The night before his Coming-of-Age, Ghyll and his two friends escape their castle on a clandestine boar hunt that will forever change their lives. The hunt proves a disaster, and with one of them badly wounded, they return just in time to see their island castle destroyed by macabre warriors from a dragon boat, and by flocks of fire-breathing birds. Ghyll's eighteenth birthday turns into a nightmare as they flee into the night.
Now begins an epic journey to find out who is trying to kill them – and most importantly, why?
Fortunately, they can count on the help of new friends, including a sometimes overly enthusiastic fire mage, an inexperienced paladin and a young beastmistress who is also a ferocious mountain lioness. It soon becomes clear that not one but several sorcerers want to kill them. Are those blackrobes really followers of a terrible, long-forgotten organization?
Paul E. Horsman (1952) is a Dutch and International Fantasy Author. Born in the sleepy garden village of Bussum, The Netherlands, he now lives in Roosendaal, a town on the Dutch-Belgian border.
He has been a soldier, a salesman, a scoutmaster and from 1995 till his school closed in 2012 a teacher of Dutch as a Second Language and Integration to refugees from all over the globe.
Being unemployed and economically overage, yet still some years away from retirement, he is a full-time writer of epic light fantasy adventures. His books are both published in the Netherlands, and internationally.
EXCERPT FROM: RHIDAUNA – CHAPTER 14: THE GISTERWOUD
The fog gave no sign of abating. With a sigh, Olle turned around. He thought he saw something moving in front of them. ‘Torril.’
‘Do you see anything?’
Torril peered into the mist. ‘Shapes,’ he said with some hesitation. ‘Shapes in long dresses?’
‘That’s where Bo is!’
They ran to the place where they had spent the night. Three faint white apparitions danced around Bo’s stretcher. ‘Co-me... Cooome...’ they moaned, with voices full of terrible desire. ‘Cooome.’ One of the shadows grabbed Bo’s arm with a transparent claw and started pulling at him.
‘Stop!’ Olle let his sword cut the air with a humming sound.
‘No-oo... Nooo... Cooome...’ The shapes crooned, trying to drag Bo off the stretcher. With a cry, Olle fell upon them, Torril right behind him. To no avail. The weapons of the two Companions didn’t touch the apparitions, as if their forms were made of the fog surrounding them. ‘By Helgran, there’s more of them!’
‘N-o-o-o.... C-o-o-o-m-e... ‘
Soon there were twenty of the apparitions; they swirled around the two who were fighting them in a wild unholy dance. Even with their impressive muscles, Olle and Torril couldn’t touch the ethereal forms and soon they began to weaken. Their breathing grew difficult and their hearts seemed about to burst. Exhausted, Olle sank to his knees and waited for the end. Torril stood beside him, head bowed, leaning upon his axe. The apparitions stretched their greedy hands out to the two Companions. ‘C-o-o-o-m-e.’ The chill of those hands paralyzed their limbs, touched their hearts.
All at once, a huge flash bathed the surroundings in light. Olle smelled the pungent odor that sometimes follows a thunderstorm. When his sight returned, the shapes were gone. In their place, men and women in gray apparel surrounded them.
One of them, a young man of their own age, came forward. He wore a black headband and his hair lay in a ponytail on his back. His lower lip and his ear lobes were pierced with small silver rings, and his face was white like Uwella’s, with jet-black shadows around iris-less eyes. His glance met Olle’s and then looked past him, uninterested. ‘Come,’ he said, cold as an echo of the white shapes.
A woman of middle age, like the young man dressed in a gray leather uniform, held out her hand. ‘Your weapons please.’
‘Who are you?’ Olle’s heart was pounding from the past effort and the pain behind his sternum away took his breath. ‘You saved us.’
‘Hand me your weapons,’ the woman repeated.
Olle hesitated, but the drawn swords of the six fighters around him left him no choice. He handed her his weapon, then Torril reluctantly did the same.
Without a word, two of the strangers took Bo’s stretcher and carried him into the woods. The others surrounded Olle and Torril, and led them after the young man with the headband, who had walked away without another glance.
They left the fog behind and soon the sun was shining, the subdued light reflecting in the dewdrops on the leaves. Olle had lost all idea of time before he saw, through the trees, a wooden palisade. A girl in the same armor as their escorts guarded the entrance. She saluted and exchanged some word with the young man with the headband. Then she opened the gate and Olle and Torril stepped inside a ring of elongated wooden huts. One of the buildings stood apart from the others. His bearers carried Bo inside and the door closed behind them. The young man with the headband walked away without looking back. Beyond that first ‘come’, he hadn’t spoken. Before Olle could ask something, hard hands pushed him and Torril into a second, smaller hut. The door slammed shut and they heard a heavy bar fall into place.