SeaJourney – Blitz

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Arken Freeth and the Adventure of the Neanderthals, Book 1
Middle-Grade Fantasy Adventure
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A young warrior stands at the precipice of war…
To succeed he must find his courage and survive a treacherous journey across the sea.
Arken Freeth has always wanted to prove himself worthy of his king’s appointment by becoming an officer in the Lantish Sea Service. Now the only thing standing in his way is his apprenticeship SeaJourney. But a peaceful training mission soon turns into a deadly struggle for survival as Arken’s fleet must come to the aid of a princess fleeing capture by Tookan pirates.
SeaJourney kicks off an epic and fantastical adventure that is a great read for all ages.
Other Books in the Arken Freeth and the Adventure of the Neanderthals series:
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Arken Freeth and the Adventure of the Neanderthals, Book 2
Publisher: AIS, Limited
As war looms like an evil shadow over the world…
Arken Freeth must save his crewmates’ lives as they traverse a deadly jungle filled with massive wolves and sabertooth cats.
In the age before the Great Flood, 13,000 years ago, a new alliance between the nations of Lanth and Tolaria is threatened by pyramid-building Amarrats out to conquer and enslave the world.
Fourteen-year-old Arken Freeth is swept up in the conflict when his Lantish Military Academy training ship is attacked by pirates and runs ashore. He and six classmates are the only survivors of the shipwreck, and they struggle to live in a jungle filled with saber-tooth cats, dire wolves, mammoths, and mastodons.
Arken has salvaged a necklace from the wreck–a necklace that bestows the gift of prophecy. If Arken can get it to the King of Lanth, he will turn the tide of war.
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The Toth Hunter
Arken Freeth And The Adventure Of The Neanderthals, Book 3
Publisher: AIS, Limited
Arken learns more about the secrets of his heritage and discovers the strengths it offers will help him to earn a place of leadership among his grandmother’s people.
Arken Freeth and Asher, the future king of Tolaria, find themselves trapped in the Nanders’ Water Cave as they await the recovery of Arken’s love, Talya.
While living among the Nanders, Arken earns the respect of the tribe as he hunts the deadly jalag and massive toth with the tribe. But Arken, Asher, and Talya soon anger the wife and son of the tribe’s leader, Jen. If Arken does not accept Jen’s challenge to the death, all their lives will be in jeopardy.
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Tookan Attack
Arken Freeth and the Adventure of the Neanderthals, Book 4
Publisher: AIS, Limited
A battle is looming between the Tookans and Arken Freeth’s band of Lantish, Tolarian, and Nander warriors. Who will survive?
The Pirate King Yolanta’s fleet has fled to Situn, a barbarian settlement on the northern coast of the Circle Sea. Once provisioned, Yolanta plans a return to the River Zash and a final battle that will secure the Necklace of Tol for the Amarrat King. Yet before Yolanta can return to crush the Nanders, he will face betrayal and death at the hands of the hostile residents of Situn, the treacherous walled city of the North.
A troubling vision has warned Arken Freeth that Yolanta and his men will soon storm the Nanders’ Water Cave. In order to save the Nander tribe and protect the Necklace of Tol, Arken, Talya, and Asher must forge weapons and train the Nanders in the art of modern warfare, an impossible task when the Nanders follow The Way and are so resistant to change.
Mar discovers that Arken is the Jalet-hoi, the one foretold to be the savior of the Nanders. But in order to fulfill this powerful prophecy, Arken must survive a duel with Jen, the tribal chief’s son, to save his friend Ord’s life. No one, not even his friends, believes Arken will win this fight with such a powerful warrior. Even if he does live, will their battle training be enough for them to build a Nander army skilled enough to survive the Tookan Attack?
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Arken Freeth and the Adventure of the Neanderthals Boxed Set
(The Boxed Set, Books 1-4)
Publisher: AIS, Limited
Part Neanderthal, but raised as a human, Arken Freeth finds that he doesn’t fit in either world as he struggles to survive.
Arken Freeth has always wanted to prove himself worthy of his king’s appointment by becoming an officer in the Lantish Sea Service. Now the only thing standing in his way is his apprenticeship SeaJourney. But a peaceful training mission soon turns into a deadly struggle for survival as Arken’s fleet must come to the aid of a princess fleeing capture by Tookan pirates.
Arken Freeth’s Lantish Royal Military Academy training ship is attacked by pirates and runs ashore. He and six classmates are the only survivors of the shipwreck and they struggle to live in a jungle filled with saber-tooth cats, dire wolves, mammoths, and mastodons. Arken has salvaged a necklace from the shipwreck—a necklace that bestows the gift of prophecy. If Arken can escape the Tookan pirates intent on stealing the necklace for themselves and deliver it safely to the king of Lanth, he will turn the tide of war.
Arken and some of his friends are rescued by the Nanders, only to find that many of the Nanders want to put them to death for fear they will escape and send slavers back to the Water Cave. Join Arken as he comes to grips with his heritage and struggles to keep himself and his friends alive while learning to live and hunt in the wild like a Nander.
The bloodthirsty Tookans return for the necklace, but a surprise awaits them when they step on shore, for Arken and his friends have armed and trained the Nanders. Though outnumbered, the Nanders are powerful warriors in their own forest. The outcome for the Tookans is anything but certain as Arken fights alongside the Nanders to defend their home.
Chapter 1: The Rock Test
Mother, I weep for you each night. Our enemy’s campfires
seem to number more than the stars in the sky. Their soldiers
drum and chant all night and torment our sleep. I fear the worst
for my people, for I cannot read the Necklace of Tol to see the
Time to Come.
—Diary of Princess Sharmane of Tolaria
Thirty boys surrounded Arken in a circle, waiting for him to
lift the rock and prove he was strong enough to graduate.
“No more delays, Arken,” Lar ordered. “Sunset will leave you
too old to test!” Lar’s olive skin and dark beard turned his
sunken eyes into two caves in a rock cliff. He was a lean, tall,
and wifeless instructor who lived alone in the academy officer’s
Arken could never tell if Lar liked him, since Lar was
sometimes friendly to him, yet now made fun and appeared to
enjoy his classmates’ laughter.
The circle of boys, all taller than him, carried sparring
swords and wore bronze armor over their white, knee-length
tunics. Bronze helmets shielded faces from the blazing sun.
“Class, form a seated square around the post and stone,”
Lar ordered. The moving armor rang with the music of bronze
and they joked as they sat. It was easy for Arken’s classmates
to laugh; they had all passed the test. As the youngest, he was
the last to reach his fourteenth birthday and take the test
before SeaJourney, a one-moonth-long apprenticeship, now
only days away.
If Arken lifted the rock, he would graduate and join his class
at sea. Failing the rock test today left only one way of going on
SeaJourney. He would have to defeat Gart, the class salcon, in
a sparring match.
“He’s taken so long I’ve grown a beard,” Gart joked in a loud
voice. Everyone laughed at Gart’s jokes, even if they weren’t
funny, because he was a year older than the rest of the class,
bigger than all of them, and their salcon, their squad leader.
Gart had passed the rock test the previous year, then failed his
final exams.
Given an additional year to study and the leadership
position as class salcon, the academy expected him to succeed.
A wave of depression swept over Arken. If he failed to lift the
rock, he had no chance of beating Gart in a sparring match. He
was a head taller and stronger.
“Arken, lift the stone!” Lar’s tone turned angry. “Why are
you stalling?”
“Yes, sir.” Arken scanned the second-story classrooms a
hundred legs across the courtyard. Girls in the Queen’s
Trackers often visited the academy for training and, being
scouts, they had good eyes. He didn’t want them to see him
But no girls watched from the openings in the gray stone
walls. Even the tower guards weren’t looking, probably due to
midmeal and the mid-day heat leaving them sleepy.
Arken turned towards Tok, the name given the rock five
hundred years earlier when the test began. He’d never lifted a
stone this big in practice. Father would be so disappointed if he
failed; he’d worked so hard with him practicing swords to help
keep up with his classmates. He stepped next to the rock.
“Don’t forget the warrior’s creed,” Lar reminded him.
“Sir! Fear none in battle, nor death at sea, nor those who
wish to torment thee, with Kal in mind and sword held high,
fight until you win or die.”
“Good! Now win your fight with that rock,” Lar ordered.
Arken squatted and picked up red, courtyard clay, then
rubbed it in his palms to improve his grip. Waves of heat from
the mid-day sun shimmered off Tok. Years ago they had run
laps from their classroom across the courtyard to the rock and
back while singing war songs. He and his young classmates
would slap the hot stone for good luck and shout “Tok” on the
A lingering touch of the stone could leave the palms warm
from the heat. Today he had to be careful and lift the rock’s
cooler, shaded side because touching the warm side would
make him drop the stone.
Arken was the only commoner in his class. All the other
boys were sons of noble families. The king had granted a
request by Arken’s father, a commoner, to send Arken to the
academy. It was a reward for his father’s heroism in battle.
Arken had endured bad treatment and bullying at the hands
of the noblemen’s sons since the age of six because he wanted
to prove himself to his father and he yearned for a chance to
explore the world in the Sea Service.
Now all those years of abuse would only be worth it if he
lifted Tok and graduated.
A swordtooth’s scream split the air. The class turned as one
towards the sound coming from beyond the fort’s north wall.
The high-pitched tone dropped to a long, low rumble that made
Arken’s neck hairs stand up.
“Remain calm,” Lar ordered. “The swordtooth is far away. I
promise, if it draws close enough for the guards to kill, we’ll go
up on the wall and watch.”
The boys all talked at once about the swordtooth and
seemed to forget about Arken. He wiped sweat from his face
that had run down despite the gastag leather strap holding
back his long blonde hair. He felt grateful for the swordtooth
because it bought time to get his nerves under control.
The swordtooth cat was old and couldn’t hunt toth and ton,
so it had moved in close to the city walls to attack King’s
Harsemen when they patrolled outside the fort. Two dead
horses and riders made it essential that the swordtooth die. So
the guards had tethered a goat next to the south wall before
dawn to draw the cat within range.
The swordtooth screamed again, sending chills down
Arken’s spine. The cats grew to twenty feet long. Though
terrifying, they inspired him. They were proof of the vast,
dangerous world beyond the city walls awaiting his exploration.
“Begin, Arken,” Lar said.
“Fourteen … I’m old enough,” Arken whispered to himself.
He rubbed the loose clay from his hands and rose to extend a
hand from the top of the post to his chest, measuring the
height he’d have to lift Tok to his belly button. A slight
depression in the top center of the post would hold the rock,
but to lift and gently place it so as not to roll off was the
“He’ll never lift it,” Gart whispered loud enough for all to
hear. “He’s too small.”
“Silence, Gart!” Lar entered the square and strode towards
Gart. “You’re a salcon! Friendly teasing is fine, but a class
leader should never undermine his men.” Lar jabbed his heavy
walking stick into the back of Gart’s calf where the armor didn’t
protect his legs, making the boy wince. A grimace crossed his
face. Crying out during punishment lengthened the beating so
Gart made no sound.
“Yes, sir! Sorry, sir!” Gart pulled his feet in tight under the
skirt of his white tunic to avoid another poke of Lar’s stick. His
lower lip quivered slightly despite his stony face and Arken
knew he’d been hurt by Lar’s blow and comment.
“Arken, lift that stone now!”
“Yes, sir.” Arken said, but the swordtooth screamed,
drowning out his reply.
“It’s getting closer!” Lar exclaimed. “Arken. Hurry and lift,
we want to see that swordtooth killed!”
“Yes, sir.” Arken felt grateful the big cat had diverted
attention for now he felt ready.
He squatted, put his chest on the stone, and reached
around with his arms so he could lock his fingers. He’d always
thought his barrel chest was an advantage; it gave him more
wind when he ran. But now his chest prevented his fingers
from touching. Arken turned his head to the left, brushing his
right cheek against the stone. The hot rock stung his flesh as
his straining fingers locked together. For once his too big hands
were an advantage and not an embarrassment.
He held his cheek off the hot rock as he pushed with his
legs. But the rock didn’t budge. It felt alive and its weight
fought him. He struggled to breathe, his chest restricted by the
rock’s pressure.
He tipped back on his heels and the rock popped off the
ground. A thrill ran through him. I’m going to do it! But when
he strained to rise, nothing happened. Impossible! So heavy!
He thought of quitting, but his fingers slipped and to his
surprise he fought to tighten his grip instead of letting go.
I can’t disappoint Father. Dear God Kal, grant me a birthday
wish, Arken prayed. Help me lift this rock.
He screamed and it startled some of the boys. He didn’t
care; the scream gave him strength and the rock edged higher.
His inner elbows burned from the strain of the weight. They felt
as if red-hot fire pokers were being thrust into them. His legs
I am strong enough! He simply had to endure the pain.
“Almost there!” Lar had stooped over to see the post’s top.
Arken lurched forward with his right foot but the rock
thudded against the top of the post. He advanced his left leg,
then leaned back, trying to raise the rock the last little bit to
clear the post.
Pain shot across his low back. He recalled Lar’s stories
about boys injuring their spine by tipping backwards too far.
“One finger width higher!” Lar yelled.
The pain straightened his spine against his will.
“No, you’re going lower, lift it higher!” Lar waved his hands
as if he could somehow help Arken lift.
Arken strained his calf muscles, trying to lift his heels off
the ground and raise the rock that way. He rose to his tiptoes.
“You’re clear, push it forward, Arken!” Lar stepped closer.
A final push, he could feel it! He strained to go forward, but
suddenly, his calves gave way as if they belonged to someone
else, no longer willing to do his bidding. He felt his heels strike
the ground as the rock pushed them down.
“Too low.” Lar bent down. “Can’t you get it higher? You were
“I’ll try,” Arken grunted. He strained to raise himself back on
his toes, but nothing happened. He tried to pull with his arms,
but the rock lodged against his chest and wouldn’t budge.
Suddenly everything started to go dark. He focused his eyes on
some palm trees across the courtyard outside the fort’s main
The green palms swayed in the light breeze as they receded
down a long black tunnel. He blinked, but opened his eyes to
only a pinhole of light.
“Clear!” His intended yell came out a whisper. He felt the
stone slip from his grasp. A hand snatched him back by his
arm and the world left him.
“Are you alright?” Lar’s voice echoed as if he were in a cave.
“I think so.” Arken opened his eyes. A seagull hovered in the
blue sky high above Lar’s hollow-cheeked face and Arken
realized he was lying flat on his back.
“You’re sure?” Lar leaned in closer and blocked the gull’s
“Yes.” Arken rose to his elbows. “What am I doing on the
“You blacked out lifting the rock.” Lar said.
“I didn’t pass the test?” The memory came flooding back.
“You will next year.” Lar offered his hand. “You’re strong
enough, just not tall enough.”
“I know.” He felt proud he’d at least been strong enough to
lift it.
“Do you want to try your luck sparring with Gart today?”
“Yes, sir, I do.” Arken surprised himself with his answer as
he rose to his feet. He didn’t care if he lost, or even if he got
hurt sparring Gart. He wanted so badly to go on SeaJourney
this week. Life at sea called him.
“Good, I admire your spirit, Arken, though you’ll probably
lose.” Lar chuckled and shook his head.
“Maybe,” Arken rubbed his hands to knock off the clay, then
tried to brush the red clay from the back of his white tunic, but
with little success. Arlet, their Nander kitchen slave, would
scold him tonight for the dirty uniform.
The swordtooth screamed again, this time so loud it echoed
around the courtyard.
“It’s close to the wall!” Lar turned his gaze to the
guardhouse where soldiers were running for the chariot
mounted, giant crossbow. “Arken will fight you, Gart, after we
watch the guards kill the swordtooth. Lead your class to the
top of the wall.”
“Yes, sir, I accept Arken’s challenge. Cadets to me!” Gart
jogged for the wall.
The cadets saluted and were gone, like armored quails
busting out of grass in fear. Tanned legs carried lean bodies up
the stairs to the wall top in seconds.
Arken jogged two steps to Lar’s one despite Lar running with
his ceremonial robe gathered in his hands to prevent tripping
on it. Arken was grateful for some time to regain his strength
before sparring with Gart. It was his last chance to go to sea
this year. He had been so excited about beginning his officer’s
apprenticeship as a saldet, a junior officer. Only Gart stood in
his way.
About the Author

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Alex Paul is the award-winning author of Arken Freeth and the Adventure of the Neanderthals books series, and co-author of They’re Mine and I’m Keeping Them.
Alex Paul lives with his wife Laura Ross-Paul (co-author of They’re Mine and I’m Keeping Them), and two faithful dogs, in Portland Oregon in the winter, and the Oregon Coast in the summer.
He trained as an Industrial Engineer at Oregon State University, working in a variety of fields before settling into a career as a real estate developer.
Alex Paul has been a life long outdoors enthusiast, having a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw on for his epic fantasy Arken Freeth series.
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