Jason M. Breshears has written The Oraclon Chronicles, epic fantasy masterpieces. Beyond Dagothar is Book I.
Two sample chapters of Beyond Dagothar after book description.
An unusual warlord has united the underworld. The lead ranger has vanished. Josiah Arrowloft races across kingdoms with enemies close behind spilling forth in a new Uprising. Far below the world of Dagothar a Barad-ai ranger and his steed traverse the underworld on a quest to find the surface. Liam is one of the Deep Men and with the dragon Sibilan Stonescales he embarks on an unforgettable journey for the Council of Sages and Seers. Urick Arcanacraft is a 13th degree knight-scholar who leads his crew on a voyage through alien waters filled with perils aboard the ship Seeker of the Ancient Lost. This blademagus possesses a secret deciphered from an old tablet. Dax Clovenheart is a hulking blue-skinned rhinotar. He claims to be a ranger, uses unspeakably powerful weapons and is from a place very far away. He has been to where the others go but must return in what will prove to be his most important assignment ever. These four heroes and their friends will meet amidst a holocaust of war and carnage, dark sorceries and curses, prophecies fulfilled, tragedies unforeseen, unbelievable heroics and the shocking presence of future-craft weaponry...a faery apocalypse, disasters culminating with the cataclysmic return of the Broken Moon. In an epic struggle where offworld interference endangers all the inhabitants across Dagothar, mankind will get help from the most unlikely place... The realms of Hell. Thus begins The Oraclon Chronicles.
They sailed around an entire continent crossing half of Dagothar aboard the Seeker of the Ancient Lost. The Poltyrians were no ordinary crew. Led by a 13th degree Knight-Scholar of House Demarsculd, a trained blademagus named Urick Arcanacraft, the heroes Felix, the helmsman, Cassius the sky knight, Jaston of the palace guard, Hannalyn, an ArchRoyal Bowmistress, the veteran Maximin, a priestess of the Order of the Broken Moon named Melisha and a strongly disliked Royal Observer, these eight people accompanied by fifty-one marines embark on a fantastic voyage to an unknown sea. They visit and escape perilous encounters at Kings Bane, the coast of Hinterealm, contend with the Rivensail pirates and the dungeonships of the slavers of Edgehaven in the uncharted waters of the Spawnsea.
Urick is an arcanologist and his mission is secret, none aboard know the true agenda of their expedition to the fabled ruins of Daethalon, ancient capitol of the Caedorian Empire. Urick possesses a secret the faeries will kill to keep, the knowledge of Cavin Knightshade’s discoveries in Dimwood and Talan Dathar. As the underworld armies of the Taran Warlord continue their trek across the west, Urick keeps his own crew in the dark concerning the risks they will be forced to take all the while unaware that the greatest danger to their lives is right there on their ship.
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Here are two samples chapters from Beyond Dagothar
Darkfrost Peaks...lair of Navaniz the Bold
Navaniz very slowly opened his ancient eyes. They had seen many thousands of years and did not open as quickly as they had in his youth. His mind cloudy, he stared at the cracked, black-charred goat skull near the edge of his pile of scattered jade fragments and coins. The goat skeleton nearby was all bone, no trace of hide or hair.
Has it been so long? he thought. The goats were the last meal he had eaten. Or remembered eating. These skeletons were very aged. Most of his life was now spent sleeping. He recalled that he had scooped up the goats just before winter along the cliff face. Sniffing, the venerable archaic dragon's eyes opened wider at the realization that it was spring already.
Honeysuckle...clover...mushrooms...rock moss...beetles...he could smell them all...and something else.
A strange scent wafted into his nostrils. He listened intently, alarm coursing through his gigantic body loosening the stiffness. Somebody...something, was outside the cave entrance. Something was too close to his lair.
Long ago he had terrorized some local goblins and struck a deal with them. It was agreed that they would haul up the mountain many loads of cobble stones from a nearby river and spread them out all over the open ledge in front of his cave and he would not eat any more goblins. To the goblins of Darkfrost the word spread quickly that the newly appeared dragon was stupid, hoarding rocks instead of gold. His lair was only accessible by a narrow entry small enough for goblins but larger creatures would have to fly in to it. The rocks brought by the goblins and spread out over the entry ledge had a very good reason for being there. Anything passing over those loose stones would be heard by his keen hearing.
And Navaniz was listening now.
Something crushed stones underneath it. They popped, and the old dragon realized that it was these sounds outside that had awakened him. Whatever it was, it covered a lot of ground surface and the rocks hinted that it was very heavy.
Without moving, lest he disturb the mound of coins, gold ingots, wedges of the greenish gold called pallon, some ornate amphorae and pieces of crafted jade, turquoise and other assorted treasures, Navaniz inhaled slowly tasting the air. He was deep inside his lair. His muscles went rigid. He could feel his heart pumping as acid bile reflexively built up in his gut.
A dragon. No! A mare dragon...but of an unfamiliar scent.
Navaniz did not move fearing that he'd give himself away. The tokens of a life he no longer enjoyed were crushed beneath him. He was a great venerable wyrm and the only one of his breed in all of Darkfrost, though it was rumored that a younger black dragon was now living somewhere in northern Dimwood. Pondering why a mare of any breed would visit him rather than this other youth nearby, he stared toward the cave that led outside.
He detected a movement beyond. Closer than the last. He raised his head to speak.
"I will not sire...seek another." Again there was movement on the stones. The trespasser grew bolder, the crackles of rocks informed him that the dragon was entering his cave. Then did the words of an unusual speech echo into the cavern.
"Where is the tablet?" rasped a course feminine voice in high draconic, but of a very odd dialect.
Navaniz's eyes widened in astonishment at the recognition of her words, a deluge of lost memories washing over his mind, thoughts contending with the sudden realization that she was an underworld wyrm. Thousands of years flashed through the terrain of his mind. The mare continued.
"Long are your years...the Broken Moon returns, old serpent. The Deep has a new Warlord. Here you lie a decrepit snake molting decay as the Uprising returns. Give, wyrm, you have nothing left to protect...where is the tablet?" Another series of stones popped.
Her words were icy, direct, more of a command than a question. The tablet. The archaic dragon let his mind take him back to Daethalon, the center of Caedorian civilization long ere Poltyria ever came to be. The Caedorians were a race of honorable humans that he had lived among in Arborealm when he had served the Protectorate with the rangers of Borderealm, called whisperstriders in those days. The old days.
Navaniz shuddered in resignation. There was no way he could fight this mare. A thousand years ago he would have chased her from his domain. Not now. Over five centuries ago a Poltyrian knight, a dragonslayer, challenged him to one-on-one combat under the Heroic Code for possession of the tablet. But because the last priest of the Temple of the Broken Moon had commissioned him long ago to conceal the tablet, the very key to the Oraclon itself, Navaniz had kept the crystal clear tablet hidden and safe with him all these years since the fall of Daethalon in the Minion Wars.
He honored the valor of the Poltyrian knight and met him in combat only to realize quite suddenly that the knight was dead serious about getting his hands on that tablet. A dual that began as amusement rapidly turned into a struggle for his life. The human severed one then the second of his wings at the stilts, two of his right talons, an entire finger on his left claw, the last nine feet of his great tail, all the while being strangely immune to his acidic breath weapon.
Seeing the twitching of his severed tail, Navaniz backed away from the knight and dug under the pile of antique treasures as he struggled to catch his breath. Moving coins, gems and statuettes out of the way in his search of the tablet, he reasoned that since men commissioned him to protect it, why fight a man who came to retrieve it? Navaniz found the Oraclon tablet and handed it to the much smaller human.
The slayer thanked him politely, bowed respectfully which totally impressed Navaniz and then began talking out into the open air to someone the dragon could not see. Nor smell or otherwise sense.
Navaniz began to suspect magecraft. He looked back at his wriggling and dying tail.
The human's voice changed in pitch and intensity and Navaniz realized that something was wrong with the knight's planning. That perhaps the knight had not fought him fairly at all.
Then the human began to plead desperately and a raw anger filled the dragon. To exhibit such fear after severing his fingers was an affront. Suddenly Navaniz realized that the man was expecting someone to teleport him out of the lair...which explained how the dragonslayer had so suddenly appeared.
Seconds passed and still the knight despaired. Navaniz, still in pain but hurt worse in his ego, inched forward. The tablet was still in the man's grasp.
That was the amount of time that passed between standing in front of the dragon and then finding himself crammed into its mouth, through his throat and into his burning hot belly. Navaniz swallowed the knight, armor, weapons and tablet and burped.
And since that unfortunate day about five and a half centuries ago the enchanted armor had remained stuck in his stomach without decaying, with the tablet, both undigested. Since then his right back leg pained him constantly.
Navaniz the Bold stood upright as best he could, a few vintage coins from kingdoms long passed dropping from his underscales. Acid bile was thick and vaporous about his jaws. Over a thousand years had passed but he was still a wyrm of Daethalon sworn to protect the Order of the Broken Moon. Though the Caedorians were gone he knew they still lived on through their Caerean descendants. He would uphold his pledge.
The words of this female wyrm came back to him. A new Warlord... He recalled the Uprising very well. In fact, it occurred in the same year he lost his wings to the slayer. A Taran Warlord had for years made war in the underworld uniting the races to invade the surface world. He had nearly succeeded in killing off humankind. As he was about to slaughter the third Poltyrian army, the Fey Alliance armies met the Warlord's hosts in a disastrous battle at the already Ancient Battlefields of Ghul-run.
The Warlord seeks the tablet.
Navaniz the Bold narrowed his eyes as his chest inflated. He will never get it.
As if sensing what was going on in his mind, more rocks popped as she crawled hastily into the lair. In the darkness inside the mountain lair, their draconic eyes unimpeded by the shadows, the two wyrms collided noisily in an explosion of old coins and cobblestones. Navaniz had no time to dwell on his surprise.
A Scarlet Wyrm!
She was faster, stronger, heavier, younger and more determined than he. His acidic breath weapon would be of little use against her purplish scale armor. The scarlet dragons even of old were but few in number, the royalty of draconic society. They had vanished long ago from the surface world and their continuance in the Deep had only been a tradition related to him by his ancient friend and sire, Laer'garoth the Old, widely remembered as the Dragon-Chronicler. Like so many other unbelievable things taught to him in those days, Navaniz now realized this to be true. It had been at least twenty-four centuries since anyone had seen a scarlet dragon under the sun. Once rulers of all wyrmkind, these purple draconags were mostly immune to magics, fire, acid and gases, were the most cunning and lethal of dragonkind.
He was too lost in bewilderment to feel the mare's saborlike teeth penetrate his neck scales. In the short struggle his treasures had been strewn about. Large specimens of agate and opals were uncovered from the bottom, a few emeralds, one huge sapphire and a bracelet of shiny metal like electrum.
"The Warlord demands the tablet," she hissed through teeth that were half embedded in the black dragon's flesh. "Do not make your end an ignoble one." A hint of gloating in her words. She used her weight to shove Navaniz's head to the cavern floor, his neck pinned in her unyielding jaws.
As he felt her inflating he slightly grinned in spite of the pain and discomfort, though it was more like a wince. With the strength of pride he knew he was going to keep his secret, his oath. A film of moisture blurred his vision.
She unleashed a stream of incendiary acid far more powerful than his own bile into his neck wound as he thrashed about wildly in burning agony, a pain far worse than swallowing the armored dragonslayer who had been clutching the tablet. Navaniz's lifeless body collapsed and the scarlet mare searched the cavern for the object described to her. She flipped over the carcass of the old black wyrm and burrowed into his treasures, scattering them about.
Elated with her kill and satisfied that the despicable dragon of Daethalon did not possess the tablet, Neferina exited the cave and looked down upon the sea of green and brown trees that was the outskirts of Dimwood. She spread her wings and dropped off the ledge to begin soaring over the tree tops, flying in the direction to where she knew she would find the Taran Tyrant.
It mattered little to her if he had the tablet or not.
Second sample chapter:
"Can you use that thing?
Urick walked up from behind the ArchRoyal Bowmistress. She tested the tension on a newly oiled bow of yew. On the ground was a baldric and belt hoist supporting four quivers of arrows with white and blue feathered shafts. "I can end your sex life at two hundred paces," she replied, matter-of-factly.
Hannalyn chanced a glance backward and straightened, face reddening, seeing the sigil of Castle Demarsculd.
"Master Arcanacraft," she saluted, eyes taking in his blademancer's longsword.
"Relax bowmistress. RMC Commander Harpshire says you're the girl I'm looking for."
"Not unless you like it rough...sir." Hannalyn didn't blink as Urick cracked a smile.
"About a year of travel, half at sea. Can you train marines to use short bows?"
THREE-BRIDGES LAKE GARRISON, WHEN HANNALYN MET URICK
Spawnsea: off the coast of Hinterealm
The Ancient Lost was six days west of Kings Bane. They had encountered small boats, fishing trawlers, peculiar reed ships and log rafts, a barge of mystified Caereans and two light merchant freighters. In these waters no traders sailed heavy ships. One must be able to outrun corsairs. About an hour earlier many were on deck watching albacore leaping high into the air trying to escape large sea snakes. Several of the men the night before reported a colony of magnificent glowing jellyfish the ship passed over. None of the strange luminescent veils approached the surface and they soon left them behind.
Felix stood aport with Treadles, Cobbleson and one of the Kennelman brothers showing them how to double-thread a sailor's knot through a lashing tack hole. He was in good spirits, enjoying the steady wind, full sails and paying close attention to the creaking of the ship and the tautness of her halyards. When Cobbleson tied the knot he laughed.
"I'll make sailors of you marines, yet! It's not always about being the heavy blades on th' boat. What good's a blade when you're trying to float?"
"You're not a poet, Captain Felix. Poets have soft hands and shaved faces. Your hands look like you've been chewing on them," Treadles said.
"Yeah, Captain, why you been chewin' on your hands?" Cobbleson added, grinning.
Felix looked from one to the other and then at his hands. He inhaled deeply and slightly shook his head. He walked over to the foremast and plucked a deck broom off a hook as Meath, Carpenter, Hogworth, Mishannan and Bowyer gathered around with Treadles, Cobbleson and Pace Kennelman, sensing what was coming.
Felix had their complete attention when he broke off into a song, holding the deck broom with both gnarled hands.
"Thirteen times a day,
I sweep an wipe th' deck,
Me feet be sore,
me back afire,
burnin' hot up to me neck!
A dozen times me stomach growls
for steak to steam me dish,
but ten-to-one I lay th' odds
I'll chew on naught but fish!
Five hours slumber hot by day,
five hours sleep a'night,
fartin', snorin' smelly feet,
'nough to kill a wight!
Nine the winds our sails behold,
eight the moons we see,
seven islands made of gold
but six will do for me!
With five-o-knights I play me card,
the bosun has the four,
a second mate the three-o-dukes
but the captain's at th' door!
Two the whacks upon me head
that burns me eyes an' neck,
one moment later broom in hand
I sweep an' wipe th' deck."
As the men laughed, palms slapping the old captain's back, high in the crow's nest Foundry shouted as he peered at the distance through an onocular, a long monocle allowing sailors to see great distances.
"Slight to port, captain...turning into us, looks like unfriendlies." The marines on deck with Felix all strained to see the dot on the horizon, sometimes obscurred by the motion of the ship. At hearing the shout, Maximin, Cassius, Jaston and Hannalyn emerged from below decks followed by several marines already awake. Urick, Melisha and the Observer were among the last to appear on deck.
Already marines were opening weapons lockers on deck and two went back below to ready the others and open the armory. Felix, all humor gone, directed the marines in relashing halyards, stowing cordage and fastening tight all the hasps and rope guards. In a fight involving blades the rope guards kept the lines from being severed, making a mess of the sails and ratlines.
Urick stood on deck and surveyed the men, knowing it was not his place to interfere. He was leader of the expedition and it was in the Aracancraft blood to take command of the situation but Felix was promised the helm right from the beginning. As former captain of the Esardon he was best suited for dealing with seagoing emergencies and Urick knew it. The red-haired seasoned sailor captain had already proved invaluable in two prior engagements, both with Sylnadorian corsairs two months back. It was an attempt to blockade a narrow strait.
The Poltyrians looked ahead slight to port at the approach of a longship that was on a course to intercept. The wind was in her sails. Already she was lowering four cutters into the sea holding four men each. The cutters were outriggers having a single sail and oars, a large harpoon on a tripod on their prows.
"Black flag...ripped in the middle!" They all heard Foundry above in the nest. Rivensail.
"Come on down, Foundry, get some rest," Felix shouted over the sea and wind. He turned to a marine who had just woke up.
"Jesper, get in that lookout. Tell me what goes across yonder deck."
Felix studied the approaching ship, brow furrowed. All about him marines cleared away obstacles, buckled on armor, loosened weapons, stretched sore or tight limbs. Melisha stood beside Urick and the Observer and watched the proceeding, glancing at the advancing pirate ship. Urick studied Felix, noticing that the captain was deep in thought.
Felix turned and looked toward the coast, staring at the sea. He did not look all the way to the beach, which was invisible. Land was a green strip of haze. Urick did not like thinking that Felix was worried.
"What are you thinking, Felix?" The older man stroked his red beard and looked at Urick for a second and then back at the pirate ship.
"This ain't a lagoon, Sir Arcanacraft. No need for cutters on a deep sea." Felix again dragged his eyes across the expanse of water from their position to the coast.
"Captain! Unfriendlies are dropping into the water, sir! Lots of the bastards!"
"What do your mean, Jesper? Like abandoning ship?"
"No sir, like...uh, sir, there are things in the water they're swimming to..." All the Poltyrians on the Seeker of the Ancient Lost looked up at the marine in the nest. He continued.
"Big fish things, sir! They got fins! Like harnesses on them...men holding on!" They could now see better as the pirate vessel grew closer and closer. Four cutters bearing sixteen pirates and four large harpoons raced toward them amidst what appeared like pods of men in the waters moving quickly all dragged by large underwater shadows. Men tethered to aquatic animals.
"Uh, sir?" said the youngest marine aboard the vessel. Felix looked at him.
"Look at those swells, sir...as we dip you can see what I mean," Nathan continued. Felix turned around as did Urick. The captain leaned forward and stared hard but Urick could see nothing but water. The older captain looked back down at Nathan and the boy nodded.
"That's the way of it, captain. Why the cutters." Felix squeezed his shoulder and turned to Cassius.
"Quickly now. Get aloft and guide us out to deeper water. We're about to be beached if we're not careful." The sky knight said nothing but went straight below deck to the wardrake pens. They had sliding cargo bay doors on the port side of the ship.
"Jesper! Can you steal the name o' that ship?"
"No sir...not yet. Those pirates in water are attached to drag-harnesses...uh, pulled by fat sharks...no! weird dolphins, sir. Real big and ugly dolphins."
"What is out there, Felix? I see nothing," Urick said.
"Sir, we have sailed right between a high sandbar starboard between we and the coast, maybe two shelves. To port is a coral reef. It is broken in places. We have nothing to fear of that ship as it cannot get to us. So far out from the coast it is rare. Means that in recent times, perhaps a couple thousand years or so, this was all land. The original beachfront was that way," Felix said, pointing out to sea.
Now all aboard could hear the roaring breakwater of the sandbar to their right as well as see white foam misting on their left as water passed over the shallow coral. Either were disastrous for the ship. The pirate vessel, knowing of the coral wall just under the surface began turning, pulling sails. Men across her deck looked out at the Poltyrians and those Rivensail pirates in the cutters and water pulled by creatures over the coral reef.
"Eastcove, Reilcamp, Simmerson, Mishannan, Underhill!" Felix roared.
"Yes sir!" they replied in unison.
"Short swords and daggers only, sheathed. Man the lines and guide the ship as I instruct. Reilcamp, man the helm. Meander, Longwalker, Highcabin and Deacon guard these men who'll steer the Ancient Lost to safety. All others prepare for boarders! Hannalyn get your archers readied. Maximin bring up the heavy tripods and halberds." Marines and principals scurried about to reposition and help those with duties. Urick was impressed with Felix as the captain continued, pacing the deck.
"Men, an attack on this ship is an attack on Poltyria! Prepare for the unexpected! They're not coming for tea! We're the only Poltyrians in these waters but there's lots of pirates so make every hit count. We don't get second chances."
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Jason Breshears has authored ten published books, five by Book Tree of San Diego. He specializes in ancient chronological systems and calendars and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.