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Pendragon, Book Nine

Raven Rise

ravenrise

Bobby Pendragon has quit.

After battling Saint Dane on eight territories, Bobby found a way to end the war and prevent the demon from continuing his evil quest to control Halla. With a single, massive explosion of tak, he destroyed the entrance to the flume on Ibara. The gate was buried under tons of volcanic rock, sealing off Saint Dane? means of escape. And his. Bobby and his enemy were trapped. Together. Forever.

He traded any chance of returning to his old life in order to end the war and begin a new life on the tropical paradise of Ibara. That was okay by him. He was ready to make the beautiful island his new home. He wanted to rebuild the village of Rayne. He wanted to make new friends. Most of all, he wanted nothing more to do with protecting the territories of Halla from Saint Dane. By burying the flume, Bobby felt certain he had ended the war he had grown so tired of fighting. He was sure that after so many battles and so much sacrifice, Halla was finally safe.

He was wrong.

The Convergence that Saint Dane had been planning for Halla was already underway. The territories were changing. Alder realized it on Denduron. Patrick Mac learned it on Third Earth. Things weren? the same.

The war was far from over.

The next target was set.

Only Mark Dimond and Courtney Chetwynde knew the stakes. They found themselves faced with an impossible task. It would be up to them to try and stop the inevitable wave of evil that Saint Dane had already set in motion.

And they would have to do it without Bobby Pendragon.

Book Excerpt

Chapter 1

• DENDURON •

“Ibara!”

The tunnel remained silent. The only sign of life was the hollow sound of the command as it echoed through the dark void.

“Ibara!” the tall knight cried again, louder, as if that might make a difference. He knew it wouldn’t. The tunnel to infinity ignored his plea. He hadn’t expected this, though he’d feared something was wrong long before the flume went deaf. It struck him the last time he’d spoken with Bobby Pendragon.

Alder, the Traveler from Denduron, stood alone in the mouth of the flume on the territory of Quillan, wondering what had happened. Why wasn’t the flume working? What had his friend done? When Alder left Pendragon on Ibara, he sensed that the lead Traveler was keeping something from him. Pendragon had a plan. Pendragon always had a plan. For some reason he hadn’t wanted to share it. Alder sensed it at the time, but didn’t question. Now he wished he had. He knew in his heart that Bobby Pendragon had done something to prevent him from returning to Ibara. But why? Only Pendragon had that answer, and Pendragon was on Ibara. Isolated. Unreachable.

“What have you done, my friend?” Alder muttered to no one.

The knight felt as if there was only one thing he could do. Go home. That’s where Pendragon would look for him when he was needed. If he was needed.

“Denduron!” Alder shouted into the tunnel. He held his breath, fearful that the flume would continue to ignore his commands and leave him stranded on an alien territory.

It didn’t. The flume growled to life. The tunnel began to writhe like a monstrous snake working out the kinks after a long nap. Alder heard the comforting sound of the rocks cracking and grinding against one another. The flume still worked. It was only the route to Ibara that was closed. A pin spot of light appeared in the distance, transforming the dull gray rocks into clear crystal as it came to sweep him up for his journey home. Alder braced himself. The light grew bright. The jumble of musical notes that always accompanied a Traveler’s journey grew louder. Alder felt the gentle tug of energy that would pull him in and send him on his way.

He had come to Quillan on a simple mission: to return four weapons to their original territory. They were six-foot-long metal rods. Dado killers. Bobby didn’t want them on Ibara. He wanted to purge that territory of all technology from other territories. Alder got the weapons back with no problem.

If somebody asked him why he’d changed his mind at that moment, he wouldn’t know how to answer. Maybe it was the instinct of a warrior. Maybe it was the fear of the unknown. Maybe it was confusion over the fact that once again things weren’t happening the way he expected them to. Maybe it was all of the above. No matter. The instant before he was swept into the flume, Alder had bent down and grabbed back the four dado-killing weapons. He wanted them on Denduron. Just in case.

A moment later he was on his way.

As he traveled through the flume he gazed out of the crystal tunnel to the star field beyond. The ghostly images of Halla that had been appearing in space had become so dense it was difficult to make out any single one. Alder caught glimpses of screaming rockets, marching armies, and crumbling buildings. Enormous toothy sharks soared through a pack of vicious snarling animals that were imposed over massive, sand-swept pyramids. Alder didn’t recognize or understand most of the stunning images. He was a simple knight from a small farming village. But he understood chaos. Seeing the spectacular fury of these impressions in space made him fear that in spite of their many victories, the Travelers’ battle to save Halla was not over. Not even close.

They had taken a bold chance on Ibara. They knew that mingling the territories went against the laws of what was meant to be, but they saw no other way to save Ibara. Saint Dane had amassed an enormous army of dados from Quillan to attack the village of Rayne. Without the help of the Travelers, it would have been a slaughter. Ibara would have been crushed and any hope of salvaging Veelox would have been destroyed along with it. Pendragon and the Travelers chose to take a stand. There was no weapon or resource that existed on Ibara that could have stopped Saint Dane’s army. For that they looked to Denduron. Alder’s home.

They called it tak. It was a reddish, claylike mineral found deep underground. It was deadly. It was explosive. Pendragon, Alder, and the Traveler from Ibara, named Siry, unearthed enough of the volatile material to use as a weapon against the dados. The result was as effective as it was frightening. The army of dados was obliterated along with most of the village of Rayne. Still, the Travelers had won. Ibara was saved. Saint Dane had been turned back once again. Pendragon and the Travelers felt certain the decision to use tak was the right one, for Saint Dane’s quest to control Halla had been crushed.

Yet the images in space remained. Halla was still in turmoil. Seeing the chaotic images among the stars made Alder wonder if they had done the right thing after all. Did they truly win on Ibara? If so, how steep was the price? He tried to force those dark thoughts from his head. Alder took pride in being a problem solver. Worrying didn’t solve problems. He knew he had to move on and be ready to do battle if the time came again. When the time came again. It was what he did best. He turned his thoughts toward home. Denduron. It was the first territory where Pendragon and the Travelers had battled Saint Dane. It was their first victory. After the horror of the war on Ibara, he looked forward to returning to the now peaceful territory.

The sweet musical notes grew louder, warning him that he was almost home. He twisted himself upright as he flew on the warm cushion of air, ready to be deposited at the gate on Denduron. Alder smiled. He needed a rest and hoped that his duties as a Bedoowan knight would allow for a little downtime.

It was at that moment that he caught one last image floating in the sea of space. It was a fleeting image of a large group of darkskinned men holding up spears, waving them angrily. The image caught his eye because it was familiar. The men were tall and thin. Each one was as bald as the next. They wore thick leather armor that was distinctly purple. Alder recognized them. They were a primitive tribe that lived on the far side of the mountain from where his village lay on Denduron. They were a peaceful people. Seeing them waving spears, wearing armor, and chanting angrily was disturbing. What could it mean? The image was gone as quickly as he registered it, swallowed up by the vision of a silver dygo machine from Zadaa. In Alder’s mind, the image of the angry armed tribe remained. He knew it wasn’t a good omen.

Seconds later Alder was standing in the familiar cave that was the gate to the flume on Denduron. His teeth began to chatter. He was freezing. No big surprise. The gate on Denduron was near the peak of a snowy mountain, and Alder still wore the lightweight, tropical clothing from Ibara. He quickly dropped the dado rods and changed into the warm, leather uniform of a Bedoowan knight. It felt good to be home. At the mouth of the cave was the small sled he would ride down the snow-covered mountain to his village below. He pulled the vehicle out of the cave and onto the snow, squinting against the bright light from the three suns of Denduron. He waited a few seconds to let his eyes adjust. He filled his lungs with cold air. It felt good. Ibara was much too warm for his taste. After a few blissful seconds his eyes adjusted enough for him to make out detail.

He wished they hadn’t. What he saw made his blood run cold, and it had nothing to do with the temperature. A field of untracked snow spread out before him. Jutting from the snow were several yellow spikes. They looked like gnarly, pointed rocks that were thick at the base and came to sharp points. Alder knew they weren’t rocks.

“No,” he gasped.

The quigs were back, lying beneath the snow, guarding the flumes. The rocky points were spikes that ran along their spines. Alder wasn’t afraid of dealing with a quig-bear. He had battled them before. What terrified him was that they were there at all. Quigs existed on territories where Saint Dane was active. On Denduron the Travelers had beaten the demon, and the quigs had not been seen since.

Until then.

Alder didn’t stop to wonder what it might mean. He wanted to be out of there. Without a moment more of hesitation, he picked up his sled and dashed across the snow. He picked a route that was clear of quig spines, threw the sled down, and jumped aboard. Belly down. Head first. The small sled was primitive, but fast. It was made from carved wood, with slick runners that slipped across the snow like skis. In no time he was gathering speed, heading down the steep field of snow. He risked a quick glance back to see if he had disturbed any quigs. None of them moved. It was small consolation. Why had they come back? What was happening on Denduron?

Alder negotiated the snow field expertly, flying down the mountainside while steering past towering boulders of ice. The lower he dropped, the more patchy the snow became. He was soon skirting stretches of dirt and grass. He stayed on the snow as long as possible before his runners scraped rock, forcing him to give up his ride. He sat up and dug his feet in to stop, climbed off the sled, and stood to look down the mountain toward the village below.

What he saw made him fall to his knees. He couldn’t help himself. It was as if his legs had turned to rubber. Down below, on the vast grassy field that stretched between the Milago village and the seaside ruins of the Bedoowan castle, Alder saw an army of Bedoowan knights, dressed in full armor, lined up in tight formation.

Battle formation.

The Bedoowan knights were preparing for war.

The territory had changed.

“What has happened?” he gasped to nobody.

As much as he needed it, there would be no rest for the Travelerfrom Denduron.

He wanted Pendragon to be there. He needed Pendragon to be there. But Bobby Pendragon was still on the territory of Ibara.

Alone. Isolated

Unreachable.

Text copyright © 2008 by D. J. MacHale