Book 1 of the Truthseer Archives
by Mike Shelton Genre: YA Epic Fantasy
One little lie won’t hurt.
When fifteen year old Shaeleen unexpectedly is given a TruthStone, every lie she hears or tells causes her immense physical pain. As she struggles to control her new power and curb the pain, she learns a powerful truth that could thrust an entire continent into civil war. She must choose: reveal the truth and stop the pain – or sacrifice her own well-being to protect her kingdom.
For two hundred years the five kingdoms of Wayland have been protected by the stones of power. Now those stones are failing and a darker power is trying to take control. With the help of her brother, Cole and a newfound friend, Orin, Shaeleen sets out to gather and restore the power of all the stones.
But will she succeed before the endless lies destroy her?
As Shaeleen reached the edge of the crowd, an old, wrinkled woman with a gray hood over her hair almost knocked Shaeleen down. The woman fell to the dirt in front of her, and as she leaned down to help the woman, Shaeleen glanced around, trying to figure out where the woman had come from.
“Are you hurt?” Shaeleen asked, kneeling beside the elderly woman.
The woman shook her head and peered up at Shaeleen, her hood sliding back off her hair. Shaeleen gasped and put her hand over her mouth.
“Don’t be afraid,” the woman said in a quiet voice. Her long, white hair hung straight around her slender face, and she peered hard at Shaeleen. But it was the woman’s upswept ears and pale blue eyes—a similar eye color to her own and her brother’s—that clued Shaeleen in on the woman’s heritage. A heritage that Shaeleen had always wondered if she and her brother shared with those from Verlyn—though mixed and weak it would have to have been. Only her eye color was similar to the woman’s, but that was enough to stick out in a nation with predominately brown and green eyes.
The woman was obviously not from the kingdom of Gelena but from Verlyn, an island off the southeast coast of the continent of Wayland. An island where the descendants of elves lived and, if believed, where the magic in Wayland had originated.
Shaeleen’s heart pounded. She’d seen the people of Verlyn from a distance before, but they were usually aloof. The woman’s face held wrinkles that had been chiseled into her delicate features over many years. She lifted up a gnarled hand toward Shaeleen’s cheek, and it took all Shaeleen’s will to not move away.
“What are you doing in the market today, my dear?” the old woman asked, stopping her hand just short from actually touching Shaeleen.
“Buying cloth for my mother, ma’am,” Shaeleen said.
As a man came running up next to them, the woman cleared her voice loudly and seemed annoyed. He moved more quickly than Shaeleen had thought should be possible. The power of speed came from Antioch, but the man didn’t look like he was from there.
“Keeper,” the man said to the woman. His long, brown hair hung down loosely over his brown leather vest and dark green shirt. Next to his leather pants hung a silver sword, on which his hand rested. His blue eyes continued to roam the marketplace.
“We need to leave,” he added. “They have followed us here.”
The woman looked up at the man then returned her attention to Shaeleen. “I do not see any cloth with you, child. Are you sure that is where you were going?”
Shaeleen blushed and felt guilty at lying, something that had lately become easy to do to her father and mother. Without admitting her guilt, she changed the subject by saying, “Let me help you up.”
The woman brought her other hand out from behind her back and placed it in Shaeleen’s outstretched hand to accept the help. As she did so, the woman pushed something into Shaeleen’s palm.
Once standing, the woman brought Shaeleen’s hands together, wrapping both of her own wrinkled hands around Shaeleen’s, squeezing them tight around the object. A soft, green light appeared around the edges of their hands, and something strange and peculiar raced through Shaeleen’s body, increasing her heart rate and stimulating her mind.
“What are you doing?” Shaeleen said as she tried to pull her hands free. But the woman held strong and looked Shaeleen in the eye.
“Take it,” she said, her voice hoarse and low. “You are the one to save all the stones. Their magic is fading. You have been prophesied.”
The man with the sword moved to grab the old woman’s elbow. “Keeper Melindra, we must leave!”
Melindra turned to the man. “We have a few more moments, Galen. You just watch out for trouble.”
Shaeleen couldn’t follow what was going on. What had the man called the woman again? A keeper!
The only keeper Shaeleen knew about was the keeper of stones from her history books. Shaking her head, she couldn’t believe this crazy woman was one of those keepers. But the woman was from Verlyn, so something was going on that Shaeleen couldn’t quite figure out.
A sound in the crowd alerted Shaeleen, and she turned to look. Through the swarming shoppers in the marketplace, she saw three men approaching. They had the same slender builds and facial features as Melindra and Galen. Shaeleen had never seen so many from Verlyn traveling together before.
The three men were turning their heads from left to right, glancing down each row of vendors, searching for something—or someone. Shaeleen took a step back as she realized they must be searching for Melindra.
The old woman followed Shaeleen’s eyes and then seemed to stiffen. “Go,” she croaked. “Don’t let them see you.”
“But…” Shaeleen tried to speak. Then she felt something in her hand. She had almost forgotten that the woman had given her something. She slowly opened her fingers and found herself looking at a small, green stone. It was beautiful and sparkled in the sunlight, holding her transfixed for a moment. This couldn’t be what she thought it was. That wasn’t possible.
She turned, to give it back to the woman, for she couldn’t accept such a gift, especially from a stranger. But, by the size of it—a little smaller than a chicken egg—she’d guess that her entire family could live forever on its worth, and its value was worth much more than gold or silver if it was indeed what she thought it was. Shaeleen’s mind raced momentarily with the possibilities of wealth it would bring if she could sell it.
But she finally shoved the stone back toward the woman. The old woman pushed Shaeleen’s hand away.
“It is yours now, but not for the riches.” How could the woman know what I had been thinking?
“I…” Shaeleen tried to speak but felt a tightening of her chest.
“Don’t deny it, child,” Melindra said sternly. “Those types of thoughts will only cause you pain.” This is crazy. Why did she give me this gemstone? This is…
“Moldavite, a TruthStone,” Shaeleen whispered.
“Hush, child. You don’t want people hearing that, do you?”
Mike was born in California and has lived in multiple states from the west coast to the east coast. He cannot remember a time when he wasn't reading a book. At school, home, on vacation, at work at lunch time, and yes even a few pages in the car (at times when he just couldn't put that great book down). Though he has read all sorts of genres he has always been drawn to fantasy. It is his way of escaping to a simpler time filled with magic, wonders and heroics of young men and women.
Other than reading, Mike has always enjoyed the outdoors. From the beaches in Southern California to the warm waters of North Carolina. From the waterfalls in the Northwest to the Rocky Mountains in Utah. Mike has appreciated the beauty that God provides for us. He also enjoys hiking, discovering nature, playing a little basketball or volleyball, and most recently disc golf. He has a lovely wife who has always supported him, and three beautiful children who have been the center of his life.
Mike began writing stories in elementary school and moved on to larger novels in his early adult years. He has worked in corporate finance for most of his career. That, along with spending time with his wonderful family and obligations at church has made it difficult to find the time to truly dedicate to writing. In the last few years as his children have become older he has returned to doing what he truly enjoys - writing!