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The Gods Awaken

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The Gods Awaken

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Author: Allan Cole
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, 1999
Series: The Timura Trilogy: Book 3

1. When the Gods Slept
2. Wolves of the Gods
3. The Gods Awaken

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
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Enter lands of mystery, magic, and danger in the triumphant epic fantasy inspired by The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám!

The realm is tormented by catastrophe. Lord Safar Timura, the great wizard, is trapped in the doomed world of Hadin, condemned to suffer and die, over and over again. It is up to his wizard son, Prince Palimak, to stop the disaster slowly poisoning land and sea.

Though he is half human and half demon, even Palimak may not possess the awesome powers needed to free Safar and discover the great lost tomb, guarded by a fierce she-beast who holds secrets to halt the terror.



Escape to Syrapis

...And so they flew away on bully winds blowing all the way from far Kyrania...

It may have been the strangest, the saddest, voyage in history. The People of the Clouds mourned the loss of their leader, Safar Timura, who had guided them over thousands of miles of mountains and deserts and spell-blasted blacklands to the shores of the Great Sea of Esmir.

A paradise awaited them across that sea: the magic isle of Syrapis, where they would make their new home far away from the evil beings who had driven them from their mountain village in Kyrania.

Safar Timura--the son of a potter who had risen to become a mighty wizard and Grand Wazier to a king--had sacrificed his own life so his people might escape.

And now a thousand villagers were packed aboard a ragtag fleet of privateers, sailing to Syrapis and safety. High above them a marvelous airship flew over the silvery seas, pointing the way.

For many days and weeks the skies remained clear, the winds steady. At any other time there would have been cause for a grand celebration. A feast of all feasts, with roasted lamb and rare wine, children playing and lovers sighing. The world should have been a bright place, full of promise and joy. After months of terror, the Kyranians were free of Iraj Protarus and his ravening shape-changers.

But hanging over them was the Demon Moon--an ever-present bloody shimmer--reminding one and all of the doom Safar had predicted would befall the world. More haunting still was the memory of Safar, the handsome young man with the dazzling blue eyes and sorrowful smile.

Everyone wept when they learned he had been given up for dead. The mourning women scratched their cheeks and tore their hair. The men drank and regaled one another with tales of Safar's many brave deeds, shedding tears as the night grew late.

Lord Coralean, the great caravan master who had hired the ships so they could all escape together, spoke long and memorably about the man who had been his dearest friend.

Aboard the airship the circus performers--among them Biner, the mighty dwarf, and Arlain, the dragon woman--worked listlessly at their tasks. They did only what was absolutely necessary: feeding the magic engines, adjusting the atmosphere in the twin balloons that held the ship aloft, manning the tiller to keep them on course.

Meanwhile, the decks grew shabby, the material of the balloons drab, the galley fires cold. It seemed impossible to them that Safar would no longer be at their side, amazing the circus crowds with his feats of magic.

Sadder still were Safar's parents, Khadji and Myrna, who, even in their deepest night terrors, had never imagined they would outlive their only son. And his sisters mourned Safar so deeply they could not eat or sleep; if their husbands hadn't begged them to desist for the sake of their children, they surely would have died from sorrow.

Only four outsiders--a warrior woman, a boy, and his two magical creatures--prevented the voyage from becoming a disaster.

When the privateers, seeing the poor morale of the Kyranians, conspired to seize them and their goods--planning to sell the people into slavery--the woman overpowered and slew the raiders' captain. The boy--Safar's adopted son--combined his powers with those of the magical creatures to cast a terrifying spell that paralyzed the pirates with fear and forced them into obedience.

The woman was Leiria. The boy--half human and half demon--was Palimak. And the creatures, Gundara and Gundaree, were twin Favorites who had lived in a stone turtle for a thousand years.

Then one day the lookout in the airship shouted the joyful news that land was in sight. The little fleet had finally come to the shores of fair Syrapis: the promised land.

Except, instead of milk and honey, they found an army waiting on those shores.

An army intent on killing them all.

But Palimak and Leiria roused the people, routed the army, and for three long years they fought the ferocious inhabitants of Syrapis.

And for three long years they searched for the grail Safar had urged them to seek.

They had many adventures, many setbacks, and many victories.

Meanwhile, Palimak strove mightily to educate himself. He scoured ancient tomes, quizzed witches and wizards. And he seized every spare moment to study the book of Asper, which his father had bequeathed to him.

In those pages, Safar had said, was the answer to the terrible disaster on the other side of the world--in far Hadinland--that was slowly poisoning all the land and the seas.

It was a race against extinction for humans and demons alike.

And in that race, Palimak lost his childhood.


The Dance of Hadin

Oh, how he danced.

Danced, danced, danced.

Danced to the beat of the harvest drums.

Around him, a thousand others sang in joyous abandon. They were a handsome people, a glorious people; naked skin painted in fantastic, swirling colors.

And they danced--danced, danced, danced--singing praises to the gods as shell horns blew, drums throbbed, and their beautiful young queen cried out in ecstasy. She led them, tawny breasts jouncing, smooth thighs thrusting in the ancient mating ritual of the harvest festival.

Safar danced with her, pounding his bare feet against the sand, rhythmically slapping his chest with open palms, while above him the tall trees, heavily laden with ripe fruit, rippled in a salty breeze blowing off the sparkling sea.

But while the motions of his fellow dancers were graceful, Safar's were forced and jerky--as if he were a marionette manipulated by a cosmic puppeteer.

Madness! was his mind's silent scream. I must stop, but I cannot stop, please, pleaseplease, end this madness!

Yet no matter how hard he battled the spell's grip, his body jerked wildly on--and on and on--in the Dance of Hadin.

For Safar Timura was trapped in the prelude to the end of the world.

Beyond the grove was the great conical peak of a volcano, a dramatic backdrop for the beautiful queen. A thick black column of smoke streamed up from the cone. It was the same volcano Safar had seen in a vision many years before, which had told him that at any moment the volcano would explode, and that he, along with the joyous dancers, would die.

Was this real? Was he truly on the shores of Hadinland, destined to be swallowed in a river of molten rock? Or was it just a night terror that would end if only he could open his eyes?

He'd had such dreams before. Once, he'd dreamed of wolves, and Iraj Protarus, with murder in his heart and a horde of shape-changers at his back, had risen from the dead to confront him.

Now, with a jolt, Safar thought: Iraj! Where is Iraj?

He tried to force his head around to see if Protarus was among the dancers. But his body wasn't his own, and all he could do was prance with the others, slapping his chest like a fool.

He had no idea how long this had gone on. It seemed he'd been a barely conscious participant in a dance that went on endlessly. Yet there were moments of chilling clarity, such as now, when he would regain use of his mind enough to struggle against the mysterious force that held him.

It was a cruel clarity, because he knew the fight was hopeless, that he'd struggle fruitlessly, then lapse into semiconsciousness again.

Safar thought he heard Iraj's voice among the others and once again tried--and failed--to look.

Then he felt his senses weaken as if a drug were creeping through his veins to cloud his mind. He bit down on his lip, grabbing at the pain to keep his wits. And with the pain came a sudden memory of Iraj standing before him, half giant wolf, half all-too-human king. Flanking Iraj were Safar's deadliest enemies: the demons, Prince Luka and Lord Fari; and the spymaster, Lord Kalasariz. All bound to Iraj by the Spell of Four.

Yes, yes! he thought. Iraj! Remember Iraj!

And what else?

There was something else. Something that had brought him here. If only he could recall, perhaps he could escape ...

The machine! That was it!

The image floated up: Iraj and the others bearing down on him, while at his back, the great machine of Caluz--a hunched turtle god with the fiery mark of Hadin on its shell. It was a machine whose magic was out of control, and Safar knew if he didn't stop it, his beloved land of Esmir would die an early death.

He fought hard to remember the spell he'd once cast to plug the sorcerous wound between Esmir and the deathland that was Hadin.

The words kept slipping away. Think! he commanded himself. Think!

And it came to him that the words formed a poem. A poem from the Book of Asper.

Asper, yes, Asper. The ancient demon wizard whose strange book of verse had predicted the end of the world a thousand years before. And who had speculated on the means to halt the destruction.

Safar felt sudden joy as the spellwords burst from nowhere:

Hellsfire burns brightest

In Heaven's holy shadow.

What is near

Is soon forgotten;

What is far

Embraced as brother ...

He groaned as the rest of the words fled, bit his lip harder, blood trickling down his chin. Remember, dammit! Remember!

But it was hopeless. The rest of the spell remained agonizingly just out of reach in a thick mist.

Fine, then. Forget about the verse. Think of what happened when you faced Iraj. Remember that--and perhaps the spellwords will come.

His mind threw him back to the Valley of Caluz, his enemies before him, the sorcerous machine behind. He was alone. Palimak and Leiria had fled on his orders, leading the people of Kyrania to Syrapis and safety, and he remained behind to stop the machine and destroy Iraj, so he couldn't pursue the villagers.

And then what?

His life, he realized instinctively, depended on his recalling what had happened next. No. Not just his life--the world depended on it.

Very wel...

Copyright © 1999 by Allan Cole


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