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 2: GROMARTHEN
Hours later, they reached Gromarthen. The rain had stopped at last and in the dusk, the lights of the town looked warm and inviting.
Ghyll tried to remember what he knew of Gromarthen. It was one of the many rich trade ports along the Yanthe River. A burgraviate, held for the king by an old friend of Uncle Jadron’s. Damn, he thought. I’m too stupid to remember. He rubbed his eyes in an attempt to stay awake.
They passed the massive gate and stopped at the guardhouse. Two guards flanked the entrance, their halberds gleaming in the light of the lanterns. Ghyll’s training took over, and he straightened. He nodded to the men. ‘I am Squire Ghyll Denhalf from Tinnurad. Call the officer of the watch, please.’
One guardsman hesitated, but his mate had already disappeared into the building. Moments later, he came out with a sergeant, a gray-haired veteran, scarred by war. The man assessed the situation with a single glance, and saluted. ‘Good evening, Squire. How may I help you?’
‘We come from Tinnurad. I bear an urgent report for the lord burgrave,’ Ghyll said. ‘My friend needs immediate medical help.’
The sergeant looked at Damion and turned to his men. ‘You there, call the lieutenant. Ask him to come here. You two bring the wounded man to the infirmary. To see the castle’s healer,’ he said aside to Ghyll. ‘A White priest, not one of those sweet-talking quacks. If you’d be so kind as to step inside, Squire, my officer will be here directly.’
Ghyll and Olle followed him into the guardroom, while a soldier took charge of the horses. In the light of the torches, the sergeant gave them a once-over. Ghyll knew he didn’t look a nobleman in his scruffy hunting armor, soaking wet and covered in blood. We’re a mess, he thought. He’ll kick us out.
Instead, the old warrior beckoned to one of his men. ‘Get me two of our specials and make it fast, before the lieutenant comes.’
The soldier’s face fell. He hurried away, and returned a little later with two stone mugs.
‘This keeps the men goin’ on cold days.’ Straight-faced, the sergeant nodded at the steaming mugs.
The strong fumes made Ghyll reel as he took a sip. By the gods, mully! he thought. The hot spiced cider returned some feeling to his body as he drank it all, gasping and with tears in his eyes.
With a nervous glance at the door, the soldier snatched the empty mugs away and left.
Moments later, a young officer in the blue and silver of the Guard in Gromarthen entered the room. He paused in the door and raised his eyebrows. ‘Well, who have we here?’
Ghyll lifted his chin. ‘Lieutenant…?’
The guards officer came to attention and bowed. ‘Davall. And who are you, sir?’
‘I’m Squire Ghyll Denhalf from Tinnurad with an urgent message for the lord burgrave.’
Davall looked the young men over. Like the sergeant, their weary faces and soaking wet hunting clothes must have conveyed their urgency, for he nodded. ‘You’ve never been in Gromarthen before, Squire?’
Ghyll shook his head. ‘No.’
‘I’ll ride with you.’ Davall turned to the sergeant. ‘Have the Squire’s horses brought, please.’
The sergeant saluted. ‘You heard the lieutenant,’ he shouted to his men. ‘What’s keeping those horses?’
Once they were mounted, Davall seemed to hesitate. ‘I don’t want to pry, but to brave the Tinnurad trail in this weather is a desperate move. You bring bad news?’
Ghyll’s face worked. ‘Yes,’ he answered in a hoarse voice.
The lieutenant accepted his reticence and without another word led them into the town.