by Hannah L. Clark
Release Date: July 2015
Summary from Goodreads:
After being raised from infancy in Boston, Mass., Noria (a.k.a Norah Lukens) has no idea what to expect upon entering New Cobbogoth, where she never would have guessed that paths of light can make you vanish; doors can lead to realms both near and far; myths and legends are actual history; a mere kiss can seal two souls as one; and, of course, a stone is never “just a stone.” Her Uncle Jack’s stories never could have prepared her for the magical and dangerous place her native realm is turning out to be.
When the Gihara’s promises begin to crumble, her best friend and soul-mate Jamus (a.k.a. James Riley) is in more danger than ever. Then when his father Lylend abandons her to search for an ancient relic called The Lemorian Crest and she is taken captive by the very people she’s risked everything to save, Noria begins to lose faith in the Cobbogothian gods and the mission they sent her home to accomplish.
Only when a series of new friendships and loyalties are forged in the most peculiar of places, does Noria dare hope again. Hope for Jamus’ safety, for their future together, and for the survival of the entire Cobbogothian race.
Book 1: Uncovering Cobbogoth was published in 2014 by Cedar Fort Publishing.
At her wits end where James’ safety is concerned, Noria and two new friends set out to rescue him. Before they can get too far, they are intercepted by an old acquaintance—a figure that Noria’s friends believe to be dead. But Noria soon learns Totherma’s interception is a godsend. She has a much less dangerous way to locate James.
Dark Matter Doors
Totherma waved her hand, and suddenly three circles of light appeared on the ground on either side of us.
“I’ve seen those before!” I said.
“Do you know what they are?” she asked.
“They look like the Venn diagram,” I shook my head. “But I don’t know what they’re called here. They just appeared before one of my visions of James. And then . . . it was like—well, I saw myself over there, but then I was here. It was like I was . . .”
“In two places at once?”
Totherma nodded, as though being in two places at once was exactly what she expected me to say. “These,” she said, gesturing to the circles, “are a dark matter door. And yes, they are exactly what their name implies—a door that opens a passage into dark matter.”
“Dark matter?” I breathed. Samir, my old physics tutor, had taught me about dark matter in our lessons. Dark matter was the space between space. Earth’s physicists still weren’t exactly sure what it was or did, but Totherma was most likely about to tell me. After being here a while, I thought I might already know.
“Is dark matter what you call the matter between realms?” I asked.
Totherma beamed down at me, like a proud teacher admiring her favorite pupil. “Yes. That and everything else. There is dark matter all around us right now; we just can’t see it because it’s in a metaphysical sphere.”
“Like a spirit world?” I asked.
“Some in the Olden Realm have called it that. You may have also heard it referred to as the Fairy Paths, or the Underworld, or Ley lines. In a way it’s all of those things. Right now, all you need to understand is that it’s a way to get from one place to another very quickly.”
“Like a hoption hole,” I said.
Totherma nodded slowly. “Similar, but hoption holes can only be used within the sphere of a single realm. Dark matter doors have the ability to take you to different realms entirely.”
“So James is in a different realm?” I asked, alarmed.
“I didn’t say that.”
“But if he was, a dark matter door could take me there?”
“Precisely,” Totherma smiled. “The other difference between a hoption hole and a dark matter door is that you cannot pass through a hoption hole without your body, whereas with a dark matter door you can’t pass through with it.”
I realized what she was saying. “So the other day, when I saw myself in two places at once,” I began, trying to wrap my mind around what she was saying, “it was because my soul had separated itself from my body?”
I shivered in spite of the warm night. It was what I’d suspected that night in my neutralocite cell.
Finally, Totherma moved over to one of the circles of light. “Now watch carefully so I don’t have to do this twice.”
I nodded, keeping my eyes fixed on her.
She floated into the circle. As soon as she was directly over its center, she vanished.
I blinked at the circle. “Totherma? Totherma, where are you?” I called.
Can you hear me, Noria? It was Totherma’s voice. I jumped, spinning around to find her, but no one was there.
I’m in your head, libkin. Traveling through dark matter allows me to speak to your soul.
I turned back to the circles of light. For the first time, I noticed there was a peculiar design inside one of the circles. It was simple, but elegant and something about it reminded me of the crop circles “aliens” left in barley or cornfields back in the Olden Realm.
I’d just completed this thought, when Totherma was back. She floated out of the circle with the design, and hovered in front of me again.
“I apologize for not asking permission first,” she said, “but I find the first time goes easier that way.”
“I don’t understand,” I said. “Is this how you were able to meet Uncle Jack outside the Caves of Aegissida all those years ago?” A dozen questions flooded my mind. “Is this how you were able to help me stop Cifer from figuring out I had the Haven?”
“Yes. What you see before you—this image of me—it is not really me,” she said. “Or I should say, it is not really my body standing before you. It is my soul, correct?”
“And my body is back in my own rodãor, safe and sound.”
“But why not come in the flesh?” I asked, still confused.
“Because my body cannot pass through the dark matter. Only metaphysical matter can.”
“Like the Dogrils without Cobbogothian bodies?” I asked.
“Yes, and if you still wish to see Jamus,” Totherma explained, “I can take your soul to see him through a dark matter door.”
“Really?” I asked. “You can do that . . . right now?”
“Libkin, I am the Opalian Eye; there is very little I cannot do.” Her proud words hung in contrast to the self-deprecating twist of her mouth.
I smiled up at her. She gave all the appearance of a “Grand Lady” and yet it was refreshing to see that she was able to make light of her power, in spite of her position. I liked her more and more.
“So how does it work?” I finally asked
Totherma paused a moment, as though she was carefully mulling my question over. “Let’s see, I could keep you here for years and years, trying to explain it to you, or, for the sake of what’s at stake, I could just show you.”
I hesitated a moment. I didn’t love the idea of leaving my body here in the open while Totherma took my soul through one of these dark matter doors. But I closed my eyes, picturing James—saw him writhing, broken and burning up as though I was right there in the room with him.
It was all I needed to make up my mind. “Show me,” I said.
Totherma smiled and then reached out, as if to take my chin in her hand. “First, I need permission to help your soul out of your body.”
“Permission?” I asked.
“Yes. Whenever a situation warrants it, I like to ask permission before I enter another’s body. It is your body, after all. Only the Dogrils and Cifer invade others’ minds and bodies so thoughtlessly.”
“You have my permission,” I said, my voice shaking a little. It was one thing for Totherma to randomly show up in my mind, it was quite another to wait, knowing that she would any second.
“Good. Now lie down here,” Totherma pointed to one of the circles without a design in its center. I did as she said and situated myself where she indicated on the ground.
Next she moved into the opposite circle.
A sharp zap zinged through my body.
Then I wasn’t lying on my back anymore. Instead, I stood in the opposite circle with Totherma, staring down at my body still lying in the first.
“Are you all right?” she asked.
I swallowed. “I think so.”
“Good kyndie.” Totherma then drew my attention to the third circle. It overlapped the other two; all were connected, creating a Celtic looking version of Borromean Rings—three circles all linked together in a sort of triangular design.
I tried really hard not to think about how weird it was to see myself lying there. “Am I—am I still breathing?” I asked.
Totherma reached up and smoothed my hair—or my soul’s hair. It was a peculiar sensation, and I was surprised to find it was far more potent than if she’d done it while I was in my body—like I didn’t feel the motion in my head but throughout my entire being.
“You are just sleeping very deeply.”
I nodded, letting out a shaky breath. I wondered how much more of the impossible it would take before I got used to this place.
“Now,” Totherma continued, “do you see the design in these two circles?” She pointed at the two circles with the crop circle designs.
Again, I nodded.
“These designs are maps—maps to particular paths that run through the dark matter. There is a different map for every path.”
“How many paths are there?” I asked.
“Many. You will soon memorize all of them as I have. It is one of the reasons the Gihara gave you an extraordinary memory.”
“Really? I’ve always thought it was just one more reason to consider myself a freak.”
Totherma tut-tutted. “By the time you’re old, libkin, you’ll realize just how much you take it for granted.”
I smiled back at her. “So where does this map lead?” I asked, directing her attention back to the dark matter doors, to the second circle in particular.
“This map is the map to your soul.”
“Is this the map you used when you helped me defeat Cifer in Earth’s realm?” I asked.
“Almost. I had to make a few alterations so I could first pass into Earth’s realm.”
I shook my head. “You can do that—just change the maps when you want?” Samir would’ve loved to experience this.
To demonstrate, Totherma waved her hand over the third circle in the dark matter door. Suddenly, the design in the center changed. This design was different than the first, but still simple.
“This map will take you to your friends over there on the shore,” she said. She waved her hand again, and a slightly more complex map appeared in the circle. “This one will take you back to Resistance headquarters.”
“How do you know where they all lead?” I asked in awe.
“Because I created them all. It’s one of the powers of a Space Shifter. We are the only ones who are permitted by the Gihara to open dark matter doors and the only ones who can create paths through the dark matter.”
Totherma waved her hand a final time, and this time an extremely intricate map appeared. It was different than the others, with several flourishes and spirals leading every which way.
As I looked down at it, I noticed something else that was different from the others. There was a small blue light pulsing at the center of the map.
“What is that?” I asked.
Totherma grew serious now. “In the dark matter you will see the souls of every living thing.” I could feel her eyes on me. “But the souls that you are bound to—the way you’re bound to Jamus—will call to you by shining brighter than the rest.”
I turned to look at her, but she directed my attention back to the circle.
“That pulsing light right there,” she said, “is Jamus’ soul calling you.”
I breathed out, my heart lurching in response to James’ light. “Then he’s still alive?” I whispered.
Totherma smiled gently. “Yes, libkin. He’s alive.”
It was as though her words were electricity, spurring me into motion.
But before I knew what I was doing, I’d rushed for the dark matter door. The next instant, everything went silent and black. I waited, my heart beating with nothing but the thought that James was still alive.
Then the blackness vanished. Soul-shaking noise and neon colors blasted me like icy water. Shapes of light appeared, bleeding against the darkness like smeared chalk on a black canvas. There were outlines of trees, giant fireflies, rocks, grass—water teeming with light and energy and noise.
I stood in wonder, as a path of light—a path very similar to the Drusy Path—flashed out in front of me like car lights racing over a darkened highway.
I moved toward it, ready to find James—ready to rescue him from the torture he’d been enduring for at least two weeks—when a sharp screech to my left stopped me. I turned to see what it was.
I screamed as a frothy fanged Dogril sped for my throat.
Norah and the other members of the Resistance have their first clue to help them find the Lemorian Crest. Unfortunately, Norah has some serious trust issues with some of the members of the Resistance. And she is quickly learning to fear Water.
The Sina Bracelet
I squeezed my eyes tightly, clutching the stone box in my hand until it bit into my palm. The smell of the salty sea was generally soothing to me, but nothing could calm the storm of fear raging inside me now.
“Are you trying to tell me that the Adolorian ruins are at the bottom of the Glindian Sea?” I managed to choke out.
“Of course. Where did you think they were?” Lylend asked.
“I don’t know—I didn’t—I just . . .” When I opened my eyes, everyone was staring at me.
Zuli was at my elbow. I jumped when she spoke. “The bracelet will keep the water from attacking you while we’re down there,” she soothed. “Just as long as you don’t use your fire.”
But her words didn’t sooth me. It was the perfect set up. Zuli was going to take me to the bottom of the sea and somehow take her revenge on me—for whatever reason she felt she needed to take revenge on me in the first place. And that would be that. Some hungry creature would probably come along and clear up any evidence of the dirty deed. That giant, snapping turtle perhaps.
Lylend was eying me now. There was concern in his stare. “Breathe, kyndie,” he said. “You’ve got to breathe.”
I felt two powerful hands take me by the shoulders and give me a gentle shake.
I looked up. Lev’s peacock green eyes glittered down into my own. “It’s going to be okay, Lune-kyndie,” he said quietly. “You’ve got to trust me on this. Think of Jamus.”
I glanced around quickly; making sure no one was listening. Everyone had moved away, except for Zuli, but she’d turned her back to us at least. “What does James have to do with it?”
Lev’s hands nearly crushed my shoulders when he squeezed them. “The sooner we find the keys, the sooner you’ll be able to go find him,” he reminded me.
I took a few more steadying breaths. He was right. James was at the end of this extremely dark, possibly fatal tunnel, and he needed me. I had to do this; there was no way I could find him without Lylend’s help.
“You’re right,” I said, with more determination than I felt.
I took Zuli’s bracelet out of the box and examined it more closely. It was actually really pretty. The band was thick and made of silver, and there were three different kinds of stones, all in varying shades of blue and green, used to make a beautiful swirling design of waves.
I slid the bracelet on and looked back up at Lev. “What if she tries to kill me out there?” I whispered.
Lev gave me a half smile. “She won’t. Yesterday aside, she really is quite nice. And if you don’t feel like you can trust her yet, trust me. I’m certain she won’t try to kill you down there because if she does, she’ll have to answer to me.”
I hesitated a moment, then nodded. His assurance wasn’t especially comforting, but it was better than nothing. I actually did feel a little better thinking of Lev crushing Zuli with his bare hands if she tried anything on me.
James, I thought. Think about James.
“All right, let’s do this before I lose my nerve,” I grumbled.
Lev grinned and left me, joining Pieter and Lylend. All three of them had already waded out into the water on the narrow sandbank. I kept watching as Lylend produced a ball of blue electricity. After jogging out to join them, Lev followed suit with his own green one. Pieter stood back with his arms crossed.
“What are they doing?” I asked.
Zuli came up beside me. “They’re catching their ride.” She pointed back out at the water.
I followed her gesture. Lylend and Lev had turned their balls of electricity into giant thick ropes that were lassoed. They were both swinging them over their heads now. With all the hooting and hollering they were doing, they reminded me of a pair of weirdly dressed space cowboys.
Then it happened. I was certain I’d swallowed my tongue when two enormous creatures jumped up out of the water and right into the lassos of both ropes.
“Electric eels. They’re naturally attracted to the spark ropes,” Zuli explained.
Lev and Lylend both whooped and hollered again, just like two cowboys at a rodeo, as they jumped on the eels’ backs and wrestled them into submission.
Before long, all I could see of the creatures were two sleek, dark planks slithering along the surface of the water. Pieter mounted last, and then Lev and Lylend, with the electric rope wound snugly around their wrists and forearms, made the eels rear up out of the water, thrashing. Then they dove, leaving a giant ripple in their wake.
“Whoa!” I said, after Zuli and I watched as the ripples turned to waves, crashing into the shore like a herd of galloping horses.
“Yes,” Zuli agreed. “I suppose you’ve never seen something like that in the Olden Realm?”
I shook my head. “Only in the movies.”
“Uh, yeah—they’re like moving pictures that tell a story.”
“Hm…,” Zuli said, and then led the way toward the water. “So,” I said, anxious to break the silence that followed, “how will they breathe down there?” I was pretty certain I already knew the answer.
“Breathite,” Zuli said, pointing to the lightest blue stone on my new bracelet.
“Let me guess, it’s a stone that helps you breath under water?”
“We should get going,” Zuli said. “Their distraction won’t happen for a while now, but we need all the time we can get.” She glanced at me. “Are you ready?”
James, I reminded myself. Think of James. “As ready as I’m going to get.”
“All right then, follow me out into the water, and I’ll tell you when to submerge the bracelet.”
I did as she said, and followed her out onto the same sand bank the guys had used. As the water got higher, reaching my waist, I was careful to keep the bracelet up over my head.
“Where’s Iolyt, by the way?” I asked.
“She stayed behind to work on the antidite stone. The sooner she figures it out, the sooner we can start hoptioning again.”
“I see. And all this will go a lot faster with hoptioning?”
“Yes. New Cobbogoth isn’t that big overall—no more than a month’s journey by foot from ocean to ocean—but since he has access to hoption holes, Cifer is able to work much faster than us. If he has any idea about Lylend’s Lemorian Crest, you can bet he’ll find it soon.”
I nodded, feeling the urgency fiercer than ever to get looking for the Lemorian keys.
“All right,” Zuli turned toward me once we were a ways out. “You can put the bracelet in the water now.”
We were up to our chests. I was surprised to see that she’d already transformed.
I hesitated a moment. The bracelet had worked so far. I’d been in the water for a few minutes now, and it wasn’t attacking me, so I slowly lowered my wrist.
I sucked in my breath. The instant my wrist dipped through the surface, a slither of water curled around the bracelet, caressing like a piece of clear silk. Soon, the stream of water tightened around my wrist—so tight I almost cried out.
“Come a little farther out,” Zuli prompted.
I hesitated but then took another step. The next moment, I lost my footing. My entire head plunged beneath the water. The sandbank we were on was a drop off.
In an instant, my blood was like ice. I could hear it galloping in my ears. My eyes were blurry, and all I could see was a blob of yellow, orange, black, and red. I assumed it was Zuli hovering in front of me. She was close but just out of arms reach.
I scrambled to find the drop off, to push myself back up where I could breathe, but I couldn’t feel it anywhere. I tried to swim for the surface, but when I kicked my legs it was like they were glued together.
Blinking in the water, I turned until I found Zuli’s form again. I tried to motion her over for help. She swam nearer.
And then I felt a sharp, ripping pain on both of my sides, like someone had inserted a knife between my ribs and was trying to pry them apart.
She’s stabbed me! I thought.
Clawing my way toward the surface, I felt my breath running out—felt myself sinking. Man, I was tired of nearly drowning!
My entire body was tingling from lack of oxygen. My legs were still trapped and now a searing heat was bursting from my waist and spine—like I was being quartered with a hot iron sword. Then I realized Zuli was holding me down. She wouldn’t let me reach the surface. She was going to hang on until I went unconscious.
But then my lungs suddenly expanded. My mouth wasn’t open and my nose was plugged, but I was breathing. The air whooshed in and out of me like I was standing on the shore with all the air in the world to breathe.
I stopped struggling. Instinctively, I reached down, touching both of my sides where the sharp pain was quickly dulling. My shyntara was gone, and my skin felt strange—rough and smooth at the same time. That’s when I realized the Sina bracelet was working. Just below my armpits, along the diagonal space between my ribs, there were two long slits. I gasped, water rushing into my mouth and down my throat toward my lungs. Then a rush of water pushed out against my arms—out of the slits, and I could still breathe.
Gills! The word came to me, and I gave a little hysterical laugh. I had gills on both sides of my body. I tried not to freak out, forcing myself to remain calm.
My rushing pulse began to slow. The ice in my blood wasn’t so sharp anymore. My body was beginning to adapt to the temperature of the water. I still couldn’t see very clearly; Zuli was still a banded blob of colors, though she wasn’t holding me down anymore. When I looked down at my body, all I could see was a blur of white.
Then, as if someone removed a pair of Uncle Jack’s reading glasses from in front of me, I felt my eyes harden—sharpen—until everything came into focus, and I could see crystal clear.
Zuli hovered before me in the water, her hair still pinned back by the tiger’s eye comb. Her orange, black, and yellow tail waved back and forth like a tiger pacing in front of its prey. And she was smiling as though I’d just done something exasperatingly funny.
“What?” I said, then immediately brought my hand to my mouth.
It didn’t sound like me anymore. Instead, my voice was high and musical. It bounced around in the water like an echo.
Zuli shook her head in disbelief. “Of course you would have to look like that down here.” Her own, equally musical voice echoed back to me. It was mesmerizing.
“What do you mean?” I sang. She’d said it like I had some sort of choice in how I looked.
“Haven’t you ever heard of camouflage?” she said, gesturing toward my legs.
I looked down, and instantly felt sick. Would my complexion always be a burden? The platinum iridescence of my new tail and fins blended blindingly with my vanilla pale skin. I stood out in the dark water like the moon against the night sky. Zuli wouldn’t have to waste a single breath luring in dangerous sea creatures to finish me off this time. I’d do that all by myself.
“This is ridiculous!” I cried.
Zuli only nodded in amused agreement.
About the Author
Uncovering Cobbogoth was Clark's first book in the seven book Cobbogoth series based on her mythological brain-child, The Legend of the Cobbogothians. It was released in May 2014 through Cedar Fort Publishing. Book 2 in the series, The Lemorian Crest will be released in Summer 2015.
Clark loves running, mythology, singing while playing the guitar, herbal tea, escaping into imaginary worlds, and being with her peeps. Like her heroine Norah, she also kind of believes that trees might have souls, but must clarify that she has never actually hugged a tree. The closest she has ever come to that kind of bizarre behavior was the time she hugged the pillars outside Harry Potter Land. Which, all things considered, is not bizarre at all if you take into account how exquisitely happy she was to finally be there. ;-)