Book Title: The High Court by Chris Ledbetter
Category: YA Fiction, 290 pages
Publisher: Month 9 Books
Release date: October 16, 2018
Tour dates: April 1 to 30, 2019
Content Rating: PG (some profanity (damn, ass), no f-bombs, some kissing, no sex scenes, some violence, nothing gory or graphic)
High atop Mount Olympus, dawn breaks on a new academic term. Normalcy has returned to campus following a harrowing expedition into The Underworld to rescue kidnapped students by Zeus and his fellow Olympians. Now, as they prepare to testify in The High Court, Hyperion will be tried for the attack on Crete and death of Anytos. Kronos will stand trial for the murder of Mount Olympus Prep’s Headmaster Ouranos.
As the trials draw near, Mount Olympus Prep students and faculty are besieged repeatedly by a race of gargantuan stone and earth giants. Under heavy assault, the Olympians are forced to flee to the volcanic island of Limnos to regroup. Meanwhile, a toxic poison Zeus has carried with him since a prior fight with a dragoness, creeps toward his brain.
In a race against time and beasts, Zeus and his friends must find a way to survive not only the toxin ravaging Zeus’ body, but also the giants who grow stronger after every attack, and somehow make it to the The High Court alive.
To read reviews, please visit Chris Ledbetter's page of iRead Book Tours.
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He's a proud member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and a strong supporter of the Need for Diverse Books. He now writes and lives in Wilmington, NC with his family, including three cats.
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A deleted scene
After nightfall, we swung into action. The reddish-orange lava eyes of the mountains loomed far in the distance. They still hadn’t progressed further. Wearing dark cloaks, Demeter, Aphrodite, and I prepared to follow Shade out into the night.
Metis grabbed my arm. “You all know the plan, right?” She threaded her fingers through mine.
“Sever the cords, wait for Don to open the earth, and then hit them with everything we have to topple them in. Easy as tagenites.”
“Come back in one piece and I might let you kiss me.”
Shade yanked my shoulder. “Come on lover boy. I never should’ve let you talk to that blond girl at that wrestling match. Now look at you—”
“Whaa …” I scoffed. “You didn’t let me talk to her. You kept trying to warn me off—”
“Tsk-tsk. Bad memory, brother.” Shade waved dismissively. “I don’t think you remember anything accurately from that night.”
“Yes, I do.” I turned to Metis. “That night changed my life forever … in many ways.”
“Really?” Demeter chuckled. “Are you trying to make me vomit? Sheesh.”
“Oh holy Tartarus!” Hera pushed me from behind. “Good. Bye.”
Don and Shade laughed.
“I, for one, think this display is very endearing …” Aphro cooed. “But my sword hand is getting itchy. Let’s get a move on.”
I slapped hands with Don. “If we don’t defeat these monsters we can’t go home. They’ll follow us anywhere. We’d never sleep soundly again. Do or die. It’s either us or them. For me, this ends right now. I refuse to be bullied by these beasts. Let’s do this.”
Don nodded. “I’ll do my part. You do yours.”
“Once you get out in the field,” Hera said, “I’ll keep you plugged in to activities back here. And Zeus, you tell me the state of things out there.” She looked out of the cave into the distance, but spoke into my mind, Be careful out there. Beware of glowing girdles.
I chuckled and shot back mentally, There’s only one girdle that has my name on it.
Shade led our night raid party out into the darkness. Avoiding paths with noisy ground cover, we took a roundabout route to remain undetected. It took a bit longer than I had imagined. Several times, I thought we’d been discovered. The mountains’ heads shifted back and forth, eyes scanned the landscape.
“Do these things even sleep?1” I whispered.
Once we got into place behind the giants, we noticed the vines, thick as tree trunks, climbing from the ground and plugging in high on their backs. Clouds skimmed the tops of their heads. I shot Hera a mental message that we were in place. Meter swung her bow from her back.
“I don’t need to shoot these arrows high up there and risk missing,” Meter whispered. “I can climb up there and stab the arrows directly.”
“Ummm, that’s high,” I said.
“Why don’t you just stab the cords here on the ground?” Shade said.
Meter touched her nose and pointed to Shade. Meter then grabbed three Atropos’ Cherry poisoned arrows from her quiver, glanced up at the mountain’s top, arched them high above her head, and then brought them down sharply to jam them into the vine. It sounded like a hammer striking an anvil. Upon impact, the arrows crumpled like a piece of papyrus.
“Well,” Shade whispered, “That was my one good idea. I’m all out now.”
“For what it’s worth,” Aphro began, “I am not folding my sword up on this python. So now what?”
“Shade, you gotta go back and tell them that the poison/ sever the cords plan isn’t going to work,” I whispered. “Don has to get quaking now!”
Shade slid his helmet back down over his head and disappeared.
The mountain whose cord we aggravated turned his head slowly.
“Hello there, big fella,” I whispered.
The monster twisted more swiftly toward me, followed by the other three molten monsters. Their eyes shifted from reddish-orange to ichor yellow. Then with more speed than I’d thought they had, the molten mountain closest to me began a downward thrust to punch us.
I force fed all the energy I could summon up through my arms and hands. It crackled and snapped so loud that it could’ve been inside my own head. My hands ached fiercely as a bolt of energy corkscrewed up toward the downward thrusting fist. At impact raucous thunder rolled across the heavens. The energy shaft obliterated the beast’s arm up to the shoulder.
“OPA!” I exclaimed. “Now that’s what I’m talking about!”
I shook my hands. Residual tingles throbbed in my fingers while my palms felt like someone had stabbed them with a dagger. I couldn’t feel the immediate welling up of energy like before. My overall power was stronger, but it seemed to take longer to regenerate.
Hera, no doubt having heard the thunder, called to me, Hey! You all right?
I shot back, Umm, you better tell Don to get quaking. I’m developing quite a fan club over here.
We’re on it!
Meter nocked a poisoned arrow and shot it on a high arc. It sailed straight into the monster’s eye. “Yes! Giant’s Eye! Aroo!”
The arrow melted and disappeared from sight. The mountain groaned, looked at the arm that was no longer there, and then lifted his foot to step on us.
“Run!” Meter yelled.
We turned and ran in a direction that was farther away from the cave. The foot came down just behind us. The strength of the impact lifted all of us into the air. We stumbled and fell upon landing back on solid ground. I gazed over my shoulder to see how far back it was, and the mountain I’d attacked bent down and roared. The force of his breath like a gale wind blew us backward as if he’d hit us in the chest with a rhino. Stunned, I lost my breath momentarily. We toppled head over heels for a couple of turns and then stopped. I gasped and struggled to draw ragged breaths.
I shot a desperate message to Hera, We need some help here!
The other three mountains turned to give pursuit of us.
Meter shook her head. “Damn. This isn’t going well. Zeus, do you have any more juice in those arms?”
I felt the energy source returning. “It’s coming … but I don’t know if I have enough for all four.”
Hera spoke to me, Hey, you’re taking them the wrong way! We need the monsters coming back this way so they’ll fall into the hole Don creates.
I shot back, Kind of busy here!.
She laughed. Just turn them around. Thanks.
I am. Oh, hey, we’re sending the Cyclopes out there to help.
With one eye on the enclosing threats, I said, “Meter, Aphro we need to turn them around somehow … get them going the other way … toward the volcano camp.”
The giants drew closer, their footsteps vibrating the ground.
Aphro yelled, “We could split up. Two around the sides. One in the middle. It’s not like they move all that fast.”
“Watch out!” Meter shouted.
I looked up, saw the trajectory of the rock, and moved out of the way. The huge stone hit just beside us.
Meter said, “I don’t know if splitting up is gonna work.”
“I think I can protect us all better if we’re together.” I said. “In any case, we need to turn these lumbering oafs.”
“If your power returns,” Meter said while eyeing the giants.
“It’s coming. I feel it.” I swung my arms wide and then clapped my hands. Booming thunder cracked above. I smiled. I never tired of that sound. “Let’s stay tight to one another and run around the end of the already injured mountain. The Cyclopes are coming too. They’ll help divert attention.”
“I’m ready. Come on!” Meter grabbed our hands. We took off on a flat-out sprint toward the right side of the mountain offensive front. I’d forgotten how fast Meter was. Damn.
I tossed a couple of energy blasts at the monster. They did no real damage, but they did keep its attention where it needed to be.
Aphro and I had just reached the point where further progress would cause the molten mountains to turn back toward our base camp. Arges and Brones appeared in the distance. As soon as Meter darted past Arges, Brontes yelled and waved his arms. The other three beasts growled and gave chase.
A loud yell rose in the distance and then a loud explosion rocked the area. A familiar, circular, blue blast originated in the distance and eventually widened until it slammed into us and removed Aphro and me from our feet and made the mountain shake and stumble. Loud creaking turned into cracking like if I’d taken a handful of twigs and crumpled them. The ground yawned open. A soft orangey glow emanated from beneath.
The mountain that towered over us returned its attention to Aphro and me. It growled so loud that it vibrated my breastplate.
Aphro’s girdle glowed. She muttered, “Mmm, damn that felt good.”
“You are crazy!” I laughed.
We turned to run again.
The beast jumped up and down. The impact lifted us both into the air. The ground shook so violently that we both fell to one knee. The mountain began another downward thrust to smash us with its other hand. I summoned the energy again. My breastplate glowed… yellowish-white energy strings with a hint of blue snaked from the cuirass down my arms. I twirled my hands in a circle and then thrust them forward. The intense pain shook my arms as the shaft of energy shot up through the monster’s arm… crumbling everything up to the elbow.
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