Seventh Circle (Chapter 7 - New Realm, page 1 of 3)

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The sun was low when Fury saddled his nag. Thunder watched from a doorway wondering what the evening had in store. There was a feeling of unreality in the air. Both of the royal children were in the village. They had arrived suddenly and unexpectedly: Fury on his old horse: Adrina with her bodyguard of young men.

They didn't visit their mother often so it was reasonable to assume that their visits were connected. Thunder racked his brain trying to work out why two totally different people should come together in this manner.

As a small child, vivacious little Adrina had been sent into the household of Pius, King of Gorm. Timid little Fury had gone into the care of the priesthood of the Duideth. The arrangements had been made in accordance with an ancient custom, designed to overcome animosities between the tribes and prevent conflict. As far as Thunder was concerned, its main function was to provide eyes and ears in the enemy camp.

He waited until Fury left the village then mounted his horse and followed. It soon became evident that the young prince was going to a lot of trouble to hide his tracks. Thunder couldn't fault him. Fury had melted into the landscape and he would have lost him if he'd not come upon some boys who said Fury had gone into the woods. Thunder followed his tracks and found him sitting on a log in a clearing. He crept along a ditch and came within earshot.

The young prince was strumming on his harp and singing about unrequited passion and how his truelove would soon appear. Thunder listened with undiluted contempt as one sickly sentiment followed another. He decided that the pathetic youth wasn't on a secret mission but had slipped away to indulge in an orgy of adolescent fantasy.

Then something totally inexplicable happened.

Out of nowhere, two bodies appeared. They arrived in the rays of the setting sun and tumbled down the slope towards Fury. A young woman and a gigantic male, both oddly dressed.

The young woman wore trousers and a weird sort of tunic cut short at the waist and fastened down the middle. Thunder mistook her for a boy but when she stopped rolling, he saw she was a girl ... and very pretty too.

Fury jumped to his feet. His face was a picture of pure joy. Thunder guessed the girl's arrival had not come as a surprise. But, before the young prince could take a single step, the girl's big companion looked in his direction. Fury shrank back and his expression changed from pure joy to pure terror, which wasn't surprising. The man was a giant ... every bit as big as Morgon.

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