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Chapter 1

 Hermit of Larime

Portentous, the gardener became a hermit; not out of choice, but out of predicament. He's hemmed into the castle grounds by resistant velvet black vines that shroud the castle's perimeter. Mysteriously, all occupants of the castle disappear. Assuming he is alone at the castle, he continues to tend the royal gardens and talk to his cat, Mittens.

Little does know he was on the verge of discovering a great secret within the castle walls. Strange guardians are imprisoned within the bricks.

A taste of chapter 1

Portentous wiped his bleeding hands once again cut by the jet-black vines that encircled the castle grounds.“Nasty thorns! I cut them away, only to have them reappear each morning,” Portentous sighed, holding the scythe in his grip. “These evil vines are stubborn, but no match for me!” stamping his feet in an unusual fit of anger.

Peering down at his shoes, worn from tireless trips in and out of the castle, he stopped mid-cut, taking in a long breath.He shouted at the vines one last time. “I’ll get rid of you! I shall find my way out of this place if it’s the last thing I do!” he thundered, throwing down the scythe. His usual sunny mood now frustrated.

Striding toward the fresh-bloomed roses, he inhaled their intoxicating scent to calm himself down. “All will be well,” he encouraged himself. “Thank you, Roses,” he sighed, wiped his bleeding hands on his tunic ignoring the burning sap.

“Nasty black menace,” he spat. “Tomorrow is another day.”

A taste of chapter 2 midway through

As dust kicked up from the shelf, he sneezed, and then waved his hand in front of his nose. “Thirty years of dust!” he mused. “Maybe I’ve found a recipe book for potions after all!” he hoped. He rubbed his hands together, then pulled spectacles from his vest, “Now let me see what this intriguing book can reveal.” A spark warmed his fingertips and coursed through his body like sunshine.

The stale air didn’t detract from the mission at hand. Suddenly, a cold draft prickled his neck. “Mittens, keep me company,” he asked her, as an eerie feeling crept over him.“Mittens show yourself." He cast his eyes around.

He touched the scaly book cover tentatively. “What sort of book is this? Quite unique—surely ancient,” he mused. He peered at the closed eye on the book cover. “Maybe it was looking at me!” he chuckled, his fingers tingling with delight. “I am a silly old man afraid of the dark.”

Working a hand over the embossed scales on the cover, the large dragon eye opened in the dead center peered back at him as it purred.

“My stars!” Portentous yelled, recoiling in fear. “Did you look at me?”

The wood plank on the wall bellowed and creaked. The door slammed shut, encasing him within the dark room. His arms flailed for the former opening, now sealed shut. And the book glowed.