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Hero Transcendent
Book Five: Hero Transcendent
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-419-5
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Dark Fantasy
eBook Length: 398 Pages
Published: July 2018

From inside the flap

The time has come for Jeanette to confront the Enemy at last. But before she can reach him, she must defeat Diapollion the Ecliptor, the Enemy’s prime agent, and master of the Arkenomes who destroy cultures and whole worlds.

The Enemy is a transcendent being, an extra-cosmic intelligence, who dwells outside the greater reality. She must discover how to cross the threshold between all that is real, and the meta-reality where Kada Barros has his place of power. Kada Barros strikes, and she loses everything. Tondorre, her soul companion, comes to her, and gives her the black ring, which she had entrusted to him, but all her other companions have been scattered to their own worlds. She must start all over again, with only the ring and Tondorre to help her.

She saves one world, and another, but she falls into a trap set by an Arknome who bested her once before. She and Tondorre are saved from death by a companion who came from her own world, in response to Jeanette’s need for help. She has two companions now. She is challenged by the new Ecliptor, someone whom she had thought she had overcome, and this time she destroys his power.

But she learns that the intelligences, which have been watching over everything, will not let her finish the task which had been set before her. Instead, she must choose another hero to take her place.

Hero Transcendent (Excerpt)

Chapter Eighty One: Crossing the Threshold

The immense hall of cloud-topped columns was as they had seen it before, awesome and awful and terrifying. It was not sky above the clouds, but an immensely distant ceiling, white with gold and blue traceries. The floor was white and beige marble, and the huge columns of marble and crystal and dark chrome extended to an impossible distance.

There was time for two heartbeats, then they were pushed away, not to the world from which they had come, but into a non-place. They were not even in the greater reality, half way between one world and another, but nowhere at all. And though they were aware of all the worlds around them, they did not exist on any of them.

They were still all together, still linked together, though they had no bodies, no brains to contain their minds. Had they been alone and unlinked, they would have dissipated into nothingness. It took a subjective moment for them to calm and stabilize their thoughts, to take stock of their present condition, and to know that they were not in any immediate danger.

"Somebody doesn't like us," Gaeliu said breathlessly, with no body and no breath.

"Whoever sent us away," Lirikatli said, "was a little slow on the uptake this time."

"They knew about it when LeShaw brought us here," Tondorre said. "I think our coming by ourselves took them by surprise."

"They think we're dead now, or destroyed, or helplessly lost," Elsabey said. "Maybe we can surprise them again."

"Not just right now," Saylees said. "That place is terrifying."

"It is," Galban-Dado said. "It's not what it looks like, it's … it's…."

"There is no time here," Jeanette said. "We don't have to hurry."

"We are going to go back, aren't we," Lirikatli said.

"Of course we are," Tondorre said.

"But what will we do when we get there?"

"Just try to stay there for a while."

"And if we can't stay there? If whatever it was keeps pushing us away, then what?"

"I have no idea."

"We could go to some place more congenial," Jeanette said, "where we can at least be real people while we try to work out what to do next."

"I can go along with that," Galban-Dado said, "but I think we should go back."

They turned away from their own thought, into the nowhereness, and found the place of columns.

It was not a globe orbiting a sun, among millions or billions of other suns, in an evolutionary cosmos of stars, dust, gas, and galaxies. It was more akin to Diapollion's garden, or the gray plane of strange objects, or even the wither, though it was much smaller than that, despite its apparent vastness. And it was not really a place, in and of itself, but just a threshold, as it were, to wherever it was that Kada Barros existed.

They made themselves ready, and went back. They waited for the repulsive force, and when it came, they tried to get some idea of whether it was automatic, reflexive, intentional, Kada Barros himself, or some other intelligence. They learned nothing before they were thrust again into the non-place between the threads of the greater reality.

"It wasn't expecting us," Elsabey said.

"It will push harder next time," Tondorre said. "We're going to have to push back."

They went, the force tried to push them away, they resisted, got no sense of what it was that was pushing at them, and when the force stopped, they stopped too. Then it came back, taking them by surprise, and sending them once again into limbo.

"It's intelligent," Jeanette said.

They went back. Nothing pushed at them.

They looked around at the columns, which were in no particular order. They could as easily have been hung from the blue and white ceiling, as set on the white and beige marble floor. Their size and spacing were proportional to the scale of the separation between the ceiling and the floor, not to insect-like people.The wispy clouds were half way between. They did not resist the thrust, when it came at last, and let it sweep them into limbo, but this time they came back at once. When the force came back again, with a sense of exasperation, they sidestepped it, as it were, and stayed in the place of columns.

They waited, tired of the game, but determined to have their way. The air moved, but it was hard to tell from which direction. There was a scent, not of flowers, exactly, or of metal. The temperature was almost neutral, skin temperature instead of body temperature. The light came from everywhere, there were no shadows.

"Does he really need this much space?" Elsabey asked. Her voice was lost in the emptiness.

"His ego does," Saylees said.

They were thrust away, more violently this time. Almost without a flicker, they were back among the varied columns.

"He's not very powerful, is he," Lirikatli said.

"It's not Kada Barros doing that," Jeanette said. "His power lies in other areas. That's why he uses physical agents in the physical worlds."

"How long before we can expect a new Arkenome?" Saylees asked.

"I don't know. Arkenomes must be found and trained, and that's got to take some time. I suppose he has a few candidates, just in case."

"What if he really is this big?" Gaeliu asked. "How could we possibly fight him?"

"It doesn't matter," Tondorre said. "He's not a physical person like we are."

"He's not," Jeanette said. "The laws which control our bodies and allow us to exist are different from those which control and permit a being of thought such as he is."

There was another push, a stronger one, but it felt half-hearted somehow, and they didn't even stagger.

"Think we can outlast him?" Elsabey asked.

"I wouldn't want to," Saylees said.