The D'Karon Apprentice is the long-awaited sequel to the acclaimed epic fantasy, The Book of Deacon Trilogy. It is a direct follow up to The Battle of Verril.
It has been months since the Chosen finally defeated the D'Karon and the Perpetual War came to an end. Once warriors, Myranda, Deacon, Ivy, and Ether must now take on the role of diplomats in the ongoing task of preserving the unsteady peace between the lands of Tressor and the Northern Alliance. Generations of war have left a deep distrust between the people on both sides of the border, and any sign of treachery or hostility could cause a new war to flare. If that happens, the weakened Northern Alliance will have little hope to survive against the military might of their neighbor to the south.
A mysterious figure, long slumbering and forgotten, has stirred in the wake of the Chosen triumph. She is not pleased to find the D'Karon no longer answer her calls, and she sets out to find them once more. This woman, a powerful necromancer with deep knowledge of D'Karon magic and little concern for the world and its people, spreads chaos wherever she goes. Her bloody swath through the southern lands is just the spark the volatile world needs to take to flame once more.
To keep their lands from descending back into a war that will claim the lives of untold thousands, Myranda, Deacon, and Myn must venture into the heart of Tressor. Escorted by a Dragon Rider named Grustim and surrounded by fear and distrust, the road ahead will not be difficult, but the chosen have fought too hard and lost too much to lose it all to this dark apprentice…
I write in a handful of series. At least three main ones and assorted spinoffs and one-offs. That means that I tend to violate the popular self-publishing wisdom of releasing new stories in a given series rapidly. The D'Karon Apprentice is a fine example of that. It is the direct follow-up to The Battle of Verril, but was published a staggering four years afterward. That's several eternities in self-pub time. Despite this, the fans welcomed it with open arms, thanks in no small part to four years of experience producing a much cleaner, slicker book. So much so that I didn't need to do a StoryBundle edition of this one, because it was actually formatted properly the first time! – Joseph R. Lallo
"For quite some time, I've been in a seemingly endless and hopeless search for a fictitious adventure that suited my tastes. The Book of Deacon series has truly been a breath of fresh air. This book in particular was the best I've read in a long time. One thing good readers do is to actively predict what will happen in a book based off of previous situations, and throughout the entire book I've done so and was caught by surprise every time."– Levi Ayal Kuskie (Amazon Customer)
"Another fantastic read by Joseph R Lallo! A part of the Book of Deacon series, D'karon Apprentice continues the story the Chosen, the champions gifted by the gods to protect their world from the evil D'karon. A great story in a continuing saga that will leave you happily wanting more."– Gardarren (iBooks Customer)
"I love this series, and the latest installment was no exception. All of our old friends our back, with some new allies and a new enemy. It's action packed, fraught with emotion and full of those funny moments that I've come to expect where you laugh out loud."– Shannon (Goodreads Reviewer)
Peace is a fragile thing. A long war drives a people. It works its way into the minds and souls of a nation, giving them something to live for, and something to die for. When the fighting ends, the prospect of what comes after—the rebuilding and the healing—can be terrifying. The horrors of war are too often more comfortable and familiar than the challenges of peace.
What had come to be known as the Perpetual War had scoured the lands of the Northern Alliance and Tressor for as long as any could remember. Dark figures, the D'Karon, had risen to positions of power within the Alliance Army. Through this influence they had stoked the war like a furnace, burning away generations of the best men and women of both nations and weakening the world as a whole. It was only through the efforts of the divinely anointed warriors known as the Chosen that the D'Karon were finally defeated, but in many ways it was then that the greatest challenge began.
After more than a century of fighting, peace was tenuous. Heroes once called upon to vanquish evil were now tasked with holding together the ragged edges of their world until the healing could begin. Too much blood had been shed and too many lives lost to allow war to return. But in a dark place long forgotten, a spark stands ready to ignite the war anew.
Somewhere deep in the arid wastes of the southern shore of Tressor, a woman lay sleeping. Hers was a deep, dreamless slumber, a slumber unbroken for years. The woman was frail and forgotten, a motionless bundle of ragged cloth and withered flesh. If undisturbed, she might never have awoken, sleeping blissfully until the end of time without troubling the world or its people. But this was not to be.
Piece by piece her body flickered to life, like soggy bits of firewood sluggishly taking to flame. Her lungs took the initiative, deciding that shallow breaths were simply not sufficient. And so she breathed deep, quickly releasing it as a painful cough. Next her eyes grew weary of the darkness and slid open, feeding her mind images that it was not quite ready to comprehend. Her fingers twitched, her cracked lips parted, her dry tongue smacked, and slowly a word formed in her mind. It took several minutes of effort before it worked its way to her lips.
"Thirsty," she croaked in a voice from the wrong side of a grave, startling a nest of mice that had made a home in her hair.
She slowly scraped together enough of her wits to sit up, stiff joints crackling with every motion. The light was dim, filtering in from the mouth of a low-roofed cave. She swept her eyes around until she found beside her a small cup caked with sand and dust. Beside it was a cork-topped wine bottle. It took three poorly guided grasps before she was able to close her bony hand about the bottle's neck, and four tries to manage the complex maneuver of pulling its cork free, but persistence earned her a long swig of vinegary swill.
One need dealt with, her body quickly alerted her of another.
"Hungry," she stated, her voice a shade closer to human now.
Again she scanned her surroundings. There were empty bags chewed through by rodents and the bones of a dozen assorted animals that had been picked clean and bleached white. Nothing even resembling a meal had been in the cave for years. For a moment she contemplated climbing to her feet and seeking out some provisions, but having only just managed to work out how to use both arms at the same time, she felt the task of walking was one that would be easier to tackle on a full stomach.
She picked through the mound of bones nearest her. Though it was an uphill struggle to determine the proper sequence of opening and closing her fingers that was necessary to grasp them, oddly she found identifying them to be utterly effortless.
"Skull of a jackal. Where is the jaw? Here. Good, good. One of its legs too. Don't need the toes. A few rat spines, yes. Ah, perfect, a serpent skeleton. Intact, save the head. That will do nicely."
Like a child with a new set of building blocks, she merrily began to fit the bits of carcass together. Under her breath she uttered arcane words, conjuring black tendrils that fused the bones to one another. After a few minutes she had assembled a creature that could only have been born of madness.
The jackal skull sat atop the long, narrow spine of a snake. Ribs, femurs, and claws linked together into a set of six spidery legs that connected to the curving spine a third of the way down its length. The rest of the serpent's spine formed a curled tail. She dangled the horrid concoction by the spine, eying it critically.
"A motley bit of odds and ends, but it will have to do… Now, live."
Inside the hollow skull, darkness began to swirl and coil. The edge of the tail twitched, and the mismatched legs quivered. Two points of violet light sparked to life in the jackal's eye sockets. She lowered it to the ground and watched it shudder, quake, and finally hoist itself to its feet, twisting its oversize head toward her and sweeping its tail in expectation.
"Good. Now listen closely, Motley. You will fetch me food. Meat. Something large, lots of blood, lots of skin, lots of bone. Bring it quickly and I'll be sure to give you the bits I don't need."
The abomination pranced in place for a moment, radiating delight at the chance to serve, then rattled off toward the mouth of the cave. When it was out of sight, the woman ran her fingers through her scraggly white hair, combing away any other creatures that might have taken up residence.
"Now then… to work. I suspect there's much to be done."
She looked beside her and found a tall ivory staff. It was intricately carved with runes and sigils, and the top was set with a deep violet gem. She pulled the head of the staff to her lap and worked a simple spell. Inside the gem a muddy red glow pulsed, and she felt her thoughts grow sharper, if not more orderly. Yes… her name. She was Turiel. Her task. She was to prepare the second keyhole. Her masters… why had they not woken her? And why did something feel lost, something missing? She reached out, seeking guidance, but there was no answer.
"Something has happened… I've slept too long… Need answers… Something must be done…"