Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Bridge of Magic Trilogy Tour and Giveaway


The Salvation of Innocence
The Bridge of Magic Trilogy Book 1
by Robert E. Balsley Jr.
Genre: Fantasy

A young woman embarks on a harrowing journey to save her world's last vestige of magical healing in Robert E. Balsley Jr.'s epic new fantasy novel, The Salvation of Innocence.
Althaya, the goddess of healing, wishes to share her ability to help those in need, providing "empaths," which give clerics the means to magically heal others-a means that some people fear and wish to destroy. In response, a dark magic known as the Purge is created to seek out and eradicate all empaths.
But one lone survivor remains, spirited away by Althaya and hidden in a magical stasis field. There, the last empath must remain alive until the time comes for rescue-but the Purge will not rest until the last empath is found and killed.
Three thousand years later, Kristen Rosilie Clearwater is only beginning to realize her destiny. Having been brought to the island of InnisRos as an orphan, she has long felt a "tug" toward something she can't quite understand. But when she begins experiencing the dreams of a young child, Kristen knows that the two are somehow connected-and that the fate of the world, and the future of healing magic, rests on.

The fourteenth day of travel was much like all the others. The seas were a little rough because of a stiff wind, but this allowed the Freedom Wind to speed through the white-capped waves close to her maximum velocity of twelve knots. The sky was clear with a few billowy clouds speeding through the atmosphere on fast moving air currents. The sun was halfway through its descent into the western sky. 

Captain Dubois and Mr. Krist were on the quarterdeck taking navigational measurements to make sure there’d been no deviation to their course. Lieutenant Farnsworth was officer of the deck and stood on the railed edge of the quarterdeck, hands clasped behind his back, watching forward as the crew went about the business of sailing the ship. Set underneath the quarterdeck and below the spot where Lieutenant Farnsworth was standing was the ship’s wheelhouse… the wheel manned by four helmsmen and Ensign Carlowe. A shout from the mainmast lookout broke the calm of normal ship operations.

“Dragon dead astern!”

Captain Dubois looked to the west and into the sun. “Damn sun! Can’t see a thing. Mr. Krist, man the telescope if you please. Lieutenant Farnsworth, ring to general quarters.” She moved to the edge of the quarterdeck, leaned over, and shouted, “Ensign Carlowe, make your course north by northeast.”

“Aye, captain. Making my course north by northeast.”

 “I’ve got it spotted, captain.” Mr. Krist said. “It’s coming out of the sun.”

“Range, Mr. Krist?”

“About one mile.” 

“Belay my last order, Ensign Carlowe. Hold your course steady.”

“Aye, captain, holding my course steady.”

“Lieutenant Farnsworth, time before the stern ballistae are changed to magic arrows and ready to fire?”

“Two minutes at most, captain. And then another to set elevation.”

“Range one half mile, captain,” Mr. Krist said. “We don’t have time to get a shot off.”

“Thank you, Mr. Krist, I’m aware. The dragon’s color if you please.”

“I’m trying, captain.”

Ten valuable seconds passed. “Color, Mr. Krist?” the captain asked again.

“It’s… red dragon, captain, red dragon!”

“It can’t get much worse,” Captain Dubois remarked.

The crew responded well to general quarters and had manned their battle stations in record time. Captain Dubois allowed herself a second to smile her satisfaction. Tangus, Jennifer, Euranna, the two sorcerers, and several young boys who were runners came bounding up the ladder to the quarterdeck – their assigned positions.

“Need to shave a few seconds of your time, Tangus. The crew beat you,” the captain observed.

Tangus crumbled under his breath as he studied the situation. “I heard the call of dragon.”

“It’s a red,” Mr. Krist said. “Coming out of the sun.”

Tangus shook his head. “Didn’t expect this.”

“None of us ever do,” the captain replied. She looked at the dragon and then at the sorcerers. “Well?”

“Not enough time to do anything other than magic missiles, captain.” 

“See to it as soon as it’s in range,” she said. “Tangus do you and your ladies have magic arrows?”

All three were already notching arrows with glowing tips. “We do, captain.”

“You have command of your people, Tangus,” the captain said. “You may fire as soon as its within range. Lieutenant Farnsworth, I want all archers to shoot at that beast when Tangus does. It doesn’t matter if they have magic arrows or not… anything that might distract it.”

“Aye, captain!”

“We can’t stop it from making at least one pass on us, captain,” Mr. Krist said.

About that time several magic missiles from the sorcerers hit the dragon while several others veered away at the last minute to fall into the ocean. The dragon didn’t even flinch at the pain caused by the explosions of magic that came with each successful hit. “Magic resistance, captain,” a sorcerer called out. Both sorcerers then whispered incantations for another spell.

Mr. Krist turned to a runner. “I want fire damage control standing by.” Looking at the other, he said, “Get a cleric up here.”

The dragon was rapidly closing with the ship. As Tangus was watching the dragon’s approach, he judged it to be middle aged from its size. The body was one hundred feet matched by a tail almost as long. The wingspan of the brute had to be at least one hundred fifty feet. Bitts started growling as the dragon neared. Tangus realized Safire, Jennifer, and Euranna had never seen a creature of this magnitude. “Remember your training. Hold steady. Take aim,” he said to calm any nervousness they might be experiencing.  

The captain shouted, “Ensign Carlowe, on my mark make you course north by northeast.”

“Aye, captain. Will make my course north by northeast upon your order.”

When the dragon flew within range of his longbow, Tangus shouted, “SHOOT!” Along with Tangus, Jennifer and Euranna, all the archers of the Freedom Wind released their arrows. A flock of fifty arrows ascended to meet the beast. Most had no effect, but several did, though they didn’t slow the dragon’s approach. Before another volley could fly, the dragon used its terrible breath weapon.

In an instant, dragon’s breath had disintegrated one half the length of the mizzenmast along with all the men working the sails and the archers posted to fire arrows. The remaining half was burning, flaming pieces of sail falling upon the deck. Screaming men, set afire but unlucky enough not to have been killed instantly, dropped into the sea or onto the deck. Though the flames eating each man were quickly smothered, it was too late to save them. Their cries of agony and fear died as they did. As the dragon passed over, leaving destruction in its wake, another volley of arrows followed it.

The Struggle For Innocence
The Bridge of Magic Trilogy Book 2

In this suspenseful sequel to The Salvation of Innocence, the war against evil rages on. This time good must fight on two fronts to stop a great evil-one strong enough to commit genocide-or their world will be changed forever.
After barely escaping death at the hands of the vampire Lukas, Emmy still faces an even greater threat. The Purge is approaching. Emmy and her comrades' only chance is to get help from the sentient city of Elanesse and commit the first assault.
Far way, another conflict is brewing. Father Horatio Goram must face off against the power-hungry First Counselor Mordecai Lannian, whose demonic concubine pushes for war, but the odds are against him. Emmy's fate rests on this struggle, and this determined priest will do anything to win.
In a realm where healing magic relies on a single emissary's ability to commune with the gods, Emmy's death would have wide repercussions. This sensational thriller reveals the destructive power evil will use to achieve its dastardly ends-and the depths to which good must go to stop it.

Kristen performed a “field funeral” for Max... so named because this burial is carried out on the battlefield, or the “field of death,” as the ancient elven bard Eöl Tolommaitë described in his epic song, Lost Reason:

Winter night, long and cold. Blankets the warriors, oh so bold.

Mothers and fathers could not shield, 

their sons and their daughters sprawled on the field.

Winter night, long and cold. Blankets the warriors, oh so bold.

This field of death, oh so still. 

Carrion eaters devour their fill.

Winter night, long and cold. Blankets the warriors, oh so bold.

Kings and Queens sacrifice the brave, 

for power or greed, whatever they crave.

Winter night, long and cold. Blankets the warriors, oh so bold.”

After Kristen had completed the memorial service for Max... and everyone had made peace with his departure... she sealed the entrance to the small chamber by magically fusing the adjoining stone together to create an airtight tomb. The sylph waited patiently.

The Loss of Innocence
The Bridge of Magic Trilogy Book 3

War has come to InnisRos!
The Ak-Séregon Stone, stolen by the demon Nightshade, has been used to force open a corridor between Aster and the Svartalfheim, the home world of the Dark Elves. The Dark Elf army, led by Nightshade's father, Aikanáro, marches on InnisRos. Only Father Goram and his allies, with Queen Lessien's army, can close down the corridor and break the stranglehold the Dark Elves have on the island of the Elves of Light.
But the Dark Elf invasion of InnisRos is only one phase of Nightshade's design. To ensure InnisRos' human allies stay on their side of the world, she blackmails Lord Ternborg, leader of the Draugen Pesta, the Black Death, to invade the mainland from the east. Forced to collaborate with the mercenary cities of HeBron and Madeira, Lord Ternborg reluctantly leads three armies into the Forest of the Fey and the surrounding valley to capture the sorcerer stronghold of Havendale. Tangus, Kristen, Emmy and the humans now have their own war to fight on the mainland.
Meanwhile, deep below the surface, a new threat arises. The sylph are awake and moving from the depths with one goal in mind... destroy all life on Aster.

“This is perfect!” Azriel exclaimed. He, Elbedreth, and Jörmungander had just entered a huge cavern. It was the largest Azriel had ever seen. Moss illuminated the entire cave with an eerie, greenish glow, broken here and there by the light of yellow mushrooms. In the center, water crashed to the floor from a crack in the ceiling. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of years of falling water had created a large, deep pool in the stone floor underneath. The ceiling was three to four hundred feet high. Azriel calculated that the cavern was at least eight miles in each direction. 

“Perfect,” Azriel repeated.

Elbedreth, standing by Azriel’s side, agreed. “Yes, you’re correct. It looks big enough to hold my entire race.”

“I just hope they’re coming this way,” Azriel commented. 

“Why wouldn’t they?” Jörmungander asked. “We know the ones you killed came this way. We’ve been following their signs.”

Azriel nodded. “Aye, laddie, you’re right,” he said. “But if I were leading the sylph, I’d have several scouting parties out looking. What if another party found an alternate route? What if they’ve already passed us by? There’s no way to tell how many passages lead to the surface.”

“There are far too many ‘what if’s’ for the mind to comprehend, my love,” Elbedreth remarked. “We shouldn’t let the evidence we think to be true fall victim to the possibilities in our mind… at least not until we prove this evidence false. This appears to be the way my people are taking in their quest to reach the surface world. We should act on it.”

“I won’t discard the ‘what if’s,’ but you make a good point,” Azriel replied as he studied the cavern more thoroughly. 

“Azriel,” Jörmungander said.

Azriel frowned. “Not now, laddie! I’m figuring things out!” 

A plan was formulating in Azriel’s mind. He was an experienced warrior, and like all experienced warriors, he was looking at it from various angles – trying to find and correct weaknesses, determining what steps he’d need to take in response to possible reactions by the sylph, determining his fallback position if his plan didn’t work, and anything else he could foresee.

“Azriel!” Jörmungander insisted.

“Jörmungander, I said I’d…”

“Listen to him, dear,” Elbedreth added.

Azriel sighed. “Not you too! Alright! What is it!” 

“Someone’s living in this cavern,” Jörmungander stated. “Actually, it’s a lot of someone’s. Possibly a whole clan or tribe of someone’s.”

“What leads you to this conclusion?” Azriel asked.

Elbedreth pointed up. “Look!”

Hanging from the high cavern ceiling were hundreds of stalactites. That wasn’t unusual in a cavern with the high moisture content this one had. But what he saw in the stalactites confounded him. Each stalactite contained foot-high doors made of moss. A few of these doors were open, and Azriel could see green eyes – eyes as luminescent as the moss – watching them.   

Azriel grumbled as all his planning tumbled away. He began a long list of dwarven expletives but stopped himself after only a few. Elbedreth looked at him with frightened eyes. But Jörmungander thought it was rather impressive and told him so. 

“I guess the cavern being occupied is a ‘what if’ I never considered,” Azriel thought to himself. Turning to Elbedreth and Jörmungander, he said, “Well now, if that isn’t a hoot!” Dwarves had perfected the art of sarcasm and Azriel was one of the best.

Robert E. Balsley, Jr honed his fantasy writing skills as a game master in Dungeons and Dragons over twenty-five years. During that time he developed the thoughts and ideas that turned into the Bridge of Magic series. The Salvation of Innocence is the first book of that trilogy and Robert's debut novel. Robert graduated from Elder High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. He served in the US Air Force for six years. After his discharge, Robert started working at Tinker Air Force Base in Central Oklahoma where he's been an engineering technician, first level supervisor, and lead technician. Robert retired in late 2014. He left Oklahoma and currently lives in Burlington, Kentucky. He and his wife have three children, three grandchildren, and three dogs.

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