Genre: Fiction Young adults ages 12 and upwards
Hidden under a covering of soft pink cloud, nestles several isolated and mystical islands. Many beliefs and traditions governed the islands. Village etiquette would not approve of your friends forgetting the ‘Gippon Call’ before you left their home. The ‘Game of Gippon’ is one of the many traditions, taken very seriously. It can bring you good fortune with the shake of the dice or the cards can tell of pending hardship and change. Strong family values and love of all living things are not merely a foundation but a way of life.
So what do you do when the wife you love sinks into a coma and only you hold the key to her recovery – but you have no idea what that key is?
Ricco is the village fisherman and his one joy – apart from travelling the sea in search of fresh fish – is his perfect life and beautiful wife.
Samarco’s only regret is that she has been unable to conceive. A golden coin found in the belly of a rare blue fish heralds major change: Samarco’s longed for, but unexpected, pregnancy ravages her slim body and the birth of twins – is an unheard of event in village history! But, again accurately predicted by the Gippon – However this has long reaching and near fatal consequences.
Ricco, devastated by his wife’s condition, must keep going for the sake of his children and life slowly resumes some semblance of normality, the village women help care for Samarco and the children so Ricco can return to his fishing.
While Jon grows and develops as expected, Anais remains small and frail. Not lacking in intelligence, she soon outstrips her twin at schooling. Her lack of energy and proper development remain a concern; compounded by Ricco’s chance encounter with the mystical river beings known as the Pod People. They warn him that his family is in great danger and their survival rests in his hands. “Go to the Golden City,” they say. But Ricco has no idea where the Golden City might be or how to get there. Maybe the Gippon Board has again for told the answer…?
Much time passes and Ricco forgets about the warning. Still Samarco sleeps and Anais fails to grow. One night Ricco receives a surprise visit from two beings claiming to be monks from the monastery. They offer to care for Samarco and the children but, when Ricco refuses to hand them over, they threaten him. The children are away visiting friends in the village so the ‘monks’ leave, warning that they will soon return.
Jon returns home with an injured owl who mindtalks with Ricco and tells of a friend held hostage in the forest. Ricco and Jon hurry to the rescue, not realising that the captive is none other than The Royal Gilump, head Gilump to the royal herd used by the ruler of the Golden City. Ola the owl and the Gilump warn Ricco that his visitors are evil and to hide before the creatures return. Ricco sends Jon to collect Anais. The whole family and their new friends must take refuge on the S.S. Samarco Sees. When they return to their cabin the next morning, they find the animals poisoned and the cabin ransacked. Ricco has no idea why these creatures would want to harm his wife and children but he realises he must finally do something. With the Gilump’s help, he seeks out the Golden City.
Ricco’s journey is fraught with danger but he finally reaches the city and meets with Leopold, the leader who holds power until the rightful ruler comes to claim the throne. Ricco learns some history of the Golden City including the poisoning of their last great leader Queen Piadora, the curse she placed on those who harmed her, and the unforeseen consequences of her words. Her enemies, the Shadowpeople, are slowly taking control and will do all in their power to prevent the Queen’s heir from returning to the city for only then will they turn to dust as the curse decreed.
Ricco tells Leopold of his own troubles and receives healing phials; these will restore his wife and daughter to good health. His homeward journey almost ends in disaster when he is hit by a poisoned dart and nearly drowns. The Pod People rescue him and he finally reaches home relieved he still holds the healing potions. After the potions are administered Anais grows in both stature and beauty, much to the amazement of the Ricco and the villagers, and Samarco slowly emerges from her coma.
Ricco delights in his wife’s return and as they stroll hand in hand for the first time, he tells her all she has missed while she slept. He shares with her the story of his travels. But unlike Ricco she immediately sees the missing pieces. Only half explaining to Ricco what he failed to understand, she drags him back to the village.
But are they too late? Can she save her children from imminent danger? Or have they already been captured?
As their world again spins out of control – Ricco is left wondering if this is the end or only the beginning? Only the Gippon Board knows…?