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Gathering
Quest for the Dark Staff - Book 7
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-559-2
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 276 Pages
Published: March 2008



From inside the flap

With the final confrontation against the demon Gix looming closer, Aubreyan and Tristan seek a short time of peace to recover from their battles. However, Gix moves too quickly, and now the two, along with their allies, are forced into a running war to save other friends whom Gix has targeted.

But Gix has made a mistake. Abby is gathering an army of believers who will follow him even to Gix’s own hell.

Gathering (Excerpt)


Prelude

Going somewhere else...

Tristan rested on the soft bed, feeling the ship around him and the power beyond it. The metal shell moved through the same space where he and Abby had traveled so often before, slipping from one reality to another, leaving friends behind at each turn.

Not this time.

Their quest had come at such a cost to them that sometimes he wondered if the Goddess really understood the needs of flesh and blood, whether human or elf. He wondered what she expected, in the end. Did she understand what she asked of her son, and that what he paid she could never give back?

Or could she? They were going... home this time.

He pushed the thought away as quickly as it came.

Tristan could feel the magic brushing against the craft, whispering through the walls and calling to him with a seductive offer of power he knew, from experience, he could not wholly control. Dangerous power, a dangerous place... he had never fully understood.

The one thing he did know, however, was that this was far less work. He could rest this time, he and Abby both, before they...

He shivered a little.

Tristan?

Abby, somewhere else on the ship, felt his worry surge up through the crowns.

I’m all right.

Abby, distracted by the lights and bustle of the control deck, barely tested those words. He knew Tristan wasn’t telling the full truth, but he left the elf with a bit of privacy still. They shared so much, but sometimes Tristan liked to think he had a few worries and fears of his own still.

Did that explain his feelings now? Did he fear traveling in the ship rather than by his own power? Did he mistrust the mechanical functions he had never understood? But then he would have to mistrust the people as well, wouldn’t he?

The people who so willingly leapt into this void just for them, taking the two home.

And there it was again, the word that truly sent him shivering. Home. The real fear. He quickly buried the feeling away again before it even reached a full thought. He had become more adept at keeping some of his most troubling moments to himself, though it didn’t help when they echoed Abby’s own fears and worries.

Going home meant different things to them. Tristan’s world had been very different from Abby’s. His friend’s short sojourn into Ylant hadn’t been nearly long enough to erase all the horrors of years in the hands of the humans -- or worse, really, what his mother had done to him.

Tristan didn’t trust the Goddess. He wondered if she realized, and if such common emotions mattered not at all to her. He couldn’t say. He had come to believe she might actually feel something akin to love for her son.

Tristan!

He smiled a little at Abby’s frustration with him, but he also turned his thoughts away from the Goddess. They were going home, and that thought brought a new ache to his heart. They had been a long time away from Ylant, and they hadn’t won their war yet. Perhaps that bothered him more... that they wouldn’t be going home for good. He couldn’t regret the chance, but just the same...

Oh no, no. He cut that thought off before Abby could answer. No, he had no real want to be home for good, not before they finished the war for good. He would not be left behind while Abby went on. Abby, wisely, did not even suggest it. They knew each other far too well to offer such suggestions now.

The battle is no longer just yours, Abby. If it ever really was. I must go on and see it to the end no less than you. I’ve seen too much, Aubreyan Altazar, to sit back now and let the worlds fall. I want to protect our friends no less than you do --

Peace, Tristan! Humor like that was rare from Abby when they discussed the war. Peace! I wasn’t arguing with you. I’ve given that up. But I think you would have been far better off if you’d never met me.

And you, Abby?

I wouldn’t have survived this long. I’d have, if nothing else, gone mad. I wonder what life would have been like for you if something, somewhere had gone differently.

Tristan knew what it would have been like because he had lived such a life before Abby came. He had lived in a place of darkness; a life without a cause, and among people who believed him incapable of anything more than the simplest tasks.

Nothing could dissuade him of the belief everything he had chosen since the moment he met Abby had been for the better. And with that calming thought, he closed his eyes and listened to the Janin whisper a soft song of home...