In The Crossroads of the Other World, Michael, one of the three teens to be transported to the Other World, is captured by an enemy force because of his foolish choice to abandon the Ancient Paths. He is now led in chains to the fortress of the dark lord Lucrador, where he will be imprisoned . . . or worse. Meanwhile, his friends, an assortment of humans from Earth, elves, halflings, and talking animals, have embarked on a desperate journey to save him. This rescue mission takes the friends in a race against time to where all others fear to go: Roudell, the Thieves' Forest. Below is an excerpt from the book:
At three in the morning that night Aaron and Chester were roused to take their turn as guards.
“So this is Roudell, the Thieves’ Forest,” Aaron said, taking his place near the horses. The forest felt and looked dark . . . too dark.
“Yes, Aaron,” Chester replied, coming for a moment to stand by him. “Many evil things are known to live here. Keep that close.” Chester motioned towards Aaron's sword.
“My hand will not leave it until dawn,” Aaron said resolutely. Until dawn. Aaron was filled with a sudden longing.
Finally the first color of the morning dimly lit the encampment, and Aaron’s hand slowly relaxed its grip on his sword handle. A twig snapped, and Aaron listened intently. He had heard several shadowy animals pass in the night and suspected that the noise was the same, but his mind warned him differently. There was a rustling in the bushes, and suddenly a loud shout broke the stillness. A score or more of dark-cloaked men sprang from behind trees in a circle around the travelers’ camp.
Aaron let out a yell.
The nearest attacker swung a dark blade at Aaron’s neck. The boy ducked just in time and brought his shoulder against the man's chest just as he had done in practice at Burrowhill. The man fell back with a thud. The next assailant raised his menacing sword high above his head and brought it down full-force. Aaron barely unsheathed his sword in time and, meeting the blow, was sent tumbling backwards. He rolled down towards the encampment. All around him black-cloaked men assaulted his friends before they could even get out of their beds.
“We're attacked!” Chester shouted desperately. He slashed his first attacker’s throat with his dagger and threw it swiftly at another. All in one motion he pulled a bow and arrow from his shoulder and shot a cutthroat grappling with Leaf. Leaf rose to his feet and drew his sword. It glowed a dark red.
Clay managed to reach his battle axe and smash the jaw of the man on top of him with the butt-end of the weapon, and jumping up, he struck down another with a single stroke. All the others—except Swift, who had disappeared—were captured before they could draw their weapons.
Aaron rose to his feet, still clutching his sword, and ran to join the elves and dwarf desperately holding their own against their outnumbering attackers. All hope of saving the prisoners was lost as they were each quickly dragged away from the struggle by the dark forms of the men. Leaf parried a blow and looked desperately at where the horses had been tethered. Several men were leading them away.
“We must make for the horses!” he shouted. “If we retake them, we can ride through and rescue our friends!” Aaron nodded and threw himself at his attacker, knocking him down with the hilt of his sword.
Suddenly Shadowcor escaped from his captors and rushed through the men, bowling several over with his antlers. The attacking men drew back a little, and there was a rustling in the forest around the small party.
“Get down!” Leaf urgently yelled.
A twanging filled the air, and a dozen arrows implanted themselves around the prone band of the uncaptured. Shadowcor fell to the ground with a shallow grunt three arrows embedded in his side. Another rush of the black-cloaked men overcame the small band, and they were all slowly subdued and tied up. The rescue party had been sabotaged.
To the southeast Michael was marched along with his hands chained behind his back. The last two days had been pure misery for him. The boy was marched along at a rate that left him breathless and was constantly tormented by his guards. He had again and again studied his captors to try and find the slightest chance of escape, but it was hopeless. Behind him a borg carried a long whip, and on either side of him a borg armed with a black-notched spear served as a flank guard. In front of Michael a huge, hairy giant walked along. The colossal being carried a heavy stone club, and several more were strapped to his broad back. Besides that Michael would also have to get through a score of borgs he felt certain were lurking in the forest beside him, for occasionally he had heard harsh voices and seen figures rustling in the forest. He wondered why they were hiding. Furthermore, he was fed a crust of bread only when they stopped for the night and was given very little to drink. He was in no condition to escape.
The group passed a bend in the road, and Michael stopped dead in his tracks. Far ahead of him a mountain rose out of the ashen, bare land. Black smoke spewed out of its top. Fear gripped Michael's heart even tighter. He wondered where his friends were. What fate had befallen them? He knew Tentillrele's forces were even now approaching Burrowhill. All hope must be lost for his friends. Michael still failed to realize that it was his fault that he was in this situation, but rather the boy thought that he was the victim of an unfortunate string of events. Deep within him, though, something stirred: his repentance. His conscience still clutched to life.
A forked whip, like the tongue of a snake, cruelly bit into Michael's shoulder, and the borg behind him cursed and shoved Michael forward. “Keep moving, you worm! We are almost there. My master awaits.”
———To read more of Michael and his friends’ adventure, you can buy The Crossroads of the Other World from the FriesenPress bookstore at this link: http://www.friesenpress.com/bookstore/title/119734000009584884
Or, you can send a request for a copy of the book to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dictionary definition of the word "cliffhanger": Cliffhanger: A suspenseful situation occurring at the end of a chapter, scene, or episode.
Cliffhangers are fun.