Authors: T. A. Barron
Also by T. A. Barron:
The Atlantis Saga
The Merlin Saga
Merlin: Book One: The Lost Years
Merlin: Book Two: The Seven Songs
Merlin: Book Three: The Raging Fires
Merlin: Book Four: The Mirror of Fate
Merlin: Book Five: A Wizard's Wings
Merlin: Book Six: The Dragon of Avalon
Merlin: Book Seven: Doomraga's Revenge
Merlin: Book Eight: Ultimate Magic
Merlin: Book Nine: The Great Tree of Avalon
Merlin: Book Ten: Shadows on the Stars
Merlin: Book Eleven: The Eternal Flame
Merlin: Book Twelve: The Book of Magic
The Heartlight Saga
The Ancient One
The Merlin Effect
Where Is Grandpa?
High as a Hawk
The Day the Stones Walked
The Hero's Trail
The Wisdom of Merlin
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Copyright Â© 2015 by Thomas A. Barron.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Barron, T. A.
Atlantis in peril / T. A. Barron. pages cm.â(Atlantis saga ; book 2)
Summary: Promi and Atlanta continue the fight against the evil spirits and their mortal counterparts on the island of Atlantis. [1. Fantasy. 2. Atlantis (Legendary place)âFiction.] I. Title. PZ7.B27567Aq 2015 [Fic]âdc23
Edited by Jill Santopolo.
and her fellow gods and goddesses
ar, far away from the isle of AtlantisÂ .Â .Â . something stirred in a place where no creature had ever stirred before.
That place, in the most remote reaches of the spirit realm, was a bottomless pit darker than the darkest void. Black clouds swirled around its center, roaring constantly, ready to suck in and tear apart whatever fell in. Any creature who came too close faced almost certain annihilation.
â¢Â â¢Â â¢
Yet at this moment, something appeared in the Maelstrom's stormy centerâthe first sign of life ever to emerge from its depths. No other being had come out of that violent place beforeâbecause no other being possessed the same will for survival, hunger for power, or desire for revenge.
Of course, no one saw it happen. For to come anywhere near this place was to risk being swallowed forever by the black hole. And besides, what first appeared was very small, so small it would have gone unnoticed.
The first bony fingers reached out of the swirling center, grasping at the shreds of clouds, climbing slowly higher. Then came a wrist and arm, wearing the shreds of a tattered robe. Next emerged the head of a manânarrow, as sharp as an ax blade.
Dark, jagged scars lined his face. A black earring, chipped and battered, dangled from one ear. And from both sides of his pointed jaw grew menacing, bloodred tusks.
But the most terrifying features of this face were the eyes. Dark gray, with fiery red centers, they seemed to swirl with their own vengeful storms. Any creatures who looked into those eyes would quail in frightâand know the truth.
Narkazan had returned.
For centuries, the immortal warlord had battled to seize control of the spirit realm, to dominate all its places and peoples. From there, he hungered to conquer all the mortal realms, as wellâstarting with the one called Earth that was the stepping stone to all the others. And in recent times, he had nearly succeeded, vanquishing almost all the spirits who opposed him. Only a ragtag group of rebels remained, led by Sammelvar and Escholiaâspirits who believed that every creature, whether mortal or immortal, deserved to live freely.
Then, when he was just about to crush the resistance once and for allâby destroying them with the ultimate weapon, the corrupted Starstoneâa most unlikely foe had appeared. A young man named Promi, a lowly mortal, challenged him and stole the Starstone! Aided by a wind lion, the young rebel managed to escape Narkazan's entire army of warriors. And then, most surprising of all, he hurled the warlord into the bottomless pit from which no one had ever returned.
Narkazan's eyes burned wrathfully. Clenching one fist, he vowed to the roaring clouds, “I shall find you, worthless rebel who bears the mark of the Prophecy. And I shall make you suffer as no one has ever suffered before!”
He continued to climb out of the swirling hole that had swallowed him. Using all his will, as well as his remaining dark powers, he pulled himself higher, clawing his way toward the rim.
SlowlyÂ .Â .Â . steadilyÂ .Â .Â . Narkazan advanced. What was left of his robe, shredded by the swirling winds, barely clung to his body. His skin had lost its normal silvery sheen from the constant battering; it now looked like dark gray metal. His narrow face was thinner than ever. And his legs and arms shook with strain.
The fire in his eyes, though, had not dimmed. If anything, the sheer rage in those eyes had only swelled.
Finally, after many more hours of climbing, he reached the rim. Hauling himself onto the edge, he stood there, arms crossed. Narkazan peered into the dark, spinning depths of the Maelstrom. Then he turned to face the rest of the spirit realm.
“I have returned,” he snarled. “Soon that will be known throughout this worldâand all the other worlds, as well.”
The winds shrieked and howled even louder, as if the black hole itself felt his wrath.
Narkazan's eyes narrowed. To demolish all his enemies, including that rebel Promiâand to seize control of Earth and the rest of the mortal realmsâhe would need to raise a whole new army of spirit warriors. And that army must include a host of mistwraiths, the most terrible fighters anywhere.
“I will need something else, as well,” he declared to the swirling black clouds. “A mortalâsomeone greedy and arrogant enough to do my bidding.”
Closing his eyes, he turned his full awareness toward Earth, searching the minds of mortals for the ally he required. After a long moment, he opened his eyes. His search had been successful.
He had found a ship that had recently sailed from a land called Greece. Its mainsail bore the design of a blue dolphin. And the ship's captain, who was steering steadily out to sea, burned with desire for power.
Narkazan chortled to himself. “Yes, that one will do. Soon he will have a dream that will change his lifeâand his world.”
He clenched his fists. “But firstÂ .Â .Â . it is time for revenge.”
Worlds Within Worlds
ar from the Maelstrom where Narkazan had just emerged, in a much more tranquil part of the spirit realm, three people sat on a dome-shaped cloud. Surrounding them, thousands of purple honeyscent flowers grew, filling the air with the unusually rich sweetness unique to that variety. So many of the flowers sprouted here that the entire cloud shimmered with purple.
One of those people, the wise elder Sammelvar, leaned forward to study a single flower. Gently, he slid his finger along the stem, even as his golden eyes observed every detail of the blossom. Yet he didn't touch the blossom itselfâfor each honeyscent flower was, in fact, an entire miniature world.
This one, Sammelvar noticed, held a dense forest of tiny purple trees. In those branches, he could see a family of orange-tailed chimpanzees swinging freely from tree to tree. And on the highest canopy fluttered hundreds of minuscule butterflies, each one no bigger than a mote of dust, whose radiant red wings flashed like prisms as they flew.
Like a microcosm of the spirit realm, this cloudfield of flowers held an endless variety of worlds. Some blossoms gleamed with buildings made from the tiniest blocks of vaporstone. Some cupped purple seas that held islands of immense magic. Some erupted from time to time with dazzling bursts of light. And some shrouded themselves with mysterious lavender cloaks that hid their worlds from view.
Those worlds and many more filled the cloudfield. As the elder spirit gazed around, he thought,
Worlds within worldsÂ .Â .Â . ever changing, ever the same.
“Your favorite poem,” said the young woman sitting beside him.
“Reading my thoughts, are you, Jaladay?” said Sammelvar with a grin.
“Only when they're interesting enough,” she teased. “Which isn't very often.”
“On that I must agree.”
Jaladay smirked. She could easily read her father's thoughts. As well as those of her mother, Escholia, who was seated farther away, near an especially sweet-smelling cluster of flowersâwondering, as Jaladay could tell, just how these small blossoms could create such potent aromas.
But Jaladay's sensory gifts didn't end there. Far from it! Although she wore a turquoise band across her eyes, she could still see this entire cloudfield and the vistas beyond. She could also sense the underlying meaning of thingsâand even sometimes glimpse the future. For she could, as her parents discovered when she was only an infant,
see the unseen
Which was how, at that instant, she knew to hold out her handâjust before a small furry creature dropped out of the sky. Catching him easily, she hugged him to her chest.
“Hello, Kermi. I'm always glad to see you.”
“Even if you
see like anyone else in the universe,” the blue monkeylike creature said. “But I'll still take the compliment.”
Kermi waved his long tail in front of her turquoise band, watching her with round blue eyes that seemed much too big for his face. “Tell me, now. How many tails am I holding up?”
“As many as you were born with,” Jaladay answered with a chuckle. “Which is to sayÂ .Â .Â . one.”
“Hmmmpff,” he replied. “Next time I'll ask you something harder.”
“Like how many bubbles are you just about to blow? That would be three.”
Kermi's eyes opened even wider than usual. “Impressive,” he muttered, even as he opened his mouth and released three blue-tinted bubbles that floated skyward. “Like any good, upstanding kermuncle, I enjoy blowing bubbles. But normally they come as a surprise to everyone but me.”
Jaladay stroked his tailâwhich looked very much like the squiggly blue line that decorated her white robe. “Now Kermi, you must be tired after traveling all the way here.”
“Right, so I am.” He yawned, releasing another stream of bubbles. “Flying without wings isn't as easy as it used to be.”
“Well then,” she suggested, “how about taking a nap?”
“Oh no,” he objected, shaking his little head so hard that his whiskers seemed to jump. “You're not getting rid of me that easily! I don't want to miss anything.”
Ignoring him, she set him on her lap. “As you say, Kermi.”
“Good,” he replied. “I'll be the one who decides whether I need a nap.” He yawned sleepily. “NotÂ .Â .Â . you.”
He closed his eyes, fast asleep.
Still stroking his tail, Jaladay grinned.
Beside her, Sammelvar sighed. “It's good to be here,” he said, gazing at a pair of flowers whose tiny peoples had built a glittering bridge between their two worlds. Like a thin purple rainbow, the bridge stretched from one blossom to the other, binding the worlds for all time.
“And something else is also good,” said Escholia, who had walked over to join the others.
Sammelvar raised a questioning eyebrow. Jaladay, meanwhile, nodded in agreement, since she already knew what her mother was about to say.
“That you're not worrying right now.” Escholia bent to greet her husband, her white hair mixing with his. She gave his forehead a kiss. “Which you do entirely too much these days.”
“Too true,” he replied, turning from the flowers to look into her misty blue eyes. “But there is a lot to worry about.”
She sat down beside himâwith such lightness that she didn't disturb a single stem of any flower. That might have seemed surprising, given her age. Yet she'd long been called the spirit of grace, both because of her loving nature and her ease of movement.
Placing her wrinkled hand upon his back, she suggested, “Perhaps we should come here more often.”
Sammelvar blew a long breath. “Alas, my worries spring from real problems. And those problems won't just solve themselves if I bury myself in flowers' sweet perfume.”
“Nor will they solve themselves from your efforts alone,” she replied.
“Of course, my love.” He pushed a hand through his white locks. “But I am the leader of this realm, and if I don't give any attention to the problems, who will?”
Escholia peered at him, unconvinced. At the same time, Jaladay sat quietly, taking in their conversation while showing no hint of her own feelings. Her only movement was to keep stroking Kermi's tail.
“Listen,” Sammelvar explained, “life in the spirit realm is good these days. The whole realm is largely tranquil for the first time in centuries, now that Narkazan has been destroyed and the Starstone returned to Earth. Yet that tranquility itself can prove dangerous if it lulls us into complacencyâwhich makes people ignore future perils.”
“What perils,” asked his wife, “do you mean?”
Sammelvar's expression turned grim. “Narkazan may have been vanquished, but what about his old allies? Many of them still roam the spirit realm, bringing their violent ways with them, raiding peaceful settlements to take whatever they want. And let's not forget about the mistwraiths.”
Just the mention of those shadowy beings, dark predators who devoured magic, was enough to make Jaladay shudder. She had met a mistwraith just onceâand had only barely escaped.
“What will happen,” Sammelvar continued, “if a new leader emerges who can unite them?”
Escholia nodded sadly. “You are right to worry about that.”
Furrowing his brow, he lowered his voice to a whisper. “And what will happen if somehow Narkazan himself returns?”
This time, Escholia stared at him in surprise. “How could that possibly happen? No one ever escapes from the Maelstrom.”
“No, my love. It's more accurate to say that no one has ever
Escholia turned to her daughter. “What do you think, Jaladay?”
The young woman pursed her lips thoughtfully. “Can't help, I'm afraid. Every time I've looked for Narkazan, which I've done several times, I've seen nothing but dark, swirling clouds.”
Focusing again on her husband, Escholia asked, “What other perils are troubling you?”
“The veil,” he replied solemnly. “It's growing weaker. And we all know what could happen if it is destroyed. Wicked spirits will surely attack the mortal world.”
“Yes,” agreed Escholia, shaking her head. “The great war was fought because of thatâand so many suffered dearly.”
“Despite my commands and even my new patrols, spirits keep traveling there,” grumbled Sammelvar. “Each visit seems smallâand individual spirits tell themselves it really won't matter. But every passage rips a new hole, endangering everything.”
Bitterly, he added, “Even my own sonÂ .Â .Â .”
Escholia took his hand, her eyes full of compassion.
Jaladay leaned toward her father. “That's not your only worry about Promi, is it?”
The elder frowned. “No, it's not. He is angryâat me especially, but also, somehow, at his life. I can feel itÂ .Â .Â . though I don't fully understand it.”
“I feel it, too,” agreed Escholia. “He feels that we forced him to leave us, lose his childhood memories, and spend those years disguised as a mortal. He had no sayâno choice at allâin any of that.”
“But,” objected Sammelvar, “by doing that we saved him from certain destruction by Narkazanâwho, as we know, specialized in tortures so painful that even the strongest spirits couldn't survive.”
His face looked still more grim, as he recalled the loyal spirits who had perished in the war with Narkazan. Especially those who had chosen to end their own livesâto go out of existence foreverâto end the warlord's tortures.
Escholia squeezed his hand. “Sending Promi to Earth saved him from that fate. And also enabled him to return when we most needed helpâto do what no one else could have done.”
“Yes,” said Jaladay. “It's only thanks to himâplus the wind lion Theosor and little Kermi hereâthat the Starstone was saved and Narkazan destroyed.”
“Now, now,” her mother chimed in. “Let's not forget that you, too, played a role in all that.”
Jaladay's silvery skin showed the slightest hint of a blush.
Sammelvar looked down at his robe, which bore a design almost identical to the mark on Promi's chest. Even the size of the soaring bird was the same. Only the color differed; Sammelvar's was gold instead of black.
“We shared this mark through all those years of terrible strife,” he said quietly. “Yet now, I fearÂ .Â .Â . we share little else.”
He glanced up at the sky, then added, “Which is why I've asked him to join us here today.”