New Release: The Complete Rhenwars Saga: An Epic Fantasy Pentalogy by M.L. Spencer

Includes all five books of The Rhenwars Saga!

 

There Is No Mercy for the Merciless.

 

The Well of Tears was created to save magic. Now the Well unleashes only destruction. There is only one mage left who can seal it — a man just as corrupt as the evil he opposes.

 


The Well of Tears was created to harness the power of the Netherworld to prevent a magical apocalypse. Now, Darien Lauchlin is the last surviving mage capable of reversing the destruction the Well unleashed. Darien will be forced to sacrifice everything of himself and everyone around him—all to preserve a nation of people who despise him.

The Rhenwars Saga is a sprawling epic set in a morally gray world where there is no clear distinction between hero and villain. Download this Special Edition Box Set to experience epic battles, flawed heroes, and a brutal struggle where the triumph of good over evil is never guaranteed.

If you enjoy the dark, sprawling world of Steven Erikson, the awe-inspiring magic of The Wheel of Time, and the compelling antiheroes of C.S. Friedman, then you’ll love The Rhenwars Saga.

 

IRDA Award for Fantasy

 

Semifinalist in Mark Lawrence’s SPFBO

 

Finalist in BookNest’s Fantasy Awards

 

★★★★★ “One of the best fantasy stories I’ve read this decade.” BookNest

★★★★★ “Betrayal, lies and destruction follow across every page.” Grimdark Magazine

★★★★★ “Shines in its damaged characters.” Fantasy Faction

★★★★★ “Some of the deepest and most polarizing characters I have read to date.” Goodreads

 

QUOTES:

 

“One of the best fantasy stories I’ve read this decade” -BookNest

“Betrayal, lies and destruction follow across every page” -Grimdark Magazine

“Shines in its damaged characters” -Fantasy Faction

“ML Spencer is a fresh new voice to the scene.” -Fantasy Book Review

“An amazingly entertaining read” -Manhattan Book Review

“Packs a strong punch” -Kitty G

“A thrilling read, fast-paced, and bitingly entertaining” -San Diego Book Review

“Dark and Thrilling” -The Fantasy Inn

“A magnificent novel” -Pumpkin and Egg

“A complete, dark, anything-goes fantasy.” -West Coast Book Reviews

“An engaging and heart wrenching tale of love, loss, deceit and desperation” -Readers’ Favorite

“I don’t believe I shall ever read another story that will test the moral compass in such a beautifully epic fashion.” -Goodreads Review

“Some of the deepest and most polarizing characters I have read to date.” -Goodreads Review

 

BUY LINKS:

 

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Featured Excerpt: Crown by Jesse Teller

Brody Bedlam, immortal source of chaos, has taken over the crime network of the oldest city in the nation, holding the mayor in his pocket and the citizens in fear. Rayph and his Manhunters move to usurp him, but the street war brings casualties Rayph cannot justify. With his crew unraveling and pressure mounting from the unsatisfied king, will this mission be Rayph’s end?

Rayph stared at the most terrifying building in the whole of Lorinth. He turned to Smear and Trysliana. “He is in there, and we are going to get him out.” His anger ruptured and ran like an infected wound, filling his heart and edging him ever closer to his temper snapping and his mind letting loose of all the power at his command.

“There will be many people in our path,” Trysliana said. “This is going to get bloody.”

“How are we going to deal with the soldiers in there and the apothecaries?” Smear added.

“We are going to kill them all,” Rayph growled.

“Well, we can’t do that,” Smear said.

“Then go home. Go back to Ironfall and the Stalwart Dreark abandoned. Go back to your ranch and the cheese. Go back to—”

“Watch who you are talking to, Rayph. That was not fair,” Smear said.

“I’m going in,” Rayph said. “Follow me or go home.”

Rayph took one last look at the Crown and fought back the shudder that threatened to overtake him. Prison, asylum, hospital, and harborer of the darkness of Lorinth, in this place Phomax had hidden all his terrible secrets. This was the dark heart of the nation. Here, hunkered into the shadows of the building, hid those still loyal to the dead king. Still, they did his work, and they had one of Rayph’s friends.

Rayph spoke a word, and the air above his hand ripped open. He whistled and a pocket of air beside him spat out a creature of stone. It was canine in shape and bore little resemblance to a dog, save its body and its stone jaws. It snapped its maw shut, and Rayph stepped forward. His hound howled, and he jumped the high wall to the Crown and landed in the courtyard.

A blaring alarm ripped out over the air and doors shot open all over the building, purging soldiers like a sick beast vomiting filth. Rayph pointed at the main door, and his hound burst forth in a run. Its stone paws tore up flagstones as it ran. An instant before it collided with the door, it lowered its head to strike with the flat of its skull. The door rattled on its hinges and the wood split. Rayph turned to face the coming onslaught, grinning as two figures leapt from beyond the wall and clung to the structure with all four limbs. Smear and Trysliana crawled the towers like insects invading a corpse. Rayph spun, letting loose his first wave of terror.

He waved a hand in the direction of the coming surge and, with a word, their flesh ripped and tore into shreds of blood and muscle. The rest of the soldiers pulled back, and Rayph spun from his macabre spectacle to address them all.

“Your judgment has come for you. Too long have you preyed on the downtrodden and the sick. This place, I condemn for treachery. Drop to your knees and lay your weapons at your feet, or I will crush you all to bone and tendon.”

Every man of them dropped. Rayph held a hand up, and their weapons lifted into the air to collide with his hand. He held them all, a hundred or more weapons attracted to his hand like a great magnet before he swung his hand behind him and tossed the arsenal away and out of reach of the soldiers.

He spoke a word and stone hands erupted to grip all their thighs, pinning them to the ground. He turned to his hound. The beast nearly had the door open. Rayph passed the defeated men and climbed the stairs to the main door, tapping the fetish on his chest to communicate with his crew.

“How is it progressing?” he asked.

“I have three of my scanners placed,” Trysliana replied.

“Four more to go,” Smear added.

“We will know where they have him soon,” Trysliana said.

“Good,” Rayph said, his hand gripping the fetish. “I’m almost in.”

“Rayph,” Smear said.

“Yes?”

“Mercy is a virtue to rise to.”

“I will exercise mercy when I have Cosmo back. Until then, I know only wrath.” The door split right down the middle, falling into two halves and booming through the entire courtyard. Rayph stepped into the Crown, his sword high, his hound gnashing beside him.

Rayph met all aggressors with fire and steel. His spells were muted here. His potency curbed to light magic and lesser powers. Truly devastating spells dissipated in the air as he fought to cast them, but he had a few powerful items at his command. He reached the bottom of a long row of twisting staircases, and he stopped. Seven staircases squirmed before him like a set of stone serpents, each rising to a different tower, each of differing ages and stabilities. Rayph knew not which rise to take, so he waited. The alarm screamed, more and more soldiers rushing to meet him. He patted his hound, and the next wave of enemies hit him. He cast as they collided with him, and an invisible wall sprang out in both directions, leaving a thin narrow corridor for them to get through. He stood in the breach, chopping and firing until Smear sounded off in his head.

“He is in the decrepit tower, the Stone Snake. You must be careful, Rayph. It is falling apart.”

“Meet me there. Trysliana, find me an escape point. Set the charges and get out of the way. I’m headed to the Viper.”

He tossed his sword and the air zipped closed around it. He spoke a word, his bow dropping into his hands. He pulled at a pocket of air above his shoulder and drew a long arrow boasting an ivory-colored fist where an arrowhead should have been. He pointed it at the most degraded of the flights of stairs and grinned when the fist opened and gripped the stone. A flaming cord trailed from the arrow’s wake. Rayph gripped it tight and spoke a word. The flaming cord pulled tight, and Rayph flew into the air. He screamed out to his hound to keep fighting. He whipped through the air until he reached the doorway at the top of the stairs leading to the Stone Snake. He entered the darkness and stowed his bow, calling once again for his sword and enjoying the way it felt in his grip. He stepped onto the staircase that would take him to the top of the tower, bracing himself for the climb.

 

From: Crown, The Manhunters Book Three

 

Links:

 

 

CROWN pre-order is now available !

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FC9FBZ3/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40126457-crown

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PathtoPerilisc/

Website: https://jesseteller.com/

Monthly Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/q1h1k4

 

About the Author:

 

 

Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to studying the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues. He lives with his supportive wife, Rebekah, and his two inspiring children, Rayph and Tobin.

Featured Excerpt: Kill Switch by Sean E. Britten

‘Slayerz’, it’s America of the not-too-distant future’s favourite bloodsport. Fifteen pairs of criminals taken from either death row or a life sentence enter the arena and only one team leaves. Each team of two are linked together by a device called a ‘kill switch’. If one contestant dies they’ll take the other with them, forcing the pairs of ultra-violent odd couples to work together or perish.

The following is an excerpt from Kill Switch by Sean E. Britten

 

“Slayerz is brought to you by the following sponsors!”

A small, dark-skinned child sits down heavily in the dirt outside a wooden hut, looking dazed. A pear-shaped potbelly protrudes from his waist while the rest of his body is nothing but a badly put together collection of skin and bones. Clusters of flies gather around the corners of the child’s mouth and eyes, suckling at the moisture. There is a third, spindly arm emerging from a knot of flesh in the centre of the boy’s chest, and this third arm slaps weakly at the insects.

“Little Cayuga is one of thousands of children born with various mutations and abandoned by their parents as a result of the African Bio-Wars. Every day, Cayuga walks six miles in the desert sun in order to find drinking water that isn’t dangerously irradiated. Along the way he faces threats from wild animals, other, dangerous mutants, and Abominations.”

“For less than the price of a cup of synth-coffee a day, you can get Cayuga the food and water that he needs, send him to school, have the arm-shaped tumorous growth on his chest removed and help his village build a steel-reinforced concrete bunker where they can hide from the Abominations at night. Please give generously, for every child you save the Abominations get that much weaker and might one day be contained. Press the button on your screen to donate now.”

 

Meanwhile, in another part of The Gauntlet, the team of Odie King and Gabriella Gigi had been hurrying down the path set out for them. Odie had the old-fashioned Type 69 rocket launcher that he’d been given cocked over his shoulder, although he had no idea how to operate it. His head was tucked in low and he moved from shipping container to shipping container like a mouse. He knew, although no one had come out and said it, that the two of them were expected to have no chance once they entered the arena and had to go up against the other teams. They would make easy prey, even with the powerful rocket launcher, and might as well have targets painted on their backs for any of the contestants looking to make an easy kill. If she was aware of any of it, however, Gigi seemed curiously unbothered at the thought of dying. She sauntered along behind Odie, the MP5K submachine gun she’d been given dangling off her shoulder on its strap.

“What did you say your name was again?” Gigi asked, airily.

Odie tried to shush her, scanning the ground for booby-traps, “Odie, my name is Odie.” He said, “Weren’t you paying any attention when they introduced us?”

“That’s a dog’s name.” Gigi said.

“I know! Shut up!” Odie said, looking toward the camera drones that were bobbing along behind them. He idly wondered how many people he had known back in high school were watching right now.

“Say it, say ‘I hate Mondays’.” Gigi said, as they continued down the path.

“That’s not the dog, that’s the cat.” Odie replied.

“Well, how am I supposed to know? Those movies are like a hundred years old.” Gigi said, “Did your parents give you that name?”

“Yes.” Odie said, stopping and checking their surroundings at the next corner before continuing onward.

“Is that why you killed them?” Gigi said.

“So you were paying attention.” Odie said, smiling grimly, “Do you even realise what’s happening to us, here? We’re being hunted!”

“I know.” Gigi replied.

“We’ve got no hope against most of those guys once we get out in the arena!” Odie said, “The best thing we can do is lay low and try to stay out of the fight, which is going to be easier said than done once these shitty things on our wrists start telling everybody where we are every half an hour! Just-, just stay close to me and we’ll keep moving, constantly, and ignore any of the food or weapon packages that they drop, or they’ll just lure us in!”

Just as Odie finished speaking they heard the loud clunking noise that reverberated throughout The Gauntlet, “What’s that?” Gigi said, and pointed.

Odie turned to see one of the enormous cranes that had seemingly just appeared around The Gauntlet. With its powerful electromagnet it was carrying a shipping container by one end, the doors at the other end dangling open. Moments later the container dropped and went plummeting to earth with a ground-shaking smash in some other section of the arena.

“Oh, shit! We’ve got to get out of here!” Odie said.

Another crane passed overhead, low over the walls, and the magnet suddenly became active. Gigi’s SMG swung upright on the end of its strap and she almost lost it, while Odie felt the magnet try to tear the Type 69 rocket launcher out of his hands. It lowered itself onto one of the walls and pulled it sideways so the stack of shipping containers came crashing down, annihilating the section of path that the two of them had just walked down.

“How can this get any worse?” Odie said, literally hugging the rocket launcher to his chest as the crane pulled away and attached itself to another giant crate.

“What do we have here? Two little ponies, Applefeather and Sparkletush!” A deep voice carried over the sound of the metallic chaos that had engulfed The Gauntlet. Two figures emerged through the cloud of dust over the tumbled wall, “Gosh, they’ve fallen afoul of the big, bad Cannibal King, stay tuned, folks!”

“Fuck me, it’s Maneater!” Odie said.

The towering black man climbed on top of one of the shipping containers, holding his flamethrower. A small tongue of fire licked around the muzzle as Maneater laughed. Simpering, his partner Han Chow hung at the huge man’s hip, hunkered down as he too climbed onto the shipping container.

“Come on, little ponies, I won’t hurt you! Your power of friendship has melted my heart, and we’ll skip away together to the land of lollypops and veal cutlets!” He said and he squeezed his trigger, a long streak of orange flame cutting through the air toward Odie and Gigi.

Gigi shoved Odie by the shoulder, “Move your sweet ass, honey!” She said, and the two of them dived around the nearest corner. Fire licked the edge of the shipping container and the two of them felt the heat of the flamethrower as they sprawled in the dirt.

Maneater climbed over the shipping containers after the pair. Odie scrambled with the body of his rocket launcher, trying to figure out the safety, “Come on!” Odie said, and then he slung the Type 69 launcher to his shoulder. Odie edged around the shipping container, aiming the rocket at Maneater, as the maze was still shaking with destruction. Han Chow fell over backwards trying to get away but Maneater only stood there laughing as Odie fired.

The olive rocket exploded from the muzzle of the launcher, leaving a long, white streak of smoke behind it. It arrowed toward Maneater but then veered suddenly upward. The crane had come back, hovering overhead and holding onto another container. The RPG was attracted to the powerful electromagnet and pulled off course. Hissing white smoke, the rocket wound around the floating shipping container like a vine and plunged into the magnet. There was a massive explosion over their heads, an orange fireball that consumed the top of the shopping container. The explosion ripped apart the mounting of the electromagnet and it broke away from the crane, plunging to the earth. With a tremendous crash the container and pieces of the crane came down between the two teams, of Odie and Gigi, and Maneater and Chow. The middle of the container crumpled up, blocking the path, and a huge gust of dirt erupted outward.

 

From: Kill Switch from Sean E. Britten 

 

Aavailable now on Amazon. A sequel, Kill Switch: Serial Escalation is coming July 2018.

 

 

About the author:

 

 

Sean E. Britten is an author and radio presenter from Sydney, Australia. An avid consumer of everything from classic literature to pulpy paperbacks, Sean channels his love of horror, serial killers and things that go bump in the night into writing in an attempt to stave off the dark mutterings at the back of his mind, to varying degrees of success. He is also the host of the American news and politics-centric podcast “U.S. of Ed”.

 

 

Links:

 

Author Website: https://seanebritten.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seanebrittenauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SeanEBritten

Kill Switch on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Kill-Switch-Sean-Britten/dp/1540346471

Kill Switch on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kill-Switch-Sean-Britten-ebook/dp/B01N05XZ5F

Kill Switch on Amazon Aus: https://www.amazon.com.au/Kill-Switch-Sean-Britten-ebook/dp/B01N05XZ5F

 

Featured Excerpt: Light Dawning by Ty Arthur

2 (Eastern Ward, Border District, Eventide)

Beneath a squat, stone building not far away in the heart of the doomed city, another victim of the occupation also felt death nearing. The whispers in Tala’s head were like tolling bells, and she knew the time was at hand.

She felt their spidery presence across the dome of her skull more strongly than usual, while fighting off the panic and trying to bring about calm through force of will. The act itself of trying to enforce calm made the effort futile, the whispers gaining ground inch by inch as she tried and failed to stave off growing desperation. Something was coming that would bring her world to an end, and there was no way to stop its rapid approach.

The surging fear wasn’t for herself, but for the rest of the inhabitants of Cestia. She didn’t know what would happen in that last final instant if she lost control. Every moment of her life was a struggle against a rising flood only barely contained and kept down with hard-earned focus. That battle was finally about to be lost for the first time. Shortly she would feel those things breach the gates and spill through, the long-overdue deluge about to consume everyone else along with her.

She tried to keep the shield in place while the big one held her down, fixating on anything in her surroundings that might keep the calm from shattering. His breath was unpleasant and made gorge rise in her throat, distracting from the all-important task, and his rough hands only brought on pointed, piercing hate.

It would have to be his eyes then, a detail to converge on that could be disassociated from the man himself. Unlike most of the invaders she’d seen out on patrols, his eyes were soft and multi-hued, one a dark blue and the other a light green.

For a moment Tala slipped quietly back behind the shield, ignoring what was happening to her body and maintaining the balance that kept Cestia safe from what the whispers heralded.

It was the laughter of the other two off to the side of the room, taunting that they’d be going next, that allowed the anger to slice through that carefully crafted defense. Those insistent whispers, there her whole life but never able to be heard clearly, finally found the one weak point and made just the tiniest crack.

That single minute fracture was all it took.

The sob that burst from her seemed to excite them, prompting the soldier holding her down to increase the urgency of his thrusts, which only made the anger inside grow further. The shield’s crack widened and the constant dull roar finally came up to the forefront of her mind in a clear voice. It was all over for the soldiers, and they had no idea this particular act of inhumanity, one drop in a sea of violence, would be their last.

She felt it all slow down in that moment and desperately tried to repair the breach, to return stability to her mind and force the crack closed somehow. Even while making the attempt, she knew it would be too late to stop something from reaching through. Like a waking night terror with no control, they would cavort and scream while she remained helpless. They would tell her all those secrets about reality she didn’t want to know in that one agonizing eternal second it would take to re-establish the shield.

The moment dragged on so long she didn’t even realize her tormentor was nearly finished. The knight grunted twice in rapid succession, again forcing that stench into her nostrils, and it was over. He was spent and immediately uninterested in his conquest, not knowing what was already growing there under the maligned influence of the whispering voices.

He had become a father through forces he couldn’t possibly comprehend, and he’d terribly regret it until the moment he died.

When the soldier took to his feet, not sparing even a look down at what damage he’d caused now that he was done, she softly begged them to leave while they still could. Tala pleaded for them to flee in quick, choking sobs through the tears now flowing freely. The knights ignored her appeals; having heard them delivered hundreds of ways in the preceding years of the occupation. Their ignorance was a fatal mistake, not realizing she was trying to save them from the repercussions of their actions.

The soon-to-be father laughed while buckling his breeches, calling out to the other two to take their turns before they returned to the street above and finished off their patrol of this run-down ward. They shared in his mirth, conversing like old friends engaged in a cherished pastime, oblivious to whatever pain they might be causing or what horror was stirring unnoticed nearby. This area of the city was a slum no one wanted to be assigned to, but they could still find some fun with the locals before returning to tearing apart yet another home in a search that everyone knew was futile.

Tala felt the whispers quiet down when the moment approached, all of the voices in rapt, silent attention for what was to come. The moment that would change everything was heralded by an unpleasant stirring sensation inside, dull at first and then sharp and violent as the first contraction rippled from within. Pain blossomed into full bloom while something was rapidly taking shape and gaining form, pressing against the thin breach of the wall.

She tried to push back but couldn’t stop its advance through where the crack had briefly appeared in that one moment when all her careful control had finally broken. In a last ditch effort to stave off the coming storm, Tala mercilessly berated herself, screaming every profanity and insult she could think of across the back of her skull.

With no other means available, she hoped the force of her self-loathing could hold it off. She slipped back easily to all those years of screams and beatings when the cruel men in the robes had taught her never to slip up, not even for a single moment.

She cried out in agony and clutched her stomach, rolling over and tightening into a ball as all those thoughts scattered and fled before the whispered onslaught. The second soldier struck her across the face without bothering to remove his gauntlet first, thinking she meant to deny him his prize. His desire was the last thing on her mind when she rolled back over and spread her legs apart, not even bothering to worry about the bleeding split in her lip or the bruise spreading across her cheek.

The soldier’s excitement rapidly turned to confusion and then disgust when the birthing began. From echoing silence to jubilant cries of exultation, the whispers spoke to her in their discordant miasma, feeding her the knowledge of how to bring her child from their realm to hers. Something jet black and dripping obsidian afterbirth struggled out from beneath her skirt, a single protruding limb of the thing that escaped when her lapse of control fractured the veil between here and there.

Tala screamed again, more forcefully this time, when the first joint of the spidery leg worked its way out of her, followed by the sopping ovoid bulk of her bastard child. The whispers went from insane cavorting to soothing croons, warping the fabric of her form and allowing something that should not be. What should have torn her body in two instead contorted in lunatic ways that no physical thing should have been capable of achieving. A terrible kind of sense was found in those whispered ministrations, and she allowed herself to wrap around and through those secret truths denied to others, briefly accepting them for the first time.

The final limb tore through, slipping in the pool of blood gathered around the exhausted new mother as it sought to acclimate itself to this alien reality. Four multi-jointed and barbed legs sprouted out from the thing, glistening with the dampness of its birth. Its center was a sagging mass of flesh barely formed; bearing a dissolved face that ran like wax, crying out hideously to its mother.

Looking closer, she saw it clearly cried out to its horrified father as well, seeing now that beneath all the moist viscera he too bore one eye shining a dark emerald and the other a dull, dark sapphire. From leg to leg her offspring was nearly as long across as a man was tall. She let her thoughts float above the recognition of the insanity of that realization, pushing down that part of her that screamed no such thing could have come from her.

Tala should have been sickened, but couldn’t bring herself to be, finding the whispers offered entirely new ways of viewing the world around her if she followed their calls. Looking at what she had brought out of nonexistence and into the meat of solid space, she recognized something of herself inside it, and knew then that she truly loved this thing, no matter how vile it appeared or how bizarre its inception.

Those spindly legs protruding from its massive center bulk seemed unsteady and fragile, as if wouldn’t be capable of even remaining upright, let along moving at all. In a burst of surprising speed it skittered at its father, breaking the stunned motionlessness of the room and forcing the knights into action.

Unable to see the beauty in his own child, the unintentional father brought his mace crushing down, the curved points on its bottom edge slicing through the creature’s middle segment. It’s already ruined features smashed down against the dirt, crushed between the floor and the force of the blow. With no pity to spare for the wretched thing, the soldier pressed his boot against its back legs and viciously pulled upward, ripping the spiked mace out and rearing back for another blow.

He never got the chance to land it, as some twisted parody of a maternal instinct kicked in. Seeing the bloody remnants of her first child being smashed to death, Tala was on the knight in an instant. Not expecting any sort of assault from a woman who appeared to be half dead, the couple crashed to the ground. Keenly aware that his armor was strewn across the floor, removed to facilitate his desires against the mad woman whose name he’d never even heard, the knight struggled to reclaim his weapon and defend himself.

His hands immediately ceased their searching and shot up towards his assailant when Tala’s fingers sunk into the soft vulnerable eyes that had nearly prevented all this madness. She didn’t relent when the first shockingly painful blow to her temple came, or when the next desperate punch struck her side. The whispers told her where to apply the pressure and how hard to push down, and she didn’t intend to disappoint them. She kept shoving relentlessly inward, even when she felt something sharp jab the side of her thumb, followed by the sudden giving way of a sticky surface.

Something content sighed across the back of her skull when his screams reached their crescendo, echoing her own not long ago when she birthed their unexpected child, followed by a bright burst of light behind her own eyes.

Forgetting the spasming form of her unwanted lover beneath and shaking the bright stars from her vision, Tala rushed up to fend off the other two soldiers. Not trusting what her sight told her, she found one already lying unmoving just where she herself had been on her back moments before when reality still made sense. While no blood pooled around the body, he had clearly been pierced through to the bone a dozen or more times. Short, jagged wounds gaped open across his body, all filled with a viscous black fluid.

In the corner of the room she spied her next quarry, on his knees and looking down in mute shock at the razor sharp end of a segmented leg piercing his sternum. When it retracted back the third soldier collapsed, trying but failing to bring out some words of denial that would return the world to the way it had been earlier, back when he thought that easy prey would provide a momentary diversion.

With the knights down, Tala could finally reach her child, which was now pulled up tightly against the basement’s corner, feebly jabbing its one remaining solid leg out against any other assailants. When its mother approached, that segmented appendage folded up tightly against the newborn’s body. It seemed to lose the strength born of self-preservation then, sagging down and succumbing to the devastating nature of its crushing wounds.

She gathered it up in her arms, heedless of the slashing spines and razor sharp bottoms of its limbs, and whispered soft words to her dying infant. This time the whispers were her own.

 

From: Light Dawning by Ty Arthur

 

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Light-Dawning-Ty-Arthur-ebook/dp/B0722FJ3ZB

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38356416-light-dawning

Official website: https://tyarthur.wordpress.com/

 

About the author:

 

 

The author of sci-fi / horror novella Empty and full-length grimdark novel Light Dawning, Ty Arthur gets to meld his passions with his work while freelancing for the likes of Metalunderground and GameSkinny. He writes to exorcise his demons and lives in the cold, dark north with his amazing wife Megan and infant son Gannicus Picard. Many more dark tales are still to come soon, exploring every facet of the bleaker aspects of human existence.

 

Featured Excerpt: Hag’s Breath by S.P. Oldham

The following is an excerpt from ‘The Wolf Witch,’ one of five short stories from ‘Hag’s Breath: A Collection of Witchcraft and Wickedness’ by S P Oldham.

‘“I’ll tell you what, huntsman; I’ll make it fair, shall I? I’ll give you a head start; a chance to run before I hobble you. What do you say? More than you were willing to give my wolves today, yes?”

“Your wolves?” Henrik asked stupidly, his mind anchoring on the word she had just threatened him with, too afraid to ask what she meant by ‘hobble him.’

“My wolves,” she agreed, the words firm and definite on her lips, her voice low, “Now, huntsman; run!”

All of Henrik’s instincts told him to obey. He did not dare to push past her but turned and retraced his footsteps to the back of the hut. He rounded the corner and ran blindly, keeping his hand on the hut wall to be sure he was going the right way.

He sagged with relief when he felt the rough wooden logs come to an end as he reached the corner of the hut. He was almost at the steps, inhaling to shout a warning to the men inside, when a searing pain sliced into his left ankle.

Henrik shrieked in pain, dropping to the snowy ground, immobile. He fell onto his back, writhing in agony, able to do nothing more than clutch at his leg uselessly, aware that he was bleeding.

“The Achilles tendon,” came her soft, assured voice from behind him, “I understand that the pain of having that sliced through is almost unbearable,”

Henrik could not reply. Snow was falling onto his face, filling his mouth. Despite its relentlessness, it did nothing to ease the burning, consuming pain in his leg. He realised he was sobbing but could do nothing to stop it. He began to pray fervently that Terje or Nils would open the damn hut door and wonder what was taking him so long.

“It is enough to cripple a man, just as it is enough to cripple a wolf,” she added cryptically, standing over him and sending a weird shadow looming. She looked up at the hut door, drawing back her lips to bare her teeth in a lupine snarl.

“You’ll keep,” she said, already forgetting him.

She always preferred to restrict the use of magic to the absolute minimum necessary. She tucked the stiletto back up her sleeve, concealing it from view. Man-made, utilitarian and spiteful, the blade was keen and needle sharp, the handle worn smooth through much use. She knew the knife like an extension of her own hand. She would not need her magic; not just yet.

She opened the door, knowing it would take the men inside a moment to react, expecting it to be their companion returning. Then they would waste precious time trying to understand what they were seeing. Then they would react; but then it would be too late.

She opened the door and stepped inside.

Nils was sound asleep, a beer bottle cradled in the hand resting on the table, the other hanging loosely at his side. He had rocked the chair backwards, resting it on only two legs as it leaned against the wall.

Terje, still ensconced beside the fire, did not even look up. This was going to be so much easier than she had thought.

 

From: Hag’s Breath: A Collection of Witchcraft and Wickedness by S.P. Oldham

 

Official Website for S P Oldham – So Lost in Words – https://solostinwords.com/ 

Hag’s Breath on Amazon U.S – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M4JMXMA

Hag’s Breath on Amazon U.K – https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=x_gr_w_bb?tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&index=books&keyword=Hag%27s+Breath 

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01N2LSUMX 

S P Oldham on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/solostinwords/ 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/dogskidssmiles

 

About the author:

 

 

S.P. Oldham is 48 years old and happily married to Adam for the last 28 of those years. Together they have two grown up sons and a spoiled Cocker Spaniel. They live in the Sirhowy Valley in South Wales. She writes primarily but not exclusively in the Horror and Speculative Fiction/ Supernatural genre and currently has four horror fiction books available on Amazon and is in the process of writing a fifth. She also has another horror collection, ‘Wakeful Children’ available in paperback from Troubador, Amazon and all good book stores.

 

 

Featured Excerpt: The War God’s Will by Matt Gilbert

The end of the world is nigh! As time grows short, heroes from two disparate cultures race to find clues to thwart the Dead God’s prophecy of doom. But will surviving each other prove to be their greatest challenge? 

The master stared into the pool, amused at the suffering of the invaders.

The servant asked, “Does it please you, Master? I thought it would be better this way, slowly, instead of crushing them outright.”

“Yesss,” the master agreed. “Their fear is sweet.” It dipped its claw into the black pool again, sending ripples over the image, and licked at it. “I have changed my mind. I want them alive. It is fortunate for you that you delayed.”

The servant shuddered, an involuntary spasm of fear at the realization of how close it had come to making a mistake. But it smiled, too, at its own cunning.

“I am a good servant,” it crooned. “You are capricious. I try always to anticipate you. To please you.”

The master tapped a claw on the stone rim of the pool, thinking that perhaps it might still be amusing to kill the servant, but dismissed the notion. It was difficult to find a servant smart enough to anticipate. It would be foolish to waste this one now.

“I am pleased,” it said. “Bring them to me. I would speak with them and smell their fear. Perhaps they have knowledge. Then we will make them into art.”

The servant touched its head to the floor, hissed its compliance, and scurried from the room.

***

Aiul felt a surge of fear as he saw figures loom in the darkness, but quickly realized that they were merely statues. Hundreds of them, in as many different poses, stood arrayed in the center of the huge room, each unique. The flickering light from Aiul’s torch played over the still forms as Logrus and Aiul approached, sending shadows skittering over floor and statues alike in a slow retreat from the advancing flame. Aiul marveled at how lifelike the statues were, how well proportioned and anatomically correct, but he felt a strange disquiet, as well. There was something odd about the poses.

Five feet from the nearest, he realized what was troubling him. The statues were obscene depictions of men, women, even children, in unspeakable agony. They were incredibly lifelike, detailed as well as any of the books Aiul had studied in his surgical training. Missing limbs showed bone and muscle beneath. Open chests showed the organs all in their proper locations. The artist may have been mad, but his skill was unquestionable. He had captured the very essence of horrifying death and chiseled it into his art, over and over, and none the same.

Aiul almost whispered when he spoke. “Mei! What madness drives a man to work such things into stone?”

Logrus shook his head slowly, his face trembling. “They are not stone,” he said, his voice a cold monotone, fists balled in an effort to contain his rage and horror.

Horror twisted in Aiul’s gut as he moved forward for a closer view. “What are you saying?” He touched a statue, and recoiled at the feel of pliant flesh, the tacky, cold sensation of wet, dead blood. The world seemed to spin wildly about him as he staggered away, close to hyperventilation. He could feel the wrongness, the monstrous evil if it, as if it were a physical force. He fell to his knees and vomited.

“So you have it, too,” Logrus nodded. “Weaker, like my zombies. But you have it.”

“Yes,” Aiul moaned, wiping at his mouth as he struggled to his feet. “As soon as I touched it. Mei, how can you stand it?”

“It is necessary.” Logrus glared at the garden of corpses, his jaw clenched in hate. “This one,” he said, pointing to a child’s body. “He died screaming, begging not for his own life, but that they spare his mother.” The Hunter choked back a sob, and pointed to a woman. “This one, they forced to watch as they cooked and ate her husband. They made her eat of him, too.” He covered his face with his hands, as if to ward away the visions. “They are all like this. All of them.”

Aiul ran a palm over his now sweating scalp with an involuntary shudder. “How can the gods let such things occur?” he asked.

Logrus turned a grim stare toward him. “Has not a god sent us here?”

Aiul’s reply died in his throat at the sound of hatches closing in the distance, the echoes reverberating throughout the subterranean structure. For long moments, they listened for more, the dripping of water and the hiss of the torch loud in their ears, and then came another sound, a shuffling, something large approaching.

A figure out of a nightmare loomed from the darkness. It was fully ten feet tall, and shaped like a man, but there, the resemblance ended. Its overlong arms, proportioned more like those of an ape than a human, ended in razor sharp talons. It had no neck to speak of, merely a misshapen mound atop impossibly broad shoulders. Two beady, reptilian eyes stared from the gnarled head. Others, arranged seemingly at random about its body, rolled in their sockets or cut back and forth in paranoia. A snakelike tongue slipped in and out of a jagged-fanged maw, testing the air. More mouths, smaller, but no less vicious, dotted its body at irregular intervals, their tiny teeth chattering and gnashing at the air. Small tentacles erupted from unlikely areas and whipped about the creature, as if it were flagellating itself. Muscle rippled beneath black, putrescent skin as the thing approached them.

“Playthings,” it spoke, its words a sickening, burbling rumble. “You are fortunate. My master wishes you to live.” It beckoned to them with a filthy claw. “For now.” Its laughter was the hacking of a man dying from tuberculosis.

Logrus’s face twisted into a mask of hatred and fury as he charged the creature, a cry of abandon on his lips.

Aiul hesitated only a moment before hefting the hideous black mace and joining him, shouting Elgar’s name as a battle cry. This is pure madness.

And yet it was the right sort of madness.

 

Excerpt from: The War God’s Will (Eye of the Lion Saga, Arc 1, Book 3 of 3)

Publication forthcoming (August 2018)

 

About the author:

Matt Gilbert, in addition to being a fiction author, is a professional video game developer; a veteran; a columnist for his local newspaper; and the father of three wild boys and two wild girls. He was born and raised in Woodbury, GA, and has been on watch for zombies ever since

 

Author Links:

https://www.facebook.com/mattgilbertwriter

https://twitter.com/AmrathOfNihlos

Book Review: I Was a Teenage Weredeer by C.T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus

In this novella, Charles Phipps and Michael Suttkus present their unique take on such small screen television shows such as Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and True Blood. In fact, if I had to liken it most to anything it would be Dead By Dark, the first Sookie Stackhouse novel by Charlaine Harris, with its particular brand of murder mystery, in a small town, which is plagued by creatures and shapeshifters. There is a veritable rainbow of grey characters on display; some are sorcerors, some have special powers such as psychic abilities and some even have the ability to alter reality itself. It’s told from the first person perspective of one Jane Doe, an eighteen year-old were-deer with a snarky sense of humor that will translate well to the screen someday. Due to the viewpoint, there’s something of a feminine sensibility at work, giving a lot of attention to her attractions to several of the male characters and other details. There is also an impressive amount of exposition and backstory that paints a good picture of the town of Bright Falls, Michigan and the presence of various religions co-existing alongside the magics. The prose itself is chock full of pop-culture references and one-liners; while it is almost self-referential and plainly obsessed with geek culture, there is a lot of genuine creativity at work here and anyone who enjoys such series as Twilight, Vampire Academy, Beautiful Creatures or the Southern Vampire Mysteries will doubtless find something enjoyable here. 4 out of 5 stars 🙂

 

Book Link:

 

Publisher:

Mystique Press, an imprint of Crossroad Press

 

About the authors:

C.T. Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger and also a reviewer for The Bookie Monster.

C.T. ‘s Bibliography:

The Rules of Supervillainy (Supervillainy Saga #1)

The Games of Supervillainy (Supervillainy Saga #2)

The Secrets of Supervillainy (Supervillainy Saga #3)

The Kingdom of Supervillany (Supervillainy Saga #4)

Esoterrorism (Red Room, Vol. 1)

Eldritch Ops (Red Room, Vol. 2)

Agent G: Infiltrator

Cthulhu Armageddon (Cthulhu Armageddon, Vol. 1)

The Tower of Zhaal (Cthulhu Armageddon, Vol. 2)

Lucifer’s Star

Straight Outta Fangton

Wraith Knight

***

Michael Suttkus, II, lives in Leesburg, Florida, with three cats, one of which actually likes him, and his family, with whom he fares better. When not working at a game store, he’s playing games, reading science books, or otherwise being incredibly nerdy. Also writing! Because he has to feed cats whether they like him or not.