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Guardian Of The Gods
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-157-9
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Fiction/Adventure
eBook Length: 245 Pages
Published: February 2014

From inside the flap

Thosha-Tol isn't supposed to exist. For the first years of his life, the only person who can even see him is the guardian chosen by the Goddesses who created him. Thosha-Tol is Jaffine, the last race on a steadily advancing planet who still follow the laws of the Goddesses, rejecting all technology in favor of a simple life. But Thosha was created to break all of their laws.

In order to save his Goddesses, Thosha-Tol will need to travel where no Jaffine has dared, away from his homeland, his planet, out to the stars where the god killers have gathered. Using the simple magic he was born with, Thosha-Tol must battle creatures that died out before history began and find those who pulled them out of the deadlands.

When it matters most, Thosha-Tol finds himself betrayed and abandoned by his Goddesses, forced to choose who he wants to be. The guardian of the gods as he was born to be or the killer of gods he has the power to be.

Guardian Of The Gods (Excerpt)

Chapter One

His first memory was of his twin sister's eyes, open but lifeless, seen through the murk of the womb. It was, he guessed, the very moment when the gift of Power that should have been hers passed to him. Every other moment of all his nine years was as clear to him as if it had occurred only a moment before - even the moment of his birth when the old midwife had cut him to get him free of his dead mother's belly. The moment he, without understanding, had unleashed his gift on her in pain and fear, causing her to feel both as deeply as he.

Thosha-Tol reached out to touch a glyph on the stone wall of the underground city. His moments would never be found there, never recorded with the rest of the Jaffine people's history. He was unseen, unheard, by all but Echebe, his adoptive mother. He was little more than a ghost.

An arm's length away, a young Keeper worked. Where her fingers met the wall, delicate gouges appeared, pressed into the wall by the slight Power granted to her by the Goddesses of Cusacatem.

Placed together, the small glyphs, only the height and width of two fingers pressed together, from the top of the nail to the first knuckle, told the stories of every important moment in the entirety of the Jaffine Nation's history.

Thosha-Tol stepped nearer to the girl to peer into the small vision sphere she held in her hands.

She did not shy away from him, she couldn't even see him. Inside the sphere, figures danced... men and women both young and old dancing around a pit of fire. He didn't care what they were celebrating or praying for, he only longed to be a part of it. Quickly, he gathered the Power to him, creating a sphere of his own that he pushed into the girl's sphere, pushing himself into the moment; one young, red-skinned boy with black eyes and long black hair sitting just visible where the light met shadow.

"Thosha-Tol!" Echebe's voice pierced his mind as she quickly touched the joined spheres, breaking them into a shower of light. "You cannot change history!"

She apologized to the young Keeper for breaking her sphere, her long silver hair falling in a curtain between the young girl and Thosha. After reassuring the girl, she hurried down the tunnel with Thosha-Tol at her heels.

When they were beyond the reach of other Keeper's ears, Thosha-Tol spoke. "According to the People's history, according to these walls, I don't exist." He stared up at her, unashamed of the tears in his eyes.

"Oh, you exist, Thosha. You are a true Jaffine." She knelt before him, pity and age lining her narrow face. "Your story has a wall all its own, and I am its only Keeper. Your history belongs, not to me, not to the People, but only to the Goddesses. Come. I'll show you."

Echebe took his hand in hers and led him through the city that stretched deep into Mount Kemoch. They passed beneath rows of light spheres, fueled by the same Power that allowed the Keepers to see their visions, bound to ancient sconces on the walls. They passed the halls that led to the community rooms. Hurrying deeper into the mountain, where the paths were not worn as smoothly and the air was touched with sulfur, he jogged to keep up with her, his short legs not covering the same ground. When they neared the deepest cavern, where the walls held the story of the Jaffine Nation's birth, of the People's creation, Echebe finally slowed.

Together, they walked into the chamber that held the Keeper's Pool. He did not hesitate to step when the illusion of solid rock should have caused him to. Electricity snapped in the chamber's air, the water of the Pool rippled. The large cavern held deep shadows cast by the cluster of six light spheres floating over the center of the natural pool rising up from the depths of Cusacatem's core. The air held hints of sulfur, making each breath Thosha took slightly unpleasant.

Echebe led him to a wall, forming several new light spheres in her hands. Thosha recognized his own life. From the moment of his strange birth, one Echebe had been called to witness only because she believed that his twin was to become the new Matriarch. The visitors that had come nine days later, not from another Nation of Cusacatem, but from a place beyond the stars. They had come in search of a child and were oddly relieved to discover the girl had died in birth. Anyone who had known of Thosha did not remember him. Echebe and the Goddesses had made it so. Also carved into the wall were the descriptions of the odd monsters in the faraway places that appeared in his own vision spheres.

"There isn't much yet, but that will change. As you grow, as you take the first steps on the path that will lead you to your destiny, these walls will fill to overflowing. The Ancient will always be the Keeper of your story, the duty passing from me to my successor when the time comes, along with all the knowledge of all the Ancients."

"Mother, are you ashamed of me?"

"What? Why in Catemai's name would you think such a thing?" Echebe reached out to touch his face with her long fingers.

"You hide me here in Mount Kemoch. There is no one who can see me or hear me but you."

The tears that had been threatening finally spilled, racing each other down his cheeks. "You keep me hidden from all the Nation, from the whole of Cusacatem. You tell me I have purpose, but I haven't seen the sun since the day of my birth."

"My dear, sweet boy." Her calloused palms wiped away his tears. "I don't hide you because I am ashamed of you. I'm protecting you. Everything you are, your very existence, goes against truths the Jaffine have had faith in from our beginning. If they knew about you, I don't think they would allow you to follow the path that the Goddesses have in store for you."

She took his hands in hers. "I want you to look into the Keeper's Pool. I want you to ask the Goddesses for guidance. I cannot promise you that there will be an answer, but there's hope. The Goddesses have given you gifts that they have never before granted a male. They chose you for a reason."

"Because she died." Thosha pulled his hand free of hers.

"What did you say?"

"My sister, my twin. She died instead of me. She died and gave her Power to me. The Goddesses only did what they could with what they had to work with. She should be the one standing here."

"How do you know about your sister?" She dropped to her knees. "I want to know where you found out about your sister."

"She is my first memory. I remember her just as I remember our mother. Dead. I know nothing of our father as I have never seen him with my own eyes."

"Oh, Thosha." She pulled him close to her, crushing him against her until he could feel every bone in her too thin body. "This is all my fault. I misread the signs. Maybe they planned it that way, gave me the familiar so I wouldn't be afraid. The Goddesses never sent me to stand watch over your sister's birth. They sent me to protect you. I can't imagine what might have happened to you if I hadn't been there."

"I'd be dead. The old one wanted to kill me." He thought of the panicked woman begging Echebe to destroy him.

"You've been carrying that inside you all this time? Child, you have so much on those little shoulders. You are not supposed to remember such things."

"It is not something everyone can do?"

"No. Not anyone I know but you." She kissed the top of his head. "Even I can only see the past in my spheres and the future in the Keeper's Pool. I have no true memory of my birth. Neither does anyone else I've ever heard of."

"What happened to my father? Why wasn't he there to protect me?"

"The sea happened." Echebe released him the moment he began to squirm out of her arms. "Your father was a fisherman from Veshan, a small village on the shore to the West. He and several other men were out hunting jalash for the Kanerish feast. Jalash are not small fish like we eat for dinner. They are huge; big enough to feed a whole village twice over. One of the men who survived, he said that a jalash rammed the boat hard enough to break it. The men were in the water and more jalash came. There was nothing anyone could do. A few men were able to swim to safety while the jalash feasted, but most never had the chance."

"So I am alone." He whispered.

"You've never been alone, Thosha. You have always, will always, have me."

Echebe struggled to stand and led him to the edge of the Pool. "Call to them, Thosha. Ask them for guidance."

He pulled free of her grip and knelt down at the edge of the Pool. "Great Goddesses," he whispered. "Why did you choose me? What am I supposed to do?"

Chaos erupted, urging Thosha to his feet. A blinding flash of light filled the cavern, chasing away all but the most stubborn of shadows, as if the sun had pierced the stone. A roar exploded, echoing, filling Thosha with a sense of impending importance. From the still water of the Pool, a thing emerged, a huge, ugly green beast, serpentine in body with a monster's mouth full of teeth. It surged up out of the water, lunging for Thosha-Tol. Its head was as big as Thosha's whole body. Rows of jagged blade-teeth as long as Thosha's arm poised to slice him open. Thosha stared into the gaping maw. He could not look away from the teeth, knowing what they could do to him, how quickly they could kill him and Echebe both. Echebe screamed in fear. Everything seemed to stand still, a moment dragged out into years.

Thosha's hands trembled as he created a sphere like none he'd created before, pulling in the elements around him until they burned. He held the blue fire in his hand for a fraction of a moment before hurling it down the creature's throat.

It bellowed, shrieking in pain as it fell apart, liquefying, cascading black water back into the Pool. Thosha stared into the water, waiting for it to return, a second sphere in his hand at the ready.

"That is one reason among many, Thosha-Tol, Guardian." In harmony, the voices of the three Goddesses spoke as one, their faces appearing in the water, Catemai, Taimaste, and Moronar. "Fear does not cripple you. We gave you the gift of the People's Power. You are becoming comfortable using it. It is natural to you. Know that you were chosen, not by her death, but because of the Warrior's heart that lies in you."

He knelt again by the Pool, bowing his head in reverence as he recited the only true prayer he knew. "Catemai, Goddess of the land, the water, the air, all things on the face of Cusacatem, please hear me. Taimaste, Goddess of life, birth, love and home, who blessed me with life, answer me. Moronar, Goddess of death, keeper of the souls awaiting rebirth, guide me. In you, there is balance and knowledge. From you, come all things. I have heard your voice and will continue on this path you've set before me."

"You are wise beyond your time, Thosha-Tol." The Goddesses smiled at him. "You are ready now."

Echebe rushed to him, kneeling at his side, saying her own prayer of thanks.

"It's all right, Mother. It wasn't real. It was just a test, one I passed."

She stared into the water of the Pool and began to cry. "Can you see that?"

He looked into the Pool, seeing the images that danced there on the flat black surface. "The pictures? Yes."

"From the moment of your birth, the Pool has been dim to me. The future has direction, but it is fluid, always changing by the decisions we make. What you have done in the face of their test, it has given form to your future and given the Nation back theirs." The joy in her voice was unmistakable.

"Then we both have passed. I as your student and you as my teacher."