Teaser Tuesday

A little action from Bloodlust: The Seeds of Ruin, my newest Domains of the Chosen book.

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The massive projectile shot though the air. To most in the crowd it seemed unnaturally fast, almost like a lightning bolt. To swift-footed Hummingblade, it was easy to measure the speed of the projectile and avoid it, leaving the ice to plunge into the sand where she has been standing, and shatter.

The crowd cheered when they saw how deftly the Gladiatrix escaped the lethal projectile. Hummingblade, however, was more concerned with the Frost Reaver, which closed in the wake of the ice attack. It swiped at her with a huge paw, under which she ducked, and then swung its tusked jaw toward her.

A less skilled Gladiatrix would have leapt over the tusks and struck at the beast’s face, but Hummingblade was keenly aware of a second paw ready to swipe at her, and she leapt out of reach instead. The Frost Reaver was cunning enough to try a feint, it seemed.

As Hummingblade channelled, the beast reared up onto its hind legs, its shadow falling over her, before it came down like an avalanche, trying to crush her with its bulk. The Gladiatrix leapt aside, raking her sword along the beast’s back as it slammed into the sand. Most of the slash was absorbed by the Frost Reaver’s thick plates, but some blood splashed on to white sands. She finished weaving another spell then, a Mind Vice which would cause the Frost Reaver great agony as its brain misfired. She could feel the spell take effect as she cast it.

Undaunted the Frost Reaver, swung its head at her again. This time Hummingblade leapt over the deadly tusks, feeling the heat of its breath and inhaling the carrion stink of its maw, and struck out with her blade. She could have finished the fight then, driving her sword through the beast’s eye and into its brain, but she needed to work the crowd into a proper frenzy. They wanted blood, not a quick, clean kill, and so instead she slashed The Frost Reaver’s scalp, painting its forehead crimson.

The crowd roared and shouted her name as the blood ran freely. It was easy then to see why people like Skaerus might want to turn against the Domains; popularity could only help their cause.

The Frost Reaver, however, was still fighting for its life. It turned and exhaled a puff of freezing particles in a cloud. Hummingblade, perhaps distracted by her thoughts, was caught in the blast. Frost formed on her skin and armour, and she stumbled. Claws crashed into the ground beside her as she careened away, her skin freezing and cracking as the intense cold washed over her.

Then, too late, Hummingblade saw the shadow of the tail in the wake of the attack. She felt an impact like the kick of a bull as it connected with her body, sending her flying back and skidding across the arena. Pain surged through Hummingblade as she tried to regain her breath. Her ribs were broken. Fortunately, the beast’s blow had thrown her well out of its reach. She pushed herself to her feet, gritting her teeth as the ruined, frozen skin on her cheeks and abdomen split. The Frost Reaver was thundering toward her, blood running into its eyes, jagged shards of ice forming above it.

Teaser from Seeds of Ruin

Tis the Sunday after release and it is time for another teaser from the Bloodlust: The Seeds of Ruin (Domains of the Chosen #6).

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Agga turned his eyes from the bay. “The arena in Frostbay won’t see action for some time, now. We will have to avail ourselves of another place. Now, watch the ice, right about there. If all goes well, you will soon witness something wondrous.”

The Runemaster said nothing else, but stared intently at the bay. Hilena felt a tremor, or rather sensed a shift in the patterns of the bay. As she was puzzling this out, Lignam stiffened and stood still.

The ice heaved, and then some monstrous appendage thrust into the air, mud, water, and ice sloughing from it. Another and another followed. They kept rising and Hilena realized that what she saw were towers and tall buildings. As she watched, a whole city, larger than Frostbay, smashed its way through the ice, like some great beast rising, roaring, from the depths. The patterns and power at work were dazzling, like staring at the sun.

 Ice split and fell away in ship-sized sheets. A great spray of water misted over the whole scene. Tall towers, buildings, streets, and houses soon shed their coat of muck and ice, while other sections rose further out. A coastline appeared. The last of the sections to resolve was familiar to Hilena; it contained the palace that housed both Antidilluvius and the Dark Heart.

Teaser Tuesday

Tis Tuesday and thus time for a teaser. This week it is from my newest, release Bloodlust: The Seeds of Ruin, which I put out on Sunday.

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“All that remained of Valaran diVolcanus after the Grand Championships was a tiny, ugly tree. Try as we might, not even the Chosen could destroy the tree without causing massive damage to the surrounding structure. The matter was set to study and everyone forgot this ‘Dire Root’ except on days that Sadira was in the Arena, when the ugly little thing popped out of the ground and blossomed, gruesome and blood red. Eventually they just raised the sand a couple of feet so people did not have to look at the thing at least.” After hours’ tour guide at the Grand Arena.

<>

Hilena suppressed a shiver as her former partner let loose a rasp of pain, halfway between a moan and a cough. The sound was horrific, like wet-lung, but she dared not look back to where he lay in the covered steam-waggon. It was best to let nature take its course at this juncture; Jerus was gone.

What was happening to him broke her heart, but each rasp hurt her a little less.

Master Kress had examined him after the plant had taken root. The big man had told Jerus he would be fine and given him a sedative.

“It has taken root in his bones,” Kress had said to her after Jerus had fallen into a deep sleep. “Removing it is out of the question. You must deliver the root to Frostbay at all costs. I will be sending my remaining servants to escort you. They will be with you, even if you do not see them.”

Hilena was astute enough to have spotted two of them. One appeared to be pathetic old cripple who, despite his faltering speed, never seemed to fall behind for very long. The other was a familiar looking brute of an ogre. She was also astute enough to know what would happen to her if she tried to help Jerus, to escape her duty, or to get rid of the terrible burden that he had become.

Moar Teazers

The Rune will be back soon, followed by another round of Shadow Wolf, but…

The release date for Bloodlust: The Seeds of Ruin is rapidly approaching and I am giddy and apprehensive. While it seems unlikely that the series will conquer the mainstream without a much bigger investment in promotion, this book is getting some really nice reactions and I will be pleased to get it into the hands of loyal readers and discuss it with them.

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Soon…

“CITIZENS OF KRASS, YOUR CHOSEN GREET YOU!” Sadira’s voice carried across the arena, even above the intensifying cheers of the spectators. “We have returned to you victorious, but the glory of our mission belongs to the people of Krass! It was you who gave us your sons and daughters to fill our Legions! It was your toil that built the guns, the arms, and the ships that carried us through the day! It was your will and your law that we carried and enforced on distant shores and your open arms that welcomed allies who saw us through the worst of days. It was your choice that saw us and every other Chosen who fought in Ithal’Duin take up the mantle of duty, fulfilling the ancient Covenant.”

Sadira paused, drinking in the noise of the crowd, while a score of pages came forth bearing cloaks and laurels. She leapt down, flashing a smile at Gavin and together they all knelt to receive the golden Laurels and their cloaks to the thunderous cheers of the assembled people. After the shouting, Sadira stood, raising her arms once more.

 “Many of you wonder why I came to the fighting grounds instead of receiving the mantle of Triumph alongside the heroic Legionnaires of our beloved Ninth Legion. Firstly, we do not wish to sully this day for our heroes, as you will see. We have also come here to give back to the people who have given us so much. As you have no doubt heard, there will be games today; in honour of our victory the sands will run red today!”

The people roared. Gavin, for his part, hid his distaste for the idea. He did not like celebrating a battle with a slaughter on the arena, even if it would cement their position with the people. He allowed himself to be swayed by Sadira’s relentless pragmatism and his desire to strike back at his detractors. The people of Krass loved the Great Games.

“But that is only part of why we came here. The fighting grounds are the best place to start a battle. Since the covenant the Chosen have settled their disputes here, in the arena. We come before you, the people of Krass, on our day of Triumph, begging for justice.”

Teaser Tuesday

This weekend I am releasing Bloodlust: The Seeds of Ruin (Domains of the Chosen #6)

For those who have not seen it, here is the cover.

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No link yet… 🙂

And here is a teaser from the book itself.

“I don’t have time for this,” Gavin muttered. He channelled all of his desperate fear and anger into a powerful spell, hoisting a pair of broken waggons into the air. “I AM THE MINDRIPPER, SHOW YOURSELVES IF YOU WISH TO RECKON WITH ME!”

His voice roared through the storm. They waited, tense and ready. Then the very air seemed to change.

“They’re gone,” said Silver Rose.

“Cowards,” muttered Green Sting.

Gavin turned and kept walking. He cast his mind back through the bond to Sadira, but she resisted him. Whatever she was doing, the level of concentration required prevented him from deeper communion.

“Let’s wait here,” Gavin said, pointing to a sheltered area under a bridge. “Whatever is happening is coming to a head now.”

Just a little taste…

Seeds of Ruin Cover

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This is the final cover for Bloodlust: The Seeds of Ruin (Domains of the Chosen 6), barring a little colour adjustment to the font. The whole thing is the work of Dan Barclay, as always. I am pretty damn happy with it.

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We thought a green font might be better for the title, given the themes of growth and flora, but it just does not ‘pop’ well.

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Here are some of Dan’s early sketches. The process is very iterative with lots of back and forth. We started with a stonehenge shape for the stone but mobed tp something with a little more presence, squat and monolithic.

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One of the more interesting ideas that we tried early on was to have a fetus at the heart of the Oathstone. I love this take, but the skull just attracts more attention.

Teaser Tuesday

Here is another teaser for the Bloodlust: The Seeds of Ruin. The idea comes from a joke first related to me by a friend. People who live in places with snow should be familiar…

The wind cut through the streets of Frostbay, driving the hardy citizens indoors. Those who had pressing business outside wore enormous fur-lined jackets and face masks. Gavin did not need these, the cold was uncomfortable but not life-threatening to a Chosen. The snow was a different matter, obscuring his vision as it would any man.

Visibility was reduced to a matter of a few strides at times and Gavin was having trouble finding his destination. He could not get his bearings through local landmarks; Frostbay was simply too unfamiliar.

“Ancestor’s rancid shite,” muttered Green Sting beside him. “I hate the cold.”

The Quickling Hearthbound was bundled in thick furs, despite his magic. Silver Rose, by contrast seemed even less effected by the cold than Gavin.

“It must be around here somewhere,” said Gavin.

“What are we looking for again?” asked Green Sting.

“The Winter Snake Inn,” answered Gavin. “The sign is a picture of a furred white serpent on the snow over a yellow hole. It is a reference to a joke that people in the north play on visitors from the south.”

“I don’t get it,” said Green Sting.

“Think about it, Billiam,” said Silver Rose. “What leaves a yellow hole in the snow?”

“Oh,” Green Sting burst into laughter.