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Fire Wars

Zelia is a priestess, with sky-blue skin and stranger tempers. Daughter of a ritual union between a human and Air's flighty elemental queen, she lives abandoned in the College of Healers. When a man dies because of Zelia's rebellion, she is accused of the crime and declared renegade.

Ares is an opportunist, an adventurer and a fugitive. A sword for hire. Neither elf nor human, he is another outsider, another fugitive, welcomed by no one, mortal or otherwise.

Misfit and outcast meet. Sparks fly. Together they discover they possess unimaginable powers of sorcery which they will need to combat the scourge that threatens the land. For the evil sorcerer Queb, long thought dead, has returned...

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Jessica Palmer

Jessica Palmer has had 28 books published starting in 1988. The books range from the area of fantasy, science fiction and horror, by such publishers as Scholastic Book, Harper Collins and Simon and Schuster (Pocket Books). Her most recent books were published in 2008, 2009 and 2014 respectively part of a Native American series.

She lives in New Mexico at the base of the Sacramento Mountains where she is employed by Alamogordo Daily News as community reporter / editor. She also works with wildlife and has raised, foxes, deer, owls, crows, hawks, raccoon and skunks.

Reviews

"Jessica Palmer is an author with a glorious future. . . a rare and distinguished talent."

Ron Chetwyn Hayes

"Jessica Palmer is a real original. Her work can at once disturb, provoke and amuse. Her very own `turn of the screw' in the art of storytelling is a constant source of delight and dislocation. Just when you think you know where you are in one of Palmer's works, she creeps up behind you. Highly recommended."

Stephen Laws, author of "The Wyrme"

"Author Jessica Palmer is able to evoke a sense of wonder and enchantment often lost in the march of progress."

Northern Echo, Darlington, England

". . . good, crisp writing and tense text,"

The South African Times

"Undoubtably the best, Jessica Palmer with her wit and humour..."

Howard Watts -- Substance Magazine, London


"Jessica Palmer delves deep into reality to produce a superb story that is compelling and compulsive reading all along the way."

James Herbert

"Jessica Palmer takes you from the past to the future with science fiction,"

Greenrock Telegraph

"Jessica Palmer is an informative, entertaining writer."

S. Derrick Moore -- Las Cruces Sun
Excerpt

Prologue

A disconnected thought drifted across the desolate Wastes of Norvon.

...I...

In truth, it was less than a thought, only a glimmer of a thought or a reflection. A fragment, it could not even be described as a partial ponder or an enthusiastic mull. Neither a full fancy nor a half-baked notion, it was the beginning of awareness. The first kernel of concept, the seed from which understanding would grow. Like the momentary recall when a long-forgotten scene surfaces from the amphibious pool of human unconscious only to vanish into the gaseous mists of mortal memory. That hazy something you swore you knew before someone had had the audacity to ask.

‘Iyee...

The sound echoed forlornly throughout the canting circle of stone. But no one was present to hear it, save the twisted vines of thorny starflowers. The twined branches wove a magical sphere. This magical sphere held the fledgling notion a prisoner within the vast brown bowl of tundra, in the place that had once seen its birth.

Lost within this sorcerous shell, the hollow musing wandered aimlessly around, searching for others like itself and finding...nothing.

****

Sprinkled throughout the mortal planes floated other disassociated thoughts, or fragments of thoughts, much like the first. In a noxious swamp a continent away...

‘A...

In another stone circle further east...

‘M...

Hovering around the Wizard’s College...

‘Q...

Beyond the gauzy veil of mortal time, buffeted about by elemental winds...

‘U...

Bubbling up in water’s realm...

‘EEEE’

‘eee’

And bursting forth like crackling fire in Brimstone’s realm...

‘Buh, buh, buh...Bee...

****

Beyond the first four elemental planes lies the Realm of Death. Sorcery is stronger there than it is in any of the previous planes. As if magic were a ball, slow and pondersome in the first plane. A ball that picked up speed and energy as it rolled forward through the elemental planes. Until it culminated in Death’s realm in something larger than magic. Something super-supernatural. A power so potent that even the elementals shunned these planes.

The first plane in Death’s realm is the Night Plane, or Black Lands. This is the dark night of the soul so often discussed. All the nasty things that the human mind can conceive eventually gravitate to Night’s dank realm.

For instance, all the spinach and brussel sprouts—hidden by disobedient children throughout the ages and secreted under dining room tables or buried in potted plants—can be found in the Black Lands. There it is at home where it can grow creepy, long fronds of green-gray mold unhindered.

The Night plane is home of fell magic and all manner of monsters and beasts who would rather avoid the light of day. Wampyr hang by their feet in Night’s deep caverns. Werebeasts prowl in its shadows. The deadly werewolf howls at a black moon. While the somewhat comical, but equally lethal, were-hare strips its victims of flesh. Incubi and succubi fritter away the time, searching for weak mortals to entice. And the long-dead spirits of sinister sorcerers and evil enchantresses sigh, dreaming of days long gone when they summoned demons and imps with a wave of their hands.

Beyond Night’s plane lies Hades, abode of sinners and heretics, and such like. All those mortals too wicked by human standards to find their way into the Dream Fields dwell in Hades’ halls. As planes go it combines the worst features of both Brimstone and Night, with a few additional nasties thrown in on the side just to keep things interesting. It is the dominion of devils and demons, and the many-layered legions of imps, minor fiends, intermediate fiends and arch-fiends who rule over them.

All this evil quite naturally leeches its environment of color and light, and Hades and Night are dark indeed. To the mortal eye—assuming a human were able to survive the trip—those planes would appear as flat, matte black without benefit of stars. Blacker than the blackest pitch, blacker than the widow’s reeds, blacker even than the deepest, darkest secret in a human soul.

Featureless. Dull. Boring!

And so it appears to its inhabitants. Despite its inherently profane nature, it is quite a dreary place. Without even someone to scare...heretics and sinners soon become immured to things that go bump in the night, and witches and warlocks are used to trafficking with demons.

Then Queb appeared, or parts of him did. For when the necromancer was destroyed, his spirit was dismantled and its particles scattered all across the known universes. Rightly or wrongly, the airy elementals decided to place like with like. So all that was once human remained in the mortal plane, while the wizard’s thoughts ended up in air’s domain, the realm of pure intellect. All his emotions, all that was green and capable of growth, went to water’s fluid kingdom, and each idea that could burn with a touch was conveyed to Brimstone. The good—the part that had once loved a white-haired snowmaiden and had laughed like any other mortal man—was delivered to the Dream Fields, or should have been.

With similar logic, if less wisdom, the fairies distributed all that was wicked between Hades and Night. At least they tried—for flighty creatures that they are—some of the pieces got mixed up. Bits of Queb, the good and the bad, floated throughout Death’s realm. The evil appeared as pure black globules of human malice. Some so dark that they competed even with the darkness of the darkest night in Night’s own plane. And so corrupt that even Hades had nothing to rival its evil splendor. For having choice, the wickedness in the human heart is far worse than anything that can be unearthed within the heartless shell of the wampyr or under the furred scalp of the werebeast. Having free will, a human can elect to do good, to love rather than hate, to create rather than destroy.

Each drop of this once great mage contained the spark of human life. Each tiny sphere pulsated with a dull, burnished sheen. Like somber jewels that throbbed and vibrated with a vitality all their own. And Queb’s unadulterated mortal spite positively glowed. Glittering black diamonds that beckoned to the denizens of darkness who were drawn to them, in the same way the water elemental is drawn to fountains and the fire elemental to governmental scrolls. The wampyr sought out this essence of pure human malignancy. The incubi and succubi trailed along behind, driving it before them. In Hades, the imp coveted the crystalline shards of rancor. The demons were dazzled by them, thinking they had found a soul to sway, and the Devil plucked each and every one of them from the fluttering gloom. Then He summoned all his minions and commanded them to do his bidding: “Gather the pieces and put them back together again...”