Four young friends must persevere through perilous circumstances in this action-packed epic tale of dedication to each other and to doing what is right.

From Morocco to Marseille to the jungles of Ceylon, join Tariq, Assem, Fez and Margaret, and their colorful allies — adventurers, pirates, martial arts masters, underground spies and rebel leaders — as they summon all of their bravery, wit and resourcefulness to overthrow a brutal tyrant and begin to discover the powerful forces behind the ancient secrets of the Red Hand.

Warning: Do not read this book if you are of faint heart or fragile disposition!

Legends of the Rif is the third book of the Red Hand Adventures. Please enjoy Rebels of the Kasbah and Wrath of the Caid, the first two books in the RHA series!

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Book One

AN EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 3

The Legend of the Red Hand

As told to Tariq by Melbourne Jack

Many, many centuries ago in Kerala, India, a girl awakened with a start, feeling raindrops on her face as she let out a huge yawn. Pulling a blanket over her shoulders, she stepped outside her family’s hut into the early morning. Dew covered the many plants and trees and the jungle was alive with sound. Monkeys screeched in the distance and the nearby sound of crickets and frogs was quite deafening. It was not yet light, and the sun wouldn’t rise for another half an hour.

Her name was Lakshi.

She headed over to her fire pit, where she prepared the kindling and then chipped two rocks together until a spark was produced. Soon she had a small fire started. Gently, she placed larger and larger sticks on the fire until it was of suitable strength.

Kneeling next to the fire, she rubbed her hands together to keep warm and watched the flames intently, placing wood in strategic locations to keep the fire strong.

Lakshi was the only one in her village who was awake at this hour. She rose early every day because she preferred the quiet. Although she was only twelve, she was wise, and mature beyond her years.

As she sat staring at the fire, she felt as if she were being watched.

Looking over her shoulder, she could see nothing but the jungle darkness and the faint outlines of the trees against the sky.

A chill came over her.

Continuing to stare into the early morning mists of the Indian jungle, she could barely make out a pair of eyes reflected by the fire.

The eyes were green and they blinked twice.

Lakshi saw the unmistakable outline of a cat—a very large cat—whose green eyes were staring right at her.

She felt her heart race in her chest and her breaths shorten. The cat moved closer to her.

It was a tiger.

An enormous tiger.

It moved towards her in small steps until she saw its full body and color. Only ten feet away, it could easily pounce and kill her in a matter of seconds.

Yet, it didn’t move. It stared at her and then, to her surprise, it retreated to the jungle. The tiger’s expression wasn’t one of fierceness, but one of compassion. Suddenly, Lakshi was no longer afraid. In fact, she felt herself walking towards the cat, intrigued by its sudden retreat.

As the tiger moved back into the jungle, she felt herself being called towards it. The tiger vanished into the jungle mist, and Lakshi ran after it, completely overwhelmed by this calling from deep inside of her.

Running into the jungle, she scarcely felt the mud beneath her feet or the branches that scraped her skin. She was now sprinting at full speed to find the tiger.

The mist was thick, and before long she had to stop, her lungs heaving. As she caught her breath, Lakshi realized she was lost.

That’s when she saw her.

Her mother.

Her dead mother.

It had been six months since her mother died giving birth to Lakshi’s younger brother. Lakshi had not been the same since her mother’s death. She had shut herself off from her remaining family and her tribe.

Her mother’s image was surrounded by a white glow, and her mother looked younger than Lakshi remembered. Gesturing with her right index finger, Lakshi’s mother urged her daughter to come closer. Slowly, Lakshi approached the vision and saw the smile on her mother’s face. Instantly the girl burst into tears. Her mother, seeing her daughter’s grief, looked at her with nothing but compassion in her eyes. All Lakshi wanted to do was melt into the arms of her deceased mother—to feel that safety and comfort once again.

Her mother, seeing her desperation, put a finger to her lips as if to say, “You must be quiet,” and pointed to the base of an elm tree. Lakshi, confused by this, looked over at her mother for guidance, who continued to point to the tree.

Walking closer, Lakshi noticed something at the base of the tree. It looked like an old, wooden, rectangular box. Picking up the box, Lakshi could feel that it wasn’t very heavy, but it was awkward to hold. She had to hold it upside down to open it, and as she did, a scroll fell out. It looked to be very old, yet it was in pristine condition. Lakshi looked inside the box and realized there were others still rolled up inside. She left them alone and set the box down. The loose scroll was quite long, and Lakshi unrolled it very carefully. She scanned over it quickly, and it seemed to contain many symbols and scientific diagrams, and many, many sentences. Only a portion of it did she understand. However, at the end of the scroll, as if to replace a signature, was a red handprint.

She was quite confused.

Looking back at her mother for guidance, she noticed that her mother was fading away into thin air as she slowly waved to Lakshi.

She was saying goodbye.

In an instant, Lakshi cried out for her mother, forgetting about the scroll entirely. Within seconds, her mother’s image had completely disappeared from sight. Lakshi shrieked with despair. Sobbing, she placed the scroll back in its container with the others. Staring at the spot where her mother had been standing, she waited for several minutes in the hopes her mother would return.

She did not.

Lakshi was confused by these events, and wasn’t even sure she had actually seen her mother. Except that she had this wooden box as evidence. Then, something strange started to happen. She began to feel a sense of calm inside of her. A feeling as if everything would be fine. All the anxiety and worry she had felt so acutely in the past six months seemed to melt away.

She felt at peace.

The mist lifted and she easily found her way home, now encouraged by the sighting of her mother. She was sure the whole experience was a sign of some kind.

While walking back to her hut, she saw that her father was busy preparing the morning’s breakfast. He was a slight man, balding, and always moved deliberately and slowly. He was considered the wisest man in the village. In fact, he was considered the wisest man in the entire region.

He scolded Lakshi for allowing the fire to go out and asked her what she was holding, intrigued by the box.

Lakshi tried to explain how her mother had given it to her, or rather, had pointed to where it could be found.

Lakshi’s father stopped piling on wood, turned and stared at his daughter. He then asked her to repeat what she had just said.

Lakshi told her father exactly what had happened to her, starting with the tiger and ending with finding the scrolls. He questioned her completely and exhaustively for almost ten minutes. The fact that a tiger hadn’t attacked her and the fact that she seemed to see her dead mother didn’t surprise him. He didn’t laugh at her story or question it. In fact, the more she spoke, the more he seemed to believe her.

After asking about every detail, her father took the box from Lakshi and together they went to their hut, where he unfurled the scrolls on a table and began reading them one at a time.

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