In this action-packed sequel to The Wizard of OZ: A Steampunk Adventure
, American author S.D. Stuart returns to the Australis Penal Colony, where an ancient, and devastating, weapon was hidden a millennium ago.
Imprisoned by the Southern Marshal, a half-human, half-lion hybrid lives behind an electrified fence with others like him. His only chance at freedom is to locate and recover this ancient weapon before a mysterious shadow organization uses it to conquer the world.
Joined by old allies, he races across the continent sized prison, making new friends and new enemies alike, to find the hybrid weapon before the humans do. His journey will not be easy as he encounters a new OZ more dangerous than the one he left behind.
This title is published by Ramblin' Prose Publishing and is distributed worldwide by Untreed Reads.
The Australis Penal Colony, the world’s largest prison, seemed the most unlikely of places to hide something that could change the course of human events; but here Nero stood finally facing the end of his quest. The end of a long and bloody campaign that he almost lost to the brave defenders of this unmarked, and unremarkable, cavern along the northern coast of the Outcast Zone. Or as the locals called it, OZ.
The last of the defending soldiers held a skull sized rock over his head in one hand as he crouched over a small object on the ground in front of him. “If you take one step closer, I will destroy the key.”
Nero smiled, but the scarring of his face caused by an explosion several months before, made it look more like a menacing scowl. “Give me the key and I will let you live.”
The soldier looked past him to the motley crew of Nero’s bloodied and battered soldiers. Less than three dozen remained of the 2,000 strong army that had set out from Central City under Nero’s command four months earlier. “How do I know I can…”
His sentence was cut off by the blast from Nero’s flintlock pistol, hidden deep in the folds of his cloak. The rock fell from the soldier’s hand as he flopped to one side. He was dead before what was left of his head hit the ground.
Nero carefully lifted the six-inch long key from the ground. For the first time, since he had arrived in OZ decades earlier, he had what he needed to open the box. It was by pure chance he had obtained the key in the very same room as the box. Fortune was finally smiling on him.
He walked up to the large wooden box on the upraised stone pedestal at the center of the underground cavern.
He twirled the clockwork key around in his fingertips and studied the four concentric rings in the bow, the large grasping end of the key. The outermost ring was big enough to fill the palm of his hand. In addition, each individual ring had the entire twenty-four letter Greek alphabet stamped into the shiny brass.
As he spun each ring, the teeth on the other end moved back and forth, changing the shape of the key.
The key itself was a puzzle that needed to be solved before it would properly fit the warded lock of the wooden box that held a secret. A secret that would make those who had sent him to OZ establish themselves as masters over the entire world. But he had gotten to the box first, not them.
He spun the inner circle of the key around with his scarred thumb and noted the slight jump as it settled on each letter. He could not feel the resistance that preceded each letter because of the fried nerve endings caused when the fire had consumed his skin. Had he not landed in the fountain, when the explosion blew him from the top floor of his casino, he would have lost more than the sensation of touch.
The teeth of the key shifted as he spun the dial, lost in thought.
With only four rings, he was looking for a four letter Greek word to set the teeth in the correct positions. At least he was hoping it was a word that made sense. If it was just a four letter combination set randomly by the key’s creator, there would be more than 330,000 possible permutations. Even if he was able to set the key and turn it in the lock once a minute for twenty-four hours a day, he could still be here for seven months before stumbling on the right combination.
He didn’t have that kind of time. He’d already received word that the Directors were displeased with his performance and sending someone to replace him.