In Valor There Is Hope!
Branimir has remained hidden from the enemy, withholding the cursed dagger from their erroneous hands. When a stranger arrives, and offers the chance to end his never-ending battle, Branimir sets off for the City of the Gods for answers. Now, hoping his faith has not been misplaced, Branimir undergoes his darkest adventure yet. He can only trust that he has the courage to survive the truth.
Branimir could not guess how much time had come and gone since they entered the gate and started up the never-ending staircase. Not only did the sun stay at its apex over the City of the Gods, giving constant warmth and light in every crevice, but also something kept his stomach from hunger and his body from exhaustion. Every time his foot lifted and fell, his body seemingly had forgotten he repeated the same movement a hundred times before. In the beginning, the mundane climbing had been a game; but after a couple hours, he lost interest in playing. He stopped counting the stairs after reaching the thousands. Yet he felt no aching in his back, legs, or feet. Bran supposed he should be thankful for being away from the snow and wind on the mountain pass, but the monotony was wearing on him.
“You would think,” he said, after several hours, “with all the magic in this place they would find a quicker way to the top. I bet the Svet’s gateway takes them straight to the top of the peak.”
Alyona ambled along behind him, responding with a dull tone. “Close. You arrive on the seventh tier, near the temple.”
“Nine Lands. And no one thought to put one of those gateways at the bottom of these stairs?” Branimir asked, gazing at the rocky wall on either side of them. He was certain a dragon could fit on the staircase without discomfort. Which did not matter much, considering the dragon could fly to the peak of the mount.
Tyr held the smile on his face, climbing besides Branimir on the right. “Bah! Can you imagine when we go back down to leave? I bet we will lose our minds going back down these stairs.” Tyr swung is giant arms back and forth as he climbed. Branimir hardly noticed he had six fingers anymore. “How about if we were to arrive through the doorway up there? And then, when we went to leave, we were faced with this? At least, we know, right?” Tyr rumbled, peering over his shoulder for an instant. The bottom of the winding staircase could no longer be seen. “I might consider flinging myself down the steps, or simply lying down and rolling. Maybe the gods will spare me if I crack my head.”
Alyona’s dry tone answered the unasked question. “No, they will not.”
Joshua Robertson is a bestselling author in dark fantasy. Robertson is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who received his degree from Wichita State University. He has worked with children and families for the past fifteen years in a variety of unique venues: a residential behavior school, a psychiatric treatment facility, and the child welfare system. He has functioned as a supervisor, an educator, a behavior specialist, and a therapist during his career. Mr. Robertson has presented trainings for hundreds of professionals and military personnel on topics that include child abuse and neglect, human trafficking, strengthening the parent and child relationships, and the neurobiological impact of trauma. You may recognize him as the dude whose dragons were said to destroy George R.R. Martin's and Christopher Paolini's dragons in a very biased Twitter poll. His first novel, Melkorka, was released in 2015, and he has been writing fantasy fiction like clockwork ever since. Known most for his Thrice Nine Legends Saga, Robertson enjoys an ever-expanding and extremely loyal following of readers. He currently lives in North Carolina with his better half and his horde of goblins.