Allan Cole

The Gods Awaken

One thing at least is certain, the rest is lies.

The flower that once has blown forever dies.

I sent my soul through the Invisible,

Some letter of that afterlife to spell,

And by and by it returned to me

To answer: I myself am Heaven and Hell.

Heaven but the vision of fulfilled desire.

Hell but the shadow of a soul on fire.

Cast onto darkness into which we-

So late emerged-shall so soon expire!

From The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Edward Fitzgerald Translation

Part One




And so they flew away on bully winds blowing all the way from far Kyrania…

It may have been the strangest, the saddest voyage in history. The People of the Clouds mourned the loss of their leader, Safar Timura, who had guided them over thousands of miles of mountains and deserts and spell- blasted blacklands to the shores of the Great Sea of Esmir.

A paradise awaited them across that sea: the magic isle of Syrapis, where they would make their new home far away from the evil beings who had driven them from their mountain village in Kyrania.

Safar Timura-the son of a potter who had risen to become a mighty wizard and Grand Wazier to a king-had sacrificed his own life so that his people might escape.

And now a thousand villagers were packed aboard a ragtag fleet of privateers, sailing to Syrapis and safety. High above them a marvelous airship flew over the silvery seas, pointing the way.

For many days and weeks the skies remained clear, the winds steady; and at any other time there would have been cause for a grand celebration. A feast of all feasts, with roasted lamb and rare wine, playing children and sighing lovers.

The world should have been a bright place, full of promise and joy. After months of terror, the Kyranians were free of Iraj Protarus and his ravening shape-changers.

But hanging over them was the Demon Moon-an ever-present bloody shimmer in the heavens.

Reminding one and all of the doom Safar had predicted would befall the world. More haunting still was the memory of Safar. The handsome young man with the dazzling blue eyes and sorrowful smile.

Everyone wept when they learned that he had been given up for dead. The mourning women scratched their cheeks and tore their hair. The men drank and regaled one another with tales of Safar's many brave deeds, shedding tears as the night grew late.

Lord Coralean, the great caravan master who had hired the ships so that they could all escape together, spoke long and memorably about the man who had been his dearest friend.

Aboard the airship the circus performers-among them Biner, the mighty dwarf, and Arlain, the dragon woman, — worked listlessly at their tasks. They did only what was absolutely necessary: feeding the magic engines; adjusting the atmosphere in the twin balloons that held the ship aloft; manning the tiller to keep them on course.

Meanwhile, the decks grew shabby, the material of the balloons drab, the galley fires cold. It seemed impossible to them that Safar would no longer be at their side, amazing the circus crowds with his feats of magic.

Sadder still were Safar's parents, Khadji and Myrna, who had never imagined, even in their deepest night terrors, that they would outlive their only son. And his sisters mourned Safar so deeply they could not eat or sleep and if their husbands hadn't begged them to desist for the sake of their children, they surely would have died from sorrow.

Only four outsiders-a warrior woman, a boy and his two magical creatures-prevented the voyage from becoming a disaster.

When the privateers, seeing the poor morale of the Kyranians, conspired to seize them and their goods- planning to sell the people into slavery-the woman overpowered and slew the raidersa€™

captain. While the boy-Safar's adopted son-combined his powers with those of the magical creatures to cast a terrifying spell that paralyzed the pirates with fear. And forced them into obedience.

The woman's name was Leiria. The boy, half human and half demon, was Palimak. And the creatures, twin Favorites who had lived in a stone turtle for a thousand years, were called Gundara and Gundaree.

Leiria and Palimak had made a promise to Safar Timura-a promise that they were determined to keep.

And they would allow no one to stand in their way.

Then one day the lookout in the airship shouted the joyful news that land was in sight. And the little fleet finally came to the shores of fair Syrapis: the promised land.

Except, instead of milk and honey, they found an army waiting on those shores.

An army intent on killing them all.

But Palimak and Leiria remembered well their promise. So they roused the people and routed the army.

For three long years they fought the ferocious people who inhabited Syrapis.

And for three long years they searched for the grail Safar had urged them to seek.

They had many adventures, many setbacks, and many victories.

During that time Palimak strove mightily to educate himself. He scoured ancient tomes, quizzed witches and wizards. And he seized every spare moment to study the Book of Asper that his father had bequeathed to him.

For in those pages, his father had said, was the answer to the terrible disaster on the other side of the world-in far Hadinland-that was slowly poisoning all the land and the seas.

It was a race against extinction for humans and demons alike.

And in that race Palimak lost his childhood.



Oh, how he danced.

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