Cartheno's Fire: The Book that will Change One Reader's Life (Fragile Tower tie-in)

Want to win a million?

This book is both a great read and a competition with the power to change one reader's life. Hidden within the story is the nature and location of Cartheno's Fire, a weapon of huge power.

The first reader to provide a correct answer to the puzzle will win the prize fund.

The fund itself is unique, made up of £1.00 (approx. $1.60) of every e-book sold. Competitors need only provide a valid receipt, forwarded on to the competition address, in order to qualify. Just on 2 days of pre-orders, the fund is already at £118/$120.

The full title will be available on Amazon on June 4th. To enter before the launch on Amazon, you are able to read the teaser chapter, pre-order and provide your receipt.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Carthenos-Fire-Readers-PREORDER-ebook/dp/B00BOAHEZE/

Multiple entries are allowed. You will simply need to either delete the copy from your kindle library in order to purchase multiples.

GOOD LUCK!!

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1. Teaser Chapter: With 3 clues to help you win that prize...

It felt like a dream at first. He felt a ripple of coldness over him, and tugged at his blankets. As the cold continued, he half-opened his eyes to see the coin on the bedside table glowing, and in his almost-sleeping state it seemed the most natural thing in the world. It had come from the fair, after all, and from the man who wove lights into patterns.

                He closed his eyes again, and when he felt something warm wrap around him like water, he smiled slightly.

                Better, he thought, and didn’t resist as he felt himself lifted up out of the bed, his blankets falling away.

 

 

 

                When he woke again, it was with the memory of having travelled, and he opened his eyes a blink at a time expecting to see the inside of Ma’s big four-wheel-drive. Instead his gaze traced strange patterns above him. They were a long way off, and made of arcing lines.

                There were murmuring voices, too, and with a little thrill of unease, he lifted his head to look around.

                It was an entrance-hall, a vast dimly-lit space made of stone. It looked to be empty except for a row of people standing with their backs to him. 

                No, not people, he realised. Statues. They were copper-coloured, bronze things which stood stiffly to attention and gleamed in the pulsing light of the room.

                It took him a little while to find the source of the light. He had to sit up properly before he saw it: a column of coloured air that ran from the floor at one end of the room all the way up to the ceiling. It glittered and sparkled in pale blue, and the sight of it brought back to him the light show at the fair, and the man with the strange eyes who had challenged him to light a globe of glass by touching it.

                He bent his legs and then stood, feeling heavy and a little dizzy with sleep. He was wearing his pyjamas, and that made him feel even more uneasy, with a thrill that cut through some of the sleepiness and made him look around him more quickly.

                He saw then that there was more in this room than he had seen at first. Another line of statues stood opposite the first, and there were men and women clustered between the two rows, talking in low voices.

                They wore bright scarlet and gold tunics over armour, and there was something nervous in their conversation. He took two quiet steps towards them, to see if he could hear anything, but even from right behind one of the statues he couldn’t hear any words, and something told him it would be better if they didn’t see him.

                He drew in a breath as a gleam of light travelled across the reflective bronze-coloured metal by his cheek. He thought for a moment that the statue had moved, but then he realised that it was a reflection, and turning, he saw a plain wooden door on the wall behind him.

                He frowned at it. Had it been there before? He hadn’t seen it. He was certain it hadn’t been pulsing with an intense blue light as it was now.

                It’s some kind of trick, he thought. Someone wants me to go through it. And the uneasiness stepped up into actual fear. 

                But as usually happened with Benjamin, the fear was quickly overpowered by curiosity. In the space of a few seconds, he went from wanting to get as far away from that door as he could to being desperate to go through it. And right at that moment, he couldn’t remember anything he’d ever wanted in the world more than to go and see what was on the other side of it.

                I guess there’s no harm in looking, though, he reasoned.

                It occurred to him then that the group of soldiers might be there to guard him, and that maybe he wasn’t supposed to go anywhere. He glanced behind him at the soldiers in red and gold, but they were still huddled and talking. In fact, it was almost rude the way they were ignoring him, and he comforted himself with the thought that it was their fault for not noticing if he went somewhere he wasn’t supposed to.

                Between his burning curiosity and complicated justifications for giving in to it, there was no room left in his head for him to worry about what he was doing here. He crossed the patterned stone floor and put his hand on the door.

                He expected something dramatic to happen when he touched it, possibly a rush of air or a blast of light. It was disappointing that it failed to react, and he had to actually push it to get it to open. In the realm of magical doors, it seemed pretty second-rate to Benjamin, whose expectations had been raised high by an obsession with movies of all kinds.

                He couldn’t even see much on the other side of it. Just an ordinary-looking corridor, which curved around a bend. Obviously, he had no choice but to walk down it.

                He heard the door click shut behind him after he’d taken two steps, and he guessed he should have been expecting it. He pushed at the wood, just to see, but as he’d expected, it wouldn’t budge.

                He did feel a little bit afraid, then, but also a little excited. This had all the hallmarks of a weird kind of adventure starting off, and Benjamin quite liked the thought of himself as the hero.

                He walked on down the corridor, trying to peer round it as he went to see what was coming, but it was just plain walls and a gentle light which didn’t seem to come from anywhere in particular. It seemed to be quite a few minutes of walking before he saw an archway emerging.

                The corridor opened out into another large room, almost the size of the entrance-hall. But this one was crammed full of objects, some of them on orderly racks and on the walls, but most of them just scattered haphazardly around the floor in piles.

                He couldn’t see anyone in all the chaos, so he walked in and took a closer look. It took him a little while to work out that these were all weapons or pieces of armour: swords with almost transparent blades; helmets in strange different shapes; mismatched arm-guards; daggers.

                He kept walking, his eyes picking out an axe with a blade that gleamed with all the colours of the rainbow, then a suit of armour on a stand that looked like it was made from stone. If this had been one of his online role-player games, he would have picked up a load of stuff to arm himself with, and some of it would have turned out to be magical, and it would give him extra strength or invisibility or invulnerability to poison or something.

                He stopped, wondering if that was why the door had led him here. Maybe he was supposed to arm himself and fight off whoever had brought him here. Or maybe they’d brought him to be the saviour of this place or something.

                He started to look more carefully, then, realising that most of this stuff was going to be far too big for him. With regret, he rejected a sword that was taller than he was with a wiggly blade. He could imagine looking pretty great wielding that, but maybe in a few years.

                He caught sight of the dome of a helmet underneath a pile of armour, and went to pull it out. He grinned as he saw that it was golden, and carved with a five-pointed star, and better still just his size.

                This has gotta do something cool, he thought, and put it on.

                There were no immediate effects, except that his vision was restricted to two slots either side of a nose-guard, but he decided the effects might only kick in if he had to actually fight someone.

                He kept walking until he found a sheathed short-sword on a belt. He tried lifting it, and found that it was light enough for him to at least hold with one hand. So he put it around his waist, and buckled the belt on its smallest hole.

                Turning, he found that there was a silver breast-plate on another stand polished so highly that he could see his reflection in it.

                He grinned at himself, liking the effect of the helmet and the sword together. They matched pretty well, too.

                “I am Benjamin, Slayer of Enemies!” he told the reflected version of himself, and drew the sword from the sheath with a flourish.

                The length of it burst into bright orange flame, and Benjamin dropped it with a yelp. The moment his hand left it, the fire vanished, and it was an ordinary-looking sword that clattered to the ground.

                Maybe not... he thought, and hastily unbelted the scabbard from around his waist. He dropped it over the top, and looked again at his reflection.

                Which was when he heard laughter.

                He looked wildly around, trying to find the source. It was the quiet sort of chuckle you could only hear if you were close to someone, but there was no sign of anyone around him. He peered around the polished armour, wondering if someone was hiding there, but there was nobody.

                I’m not sure about the helmet, either, a deep, slow voice said, and he froze. It was like being whispered to, but it came from everywhere at once.

                An instinct within Benjamin told him that this was magic, just as the sword had been magic, and the door too. Slowly, he lifted the helmet off his head and placed it on the ground.

                Try the next room, the voice said. There’s something there I think you’ll like.

                The first thought Benjamin had was, Don’t listen to him! And whatever you do, don’t go into that room!

                But he looked to the far end of the armoury, and saw that there was another plain wooden door there, and it was just as tempting as the first one had been.

His next thought was, Maybe he WANTS me not to go in there, and it’s a double-bluff.

 And thought number three was, The next room sounds pretty cool. I’d better check it out.

And so he set off along the small clear pathway between the mounds of weaponry, and when he reached the next door, pushed it open.

The room he came to was dimmer, and free of all the clutter. It had little arches running along each side, and there was blackness beyond them. There was a pool of light, though, at the far end from where he stood.

He stepped inside properly, and walked a little way towards the light. It fell on a raised platform, which had a big white chair – a throne – on it, and a little one alongside. But there was also something beyond them, gleaming up on the wall, and as his eyes fell on that brightness he knew that whatever it was, he wanted it.

He was suddenly standing in front of the wall at the far end, with no memory of crossing the space or passing the thrones. There were three steps up to a little shelf that was like a small alter set into the wall, and on it sat a dark grey belt with a silver-blue buckle.

He couldn’t look away from it. The way the light moved on the metal was like firelight at night. He climbed the steps slowly, and traced a pattern on the belt – two circles linked in the centre.

I knew you’d like it, the voice said, and in spite of his conviction that this was a really bad idea, he picked up the belt, and slid it around his waist.

The click of the buckle closing seemed to break through his trance a little, and he looked around to see if anyone was watching.

Well done, he heard, and it was so patronising that it made him scowl.

“Who are you?” he asked, flinching as he heard his voice echo in the empty room.

Your protector, the voice said, and he could hear a self-satisfied smile in it. As well as someone with an interest in what happens over the next few days.

“Why?” Benjamin asked.

Because great events, and greater changes are about to take place, the voice said. I like to be involved.

Benjamin looked around again, squinting into the darkness to see if anyone was standing there. But there was still no sign of anyone.

“What’s with the belt?” he asked, tugging at it with his fingers.

It’ll help you, he heard. For a long time yet, I think. And set you along the path towards helping me.

“What help do you want?” Benjamin asked, suspiciously.

There’s something hidden here, the voice told him. Something powerful. I want you to find it, before someone else does.

“And give it to you?” he asked. It was strange and uncomfortable talking to someone he couldn’t see.

There will be no need, the voice told him. All you need to do is find it, and stop him from laying his hands on it.

Benjamin scratched at his nose, thinking. Something powerful that he got to keep sounded pretty good to him, but extensive film-watching had taught him to distrust situations like this.

“So what’s in it for me?”

He heard the laugh again, but more loudly, this time. Untold power, the voice said.

Benjamin sighed, not quite trusting him still, but very much of the opinion that he could trick people with the best of them, magic or no magic. “OK. Well where do I start?”

I can only tell you what has been predicted, the unseen man said. It is Cartheno’s Fire, a weapon of legend: powerful enough to affect all things linked with it, but crafty enough to hide from sight. Crafted out of this world, it carries all the power of all the worlds combined. You will bear its mark, twice over, but nobody will see it. Desired by all, it can be wielded by only a few.

Benjamin scowled into the darkness. “Is that all? Because it’s not exactly telling me where to look, is it?”

Walk these halls, and hunt out Cartheno and everything he was, he heard. You will find it. Or he will.

He was about to protest again when he heard a sigh.

And now it’s time to return you to the hands of the one with those remarkable eyes, it said. There...

A door appeared in front of him, hanging in air with nothing behind or around it. It was of plain wood, like the doors he had stepped through twice.

With a sigh, Benjamin walked up to it and pushed it open. He blinked as he saw that he stood in front of the huge entrance-hall again, and when he looked behind him, there was only a blank wall.

He heard voices again, but this time they came with footsteps, and there was anger in one of them, and he saw the circus-performer round the end of the line of statues.

“... what I had planned. I have no wish to trap -”

He broke off as he saw Benjamin standing there, and he was suddenly aware that he had stolen a belt that was probably worth quite a lot, and was wearing it at his waist for anyone to see. It was a potentially embarrassing situation, but Benjamin considered himself one of the most experienced wranglers in the world, and had eight years of getting out of sticky situations with teachers and parents to help him.

He stepped forwards with an innocent smile, and said, “Nice castle you’ve got here.”

 

 

 

 

 

                

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