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The Sixth Discipline

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                                                    THE SIXTH DISCIPLINE

                                                                    by

                                                  Carmen Webster Buxton

 

 

A Cracked Mirror Press novel

[Note: Currently available as a free ebook on Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Smashwords and Kobo]

ISBN: 978-0-9831871-0-3

© 2011 

All rights reserved

 

Cracked Mirror Press

Rockville, MD

Other Cracked Mirror books by Carmen Webster Buxton:

   No Safe Haven

   Tribes

   Where Magic Rules

   Shades of Empire

   The Nostalgia Gambit

   King of Trees

 

 

 

                                                For John

                        Oh, how I wish you were here to read this!

 

Chapter One

On the morning he was kidnapped, Ran-Del Jahanpur stepped out of his great-grandfather's house and stretched to his full height. The sky above, just visible through the leafy canopy of blackwood trees, glowed golden with morning light. The spicy scent of a nearby tea vine promised it would be a warm day.

Ran-Del grasped his bow, checked that his dagger was in its sheath and his quiver full of arrows, and set out.

He hadn't gone three steps when his grandmother came around from the back of the house carrying a leather bucket half full of water. Her brown eyes brightened when she saw him. "So you're off, are you?" She glanced around as if expecting to see someone or something. "You're not taking Buster?"

"I'm hoping for a tree bear," Ran-Del said. "Buster would just scare him off."

"Well, try to bring back something for the pot," she said. "I'm tired of trying to make vegetables taste like stew all by themselves."

Ran-Del gave her a quick, one-armed hug. "I'll do my best."

"A couple of day bats would be plenty," she called after him as he walked away. "Don't stay out all day. You didn't let me pack you any food, and you'll get hungry."

He waved a hand but picked up his pace, jogging along the beaten path between the leather and wood-frame houses. People were out hoeing their gardens or hanging laundry, but Ran-Del didn't stop to chat, not even when his grandfather waved to him. He ran steadily until he was deep into the forest.

He slowed his pace, walking silently, his moccasins soundless, his movements careful. Once he was off the path and moving through the trees, he watched for any sign of game.

All around him the Sansoussy Forest loomed. The light filtering down through the canopy made flickering shadows. Wherever a shaft of sunlight made it to the ground, the copper moss gleamed with red glints. Flowering vines scented the air with their light, familiar fragrance. Only the hum of tree borers drilling into the tree trunks broke the silence.

Ran-Del had just sighted a furry shape moving among the waving branches of a lace palm when a sudden surge of warning overwhelmed him. Something was wrong.

Ran-Del stopped in his tracks. His psy sense had never told him what would happen, but it had warned him of trouble in the past. He stepped back against the bole of a lofty blackwood and surveyed his surroundings. Trained in woodcraft since he took his first tentative steps, he responded to every nuance of the forest around him-every swaying leaf, every twitch of a branch, every faint scent on the breeze.

Silence. Even the tree borers had stopped. No sound, no movement. Ran-Del sniffed. From somewhere nearby he could smell an alien, metallic odor.

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