The Quest of Narrigh
The Quest of Narrigh tells the story of Connor, who without warning finds himself in another world while playing an online computer game, The Quest of Narrigh. He played the game well on his brother’s laptop. He defeated his enemies with his acts of defiance and bravery. Narrigh is now a reality. It is a world governed by magic, filled with hostile races, warring factions and ferocious beasts.
In Narrigh, Connor is no ordinary boy. He discovers he possesses extraordinary powers, which he must learn to master if he wants to survive. But first, he must find his courage…
The scientist, Skelos Dorm, has been exiled to Narrigh from his home planet, Odisiris, for carrying out unlawful experiments. Forced to work for the Narrigh government, he holds in his possession a great artefact that if wielded could disrupt the balance between Narrigh and Odisiris, and ultimately lead to their destruction.
Skelos and Connor’s lives are about to become intertwined and all is not what it seems…
Genre: (Young Adult Fantasy)
THE OTHER WORLDS: where the realms of science-fiction and fantasy collide…
Excerpt from The Quest of Narrigh
Connor’s mind appeared to have disengaged itself from his body. A strange tranquillity had come over him. Fluorescent lights and gleaming silver flitted before his eyes. He dreamt of flying horses and whispering trees. A torrent of sounds, smells and apparitions tore at his senses: muddled words and rushing water, the smell of dead wood, dead meat and stale beer.
The liquid from the flask had jumbled his thoughts. He knew he had spoken to the Silver Rider upon whose horse he rode. The man had responded to him heartily. His chatter seemed endless, yet through all of it, Connor only managed to catch his name, Hiera.
Stop drinking the tea!
He didn’t want to stop drinking the tea. He felt no pain when he drank the tea. No fear. No sorrow.
‘Stop drinking the tea!’ The shrill voice drilled into his temples.
The flask fell, knocked out of his hands by the distorted shadow crouching over him.
‘Will you wake up!’
He felt a forceful grip on his arm. He couldn’t ignore the gravity of the words, but he couldn’t react to them either. He didn’t know how. His head lolled from side to side. The corners of his mouth went up into a lop-sided smile.
‘For goodness sake, will you wake up!’
Something was passed under his nose. He caught a whiff of a strong acid smell. He pulled a face and jerked his head back. Whatever it was swept up his nostrils and made his eyes sting. He twisted his mouth and snorted into the back of his hand. A vial of clear liquid was pressed to his lips.
A mist rose from the vial, swirling thickly, floating in the murky light. His head started to swim. He seized the small wrist of the hand holding the vial. He wasn’t about to drink it. No way.
The person crouching over him, wrenched his jaw open with one hand and thrust the contents of the vial down his throat. A small hand squashed his lips together, preventing him from bringing the liquid back up again.
He smacked the hand away, shuddering as the liquid, which tasted like hot metal, burned in the pit of his stomach.
A girl of about ten slipped into view. She sat back on her heels, her hazel eyes searching his face. She wore her thick brown hair in pigtails, tied with blue ribbons to match her blue silk dress. She had a piece of fur wrapped around her shoulders.
He looked around him. He was slumped in the hollow of a tree. Its sturdy roots bonded above the soil, forming a knotted shelter. He saw there was room for one more at a squeeze, but the roots did not go up high enough for him to stand or move about comfortably.
‘I’m Amelia,’ said the girl.
Connor shot her a wary glance. She didn’t look as if she came from Narrigh or his world. ‘Where am I?’
‘In a Dacker tree.’
Wincing, he stretched out one leg. His toes grazed the inside of his boots as if they no longer fit. He checked the palm of his right hand again. The scar hadn’t spread. Apart from his headache returning, he didn’t feel much different from when he had woken up in the tree stump hollow, and that seemed like days ago. How long had he been cooped up like this? He rummaged around for his bag, sighing with relief when he discovered he was leaning on it.
Through an opening in the tree, he saw to his dismay, that he had not left the cold and forbidding forest behind or the company of the Silver Riders. Some huddled in Dacker tree hollows of their own, others paced a small clearing outside, crunching ice under their feet, sniffing the air expectantly and glaring off into the distance. What were they waiting for?
‘Where’s your friend?’ said Amelia. She continued to stare at him intently. ‘The other boy.’
‘You mean Riley? You saw him?’
‘I saw another boy, taller than you and better looking, out there when the Dal-Carrions attacked.’
Riley was not taller than him, nor did he think Riley was better looking. He hoped Riley wasn’t the boy he saw the flying beasts carry off in the forest.
He drew himself up on his knees. ‘Who are those men outside?’
Amelia took a sharp breath and removed the fur wrap from her shoulders. She spread it over her knees. ‘Those men are the Shardner’s Special Army. They gave you a Trance potion. I used a Revival potion to bring you round. We have to get out of the forest. We’re in danger.’
Connor’s skin prickled with a sense of foreboding. There came that sound again, the sound of rushing water. Instinct told him, it was not the roar of the ocean.
Amelia’s eyes flickered towards an opening in the frostbitten roots. Her face showed no fear or confusion.
A death-chill cloaked the forest. The snow had ceased falling. The trees were sparse in this part of the forest, their life eroded. No birds fluttered in the sky. No animals foraged on the ground.
‘You can hear it, can’t you?’ he said. ‘What is it?’
‘Dal-Carrion. The winged-beasts. They’re multiplying. That’s what Hiera told me.’
‘What’s the Shardner?’
Connor had been so focused on trying to level-up in the game, he hadn’t taken much time to learn about Narrigh society. He couldn’t have afforded to, not if he didn’t want his brother to catch him out. You had to be over fifteen years of age to play The Quest of Narrigh; Connor had only just turned thirteen. When you had completed your quest, which usually involved blasting something until it exploded or fell to the ground, you collected your loot. And once you had gained enough experience points you would then move up to the next Level. They won’t know to look for me here. They’ll think I’ve run away again.
He fumbled for the chain around his neck, feeling the weight of the egg-shaped pendant suspended from it. How was he ever going to get home, if he kept coming up against all these obstacles? He hadn’t forgotten the pain he felt in his leg when the Dal-Carrion had bitten down on it. He wanted to run, not fight.
‘Are you like…a Quest Giver?’ he asked.
The little girl frowned. ‘A what?’
‘It doesn’t matter.’
‘Get it through your stupid head, this isn’t a game,’ said the Authoritative Voice.
Amelia played with one of the ribbons in her hair. ‘The Dal-Carrion aren’t easy to kill in their current numbers. The Shardner’s Special Army want to capture them so they can study their habits and breeding patterns to help bring them under control – something like that.’
Connor didn’t care what the Shardner’s men wanted with the Dal-Carrion as long as they kept them away from him. And what will the Shardner’s Special Army do with me? It was the most important question. The question he should have asked first. ‘Where are they taking us?’
‘To the Kingdom of Baruch, I think.’
A couple of nearby horses whinnied and reared on their hind legs.
Connor cast the strip of fur aside. The draught Amelia gave him burned through his bloodstream. He was breaking out in a sweat all over.
‘What are they going to do with us in Baruch?’ he asked, trying to ignore the increasing commotion outside.
Amelia scampered from the Dacker tree without answering.
Flexing his aching joints, Connor crawled out after her.
A low echo rumbled through the forest. The Dal-Carrion were approaching. Their beating wings could have been mistaken for a flowing stream, the waves of the ocean or simply the wind, but there was no mistaking the smell for anything other than the smell of death.
The Silver Riders flew from their Dacker tree shelters. Some mounted their horses and galloped out of sight, their voices drowning in the thunder of hooves.
‘Be ready!’ shouted one as he fled.
Connor found Amelia leaning against a withered tree, her hands folded behind her back. Thoughtful. Watching.
Less than thirty remained. Twelve on horseback formed an orderly line, a barricade across the clearing. The rest of the riders assembled themselves behind them, having tethered their horses to the trees.
Amelia seemed to know a lot about the Silver Riders. She had not asked Connor his name or where he came from. He fell in next to her, noting her curious detachment from the scene around her. He found her calmness disturbing. She reminded him of a doll, wooden and lacking in expression.
She stared straight ahead. ‘This is the second catching!’ she shouted above the din. ‘They had another one two days ago, while you were sleeping.’
I can’t have been here for days, thought Connor. Everyone will be wondering where I am.
He saw a vast shadow edging its way along the icy floor. Fear rose in his gut. ‘Shouldn’t we make a run for it?’
‘No, not yet, not until the Herming Moth Wings have flown.’ Amelia gestured to a Silver Rider running towards them, Hiera. He had a grimy orange beard and sunken auburn eyes. She flashed him a smile.
‘You children get back in the shelter,’ he growled.
‘Yes Hiera,’ she said, without making any move to do so.
Connor watched Hiera draw a bronze metallic object, shaped like a moth, from the pouch attached to his belt. Hiera thrust the object into the outstretched hand of a Silver Rider on horseback who sat near the end of the line. Each rider had two Wings, one clipped to their silver belts, the other clasped in their hands.
Amelia moved out, sprinting nimbly. She joined the Silver Riders on the east flank, all of whom were too preoccupied with the approaching Dal-Carrion to pay her any attention. She squatted at the root of a tree, dangerously close to a Silver Rider’s horse.
She glanced back over her shoulder, beckoning Connor to join her.
His mouth flapped open. Did she have a death wish? One kick from the horse’s iron shoe and she would be dead.
The Dal-Carrions squawks ignited the forest. Tree limbs creaked and snapped in their wake. The hairs on the back of Connor’s neck rose. He steeled himself, fighting to find his inner strength, to latch on to it for good. He didn’t want it to slip away again when he needed it so desperately.
He had started to edge his way out when he a caught a flicker of something in the peripheral of his vision. He whirled round to see a scintillating blue light hovering in the air, several feet away from him. It rippled like ocean waves bathed in sunlight. He stared at it in amazement.
‘You can come closer,’ said a voice.
There was no mistaking the light, but the voice? He didn’t like the Authoritative Voice inside his head and now a new one had emerged. How many voices could he have in his head at once?
The light started toward him. He backed away from it. This had to be another hallucination, the last remnants of the Trance potion trying to consume him.
He ran stooping, heaving at the smell fouling the air, determined to get to Amelia. He dodged Hiera, and narrowly missed a head-on collision with another Silver Rider who flew into his path. He finally reached her. He took her arm and dragged her clear of the horses.
Eight Dal-Carrion stalked into the enclosure, craning their long necks, their claws rising and falling with crude elegance.
Connor held his breath. What would happen when the winged-beasts made their deadly assault? How would the Silver Riders achieve a ‘catching’ as Amelia put it?
He gripped the strap of his bag, his fingers twitching, preparing to run.