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Ancient Allies

Madness is coming!

Prophetic dreams of fire and rivers of blood haunt Blazel’s every step. He must fight not only the monsters blocking his path, but society’s prejudices that consider him a dangerous rogue.

Rizelya is dealing with her own prophecy. Their ancient enemy is poised to destroy them all, but a small sliver of hope remains.

Can they find the elusive, mythical Phengriffs in time to save their people and stop the coming madness?

Get Ancient Allies, the second book in the completed Legends of Lairheim series. If you love genre bending, epic science fantasy, with magic, monsters, and shapeshifters, you’ll enjoy this series.

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Chapter 1

Deep in the swamp, trees knocked knees and intertwined arms with dangling mossy fingers. The filtered green light shone on a huge cypress. Its multi-triangle depths of twisted roots created a protected cave from the swamp’s larger predators. For the past year, the most dangerous one called it home.

Blazel’s human form made him a lesser predator. But when he shapeshifted into his warrior form, none of the beasts, natural or twisted, could match him. Three years ago, a vision by his friend, Chariel, sent him exploring the length and breadth of Lairheim. His adventures tested his strength and wits against the dangers of the swamps. His wanderings brought him to the southernmost swamplands, far beyond Shandir’s Crater and the Barrens.

Blazel brushed away a questing tendril. Animals weren’t the only dangerous swamp denizens. Numerous carnivorous plants sent out tendrils or vines to snare the unwary. A scar encircled Blazel’s left ankle where one had caught him sleeping in his first chedan in the swamps.

Another vine reached for him from above, and with reflexes honed from living in constant danger, he whipped out his helstrablade and sliced it off. The stump slithered back up the tree, dripping noxious slime.

He’d found his helstrablade—made from an alloy of helstrim—worked great against the twisted swamp plants and animals. He wiped the blade against his pants before returning it to its sheath. More than once, he owed his life to the keen knife, that through the magic of the helstramiesters, never needed sharpening.

Blazel stepped carefully on the path that lead to his home, testing the ground before committing his weight. The areas of firm and dry land changed frequently, sometimes from the rains, but most often, from the malignant magic pervading the swamps. In every one he’d explored, malignant magic saturated it more than water.

The worst place he’d discovered was on the southernmost peninsula of Lairheim. Malicious magic seeped from every inch. The ruins of a black fortress emanated such evil he quickly retraced his steps without investigating it. He made his home far away from it.

Blazel shook his head, his shaggy hair hitting his back, to rid himself of the memory. But it only allowed another one to surface. When he had lived in the Sanctuary as a boy, Blazel’s place of refuge had been the library, and he had delved into its dusty corners. He’d discovered a long forgotten shelf nearly buried with cobwebs. His hands tingled, recalling the magic laid on the ancient books, urging him to walk away and forget about them. His curiosity drove him to resist the impulse and read them. They told the history of a group of people who worked evil magic, the Malvers. The Posairs had destroyed them in the Great War.

But had they?

After dealing with the malignant pools in the swamps for so long, he questioned the veracity of the books—and of the Supreme.

The subtle movement of air warned him—he’d let his mind wander and wasn’t paying attention. Blazel slid to the side, slashing the angulete with his helstrablade as it flew past him. The flying serpent hit the ground a few feet from him, hissing. A shallow cut ran along the last third of its nine-foot length. It spun around, coiling and readying to strike.

In his human form, the angulete’s fangs would penetrate his thin skin. If it coiled around him, it would crush his bones. He didn’t dare shift to his warrior form; this area wouldn’t support its weight, nor did he have time. But Blazel was stronger and faster as a wolf, and his pelt would protect him from the snake’s fangs.

Blazel drew on his magic. In a blink, a large red-brown wolf with a gray streak along its back and nose stood where the man had been. The angulete reared in surprise, but then spread its wings and struck. Blazel ducked and caught the serpent behind its head with his teeth. Damn, I missed. He’d grabbed it too far back to sever the head. He tossed the angulete to the ground, where it skidded in the dirt before crashing into the knee of an old cypress tree.

Before the dazed serpent coiled to launch another attack, Blazel sprinted to it and attacked. His claws swiped deep gashes, which oozed ichor. He slashed again and again, trying to slice through the thick body. The serpent twisted and turned, hissing furiously, and struck again. Blazel leaped, avoiding the snake. He landed on the outstretched body, and using his claws for leverage, crawled up it to clamp his jaws just below the head. The serpent’s tail writhed, attempting to wrap around him.

Dark green ichor drenched the ground. The scent would draw any swamp inhabitants close by to the feast. He had to finish this before they arrived. Blazel snarled. He hated biting through the neck. Angulete tasted horrible. Trying not to swallow, he clenched his jaws tighter together.

At times like this, Blazel wished he had the ability to turn just a part of himself into his warrior form. His warrior jaws could easily crush the serpent, or his longer, sharper claws could have torn it to pieces. He sensed movement to his right. With a growl, he snapped his jaws closed and jerked, severing the serpent’s head from its body. He spit it, wishing he had time to lunge into the water and rinse out his mouth. But first, he had to deal with the creature sitting at the path’s edge.

The normal appearing rabbit sniffed and lifted its lips, showing large front teeth. However, they weren’t the blunt teeth of an herbivore, but the fangs of a carnivore—a twisted beast. It dug its long, sharp front claws into the soft earth. Behind it, more twisted rabbits hopped to the path, their noses twitching and their eyes glowing.

It would cost Blazel in time and strength to fight them all. He’d let them have the angulete’s corpse—he certainly didn’t want it. He ran, and using the surrounding trees as a springboard, leaped over the herd.

His sensitive nose caught the scent of other predators and scavengers moving toward the dead angulete. Death here brought even more death. This area wouldn’t be a safe place for several days. He snatched a twisted rabbit sitting on the herd’s outskirts in his jaws, shaking his head to break its neck. Nothing twisted tasted good, but the rabbits weren’t poisonous or too foul tasting. They were also one of the few things edible in the swamp’s depths.

He could find more palatable food closer to the edges, but the trade-off was the proliferation of Malvers’ monster nests. Although Blazel had more magical ability than most men, his strength wasn’t anywhere a match for a female Red’s magic. He couldn’t cover a nest with super-heated fire, nor was he strong enough to fight a monster’s nest alone. He was safer to stay deeper in the swamp.

With predators now rummaging near his home, Blazel took a circuitous route. He’d been in sight of it when the angulete attacked. Carefully ensuring the dead twisted rabbit didn’t touch anything but the tall grasses, he crossed several water paths to cover his scent. After almost an octar, instead of a few milcrons, he finally reached home and safety.

Blazel trudged to the perimeter of his camp in the deepening twilight, now throughly wet, hungry, and tired. His dinner was a sodden mess. He debated whether to change back to his human form and cook the twisted rabbit, or just eat it as a wolf. Blazel shook his head. There had been too many meals lately in his wolf form.

He jumped over the herbs warding the boundary of his home, lifting his tail high so it wouldn’t break the line. He dropped the rabbit to shift back to his natural form. A whine escaped him as the magic sizzled along his nerves, and his body refused to change.

Panting, he reached for his magic again, then howled. Blazel stood with his head hanging between his front legs, shivering with pain and fear. He’d never before had trouble changing forms. It’s more than eating too much as a wolf. I’ve spent too much time as one. Terror skittered along his spine, remembering Histrun’s admonishment to never stay too long in his wolf form. He risked staying a wolf for the rest of his life.

Gathering his willpower, Blazel dipped again into his inner magic pool, allowing the power to wash over him, and willed the change from wolf to man. His legs lengthened, his muzzle receded, and his pelt melted into his body. Finally, he felt the cool breeze brush against his skin—his human skin.

How much am I a wolf now, even when I’m a man? I haven’t seen or talked to another Posair for three years. He pulled out the band holding his waist-length hair from his face and shook his head. Matted and tangled hair flopped into view. Grime coated it so throughly he couldn’t distinguish its true color.

A few fresh-water ponds in the swamps existed where he could bathe, but he had to do so quickly while watching for other predators. Blazel sniffed himself and snarled. Yep, it’s been a few chedans—or more—since I’ve taken a bath. Living in the swamp is easier as a wolf than a man. He washed any lingering blood from his paws and face, then rolled around on some coarse sawgrass to clean his wolf pelt.

It’s too late tonight to go to the pond. Tomorrow I will. Blazel blinked. How many times have I promised myself to do that and then not bothered the next morning? Quite often. This time will be different. This time, having trouble shifting gives me added incentive. I need to be more man than wolf, or I will become only a wolf.

Blazel cocked his head to the side, considering it. Do I want to be a wolf? No, I can’t do that to my mother and grandmother. They’d risked challenging the Supreme White Priestess in order to keep him in the Sanctuary when no other males were allowed. He had to stay human and return to them, eventually.

With great care, Blazel skinned and cleaned the twisted rabbit. He saved the entrails. They made good bait. Carrying his meal, he crawled through the small opening in the huge cypress tree’s roots and entered his temporary home. In the center, a natural chimney drew away the smoke from his fire. He threaded the rabbit on a stick to roast it and set it aside. He knelt in front of the fire pit and stirred the ashes.

No coals.

Blazel gaped and his breath came in shallow pants. He hadn’t had a fire in days, maybe even several chedans. Blazel looked around his home with new eyes. Bones of past meals were tossed to the side. A bed of leaves showed the imprint of his wolf form. Great Mother! I’ve spent most of my time as a wolf.

He placed a small pile of kindling in the fire pit. He took a deep breath, held out his hands, and called on his magic to create a tendril of fire. More than a trickle leaped from his hands. The kindling flared, and the fire quickly consumed it.

Pacing the confines of his tree-cave, Blazel searched his memory for the last time he’d used his magic. When he arrived in this swamp and found this tree, he’d created the magical boundary wards to protect his claimed space. Blazel’s face screwed up as he thought hard about how long ago it that had been. The heat of late summer had made the swamp a humid hell when he’d arrived. Currently, the spring air was warming.

Six lunadar! It’s been over six lunadar since I’ve used my Talent—or been a man. Great Mother!

Blazel shook, and his mind jibbered.

Unlike most Posair men, Blazel had as much fire Talent as a weak Red. With the greater Talent, came the responsibility to control it. Blazel didn’t know if being raised in the Sanctuary, and not part of a pack, caused his anomaly. He slumped to the ground, sitting in a cross-legged position. Closing his eyes, he recalled his childhood drills. Slowly and carefully, he moved through each one until he was sweating. Only then did he rebuild the pile of kindling in the fire pit. With great care, he again accessed his fire Talent. This time, it stuttered. He’d called too little.

Blazel took a deep breath and let go of his fear, then reached again for his birthright. And there it was, flowing in his veins. A tendril of fire spread from his fingers and jumped to the kindling to gently light it afire. Blazel breathed a sigh of relief. Controlling his magic was as important as restraining his wolf-self. He fed fuel into the fire until it burned brightly, then put the rabbit on the spit over the flames. Blazel felt better watching the fire cook the meat.

Fire was the dominion of man, not wolf.

Tonight, he was a man.

What would he be tomorrow?

What People are Saying

This story seems to be a mixture of Anne McCafery, Andre Norton, and Marion Zimmer Bradly. The characters are well developed as is the plot – good against evil with magic and technology facing each other over the struggle of an old war that never really ended. Evil monsters against a peaceful people who want nothing more than to exist in peace against an ancient evil from their past. No “spoilers” here, you have to read the books in order to find out what happens. Very worth the money for excellent entertaining escapism for the rainy Fall that is coming – sit by the fire with your favorite beverage and be prepared to be entranced by the writing of Tora Moon!

Longshorts

Wonderful!

By the time you finish this book you become so invested in the characters you feel like you are there with them. Their trials and battles continue and the evil that has come to their world seems to be worsening. Here you see true valour and heroism. I could not get enough. I am looking forward to book 3. I highly recommend this book.

G. Walden

Ancient Allies by Tora Moon is an adventure fantasy book that is another version of good versus evil and includes magic and technology over an ancient war that never really ended.

Creative, fast paced and action packed, the Author weaves a story that gives a refreshing and original touch to books of this genre. It features interesting magical creatures like the Posairs, the Malvers, Monsters and many more. With an intriguing and interesting storyline, the book managed to captivate me with the plot, which was a surprise and a delight.

The main characters and supporting ones are so well done that they are easily envisioned, and each form a light emotional tie to the reader as the story progresses. There is superb depth to this novel as there is a lot happening in this book, and it just gets better and better as the trials and tribulations of the protagonists continue to enthrall. Highly recommended!

Stella C

Other Books in the Series

A Rare New Story

It is rare, truly rare, for a brand new story. This is not a tale of post man as we know it. All you Superman fans, all you Green Lantern readers and all Alien fans, this will appeal to all. Just who will survive in this series of four, and in what form, is not a certainty.

Peter Bruyns

I Loved Ancient Allies

Tora Moon has done it again! I was absorbed into the world of the Posairs, Malvers Monsters & Phengrifs. I can not wait to read book 3! What a great story of heroism, romance and adventure!

C. Murray

Wonderful Story

I didn’t think book 1 Ancient Enemies could be better. I was wrong. This story gets better and better. I looking forward the Book 3 axious for it to be available. The characters and Tora’s imagination are fabulous. I am totally sold on it. I hope it goes past Book 3.

 

Brian

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