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Protect the Innocent. Punish the Guilty.
Seth the Ice Lion, now an Apprentice in the Jalora Legion, reluctantly travels aboard ship with his new battalion. Western Beta’s mission seems a dull assignment. Guarding miles of bogs and old ruins should be a simple task, but Seth soon learns nothing is easy for the Bearer of the Lion Ring. The Jalora is the embodiment of Good and the source of Seth’s power. It commands he search North Marsh for a relic capable of saving his homeland from the ravenous appetite of the Jackal invaders. Surrounded by deadly bogs and savage beasts, he must find the relic before the Lion Spirit inside of him takes control of their shared body.
Invaders from across the sea hold a firm grip on Valdeon, but their thirst for blood remains unsated. They lust for the riches of Andara. Using fear and greed as weapons, the Jackal enlist aid from the continent’s unscrupulous mercenaries to prepare for a larger invasion. They build a stronghold – Stone Fang Fortress – in the Bloodtooth Mountains of the north. It is here they prepare to conquer the free world.
Will Seth find this powerful relic before the Jackal swarm invades Andara? Or will his people be enslaved under the iron fist of the Jackal Lord? Seth’s answers hide in the deadly bogs of North Marsh…
Seth D’Antoiné punched his fist into a helpless bundle of hay secured in the airship’s hold. Trapped like mindless livestock, he and his best friend—his squire, Riley Logan—had been herded inside a reinforced section of the hull. The suffocating enclosure was typically used to house mounts for the Jalora Legion’s traveling rangers. Fortunately for all concerned, the battalion wasn’t taking horses with them to North Marsh.
“Great gulls! Would you stop? I’m near death, and you want to punch things.” Riley gripped the porthole with one hand and covered his mouth with the other.
“You’re already airsick? We haven’t set sail yet. Our journey to North Marsh Outpost spans three days. The trip will be a rough one if you don’t settle your stomach. Can’t you make some concoction?”
Ignoring Riley’s glare, Seth leaned against the hold wall. The Lion Ring on his finger pulsed to the beat of his angry heart. It, too, resented being caged by their uneasy allies. The Jalora was the force for good on Erthe. Its Legion consisted of men, each of whom had been bonded in service by a Heart of the Warrior ring. Every such talisman clung to its bearer’s left middle finger, feeding off the host’s blood. Seth lifted his Lion Ring and regarded it. His blood surged and ebbed with the tide inside the yellow crystal.
“They’ve no right to cage me like a beast! I have things I must do.”
His thoughts returned to the hidden passageways boring through the granite body of the Obsidian Citadel, his former duty post. A few hours before the Legion caged him, Seth had chased his murderous half-brother, Julian, to the battlements. Mercenaries had been waiting for him there, ready to fight. His new Lion Friend, Lord Fausto De Quintaro, and the men of Valdeon had stood with Seth to drive the villains from the stronghold. Fausto had vowed to return to Valdeon with rebellion in mind. Seth desperately wanted to go with him, but the Jalora Legion had other plans in mind for the new bearer of the Lion Ring.
“Aye. But you’ve been grousing for the last half-hour. Please give me a little peace so I can calm my aching head.” Riley swayed forward with a groan. “Tell me what happened when you met with that foul-tempered uncle of yours. As quietly as possible, if you please.”
Seth’s uncle, Esteban D’Antoiné, was a prince of Valdeon and bearer of the Hawk Ring. His very name sent Seth’s temper surging. Esteban’s intrigues had ripped their family apart.
“Hawk was the ranger who bargained with the assassin Pavel Sandor on Marianna,” Seth reminded his friend. “My uncle found Mother when I was a baby and promised her he would protect us by keeping my existence secret. Hawk assumed he had Pavel under his control. We both know his madness was uncontainable.” Seth ran a hand across his face. “My uncle claims he sends us with the Phoenix for my protection.”
Riley sighed. “Who knows what waits for us at the end of this journey. I’m not sure I trust that uncle of yours. It seems to me he should have waited for Cardinal Dragon to return.”
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