Rainbow's Shadow and the Tablets of Fate
Rainbow's Shadow Series
                                                Chapter 1: THE SHADOW WITHIN

Slivers of moonlight shone through dense fog as the clopping of horse hooves echoed over a dilapidated cobble stone road.  The
stench of war was in the air and darkness riddled the land.  As horses trudged over a deteriorated path, sludge of damp earth mixed with
the blood of warriors splattered across the trail.

Wounded warriors draped themselves on top of the armored animals.  No one spoke as a horse from the front of the pack turned and faced
the men. “We rest here,” commanded the voice of a shadowy figure astride the lead horse.

The weary men slowed to a stop and dismounted their horses.  Complete exhaustion filtered through the ranks of nearly one hundred
warriors.  They fell to the ground and huddled around one another.  Silence reigned as flasks of liquid passed through the group.

The light from the moon disappeared as the fog increased.  The lead warrior, Tolar, a large soldier with broken armor covering half of his
body and most of his face, directed his horse toward the men.  He surveyed his legion.  Wounded and exhausted, the men gazed at their
giant, but weakened, leader.

These men had been through something unspeakable.  Many nursed broken and severed limbs.  More had been left behind for dead.  

Tolar could do nothing but trot past his men and soak in the utter defeat of the souls in front of him.

When he reached the center of the group, he stopped his horse and gazed down at an equally large warrior lying in exhaustion against a tree
stump.  Fighting the pain from his severed arm, the wounded warrior said, “We are no match for him without Eseph.”

Tolar remained silent, a look of utter despair on his face.   He wiped a drip of blood and sweat from his brow.

Groans of pain and anguish increased as the men settled in for the night.  The fog swirled and swelled within the encampment.  Tolar
turned to dismount but heard a disturbance from the front of the pack.  Looking up, he saw hordes of warriors retreating in fear.  One of
them screamed, “He has found us!  Malkuth has found us!”

Chaos ensued as the men reacted and grabbed their weapons.  Tolar shouted. “Stand your ground.”  

The men formed a circle.

“Stand your ground, I say!”  

As the circle of warriors formed, the fog swelled and a misty white cloud engulfed the perimeter.  

“Where are they?  Where are they?  I can’t see a thing!” shouted a fearful warrior in the middle of the pack.

Sensing their fear, Tolar dismounted his horse and withdrew his sword.  He marched with self confidence to the center of the circle.

“Stand your ground!”

He heard the clopping of horse hooves in the distance but could not see a thing.  The men remained silent.

As the men readied themselves the fog dissipated around a shadowy figure in the distance.

“No one move!” Tolar said.

The men readied their weapons.  The figure emerged from the fog but remained unclear.  A shadowy figure with a dark cloak covering
most of his body emerged and stopped his horse.   

A warrior whispered. “It’s Malkuth!”

Tolar stared toward the men in uncomfortable silence.  

Malkuth spoke, “Finish this!”

From within the dense fog an arrow shot through the cloud and penetrated the forehead of the warrior next to Tolar.  He dropped like a

Tolar raised his sword in defiance and charged toward the enemy. “Attack!  Attack!”
Hordes of Scolits, greenish-skinned, muscular, part-human mutants, emerged from the fog and attacked Tolar and his wounded troops.

A blow from a Scolit’s scorpion-like tail would begin a shape shifting morphing process in its victims.  This transmutation would inject
pure evil into the afflicted beings turning them against their former brothers-in-arms.

When the mutants attacked, not only was their uncommon strength a concern, but the instant infection from the venom of a Scolit’s tail
was legendary.

As the men fought the onslaught of the Scolits it soon became apparent they were no match for the overpowering strength and numbers of
these mutant creatures.  One after another the warriors fell to the power of the Scolits as Tolar gazed at an arrogant and proud Malkuth
survey over his conquest in the distance.

From behind Malkuth and his saliva-spewing, venom-spraying Scolits, a defeated Tolar watched in disbelief as laser beams darted through
the trees and the fog.  The lasers hit and burned holes through the Scolits.  Tolar turned to see where this surprise onslaught came from.

Malkuth jerked hard on the reins and turned his horse towards the disturbance.  One of the wounded warriors shouted with enthusiasm, “It’
s Eseph.  He’s made it.  It’s Eseph!”
From the fog, another shadowy figure emerged astride a white stallion.  As the fog swirled around the image...

                                          * * *

A football came barreling through the air and knocked a book from sweaty, clenched hands.  The book fell title-side up.  
The Sorcerer’s
rested at the foot of Bryan Collins, a fantasy novel buff.  Bryan’s caramel brown hair complemented his athletic build.  A typical
sixteen year old, Bryan was angry eighty percent of the day for reasons he couldn’t even understand.  

His escape from his overwhelming emotions was the world of The Sorcerer’s Shadow.   To Bryan, the series represented an escape to a
fantasy world whenever reality threatened to overpower him.  

Frustrated by being hit by the football, Bryan looked up and shouted, “What the...”

His little brother, Will, a thirteen-year-old clone of him, and Will’s best friend Jimmy Foster ran toward him.  Will always looked up to his
older brother but clearly had a personality of his own.  With their caramel brown hair and athletic builds it was obvious the boys were

Will was the type of kid who believed he could do anything no matter how outlandish it may seem.  If something was possible, then he
could accomplish it.  Bryan, on the other hand, was more of a realist.  No matter how hard Will pushed, Bryan would continually remind
his brother of his limitations and the reality of the world they lived in.  
Irritated, Bryan jumped up.

“What in the heck are you two doing?  Can’t you see I’m reading here?”   

Will and Jimmy stopped in front of him, out of breath.  Jimmy was Will’s and Bryan’s next door neighbor and Will’s best friend.  

Will picked up the book from the ground and said, “Sorry Bri, wanna play catch?”
Bryan said, “Catch?  Can’t you see I’m reading?”

“Not anymore.” Will said with a grin. “Come on, Bryan, we wanna work on some plays.  You’ve been reading that thing all day.”

Bryan picked up The Sorcerer’s Shadow novel and glared at his brother.  “Leave me alone.”

He walked away.
#1 Best Selling Paperback
Cleveland Plain Dealer
1. Rainbow's Shadow and the Tablets of Fate - John Cicero
2. Night - Elie Wiesel
3. Wicked - Gregory Maguire