Date Published: 2016
Publisher: eTreasures Publishing
Fergus mac Ogma, a youthful Irish acolyte at the Toltec Temple of Cashel has a burning desire to survive, and become something more than a native underling in a land controlled by invaders from across the ocean.
Rowena, the young Saxon girl, is fleeing England with her uncle the monk and attempting to reach the Continent across the Channel. Their flight is interrupted by a band of outlaws who offer to guide them.
Set in the years after the Toltec conquest of Ireland and England, three lives become entwined as they face personal desires and challenges of an occupied land, religious tension, and threat of an invasion.
Fergus’ gaze wandered to the dust motes captured in the wayward beam of sunshine that entered through the narrow window. For some reason the fine specks reminded him of grains of gunpowder. He might not be squatting here if not for the gray magic of the overlords.
The headmaster’s stern stare swept the class. “Who can tell me the significance of today’s date?” The tall redhead’s hand was the first raised.
Fergus rose to his feet and shook a cloud of ash from his shoulders, the residue from the morning’s flagellation. “This is the one hundredth anniversary of the first landfall in Connaught by the Golden Jaguar.” He couldn’t help adding, “From this year of 1215AD, according to the peasants.”
“And what is the significance of the landing, Fergus mac Ogma?” Frowning, the headmaster tugged at his jade earplug, one of the signs of his impatience with the seminary students.
Fergus allowed a smile to flicker across his broad, freckled face. He made a slight bow. “This landfall brings civilization to the five kingdoms, and enlightenment to the rest of the world.”
The headmaster frowned. “Not yet to all of the rest of the world, young pup.”
“Is it not simply a matter of time, Master?”
“You presume to know the wishes of the Smoked Mirror, my unworthy pupil?” The ancient priest’s dry voice dropped to the level of a fading autumn breeze.
The other novices shrank into their threadbare robes. The temperature in the stone cell fell by several degrees.
Fergus remained unconcerned. “Is it not our duty, as missionaries in the name of Tezcatlipoca and the Great Khan himself, to carry the word to every corner of the world?” He sat back on his straw mat.
“It will be, if any of you ever leave the shelter of this abbey as graduates and acolytes.” The headmaster shook his high priest’s robe and surveyed the crowded chamber, pointing with stick-thin fingers laden with gold and emerald rings. “To make certain you remember to humble yourself before the gods, and the Great Khan, run outside, around the abbey grounds, six full times. Then take your willow switches, go to the courtyard, and flagellate your bare backs until the dinner bell is sounded.” He smiled. “Cell partners will take turns. Finn, you will start on Fergus until he bleeds, and next it will be your privilege. Go!”
“See what trouble you have created,” Finn hissed at Fergus as they jostled through the doorway.
Some of the other students glared at Fergus, others simply bowed their heads and shuffled off toward the exit.
Fergus smiled calmly. “This only makes the body and mind stronger to carry on our divine work.”
He ran, soon leaving Finn and the others behind. As Fergus dashed across the uneven ground he glanced up at the rock and the castle, the high, round tower black against the sun. Adjacent to the castle, the half-completed stone pyramid stretched toward the sky, smoke rising from the temporary altar at the summit. “Someday, I too will sit upon a rock and judge, I swear it.”
About the Author
After winning a Canadian Authors national contest, Ron connected with Champagne Books of Alberta to complete “The Dark Lady” fantasy trilogy, followed by “The Queen’s Pawn” trilogy, and his fantasy detective series of eight novellas: “The Housetrap Chronicles.” His latest novel with Champagne is “Alex in Wanderland.”
Ron recently signed with a second publisher, eTreasures Publishing of Florida with, “We’re Not in Kansas,” a near-future thriller, followed by a what-if, “Toltec” trilogy. The first book in the series, Toltec Dawn is available now, with the second, Toltec Khan, available shortly.
Ron, a member of several writing groups, reviews genre novels for an on-line magazine and sometimes escapes to his sailboat on Lake Winnipeg.