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Parisa

Parisa

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Parisa

Lunghezza:
351 pagine
15 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Sep 15, 2015
ISBN:
9780976159773
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Snowboarding sensation Scott Locke returns to his home in West Virginia to be honored by the ski resort where he worked as a teenager, but a freak accident costs him the opportunity to compete in the upcoming X-Games. Broken and distraught, the competition becomes a secondary consideration when Scott unwittingly releases a force that has been locked away for centuries. Parisa is an ancient spirit; exotic, beautiful, and mysterious. Scott must find a way to help her acclimate and nurture respect, love, and tolerance for humanity. His plan begins to backfire as he develops feelings for Parisa, and is drawn into her world of magic and power. But Scott is forced to make a choice: sacrifice his love for the sake of all mankind or give in to his passion and enjoy the riches and rewards of unlimited power?
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Sep 15, 2015
ISBN:
9780976159773
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore


Correlato a Parisa

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Parisa - Conrad Trump

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Prologue

Many moons ago—about fourteen hundred years

Yiska stood before the longhouse home of the tribal elder, the Chillicothe. Having completed twelve full cycles of the seasons, he was ready to begin the rite of passage into adulthood through the undertaking of his first vision quest.

The harvesting had been completed, and winter was fast approaching the Shawnee Village in the Ohio Basin. Soon the larger village would break down into extended families and smaller hunting camps.

Yiska had no family. His mother had died during childbirth after bleeding inside all night. She had passed just as the sun had cracked the sky and a new day had begun. It was for that reason Yiska had received his name, which means the long night has passed.

Yiska’s father had been claimed by a fever in the season of sewing, and thus the boy on the precipice of becoming a man stood alone before the council elder’s home on the eve of his vision quest.

Smaller in size than some was Yiska, but no one had a larger heart, and no one was more true to the teachings of his people. Yet he was afraid. He was fearful that he might not measure up to the worth of a Shawnee warrior and would be passed over by forest spirits and return to his village unclaimed and unworthy.

There was a fire burning in a pit outside the home of the Chillicothe, and even though the air was cold and spitting snow flurries, Yiska stood apart from the blaze. He did not want to appear weak before the tribal elder.

Inside the longhouse, it was warmer, but it stank of too many people. Yiska stood with his back straight and his head up, looking upon the face of a wrinkled, weary man. The man drew scented smoke from a long clay pipe decorated with dangling feathers.

Yiska, the Chillicothe said. You are prepared for your journey when the sun is new?

Yes, Chillicothe, the boy answered. I have fasted two days in preparation. I have the knife of my father and a crock made of clay by my mother’s hand. I have learned the chants and the songs. I am eager to find my path.

The Chillicothe nodded. The vision quest was a tradition in the Shawnee tribes as old as the Shawnee themselves. Since perhaps the time of the great migration that had brought these people across the Bering Straits some ten thousand years before, the Shawnee had undertaken a vision quest when stepping from the age of childhood into adulthood.

I called you here on the eve of your journey to offer my counsel. It is so that your father is among the spirits beyond our sight in the Never Forest, and he is not here to counsel you. Would you hear my counsel, Yiska?

The young man bowed his head gratefully. Yes, Chillicothe.

I have been alive too long, Yiska, and my dreams come faster now. I dream of running and fishing and hiding in the tall green fields of maize. I dream of my first bow and my long gone mother’s kisses. I dream of you, Yiska. This last night of childhood— embrace it, for after the sun rises, a Shawnee Warrior with a warrior’s burdens you will be.

The boy hesitated, uncertain whether he could speak, but the Chillicothe had called him there to give counsel, so…

You have questions…

Yes, Chillicothe. I have prepared well, but what if I am not chosen? What if I come back unclaimed by a forest spirit?

The old man nodded solemnly and took a puff of his pipe. I tell you now what my father told me when I put forth the same question to him on the eve of my own vision quest. ‘Lie,’ he said.

Yiska followed the river north in the morning under the early sun. The ground was frozen, and his thick leather footings crunched the ground as he walked. He carried a large pouch over his shoulder. Inside it were crow feathers and a wild turkey talon. He had a small pipe and a pouch of tobacco. He carried an arrowhead that the Chillicothe had given to him the night before and a box turtle shell that had been bleached by the sun. There were other herbs and medicinal plants that Yiska was to mix with the tobacco, and of course there was the crock that his mother had made. The hunting knife of his father, Yiska wore in his belt.

There were no true protocols for where Yiska was to travel. Part of the vision quest was to find his own path. The boy took a flat route along the river, following it upstream to beyond the swift rocks where the water lay smoothly.

Even though the air was just below freezing, the river remained ice-free due to the movement of the water. The boy stopped to watch a school of tiny feeder fish dart in and out of the river grass, and he wondered in what form his spirit guide might come to him. He hoped it was not going to be a stupid animal like an opossum. A hawk or a stag would be awesome.

Yiska walked for hours until he found a small cove along the river. There was a high rock face to the east. Just below it was a soft basin of mud and stone. To get there, he had to cross the shallows, but the spot seemed so perfect for his purposes that he slipped off his boots and waded into the frigid water. The river numbed his legs to his knees during the crossing. Yiska held his boots and the pouch above his head so that none of his treasures and totems would be damaged by the water.

Once he was on solid ground again, Yiska set about picking up small twigs and driftwood. He made a tiny pit out of river stones and filled its belly full of dried autumn grass. He covered the layer of grass with the collected twigs and heaped more brown grass on top of that. There was plenty of natural kindling near, and Yiska built a pyramid over the grass from larger dead branches. Once that was done, he opened his pouch and placed around him the items he had brought. He said the words and chanted the songs of his people.

With his father’s knife, Yiska dug the blade under the skin of his forearm—not too deep but deep enough to create a trickling blood flow that he dripped over the dry grass and into the crock formed of clay by his mother’s hands.

He took a flint and struck it against the rock. Sometimes Yiska had trouble getting a fire started, but not that morning. The very first spark landed on a mound of dry river grass and began to smolder as if the flames had always been there just waiting for him to raise them.

In no time Yiska had managed to nurse a healthy fire, and his damp, cold legs began to feel the heat of the flames. The river water on his skin began to steam in the fire’s heat. Yiska sat close to the blaze until the flames threatened to singe his fine leg hair. He adjusted his position so that his feet would dry but not be burned.

Once he was comfortable, Yiska took the tobacco from his pouch and placed some into the inverted bowl of the turtle shell. To that he added a mixture of the other dried plants, leaves both red and brown in color. He used the heel of his father’s knife to grind the tobacco and to mix it with the other plants. With the clay pipe, he scooped the bowl full, and then he lit its top with a burning sprig from his fire.

Yiska drew in from the mouthpiece of the pipe. It burned his throat and his lungs, but he held his breath just the same. In no time his head began to swim upstream with the river, and he felt as if he had left his body unattended by the riverbank. Exhaling, he coughed and gagged, feeling the tainted breath escaping violently from his lungs. It hurt. His chest burned from the cough, and his stomach and shoulders pinched from the clenching in his abdomen as he coughed out the poisons.

Yiska took another draw from the pipe, repeating the process of holding his breath and then coughing out the smoke. After his second deep exhale, the young Shawnee Brave to be almost vomited. His stomach did a sideways flop. His head was spinning like leaves caught in the wind, and he seemed to be falling even though he was still sitting by the river’s edge. The smoke from his fire pit shifted and carried into his face. Yiska’s eyes burned, and tears crept down his cheeks. His face was hot and dry. His mouth burned and begged for water, but Yiska didn’t trust his legs enough to carry him to the river for a drink.

Yiska wanted more than anything to become a great Shawnee Warrior, and to that end, he had to prove his worth. He took another long pull on the pipe, a deeper one that time, and he held the smoke inside him for as long as his hairless chest could stand it. When he coughed it out, he wiped the spit off his chin, not realizing he was only replacing the saliva with blood from the cut on his forearm.

No longer floating upstream, Yiska felt as if his head had gone under water. He could not breathe, and try as he might to take in pure, clean air, the smoke from the fire only made his coughing worse. It was too much. He could no longer sit upright, so the boy lay back onto the soft mud, resting his head on the jagged edges of snail shells and soft green ferns. The sun was almost in its zenith and much too bright to look upon, so Yiska turned to the river and watched the water glide past. In one fist he held the pipe, and in his other he clutched the turkey talon.

Continuing to chant the songs he had been taught and praying the prayers of his people, Yiska asked the spirits of the forest to come guide him and to deliver him to his path and his destiny. Time was meaningless, for the fire was hot and the river, endless. The rocks and the mud had been there for eons, and the blue autumn sky was vast. Yiska realized in that moment that he was a very small piece of the world. The great spirits that looked down on him were as old as the rocks and the sun and the river, and they would be there long after he had followed his parents into the Never Forest.

What could little Yiska, little orphan Yiska, offer the world? No spirit animal would come to guide him, not even the skunk. He was, after all, only Yiska.

That was the boy’s last thought as he stumbled into a lonely, drug-induced slumber.

Yiska.

It sounded like his father calling, but his father had entered the Never Forest and was then among those who had gone before. It could not be his father.

Yiska, the voice called again.

The young Shawnee Brave to be opened his eyes. The fire at his feet was then only a smoldering ashy pit. The day was warmer. The afternoon sun had shone on the rocks and the river and the mud for many hours while Yiska had slept. His head was still foggy, but it was no longer swirling. His mouth was dry and tasted like the mud on which he rested.

Yiska, the voice called out third time.

The boy turned his head toward the river. The sun bit his eyes and reflected on the water’s surface. Everything was bright, too bright, and little Yiska’s head was hurting.

But what he saw filled him with both gladness and trepidation. His spirit animal had found him, and for that he was happy. Yet it wasn’t just any animal—it was the Great White Spirit Bear herself calling out his name.

At first it looked as if the bear was sitting on a rock in the middle of the slow water, but the boy remembered that the pond’s surface had been smooth and unbroken when he had made the fire pit, and so the large white bear must have been sitting on water only.

Yiska, thy name is wrong, the great bear said. The long night is yet to come.

The boy swallowed hard, which was difficult because his mouth was so dry. He sat and turned his body to face the bear with the creamy white pelt. He summoned all his courage and said, I have come to find my path, Great Bear. Will you show me the way?

Yes, Yiska. I will show you the way. We have a great task to perform, you and I, young warrior. A cloud of darkness rises far, far from here, beyond the measure of your steps. This is a darkness that will one day consume all living things. Together you and I will face this long night. Gather your things, and follow me if you would help me challenge the coming night for the sake of your people and your forest.

The boy gathered his trinkets and talismans. He stood upon the rocks and pulled his boots on over his muddy toes. At the river’s edge he hesitated for just a moment, looking out across the still waters to where the giant white bear sat.

Come, Yiska. There is much to learn.

The boy stepped out onto the river, knowing that his feet would again be sloshing beneath the cool frigid surface, but that was not the case. When he walked, the river held his weight. It neither splashed nor rippled under his movements. The Great White Spirit Bear smiled as the young Shawnee Brave approached her.

There is much to prepare for and much to learn, the Great White Spirit Bear told the boy. You will become my voice among your people.

Seven more full cycles of the seasons passed before Yiska would return to his people. It was thought by all that the boy had drowned. The tribe mourned him, but as there was no family to grieve, life of the Shawnee people returned to normal very quickly.

But of course the boy did not die. He followed the Great White Spirit Bear into the mountains. There he learned of strength and courage from the bear. He learned to discern and appreciate his freedom. He learned of resourcefulness, which represented the bear and its place in the world. But mostly, he came to understand harmony. Strong, violent and powerful could a bear be, but a bear’s first path was tranquility and peace, and thus true harmony could only be obtained by following the path of the bear.

The first winter was the hardest. The boy’s ignorance made him completely dependent on the Great White Spirit Bear for food, warmth, and protection. By the second winter, Yiska had learned much. He could summon fire by whispering words alone and could sustain his body for weeks on songs and prayers that the Spirit Bear had taught him.

But these were just tricks compared to the knowledge that was still to come. By the time Yiska returned to his village a tall powerful, fully grown Shawnee Sage in tune with all the mystical forces and spirits of the woods, he could see through the eyes of the birds above him. He could sing songs to bring the rain, and he could whisper words into the night that brought him dreams of prophecy.

The Chillicothe had passed into the Never Forest by the time of Yiska’s return, and the new Chillicothe, a younger man and less wise by many full cycles of the seasons, was threatened and jealous of Yiska’s power. But he believed. They all believed in Yiska’s telling of his vision quest and the great task upon his shoulders.

In the time they had, Yiska taught new songs to his tribesmen and chants to prepare them for the coming night as the Great White Bear had instructed him to do.

Yiska sat before the tribal council, humble and alone. He had not seen that room since the night before his vision quest. The smell of the room had not improved with time. He spoke of the task before him.

I am a man bound not only by the limits of my body, but also by the limits of our people and our world. There is another world out there—many in fact—well beyond our vision. It is there upon one of these faraway lands that a night is rising. There lives a man, a chief, who rules a vast tribe and subjects his peoples to torture, fear, and genocide, as it amuses him. He starves the children and steals away their mothers and sisters for his own wanton lusts and desires. His life is a sickness and a curse.

The tribal council listened engrossed, for such ways of insatiable greed and hunger were foreign to their nature.

This man knows not of our lands or of our homes, but all knowledge is his for the asking. If he becomes aware of our place, then he will surely claim it as his own, for his greed knows no boundaries.

There was talk and grumbling among the council, and words of war and fighting were tossed about. Yiska held up his hands to silence them. We cannot fight this chief. The White Spirit Bear and all the spirits of the mountain and forest and river and sky together cannot stand against this man, for he is the master of a Bhuta of such power that even our gods fear her. The Great Bear calls this Bhuta the Dark Child of the Fallen," and she is slave to this evil chief.

No harm can befall this man while she protects him. It is she, his Bhuta, that we must summon here so that the evil chief’s own tribe may rise up and slay him in her absence. That is the holy quest given to me by the Great White Spirit Bear.

It was autumn again for an eighth time since a young boy had set out on a vision quest. Yiska was every bit as anxious that night as he had been so many moons ago. He walked about the village center insuring that the totems and magical relics were all in place. A great fire pit was built with well-seasoned logs. Many braves were on hand, including his childhood friends Antinanco and Paytah, both warrior strong and fathers then. They stood by Yiska, smiling and excited about the events to come. Antinanco, which means eagle of the sun, clasped his old friend on the shoulder.

You bring great honor to our village, Yiska.

I fear I may only bring death, Yiska replied.

When the day drew to dusk, Yiska whispered a word of light, and the stacked wood in the center of the village ignited in flames. Talk of mysticism was one thing, but seeing it performed openly was another. There were those who understood in that moment that Yiska’s tellings of the Great White Spirit Bear were all true, and a great darkness was about to descend upon their homes. These braves broke ranks and fled into the woods. They were not many, and the rest of the tribe closed the circle around the fire and raised their voices higher with the chants that Yiska had taught them.

Yiska sang and Paytah slapped a drum with his fingertips to keep the rhythm of the chants and the song. He called upon his spirit guide to lead him in this task and upon all the elder spirits from the Never Forest to give them strength. The chants were old Shawnee prayers that called upon all the spirits of the land and sky to attend the ceremony. The singing began softly, initially drowned by the thumping drums, but as the night grew longer the voices of the braves grew bolder and the prayers louder.

For hours the chanting rose into the night. Hundreds of voices called out into the darkness by firelight, and when the dancing and the singing had reached a fevered high, Yiska silenced his tribesmen with his arms raised high above his head and spoke the words of summoning that the Great White Spirit Bear had taught him.

The wind strengthened and was drawn into the fire from all angles. Like a whirlpool pulling water to the bottom of an eddy, the fire drew the night breeze from every direction. The heat of the flames carried inward, and the circle dimmed as if light itself had trouble escaping the blaze. A great purple explosion burst forth, and it was bright enough to blind the tribesmen. Some of them stumbled over their tongues when the light caught their attention. Those who paused in their chants were immediately sucked into the fire. Long purple tentacles of flames reached out and snared the Shawnee who faltered in their chanting. Screams rose from the fire as Yiska watched his brave kinsman perish horribly in the blaze.

Wafting above the flames was the shimmering image of a woman. She was dressed in a way that the Shawnee had never seen before. She wore pants that billowed out about her legs. Much of her clothing was transparent and draped over her body like a shed snake skin, only it was fluid with her movements like the wings of a purple butterfly. Her face was covered with the same material—all but her eyes, which were as purple as the night. On her head she wore a crown of hardened sunlight. She was beautiful and exotic and angry.

In the language of the Shawnee, she spoke, How dare you summon me? Do you know what I am?

You are the Bhuta of Darkness and will bring death to the world, Yiska answered.

She laughed. And your primitive circle of spells—is it meant to destroy me?

No, Bhuta, Yiska answered. There is no magic here strong enough for that. We hope only to hold you until the tribe of your chief rises up against him and sends his spirit to the Never Forest of your land.

The hovering woman laughed again. Fire cannot bind me, for I am born of smokeless fire.

Yes, Bhuta, I know. But this fire is not smokeless. Yiska threw onto the blaze freshly cut saplings and leaves wet from the streams. It is the smoke that will bind you and keep you here.

Instantly the circle was filled with smoke and steam. The thick white air rose and encased the Bhuta, holding her in place. Yiska changed the cadence of his chant and sang loudly as the night flame burned on, holding prisoner in the center of his circle the dark guest.

The lady screamed and raised her arms to the heavens. She rained purple fire down on the village. Longhouses that had stood for generations burned to the ground as the village was decimated by the Bhuta’s wrath. She screamed and shrieked and begged for release. And from a land very far away, she could hear her master calling. Not being able to answer him pushed her to the point of madness. She shrieked and threatened, begging Yiska to release her. She promised to make him a king second only to her master. She promised wealth and women and power. She would give him weapons and clothing to make him all but invincible. Yiska stood fast, never heeding to her temptation, singing the songs the Great White Spirit Bear had taught him for that very night.

The night lingered on, and other Shawnee faltered in the chanting. Paytah missed the beat of drum, and the Bhuta’s wrath fell upon him. His skin blistered and burned to the bone. Paytah’s eyes popped from the heat, and the fluid in them squirted out into the night air. As her purple flames reached out to snare his legs, Paytah tossed the drum to Antinanco, who picked up the cadence. Paytah followed many other brave Shawnee Warriors and died a screaming death of purple vengeance into the Never Forest.

In a faraway land with sun-soaked mountains of sand, much different than the lush green valley in the Ohio Basin known to the Shawnee Tribe of men, another man suffered through a long and terrifying night. His cries of Parisa could be heard throughout the palace. He screamed and beat his slaves and shed blood, hoping to bring back his lost djinni. She had never before failed to answer his call.

The sultan held his sword out before him. It was a beautiful weapon of solid gold forged in Djinn fire with an amethyst as large as a turkey egg buried in its hilt. The gemstone mounted in the sword was home to the woman who Yiska called the Bhuta and who the sultan knew as Parisa. But cry for her as he might, she did not come.

In the wee hours of the morning, some of the sultan’s soldiers grew bold enough to talk about a coup, but still they were too fearful to act, thinking the sultan’s torment may be a ploy to see which men the sultan could really trust. They had seen the unspeakable horrors that came to pass when the sultan found disfavor in one of his guards.

Instead, a fourteen-year-old girl named Noushin who had been recently stolen from her parents ended the sultan’s long reign of terror. Noushin had been raped and beaten and subjected to vile lusts. It was she who found the courage to test the night. Behind the sultan, she stood on the soft feet of a child, took a long blade and slid it easily beneath the fifth rib on his left side. The blade sheared both lung cavities and severed the descending artery. The sultan bled out in minutes.

After the sultan’s death, the guards became much braver. They severed his head and raised it on a spike in front of the palace. They fell upon the sword, smashing the large amethyst into a thousand slivers of purple rock that they scattered in the desert many leagues from the city.

For years they lived in fear that the sultan’s djinni would return and seek vengeance for her master’s death, but when that never happened, the people began to forget. After a few generations passed, the story of the evil sultan and his dark djinni became folklore and bedtime tales for children.

In the morning light, the Bhuta was still trapped by the smoke and the chanting, and she grew still. She knew that her master was gone and

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