The Elves of Cintra (The Genesis of Shannara, Book 2)

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9780345484116: The Elves of Cintra (The Genesis of Shannara, Book 2)

With his groundbreaking New York Times bestseller The Sword of Shannara and its acclaimed sequels, Terry Brooks brought a new audience to epic fantasy. Then he gave the genre a darkly compelling contemporary twist in his trilogy of the Word and the Void. Last year, in Armageddon s Children, Brooks undertook the stunning chronicle that united two unique worlds. Now that story of clashing forces of darkness and light, of Shannara s beginnings and the human race s possible end, marches forward into an unforgettable second volume full of mystery, magic, and momentous events.

Across the ruined landscape that is America hopelessly poisoned, plague-ridden, burned, and besieged by demon armies bent on exterminating all mortal life two pilgrims have been summoned to serve the embattled cause of good. Logan Tom has journeyed to desolate Seattle to protect a ragged band of street urchins and the being known as the gypsy morph, who is both mortal and magical, and destined to save mankind unless he is destroyed. Likewise, Angel Perez has her own quest, one that will take her from the wreckage of Los Angeles to a distant, secret place untouched by the horrors of the nationwide blight a place where the race of Elves has dwelled since before man existed. But close behind these lone Knights of the Word swarm the ravening forces of the Void.

As the menacing thunder of war drums heralds the arrival of the demons and their brutal minions in Seattle, the young survivors who call themselves the Ghosts are forced to brave the dangerous world of gangs, mutants, and worse to escape the invasion. And Logan Tom must infiltrate a refugee compound to rescue Hawk, the leader of the street urchins, who has yet to learn the truth about who and what he is. Meanwhile, Angel Perez has joined an equally urgent mission: to find the Ellcrys, a fabled talisman crucial to protecting the Elven realm against an influx of unspeakable evil from the dread dimension known as the Forbidding. But Angel and her Elf allies must beware for a demon spy, with a monstrous creature at its command, walks among them.

As the legions of darkness draw the noose tighter, and the time of confrontation draws near, those chosen to defend the soul of the world must draw their battle lines and prepare to fight with, and for, their lives. If they fail, humanity falls.

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About the Author:

Terry Brooks is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty-five books, including the Genesis of Shannara novel Armageddon s Children; The Sword of Shannara; the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy: Ilse Witch, Antrax, and Morgawr; the High Druid of Shannara trilogy: Jarka Ruus, Tanequil, and Straken; the nonfiction book Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life; and the novel based upon the screenplay and story by George Lucas, Star Wars:® Episode I The Phantom Menace.TM His novels Running with the Demon and A Knight of the Word were selected by the Rocky Mountain News as two of the best science fiction/fantasy novels of the twentieth century. The author was a practicing attorney for many years but now writes full-time. He lives with his wife, Judine, in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. Visit the world of Shannara online at shannara dotcom and at Terrybrooks dotnet.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

ONE

Logan Tom had climbed out of the lower levels of the compound and was starting up the steps to the walls when he heard the cries. They were sudden and sharp and signaled shock and excitement. He was still inside and could not tell what was happening, but he redoubled his efforts instantly, charging ahead, abandoning stealth, throwing caution to the winds.

If he was too late . . .

If they had already thrown Hawk and Tessa from the walls . . .

If, if, if!

The words burned in his mind like live coals. He couldn’t be too late. Not after coming so far and getting so close. He should never have left Hawk in the compound. He should have found a way to take him out when he had the chance. Relying on breaking him free now was a fool’s game, and anyone with an ounce of common sense would have known it!

He was running hard, his black staff held ready in front of him, his concentration complete. He passed dozens of the compound’s inhabitants on the way up, but while a few turned to look, no one tried to stop him. Maybe they could see in his eyes that getting in his way for any reason was a bad idea. If what he was thinking was reflected there, mirrored in eyes that were hard-edged and enraged, they couldn’t miss it.

He was up the steps all the way now and outside, the sports field spread away below him. The spectator seats in this section had been ripped out long ago to provide space for makeshift housing, and he found himself in a cluster of small one-level cottages built out of bricks and wood that were cobbled together to form rooms and stacked from one level to the next. They registered in his mind as he tore through them, following the lanes purposely left clear for passage, charging upward toward the top.

But something unexpected was happening. Those gathered on the walls to watch the death sentence on Hawk and Tessa being carried out were rushing back down almost as fast as he was rushing up. He stopped where he was, bracing himself against the swarm, trying to pick out something that made sense from the babble of words being exchanged.

“. . . nothing ever like it before this, a demon’s work if ever there was one—did you see that light . . .”

“. . . bright as a flare or maybe a . . .”

“. . . wasn’t a trace of them on the ground, and then it got dark again and you could see down . . .”

Logan moved into the shelter of a narrow aisle made over into a walkway between huts, waiting for the way to clear. Whatever had happened, it was all over now. But what had happened?

He grabbed a young man who got close enough and pulled him out of the swarm of bodies. He put his face close. “Tell me what’s going on. Why is everyone running?”

The young man stared at him a moment, seeing something that might have scared him even more than what he had witnessed on the wall. He tried to speak and couldn’t, then yanked his arm free from Logan’s grip and threw himself back into the surging mass of the crowd.

Logan shifted his approach from the common lanes and began making his way upward between the huts in a less direct fashion. He went as quickly as passage would allow, dodging or knocking obstacles aside. Buckets, brooms, pots, and other cooking implements went flying, and shouts of anger from their owners followed after him. In another time and under different circumstances, he would have drawn more attention. But the majority of the compound population was either coming down off the walls or fighting to get to the front gates, anxious to see whatever was out there.

Not the boy, he prayed. Not the girl.

He reached the upper levels where the housing grew sparse and scattered, a concession to the winds and the chill that made living higher up less desirable. The smells of the population gave way to the odors of fish and seaweed floating off the water, and the darkness deepened as the fires and generator lights were left below. Up here, what few lights there were pointed outward toward the gates and the approach to the walls. He passed out of the tangle of huts and walkways, the bulk of the crowd gone past now, and moved along the high wall toward an opening that led out onto what was once the concession area.

He found more buildings here, the same makeshift huts, these mostly for storage, not living. A scattering of the compound’s residents still remained on the wall, looking down over the rim. He chose a young girl standing with her back to him, her attention on whatever lay outside below the walls.

“Where are the boy and girl?” he asked, walking up to her.

She turned and stared at him. She was no more than fourteen or fifteen, her freckled face squinched up as if she had swallowed something unpleasant. “What?”

“The boy and girl?” he repeated. “What happened to them?”

She hesitated. “Didn’t you see?”

“I wasn’t here. Tell me.”

“Well, wow, what didn’t happen! It was so amazing! They threw them— the guards threw them off, together, you know. They flew right out into space like—like scarecrows or sacks of sand. Then a light appeared all at once, a brilliant light. It came right out of nowhere and swallowed them up. When the light disappeared, they were gone, too.”

She glanced over her shoulder and looked down at the rubble-strewn pavement as if to make certain. “I’ve never seen anything like it. No one knows what happened.” She turned back. “I heard one man say it was demon magic! Do you think?”

Logan didn’t know what he thought. “No,” he said. “Did the light seem to come from one of them—from the boy, maybe?”

She shook her head. Her long, sandy hair rippled in the dim light, and she brushed strands of it from her eyes. “No, it didn’t come from anywhere. It just flared up out of thin air and surrounded them. You couldn’t see them at all after that. Everyone just went crazy! It was wonderful!”

He took a moment to consider what this meant. The most logical explanation was that Hawk’s magic—the wild magic of the gypsy morph— had surfaced in an unexpected way. But if the girl was right, if it wasn’t Hawk’s own magic manifesting itself in some unknown way, then it had to have been an intervening magic. Yet where would such magic have come from? Had Hawk and Tessa been saved or tossed from the frying pan into the fire? He knew he wouldn’t find the answer here.

“Hey, mister, do I know you?” the girl asked him suddenly.

He shook his head. “No.”

“You look familiar.”

He peered down over the walls to the rubble below. Nothing, not even the feeders, was there now. Whatever had happened, it had disrupted their plans to absorb the combination of magic and life force expended by Hawk’s death. All those feeders, he thought, gone in the blink of an eye.

The girl was leaning on the railing next to him, studying his face. She must have seen him when he’d come to the compound earlier in the day. She would remember soon enough. It was time to go.

Suddenly her gaze shifted. “Look at that. See all the lights out on the water? Like a million little fires or something.”

He looked to where she was pointing, but what he saw that she couldn’t were the feeders massed along the waterfront, a surging horde of smooth dark bodies writhing and twisting in an effort to get closer to whatever was approaching on the water. He looked beyond to the lights, hundreds of them, couldn’t make any sense of it at first, and then heard the drums and went cold.

At almost the same moment a horn blew from somewhere farther down the walls of the compound, high up in a watchtower, a mournful wail that signaled danger in any language. Someone else had spotted the lights and, like Logan, knew what they meant.

He turned away from the girl. “I have to go. Thanks for helping me.”

“Sure. Weren’t you here . . . ?”

He wheeled back, cutting short the rest of what she was going to say. It was an impulsive act, one born of frustration and despair. He was tired of people dying. “Go find your parents and your brothers and sisters and anyone else you care about and get everyone out of here. Tell anyone you meet. Those lights come from boats carrying an army that will besiege this compound and eventually destroy it.”

She started to speak, but he grabbed her shoulders and held her. “No, just listen to me. I know what I am talking about. I know about this army. I have seen what it can do. Get out of here, right away, even if no one else will go with you. I know you don’t want to, but do it. Remember what I said. If you stay, you will die.”

He left her staring after him, her eyes wide, her face rigid with shock and disbelief. He had no further time for her, nothing more he could do for her. She would believe him or not. Probably not. They seldom did, any of them. They thought it was as safe as it could get inside the compounds. They thought it was so much more dangerous out in the open. None of them understood. Not until it was too late. It was why they were being wiped out. It was the reason the human race was being annihilated.

To his surprise, she came after him, grabbed his arm, and pulled him around. “You’re not serious, are you? About what will happen? None of that’s true, is it?”

He studied her a moment. “What’s your name?”

“Meike,” she answered uncertainly.

“Well, listen closely to me, Meike. Everything I said is true. There are madmen on those boats. They were human once, men and women like those in this compound. But they’ve shed their humanity to serve demons that intend to dest...

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