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Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is conquering fear for the sake of doing what is right.
A young Duende girl named Carling is in possession of the coveted Silver Breastplate. But the breastplate is only partially complete. The green Stone of Mercy, which Carling found on her first quest, is nestled securely in its place on the breastplate. Now, the Wizard of Crystonia sends her on her second mission to find the red Stone of Courage in the foreboding region known as the Northern Reaches. The assignment will be difficult because the stone is under the guardianship of a reclusive Tommy Knocker named Shim who has no intention of relinquishing it to the young Duende girl or to anyone else.
"The Stone of Courage" is the second tale in the critically acclaimed and award-winning series, "The Centaur Chronicles". This book continues the compelling adventure that began with "The Stone of Mercy" as Carling attempts to gain another stone on her way to becoming the righteous ruler of Crystonia.
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Keep reading for an excerpt:
From chapter 9: The Test
Shim sprang into life and began dancing around the three sparkling crystal stalagmites that Carling had noticed earlier. But now that she examined them more closely, she noticed each column supported a rough-hewn wooden box. “I have made a fun game for you to play!” Shim said as he let out a giggle that made Carling’s blood freeze in her veins. “It is going to be so much fun. Now, let me explain the rules. One of these boxes holds my jewel, my beloved jewel. The other two are empty. If you pick the right box, the stone will be yours. But…,” here Shim paused and grinned, hopping from one foot to the other in delight and anticipation, “if you pick one of the empty boxes, your Centaur friends will be dropped into the pool of lava, never to be seen again!”
The creature twirled around the three stone stalagmites, a throaty laughter escaping his lips, his eyes twinkling, his large nose looking even larger.
Carling, frozen in place, followed Shim’s dance with her eyes but her mind was busy. What am I to do? What am I to do, oh Wizard? Tell me, please. This is too much for me.
Carling could hear Tibbals start to weep. Tandum shouted from the net. “Let Tibbals go! Just take me. She has done nothing to deserve this.”
Shim stopped dancing and looked up at his captives. “Oh, she has done quite enough. First, she brought her here,” he said, pointing his crooked cane at Carling. “And then she killed many of my dear bats. The bats are the innocent ones, after all.”
Without saying a word, Carling stepped up to the three columns. The only sound in the cavern was the gurgling of the bubbling lava pool. All eyes were on the young Duende. Carling stopped and held out her hand, stretching it first toward one box then another. Her hand was trembling. With every ounce of patience within her, she waited for some sign from the Wizard to tell her which box to pick.
“What are you waiting for?” screeched Shim. “Pick one! Pick one!”
Carling ignored him and kept waiting for an answer. Which box? Which box? She asked over and over. Softly an answer came. It wasn’t her ears that were attuned to the response to her pleading―it was something deep inside her that was being touched by some unseen power. Through no effort of her own, her hand moved to the box on her right. Swiftly, she reached out, lifted the latch, and opened the lid, oblivious to the screech coming from Shim.
Nestled in a bed of soft moss was a large red stone.