Excerpt from the second book of the series: "Road to Havla"
Tall cliffs reared up before them, stretching in either direction as far as the eye could see. The swift-flowing river sliced a deep channel through the rock.
They approached the gaping mouth of the river canyon.
“Look,” whispered Will. “Look up.” Pascal looked. Fifty feet overhead, on either side of the river, were the broad, stony faces of huge men. The stone was roughly chiseled, but chest and shoulders, torso and legs were all discernible. The figures wore coarse, belted garments which fell, toga-like, to their knees. Their carven boots alone stood taller than the passers-by. One of these figures turned his fierce, sightless eyes to the east. The other looked west.
“I suppose,” said Jornan softly, “that this is the gateway to the land of the giants.”
Silently they passed between the stone figures.
They stepped into a different world. It was a shadowy place, filled with the sound of rushing waters. Black canyon walls rose on either side. A biting wind moaned through the rock and tossed the tree branches.
“Can your light stick warm us up?” muttered Kye.
Pascal shivered. She drew her cloak tight.
They wrapped up in blankets, too, but the cold was relentless and piercing.
Eventually the canyon widened, and there was a great deal of vegetation. Its walls rose ever higher. The sky wound thin and gray at a far distance. As the day wore on, it sent an icy drizzle streaking all the way to the valley floor.
“If we’re in the land of giants,” said Jornan, “do we dare build a fire?”
“There’s no sign of giants,” said Kye. “No huge footsteps—no trees knocked about like playthings—none of the tumbled boulders they like to throw. Maybe the canyon’s a passageway. Maybe they’ll be waiting at the far end…wherever that is. I say we build a fire.”
They built it under a rocky overhang. The river yielded only two small fish for their dinner. Pascal spent the night hours in a state of miserable half-consciousness, longing for warmth and a full stomach.
In the morning, they caught no fish at all. “The good news,” said Kye, “is that if ever there were giants around here, they’ve probably starved to death.”
The cold deepened. The canyon walls stretched higher.
“I’m so, so sorry,” said Pascal. Her empty stomach gnawed at her, and her teeth chattered. “I trusted a dream. I don’t know where it came from—and yet I trusted it. Why would I do that? This is my fault. I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault,” said Will. “And it’ll be all right. We’re on the right track.”
“How can you know that?”
He didn’t answer. Instead, he darted a look of alarm over his shoulder. She followed the look. A clump of trees huddled against the wind. “Is something wrong?” she asked.
“I only saw it out the corner of my eye. It can’t be what it seemed, and so…I guess I’m imagining things.”
“What did you imagine?”
“It was a person, slipping among the shadows.”
Pascal was frightened. She held her light stick aloft. A nearby sound—the sharp intake of breath, maybe—further frightened her.
“Who’s there?” she cried out.
The river murmured. The wind moaned.
Will and Kye drew swords. Pascal and Jornan slipped bows off their shoulders. They searched the area and found no one.
“It’d be easy to hide though, wouldn’t it?” observed Pascal. “So many tree trunks…so many deep shadows…and all those vines and bushes, pressed against the face of the cliff.”
Warily, they hiked on. Pascal couldn’t shake the sense that hidden eyes tracked their steps.