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The Light Bringer (The Dragon Gate, #2)

The Light Bringer (The Dragon Gate, #2)

4.5 Stars, 44 Amazon Ratings (as of 1/2024)

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The power to heal only comes when she believes.

On her quests to other worlds where elves, dragons, and magic are real, Anna can save the dying – and destroy the undead. But on an Earth where magic has awoken after a thousand-year sleep, the gods do not answer her.

And yet other people are casting spells and healing the wounded, dealing death and bringing life. Some have come from other worlds, and now nowhere is safe.

No one understands why it’s all happening – or that Anna and her three friends mistakenly triggered the awakening. To save everything that she loves, Anna must face her destiny as The Light Bringer, or the new reality they unleashed may destroy all life.

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Chapter 1 – To Quest or Not to Quest

A vortex of multi-colored, changing lights, swirling wind, and a thunderous whooshing noise surrounded Anna. Powerless to stop what was happening, she noticed a knot of dread and worry replace the tingling in her stomach. Her eyes darted down, seeking the surface that she felt her feet standing on, its invisibility adding to her disorientation. Across from her stood Ryan, with Matt and Eric to the right and left, all facing each other in a circle, their shocked expressions likely matching hers. Eric mouthed “shit” at the shared realization that, just as they had feared, they were being summoned from Earth for another quest they could not refuse, and which could get them killed.

Barely in time, she remembered to put one arm across her breasts and the other over her privates as her Earth clothes vanished and she stood nude a moment. Then a long white robe covered her, matching boots on her feet, an amulet that showed one person healing another replacing the usual pendant she wore around her neck, her long blonde hair in a tight braid. She was once again to be the priestess Eriana of Coreth, the Light Bringer. Her gray eyes went to the others, seeing Ryan in his golden armor and helmet for his role as a knight, a large sword on one hip. Eric wore dark leather, a bandoleer of knives across his chest, and a shorter sword hanging from his belt, where a rope had was tied around his waist. And Matt stood in a black wizard’s robe, a bag of spell books slung over one shoulder, a staff in one hand.

In the week since the planet Honyn had summoned the “Ellorian Champions,” as they’d been called, to save them from dragons. The episode had already started to feel like none of it had really happened, a feeling that had grown when they told their friend Jack minutes ago, his face registering disbelief on hearing about their quest with elves, dwarves, dragons, ogres, gods, magic, and supernatural healing all being real—at least on another planet. But he had just seen them vanish from Anna’s Maryland apartment. And there was no denying that a quest was happening again right now.

As the summoning spell ended, Anna simultaneously noticed the circle of fading blue light surrounding them and a thunderous banging on wood to one side, the cacophony reverberating in a large, dark, enclosed space she could not make out. A sense of immediate danger filled the air. Her white robe caught the light and made her feel like a target, a feeling that worsened when an arrow struck nearby and bounced to her feet with a clatter. She thought it seemed poorly made for reasons she had no time to ponder.

Words etched in blue fire faded from the gray stone beneath her boots. Around them stood the rest of the Quest Ring that had summoned them, chest-high pillars of stone also covered in fading, glowing runes. Beyond them stood a red-robed wizard in his twenties, his long black hair disheveled, intense, wide eyes moving from one of them to the next. No one else seemed nearby except for whoever—or whatever—was violently pounding on doors somewhere beyond the wizard. Then Anna saw torchlight through a wide crack in a splintering door as intruders came closer to breaking it down. From the racket, several other doors were nearby and nearly breached.

“Ellorians!” said the wizard, stepping toward them.

“What is happening?” Eric raised a throwing knife he’d yanked from his black leather, seeming as in command of what to do as ever. Anna trusted his judgement and martial arts skills more than the other two. If anyone could get them out of whatever was happening, Eric could. Hearing his matter-of-fact approach provided the first sense that they would get the chaos around them under control.

“We are under attack,” the wizard replied, stopping his advance.

“By what?” Anna asked, backing away. As the blue light faded, her eyes adjusted and to see that a large, dilapidated hall of grey limestone stretched from left to right before them, scattered oak furniture casting shadows, torn but unfaded tapestries hanging askew from the walls. They appeared to be standing in an alcove set aside for the Quest Ring, with no exits from the big hall except those that had something bashing in the barred doors.

As if noticing what she had, Eric asked a better question. “Is there a way out of here?”

The wizard answered Anna instead. “Ogres. Goblins. They found me before I could summon you. I am surprised I made it this far.”

“The exit?” Ryan demanded, sword in hand. Was he more willing to use it now? He had hesitated to fight so much on the last quest that Anna wasn’t sure he could be trusted to help. But she saw only alarm and determination on his handsome face. An aggressive posture, instead of a cringing one, further reassured her. Maybe he had changed after all.

The wizard who summoned them shook his head. Anna noticed he looked exhausted and beaten, his robe stained with mud. “You will have to kill them. I have spent my energy getting here and casting the spell to summon you.”

As he said it, he pitched forward to crack his head on one of the pillars, an arrow protruding from his back. Eric jumped forward faster than Anna and helped drag him inside the Quest Ring, which had now gone dark.

“Enurarki,” said Matt, and the crystal atop his staff shone with light that surrounded them. “Still works,” he said, sounded as relieved as Anna felt. Only now did she fully realize her fears that few of them would be capable of playing their unwanted roles again. Matt could cast some spells, but the most fearsome he did came from the staff.

“Good,” said Eric. “Ryan, stand in front. Your armor can shield us. Matt, can you do something to make them back off?”

“Let me think,” replied Matt. Ryan took up a position in front of them.

The injured man looked up with painfilled eyes and clutched Eric’s leather sleeve. “The quest. I must tell you why you’re here.”

“In a minute.”

Anna knelt, wondering how to heal this man. She didn’t know the gods of this world and said as much when Eric asked her to do it. How could she call on a god to send healing power through her into this man? “Wait,” she said, looking at his hand, where a silver ring with three diamonds curled around one finger, indicating how many healing spells were still in it. “The Trinity Ring.”

“Good call,” said Eric. “Hold on. Gotta pull the arrow out or it won’t do much good.” He made an apologetic face at the injured wizard and then pulled the arrow from his chest amid a cry of pain, which mixed with the hoarse bellows of the attackers and a shattering of more wood. He spoke a word and a soft glow spread from his hand over the man. Both the arrow wound and the gash on his head vanished. He sat up, looking grateful and relieved. Another arrow struck nearby.

“Matt?” Anna eyed the intruders as they open more of the door. She saw greenish skin, half naked bodies, and hideous faces with extended jaws, two large teeth jutting up like on a wild boar, bulbous noses, and random tufts of unkempt black hair over thick, menacing brows. Equally crude cudgels, maces, and swords threatened maiming and death.

“I’m trying to think of a good spell.” Matt fumbled with the bag and pulled out a thick spell book with black leather binding and gold lettering on it.

“Try faster,” said Eric, rising to join Ryan. Anna saw herself and their summoner in the line of fire and backed away so that Ryan’s body shielded hers. She gestured for the man to join her, but he spoke from where he was instead.

“The quest,” began the wizard, “you must succeed to restore peace. You are to–” An arrow struck him in the eye and flung him on his back.

Anna gasped. “Eric!” The rogue looked back and came over to drag the man to her. Sightless eyes stared at the ceiling. “The ring. Use the most powerful spell.” All but her wore an identical Trinity Ring.

“Yeah,” he said, yanking the arrow from the wizard’s skull with a grimace and then speaking the word. The same soft glow lit the wounds, but no healing occurred. He swore.

“What?” Ryan asked, not looking back an arrow bounced off his golden armor.

“Ring didn’t work. He’s dead.”

“Most powerful of the spells?” Ryan asked, as the ring was named for having three of them, each of different strengths, a specific command for each.


“What does that mean about the quest?” Anna asked. “He didn’t tell us what we need to do.”

Eric met her gaze. “Then I don’t think we’re bound by it.”

“We can go home?” Ryan asked over one shoulder.

“I think so. Only one way to know. There’s no one else here to tell us.”

Anna wondered if he was right. If no one told them the quest, they obviously couldn’t do it and were not trapped here by the summoning spell until it was complete like usual. She remembered something about there being a time limit in that they needed to be told the quest shortly after being summoned, but she thought it was an hour or more. They didn’t have that much time. As if to prove her point, a loud crashed heralded the arrivals of the goblins, bellowing as they charged, several eight-foot-tall ogres with two small horns and mottled red skin among them.

“Matt!” Eric yelled. He rose and quickly threw small knives that flew into the darkness to disappear. The only indication of success was a body, then another, falling face down on the floor to be trampled by the mob coming to kill them.

“Going with the shield instead!” Matt yelled.

Anna wished he had done it sooner, but the shield would only prevent them from being reached. Whatever spell he had been thinking of before may have offered a chance to repel the attackers and a chance to escape this place. Now they were about to be trapped within a shield, but it was better than nothing.

White light sprang from the top of Matt’s staff, outward, and then cascaded down around them just outside the circle of pillars to touch the floor, giving them ten feet of protection. The shield was transparent save for the soft white glow. They didn’t have to wait long to see if it was working. Two arrows bounced harmlessly off, then another. A second door shattered open and more foes arrived, charging. A third door would soon break down. They were not getting out of here easily. The goblins and ogres, and a few other creatures Anna couldn’t identify, slowed as they neared, coming to a standstill. The four Earth friends backed up to the center of the ring. Anna stared at the disgusting attackers and shuddered, looking away from one creepy killer to the next. Assuming the remaining door held an equal number at bay, she guessed a hundred were here.

As they silently stood, the last door crashed open and the crowd deepened, nearly filling the hall. The room grew brighter for the additional torches, which allowed her to see the mob parting as someone pushed forward from the rear. The individual finally stopped before them, taut black skin under the black chainmail with silver engravings on it, a long bow over one shoulder, a sleek narrow blade on one hip. Haughty, red, slanted eyes stared coldly at them in a face that was as sinister as it was beautiful, long white hair pulled back into a ponytail that let the sharply pointed ears be visible. He bore a long scar on one cheek. No one had to say it out loud, for they all recognized a dark elf from their last quest.

The dark elf’s eyes jolted Anna on meeting her gaze, as he appraised first one of them and then another. He nodded in apparent satisfaction while looking at the dead wizard behind them. Then his eyes alertly scanned the perimeter of Matt’s spell and Anna went cold. He was planning something, she knew, and it didn’t take long to learn what. With a gesture, he indicated they were to be surrounded. The goblins squeezed themselves around the Quest Ring, which stood only a few feet from the walls on three sides. The ogres were too big to fit and instead came up beside the dark elf. Anna looked at Matt. The wizard was the only way they would survive this.

“What now?” Anna whispered to Eric, who had proven himself a more efficient planner than the rest of them.

“Attack,” said the dark elf in elven, which they all understood thanks to a spell cast on them on their last quest. Those surrounding them began slamming their weapons into the shield, which showed no signs of failing. The elf silently watched, not taking part, a grim smile of anticipation growing. He withdrew the sword from its sheath.

“All those blows are weakening me,” observed Matt, his arm shuddered.

Eric nodded. “I think that’s what they’re counting on.”

“They’re not intending to capture us,” Ryan remarked, speaking loud over the dull thudding of weapons hitting the shield.

Anna knew he was right. Would they just kill her or do something worse than death first? She trembled again.

“Matt,” began Eric, fingering a throwing knife, “do we think things can get out through the shield but not in?”

“I’m not sure.”

Ryan met Eric’s gaze and said, “You know, you and I could easily stab every single the ones on these three sides, especially, because there’s no room for them to back up. That would make them stop.”

“Wait,” said Anna. She had noticed something. “The Quest Ring can send us back if Matt sticks the top of the staff into the hole in one pillar. I just saw it. There.” She pointed to a hole with a shape matching the prongs and crystal. The pillar was the one at the back, opposite where the dark elf stood. This didn’t surprise her. While the Quest Rings appeared similar, minor variations were apparent, but what they all had in common was a tallest pillar at the rear, opposite the opening they usually arrived facing. They had seen this hole before on the last Quest Ring but never tried it.

“Okay,” said Matt, wincing as the blows continued, “but I’m not sure what happens to this shield when I move the staff to do that. It kind of reminds me of an umbrella right now, and if I tilt the staff to do this, maybe one side lifts up? What if it doesn’t stop them anymore and they get to us before I can send us back?”

Eric spoke confidently. “It’s our only chance. But I have an idea. Matt, get ready to put the staff in the hole. Anna, help and stay in the middle. Both of you. Ryan and I will protect both of you. Ryan, time to test whether we can strike them, but they can’t strike us. If it works, we need to attack all the ones back near the hole first.”

“Got it,” the knight said.

“Hurry,” said Matt, voice strained.

“Hold on,” said Eric. “Need to demoralize.” Anna watched him flick the throwing knife with one hand. It passed through the shield and struck the dark elf in the chest. The elf took a step back, wobbled, and then fell back. Eric pulled out his short sword.

“Wait, start at the front corner,” said Ryan. He didn’t wait for agreement and thrust his sword between two pillars into the belly of a goblin, which squealed in pain and fell back. Eric began doing the same on the other side. Anna saw the wisdom of the knight’s suggestion. The dead bodies would keep those farther back from escaping over them. The two made quick work of it, twenty goblin bodies now surrounding them just outside the Quest Ring, some dead or about to be. Knight and rogue then moved to the front of the alcove and began stabbing at ogres that came within reach.

“Now!” yelled Eric.

Matt began tilting the staff and Anna grabbed hold of the end. She cast one frantic look back and then guided the staff head into the rearmost pillar’s hole with both hands, resulting in an audible click. The words of blue fire abruptly ignited, causing the ogres to step back.

“Stay on guard!” Eric yelled to Ryan as he stabbed forward again. “We don’t know how fast we’re safe from–”

The room disappeared, the now-familiar vortex pulling them into some unknown space between worlds. Anna covered her body with her hands again, since the robe would soon vanish, leaving her nude before her Earth clothes replaced it. Her eyes studiously stayed on Eric’s so they didn’t wander, especially as the rogue made no attempt to cover himself, not for the first time, and unlike everyone else. She saw looks of relief and something on their faces, maybe satisfaction that they handled it well enough to survive. Time seemed to pass quicker on the return, and she sensed she was sitting down as a final flash of light momentarily blinded her.

Table of Contents

  1. To Quest or Not to Quest
  2. Mastery
  3. Unexpected Company
  4. The Orbs of Dominion
  5. The Kirii Cave
  6. Flight of the Dragons
  7. Valegis
  8. The Lords of Fear
  9. In the Dead of Night
  10. The Price
  11. A New Friend
  12. The Lady Hope
  13. A Tale of Three Kings
  14. The Prince of Kiarven
  15. Kingmakers
  16. Reunions