SHIELD OF THE PALIDINE (Scroll down to see Book 2, Magic Thief of Gavalos):
What happens when you throw a spoiled French princess and a stinky peasant boy into the world of Greek Mythology? Chaos, intrigue, adventure, and love.
Barbara T. Cerny has created a magical world that rivals that of Tolkien’s Middle Earth in Shield of the Palidine and its sequel, Magic Thief of Gavalos. Melinda Hills for Readers’ Favorite – 5 STARS
Accidently discovering a portal between Earth and Amorgos, Pierre and Elise find themselves surrounded by frightful creatures from beyond their imagination.
Princess Elise d’Orleans, niece to King Louis XIII, is a spoiled brat used to having everyone cater to her every need. She hates Amorgos, hates the races of people populating Amorgos, and hates the fact that everyone believes she is their Redeemer, the One to free them from enslavement of their common enemy, the Asmodai. But most of all, she hates the fact that the only other human in Amorgos is a stinky peasant that doesn’t kowtow to her every whim.
Pierre Tonnelier, the village’s journeyman cooper, found an extraordinary necklace in the woods outside Chateau de Saint-Germain en Laye, a castle in the French countryside. He is forced to sell this unusual piece to pay off his father’s debts. What he didn’t contend with was it taking him on a strange journey with an egotistical royal pain in the derriere.
Shield of the Palidine chronicles the journey of Elise to the true Redeemer, of Pierre to a warrior of immense abilities, and their unbridled love, despite all the tensions of class, bigotry, and intolerance.
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They reached the far western edge of the Moksha Steppes two days later. The steppes were still several miles away, but they could easily be seen in the fading evening light.
Elise sat next to Pierre as they watched the setting sun dance across the structures of the steppes. The Moksha Steppes were mounds of dirt and rocks that reached toward the sky, and also consisted of great monoliths and rock formations that seemed to defy gravity. The red hues of the setting sun made the steppes glow as if on fire.
“Are they not amazing?” sighed Pierre.
“It is as if the devil himself came to dance on Amorgos and lifted the very earth with his feet,” replied Elise as she sat next to him.
“As if Hades met Odysseus on his way to see the prophet Tiresias and fought him instead of the sea monster, Scylla,” the young man countered.
“You remember that?” questioned Elise, not believing that an ignorant peasant could possibly remember all those complicated Greek names. “I remember everything here,” Pierre replied. “Everything.”
“Why?” asked Elise. She was trying her best to forget everything in Amorgos, but Pierre acted as if each moment was precious to him.
“Because in Amorgos, I live. In France, I was simply alive.”
She looked at him with one eyebrow raised.
Pierre picked up a rock and threw it toward the distant Moksha Steppes. It ricocheted off another rock and landed nearby in a puff of dust. “In France, you lived in a palace, a chateau, and I assume more than one since neither the duc nor the king was in residence at Saint-Germain en Laye all the time.”
She nodded her head. “We have many palaces all over France.”
Pierre continued. “I lived in a one-room house with a loft and a leaky roof. The cooperage was a bit larger than our room in Erngari. My father and I slept on cots in the loft. In the summer, it was beastly hot and in the winter, dreadfully cold and drafty. Did you ever go cold, Princesse? So cold that your hands and feet lost all feeling and you shivered uncontrollably?”
She shook her head. She was always warm, with lovely fires to sit by or warm coats lined with fur to wear and boots and gloves to protect her feet and hands. She could always order the servants to bring her something warm to drink as well.
“Many peasants cannot afford coats, and simply wear all the clothes they own for cover. Did you have lots of clothes?”
Elise nodded. She had closets full of beautiful gowns, all custom-made for her. Her wardrobe had cool silks and cottons for the summer and warm wools and heavy gabardine for the winter. She also had different sets of undergarments to accommodate the weather.
“I have more clothes here than I ever had in Saint-Germain en Laye,” Pierre continued. “Peasants are smelly because we only own two outfits, maybe three if we have a bit more money than the average citizen. One is always on our bodies. In Amorgos, I own a nightshirt for the first time in my life. At home, I slept in my clothes. Or naked if it was too hot.”
Elise looked away, embarrassed to think of Pierre naked. She was also embarrassed by the stark difference between their lives.
“How much free time did you have to do whatever you wanted?” Pierre asked Elise.
She shrugged her shoulders, glad to change the subject from clothes, or the lack thereof. “Several hours a day. After my lessons in the morning, if I did not have an event to attend, my time was my own.”
Pierre sighed. “My father allowed me about two hours a week, after church on Sunday, to do what I wanted to do. Guy and I would spend that time playing in the woods outside the chateau, pretending to be anywhere but that dull, nowhere town of Saint-Germain en Laye. All we ever dreamed of was adventure. And we were counting on that necklace to buy our way out of that dreary little village.
“You see, Princesse, an average French citizen works from sunup to sundown six days a week just to keep food on the table. A son works for his father as an apprentice if there is a family business. If there is more than one son, they all work for the family business. There is no other way of life for a poor paysan.
“If my father and I did not sell enough barrels or buckets, we did not eat. It was that simple. Guy’s mother did a lot of our cooking for us, bless her, but Father would supply the money for her to buy us food. Guy’s family worked all day to raise cattle for milk and to make cheese. If the Bagot family did not sell enough milk or cheese, they did not eat. We helped each other when we could, but our situations were equally dire.
“The town was surrounded by farms where people worked to raise the food you royals ate at the chateau. We could buy anything left over if we had the money or goods to barter. Many times, the townspeople had to go elsewhere to sell their goods. If no one was in residence at the chateau, there was not enough business to keep them alive.”
Pierre skipped another rock over the grass. “Peasants do not live, Elise, they exist. My father worked his fingers to the bone all his life, and died at forty in great debt. That is the only life peasants have to look forward to. A hard life. A life without anything pleasant or enjoyable. That is what I had looming ahead of me. At seventeen, I was alone, and wondering how I was going to pay off my father’s chits. My life was doomed to drudgery before it even started.”
They sat in silence watching the sun slowly disappear in the western sky, Elise feeling a bit guilty about her idyllic, pampered life.
“Did you ever go to bed hungry, votre altesse?”
Elise squirmed and looked down at her ample body. “No,” she said in a small voice. His description of the villagers made her uneasy. She never thought of them or the servants in her various houses as real people. They were just there to serve her family. She even tried to conjure up the faces of her two ladies’ maids in her mind, and found that she could not. Even though these two women had been in her life for years, she had never paid enough attention to them to recall their faces now.
Pierre’s voice interrupted her thoughts. “I went to bed hungry plenty of times and found little to eat the next day.” Pierre tossed another rock before looking back at the campsite that was now nearly impossible to see in the darkness. “In Amorgos, I eat well. I work hard every day, but that work has a grander purpose than just putting another day’s meal on the table. I am part of something important here. Something amazing. I will die here on Amorgos knowing I did something great. I helped the One lead the races into battle against a terrible enemy. If we win, I will appear on a mosaic somewhere, and people will name their children after me. Here in Amorgos, I live. That is why I love it here and have no desire to return to France.
“The only regret I have is that Guy was left behind. I pray every day that he was not arrested following our disappearance. I pray that he is not rotting away in the dungeons of the chateau just because he is a peasant and was there when we disappeared. Leaving Guy and the rest of the Bagot family behind is my only regret.”
The boy stood up and brushed the dirt off his pants. “It would behoove you, Princesse, to learn to love Amorgos and the life you have here. You may have been royalty in France, but you are still a woman and would probably only be worth a dowry to some rich lord. Hold onto being the One with all your heart, Elise, and you will be happier.” He strode off toward the camp.
Elise wanted to sit there and fume at that stinky paysan, but deep in her heart she knew he was right. In France, her father would have given her hand to the first titled lord who came along and asked. He would likely have been in financial difficulty, needing her dowry to keep up his estates and lifestyle. As heavy as she was, her father would have happily thrown her to the wolves and walked away with a married daughter and a titled son-in-law. Or her uncle would have arranged a marriage with the son of a king of another country for political reasons. As a princess, it was her duty to enter an arranged marriage of her father or uncle’s choosing. Love was rarely in the mix when it came to the melding of aristocratic families. She would be sold to the highest bidder, the highest title, or the neediest nation. The royal line raised its daughters to understand this, even though in her heart Elise had always dreamed of love, real and eternal, and chafed at the thought of being mere chattel. Part of the reason she allowed herself to remain fat was so she would be undesirable to men, and thus avoid an arranged marriage as long as possible.
Given all that, she still could not embrace being the Redeemer. At least in France, she would be using a fancy carriage for travel and have all her clothes. In Amorgos, all she had was sore feet and meager supplies strapped to a smelly centicore. Unlike Pierre, she still yearned to go home.
Because of Hestia’s unspeakable betrayal, Zeus unwittingly creates his own mortal enemy and sets the path to his own destruction.
Seventeen years have passed on Earth and Amorgos calls Pierre and Elise Tonnelier once again. Through their children’s antics, they find themselves back to a place they never wanted to be. Amorgos is bereft of magic and Elise, as the Redeemer, finds herself reluctantly leading the races to save their world as she finds herself trying to save her marriage.
French teens Elam and Illieya Tonnelier and their friend, Chace Bagot, do the one thing they have been told to never do – touch the Sword of the Western Sun. Its portal stone sends them first to Amorgos and then the Shield of the Palidine sends them to a world worse than Amorgos – Olympus. There they face the gods of Greek mythology and are set on a quest to destroy the most powerful witch who has ever lived, Zeus.
Magic Thief of Gavalos picks up where Shield of the Palidine finishes. This incredible adventure chronicles two journeys: a second of Elise and Pierre on Amorgos and five years in the lives of Illieya, Elam, and Chace as they battle witches and each other. Both groups must come to terms with themselves and their relationships to save Amorgos, Olympus, and their families.
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The three teens slammed hard onto the ground for the second time that day. This time, they had landed outside and it was light, so they could see their surroundings. They stood up quickly and looked around in fear. They hadn’t returned to France. Or at least not to the château. This place looked like an outdoor theater or stage at the bottom of a hill with stone seats set into the hillside for the audience.
“Merde,” Elam swore under his breath. For the second time that day, his prissy sister did not correct him. She understood the need for strong language in these strange circumstances.
“Are we still in Amorgos?” whispered Chace, looking up at the steep hillside of seats.
“I do not know,” answered his cohort in crime. “Mere and Pere never talked about a second landing place, but since the shield was damaged, God only knows.”
Illieya glanced around in desperation for the shield. Elam no longer held it, and she didn’t see it anywhere on the ground.
“Where is the shield?” she asked her brother accusingly.
The black-haired boy looked around, holding out his now-empty hands.
“I do not know!” There was panic in his voice. All he could think was that he must have let go of it when they entered the swirling colors and wind.
Chace ran back and forth looking frantically for the thin silver metal object. That was their ticket home. Without it, they were doomed.
The sound of clanging steel interrupted their search. They looked up the hillside to see a dozen or more men running toward them wearing what looked like leather armor and helmets from the ancient Greek age.
Behind the soldiers stood a tall bearded figure in a white robe. Illieya, who loved to read and study the classics, gasped. She had seen these figures on Greek urns and mosaics pictured in her textbooks.
“Olympus! Mon dieu! We have landed in Olympus!” She lifted her long skirt and took off running away from the soldiers down the hill behind the stage. The boys needed little encouragement to follow her. The three ran like the wind, Elam taking note of the great speed at which his sister moved. He had never seen her run before. Illieya was so frightened to think they were in Olympus, a place more fantastic and dangerous than Amorgos, she would move like a shooting star across the sky to escape the witches.
So, if her parents’ tales were true, and if this was Olympus, then she and the boys were the first people back through the rift since Hestia had taken Zeus’s portal stone. Illieya knew if they were caught they would not survive the night. She ran into the woods at the bottom of the hill, well below the amphitheater, her skirts hitched above her knees. She didn’t care if the whole world saw her bloomers. The devil himself was on her tail, and she wasn’t going to let anything slow her down.
Chase and Elam were a few steps behind her when a new group of soldiers seemed to appear out of nowhere. They grabbed the three teens roughly and held on to them tightly.
In French, Illieya yelled, “Say nothing!”
Elam wasn’t about to. He had also realized where they were as they ran down the hill, and understood the danger they were in. This was no longer a game, and he and Chace were not in for a simple spanking for disobeying orders. He had unwrapped the sword which had sent them into the worst possible situation. If this place was truly Olympus, he could only pray that it was also two thousand Olympian years later and Zeus was long gone. His parents told him that witches were long lived, but only archons and elves were immortal. So the more time that had passed since Hestia had stolen Zeus’s portal stone, the better.
He didn’t have more time to ponder his capture. The bearded man in the flowing robes walked up to him, touched his forehead, and the world went black