Title: The Forked Path
Wraith Cycle Series Book 2
Author: T.R. Thompson
Genre: Dark Fantasy / Horror
About the Book:
Future and past entwined.
Despite the victory over Cantor Cortis, the dark power still spreads. Nightmare creatures are wiping out villages all along the southern edge of the wild Tangle forest, causing a stream of refugees to flow into the capital of Sontair in the hope of finding protection.
All who helped overthrow the Nine Sisters of Redmondis have been touched by what they experienced and those they lost. Dark visions sap Petron and Daemi’s strength even as they try to heal the rifts within Redmondis and forge a new path for the wielders, crafters, and guards who make up its three main schools.
Wilt must enter the Tangle to seek out the source of the power that calls to him. Visions of the past seen through other eyes haunt his days, and he finds it harder and harder to resist the pull of his wraith form.
The Guardian is old and weak, and the Tangle is no longer secure…
Shade had to admit it. He was lost.
He hadn’t thought it possible. He’d spent all his life in the Tangle, wandering its paths, listening to its low murmur and avoiding the random cruel tricks the Others liked to play. Now though, none of the surrounding trails seemed familiar. As soon as he found one worthy of pursuing, it seemed to curve around on itself until he was somehow back where he started.
He’d even tried climbing some of the trees, though they too resisted his efforts, bending themselves out of his way and shifting branches and boughs suddenly out of reach. Finally he’d glimpsed the late afternoon sky and got a sense of direction, but as soon as he was back on the forest floor, the trees seemed determined to shepherd him away from his chosen path. After only a few steps he’d be faced with an impossible solid wall of trees that even his thin figure was unable to squeeze through. And so he’d be forced to turn around and try to flank them, but the forest always seemed one step ahead.
And the Others, their voices much clearer now, as though they too were all converging on this one spot. Their conspiratorial whispers seemed to leak out of the shadows to fill his ears.
Long overdue. Look how weakened we are.
But none have succeeded. Even the strongest of us.
And little Shade hopes to succeed?
He squeezed his eyes closed and tried to ignore them. Nurtle had warned him about this as soon as she’d seen the cloak the Guardian had gifted him. How it would open certain doors, certain paths that normally remained closed.
Future and past entwined.
The words on the clasp that had held it. The words forced out of him. Had he brought this on himself? Or was it the Guardian, drawing him ever deeper. Was this what Nurtle had feared?
Time to climb, little Shade.
Climb for your life.
Or your death.
It’s all the same to us, you know.
Shade let their words wash over him, not paying attention to their meaning. His mind was buzzing, as though the forest’s song itself had grown in strength. Their words were just another breeze in the leaves. He kept his eyes closed and let the voice of the forest hum his heart into stillness.
When he opened his eyes again, he was deep in the forest, the light dim, the high sun blocked out by ranks of close-growing trees. The air was thick and muggy, heavy with moisture and the warmth of rotting things, making it hard to breathe.
He was standing in front of an enormous trunk, easily twenty feet across. It was the biggest tree he’d ever seen.
The Challenge Tree!
How high can little Shade climb?
Not high or fast enough.
Not a runt like you.
Hurry up and start, boy.
About the Author:
T.R. Thompson is an Australian speculative fiction author. He lives in Belgrave on the outskirts of Melbourne with his wife and two young sons.
When not writing or reading, he spends too much time gaming and taking long meandering walks through the forest that always seem to end up at a tavern.