The Book of Deacon Saga is the epic tale of a world besieged by war and at the mercy of dark forces who would see the land and its people wither and die. First Published in 2010, the story has grown significantly, expanding the story into earlier and later eras, exploring the lives of characters both minor and major.
The Book of Deacon 1+2: StoryBundle Edition is a combined edition created specially for StoryBundle. It contains two full novels. Both of them have been reformatted to include minor corrections as well as the addition of chapter breaks not previously present in the original published novels. This combo includes:
The Book of Deacon - The tale of Myranda Celeste, a young woman orphaned by a century long war, and her chance discovery of a fallen soldier's priceless cargo. The find will change her life, sending her on an adventure of soldiers and rebels, wizards and warriors, and beasts both noble and monstrous. Each step will bring her closer to the truth of her potential, of the war, and of the fate of her world.
The Great Convergence - The second in the Book of Deacon series, The Great Convergence continues the tale of young Myranda Celeste. With fresh knowledge of magic and steadfast resolve to see the end of the war that plagues her land, Myranda sets out to find and unite the five fated heroes, the Chosen. Each new warrior brings her world a step closer to peace, but does she have the strength to survive the trials ahead?
The Book of Deacon started out as a single book. A single, massive, half a million word book. The very first lesson I learned in the world of publishing was that it was probably not the best idea to start with a thousand page book. Thus, The Book of Deacon became The Book of Deacon Trilogy. I even made the first book free! It turned out to be a hit, and remains one of my most popular stories. Some years ago, when the opportunity arose to include it in a bundle, I knew I had to do something special. This, this special double-edition was born. Not only does it combine both of the first two books into a handy volume, it applies corrections and adjustments that were missing from the initial release! – Joseph R. Lallo
"I began this series with the opening novel, which was sandwiched into the middle of an anthology. Once I finished The Book of Deacon, I forgot all about the anthology as I delved into the rest of the series. This remarkable world of war and magic and alien secrets kept me reading into the wee hours of many nights."– J. M. Brown (Amazon Customer)
"It was different than other adventure stories because it develops characters you immediately like and builds the plot slowly around them as you get to know them."– Gabriel Martinez (Goodreads Reviewer)
"I absolutely love this book series … Highly recommend for the D&D adventure nerd experience and imagination fulfillment"– Taemikeemt (iBooks Customer)
The end of an era is always a time of great importance. Sweeping change. Advancing into a new age. These are surely things worthy of a place in the memory of a people. Too often, though, it is a single event that brings about the most direct change that receives the attention. The blow that ends the battle, the last brick to fall. In our worship of these moments, these endings, we neglect the journeys, the trials, the hardships, and the battles endured to make them possible.
Whosoever is fortunate enough to find this book shall finally hear the greatest of these tales. I have spent much of my life piecing together the words that follow. Most of what you shall read comes from the mouths of the people who lived it. It is my hope, in recording the path taken by these heroes, that those in the years to come will not be blind to the dangers that threatened this world once before. If the unthinkable is once again allowed to come to pass, perhaps the knowledge and the deeds of the heroes of old will stir others to their greatness.
The tale you shall read is of the Perpetual War. If you live in a time or a place that has allowed you to forget this dark era, consider yourself fortunate. To be ignorant of these events is a blessing. However, knowledge of the evils of old is the only protection against their return.
The Perpetual War, at the start of our tale, had been plaguing the world for one and a half centuries. It was a conflict that divided our people. The large farming kingdom, Tressor, formed half of the conflict. It was a land of fertile fields, a land of plenty, that covered most of the southern part of the continent and was home to more than half of the people of the world. They opposed a union of the three remaining kingdoms—Kenvard, Ulvard, and Vulcrest—that had come to be known to its people as the Northern Alliance, and by its enemies as the Nameless Empire. This was a land of snowy fields, dense forests, and icy mountains. Despite a vast disadvantage in strength and size, this Alliance had managed to withstand decade after decade of battle. This conflict was a constant part of the lives of all, and is the reason that what follows must be told.
My place in this tale is small. There are others better suited to put to words what came to pass, but most have taken their final steps down their own paths. Thus it falls to me, lest the tale go untold. I shall endeavor to recount the events in as straightforward and impersonal a manner as possible. Do not imagine this as a tale told by a man. It is merely a record. Words on a page. Words that tell of the most unlikely of events, beginning in the most unlikely of places . . .
The end of the fall had only just come, and already the air could chill one to the bone. Of course, this far north, one could seldom expect anything else. It was not the cold that bothered her, though. She'd dealt with that all of her life. Pulling the tattered remnants of her uncle's old cloak closer about her, she pressed on.
As Myranda strained her eyes against the blistering wind, she saw nothing more than horizon. It would likely be another full day of walking before she saw anything but the unbroken field ahead of her. She shook her head, a faint frown cracking her dry lips.
"I should have known," she said aloud to herself. "He seemed a shade too eager to give me directions."
Myranda had taken to talking to herself to fill the long, lonely, and all too frequent trips like these. With no companion, the only thing likely to interrupt the ceaseless howl of the wind was the periodic noisy complaints from her stomach. That much concerned her. She could afford to buy no supplies in the last town, and no tavern or inn had been willing to serve her thanks to a simple yet disastrous slip of the tongue. Anyone could have made the same mistake. In another time, it might have gone unnoticed—or, at least, unchallenged—but in the world of her birth it was inexcusable.
Two older women had been standing in the street, discussing the most recent news of the war. These days one would be hard-pressed to find a different topic of discussion. In this instance, it seemed that the Northern Alliance had pushed back a rather sizable advance. After three long, bloody days of battle, the Alliance troops had managed to take back the very same piece of land that they had started on. The cost of this maintenance of status quo was the lives of the better half of the troops in the area. In and of itself, such a tale was anything but notable. Indeed, a day without such a battle was rarer than a day with one. The difference on this day was that the Tresson army had lost even more.
The two women cackled and bragged over the victory, each telling exaggerated tales of their nearest war-going relative. "My boy promised to kill three of those swine just for me," one would say. Another would respond triumphantly that all four of her children had made the same promise. It was during this exchange that Myranda made her fateful slip.
"All of those lives . . . wasted," she had said with sorrow.
Wasted! Having your child give his or her life for the cause was the greatest honor a mother could hope for. To speak of such noble efforts as a waste was tantamount to treason. How dare this wandering woman speak ill of the war! After countless generations, it had ceased to be a simple struggle between two lands and had become a way of life. Those who opposed this sacred tradition of noble battle were unwelcome. That one word—wasted—may as well have sealed the poor girl's doom. It had kept her from filling her pack and from filling her belly. Worse still, it had led a seemingly good man to send her through this frozen waste, claiming it to be the fastest way to the next town.
She shook her head again. It was one lesson that she could not bring herself to learn. If someone was going to tell a lie, they would tell it with a smile. Now she found no less than a day of solid travel between herself and another human being. The cold was tightening its grip on the icy field with each passing moment. In perhaps an hour, the last glow of the sun would leave the sky, taking with it the meager warmth it had cast upon the world. The cold of the day was unbearable, but the night was unlivable. Worse, there was a darkness due to the impenetrable sheet of clouds overhead that warned of a snowfall in the coming hours. She had yet to find a replacement for her thin summer blanket, and she could neither afford nor carry a tent. If Myranda was to survive this night, she would need a fire.
Alas, there were but three types of terrain in this land: vast, treeless fields; dense, forbidding forests; and rocky, impassable mountains. She found herself in the first, an icy, barren stretch of land with not a plant to burn for warmth save some sparse grass and tough lichens. Neither would be good for producing anything more than smoke and ash. She scanned the endless horizon for a tree, a bush, anything that could yield a flame. Finding none, she made ready to bed down where she was and hope for the best.
Just as she stopped, the last rays of the setting sun peeking through a rare break in the cloud cover reflected their crimson radiance back from the east. After squinting, rubbing her eyes, and blinking only to find the fading twinkle still present in the distance, she was convinced that whatever it was, it was real.
"It was probably nothing," she said. She glanced back in the direction she'd come, then in the direction she'd been heading. "Which beats every other direction, where there is certainly nothing."
To fill the time as she approached the mystery object, and to take her mind off of the rather dire position she found herself in, she busied her imagination with thoughts of what it might be.
"Shiny . . . a mirror. Perhaps a caravan of nomads came by and dropped wares. Or perhaps it is a jewel. A dozen or a hundred jewels. And gold, too. A king's ransom left behind by some daring thief where no one would ever find it, in no man's land. Ha, that would be my luck. To find a pile of treasure when all I need is a pile of wood," she said to herself.
The time passed quickly as she dreamed up objects and ways to explain them. She'd not yet reached the object when the sun's rays failed, leaving her without a reflection to guide her. Her sense of direction was nearly flawless—a fortunate fact, as it was all she had left to lead her to the mysterious object. The sunset-painted clouds gave little in the way of light, but night brought utter darkness. Neither moon nor stars could hope to break through the solid sheet of gray overhead. That was no different from any other night, though. Even without the stars to follow, one found ways to stay on course in this land.
In the thick blackness that surrounded her, she literally stumbled over what she was looking for. There was what seemed to be a large mound of rocks surrounded by a liquid that was sticky, despite the cold that would have frozen most things. There was also a bundle of irregular metal plates that she heard clang and crunch as she stepped on them.
"What happened here?" she asked no one in particular as she tripped blindly through the obstacle course she'd found. Two more steps, though, brought a squeaky crunch that made her heart skip a beat. It was the sound of icy wood. She must have stumbled into the remains of a camp site, and now stood ankle-deep in her salvation.
She knelt by the fireplace and began to pull away the icy crust that eventually formed over anything that remained outside long enough. Soon all that remained was the powdery remains of the fire that had occupied this place not long before. It was bone dry and better than kindling. A single spark and she would have a fire in no time. The overjoyed young lady pulled her flint from one of her tattered pockets and reached blindly for one of the metal plates she'd heard clang free when she'd nearly tripped over it. She struck the flint to the metal and in moments had a warm bed of embers. A few moments more and the largest of the charred pieces of wood had caught, casting a delicious warmth and light on her immediate surroundings.
Now, with light enough to see what she held in her hand, she looked over the piece of metal. It was oddly shaped and not nearly polished enough to have caused the reflection that had led her here. On the curved interior of the metal plate, she found a few torn leather straps bolted to it. The outside bore an embossed symbol that looked to be a crest—one that she did not recognize.
"It must be a piece of armor," she decided, turning it about one last time.
Satisfied that the fire was in no danger of going out, Myranda stood to inspect the strange place she'd wandered into. She found the bundle she'd stepped on and could now clearly see that it was indeed a full suit of plate armor. It appeared to be badly damaged and fairly frozen to the ground.
"Why would an empty suit of armor be in the middle of a field?" she wondered aloud. The answer came quickly and brought a chill to her spine that the iciest of wind never could. It was not empty.
She backed slowly away, dropping the piece she held. Myranda hated death above all else, a fact that had made her life a good deal more miserable than those of the war-hardened villagers who shunned her. They saw death not only as a necessary part of life, but a positive one, a source of glory, respect, and honor. They heaped more praise upon a fallen soldier than the poor man or woman could ever have hoped for in life, a fact that bothered Myranda all the more.
As she moved away from the body, her eyes darted all over. Something caught her panicked gaze and froze her in her tracks. Peeking out from beneath the frost-covered shield was a patch of coarse brown cloth. A pack! One could not live in a time of war and not know what such soldier's packs contained. Money, water—and, best of all, food. The body could not be more than a few days old. In this cold, the rations in his pack would still be edible.
Myranda may have hated death, but if being near to a corpse for a few minutes could save her life, she would not hesitate. She grasped what little of the cloth was visible and pulled with all of her might, but it was no use. The pack was frozen to the ground and pinned beneath the heavy shield. If she wanted to free the pack and its precious contents, she would need something to pry the metal sheet off of it.
Myranda's eyes swept across the cluttered campsite. Surely there must be something she could use, but what? The chest plate from the corpse? It had been partially torn free, but the thought of tearing the piece of armor from the fallen soldier's ice-cold body turned her stomach. Not nearly enough, though, to make her forget how starved she really was. Reluctantly, she locked her cold-numbed fingers around the frost-covered metal and threw her weight against it. After three failed attempts, she kicked the plate in frustration, her other foot slipping on a patch of loose snow. She lost her balance and tumbled to the ground, her head striking something far harder than ice.
The impact dizzied her. As she rolled to her knees, she punched the ground. The food that could keep her alive for another day was mere inches away and she could not get it. It was maddening. Myranda rubbed her sore head and looked up with her blurred vision to see what had delivered the painful blow. The light of the fire danced on a highly polished, almost mirrored surface. Even before her eyes had regained their focus, she knew that this was the object that had led her here.
Standing out of the frozen earth was a sword that was beyond elegant. The hilt was covered with a myriad of different jewels. The blade itself, at first seeming to be a flawless surface, revealed itself to be engraved with an exquisite design, composed of countless lines as thin and delicate as a spider's web. It was a weapon unlike any she'd seen before. The price of a single jewel from the hilt could keep food in the bellies and clothes on the backs of an entire family for a year. The sword as a whole could easily provide her with a lifetime of luxury and leisure far greater than she could ever imagine.
The value of the sword did not concern her—at least, not at this moment. Regardless of the price it might fetch in the future, at the moment it represented a far greater find. It was the means to extract the only thing that mattered to her right now, the food that would give her the strength to leave this frozen wasteland. It represented life itself. When her senses at last returned to her in full, she reached out to the lifesaving tool.
The very instant she touched her skin to the ornate handle of the exceptional blade, she felt a crisp, sharp burning. It originated in her palm and shot straight down her arm. She hit the ground hard, agonized and trying desperately to pull her hand from the torturous burning. Her fingers, though, would not obey her. Instead they locked tightly about the source of the torment and would not release. The pain grew to the point that Myranda was certain it would force her into unconsciousness. She was a heartbeat from blacking out when the pain relented, her fingers loosened and her hand came free.
Myranda gasped for breath, cradling the afflicted hand. What was it that had just happened to her? Had she triggered a booby trap? She turned her watering eyes to her left hand, fearful of the state she might find it in. Her survival was unlikely enough without a wound to deal with. Slowly she opened her fingers. To her great relief, the palm was merely red and tender, as though she'd scalded it in hot water. A simple bandage would suffice. Myranda pulled herself back to the fireside to recover.
"This is why I hate weapons. I find a sword and it manages to injure me twice without once being held by its owner," she said, eying the offending tool angrily.
Myranda touched the tender hand to the lump that had already formed on her head from the first encounter with the blasted weapon. She cursed the blade over and over again in her mind, never once thinking about the fact that if her head had found one of the weapon's cutting edges when she'd fallen, she would not have lived to suffer. When she was through letting her anger pour out at the sword, she stared broodingly into the fire and tore a bit of her inadequate blanket to treat her hand. As she did, light from the flame danced on the ground around her. Slowly her hungry eyes drifted to the sword, then to the pack, then back to the sword . . .
"No! It would take a fool to try to grab that blade again. I have lasted for days without food. One more day will not kill me. Besides, that food is probably rancid. It has been out in the open for at least a number of days. Why risk burning the other hand to free some spoiled food?" she reasoned aloud.
Her stomach growled loudly.
"Of course, the touch to the sword wasn't that bad. It did not kill me. After all, it was probably a booby trap, and how likely is it that it would be set to trigger more than once? It is cold out, so the food has probably been preserved fairly well," she reasoned again, this time the hunger getting the better of her.
She moved carefully toward the weapon and, extending her bandaged hand to the handle, while keeping the rest of her body as far from the blade as possible, touched her fingers to it. She cringed at the expected onslaught, but when none came she knew it would be safe to use the hand that still had some strength in it. She wrapped her right fingers around the grip and pulled, but the icy ground held tightly to the sword, allowing only the slightest movement. Myranda put her left hand around the grip as well and pulled as best she could. On a normal day the sword would have come free quite easily, but hunger had robbed her of more strength than she knew. Had she not taken the chance tonight to free the food, the morning would have found her without the strength to stand.
Finally, the weapon came free. She dragged the sword across the icy earth and slid its tip beneath the edge of the huge shield.
"I am very sorry about this, sir," she grunted to her fallen benefactor. "I do realize how disrespectful this is." Grunt. "But I am left with very little choice."
Several minutes of prying and apologizing later, she'd cracked the icy buildup and freed the pack. Eagerly, she pulled it open. Savior! Salted meat and hard biscuit. By no means a banquet, but it was more than enough to save her. The food was well past its prime, but so long as it was still edible, it would serve its purpose. Aside from the food, she found a small bag of copper coins and a rock-hard frozen flask of water. There was also a pan for cooking and something that roused her spirits even higher. There were two loops of fabric across the top of the pack that could be only one thing.
"Tent straps! You had a tent, stranger! And if you had a tent, then I have a tent. I just have yet to find it," Myranda said.
Grabbing the unlit portion of the largest stick in the fire, Myranda held the makeshift torch, swept it about near to the ground. Before long, she found what was left of the tent. It was flat against the ground and crusted with ice, one of the supports shattered. Myranda set what was left of the tiny tent near the smoldering fire. The heat slowly filled the half-collapsed cloth shelter and gave her the first comfort she had felt in days.
She had only just fastened the tent flap when a heavy, wet snow began to fall. Myranda put the pan on the coals and heated some of the food she'd found, smiling to herself about her accuracy in detecting the coming snow. It was a skill to be able to read the clouds. The northern lands were shrouded in thick, gray clouds for most of the year. One could not simply see clouds on the horizon and predict rain. It was more a feeling, a nearly imperceptible change in the color of the gray, a new quality to the wind. Even she wasn't quite sure how she knew, but whether it was to be rain or snow, hail or sleet, she always knew. It was a gift.
She nearly burned herself as she snatched the meat eagerly from the pan. She had stood the hunger this long, but the smell of the cooking food made the pain a thousand times worse. Myranda took her first bite of food in days, the first full meal in more than a week. Her eyes rolled and her jaw tingled at the first taste of food. When she'd eaten the ration for the day, she slipped into a sleep few would ever know. If there was one thing she'd learned in her years of endless travel, it was that starving made any meal a feast, and exhaustion made any bed fit for a king. She was warm, full, and happy now, and that was all that mattered.
In a flash, she found herself in the middle of a sun-drenched field. She was bewildered and disoriented. The ground was warm against her bare feet. As her eyes adjusted to the light, they saw the beauty of the field. It was the finest sight she had ever seen, a vast meadow of lush green grass as far as the eye could see. She breathed in the freshness of the air and let out a triumphant sigh of joy. Myranda closed her eyes and began laughing, sheer happiness spilling out of her.
When she opened her eyes to take in more of the splendor, they came to rest on a tiny speck of black. It was the smallest fleck of darkness, but in such a place nothing could have been more foreign. It floated near to her, then off and way, almost out of sight. Slowly, it drifted down and touched the ground. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, the ground began to darken. The life-giving soil turned a charred black color, spreading outward like a stain across the countryside. The green grass faded slowly, so slowly that it was barely noticeable. She stood, helpless, as her paradise blackened. It was as though the world was being consumed by night from the ground up.
When all of the life had been drawn from the grass it spread skyward. Night flooded the field in spite of the sun above. In a grim finale, that too was blocked out by a curtain of black clouds. Only darkness remained, a darkness stirred by a frigid wind. Myranda strained her eyes, searching desperately for some wisp of what had been before. She saw faint, flickering lights far off in the distance. She rushed toward them, but one by one, the embers of light winked out, swallowed into the darkness as all else had.
"No!" Myranda screamed, opening her eyes. A sliver of light peeked through the flaps of her tent.
It was not real. The horror she had seen was false, a dream. The horror she had felt, though, was real. She took several minutes to catch her breath and steady her pounding heart. Never before had a dream been so vivid. She shook herself in a vain attempt to chase the tormenting images from her mind. The only comforting thought came in the words her mother had spoken to her long ago. Even with the eternity that had passed since she lost her mother, the voice still echoed in her ears. Now memories were all she had left.
"A nightmare is the best kind of dream. The only one that brings happiness when it ends," she repeated.
The fright had brought her to full wakefulness instantly, with no hope of returning to sleep. She smiled as she wiped a drop of sweat from her brow. How long had it been since she had been too warm? The feeling of sweat trickling down her back was one she'd not felt in weeks—months, even. Of course, once the cold hit her when she left the tent, the novelty would wear thin rather quickly. Carefully, she pulled the flap of the tent aside. A cascade of snow from the previous night's fall assured her that it was at least not dangerously cold, or else the wetness of the snow would have frozen it into a shell of ice. She crawled out of the dilapidated tent, favoring her stricken left hand.
With the light of the morning filling the field where she'd slept, she could finally see the scene she had stumbled through in darkness the night before. It had all been blanketed with several inches of dense snow that elsewhere might have been a terrible storm, but amounted to little more than a light flurry to the people of the Northern Alliance. She waded into the ankle-deep snow and surveyed the campsite.
Where she had thought there was a great mound of rocks the night before could now be seen for what it really was. Even buried beneath the snow, the mound clearly had the shape of a beast. The form indicated a dragon, but it was a bit bulkier than she'd imagined a dragon to be. Of course, she had no interest in finding out if she was correct, particularly because she would have to step into the pool of blackish liquid that stained the snow around the fallen creature. A liquid that was too thin to be pitch, and too black to be blood.
"Well, you killed it and it killed you," Myranda said, looking at the fallen soldier, its form barely discernible through the snow. She looked to the dragon. "That goes for you too. But why were the two of you here, I wonder? The dragon can come and go as it pleases, but this is awfully far from the front to find a soldier from either side."
She knelt and brushed the snow from the shield. It was standing nearly straight up after the prying she had done to free the meal the night before. She expected to find the crest of the Northern Alliance, or perhaps that of the southern land of Tressor. Instead she found the same simple crest she'd seen among other marks on the sword and armor. It resembled a smooth, curving letter V, with a rounded bottom and downturned ends, or perhaps a pair of smooth waves with a trough between them. Centered above them was a single point.
"So, you were not of the north or the south. That must be why you were in this forsaken place. You fall into the same lonesome caste as I. Non-supporter of the Perpetual War. You refused to join either side. You should consider it something of a triumph that you had managed to be killed by something other than an angry mob. I know it is no consolation, but the end you came to here prevented my own. I sincerely thank you for it, and I hope that whatever powers pass judgment on you in the great beyond will take that into account. I thank you for the food, the shelter . . . and the sword."
It had not been her intention to take the sword, but even she could not resist such a treasure. Even the most treacherous buyer would be forced to dole out a sizable price for such a weapon, and it was unlikely she'd find a buyer of any other kind. Myranda never even entertained the possibility of being paid a fair price for the piece. These days the shopkeepers were nearly as cutthroat as the soldiers, with barely enough wares to go around. Still, something of such value was sure to at least provide her with the funds to buy a horse, a tent, some food, and perhaps some clothes more befitting of the season.
She rolled the sword in her blanket and took some of the softened biscuit for breakfast. She then transferred the food, as well as the water and the heavy blanket, from the soldier's pack to her own lighter one. If only it had been smaller or she had been stronger, she could have taken the tent with her, but the days of walking would be made difficult enough with her newly-filled pack without a mound of heavy canvas and wooden poles. When all had been prepared, Myranda went on her way.