The Red Lizard

 

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Skentyl is taking the test to become a Guardsman defending the Valley of the Unicorn. Instead, he kills an enemy scout from Morethek. He hears a conversation he should not and comes face to face with the Unicorn. Fydyha is a young Counsellor, sent into Morethek by the Lady, to her evil brother Gorvyn. She is bitten by one of his lizards and returns dangerously changed. Skentyl is thrown out of the Guard, but given a secret mission. He must break the spell and save Fydyha, before she kills the Lady.

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  He lifted his head cautiously. And gasped.

  The moon was rising over the lower end of the Valley. The slopes were flooding with silver. Rocks sprang into view. Single pine trees. There was the glint of bog-pools in the hollows. The moon flashed low over the river Uskys. And all the stars danced around it.

  For a few magical instants, his heart was filled with wonder.

  And then he heard it.

  A voice more shocking than the fiercest bellow from a sergeant would have been.

  A woman’s voice. A voice he knew too well.

  ‘Greetings, Beloved.’

  The Lady.

  For a crazy moment, he thought she must be speaking to him.

  Then with greater dread, he knew she could not be. She was standing directly below him, her back to the rock. He glimpsed the white robe through the darker folds of her cloak. She was looking up towards the summit.

  And then horror overwhelmed Skentyl, as he saw what was coming.

  A creature as silver as the stars themselves. Moonlight shimmered along its flanks and danced in the flick of its white tail at every step. Its hooves were like little crescent moons, lifting in and out of the heather with flashes of joy. The light caught pearly eyes.

  But what froze Skentyl’s blood more than anything else was the slender spiral of silver and ice-blue that rose from its silky brow to spike the stars.

  The single horn of a unicorn.

  Gwythyas.

  The fabled Guardian of the Valley.

*

  He thought he might die, just from seeing him. He, Skentyl. Not even a Guardsman yet. Caught on hallowed ground, where no man should tread. In the presence of the Unicorn that only the Lady herself might speak to.

 

 

 

 Why I Wrote This Book

I had a vision of a tall woman in white, with long black hair. She was standing on a mountain slope under a night sky ablaze with stars. Into that vision came a white unicorn.

 And so the Valley of the Unicorn came into being. It was a vision of perfection, with the Lady its peaceful ruler.

 But to make a good story, this vision has to be in danger. The Valley of the Unicorn is the Lady's share of her dead father's kingdom. The rest of it, the greater country of Morethek, is in the hands of her evil brother Gorvyn. But that is not enough for him. He wants her Valley too.

 He has a vast army, the Hornet Swarm. She has only a small Guard.

 Skentyl is nearly fourteen. He is taking the tests which will enable him to join that Guard. He must not fail.

 Skentyl's childhood friend is Fydyha. She has grown up to become a member of the Lady's Council, ruling the Vally of the Unicorn. The Lady sends her on a mission into Morethek. Fydyha does not realise the danger she is walking into when she meets the evil Gorvyn.

 The Lord of Morethek has something still more sinister: his fat magician Taga, whose gown is swarming with red lizards.

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