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Each box includes:
- The autographed paperback
- At least 1 character art print
- A bookmark
Aofie’s Quest is a 5×8 paperback with 482 pages.
Looking for the ebook? Click here to order on Amazon.
A warrior princess with a dire future embarks on a perilous quest to regain her fallen kingdom.
Eighteen-year-old Aofie’s Mor is an outcast princess, hiding in the sacred forest of the centaurs. She’s spent her life training for one purpose: to take back her kingdom from the angel of death.
When she comes of age, the centaurs prepare her to reunite with the humans. However, on the morning of her departure, she learns a horrific truth that leaves her questioning her true identity.
Frustrated, but taught not to question the will of the gods, Aofie travels deep into perilous lands in search of her birth mother. Along the way she accidentally frees a dangerous goddess, befriends a mysterious iceman, and meets a magic-wielding nymph.
But threads of betrayal and corruption run deeper than Aofie imagined. As she faces trials and tribulations, she begins to question everything she’s assumed to be true. Caught in the ultimate war between good and evil, Aofie must make a choice about her future.
Will she have the strength and courage to take back her kingdom? Or will she turn her back on fate and choose her own destiny?
Welcome to the land of Labraid, a war-torn world where demons rise and the gods and goddesses toy with the desires of humans. If you like fierce heroines, treacherous royals, mischievous immortals, wild plot twists and Celtic Mythology, buy Aofie’s Quest today!
On the eighth day I woke to an uncanny silence. As I tied up my bedroll, I took in our whereabouts. Usually, the smaller woodland animals kept up noise as they moved in the treetops or flitted through the underbrush. The babbling of the river was constantly near, even though we veered away from the banks from time to time. Now, there was nothing but an occasional breeze, not even the chirping of birds. We’d lost sight of the river the evening before, but I hadn’t been worried.
I turned to my companion. “Niamh. Shouldn’t we be following the river?”
She stood with her back to me, her hooves pawing the ground as she ripped into a hunk of dried meat. She glanced at me, her flaxen hair brushing against her sallow cheeks. “Do you trust me to be your guide or not?” she snapped.
I frowned, annoyed by her hostility. Still, I tried to ease a measured calmness into my reply. “I do. I just wondered about the river. In the vision the gods showed me, I had to follow it.”
“‘In the vision the gods showed me,’” she mimicked and gave a short, barking laugh. “The river dries up here and we have to cross the Vale of Monsters. It’s our last day in the forest. From there you will be on your own in the land of men.”
Vale of Monsters? On my own? I was sure I wasn’t supposed to be left alone in the kingdom of men. Although, now that I thought about, I couldn’t recall whether the elders specified I’d have a guide through the Beluar Woods or as far as the river took me. I was certain it wasn’t safe for me to be alone out there—nor in the woods, but at least here I had the clans of centaurs watching out for me. If I entered an overwhelming situation, all I had to do was call out, and they’d come to my aid. But out there, in the kingdom of men? I didn’t know where I was going, where was safe, or who I could trust!
I scowled at Niamh’s back as I took deep breaths, determined not to let her callous words give me anxiety. Tucking a portion of dried meat into my cheek, I tied the bedroll to my pack and pulled it on my back. I waited, chewing quickly while Niamh finished stuffing food down her throat.
Beyond her, the forest tilted steeply, moving downhill into what must be the Vale of Monsters. A darkness hung over the wood and the air was thick, almost sticky. I swallowed the lump in my throat. There were many unpleasant places in the Beluar Woods; all I had to do was bear it for a short time, and hopefully the vale would be behind us before the end of the day. I opened my mouth to ask Niamh how long the crossing would take, but she finished eating and set off at a quick pace, leading me down into the valley.
The path was steep in places, forcing me to hold on to tree roots and slide on my bottom. Niamh did not fare much better, for her hooves were meant for flatlands, and her height meant she caught the whiplash from low-hanging branches. Her descent was comical and a few times I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing out loud at her struggles. It was due payment for tormenting me, and yet I knew Epona would not agree. She’d reproach me for thinking ill of someone else and laughing at their tribulations—even if they were well deserved.
I thought it might be mid-morning when we reached the valley and the ground evened out, but my discomfort grew. Shadows lurked like hungry beasts hidden behind thick trees, and a musty smell clung to the air. I glanced over my shoulder, but the wood had closed in, hiding the way back and any sign of a trail. If not for Niamh’s guidance, I would be lost. Trees had collapsed across this part of the wood, their trunks black with rot while dark red moss covered them and filthy beetles clambered over them, making clicking sounds with their sharp legs. A twig snapped and I jumped, eyes wide at the eerie silence. As we walked deeper into the vale, a mist hovered above my head. It drifted like a curtain to cover the thin light from the sun and grew in intensity, hiding the trees and the return path. I trained my eyes on Niamh, watching her flaxen hair twist through the trees until a low growl accosted my ears. I stood still while my fingers stole to my knife, unsure if an arrow would be effective since I could only see a few feet in front of me.
“Niamh.” I hissed out the warning.
The quick snaps of twigs and rustle of leaves were the only reply. Had Niamh heard me? My gaze dropped to my hands. A violet radiance seeped from them. My magic had turned purple to warn me. Something was wrong. I needed to keep moving away from this cursed place. Perhaps Niamh did have the right idea—keep moving, don’t stop. I took a step only to find the mist surrounded me on all sides, a thick gray cloud, and Niamh had disappeared into it.
My pulse quickened. “Niamh,” I called, louder this time.
The forest answered with another low, menacing growl, and the hairs on my neck stood up straight. Lips trembling, I pulled one of my knives free and squeezed the ivory handle, unsure what to do. When trouble came, it was best to hide and stay low. Slowly I turned, searching for vague shapes in the mist, and momentarily I considered calling on the gods to help me face the evil that was out there. Surely this was not one of Niamh’s tricks?
A rattling sound cascaded through the air. My frustration and fear was quickly replaced with action. I ducked as branches descended like arms, weaving through the mist toward me. I brandished my knife, aware I needed an ax or long sword to fend them off. Before they reached me, gnarly roots crept across the ground, undulating like great slippery serpents as they blocked my path. Hisses and growls echoed through the thick underbrush and the mist came alive, reaching for me with gray fingers, stained with black dirt and the putrid scent of decay. Shallow pants crossed my lips as the vale awoke. Thunder boomed in the distance and I knew someone or something was angry. This was the Vale of Monsters, and I’d trespassed.
I opened my mouth to shout for help, but a root shot toward my boots. I jumped and stomped down on top of it. Despite my efforts, the root squirmed. A snapping, breaking sound pulled my attention up. Rotted branches curved toward me, reaching out lifeless arms to embrace me. Ducking, I dashed forward, nearly slipping on dark red moss between the shifting tree roots. I leapt over a patch of moss and avoided the roots with a neat sidestep, a trick I learned during lessons of the blade.
Straining my eyes, I hoped to see a way through the dense fog, but it grew steadily closer and hemmed me in like a hunter closing in on its prey. A twig slapped into my back. My arms wheeled in the air, searching for balance and my knife cut through the fog. A shriek came from in front of me and the mist recoiled. Was it alive? A surge of boldness went through me and I sliced again as my empty hand fumbled for my belt and pulled another knife free. Avoiding the next onslaught of branches, I ran, leaping over roots and cutting through the thick mist as I searched for a way out of the madness.
A low bubble of malicious voices crept up around me, earthy tones, hollow and drunk on dense, evil air. Growls, low and guttural, and sharp high screams as I cut through the mist. It parted before me yet remained heavy, unwilling to show me the way out of the Vale of Monsters. As I ran, questions raced through my mind. Why did Niamh bring me here? Was she fighting her own battle against the monstrous trees? Or had she led me here as a sacrifice to the monsters so that the rest of the wood would be left in peace? I’d heard tales but dismissed them as nothing more than legend. In the old days, evil beings required sacrifices in exchange for peace, but I had not expected to meet one, especially not in the Beluar Woods.
“Help!” I shouted as I ran, although I had slim hope that anyone could find me. My voice returned to me, echoing through the mist until eventually I gave up on that avenue of help. If there were other centaurs in the wood, they were either lost in the mist, or were never there at all. Bile rose in my throat as I thought of what Niamh had led me into, but I was not one to give up easily. I pressed forward, knives first.
Minutes passed like hours until I stopped. Sweat poured down my neck; my red curls lay damp and slack behind my back. My arms ached from fighting through the mist and my feet had begun to tire. The exhaustion of seven days of hard travel was finally catching up with me. Chest heaving, I sucked in deep breaths of the foul air, wondering if I’d run in circles or if I was close to the end of the vale.
The mist, wise to my blades, stayed a few feet away, revealing the snake-like roots that seemed to chase after me. This placed was cursed, I was sure of it. Why hadn’t I listened to my earlier hesitation at entering? Why had I allowed Niamh to bully me and drive me away from the river? An unnamed emotion burned within.
A root slithered toward my ankle and I leapt to one side, but the trees seemed to understand my tactics now, and they were ready. As soon as I moved, gray vines shot up and wrapped around my ankles. Losing my balance, I tumbled forward, gloved hands outstretched to keep from smashing my nose on a fallen log. My fingers scraped against dirt but I caught myself on my elbows, gasping as the impact knocked the breath out of me. I recalled training with the young ones. I’d been knocked down many times, but always the instructor would chant: Get up! As soon as your opponent knocks you down, get up. Before they can keep you down, get up!
Kicking against the pull of the vines, I struggled to my knees. The vine around my ankle yanked, knocking me flat on my belly again. And then it pulled. Discomfort rode up my leg as the vines tightened around me and dragged me backward. Gritting my teeth in frustration, I thrashed, arms outstretched for a tree root to keep me from being dragged farther. This time, the roots evaded me and mist loomed closer. The scent of decay grew stronger down there in the forest floor. I sank my knives into the ground, hoping to regain the upper hand, but my movements were in vain.
The vines dragged me across bramble, ripping my skirt, tearing at the bare skin on my legs and arms. I cried out as the forest took me and quickly raked my brain for options. My training returned to me: When you feel trapped or stuck, use the element of surprise to regain the upper hand.
Surprise. What would surprise the trees? Taking a deep breath, I stilled myself, stopped thrashing, and let the vines take me. They paused. The moment was slight but it was enough. I flung myself on my back and drove my knives straight up at the mist. It evaporated like a whipped dog and a tiny sense of relief went through me. But it was only half the battle. Crunching my stomach muscles together, I maneuvered into a sitting position and sliced at the vines wrapped around my legs. Instead of letting go, they tightened.
Something pinched my skin, like a tiny needle sinking beneath the flesh, and an itch, more annoying than painful, spread out from where the vines touched my skin. The sensation felt like teeth and as the vines tightened, I lost my calm control and kicked, yanking and pulling to escape their clutches. A root swung up and slammed into my chest, knocking me onto my back again. Yelps of frustration escaped my mouth as the vines dragged me onward. My hair caught on twigs and ripped free, forcing me to cry out, and the vines tightened, sending waves of pain up and down my legs. But that wasn’t the worst of it.
One by one, the vines and tree roots wrapped around me, moving up my legs to encircle my waist, and then my arms. My movements were useless as they covered me, until I was stuck, my knives raised above my head as I was half-rolled, half-dragged deeper into the forest.
A thick, veiny root, caked with mud, stretched over my face. It locked into place over my eyes and nose, leaving only stale air to penetrate my cage. I couldn’t move, not even to struggle. How would I escape? I was trapped like a bird in a net, and there was no way for me to fly free. Anxiety fluttered against my ribcage and dark thoughts swirled, overriding the false hope I’d initially felt when starting my quest. Why had the forest risen against me? What was truly in the Vale of Monsters? Where were the trees taking me?
|Dimensions||5 × 8 × 1 in|
|Type of Book Box||
Autographed Paperback, Standard Book Box, Deluxe Book Box
About the Author
Angela J. Ford is an international bestselling epic fantasy author who has written and published over 20 books and sold over 32,000 copies . Her books have been ranked bestsellers in multiple categories.
She enjoys traveling, hiking, and playing World of Warcraft with her husband. First and foremost, Angela is a reader and can often be found with her nose in a book.