Title: The Prophecy Chronicles: Prophecy Foretold
Author: Ron Hartman
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1 (Graphic Violence)
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These are dark days for Naphthali. The king has been murdered, the land invaded by the Imperial Army. It will absorb Naphthali into an Empire that stretches across all of Enialé at any cost. The ravaged people cling to an ancient promise, an assurance that a prophesied savior will come to set them free.
Daniel Martin is trapped in a life that hasn’t gone as expected. His pharmacy is struggling and he is losing all hope of making a difference in his patients’ lives. His family is the one shining light in his disenchanted life, but he is torn from them when an accident draws him to Naphthali. The people need him, but Daniel is driven by his need to return to the family he loves. Is he the Prophesied One? Only time will tell as both the Empire and the Resistance battle for Daniel while the fate of Naphthali hangs in the balance…
"Is there another way out?" Soren asked. Alaric grimly shook his head. The captain rested his hand on the door knob and looked back. "We move quickly. Away from the house, back to the other district…we'll lose them in the streets." He glanced at Daniel and snapped, "Get your hood up!" When Daniel complied, he glanced around once more. "Ready?" He threw the door open and launched himself down the steps, everyone racing behind him.
Daniel glanced to the side at a bloody stain on the wall, the headless body of Dalen lying on the ground beneath it. Soren took one step and froze when a man emerged from the shadows across the street. Daniel froze also, his legs nearly unhinging and dropping him to the ground. He recognized the red robes and his heart skipped a beat before he even saw Malthion's face. Without a word, the sorcerer raised his arms and crossed them, making an "X" with his little fingers and thumbs extended. He lowered his head for a split second until a pulsing ball of light grew before him. He threw his chin up and arms out simultaneously, and the light launched toward Daniel, moving almost too fast to follow.
Daniel closed his eyes and cringed, but just before impact, he was pushed from behind as Regnar vaulted in front of him. The light hit the carpenter in the chest and he was instantly engulfed in flames. He never cried out as the intense flames seared away flesh and melted bone. Regnar managed two steps before falling face-first to the cobblestones. Daniel froze as he stared in horror at his friend's corpse. "No!"
Navy-clad troops streamed onto the street as Soren all but carried Daniel up the stairs, slamming the door behind them. His eyes were wild as he looked around the foyer before shouting, "Up!" They raced up the stairs two at a time. There was a large window on the second story landing which Soren shattered with his A-blade before leaning out and looking up. He'd just climbed back in and taken off his pack when a concussive blast rocked the front of the house. The building shook and all the windows on its front exploded, engulfing the interior in flames.
Soren didn't even look up as the heat wave washed over them. Flames roared out of the study and Alaric moaned, "My books!"
Soren stood with a grapple and rope in hand and yelled, "Forget them!" Alaric groaned as the captain leaned out the window and threw the grapple to the roof. When it was secure, he sent Clem up before turning to Alaric and forcing him to turn from the destruction. The man gave a final groan as he grabbed the rope and climbed nimbly to the roof. Soren hugged Daniel to him with his left arm and used his right hand and feet to pull them to the roof, followed by Thosten.
The roof's front edge was fully engulfed by that time, sections falling away to oblivion. They ran along the back of the house to the edge and looked to the next building. Space was limited within Namtrah's walls and even in the wealthiest district the buildings were closely packed. The gap between Alaric's roof and his neighbor's was no more than three feet, and everyone safely jumped across. They continued over three more roofs, the heat at their backs blistering as each house caught fire in turn. When they reached the last house in the district, they pulled up short. Daniel's heart would have dropped if it wasn't pounding so hard.
The wall that separated the districts rose twenty feet above their heads. Only then did they realize they left Soren's grapple on Alaric's roof. Soren cast around wildly and spied a skylight off to one side. Without hesitating he jumped feet-first through the heavy glass. He rolled to absorb the impact before bouncing to his feet and motioning the others to follow. When Daniel jumped he slipped on broken glass and fell sideways, landing on his right arm and sending pain exploding through his body. He surely would have blacked out then if not for Regnar. He kept the image of his immolated body at the fore of his mind and forced himself to his feet.
They dashed through the empty house to the front door. Soren cracked it open and looked out on chaos. Namtrah's elite milled around the boulevard, looking more like beggars with their faces and expensive nightclothes stained with soot. They looked on with wide eyes as their estates burned, sending thick clouds of dark smoke billowing down the street. Imperial troops picked their way through the crowd, intent on getting down to the remains of Alaric's home. They were in such a mad rush that they didn't bother guarding that end of the street.
Soren led them out the door and made for the gatehouse that jutted from the wall. He motioned for them to wait as he darted to the gate itself, but came back within seconds. The gate was closed. There was no escape. Daniel moaned and allowed despair to overwhelm him. No words came from his smoke-ravaged throat, but inside he was screaming his love for his family. He missed and needed them so much, but he was going to die alone in a smoky ruin. He didn't hear Alaric speak, or even realize they were moving again until Soren grabbed his left arm and shook him. "Move!"
Daniel turned dull eyes on the captain. What's the use? When Soren gave his arm another rough shake, he shrugged. He followed Alaric as they crept down a narrow alley that ran between the last house's foundation and the wall. At the very back of the alley there was an iron-bound door.
Alaric armed soot from his face and walked up to the door, knocking a complex combination of rapid and interspersed taps. When he finished, a bolt was thrown on the other side and the portal swung open. A guard stepped out and started in surprise when he saw who stood there. He spun back toward safety, but only managed one step before Alaric's saber lanced through his throat.
"Come, quickly!" They rushed through the door and Thosten pulled it shut, throwing the bolt in place as he brought up the rear. Alaric led them through many dark tunnels that ran along the base of the city walls. Finally, they came to another iron-bound door where he paused before carefully unlocking it. He peaked through the crack and whispered, "Let's go."
They left the wall and darted into a stable. Alaric said, "Get horses," before taking Thosten with him out the stable's front doors. They gathered horses and waited nervously until Alaric threw open the doors a few minutes later. "Let's go!" he shouted as he and Thosten ran to their mounts. The five galloped out of the stable and under a portcullis that they'd raised just high enough for them to escape. Smoke rolled from the upper class district as they fled the burning city. They raced to the west, putting many miles behind them before finally slowing to rest their horses. The five survivors had escaped Malthion's trap, but at a price they could scarcely believe.