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The Demon Awakens

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The Demon Awakens

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Author: R. A. Salvatore
Publisher: Del Rey, 1997
Series: Demon Wars 1: The DemonWars Saga: Book 1

1. The Demon Awakens
2. The Demon Spirit
3. The Demon Apostle

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
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(7 reads / 3 ratings)


In a volcanic cavern a great, awakening beast vexes to life all that is violent and base in the enchanted land of Corona. No creature dwelling there will remain unscathed.

Incited by this newly awakened evil, goblins ravage the settlements of the frontier, abetted by fearsome giants. In tiny Dundallis, their swift, merciless attack leaves behind two shattered orphans. Stripped of all they hold dear--including each other--Pony and her lifelong friend, the youth Elbryan, face an uphill battle for survival. Scarcely more than children, they teeter unaware between despair and destiny.

Meanwhile, on a far-off island, a shower of multicolored gemstones has fallen onto the black sand shores. When harvested by the monks whose order guards secrets of magic, these stones will contain incredible powers, carrying in them the key to all that is good in the world... and all that is evil.

Pray that they don't fall into the wrong, clawed hands.



The Unexpected Kill

Elbryan Wyndon was up before the dawn. He dressed quickly, fumbling with his clothes in the red light of the hearth's glowing embers. He ran a hand through his tousled straight hair--a light brown shock that bleached pale on its top layers under the summer sun. He retrieved his belt and dagger, which he had reverently placed right near his bed, and Elbryan felt powerful as he ceremoniously strapped the weapon about his waist.

He grabbed the heaviest wrap he could find and rushed out into the dark and chill air, so anxious that he hardly remembered to close the cabin door behind him. The small frontier village of Dundalis was quiet and eerily still about him, sleeping off the well-earned weariness that followed every day's hard labor. Elbryan, too, had worked hard the previous day--harder than normal, for several of the village men and women were out in the deep forest, and the boys and girls, like Elbryan who was nearing his teens, had been asked to keep things aright. That meant gathering wood and tending the fires, repairing the cabins--which always seemed to need repair!--and walking the perimeter of the sheltered vale that held the village, watching for sign of bear, great cat, or the packs of hunting wolves.

Elbryan was the oldest of those children, the leader of the pack, as it were, and he felt important, truly he felt a man. This would be the last time he remained behind when the hunters went off on the season's last and most important expedition. Next spring would bring his thirteenth birthday, the passage from childhood in the hardy land that was the northern wilderness. Next spring, Elbryan would hunt with the adults, the games of his youth left behind.

Indeed he was tired from the previous day's labors, but so full of excitement that sleep had not come to him. The weather had turned toward winter. The men were expected back any day, and Elbryan meant to meet them and lead their procession into the village. Let the younger boys and girls see him then, and afford him the respect he deserved, and let the older men see that the village, under his watchful eye, had fared well in their absence.

He started out of Dundalis, stepping lightly despite his weariness, passing through the darker shadows of the small, one-story cabins.

"Jilly!" The call was not loud but seemed so in the quiet morning air. Elbryan moved up to the corner of the next house, smiling for his cleverness, and peered around.

"It could be today!" protested a young girl, Jilseponie, Elbryan's closest friend.

"You do not know that, Jilly," argued her mother, standing in the open doorway of their cabin. Elbryan tried to muffle his snicker; the girl hated that nickname, Jilly, though nearly everyone in town called her that. She preferred the simple "Jill." But between her and Elbryan, the title was Pony, their secret name, the one Jilseponie liked most of all.

The snicker was soon gone, but the smile remained, all the wider for the sight. Elbryan didn't know why, but he was always happy when he saw Pony, though only a couple of years before, he would have taunted her and the rest of the village girls, chasing them endlessly. One time Elbryan had made the mistake of catching Jilseponie without his male companions nearby, and of tugging too hard on her yellow mane to prove the point of his capture. He never saw the punch coming, never saw anything except how wide the blue sky had suddenly seemed as he lay on his back.

He could laugh at that embarrassment now, privately or even with Pony. He felt as though he could say anything to her, and she wouldn't judge him or make merry of his feelings.

Candlelight spilled out onto the road, softly illuminating the girl. Elbryan liked the image; every day that passed, he found that he enjoyed looking at Pony more and more. She was younger than Elbryan by five months but taller than he, standing about three inches above five feet, while the young man, to his ultimate horror, had not yet reached the coveted five foot mark. Elbryan's father had assured him that Wyndon boys were normally late in sprouting. All jealousy aside, Elbryan found the taller Pony quite a pleasing sight. She stood straight but not stiff, and could outrun and outfight any of the boys in Dundalis, Elbryan included. Still, there was a delicate aura about her, a softness that a younger Elbryan had viewed as weakness, but the older Elbryan viewed as oddly distracting. Her hair, which Jilseponie seemed to be constantly brushing, was golden, silken, and thick enough to lose a hand in; it bounced about her shoulders and back with an alluring wildness. Her eyes, huge eyes, were the richest and clearest blue Elbryan had ever seen, like great sponges soaking in the sights of the wide world and reflecting Jilseponie's every mood. When Pony's eyes showed sadness, Elbryan felt it in his heart; when they soared with sparkling joy, Elbryan's feet moved involuntarily in dance.

Her lips, too, were large and thick. The boys had often taunted Pony about those lips, saying that if she ever stuck them to a window, they would surely hold her fast for all eternity! Elbryan felt no desire to tease when looking at Pony's lips now. He sensed their softness, so very inviting...

"I will be back in time for the morning meal," Pony assured her mother.

"The night woods are dangerous," her exasperated mother replied.

"I will be careful!" Pony responded dismissively, before the older woman had even finished the sentence.

Elbryan held his breath, thinking that Pony's mother, often stern, would scold the girl severely. She only sighed, though, and resignedly closed the cabin door.

Pony sighed, too, and shook her head as if to show her ultimate frustration with adults. Then she turned and skipped off, and was startled a moment later when Elbryan jumped out in front of her.

She reflexively cocked a fist, and Elbryan wisely jumped back.

"You are late," he said.

"I am early," Pony insisted, "too early. And I am tired."

Elbryan shrugged and nodded down the road to the north, then led the girl off at a swift pace. Despite her complaints concerning the time, Pony not only paced him but skipped right by him, obviously as excited as he. That excitement turned to sheer joy when they passed out of the town and began their ascent of the ridge. Pony chanced to look back to the south, and she stopped, stunned and smiling, and pointing to the night sky. "The Halo," she said breathlessly.

Elbryan turned to follow her gaze, and he, too, could not suppress a grin.

For stretched across the southern sky, more than halfway to the horizon, was Corona's Halo, the heavenly belt--a subtle tease of colors, red and green and blue and deep purple, a flowing softness, like a living rainbow. The Halo was sometimes visible in the summer sky, but only during the deepest parts of the shorter nights, when children, and even adults, were fast asleep. Elbryan and Jilseponie had seen it on a few occasions, but never so clearly as this, never so vibrant.

Then they heard a distant piping, soft music, perfect melody. It floated through the chill air, barely perceptible.

"The Forest Ghost," Pony whispered, but Elbryan didn't seem to hear. Pony spoke the words again, under her breath. The Forest Ghost was a common legend in the Timberlands. Half horse and half man, he was the keeper of the trees and the friend of the animals, particularly of the wild horses that ran in the dells to the north. For a moment, the thought of such a creature not so far away frightened Pony, but then her fears were washed away by the sheer beauty of the Halo and the fitting melody of the enchanting music. How could anyone, or anything, that could pipe so beautifully pose a danger?

The pair stood on the side of the ridge for a long while, not speaking, not looking at each other, not even realizing that the other was there. Elbryan felt totally alone, yet one with the universe, a small part of majesty, a small but endless flicker in eternity. His mind drifted up from the ridge, from the solid ground, from the sensible experiences of his existence into the unknown, exhilarating joy of spirituality. The name of "Mather" came to him briefly, though he didn't know why. He didn't know anything at that time, it seemed, and yet he knew everything--the secrets of the world, of peace, of eternity--it was all there before him, so simple and true. He felt a song in his heart, though it had no words, felt a warmth in all his body, though he was not at that moment a part of that corporeal form.

The sensation passed--too quickly. Elbryan sighed deeply and turned to Pony. He was about to say something but held the words, seeing that she, too, was immersed in something beyond language. Elbryan felt suddenly closer to the girl, as if they two had shared something very special and very private. How many others could look upon the Halo and understand the beauty of the thing? he wondered. None of the adults of Dundalis, certainly, with their grumbling and grouching, and none of the other children, he decided, who were too caught up in silliness to ponder such thoughts.

No, it was his experience and Pony's--theirs alone. He watched her slowly drift back to the reality about them--the ridge, the night, and her companion. He could almost see her spirit flowing back into that five foot three inch body--a body that was growing more shapely by the day.

Copyright © 1997 by R. A. Salvatore


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