They were supposed to be having the time of their lives on the biggest gaming adventure ever. After all, nineteen-year-olds Daniel and Wolfgang have just received the best news imaginable. They’ve been chosen to be among the only five players to participate in Portal to Gaming’s Arc of Fantasy pre-game launch, something they’ve wanted since the epic gaming adventure was announced.
Only something’s gone wrong. The twins are now stuck in their virtual reality where the situation has gone from fun and make-believe to very real, very quick, and dangerously so. The only way they can go home is to embark on the very real quest of facing King Lopt’s twin-headed fire wyvern, a creature no one has ever slain. The Salmorians, the alien race at war with Earth and her allies, chase after them, intent on killing them, and they’re not the only enemies hot on the twins’ trail.
Little do the twins know they’re undertaking a journey of great and dangerous significance, one that will change their lives forever or kill them in the process. The race to the fire wyvern is on!
Book 2 in the Arc of Fantasy series.
Will be available in paperback format soon for $19.99, available as an ebook for $3.99 on Kindle and NOOK
Daniel picked his way over a tangle of tree roots, taking care not to jostle Fortune too much or to trip. His feet ached and were like heavy stones with each step he took. At the same time, the chill from the soul hunter’s touch no longer dogged him like before. It persisted a little but not to the point where it hindered him as much. His vision no longer blurred, either, a mercy for which he was extremely grateful. No one else had offered yet to carry Fortune, and she seemed quite content to be held by him. It also wasn’t lost on him that Covelina kept glancing at him, her eyebrows furrowed in thought. A few times, she opened her mouth to say something but then refrained. Her staring was starting to creep Daniel out some.
‘Who leaves a child in the middle of the forest like that anyway? And why? What possible reasons even justify leaving a defenseless baby like that? Man, some people just disgust me. Maybe it’s a good thing Fen isn’t with us right now. He’d be even more upset about this than I am, I’m sure, and I’m pretty peeved as it is. Fen . . .’ Daniel inhaled a short breath. ‘And what is Covelina’s deal? Why does she keep staring at me? Must be because of my charming good looks.’
The image of his best friend with a golden double ourorboros tattoo on his right hand, much like what Professor Willows had, still bothered Daniel and not just because of Dharma’s spell. With his mind clearing, he scoured through his memories to find when Fen got the tattoo done but found nothing. Not because Fen despised body art but because Fen was always particular about the style.
‘He never found anything he liked. So when did he get it? He didn’t have it before we started up our game . . . but this isn’t a game anymore. It can’t be. Not if we’re getting injured and not being taken back to the facility like we’re supposed to. Dharma says the double ourorboros is the mark of King Lopt but the Professor always told us it was the symbol of Loki . . . How can they be the same like that? Something isn’t right.’
His foot caught on a root, and Daniel twisted his body as he crashed to the ground. The last thing he wanted to do was land on top of Fortune and injure her. He cracked his elbow on a rock and his head on another tree root. Daniel gasped for air. His eyes watered. Fortune screamed.
Two sets of hands lifted him while a third took Fortune from him. Wolfgang grasped him by the face, worry and tears in his eyes.
“You okay, bro?”
“That be a nice cut ta yer head there,” Magni said.
“Not a good place to step,” Daniel mumbled. He winced as Magni prodded the skin around his wound. “We’ve got to keep moving.”
“We also cannae be leavin’ this cut untreated. And I dun want either Dharma or Covelina ta be castin’ magic right now. Something nae be right ‘bout this forest. Somethin’ nae be right at all.” Magni glanced around as though he expected an attack.
“It’s just a cut,” Dharma pointed out. Daniel rolled his eyes. Leave it to her to state the obvious. “Covelina can . . .”
“It won’t take me long to patch him up,” Wolfgang said.
“You’re not a healer.”
Another statement of the obvious.
‘Someone oughta call Dharma Captain Obvious,’ Daniel thought.
“So? I know how to treat injuries,” Wolfgang retorted. “It isn’t that hard. No magic required on my part.”
“What? Oh, wait. Let me guess. Fen taught you this.”
His brother retrieved from his enchanted bag an ointment, some bandages, and an antiseptic Fen often requested for adventures. They’d made sure to stock up since Fen wasn’t big on always casting magic for simple “cuts”, as he put it, and he was glad they’d done so. His cut stung bad.
Daniel shook his foot. The tree root remained wrapped around his ankle and refused to release it.
“A good soldier knows a little bit of everything about the battlefield,” Wolfgang recited, his tone stiff. “He never knows what will truly come in handy until it does. And, no, Fen didn’t teach us any of this. Our mother did.”
“She sounds like a wise woman,” Magni said. Fortune’s cries lessened.
“She sounds like a warrior,” Dharma pointed out.
“She’s both,” Daniel replied. He winced a little as Wolfgang applied the antiseptic to his cut, but his grimace more at the sadness in his twin’s eyes and heart. Their hearts ached to go home. Words from Fen’s mother entered his mind, a sentiment his own mother echoed.
“Your heart will always ache for home, young warrior,” Victorie had said once, pulling a batch of chocolate chip cookies from her oven. “It is in the nature of any warrior, any adventurer to miss home after being away for a long time, especially when he or she has something waiting at home for them. So, when the time comes, let your heart ache for home, and know that home will always await you with warmth and love.”
“Both, huh?” Dharma shook her head. “That hasn’t ever been my experience. A wise warrior is a walking contradiction.”
“Then yer father be a walkin’ contro-diction then,” Modi said.
“What? No. He isn’t a contradiction! He’s a king!”
“And he be a warrior or are ya forgettin’ what we said ‘bout ‘im before? King Odin Ravenschylde led his armies against King Lopt Firefrost and his people. He ne’er stayed behind. In addition ta bein’ a king, he be a warrior, and he be wise. He be a contro-diction, though, by yer words.”
“You’re such an ass.”
“Aye, I be an ass,” Modi said. Wolfgang finished bandaging Daniel’s wound. “And I be speakin’ the truth. Just because yer experiences be sayin’ otherwise dunnae mean everyone else’s experiences be the same, Dharma. There be many truths in this world, most o’ ‘em based on individual experiences. Ya dun need to be mean all the time and ta everyone who be sayin’ somethin’ ya dun agree with.”
Wolfgang stepped away.
“Done. We can get going now.”
“Great. Then let’s be leavin’.”
“Hold on. My foot’s wrapped in this stupid tree root somehow.” Daniel knelt down to break the offending root from his ankle. A second later, an arrow flew between Magni and Wolfgang, hitting the tree trunk where Daniel’s head been a moment before. Another landed inches away from Daniel’s hand.