Authors: Steven A. Tolle
The rebound of the sensation drove Jake to the ground, the vertigo returning and his stomach heaving. He rolled to his side to see Bruce stand back up, his body steaming.
“That freaking hurt!” He said sharply. His face turned hard. “I will make you sorry you did that, cleric.” With that, he sent a bolt of dark fire racing past Jake.
Jake heard the loud clash of conflicting power behind him. He turned his head and saw Hailyn near the doorway, shining like an intense golden flame, the runes on her wrist glowing white-hot.
She attacked Bruce, trying to move closer to Jake. Bruce defended, countering with his black power. The air seemed to shudder from the explosion of sound and light, the clashing energies crackling and lashing the air. They continued a non-stop barrage of magic, each trying to overcome the other.
Every time Jake started to rise, he felt the tug and snap of Bruce trying to control him, driving him back down. Dry heaving, he crawled back to his knees and strove to stand. If he could get to his feet, he would use his sword since he was unable to access his magic. His frustration at being unable to help Hailyn drove him mad. He tried to force himself to overcome the vertigo that was keeping him down.
As he got to his knees, he heard a tremendous explosion, and then Hailyn cry out close behind him. He could not see her, but tried to force his body to get up. Before he could rise, he saw Bruce look towards him and felt that tugging sensation start again. But at the same time the sensation started, he felt Hailyn’s hand come down on his neck, her power flowing into his body. Suddenly, her power surged through him, pure heat racing down that invisible string that was tugging at his chest. She fell back gasping, her hand coming free, as Bruce suddenly screamed. Jake felt the tugging sensation rebound once more.
Jake saw Bruce collapse and roll on the ground in agony, his skin cracked and smoking, face a steaming mass of blisters.
Hailyn’s power must have been pulled inside him.
Jake thought with satisfaction as he tried to stand.
Even though her power had helped, he was off-balance as he stood, his head still spinning slightly. As he tried to step forward, he stumbled to his right, reaching out to stop himself as he began to fall. His hand struck something metal, followed by a brilliant flash of light. Looking at his hand, he saw that he had stumbled over to the stone table and his hand was resting on the hilt of the sword.
The blade flared when he touched the sword and he felt a heat spread up from the sword into his body. As the heat surged, his mind cleared and his body regained its strength. Wrapping his fingers around the hilt, he lifted the sword. He was shocked when he felt the lightness of the sword; it barely seemed to have any weight at all.
Jake embraced his magic, feeling it flood into his body in huge amounts. Without another thought, he strode over to where Bruce was writhing on the ground. Looking down at him, Jake brought the sword back over his shoulder. Through his pain, Bruce saw Jake standing over him. “No, Jake!” He cried out, raising his hand. “Don’t do it!”
Jake, recalling what Bruce had done to Daca, as well as to him and Hailyn, ignored the plea and brought the sword down. As the blade stuck Bruce, its light flared, a blinding flash of white fire that tore through his body. With a final pitiful cry, he exploded into ash, the detonation stunning the chamber with sound.
Driven back by the blast, Jake caught himself as he tripped and almost went down. He straightened and saw the girl standing against the wall. She was shaking and her face was a mask of terror. “We won’t hurt you.” He said gently. “You will be safe with us.” The girl nodded nervously, tears streaming down her face. Jake turned around to go to Hailyn.
“Hailyn!” He cried when he saw her on the ground, her skin covered with burns, her eyes closed. He ran over to her, dropping the sword and kneeling next to her, pulling her close. “Wake up, Hailyn!” He begged her.
When she did not respond, he held her tightly, tears coming to his eyes. He was at a loss, his mind frozen, unable to think clearly. He closed his eyes, his heart breaking.
“Jake.” He heard her softly say his name.
“Hailyn!” He cried out, pulling away enough to look down at her face. Despite the burns, he was overjoyed see her awake. “Thank God you’re alive!”
“Jake.” She said again, her hand reaching up and touching his face. “I can’t seem to call up my power; I am too weak. Without it, I don’t think I will make it. You must leave me behind.”
“No!” Jake said harshly. “I will carry you, if that is what it takes.”
There are still demons around, Jake.” She said quietly. “You can’t carry me and fight them at the same time. The sword is what is important. Take it to Tomaris and return home.”
“Why are you saying this, Hailyn?” Jake said. “I’m not going to leave you.”
“Jake, I love you.” She said simply. “I want you to survive. To do that, you must leave me.”
Shaking his head, feeling suddenly adrift, Jake closed his eyes, tears trickling down his cheeks. He tried to think of a way to save both of them, but could not seem to focus, his chest tight. He was overwhelmed and devastated by the thought of losing Hailyn.
As he sat there, gently cradling Hailyn, a voice sounded in his mind, cutting through his emotion.
Use the sword.
The voice said, the same warm and gentle voice that had come to him in his dream.
Startled out of his sorrow, Jake pulled the sword over and placed the hilt in Hailyn’s right hand. At first nothing happened, but then both the runes on the bracelet and the sword began glowing, pulsing in time. The light spread from her hand and slowly covered her body. As Jake held her and watched, her burns faded, her respiration improved. After a few more moments, the light faded and she was whole again.
Rising slowly, Jake reached down and helped her up. He kissed her and pulled her close. He did not know how long they stood there, but he finally broke the embrace.
“Let’s get out of here.” Jake said, reaching down and lifting the sword. Hand in hand, they went over to where Anale was waiting.
Here ends Book 2 of the Jake Thomas trilogy.
Jake's journey concludes in Book 3 –
The Eternal Darkness
About the Author
Steven Tolle was born in Hanford, California, a farming community in the Central Valley. After high school, he attended California State University in Sacramento, graduating with a degree in International Relations.
In the 90
's, he served on active duty in the US Army, where he was trained as an interrogator and to speak the Lao language. He worked on the POW-MIA searches in Southeast Asia as member of Joint Task Force-Full Accounting. After he left active service, he served in a psychological operations unit in the Reserves, deploying to Thailand and Korea to support missions there.
has served in a variety of positions with the State of California. In his career, he has been an Executive Fellow, an appointee of the Governor, as well as a civil service analyst and manager.
A long-time fan of
fantasy and science fiction,
The Jake Thomas Trilogy
is his first writing effort.
He resides in Northern California with his wife, Emily.
The Jake Thomas Trilogy
A World Apart
Sword of Light