About the Author
Gina Detwiler was planning to be a teacher but switched to writing so she wouldn’t have to get up so early in the morning. She’s written a couple of books in various genres (Avalon and Hammer of God, under the name Gina Miani) and dramas published by Lillenas and DramaMinistry, but she prefers writing (and reading) books for young people. She lives in Buffalo, New York, where it snows a lot, with her husband and three beautiful daughters. She is honored and grateful to be able to work with Priscilla on The Prince Warriors.
Read an Excerpt
The Prince Warriors and the Unseen Invasion
By Priscilla Shirer, Gina Detwiler
B&H Publishing GroupCopyright © 2016 Priscilla Shirer
All rights reserved.
Rook knew that things were not going according to plan.
He jumped from beam to beam, pulling his companion along with him, the prisoner he'd just released. "Hurry!" he whisper-shouted, although he knew no amount of coaxing would help. The prisoner's legs were encased in metal, the joints stiff from disuse. His arms were still flesh, however, which made it somewhat easier to keep a grip on him.
"I can't," the prisoner panted. "I ... need ... to ... stop...."
Rook paused to let him rest, balanced precariously on a narrow girder that hung across a stretch of empty space. Below them lay a black abyss. Above them a maze of steel girders wound upward in a twisted skeleton, blocking out most of the churning, red sky.
It sickened him to be back in the Fortress of Chaós again, the dark castle at the edge of Skot'os, the lair of Ponéros, the enemy. Rook had escaped from this place not long before, rescued by a group of schoolkids who had brought him a message: Once freed, always free. He'd returned to bring that message to another prisoner. He'd also brought a key. It was the same key that had been taken back from the enemy by the kids — the key that opened prison doors. He reached into his pocket, fingering the long shining object with the scroll-y handle, making sure it was still there. He couldn't lose it, whatever happened.
"This way." He beckoned to his companion to follow him along the beam. The boots that Ruwach had given Rook gripped the steel girder like rubber, giving him assurance he wouldn't slip. But the prisoner's metal feet scraped eerily, making Rook's hair stand on end. He remembered all too well what it felt like to hobble along on metal feet. And how he had been restored, thanks to those kids. And to Ruwach, the one who had sent them.
If only Rook had thought this through a little more. Getting into the fortress had been easy, too easy. The narrow beam of light from his breastplate had lit up his path with each step. No one tried to stop him. The Forgers — the fully mechanized soldiers of Ponéros's evil army — were nowhere in sight. Yet Rook had had the feeling he was being watched. The Ents, perhaps, those nasty metal bugs that liked to pass themselves off as butterflies. They'd probably been tracking him with their red laser eyes, unseen.
Rook should have known better than to simply go out the same way he'd gone in. But he was so determined to free a soul and get out of that horrible place as soon as he could, he hadn't taken proper precautions. He thought he knew the way. But the fortress seemed to have shifted around him, morphed — his path wiped away, every exit he had known blocked.
Chaos. Confusion. That was Ponéros's security system.
The beam under them shuddered, forcing them to stop. Loud booms filled the air around them, the sound of heavy footsteps echoing through the maze of girders.
"It's them," said the prisoner in a squeaky, pathetic voice. "They're coming now."
Forgers, Rook thought. They had trapped him. Now they would come to retake him and the prisoner both.
"What's your name?" Rook asked.
"It's ... F-f-finn," stuttered the prisoner.
"Well, Finn, we have to get to the end of this beam. And then ... we'll figure something out." He hoped his voice didn't sound as hopeless as he felt. He inched his way along the slender path, keeping one hand on Finn's arm so he wouldn't lose his balance and tumble into the abyss underneath them.
After what seemed like forever, he got to the end of the girder and grabbed a vertical beam that projected from the empty space below. Finn grabbed on as well. The whole structure trembled and shook with the sound of approaching Forgers. Red, round, glowing orbs appeared in the inky blackness, closing in around them.
"Which way?" whispered Finn.
Rook looked up. He couldn't really see anything but small angular blotches of red sky peeking through the tangled web of beams overhead.
The voice seemed to come from the sky. A young voice. A girl's voice.
Rook strained to see who had spoken. Stars seemed to be pouring in from the cracks in the girders above them. Not stars ... Sparks ... those tiny, brilliant balls of light that dwelled in the Cave. Ruwach had come! But the voice was not Ruwach's. ... It definitely belonged to a young girl.
"Come on, will you?" the girl's voice scolded him. By the light of the Sparks he could just see the outline of a human standing on a girder above him.
"This way! Climb!"
How in the world did that human — a girl — get all the way up there? Maybe it was a trick. Ponéros was good at tricks. Deception was his game. Yet what choice did Rook have but to follow?
He turned to Finn, whose half-human face stared back at him, fear roiling in his eyes. "Did you see that?" he asked, pointing upward.
A huge Forger vaulted onto the girder they'd just crossed, its metal fists closed and ready to strike. As the Forger lunged for him, Rook drew his sword and swung, slicing off one of its metal arms. The Forger bellowed, its red eyes spinning with rage. It stumbled backward and fell from the beam to the dark void below. But soon there was another one to take its place. And another.
"Great," Rook muttered to himself.
"You coming or what?" said the voice above him.
"How am I supposed to ...?"
"Use your belt!"
Rook suddenly understood. As the second Forger charged him, Rook took off his belt — a wide, plain white belt that had no visible clasp. He tossed one end upward. It stretched out to several times its own length, the end wrapping snugly around a beam above. The belt, stretched thin, began to hum like a tightly wound guitar string. "Hold on to me!" Rook said and jumped, his boots launching him and the prisoner into the air as more Forgers converged under them. Rook swung one leg over the beam on which his belt was wrapped, hauling himself and Finn over the top.
"Piece of cake," he said breathlessly, giving Finn a little encouraging smile. Finn tried to smile back with his half-metal face.
"You're too slow!" said the girl, who had scrambled up to an even higher perch.
That girl was starting to get on Rook's nerves.
Rook looked down, saw the Forgers climbing up the steel girders toward him. Pretty nimble, he thought, for big, hulking hardware. He unwrapped his belt, threw one end up to yet another beam and jumped again, holding tightly onto Finn.
Rook could see the girl more clearly now. She had scrambled up toward the top of the fortress, where bare beams thrust into the swirling, red-purple sky. Her fiery red hair whipped around her face in the biting wind. She held on with one hand, glancing out over the expanse of sky.
"Come on, already!"
Rook jumped again, Finn clinging to him, the belt propelling them ever upward. Below them Forgers continued to gather, scaling the beams, their red eyes piercing the darkness. Where on earth was that girl going? She seemed to be leading him into a trap.
When finally Rook and his half-human charge made it to the pinnacle, the little girl with red hair greeted them with a big sigh.
"Took you long enough," she snipped.
"Hey, you try dragging up a two-hundred-pound hunk of metal — no offense." Rook glanced at Finn in apology then turned back to the girl. He unwrapped his belt and refastened it around his waist, making sure his sword was still secure. The girl, he noticed, didn't have a sword, only a belt, breastplate, and boots. Like those other kids, he remembered. The ones who had rescued him. But this girl hadn't been with them when they'd come for him. Again, he wondered if this was a trap — if this girl was working for Ponéros himself.
"Who are you, by the way? Did Ruwach send you? How are we getting out of here?"
"We're going to jump, of course!"
"What?" Rook blinked, hoping he'd heard her wrong. The beam on which they were perched shook with the vibrations of the Forgers clambering toward them.
"Now!" the girl said, with something like glee. "Let's go!"
Before he had time to react, she'd grabbed his arm and jumped straight into the turbulent sky, taking Rook and Finn with her.CHAPTER 2
Evan sat on the school bus, staring at the raindrops cascading down the window. He liked how they would run straight down and then suddenly turn toward each other, joining together to make a bigger raindrop that raced down the glass even faster. It made Evan wonder why they did that — fuse and then fall. Interesting. Did raindrops just want to be together? Was it more fun that way?
The bus was filling up, kids laughing and joking, relaxing after a long day of school. The older kids went straight to the back, the little kids sitting up front. Evan sat in the middle of the bus. He kept his eyes on the window, watching the raindrops. It was better than seeing the faces of the other kids as they looked him over and then passed by.
He was a month into fourth grade at his new school, and still he hadn't made a real friend. The kids at Cedar Creek Elementary had their own friend groups. They weren't looking for any new members. Kids here were different from the city, where he used to go to school. Most of them had grown up in the same place and known each other forever. New kids didn't come to their school too often.
Give it time, his dad had said. Evan wondered how long "time" would take.
He heard giggling and looked across the aisle. Two girls glanced at him, smirking and whispering. Probably laughing at him because of his hair. His mom had put some stuff in it to get it to lay down flat for Picture Day. Picture Day. The worst day of the school year. He had to wear a collared shirt that itched his neck, and his mom made him promise to not get it dirty all day. Thank goodness that was over.
He counted on his fingers — eight months to go before summer came back. It seemed like an eternity.
A little kid sat down next to him, a second-grader probably. With a runny nose. Like most second-graders. He wiped his nose with his hand and then wiped his hand on the back of the seat. Evan looked away. Disgusting. The kid started bouncing in his seat, like he couldn't wait for the bus to get going. Annoying. Little kids could never just sit still.
"What's your name?" the kid asked him.
"Evan." Evan made a point of not asking the kid his name, just so the kid would know that Evan didn't really care. He might be desperate for friends, but not for bouncy, runny-nosed second-grader friends.
"I'm Charlie," said the kid. "Where do you live?"
"Around," Evan answered. Maybe the kid would get a clue that he didn't really want to talk.
Finally, the bus lurched into motion and Charlie stopped bouncing, his attention elsewhere. Evan settled back in his seat. It was a twenty-minute ride to his house. Maybe now he could have a little peace and quiet.
He pulled his phone out of his backpack and turned it on. It was his day to have the phone, which he shared with his older brother, Xavier, although Xavier seemed to get it a lot more than he did.
He opened his favorite game, Kingdom Quest. Evan loved this game. He was even better than his brother at it, although he was now stuck on level six. The player had to use blocks of all different shapes and sizes to build a castle before it was attacked by the Icemen, who were like an army of creatures made of ice and snow who would come and destroy the castle if it wasn't finished in time. In each level of play, the castle you had to build got more complicated. In order to get building blocks, you had to go through a series of challenges, like defeating a tribe of trolls or decoding a secret scroll. Evan loved stuff like that. He wasn't allowed to use the phone in school, but he figured the bus didn't count as actual school anyway.
Evan played intently for several minutes, but still he failed to finish before the Icemen came and destroyed his castle. He sighed, tapping the reset button. At least he got to start over and try again. Eventually, he knew he would win. He would go on to the next level and a brand-new set of challenges to overcome.
The game sort of reminded him of Ahoratos — the real but unseen world he had been to twice with Xavier and his other friends. Each time they went, the challenge was a little tougher, but if they followed the instruction from The Book and listened to their guide Ruwach, they would make it through. Best of all, even if they messed up, they got a second chance. At least, so far.
He thought about his friends, Levi, Brianna, and Manuel, his fellow Prince Warriors. He wished he could go to school with them — they were at Cedar Creek Middle. They could all hang out, have lunch together, talk about their adventures in Ahoratos without being looked at like they were weird. When Evan had boasted to the other kids in his class how he'd gone over a waterfall and battled evil butterflies and ridden a flying dragon, they just looked at him like he was crazy. Making it all up.
Maybe he was. It was more than a month since he'd been to Ahoratos. Maybe it had been just a dream. Except Xavier had been there too — could two people dream the same dream at the same time? Evan doubted it.
Yet ever since they'd rescued the prisoner Rook and escaped from that evil Fortress of Chaós in Skot'os, none of them had heard a word from Ruwach. Maybe he was on vacation, or taking an extra long nap. Or maybe he just didn't need the Prince Warriors anymore.
Maybe it was all in Evan's imagination.
Maybe they were never going back.
But they had to go back. For one thing, they didn't have their full sets of armor. Only the belt, breastplate, and boots. A real Warrior needed more than that. They still had to get the shield, the helmet, and the sword. The sword — that's what Evan really wanted. A real, beautiful, majestic sword. A Forger-slaying sword.
If he had that sword, those two girls in the next seat would be too busy staring in awe to even think of making fun of him.
The bus stopped at the Rec. That's what he and the others called the Cedar Creek Recreational Center. Most of the kids, including Charlie with the runny nose, got off the bus. Normally Evan would have gotten off there too. Xavier and his friends were probably there already, playing basketball. But Evan didn't want to play basketball in his itchy, button-down shirt, and he'd forgotten to bring an extra set of clothes. He would just go home to change and ask his mom to drive him over to the Rec later.
When the bus screeched to a stop at his house, Evan got up, shoving his phone in his backpack. He walked quickly toward the front as the folding doors squealed open to let him out. The rain had let up a bit, but he put up his hood anyway. It was a long walk to his house; the pebble driveway dipped down toward a bridge over the creek and up another hill. Evan liked to imagine he was back in Ahoratos again, running through the woods, jumping over the deep chasm that separated Skot'os, the dark side of Ahoratos, from the rest of that golden kingdom. He liked to imagine he was building the bridge with his feet, as he had done the last time he was there. That had been amazing — stepping up into the sky, the stones forming under his boots as he went ...
"You gonna just stand there admiring the view?" Evan turned to the voice — Miss Lois, the bus driver. Her crinkly eyes smiled at him. She had spiky gray hair and lots of red lipstick; she reminded Evan of a kindly, grandmotherly sort of gargoyle.
"Sorry," he muttered, jumping off the bus.
"You take care now, Evan," Miss Lois said, shutting the doors. The bus rumbled away.
Evan watched it go, bouncing over ruts in the road, fountains of muddy water shooting up from the wheels.
The wheels of the bus go round and round. ...
What made him think of that baby song? That snot-nosed kid Charlie, probably. You need to get a grip, he said to himself. You're a Prince Warrior, right? Not a little kid anymore.
It was still raining, so he put up his hood and was about to head down the drive when he remembered: the mail. Because it was such a long walk from the road to the house, his mom had told him and his brother to please stop and check the mailbox whenever they were on their way home. Xavier usually forgot, but Evan didn't mind getting the mail. It was like having a job, in a way. And it always gave him brownie points with Mom, who liked it when he remembered to do things without being told a hundred times.
He walked over to the mailbox, which was nestled in a bunch of tall brownish stalks his mother called "grass." It didn't look like grass to Evan, but Mom had lots of weird names for things. He pulled on the mailbox door. It stuck, as it always did, so he had to pull extra hard. The box was full. Mondays — it was always the fullest on Mondays.
He pulled out the letters and magazines, balancing them so he wouldn't drop any on the wet ground.
He'd just gotten everything out and folded the magazines around the letters securely when he heard something — a zap, a sizzle, like an electric spark. He thought at first an overhead wire had been hit by lightning, although he hadn't seen any lightning. This wasn't a lightning kind of rain.
Excerpted from The Prince Warriors and the Unseen Invasion by Priscilla Shirer, Gina Detwiler. Copyright © 2016 Priscilla Shirer. Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part One: The Smallest Seed,
Chapter 1: The Prisoner,
Chapter 2: Rain,
Chapter 3: A Narrow Escape,
Chapter 4: The Useless Seed,
Chapter 5: A New Friend,
Chapter 6: The Infinity Space,
Chapter 7: The Corridor of Keys,
Chapter 8: Seeds of Doubt,
Chapter 9: Keeping Seeds,
Chapter 10: An Old Friend,
Chapter 11: A Better Shield,
Chapter 12: Left Behind,
Chapter 13: Ahoratos Again,
Chapter 14: In the Cave,
Chapter 15: The Olethron,
Chapter 16: Just Stand,
Chapter 17: Faith Like a Shield,
Chapter 18: Found,
Part Two: Head Spinner,
Chapter 19: Stella,
Chapter 20: Out of Sorts,
Chapter 21: The Key Keeper,
Chapter 22: Leaves and Leaving,
Chapter 23: Swirling Sand,
Chapter 24: The Sypher,
Chapter 25: The Quaritan,
Chapter 26: The Birthday Present,
Part Three: Invasion,
Chapter 27: Swarm,
Chapter 28: Ent-Nado,
Chapter 29: No Fear,
Chapter 30: The Storm Gathers,
Chapter 31: The Storm Descends,
Chapter 32: Inside the Quaritan,
Chapter 33: Under Cover,
Chapter 34: Here and There,
Chapter 35: Homecoming,
Sneak Peek of Book Three,
About the Authors,