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Chapter One

Kenric struggled against the iron grip that held him. He watched in horror as the sharp point of the sword drew closer to his hand. Mordig’s face loomed, evil and mocking. Kenric’s father called out his name, begging Mordig for mercy. But Mordig had no mercy in him. A sharp, burning pain slashed across Kenric’s palm.

Kenric jerked awake. His heart was pounding, and he was drenched in sweat. His hand throbbed where he’d been cut three days ago. Mordig had kidnapped Kenric’s father and forced him to forge a powerful sword. When Kenric had tried to interfere, Mordig had demanded his blood in order to try and awaken the power in the blade.

It had worked, and Kenric had managed to use the power of the blade to save his father and imprison Mordig. But it had been close. Too close. None of them had escaped unharmed.

As Kenric’s racing heart slowed, he saw the first light of dawn peeking through the window. It was time to be on his way.

He wasn’t sure how he felt about this newest task for the king. Setting out to find his father was one thing. He would have done anything to get him back safely. But now that his father was safe, all Kenric wanted to do was return home and enjoy being a family again. But that was not to be. Instead, he was on his way back to Grim Wood, the home of the Fey.
He sighed, rolled out of bed, and began to dress. The Fey didn’t care for outsiders. They had had made it very clear that Kenric wasn’t welcome in Grim Wood. But the king had insisted. He had a task he wanted Kenric to do for him. Several tasks, actually.

When Kenric had finished dressing, he grabbed his pack and put it on. He opened his chamber door and stepped out into the hallway, where he tripped over something and stumbled. He looked down and saw a small bundle lying on the floor. The bundle sat up. It was small, smaller than Kenric, and had large pointed ears. It was the color of swamp mud and had very pointed teeth.

“Hnagi? What are you doing here?” Kenric had a soft spot for the little goblin. Hnagi had tried so hard to help Kenric on his first journey. Of course, he’d ended up being more trouble than help. But his heart had been in the right place.

The little goblin sprang to his feet. “Waiting for Ken-ric. Want firestone.”
Kenric winced. “The king says I have to keep it for a while longer, Hnagi. He thinks I might need the stones’ power on this next journey.”

Hnagi planted his legs in the floor. “Firestone Hnagi’s.”

“I know it’s yours,” Kenric said. “As soon as I’ve finished this task for the king, I’ll give it right back. I promise.”

Hnagi scowled. “Hnagi see firestone. Want to see it safe.”

“All right.” Kenric pulled the small leather pouch out of his pocket.

Hnagi was suddenly next to him, his nose pressed up against the pouch.
“The moonstone’s in there, too, so watch it.”

Hnagi jerked his hand back so the moonstone wouldn’t burn him.

Kenric took the firestone out. He held it between two fingers and watched the pale gold strands flicker in its depth.

Hnagi reached out with one finger and stroked the small stone. When the goblin touched it, the gold flared to fiery orange streaks that blazed deep inside the blue stone.

Hnagi threw Kenric a sly look, and his fingers twitched. Immediately, Kenric snatched the stone back and shoved it into the pouch. “Don’t even think it,” he said.

Hnagi folded his arms. “Firestone Hnagi’s,” he repeated stubbornly.
Kenric sighed. “I know. And I’m really sorry. But I can’t give it back yet.”
Still glaring, the goblin said, “Where firestone go, Hnagi go. Not let stone out of sight.”

Kenric rubbed his face. Hnagi was making this so much harder. “You don’t understand. I have to go back to the Fey and talk to them for the king. You don’t want to come with me.” The goblin hated the wild, mysterious race who lived in Grim Wood—and they hated him.
“Hnagi go where stone go,” he insisted.

“Very well,” Kenric said with a sigh. Hnagi had a rare talent for making a bad situation worse.


The castle’s doors had been thrown open for the last three days to let in light and air. Kenric also suspected it was to allow any dark things to skulk away. He couldn’t help but marvel at how much had changed in those days. Ever since Kenric had used the power of the stones to trap Mordig, the whole castle seemed lighter. Even the town seemed brighter. It was as if a heavy cloud of fear had been lifted. Shadows no longer seemed to lurk in every corner. Men no longer looked at each other with suspicion. Kenric felt proud that he’d had something to do with this.
He spotted the king talking to his father as they waited for him.
Kenric’s father seemed back to his old self now that he’d been freed from Mordig’s prison. The long shadows and sorrow were gone from his face. His eyes no longer looked dull and hopeless.

As the king greeted him, Kenric was struck by how old and tired he looked. Putting a kingdom back together must be hard work, Kenric realized.

“I have come to bid you farewell on your journey, young smith.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”

The king turned back to Kenric’s father. “Thank you, Brogan, for giving your son into my service.”

Kenric’s father nodded at the king’s words, but his mouth grew hard. Kenric knew he wasn’t happy about Kenric’s newest task for the king. But he had no choice. Neither of them did.

The king turned back to Kenric. “Much is riding on your shoulders. It won’t be easy to convince the Fey to renew our old alliance. Nor do I think they’ll be pleased at your request to search among their lore. But there is no help for it. We must learn how to forge a blade of power.”
The king paused, and equal parts hope and sorrow shone in his eyes. “And then there is the Princess Tamaril. I can only hope my daughter made it to Grim Wood and is hiding in safety there. I am encouraged by the bloodstone you found. I am certain it is her royal stone.”

Kenric’s hand went to the pouch that held the Princess’s bloodstone, along with the other two other stones he carried. “Yes, Your Majesty. Hopefully the Fey girl who gave it to me can show me where she found it. That will be a place to start.”

“I see your goblin friend goes with you. Anxious about his firestone, no doubt,” the king said with a smile.

“Where firestone go, Hnagi goes,” the little goblin muttered.

“And you still have the moonstone I gave you?” the king asked Kenric.
“Yes, Your Majesty. It’s here with the others.”

“Excellent. You will most likely need them on your journey. The kingdom is safer than it was, thanks to you. But my scouts tell me there are still pockets of evil about, so you must be wary.”

Kenric’s mind immediately flew to the terrifying creatures he knew lurked in the shadows; grymclaws, Mawr hounds, and the Sleäg. He desperately hoped he didn’t run into any of Mordig’s servants on his journey.

“Very well. Then I will bid you farewe—”

A low rumble erupted from somewhere deep within the castle, cutting off the king’s words. The earth shifted beneath their feet. The king seemed to flicker, growing faint and wraithlike, then quickly becoming solid again. As the rumbling stopped, Kenric stepped forward. “Your Majesty! Are you all right?”

The king shook his head to clear it. “Yes, yes. I am fine. But Mordig grows restless in his stone prison.” He looked up and met Kenric’s eyes. There was no hiding the urgency there. “You must hurry!”