|“||Fleck Blackstar: This was my father's patch. He was a hero.
The Black Star of Kingston: Tales of Old Natalia 1 is the first book in the Tales of Old Natalia series. It was written by S. D. Smith and illustrated by Zach Franzen. It was published by Story Warren, LLC on July 13, 2015.
"A century before Heather and Picket's adventures in The Green Ember, a displaced community fights for hope on the ragged edge of survival.
My place beside you
My blood for yours
Till the Green Ember rises
Or the end of the world.
Whitson Mariner and Fleck Blackstar face old fears and new enemies, forging a legend that will echo through the ages. Old wars haunt. New enemies threaten. An oath is born. A hero rises."
|“||Well, Your Majesty, it's only a hunch. But across the lake, I think the foothills might have something worth mining in them. It may be coal. If nothing else, I feel it might be important to secure an advanced position across the water as a buffer against whatever may be in those mountains.||”|
When King Whitson Mariner and his rabbits fled the Golden Coast, they came to Natalia for the first time, founding the town of Seddleton on the shores of Ayman Lake. Though the community is still getting settled, Fleck Blackstar, a loyal citizen of Whitson Mariner and miner, is restless. Eager to serve in the way his father, also a miner, had, Fleck obtains the permission of the king to lead an exploration party to the opposite shore of the lake to mine coal.
Eager to begin his trek, Fleck forms a company of Burnley, Galt, Massie Burnson, and six other young bucks. They cross Ayman Lake soon afterwards. After a bit of searching, they find a good potential mining location and set to work. Just as they think they've struck coal, they suddenly hear an eerie sound, at which they all take defensive positions. Whitson Mariner crashes into the clearing. Fleck had anticipated this, and had already moved to tackle the king as a precaution. Too soon, Gavin fires his bow, hitting not Whitson but Fleck. The company hurries back to their ship and sets off for Seddleton, but not before Gavin again flees into the forest.
A few weeks later, Fleck has recovered from his injury and is excited to see two more ships, Natalia and Lillie, have been constructed to help. Back across the lake, the mining work continues while Fleck resolves to take Massie and hunt for Gavin. They return from their search empty-handed, however, and carrying an increased dislike for the territory. That night, on the decks of Vanguard, a brooding Fleck is joined by Whitson, who tells him of the Ruling Stone and the Green Ember.
The next morning, the company returns to the foothills. On the voyage, however, Fleck and Whitson are shocked to discover Prince Lander hiding in the hold. On land, Fleck is pleased to see how much progress has been made on the mines. In the midst of their jubilation, however, the eerie sound is heard again. Fleck studies the forest's edge for a moment, then plunges in, followed by the majority of his company. On the edge of a cliff they find an emaciated-looking Gavin, who is mumbling crazily to himself about "terrors" and "coming." Fleck attempts to reason with Gavin, who for a moment recognizes him, but then Fleck is forced to tackle the maniacal rabbit. Gavin is restrained, and they return to camp. There, Gavin warns them all that monsters are coming, then falls into a coma.
Just as Fleck and the others are discussing what they should do next, they hear the terrifying screech again and look up to see dark shapes of birds of prey coming down from the mountains. They set off into the middle of the lake on all three ships, where Whitson believes they will fight more favorably. Whitson orders Fleck to stay with Lander as he takes the wheel. The birds of prey approach as the soldiers prepare for them; but most of them fly on past the ships to Seddleton, where they immediately start setting fires. Unable to wait for them to attack him, Fleck hurls himself at one of the birds. It slashes him with its talons, and he falls into the water, where despite his pain he climbs back onto the Lillie via a net slung over its side. Battle is thick on deck. Fleck runs to help Massie defend the weakened Gavin, then hurries to free Galt from assault. Both bucks are picked up by birds, but Massie fires an arrow into their attackers, and Fleck and Galt plummet into the water near Dobble's Point.
Panicked, Galt deserts, but Fleck returns to the fray. He reaches Lillie and climbs back aboard, where he instructs Gavin and others to set fire to blastpowder barrels. He and the others raise the call of "burnout." Then, seeing Whitson surrounded by birds on the command deck, Fleck charges at the king and takes him over the side just as Lillie explodes. There in the water, Fleck falls unconscious.
Fleck comes to a little while later, and Whitson informs him that the battle is over. Fleck falls back unconscious, then wakes up again a short while later to see the royal family standing above him. In a tender moment, Fleck gives Lander his father's patch, making him an official member of Black Star Company.
In the time after the battle, Fleck is made a lord by Whitson and agrees to stay behind when the king resolves to take most of the community and leave Seddleton to search for a new, safer settlement. Instead, Fleck promises to continue working on the mine and aspires to build a secure underground warren, called Kingston, for himself and the others.
Before Whitson and the community leave Seddleton, he and Fleck have one final exchange; Whitson on Vanguard's deck, Fleck on shore. Fleck and the others kneel, and Whitson calls out the oath coined by Fleck during the Battle of Ayman Lake: "My place beside you. My blood for yours. Till the Green Ember rises, or the end of the world!"
- The book is dedicated to "Micah", and has the following Latin words on the dedication page: Deo adujvante non timendum. This translates to "No fear of God helped".
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