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Firewalker
cover art © Brad Fraunfelter

 

 

Java Mountainstand runs away from home and joins Freeholm's Firewalkers, where she is made a Scout. As a scout, Java finds herself in one of the most dangerous positions in the company--and the most exciting.

The Saga of Java Mountainstand book 1.

 

 

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List Price: $6.50 USD

Format: Trade Paperback
    Available 2019!
List Price: $19.95 USD

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Firewalker

fantasy

Loren K. Jones

 

 

 

Preface

The Kingdom of Forinstan had filled the eastern quarter of the Brondian Continent, inhabiting the lands that had once been called Reynadia, Luxandia, Kavadia, and Coravia, though those names are only remembered in tomes of ancient history. For more than five hundred years the kings of Forinstan ruled over their kingdom wisely, and watched it prosper.

Then Blackmoore Javinson came to power.

King Blackmoore murdered his father to gain the throne. He believed the kingdom existed solely for his pleasure, and he indulged his every desire. Exotic foods, menageries, and entertainments of every conceivable form filled his days. Sex slaves taken by his elite guards filled his nights. No whim was too small, too petty, or too expensive for the king.

After ten years of Blackmoore's excesses, the taxes he levied on his dukes became so ruinous that something had to be done. A rebellion sprang up. The dukes refused to pay Blackmoore's taxes, killing the king's tax collectors and holding the money back for themselves.

King Blackmoore amassed an invincible army of Magi to ruthlessly put down the dukes who opposed him, until they had a fateful encounter with the dragon Amberdrake. Amberdrake, the mightiest Dragon Mage to ever live, left Blackmoore dead in a pool of dragon dung, then burned him and scattered the ashes of the king and his "invincible" army in the spring breeze.

In the years that followed the rebellion, the remaining dukes fought a bitter civil war against one another in an effort to claim the throne. Alliances formed and fell as blood-relatives of the late king laid claim to his crown.

Twenty-three years of civil war reduced the once-prosperous Kingdom of Forinstan to a sparsely populated ruin. Fully two-thirds of the population fell to famine and disease while men fought and died for the glory of their overlords.

Stability finally came to the duchies when the last vestiges of their civilization fell. The Kingdom of Forinstan fragmented, with each of the twenty-six duchies becoming a kingdom in its own right, and each duke a king in all but name.

For over one hundred years, civilization clawed its slow and painful way back into existence as the population recovered. Trade, the true life's-blood of peace, slowly resumed. Alliances formed and fell between the duchies with the birth and death of the dukes. Raids and border wars limited growth as ancient grievances were dusted off and voiced anew.

Now a new tyrant has arisen from the ashes.

Adept Frander Bramwell, one of the most powerful human magi to ever walk Dracana, has decided to bring his utopian vision to the people of Forinstan. One hundred and twenty-six years after the death of Blackmoore, he seized power in the Duchy of Rey and brought the people under his will, proclaiming himself King Frander.

Then he began attacking his neighbors.

When the four duchies that bordered Rey were under his control, Frander named himself Emperor of Forinstan, seeking to claim the glory attributed to the ancient Emperors of Luxand. Three additional duchies fell, one by one, to his armies. Now, with his empire stable and the population of the eight duchies pacified, he is once again on the move.

Frander found the conquest of the duchies easy for the first fourteen years. The isolationist policies of the dukes, necessary for peace in the beginning, were their downfall. No duke could overcome the years of petty squabbling and bad blood to weld together a sufficient force to defeat Frander.

A new kind of leader is needed. A leader who can unite squabbling neighbors against their common foe. A leader with blood-ties to none, who will defy tradition in the name of love.

This is the story of that leader.

Prologue

The estate of Equintain was famous for its horses. Lord Phillip Ahern took well-justified pride in the horses he bred. His servants were another source of pride. Well-behaved and obedient, other lords envied him for how good they were.

Mostly.

The butler's daughter, fourteen-year-old Java Mountainstand, stood staring at her father in disbelief. "Jallan? Father no!" she cried. "I won't be bound to that beast."

"Java, it has been decided," Ambrose Mountainstand said to his oldest daughter in a stern tone. "You will be wed to Jallan on the next day of rest."

"No, I won't! I'm only fourteen! You can't make me marry anyone until I'm sixteen!" Java was wide-eyed with shock as she looked at her father. Daddy?

"You will do as you are told, Java," Nightingale Mountainstand said as she moved forward to stand beside her husband. She was taller than Java, but still barely topped her husband's shoulder. "Lord Ahern thinks getting married will settle you down. Give you somewhere for your excess energy to go."

"Mother, you know what Jallan's like! There isn't a girl on the estate that he hasn't tried to bed. And you know as well as I do what he did to poor Restin when she finally said yes. He broke her!" She had tears in her eyes as she stared at her mother. "You helped nurse her back to health. I am not going to let him break me like that! I'm not some mare! He can't break my spirit!" Java was standing with her fists clenched, desperately trying to find some way to deny their announcement.

"Java, you have no choice in the matter," her mother said softly. Her expression had softened to show some regret as well. "You are a bound servant of Lord Ahern. So is Jallan. You will wed Jallan, and your children will one day be servants here, just as you are."

Java backed away from her parents two steps, then turned and fled. Tears clouded her vision and she sought some privacy. They can't do this to me. Not Jallan. Restin still can't walk right. She hid in the stable, wedging herself into the corner of a stall until she was completely under control. There has to be a way out of this.

Her little sister, Debran, found her some time later. "Java, I heard. But it isn't all bad. I mean, marrying Jallan means you'll stay here, at home. You won't have to go to some other estate where the only family you'll have is your husband. At least mom and dad will be here for you."

"Like they are now, Deb?" Java asked in a glum tone without looking up.

Debran shook her head. "Java, we're not slaves, but we're not really free, either. Mom and dad could rightfully leave because they don't owe Lord Ahern anything, but we owe him for raising us all those years when we couldn't do any work. He fed and clothed us, kept us warm, got healers when we were sick. His generosity wasn't free. You've only been working since you were ten. Jallan is only sixteen. Both of you are bound to Lord Ahern by your debt. Even if you were marrying someone from another estate, your new lord would have to pay your debt to Lord Ahern, and then you'd owe him." Debran shook her head. "Most servants don't earn enough to pay off their debt 'til they're thirty."

"I know all that, Deb. But the law says I can't be forced into a betrothal 'til I'm sixteen."

"The law is for those who can afford it. You can't."

Java heaved a huge sigh and shook her head, then looked at Debran. "No, I can't. I'm not a freeman. Go away, Deb. I don't want to talk about it anymore." Debran patted the edge of the stall and went away, but Java stayed where she was.

There's one other choice I can still make. One way out of this that they can't stop. That minstrel said the Firewalker mercenaries were accepting recruits this fall. It means I'll be a run-away, an outcast, and I can never come back, but all I have to do is get to Linkville. It's only a five-day ride from here.

Arandar hadn't yet risen when she slipped out of the loft room she shared with her sisters. She moved quietly, so no one would know she was up, and no one could change her mind, or make a fuss and force her to stay. No one saw her go down the stairs with her few belongings over her shoulder.

I can do this. I can get to Linkville and join the Firewalkers. They can't make me marry that animal once I am free of Equintain and Lord Ahern.

She was almost clear of Equintain when a horse whinnied at her. She knew that horse-voice and went to him. "Northstar, I'm going to miss you. But I won't let Jallan mount me. I won't let him break me." The old horse tossed his head as if agreeing with her, then she hurried away.

Fifteen days later she reached Linkville, foot-sore, weary, and without a copper to her name. She was directed to a fort built on a hill above the town, and applied to the all-female mercenary company called Freeholm's Firewalkers, setting her feet on a path that few could dream of.

 

 

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Author Bio

Loren Jones lives near Tampa, Florida. He married Pamela A. Willis in 1983 and they have stayed together to this time, and have three adult children. A US Navy veteran, Loren served as a nuclear reactor operator on attack submarines for six years before his honorable discharge in 1986. Loren makes his living as an instrumentation and controls technician and writes because the stories won't leave him alone.

TTB titles: Inadvertent Adventures - SF
Stories of the Confederated Star Systems

Stavin DragonBlessed series

  All that Glitters -- Book 1
  Traders and Traitors -- Book 2
  The Andarian Affair -- Book 3
  Farindian Summer -- Book 4
  The Coravian Conflict -- Book 5
  Gods Above and Below -- Book 6

The Saga of Java Mountainstand series
  Firewalker  book 1
  Liberator  book 2
  Savior  book 3

Author web site.

 

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Firewalker Copyright 2018. Loren K. Jones. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.

 

To order this book:
Format: ePub, PDF, HTML, Kindle/Mobi
    Payment Method
PayPal -or- credit card -or- Apple iBookstore; BN.com; Kindle; Kobo Books
List Price: $6.50 USD

Format: Trade Paperback
    Available 2019!
List Price: $19.95 USD

 

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