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Shadows of Ghosts carries readers to Enara, a kingdom at war with itself, where for centuries centaurs have been treated like animals because of their horse-like lower bodies; they've been forced to work as slaves in the southern agricultural provinces, and have been bought and sold like livestock. But a strong abolitionist faction has convinced many that centaurs' human torsos, heads, and intellectual abilities make them humans, who should be liberated from slavery and granted the same rights as any other person.
After four years of being forced to live in a remote village and having to keep his real identity a secret, Cal Lanshire, days away from his thirteenth birthday, is given the best birthday present he can imagine. He is told the war is almost over and he will soon be allowed to return home.
But then an old acquaintance unexpectedly arrives with news that changes everything. Cal's father, the king, has been assassinated.
Suddenly the outcome of the war and the very fate of the kingdom depend upon Cal being able to reach the capital where he will take his father's place.
With only his crafty best friend by his side and an escaped centaur slave to guide him, can Cal make it through an enchanted, hostile wilderness, past the assassins sent to kill him, and back to the capital before it's too late?
After they had been walking for a while, Cal began to hear an occasional high-pitched noise, but he couldn’t tell which direction the noise was coming from. The noise echoed and seemed to be coming from every direction. Kozal started muttering unhappily to himself. The hard ground now felt soft, as if they were walking on a thin carpet. The high-pitched noise was becoming more frequent and seemed to overlap as if it was coming from different sources.
“What is that?” Cal asked.
“They make such a nasty mess,” Kozal grumbled. “We’re stepping in filth.”
“What are they?” Cal asked. “Where are they?”
“They’re above us,” Kozal said. “Many of them. We’re in their home, and they’re not happy. They’re not used to visitors.”
Cal was about to ask Kozal if the creatures he was talking about were dangerous when there was an explosion that sounded as if the top of the cave was coming down. Cal let go of Kozal’s shoulders and instinctively threw his arms over his head and crouched low to protect himself from whatever was falling from above. The high-pitched noises were incredibly loud now, but the high-pitched noises were being drowned out by what sounded like hundreds of leather coats flapping in the wind. Cal felt something briefly touch the side of his face, and then something slapped the top of his head. He tried to crouch lower and fell forward, and when he thrust his hands out to break his fall his hands slid because the ground was covered with a thick, slimy substance.
“Bats!” Mont called out.
Stefan Haucke, driven by the desire to learn about other cultures and the need for adventure, has traveled to over twenty nations. He rode a camel near the pyramids in Egypt, swam with sea lions in the waters of the Galapagos Islands, climbed the Great Wall of China, hiked near the Acropolis in Athens, went dog sledding in northern Michigan, and photographed polar bears in Canada.
Along his many travels, Stefan has successfully worked as a deckhand, a shepherd, a dispatcher for an emergency services unit, an electric meter reader, and an office manger. He has also found the time to study the literature and history of ancient Greece, Russia, and the United States, and loves reading folktales, fairytales, and urban legends. He also enjoys astronomy, and on clear nights can be found gazing at the stars and planets with his telescope.
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