First off, Happy Father's Day where applicable!
Secondly, my fourth book in the Realm of Ashenclaw series, the first of a new trilogy, is in the final stages of editing. It is entitled Tower of Torment, the trilogy will be entitled Embers of War, and it picks up right where Secrets of the Ebonite Mines left off. If you haven’t been keeping up, shame on you!
To recap, The BEGINNINGS trilogy starts with Book 1, Wothlondia Rising, which is a collection of short stories, but is important in that it lays the ground work for the next book. I feel that getting to know the protagonists before they get together is very important and so, this book has become a must-read in the series. Book 2 is the first full-length novel, entitled Covenant of the Faceless Knights and is actually the first book I wrote, but is second chronologically. This book picks up right after the last short story in the Wothlondia Rising Anthology and puts our group of lovable heroes together on a quest to recover a dangerous artifact, an amulet that contains the soul of an evil being—one that would grant lost power to the lich he has become.
Book 3, Secrets of the Ebonite Mines, continues our heroes on their quest, still looking for the artifact. However, as they continue their search, they meet up with a group of highwaymen led by a dwarven ex-noble, and his unique group of sellswords. Things escalate quickly as the two groups meet and some unexpected events leave our heroes with more disturbing information on the whereabouts of the artifact.
Book 4, TOWER OF TORMENT, progresses our story-lines as romance develops, new evils are discovered and tragic events become all-too-real for the group of companions along their quest. An underlying evil grows in strength and tragedy is faced all too often. All of this must be overcome, lest the realm fall to that very evil.
Without further ado, here is a preview from the 4th installment in the Realm of Ashenclaw series…
|The incredible artwork of William J. Kenney|
Garius immediately realized the futility of that last spell of healing. The man was dead instantly and the precision of the shot did not offer him even the slightest of chances at using his gift of divine healing.
The bolt had not only penetrated the man’s heart, rendering him dead before Garius could even begin to tend his wound, but the area around the injury appeared covered in a poisonous substance. He could smell it.
Instead he removed The Repentant from its resting place upon his back and gripped its handle firmly. He infused the hammer with the divine magic that flowed freely within him and the runes lit up along with the hammer’s head. It felt light in his hands and he swung it hard, its massive head connecting with a slagfell warrior at the base of the three steps leading up and to the wine cellar, who was unwittingly—and justifiably!— giving his full attention to Orngoth.
He recalled the first time he’d laid eyes upon the half-ogre as he shattered the skull of a slagfell warrior beneath his own helmet and smirked in remembrance. He quickly climbed the steps into the wine cellar and mouthed the words to another spell. That enchantment sent forth a blessing of divine power that settled over his allies. As the spell bathed them in holy light, he gripped The Repentant firmly in his hands once more and moved to intercept another of the slagfell assailants.
Elec’s seat radiated with pain as his tailbone slammed against the floor. That was the least of his concerns though as he peered down to examine the pair of bolts that extended from his chest. He immediately refocused on the threat of the poison and carefully ran his fingers along his bandolier of elixirs until he found the proper one. Using his teeth to clamp down onto the plug, Elec removed it and downed the contents of the flask before replacing the stopper, and then the flask, into the bandolier.
He looked up in time to see one of the slagfell standing over him, an axe raised above his head in one hand, a crossbow in the other. A cruel grin was evident on his face beneath his thick, black beard and a crazed look was in his eyes beneath his steel helm.
“Time ta’ die, methinks!” But instead of a death blow, Elec witnessed a shadow fall over them both. The slagfell craned its neck about slowly in time to see the unforgiving surface of a club as it crushed both skull and helm. Elec winced at the ferocity with which the blow was struck, glanced up to see that both the helm and everything beneath had conformed to the shape of the heavy club, and also took note of the mask of rage set upon the half-ogre’s features. He silently thanked the gods that he was not the recipient of that unbridled ferocity.
Elec quickly returned his attention to the twin shafts and winced as he removed them from his flesh as quickly as possible. His lifeblood emerged in excess from beneath his leather jerkin and he removed a rag, soaked it in the alcohol that gathered in puddles on the floor, and placed it firmly against his chest, waiting for his potions to do their work.
He hoped that they would take effect before he passed out from the pain.
With that, Ganthorpe stood and stared deep within the shadowed recesses of the hall leading back to the kitchen. He caught a glimmer of auburn hair as it disappeared within the darkness.
His heart raced and he became flush.
She is here!
“Are you all right?”
Ganthorpe turned and regarded the huge man who stared at him. He blinked at him a few times before realizing he’d asked him a question.
“Of course,” he lied, straightening his jerkin and running a hand through his dark hair. He sat back down in the chair and leaned in close again.
“I need to make use of your private office.”
Fabian looked at him queerly and then nodded. “Of course ya’ can use it. Do I—“
“No. no questions asked. Just give me the key. Or don’t. Either way.” Fabian reached below the collar of his apron and removed a chain with a key dangling on its end. He handed it to Ganthorpe who accepted it absently and looked to his guards. “Stay here. I will return soon enough.”
His men also looked at him as if they all wanted to question him, but none of them uttered a word.
He nodded to them and proceeded up several flights of stairs to Fabian’s private office, inserted the key, turned the knob and walked in. The space was bathed in shadow as it only had one window on the opposite side of the room. Fabian had it built that way as the man was more than a bit distrustful. And reasonably so, as he operated an illicit gambling setup as well as a delightful kitchen.
“Hello, lover boy.” His heart skipped a beat. A shadowy figure emerged from the recesses of the darkness and a flash of auburn hair shone briefly in the light of the window.
“Are you trying to have me killed?”
Saeunn realized Elec’s plight with horror. She hoped that it would not be the last time she spoke to the elf, realizing that he was finally beginning to excel in the ways of combat. The thought of losing another made her angry beyond words. She’d felt terrible loss before—many times, she recalled. And she would not allow another to die while she still had life within her.
Her bloodlust came calling just then and she did not contest it. Instead she kicked out and shoved one slagfell back, diving forward and under a wide arcing swing of an axe, landing further away, where she could make good use of her powerful sword. Until now, she’d been choking mid-way up the sword to the top of the handle and using it defensively.
The time for defensive fighting was over.
I hope this enticed you, teased you and made you squirm a little. Hope you all have a great rest of the weekend!
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