and pants heavy with the rising water. The current pushed against him, and he had to balance himself against the wall to keep himself standing at one point. He pushed back against it as hard as he could, moving as fast as he could against a racing current.
"Sir Elam!" Garred called out into the darkness. He had been walking for several minutes but had yet to see any sign of the Archivist.[G1]
He heard splashing several feet ahead. He rushed towards the noise, nearly smacking himself into the wall as he pressed against it.
Below him, he heard gagging. He reached down carefully and found Elam’s shoulder.
Elam shifted beneath him. He sputtered and shoved against Garred.
“What are you doing here? This place is about to go under!”
Garred hovered over Elam, finding a spot just above the Archivist to press against the wall. He knew their attempts to keep the water back were futile, but he couldn’t just leave Elam alone.
“You’re still here!” Garred retorted.
Elam tried to say something, but a spray of water drowned him out. Elam gagged and coughed against it, struggling to breathe.
The water kept coming. It filled the hall, rising up to Garred’s knees. Elam was halfway under water, and he shifted awkwardly beneath Garred, trying to get himself a little further above their liquid prison. Garred inched over, allowing Elam to stand beside him. Pressed together, they fought against the cracking rock and prayed it would hold.
The wall shuddered and the rest of it peeled away. They were thrown back with the current, before getting buried beneath the bricks. Garred sputtered and shoved the stone off himself. It felt even heavier beneath the water, but he managed to get free and get his head above the raging surface.
He glanced around frantically, quickly realizing that Elam was nowhere to be seen. He steadied himself against the other side of the hall and took a deep breath. He dove under the water, keeping his hand against the wall as much as he was able. He squinted his eyes open beneath the water, detritus stinging his eyes as it was flung past him.
He spotted Elam right near the hole in the wall. He was struggling to get himself free, but there was a small pile of bricks caught on the edge of his robe. He tugged at it, but between the force of the water and his failing breath, he wasn’t strong enough to budge it. The fabric was too strong to tear even against the force.
Garred surfaced briefly to catch a gasp of breath before diving back under the surface. He reached out towards bricks sunken into the ground, using them as handholds to help him move against the surging surface. The water smashed into him, and the current threatened to carry him away. The brick he had his left hand on suddenly shifted, and soon he was struggling against the stream head on.
He fought hard against it, willing himself to move forward. He screwed his eyes shut and pulled Elam's body closer together. Everything hurt, and it was all he could do to keep grip with his right hand.[G2] [G3]
As he opened his eyes, he thought he saw a shape in the water. It was gone as quickly as it appeared, but suddenly he felt light. He swung his arm back in front of him and let go of his hand-hold. He was able to swim freely, and in a couple seconds, he was beside Elam.[G4] [G5]
He went for the rocks first, but they were too heavy for him. He couldn’t even budge them. He quickly turned his attention to the robe, trying to tear through the fabric. He silently cursed the Archivist for using such fine materials to fashion their robes out of. It was thick and sturdy; he would need a knife to get through it easily.
Elam floundered next to him. Garred’s attention turned to the Archivist. Elam’s face was turning pale. He couldn’t hold his breath any longer. He let out a gasp, and the water came seeping into his lungs.
Garred knew he had to move fast. He grabbed Elam by the waist and pulled the Archivist down. The robe floated up, and Garred ducked beneath it. It was difficult to free Elam’s arms from his sleeves, but a lot of awkward maneuvering and pulling finally saw success. He pulled Elam free from the robe, holding the Archivist close against his own body.
He moved upward and away from the hole, trying to escape the water. As soon as he surfaced, Elam coughed, spitting up water. He took deep breaths, the color slowly coming back to his face. He clung to Garred, not caring that for a moment that he was showing weakness.
Garred let the current take them, only moving his free arm as needed to keep the two of them above water. It carried them quickly, and soon they were flowing past the stairs leading up. Garred tried to swim over to it, but his body suddenly felt heavy, and it was all he could do to keep them afloat.
The staircase came and went, and the darkness swallowed them up. The water carried them up and down, smacking them against the sides of the catacombs in its wild rampage. They were knocked below the surface several times, but each time Garred managed to get them back up above it, gasping for breath.
It only took them a few minutes to reach the end of this section of the catacombs, blocked off by solid steel grating and a thick wooden divider. The water slammed against it, splintering the wood and starting to drip through.
Garred watched in horror as they approached the grating. It might temporarily stop their movement, but the water level was rising. The ceiling inched closer, and they would be trapped as the water surged through the entirety of the bottom level. Their lives would be quickly forfeit.
And not just their lives; the entirety of Vivdaugas would be forfeit. The water would keep coming, tearing through the foundation that held the proud towers strong. The walls would crack and splinter; supports would tumble and the citadel would sag. All of the people seeking sanctuary in the towers would be buried as the building collapsed around them.
It wasn’t just the thousands of lives at stake either. Thousands of years of history would be lost. A powerful symbol would be lost, leaving an unstable world once again adrift without the icon that had held it together for generations.
And Garred was powerless against it. Even if he had been a true Defender, what could a human warrior do against the rage of Mother Nature? There was no way to stand up against the storm. He couldn’t even hope to protect one measly person against it, how could he ever dream of saving so many more?
He gripped Elam tightly, wrapping both of his arms around the Archivist. Elam glanced up at him. There was peace in the Archivist’s eyes. No hatred or anger, no frustration or rage, just a simple calmness that only made Garred more uneasy. Why was Elam so quick to accept their fate? Why did he have to accept it, too?
He was powerless on his own. There was nothing a mere mortal could do.
A powerful voice resounded inside his mind.
“You are not alone.”
**Only .99 cents April 7th-14th!!**
The Pillar of Fire Shula is left reeling with loss and a new heavy burden of responsibility. The Water Pillar Garred leads a small party into the dangerous Whispering Forest to seek out weapons that were blessed by the Light Dragon. Disaster is narrowly avoided, but it brings a dark secret to light.Once reunited, Shula steels her resolve and the journey continues. With two Dragons awoken, their quest for the third leads them to the harsh terrain of the desert. The sand dregs up a certain Defender’s self-proclaimed pathetic past and the hard feelings associated with it. Can a Dragon really chose a Pillar from an isolated people dedicated to a life of pacifism?
Aysu sat up on her haunches, briefly resting her watery claws on Garred’s head. She saw not with her eyes but rather her magic. The Dark energy was woven into the land and trickled up into each tree, spreading out into its branches. The trees were basically lifeless, the only thing keeping them moving the Darkness lurking within them. There was no single source of the Dark energy, but it was thickest nearest them, closest to the golden weapons of Light they finally got their hands on.
She settled down back onto Garred’s shoulders as he lurched forward. She let herself drift from the fighting, instead focusing on the energy running through the place. She felt Light at her side, resonating in every weapon that her comrades wielded, in every weapon that was placed neatly on the horses. Light’s magic gave her strength. She felt energized as if all of the energy she expended to help get them here was completely restored.
Light was no Healer; that was Keahi’s power. But while Keahi could heal physical wounds and soothe pain, Light offered a powerful panacea- hope. When there was hope, it cut through the Darkness, gave strength to the weak, courage to the frightened. Without hope, battles were easily lost. But with it…she had seen ordinary humans do extraordinary things.
And right now, she knew that was just what she needed. She hadn’t been feeling herself since she awoke. Her contract with Garred was not mistaken, but she had awoken prematurely, and the two of them still had a long way to go before they were fully in sync. Her power would grow until she was back to full strength, and he would grow with her to be able to fully harness her might.
She was a Dragon; she didn’t have time to feel sorry for herself. She had a responsibility to guide her Pillar. The two of them together were meant to protect the world. They were meant to win against the Darkness.
She let out a loud growl and sent her own energy racing downward. She found the water drowning in the mud and dirt of the forest, slipping in between deep, tangled roots. This time, her power was much greater, and despite the sludge that tainted the water, it eagerly answered her cry. The water surged towards her, and she gathered it up, collecting it into a stream.
She rushed back to the surface, carrying it with her. She dug her watery claws into Garred’s shoulder, dampening the fabric of his tunic.
“Garred!” she shouted. “Let’s barrel through!”
Garred felt her energy and her thoughts in his mind and easily understood what she was trying to accomplish. He brought the golden blade back towards him, dipping the tip towards the ground. The water hummed beneath the surface.
“Everyone, get ready to make a run for it!” he shouted. Without waiting to hear a response, he urged the water upward. It exploded through the surface in a rain of mud. He caught it in the air and sent it flying towards the oncoming trees. The water crashed into the trees with such great force that the limbs snapped and the bodies exploded apart.
The water tore through the forest, creating a round, indented path in the ground and clearing all manner of debris away. It splashed up on the sides and finally dwindled down as it stretched to the edges of the forest. It sank back into the ground, coating everything with a gentle dampness.
Senka and Charles charged forward, forcing the horses into a gallop. They both dropped the reins of the other horses they were guiding near Lady Vahan and Garred as they broke through. Mud splattered up as the horses raced onto the newly formed path. For a moment, Senka feared the horses would lose their footing, but the mud beneath them was thin and smooth. It smushed beneath their hooves, but after a few feet it was more solid and the horses sprinted even faster.
Lady Vahan and Garred snatched up the reins of the other two horses. Lady Vahan vaulted off the ground with her lance. She expertly landed on the horses back, her legs on either side. She ripped the lance out and urged the horse forward, awkwardly juggling the reins, her lance, and the shield in her arms. Her hair flew out behind her, like flames igniting the horse as it raced on. She easily closed the distance between the other two.
Garred groped at the horse, awkwardly pulling himself onto the startled beast. He carefully slid one leg to the other side and straightened up. He kept one hand on his sword and the other grabbed the reins. He yelled and the horse lurched forward. He nearly fell off, but his free hand choked up on the reins and he leaned closer to its neck.
Senka and Charles led the charge out of the forest. Lady Vahan was right on their heels. Garred brought up the rear, quickly closing the distance.
The four raced along the path carved out by Aysu’s water, aiming for the sun settling on the horizon just ahead. Dark streaks of shadows stretched over them and urged them to move faster. The wild hiss and buzz of the forest rose out about them. It whispered at them with dark words, but as the adrenaline pumped through their veins, they focused on nothing but the dimming spot of light in front of them.
The trees behind them stumbled over the broken, disintegrating bodies of their fallen comrades. The forest echoed with raspy, screeching voices trying to draw the humans and their horses back. The blackened limbs and roots quickly filled in the cut made by Aysu. They fell into a mob, and the pack of dark figures raced after their escaping prisoners.
Sensing the Darkness looming behind them, the horses took off even faster, bounding across the ground with their feet barely breaking dirt as they touched the ground. The screeching rose up around them in a high-pitched chorus. The noise made the riders want to cover their ears, but they bore with it, clinging onto the backs of the horses for their lives.
The waves of dark bodies followed after them. The earth trembled beneath their feet. The horses raced on and their exit moved ever closer. As limbs stretched out, reaching towards the charging animals, Garred brought up the water still near the surface of the ground. It felt grimy, but it came easily. He shouted and sent a splash of it backward, tearing apart the trees and branches nearest them.
Senka was the first to make it out of the forest. His horse kept running, and he had to calm the beast before they went plunging into the river. His horse skidded along the bank with a panicked neigh. It reared its front feet into the air, but Senka forced it down and back onto solid ground.
Charles was right behind him. He nearly collided into Senka, but he pulled tight on the reins and the horse stopped a few feet before the Archivist. His arms were shaking, but he took a deep breath and forced himself to turn the horse around to check on the others.
Lady Vahan bounded into view, already pulling back on the reigns. The horse fought back, but it had no chance against the experienced Defender. It finally slowed its gallop and she led it over at a trot to the other two. As she came to a stop, she whispered soft words to her beast and gently stroked its nose.
Garred was the last one to break free, and he could feel the Darkness closing in behind him. He kept racing forward, the ground streaking past him. The hum of water filled his mind as he made it into the clearing, and all at once, he felt a hundred times better. He barely stopped his horse in time, squishing it into the muddy bank as Senka had done only moments ago.
Panting, he slowly turned around to glance back at the forest. It was strangely calm now that they were outside of it. He heard no noise and saw no rustle or movement of any sort. He supposed it was what a normal forest should look like, but his time spent in the forest had been anything but normal.
He was about to turn back to the others when there was a sudden loud booming that echoed across the landscape. The ground beneath their feet rumbled and the horses fidgeted warily.
A second later, the forest collapsed in a pile of blackened, dead trees.
**Only .99 cents May 4th– 11th!!**
About the author:
Fawn Szymoniak, aka “SanzakiKojika” has been a resident of the fantasy world from a young age, growing up in a house full of books and mythology. Her mother introduced her to fantasy works by authors like Barbara Hambly and Terry Brooks. By the age of 8, she had already written her first novel (albeit crudely). Since then, she has taken to mostly writing fantasy, following characters through magical worlds full of wonder and danger. Her series “The Archive of Sinners” stands out as her only non-fantasy, being a paranormal mystery.
On top of her writing, she is also a freelance graphic designer. Her love of art and writing, spurred her onto comics. She has several graphic novels self-published, including her webcomic “Zos Kias,” which is over 10 years old.
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