War – Slavery – Revenge. Years hardened his resolve to end what he was thrust into. And end it will!
The ship’s departure date is fast approaching, except Felix is nowhere near the port. A vast dry desert separates him and his rendezvous location.
Felix has other serious problems. Still a slave owned by the High-King, the Grand Master of the Order of Ghosts must negotiate his freedom while trying not to be pulled into the looming Civil War. However, there may not be a price too steep Felix is willing to pay for his freedom.
Will Felix be able to end what was started or will the Civil War be the end of this Grand Master?
If you thirst for painful magic, gruelling fights, and revenge, then you will love this action-packed story written by Nathan Pedde.
Grab a copy of Liberation of Ghosts today.
Chapter One Preview
Felix the Swift sat on top of a dune in the middle of the Ta’arquan Desert. He wore nothing but a loincloth, ignoring the sun. His olive skin and bald head resembled a tomato. His tattoos glowed as he used a runic spell to help heal the damage.
He held a jewel in his hand, Felix used it to take away a fragment of his pain. With it, he used his increased senses spell to see farther than his eyes. He left his body and soared like a bird in the sky. The spell strained him as he searched along the water, watching the water rip and roar.
A hundred miles behind him was the city of Bogaren, called “The City of Bones.” Bogaren was a city built on a hill made from the bones of ancient giants. It was a city Felix had destroyed. It wasn’t by choice. The rulers had damned the city’s source of water for themselves. The resulting battle unblocked and set loose a torrent of water that cascaded through the streets. It poured away from the city and into the valley below.
Like a lost child, the new river hunted for its lost riverbank. The water roared across the landscape like a mad, hungry dragon, swallowing and spitting out anything it came across, hunting for the sea. The desert swallowed its old banks long ago. Water plowed through the land, pushing desert sand, rocks and any soul caught in its path.
Felix let out a breath and deactivated his runes. He came back to his body with a slam. Blackness engulfed him as he rested his increased senses spell. Felix was blind, and he scoffed at how close the analogy was to real life.
The spectral release spell was one spell he could use with his illusion, spectral and soul runic sequence. A single rune allowed one type of runic magic. If he activated the fire rune, he could cast fire magic. The spectral release spell used a series of three runes. It allowed him to travel outside of his body and scout far away or use echolocation to see the world around him. Both of which strained and caused him pain. Magic was his life, and magic was comprised of pain.
Only death would relieve Felix of it. The pain and the overuse of magic caused him to lose his eyesight. Felix desired a solution for getting his eyes back.
Felix stood up, pulling his robe on, the blistering wind attempted to blow it away like a sail. He slid down the sandy hill toward a small caravan sitting in a valley between multiple sand dunes.
Eslici stood in front of him, she was a merchant trader helping transport Felix and his ghosts across the desert to the coast. Her long black hair was pulled back into a braid. Eslici was shorter than Felix, but not by much, the owner of the caravan, she cut an imposing figure among the bald magic users.
The caravan was comprised of eight camels loaded with goods, the camel drivers, a dozen caravan guards, and the members of his order. She was a slave trader, except Felix thought it wasn’t by choice. The Kingdom of Ta’arqa, a desert nation far south from the temperate north of the Empire of Aurre, used slaves as a sizable portion of their labor.
Felix the Swift was the Grand Master of the Order of the Ghosts. A secret magical group with the goal of restoring magic to its former glory. A handful of magic users made up his group. All of them desired to flee Ta’arqa. The major issue was that himself and a few members of his order were slaves themselves.
“See anything?” Eslici asked.
“No,” Felix said. “The water is trying to work its way through these dunes, splintering as it goes.”
“What do you mean, splintering?” Eslici asked.
“It’s meandering and pushing debris every which way.”
“Shouldn’t it follow the path of least resistance?”
“Except these hills are giving the water a hard time finding its way,” Felix said.
“Same with us,” Eslici muttered. “We can’t seem to find our way.”
“I hope it’ll find a painless way through. Perhaps run lower so we can pass.”
The caravan attempted to find a ford through the torrent of water. The twin rivers of Ta’arqa and civilization, were three days walk once they crossed. The new river ran parallel to the old ones and was rough and wild. There was no direct path across because it was so deep. The only choice was to follow the river to where it’s junction to the old one. The problem was, they kept walking into dead end peninsulas because the river splintered around the sand dunes.
It had turned an eight day walk along the road to a three-week wander around the hills.
“At least we don’t have a problem finding water,” Felix said.
“Funny,” Eslici said.
Felix walked to the caravan and stood next to a camel.
“It would be better if we could find a way to hide from the blasted sun,” Eslici continued, as she raised her voice to him. “Travel at night when it’s cool.”
“I see no shelter out here.”
“Thank you, Mr. Obvious.” Eslici scoffed. “We leave in five minutes. Drink some water before you turn into an Aurrian raisin.”
Eslici spun on her heals and marched to the front of the line of camels.
Iratus walked up behind Felix and sat under the shade of a camel. His robes wrapped around his body, protecting his runes and olive skin from the harsh sun. A plain cloth was wrapped around his head and secured with a cord. Since the day the Duke of Draada captured and shipped Felix off into slavery, Iratus had been by his side.
“No luck with the sight?” Iratus asked.
“No,” Felix said. “The jewel has helped, but I need to find out how to get my eyesight back.”
“I meant the spectral release spell thingy,” Iratus said.
“I still haven’t recovered. My range is limited.”
“Oh,” Iratus said.
Iratus was silent, looking up at Felix. “We could build a raft and float down the river.”
“That would require wood,” Felix replied.
Thempta walked up to them and leaned behind the camel. She was Felix’s second and used to be his enemy. She stood as tall as Felix, with curves in all the right places. As a member of the Ghosts, she wore the same loose-fitting robes with the telltale bald head.
After living around bald women all the years, he had been in Ta’arqa, he was still not used to them. To Felix, a woman should have hair.
“I bet I can swim across,” Thempta said.
“I can jump across,” Felix said, “with a simple wind rune to push me forward. What do we do about those without magic?”
“Toss them?” Thempta asked.
Felix glared at her.
From the back of the line strode Alexis, Felix’s sister. She looked like his twin, she was older than Felix by a few years and she had the breasts and hips of a woman. She was also a magic user, with loose robes and a similar bald head.
“I can fly across,” Alexis said, mentioning her preferred runic sequence. “I can even transport the people one by one. But what do we do about the camels? I can’t carry a camel.”
Felix turned to her, a grin on his face.
“As the saying goes. Hit the nail on the head,” Felix said. “How do we get the camels across the river?”
Jaeger walked down the line of camel drivers and camels to Felix. He stood taller than Felix, with orange hair and loose-fitting clothes. He wasn’t from Aurre. Jaeger was the fool who transported him to this blasted land and sold him as a slave to the Talabaers.
For years Felix hated the man, now he understood his God, Mr. Magician, had nudged Jaeger to bring him to Ta’arqa. The God needed to use Felix and there was little he could do to stop what he needed to do. He didn’t feel like a Grand Master, instead he felt more like a pawn.
“If someone hadn’t created a new bloody river,” Jaeger said, “then we wouldn’t have this mess.”
Felix glared at the man. “Give me one good reason I shouldn’t throw you into the river and see if you can swim?”
“We made a deal,” Jaeger said.
“That may be,” Felix said. “But don’t test me. I may leave you for dead.”
Jaeger narrowed his eyes and glared at him.
“All right, people,” Eslici yelled from the front. “Break over. Time to move.”
The camels trekked along the desert in the valley between the sand dunes. Tied behind them were a line of slaves. Some were men, but most of them were women. Two female slaves were soft, new, and the daughters of a nobleman. They were sold into slavery by their father for having an orgy with a servant, who had his throat slit for his troubles. Felix blotched their romp, knocking them unconscious in pursuit if a heist.
Felix caught up with Eslici, staying away from the slaves.
“What’s your plan with the slaves?” Felix asked.
“You want to buy them?” Eslici asked.
“No,” Felix said.
“You feel responsible?”
“I don’t like slavery.”
“Spoken like a former slave,” Eslici said. “Or are you still a slave?”
“I am. But I aim to change that,” Felix said.
“I can sell them to Muphaeso,” Eslici said. “But I might not with this lot.”
Felix kept his face neutral, not wanting to betray his emotions.
“To tell you the truth,” Eslici said. “I have no intention to stay in the country. I want to leave and never look back. I’m not suited to deal with mage battles.”
“I’ll do my best to get you out of the kingdom.”
He moved back along the line, taking up his place in the center.
The sun moved across the sky, dipping below the horizon. The caravan stopped between the dunes and set up make-shift tents. They were pieces of canvas draped over a rope attached to stakes.
The heat from the sun faded as quick as it had come. Felix had suggested they leave early before the sun rose again. Except, the sun wasn’t down for long and they needed rest.
He lay on the ground, looking up at the roof of the tent. He hoped sleep would come quick for him, but there was a howl echoed in the dark. A rock-hound in the hills, and from the sound of it, far in the distance.
A rock-hound was the scourge of the desert. It was a large gray canine with large, long poisonous claws. They had hard skin covered in fur, which made them hard to kill.
He used his increased senses spell to scan the surrounding area. After a moment, he slammed back into his body. There was nothing in the immediate area.
In the morning, with the sun still below the horizon, the first rays of the sun peeked above the land. Once the sun reached the sand, things would get hot once more.
He stood up and walked out of the tent. Thempta stood next to a camel, feeding it some grain.
“Couldn’t sleep?” Thempta asked.
“Rock-hounds,” Felix said. “I’ll be happy when I’m able to get away from this desert and get back home.”
“Tell me about your home,” Thempta said.
Felix frowned as he regretted his words.
“I…” Felix began.
“I’m sorry,” Thempta said. “Too bold of a question?”
“No,” Felix said. “It’s not.”
He paused, looking at the night sky.
“At least you have a town to call home,” Thempta said.
“That may be,” Felix said. “I have some memories that are good. But they are attached to people. Not the city.”
“That I understand,” Thempta said, “My family is—”
Felix remembered the cave back at the fort when they were enemies. How he had blown the fire back toward her.
“I’m sorry for that,” Felix said. “It’s just— I mean—”
Thempta placed her finger on Felix’s lips, shutting him up.
“That’s ancient history,” Thempta said.
“I know,” Felix said. “But had I known what would be happening now and how we would be—”
Felix stopped talking and looked down at his feet.
Thempta looked over and grabbed Felix’s robe, pulling him into her. She kissed him on the lips, Felix let her warmth fill him for a moment. After what seemed like an eternity, Thempta let go. It was only a few seconds.
“Sorry,” Thempta said. “I know we shouldn’t be doing that. But.”
“I never got a ruling about that.”
Thempta nodded and blushed.
“Were you going to tell me about Aurre?” Thempta said.
Felix glanced up at the sky.
The city of Draada, “Its walls, giant buildings — everything was made of stone and brick. I saw either the gutters, or alleys. Or the rooftops, and the bedchambers of the nobility.”
“Until you got caught,” Thempta said.
“Yeah,” Felix said as the camp stirred from their slumber. “But that’s a story for another day.”
The camp piled their tents onto camels, and they began walking along the path between the sand dunes. After two hours of walking with the blistering sun beating down on them. The land changed from sand dunes to hard packed earth.
Felix recognized the region. Not the exact landmarks, but the surrounding terrain The Ini River lay in a low valley weaving through the desert to the sea. The slight hills on the side of the river kept the new river to from flowing to the river. The new river had found a low valley to pour its water cascade through, cascading down the slight slope to the river valley below.
The valley was a sea of green where before it was shades of brown. Orchards, fields, and farms stretched along both sides of the river. It was an oasis of near paradise.
“I know this place,” Felix said.
Thempta turned to face him. “What do you mean?”
Below them, in the river’s path, was a small walled town, the city of Takala. It had stood on the banks of the river Ini along a hill. The water poured through the town, knocking down the mud-brick walls, shattering houses. The water battered its way through the city before joining the water of the old river.
“That’s where you tried to keep me locked from the city.” Felix said.
“I always wondered how you got past that,” Thempta said.
“Maybe one day I’ll tell you about it,” Felix said.
The caravan walked down the hill along the side of the river and toward the town. Felix didn’t want to look at the wrecked buildings. Eslici stopped part way down the hill.
“Are we stopping here?” Eslici asked.
“Do we need to?” Felix replied.
“Not really,” Eslici said. “They have little to sell.”
“Let’s head down river,” Felix said. “Is there a better way to get down?”
Eslici smiled as she stepped in beside him. She leaned into him with her voice kept low. Felix grinned as he looked around at the caravan. The caravan had spread out over the space of fifty paces in single file.
“We can rent a barge,” Eslici said. “If we can find one. But is that the best way for us to go?”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m not Ta’arquan,” Eslici said, “and I’m not a Talabaer.”
“If I go into the capital,” Eslici said. “Either I risk enslavement or enlistment”
“Aren’t you a licensed merchant?”
“My documents are forged.”
“Hey. Keep your voice down.”
“Are you even a slave trader?” Felix asked. “I’ve noticed you and your men aren’t as good with the camels as I would’ve expected.”
“Do you need—”
“I put you closer to Jaeger,” Felix said. “A sailor.”
Eslici crossed her arms and glared.
“Maybe I’ll tell you one day. Right now. Don’t ask so many questions.”
Felix looked back at the caravan, to see if anyone was watching him. No one was, he turned back to Eslici.
“Didn’t you get orders from the High-Prince to find me?” Felix asked.
“Yes,” Eslici said. “But things were changing at the capital. Muphaeso is the High King now. He brought back the ban on foreigners. Told me to find you, then get out of the country and stay out of the capital.”
“Do you have a better plan?” Felix asked.
“Yes,” Eslici said. “I have a ship waiting for me and the caravanners.”
“What do you want to do?” Felix asked.
Eslici looked around at the people.
“Come with me,” Eslici said.
“No,” Eslici said, “Idiot. Everyone.”
Felix glanced at the caravan once more.
“I’d like to,” Felix said. “But I have things to do at the Capital.”
“I’m sure you can do the things elsewhere,” Eslici said.
He shook his head.
“Can’t do that.”
“That means me and mine will—
“No,” Felix interrupted.
“Take Thempta, the kid and Jaeger with you,” Felix said. “Make a run for the village.”
“What about you?”
“Iratus, Alexis, and I must go to the capital.”
Eslici bit her lip and fiddled with the hilt of a knife at her belt.
“Perhaps,” Eslici said. “The turn off isn’t for a while yet. We’ll travel together for a while.”