Who will fight—for the Order, for freedom?
For centuries, the Vynistri have been adding lion DNA to their servants, the Chazum, using a device they call the Machine. Now an army of Chazum and sympathetic Vynistri are waging a bloody civil war to overthrow the Vynistri’s evil ruler, Chancellor Trelango. In their latest Assignment, the Deliverers—Eric Scott, Stig the owl, Kate Endria and Hallo Tosis the dwarf—are charged with putting an end to the fighting and restoring balance to the world. Aided by a secret society called the Order of the Crystal Lion, Eric and the rest of the Deliverers must overcome tragedy and loss to fight for freedom and equality. Spurring them on is the Order’s belief that the long awaited Crystal Lion has arrived to deliver the world. Is this true, or will Trelango destroy them all?
The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion
Chapter 1 Part 2
When he arrived home, he dragged his equipment past his mother without a word, into his room, and flung himself on his bed.
He stared up at the ceiling, and rubbed his eyes with his hand. His eyes blinked a couple of times, then closed.
Tap, tap. Tap.
Eric’s eyes opened. What was that? He sat up and looked around, but did not see anything.
Tap, tap. Tap.
There it was again. Where was it coming from? Eric got up.
Tap, tap. Tap.
It sounded like it was coming from the window. Eric went over to it and looked out. There, perched on a bush, sat a large white owl.
With a shout, Eric opened the window. The owl flew into the room and landed on the bed. “What took you so long? I was starting to get cold,” the owl said.
“Sorry Stig. I couldn’t figure out what that tapping sound was for a minute.”
“Well, well, not to worry. I wasn’t really all that cold. Feathers really make marvelous insulation.”
“I guess they would,” Eric said.
“So, how have you been my boy?”
“Oh, okay, I guess. Things have been a little strange. My mom’s getting a little freaky. She’s making me hang out with my cousins.”
“Splendid, splendid. It’s good to see that she’s encouraging you to get out a little bit.”
“But my cousins aren’t really into the same stuff as me,” Eric explained.
“Well, but one cannot be afraid to try new things. Otherwise, you never would have accompanied me on your first Assignment,” Stig said. “Don’t you agree?”
“Oh, um, I suppose. But don’t you think…” Eric paused.
“Don’t I think, what?” Stig asked.
“Never mind. So what brings you here?”
“Ah yes. What indeed.” Stig ruffled his feathers and moved a little closer to Eric. “The Gatekeeper has need of us.”
A thrill of excitement coursed through Eric. The Gatekeeper had sent Eric on his first Assignment that past summer to save a small fishing village called Calendria from an evil band of pirates. “You mean, he wants to send us on another Assignment?”
“Quite so,” Stig said. “Everyone else has been assembled, and I was sent to pick you up, that is, if you are up for it?”
“You bet! Let’s go!” Eric said. He was up and headed for his bedroom door, then stopped short and turned to Stig. “Did you say that everyone else has been assembled?”
“Yes, yes I did,” Stig replied, a knowing glint in his golden eyes.
“So, it’s not just us that are being sent on the Assignment.”
“Oh no, this looks to be quite a big job, so the Gatekeeper thought reinforcements might be needed on this one.”
“Reinforcements, so, like, who?” Eric asked, although he hoped he knew the answer.
“Why, Kate and Hallo, of course,” the owl replied. “I thought you might have guessed. I did tell you that your paths might cross again one day.”
“Awesome!” Eric said, pumping his fist in the air. “I was kind of hoping they’d be coming. This is going to be so cool. It’ll be just like the last time, better even! We’re all going on an Assignment. Sweet!”
“Well, yes, I’m glad you’re excited. I must admit that I am rather excited myself,” Stig said. “But remember that each Assignment is very serious, not a romp in the park. You may recall your first Assignment fondly, and I daresay I do as well, but it was not without its dangers and trials, if you recall. Assignments are perilous things.
“You should also know that nothing stays the same. Circumstances and people change. You’ve changed, too, if I’m not totally mistaken.”
“Yeah, sure, okay,” Eric said. This was a little confusing. Who had changed? “Assignments are serious business. I wonder what the Gatekeeper has in store for us this time.”
Stig frowned. “I don’t know. The Gatekeeper did not provide any details this time. He just told me to round the three of you up, and that it was a difficult task requiring all of our talents.”
“Huh, sounds mysterious.” Eric said. “Well, I guess the sooner we get going, the sooner we’ll find out.”
“Quite right,” Stig said.
“Um, how am I gonna get out of the house without Mom seeing?”
“Well, that is the trick, isn’t it? I suppose we could go out the same way I came in, through the window.”
“Yeah, and I could go right down the hill to the stream without my mom seeing anything. Uh, we’re headed to the stream, right?” The last time Eric had gone on an Assignment, he had left his world through a door that appeared in a drainpipe under his driveway.
“Yes, we’ll be taking the usual route,” Stig said.
“Okay, let’s go.”
He opened the window, and Stig flew out into the cold winter morning. Eric scrambled through, and shut the window behind him. The air was frosty and there were a couple of inches of snow on the ground. It was only a few yards from his window to the wooded hill that sloped down toward a stream near his street.
Following Stig, Eric clambered down the brush-covered slope until he stood by the frozen stream. It was weird. The last time he had done this was on a warm summer night. Now, as he followed the stream toward the drainpipe it didn’t seem possible that he’d find the Doorway in broad daylight.
“Into the drainpipe!” Stig called as the owl flew straight in.
Eric followed, being careful not to slip on the ice. And there it was, just as it had been the last time. A round door blocked the far end of the drainpipe. Stig hovered, waiting.
“Would you do the honors again, please?” Stig asked.
Eric pushed open the door, and the boy and the owl went through.