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Excerpt from ‘Secrets of Arkana Fortress’

This is something I have not done in a while – an excerpt from my current novel! Feedback is always welcomed :-)

A small rodent skittered through a pile of fallen branches and leaves, barely disturbing the towering figure above it. It whipped round a tree and vanished, almost as fast as it had appeared, and left the shadowy form to its sorrows.

Kelken wiped his face and cursed himself under his breath. He hadn’t felt like this for a long time, not since his last time in Traseken. Being there had brought it all back – his wife, his oath, his service, his friends, his decision to leave – and it had been the key to a treasure chest of bottled feelings that shot through his mind, body and soul like a thousand arrows and tearing him to pieces.

He had failed. He had given up the oath and failed. The first step outside of Traseken all those years ago had been what sealed his life into the routine of drink, battle and repression. The thoughts of his wife came back to him, thoughts of a young-faced Breena looking at him as he left on a search that took up years of his life. He remembered her tearful face as he had to say goodbye to her, the way she had scratched him when she had grabbed him in a desperate attempt to make him stay, and the feeling of regret he had to live with for the rest of his life. It was the one thing he had regretted most of all.

Kelken flicked a leaf from its branch and watched it swivel to the floor like a windmill. He lifted his head as he heard the leaves behind him crunch and shift along the floor. He didn’t care who it was, he stayed where he was and leaned against the tree next to him.

‘I thought I said to Breena I wanted to be left alone,’ he voiced out loud to whoever it was behind him.

San Kiln’s rhythmic purr quivered the night air. ‘I thought we might chat, you know, discuss things.’

‘Chat? Get bent, fur face.’

‘Now that’s no way to speak to a friend, is it?’

‘Friend?’ Kelken turned his head. ‘We are here due to your darling wife blackmailing me and my daughter… this doesn’t make us fucking friends.’

San Kiln stroked his whiskers, trying to adjust his natural night vision to see Kelken’s expression. ‘This has grown to more than a trivial job you were given… this is something all three of us, now four, have been destined to do together.’

‘You believe in that destiny shit, eh? All a load of nonsense to me.’

‘I’d like to think that we’re designed for greater things other than our own self-bestowed destinies.’

Kelken laughed scornfully. ‘Rather an outdated romantic concept ain’t it?’

‘It helps me at night.’

‘Huh… what have you got to lose sleep over?’ he sneered.

San Kiln shifted his weight onto his left leg. ‘Enough, Kelken, enough.’

‘Well? Come on… I’ve got all night.’

‘Why would you be interested in my problems?’ he purred.

‘Might help me forget mine for a while.’ Kelken looked at San Kiln in the strained light and twitched the side of his mouth into a small smile.

‘That’s as may be but I’d rather not.’

Kelken stiffened upright and grumbled something. ‘Then bugger off if you’re not going to talk.’

There was a sudden change in San Kiln’s manner. ‘Have you always been this hostile?’ There was a rising gradient of anger in his deep voice.

He was met with a silent wall.

‘My wife left me years ago and left me to look after our son on my own.’

‘Pakros didn’t seem absent to me.’

‘She’s my second wife. My first one ran out on me many years back. We’d had a son together – Tino.’

There was a slight lift in Kelken’s voice. ‘What’s he like?’

‘He’s a good lad… lives over in Pillin these days last I knew.’

‘You don’t have much contact with him?’

‘Not really. He went his own way once he had grown old enough. Got his own little empire of taverns in Pillin so I believe; about three or four of them.’

‘Very nice.’ Kelken sniffed. ‘When did you last speak to him?’

San Kiln’s purr halted and he let out a long, thoughtful breath. ‘Seven, maybe eight years ago… even then it wasn’t exactly on the best of terms.’

‘How come?’

‘I… kind of raised a sore point about his mother. He always thought highly of her regardless of her leaving us both in the dark. I was bad mouthing her and he went on the defensive… it got out of hand and he ordered me to leave and go back home.’

‘Must’ve been hard.’

‘It bloody was; heartbreaking to be honest,’ San Kiln replied, more calmly. ‘It wasn’t long after that that I met Pakros.’

‘How did you two meet anyway?’ Kelken asked softly.

‘A pretty unimpressive story to be honest, Kelken,’ he chuckled. ‘I was in a crowd that was watching her deliver a rather good speech in Yingtzo about distributing wealth to the poorest people in a bid to get them out of poverty. She’s keen on equality, you see. But anyway, I remember I was near the front of the crowd and she picked a few of us out to come up and talk to her after the speech. She was under the impression I was a Yingtzo inhabitant so you can imagine her awkwardness when I told her I was a visitor from Preull. She offered to have me over for dinner as a way of saying sorry for wasting my time and involving me in domestic matters… it went from there as you can imagine.’

‘You’re right… quite unimpressive.’

They both laughed.

‘This is a lot bigger than you and me, Kelken.’ San Kiln became much more solemn, his voice turning into a harsh whisper. ‘Franlet had a look at the rest of the book…’

Kelken sighed. ‘And? What did she find?’

‘Nothing good.’ San Kiln rubbed his chin.

‘What does that mean exactly?’

He paused before purring again, this time intermittently. ‘It affects everyone in Salarias… shall we leave it at that?’

‘That’s a bit vague.’

‘Maybe you should speak to your records keeper about it…’

Excerpt Of Chapter 5 From My Novel

Here is another unedited excerpt, this time from chapter 5. It introduces a supporting character named Dedrick who is the uncle of one of the main characters, Evie, whom my protagonist Mikos accidentally handed over to the law. Please remember that comments and feedback are welcome!

‘Look at him – he’s nothing more than a weedy little bag o’ shit.’

These words snapped Mikos’s mind back into clarity. His head was a garbled mess of hazy recollections of what he last remembered – being smothered by a filthy bag going over his head and clouted into unconsciousness with some implement or another.

‘That’s as may be, but he was the one who got my little niece captured by those brainwashed simpletons in the guard. I will not let this go!’

He tried to adjust his aching eyes in the poor light of a weak candle but could only just make out a couple of silhouettes standing in front of him embroiled in, what he could only ascertain as, a heated debate about him.

He flexed his biceps and found that his hands were restrained behind him by some toughened rope that dug into his wrists like a razor. He should’ve guessed that he would awake all tied in knots. Typical.

The taller figure in front of him, a deeply exotic voiced man, paced around with a masterful air to him as if he was a position of power and influence in the group that had kidnapped him.

‘If my Evie comes to any harm then that shit bag will be the first to know about it.’

Evie? Was that the girl he had inadvertently apprehended in the market? If it was then he was kicking himself now – she was obviously part of something bigger. Bollocks.

The not-so tall figure, a timid sounding male, clasped his hands as if praying to the gods for some sort of resolution for his sins. ‘Please Dedrick calm down. He could be of some use to us.’

Mikos’s ear pricked up at the mention of this. What possible use could he be to them? Being of use would be better than not being of use he supposed. He kept his head low, maintaining his unconscious demeanour.

He could afford a little movement in the dankness of this room. All around him was bare floor space – the floor being a cold, hard stone surface moistened with rainwater that was leaking in through cracks in the ceiling. He was tied to some kind of stone pedestal by a series of chains and rope around his feet and ankles. No chance of getting out of these things anytime soon.

‘What use could he be to us?’ Dedrick protested.

‘Listen Dedrick… if we persuade him to help us in our cause then he can be invaluable. We could send a message to the commander stating that the man who apprehended one of the most wanted people in Donnol wants to arrange a meeting.’

Dedrick remained sceptical. ‘Then what?’

‘We could either kidnap the commander or get the trader to scout the area where Evie is being held. Remember she isn’t in the maximum security place yet. Maybe he could ask to see her before she goes off to be hung, drawn and quartered.’

‘And why would he allow that?’

The smaller man paused, an awkward silence hanging in the air.

Dedrick snorted. ‘Didn’t think that one through did you dipshit?’

‘I’ll work on it, but it has the basis of a good plan.’

‘I suppose it might have some use,’ Dedrick finally conceded. He raised a hand and pointed to the other side of the shrouded room. ‘Leave us. I want to talk to him alone. No interruptions… you get me?’

The shadowy man nodded silently and hastily exited through a far off doorway. This Dedrick character certainly had a way of intimidating people.

It was as clear as crystal why; after moving up to him, Dedrick’s features became sharpened by the nearby candlelight – a middle-aged man with shoulder length grey hair, black headscarf, a scarred face and a couple of silver teeth. Aside from his face there was his body – a powerful, rhino-like stature giving him a physical edge by all appearances. His broad shoulders were petrifying and Mikos had no doubt that a well-kept set of muscles were resting underneath the man’s apparel.

‘Ah fuck!’ Mikos yelped as Dedrick’s hand came thundering onto his cheek to wake him up.

‘I was already awake Dedrick.’

The old man scoffed and chuckled. ‘For a while by the sounds of it if you know my name already lad.’

Mikos breathed out heavily. ‘Get to the point – why have you brought me here?’ He didn’t appreciate being taken out of a warm lounge and into the biting cold just to be knocked out and tied up.

‘Oh we are snippy this evening aren’t we?’ the old man replied in a sickly sweet voice. His aged yet strong hand yanked Mikos’s hair back; his sour breath radiating onto his face as he moved closer. ‘The rest of the group don’t want to see you hurt just yet but they answer to me so what I decide goes a long way. Understand?’

He grunted as his head was released from the man’s fearsome grasp. ‘Help you get your niece back? Why can’t you just break her out?’

There was a sudden whisper in the air from Dedrick’s reaction that seemed to echo Mikos’s sense of confusion.

‘Oh come on… any kid still wet behind the ears knows why we cannot just break in.’ Dedrick sucked in the dusty air through his gritted teeth, his face changing into a frown. ‘We would have our asses handed to us on a platter if we tried that. Without knowledge of where we’re going then we’re like blind rats amongst hellfire.’

Mikos’s heart began to pound against his chest – he knew something was going to be dropped into the conversation to twist his arm – he had a sense for impending doom. ‘I suppose you want me to scout the area? Or go meet the commander and steal a map of the grounds? Maybe even break her out myself.’

The old man laughed whole heartedly with genuine amusement. He had quite a jolly laugh when he wasn’t interrogating someone. ‘We hadn’t come up with a plan as of yet but thanks for the input!’ he said still chuckling.

Mikos tilted his head forward and muttered under his fatigued breath. ‘And why should I give you a hand anyway?’ He was well aware that he was fighting a losing battle; his mind was not completely there after being beaten on the skull.

The room seemed to darken as Dedrick moved closer once more, his breath not as rancid this time around. Maybe he was getting used to its foul odour. He lowered his voice to a harsh rasp. ‘You’re a trader right? Reputation is everything…’ He left his sentence to hang in the air like a mist.

‘And what the hell is that supposed to mean old man?’

He laughed again. ‘Oh I think my implications are clear enough wouldn’t you say?’

Mikos knew exactly what he was on about – a trader with a bad reputation may as well not be a trader. Word of mouth by the right sort of people would render his standing more or less null and void, leaving him with a worthless profession and an equally bleak life – no one would want to know him. The thought of this was earth shattering; a fate worse than his own death. ‘Why should I believe that you have the influence to do that?’ He tried to remain sceptical.

‘Trust me lad, I have enough influence remaining to make a significant impact.’ With that Dedrick strolled off with almighty satisfaction, leaving the now troubled Mikos to his own devices.

If there was thing he valued above all else it was his reputation for being an honest and valued trader across Salarias. He had travelled all over the place making business acquaintances, friends, contracts and the like, but now along came a man who said that he could threaten his entire image. He knew in the back reaches of his mind that it could be all talk; however, something about the old man seemed frightfully sincere and meaningful. How had he gotten himself into this mess?

Thanks for reading! :-D

Excerpt From Chapter 4 of My Novel

Here is an extract from chapter 4 of my upcoming novel ‘Secrets of Arkana Fortress’. Comments and feedback are welcome as always but please bear in mind that this is the unedited version :-)

NB – Bad Language is Present!

A sudden pain brought him back into consciousness and he coughed a deep grating sound. He tried to lift himself up but was pushed down.

‘For crying out loud, keep him still.’

Byde stifled back a shout of agony as he felt something sharp stab him in the leg. ‘What the fuck are you doing to me?’

A blonde, short-haired woman looked up from the end of the bed, a metal sewing utensil in her hand. ‘I am stitching up this giant gash in your leg. Now keep still!’

He grunted with reluctant approval and then looked at the dark skinned man still with his hands on his shoulders.

‘Who are you two?’ he croaked.

The man, built like a castle fortress and with a mane of jet black hair, looked at him with soothing brown eyes. ‘We found you on the eastern plains near the Spring Waters well. You were in a bit of a state so the wife and I brought you back.’ The man looked at his wife who was cross stitching surgical thread through Byde’s leg.

Byde groaned. ‘It’s… very kind of you. You could have just left me there to die you know?’

The woman laughed as she tied up the loose end of a stitch.

‘What’s so funny?’

‘We’re not barbarians in Cryldis you know?’ the husband replied with a sly smirk.

Byde spluttered at what he had heard. ‘Cryldis? Are you sure?’

The wife finished up and packed her sewing equipment away in a long steel case, placing it on a bedside table. She stood up and looked at Byde with cloudy blue eyes. ‘Well we’ve lived here for 30 odd years now so we’re pretty sure of where we are.’ She placed her hand on his forehead and clucked her tongue. ‘You’ve still got quite a temperature.’

He remained silent and stared at the ceiling of the hut. It was surprisingly big for what it was… probably a hunter’s lodge. Furs of various animals adorned the walls and floor. There were cuts of salted meat roasting on an open fire giving off a mouth watering aroma that made his belly rumble loudly.

‘I bet you’re hungry pal,’ said the husband.

Byde smiled pathetically. ‘You can say that again.’ He sat up, struggling to do so without help. Glancing down he noticed that his clothes were gone. There was a sudden panic in his voice. ‘Where are my things?’

‘Your clothes are hanging up by the fire to dry. The rest of you stuff is over on the table,’ said the wife pointing.

‘Could you bring me the things from the table?’ he asked the husband with urgency.

He was handed his belongings – his sword, a pair of gloves, a belt, a small knife and a brooch. His heart slowed down. ‘Thank the gods for that.’

The man looked at him with a bewildered expression. ‘What was so important?’

Byde looked up and stuttered. ‘N…nothing. Just that some of this stuff is inherited tis all.’ He breathed a sigh of relief then assessed the couple. ‘What are your names anyway? I can’t thank you properly without knowing them.’

‘I’m Ilsa and this is my husband Olen.’

He looked up at the husband. ‘Nice to meet you Olen.’

He then looked at the wife. ‘Thank you, Ilsa, for sorting my leg out.’

She smiled warmly. ‘It was no biggy; had nothing else to do today so I thought ‘why not stitch someone’s leg up?’’

Byde laughed briefly before coughing up what felt like his innards. ‘My name is Byde.’

‘It’s a pleasure’ replied Ilsa as she fiddled about with a dressing for his leg.

‘Oh I bet you’re in need of grub,’ said Olen. ‘It’ll be up in an hour or so, so make yourself comfy till then alright?’

***

That evening at the table he was treated to a hearty assortment of salted meats and steamed vegetables which he wolfed down as if he hadn’t eaten for a millennia. ‘Good food,’ he stated with a more than ample mouthful. His fingers, riddled with juices from the meat, were poised to refill his gullet as soon as the present load had gone.

Ilsa covered her mouth, trying not to giggle too much at the sight of this stranger’s enthusiastic consumption of her cooking.

Byde looked up. ‘What’s so funny?’ he asked after swallowing too much and nearly choking.

She shook her head timidly. ‘Oh nothing… it’s just that I know Olen has an appetite but I’ve never seen anyone eat food that quickly before.’

Olen agreed with a throaty chuckle as he tenderly chewed on a piece.

Byde stopped and put his hands in front of his mouth. He wore a guilty look in the recesses of his face. ‘I am so sorry… am I making a pig of myself?’

‘No no it’s ok. Carry on… I’m flattered you find it so tasty.’

He exhaled. ‘Thanks… it is bloody lovely stuff.’

Olen finished off his chunk of meat and shifted on his chair. ‘Not to be offensive, but you act like you’ve never eaten food like this before.’

‘That’s because I haven’t.’

‘What you mean?’ asked Olen.

Byde stopped in mid-chew. He realised that he was divulging too much pertinent information to the two of them. ‘Erm… what I mean is I don’t have stuff like this where I come from.’

Ilsa leaned forward, resting her elbows on the hardwood table top. ‘Where are you from then?’

He kicked himself again. You dumbass he thought to himself. ‘I… err… come from the south. Lived on my own for many years now so I don’t get the chance to cook up such a spread – I’m no hunter or expert cook; simple food is all I’ve had for a while.’

She smiled broadly. ‘Well I’m just glad you like it anyway.’

The room was warmed by the roaring fire and crackled every so often, giving it a simple and relaxed air that Byde found endearing. This place was so different to the unstable Isles of Dinsk, with its magical disasters, quakes, storms from clear skies, magical illusions. This place had undisturbed weather processes, carefree wildlife, no earthquakes or illusions of the sort.

‘Tell me about Cryldis… I’ve never been here before,’ he asked after taking his last piece of the feast in a pincer-like motion of his fingers.

‘It’s an alright place to live,’ replied Olen as he handed his empty plate to Ilsa for washing. ‘Not many cities or large towns here though. You’ve got Hocklino – the port to the north-east of the island just past the forests. That’s the big place for incoming trade from anywhere in the northern territories.’

‘What about the south?’

‘There’re a few smaller port towns that aren’t on any map that’s been done yet but Cryldis rarely trades with anybody from the southern territories coz they tend to keep themselves to themselves down that way… bunch of unsociable people if you ask me.’

‘I’ve never dealt with anyone else in the south other than my own sense of loneliness,’ said Byde.

Olen looked at him. ‘Where in the south do you live? Anywhere near that port town of Pillin? That’s the only place in the south I know of.’

Byde looked down at the table. ‘Erm… near there, yes. Just down the coast.’ He hoped that his making up of a story would pass as believable.

‘Ah right. Must be lonely,’ Olen acknowledged.

He breathed out subtly, relieved that he had deceived the man. ‘Anyway you were saying about this island…’

‘Yes I was.’ Olen perked up as if he rarely had a lengthy conversation with anyone at all. ‘Anyway, the capital of the island is a place called Hocknis; ever heard of it?’

‘No I haven’t.’

‘No matter – it’s a grand place where a lot of trading goes on. You see, this island is very trade oriented; always has been. Hocknis never used to exist many, many years ago; it was a lot of separate villages that soon realised that they could survive a lot longer if they all joined together rather than competing against each other for trading supremacy. In the end they formed a coalition government that did ok for a small while, but then collapsed due to conflicting ideas and a lot of unrest from the people. Instead of bickering over things they clubbed together and put things to the vote; now they’ve got a stable government – a minister as leader of the council. Democracy seems to have worked over here. I can’t say much for Donnol up north across the pond.’

Byde raised an eyebrow out of curiosity. ‘Is Donnol in the northern territories then? Why can’t you say much for it?’

Olen screwed half of his face up with indifference. ‘It used to have a good government but over the past dozen years or so everything across Salarias has gone to pot; the plague and all that shit.’

‘Plague? What plague is this?’

The dark-faced Olen was taken aback with utter disbelief. ‘Are you serious?’ He turned to look at his wife. ‘Ilsa… our friend Byde here doesn’t seem to know about the plague.’

Ilsa stopped her washing and peered behind her at the pair of them, mostly at Byde’s look of confusion. ‘The Psyloss plague? The thing that’s been sending people across the land completely loopy? Surely they’ve been affected down south?’

Byde shrugged and shook his head gently. ‘I’ve lived on my own for a few decades so I have no clue what’s going on in the world.’ He lowered his head.

Olen waved at Ilsa. ‘Carry on with the washing sweetie.’

She moved back to the tub of hot water.

‘We didn’t know how long you had lived on your own for; we’re sorry for seeming a bit unbelieving.’ He gave a soft smile. ‘Where was I?’

‘You were talking about Donnol up north,’ Byde answered.

‘That’s the one. Yeah it was a thriving market town that developed into a large city – got it own military and everything now. It kind of monopolised the port trade up there so there aren’t any others left – they all went into the care of the Donnol government.

‘It holds a monthly market – impressive stuff I might add; go there myself every so often. You get allsorts going up there to sell their wares and stuff – loads of different races from all over Salarias.’

Byde sat in his seat, fixated on what he was being told. He hadn’t known much about the outside world and what it was like. Sure he had a map or two back home, but having no experience with any of the places on it he was now like an eager child learning about it for the first time in his life. ‘Sounds like a grand place regardless of the troubles you’ve mentioned.’

Olen nodded. ‘Yeah, you should go there and have a look around for yourself. It’s certainly something you should do at least once in a lifetime to be honest.’

‘I’ll do that sometime.’

Ilsa dried off the last plate and joined them, holding a bottle of some liqueur in one hand and three glasses in the other. She set them down and parked herself on the stool. ‘A night-cap is at hand.’ She poured three half measures of the dense purple-red liquid and replaced the cork.

‘So… tell us about yourself, Byde.’

Hope you enjoyed the read and have some valuable feedback for me :-)

A Small Excerpt Of My Novel (Chapter 3)

This is a smaller excerpt of my novel than the previous ones. In this part of chapter 3, the main character is resting after a days trading in the northern city as well as accidentally getting one of the supporting characters put on death row. The wrong people have been angered…

NB: Bad Language in the last line

A hearty cod stew with herb dumplings, fish stock gravy, and a side of bread and potato hit the spot in Mikos’s stomach just like the wonders of magic-based pain relief.

He patted his belly and leaned back with a small glass half full of some brown spirit-based drink. He had taken a corner table in the lounge of the tavern away from the rest of the crowds and savoured his evening meal. He sipped the drink and tried to relax.

The lounge was a beautifully laid out series of tables, chairs and light fixtures that always gleamed with a hearty emotion, sending rays of soft orange light dancing through the room like a bunch of well-wishing fairies. Being lit by small magical devices, they fluctuated and would change their shades of colour dependant on the time of day.

An elderly human couple sat a few cubicles down from him trying to recapture the romance by feeding each other forkfuls of their dinners, whispering and giggling at stories. Mikos didn’t know whether to feel amused, understanding or sickened. He looked around again. Not many people were in the lounge this night.

A reptilian was manning the bar and vigorously polishing a stubborn set of decanter glasses with a tatty rag. He couldn’t tell whether the reptile was male or female as they all looked the same; the only way of telling was by a method most people refused to do – an examination of one of the lower orifices.

As he continued his thoughtful gazing, Mikos finished off his aperitif and sat back. He preferred the solitude in the evenings rather than the crowds of inns, pubs and some low-key taverns in the city. The nightlife in Donnol was known for its offers on alcohol, usually reduced prices at certain times of the year, and was therefore a typically violent setting with only the toughest and most experienced of people surviving it on a regular basis. He, however, was not one to risk it even though he knew he could look after himself.

Suddenly a sharp gust of wind blew through the room as the door was opened from outside. A darkened figure dressed in a long brown hooded cape stepped in, the sound of their boots clopping on the wooden floor. The cape flowed in the breeze as the person shut the door behind them. A small, flattened nose poked out a short distance from within the hooded refuge, a compliment of white fur beneath its moistened textures. A set of narrow blue eyes scanned the room and stopped at the one corner.

Mikos had certainly noticed the mysterious entrance this figure had made and was even more wary as it moved in his direction.

‘Is there anything you want, stranger?’ he asked, barely looking up at the shadowy presence. There was a soft yet deepened purring.

‘Mikos Valdera?’ the hood asked in a husky voice.

He looked up more at the person, now seeing the variety of coloured hairs on the face and the few sharp whiskers around the nose. ‘A feline… what do you want sir?’

‘There was an incident earlier in the marketplace where a young girl was captured thanks to your apprehension of her.’

‘I was merely in the wrong place at the right time is all.’

The feline flexed his narrow shoulders. ‘Nonetheless, the captain of the Donnol guard requests your presence.’

Mikos laughed softly. ‘So that’s how you know my name… looked it up on the official lists.’

‘Indeed we did.’

He stood up sluggishly and faced the feline. ‘And what, pray tell, does the captain of the guard want me for?’ he asked before rubbing his head.

‘He has not only his personal thanks, but a small gift for you. Don’t ask me what it is because I don’t know; I am only the messenger.’

‘Well I was going to settle down with a good book I bought earlier,’ said Mikos with a reluctant stare.

The cat scoffed and chuckled to himself. ‘The captain is not a man to be refused.’

‘Is that a threat or a warning?’

‘It is a matter of fact, Mr Valdera.’

Mikos sighed and angled his eyes to the floor. ‘Very well then, lead the way.’

‘Oh, I’m sorry, but I have other messages to deliver before the moons reach their peak tonight. I’m sure you know the way… just head back to the central market ward and follow the main road north. You can’t miss it.’ With that the feline bowed and ventured back into the night, leaving Mikos somewhat irritated at the lack of an escort.

‘Typical,’ he grunted before picking up his jacket. ‘Do it yourself Mikos… go over there Mikos… three bags fucking full Mikos.’

Feedback welcome! :-D

Excerpt of My Novel (Chapter 2)

Here is another excerpt of my novel. This is the unedited version so mistakes and polishing is needed (Any you can see please feel free to point out to me :-D)

This portion of my second chapter is based around 2 of my supporting characters, Kelken and his daughter Breena.

NB – bad language is present!

Kelken slammed onto the ground with a disconcerting thump as the blonde man dropped him, the weight finally being too much for his narrow shoulders. He panted heavily as he arched his back and cracked his spine back into place.

‘You heavy fucker,’ he mumbled dryly.

Kelken snorted from the cobbles, old rainwater sucking itself up into his nose. He choked before clearing his throat from the gritty taste.

‘I’m no heavy bugger… you’re just a weak little shit,’ he retorted as his freshly dirtied face lifted up to assess the person standing in front of him. ‘You still gonna pour coffee down my gullet?’

‘That’ll be the day old timer… the shop is gone.’ The blonde man palmed his face. ‘It was open yesterday… what the hell?’

‘Oh you know how it goes in low-town – people either get chucked out or killed for being in the way of the gangs and their reign of damn terror.’ Kelken trailed off and grumbled a little before resting his head on the floor again.

The blonde man gently kicked him.

Kelken grunted disapprovingly.

He kicked him again, this time with more force.

Kelken flailed his arm feebly as if batting away an annoying moth.

‘For the love of the gods get the hell up you stupid old git,’ the blonde man urged.

Kelken leaned his head to one side and watched the blonde man shuffling back slowly from the store front. He lifted himself up partially and spat into a small puddle.

‘Who the fuck are them geezers?’

‘I assume they’re the ones who closed the store,’ the blonde man said hazarding a guess. He bent down and wrapped a hand around Kelken’s arm to lift him up.

He batted it away. ‘I’m quite capable of… lifting myself up y’know? What do you think I am? Drunk or summat?’

‘Get up old man… quickly.’

‘Stop calling me old you little sod… I’m only 52 y’know?’ he scorned, the slurring becoming less frequent. He dusted his outfit off and swayed as he stood, noting the three men slowly lumbering their way towards him. He assumed they were part of the local Vildilim gang, who were something to be feared as they counted high in numbers, always fought dirty and never took on anything or anyone alone.

The thugs stopped a few feet away from the two intoxicated men and, in unison, produced long knives from each of their sleeves. The all wore black hooded tops with no sleeves, whilst underneath there were simple baggy-armed brown tops and shabby leather belts.

He looked them up and down, his eyes fixing on their lack of footwear and ripped knee-length trousers. He inspected their faces; if there was one thing he still knew in his hazardous state of mind was that making eye contact with an opposition was to know who they were.

Bollocks – their faces were hidden from him.

Kelken grinded his alcohol-bleached teeth together, the frictional sound vibrating through his head.

‘Careful you freaking nut jobs; I was once a knight of the old Traseken Order – I know my stuff.’

The blonde man rolled his eyes and backed away, his black uniform now splattered with the essences of muddy waters. ‘Smooth old man, very smooth indeed. They’re gonna fucking kill us.’

‘Oh come off it. These whelps wouldn’t know what the hell to do if the answer was right in front of ‘em.’ He put one hand on his belt.

‘Yeah,’ the blonde man began as he clapped his hands sarcastically. ‘Way to calm them down eh?’

Kelken motioned for him to remain still and quiet. ‘I’m the experienced one here… not you.’ He turned back to the three gang members who were now encroaching upon him in an ever-widening semi-circle.

‘Smart move, boys. This means you’ll have to make me work for my…’

One of the hooded men fell onto his side, blood spurting out like a fountain from a gaping arrow wound in his neck. The other two jumped from the sudden attack and whipped their heads around, searching for the assailant.

Another arrow shot through the stale air, slicing it open with a graceful force before jamming its tip into one of the remaining men’s forehead.

Kelken turned his head around and scanned for the archer that was taking these men out for him. ‘Saves me the trouble I suppose.’ He turned to the blonde man expectantly only to find him cowering on the floor with his arms wrapped over the back of his head emitting odd-sounding whimpers.

‘Damn pussy.’

Kelken swivelled around slowly and eyed the last thug who was now crouching low with his blades held up in front of him with the low hopes of deflecting the next missile.

A muffled crash echoed around the deserted street as he barrelled into the man with un-nerving speed for someone who had been drinking all night and morning. The old man’s shoulder connected with the hood’s side in a flash move, his entire weight shifting as he took the attacker down.

He felt the thumping blow of a fist against his jaw and he reeled off, the pain slightly numbed by the mental film of intoxication. He groaned as he received another punch, this time to the chest.

‘Get the fuck off me you little shit,’ he scathed as he struggled against the man’s unyielding swiftness. ‘Oi blondey… give me a goddamn hand please?’

The blonde man looked up then stared with acknowledging blue eyes at the corpses of the two hoods. His legs found footing and he stood up shaking before stepping forward to pick up one of the blades from the dead bodies. ‘I rarely use these things.’

Kelken fought back with a head butt while his hands locked with the thug’s wrists to keep the steel of a newly unsheathed blade away from his chest. ‘It’s easy… pointy end goes into the flesh… man dies. Now, hurry the heck up.’

The man fell to one side, blood seeping from his neck.

The blonde man stared, the blade lodged firmly in his grip.

Kelken clumsily got up to his feet and kicked the dead body sharply with his boot. ‘Thank you for that. Good place to kill a man is in the neck.’

‘But I didn’t do anything.’

‘I wasn’t talking to you blondey,’ Kelken replied before pointing behind the man. ‘I was talking to her.’

The blonde man turned around and stared in awe.

A slender female emerged from the shadows, a winged recurve bow held dominantly in her right hand and a quiver of foreign arrows on her back. As she moved into the dim light of the emptiness, her mane of long red hair became apparent to them both.

‘And so the cavalry has arrived,’ Kelken chuckled before stifling a burp.

Without a word, the woman walked up to him and slammed her palm into his face, a look of pure anger and disdain on her well-formed face.

He recoiled, one of his battle-worn hands trying to sooth his cheek. ‘Ow. What the fuck was that for?’

That was for keeping me waiting out in the bloody freezing night air for, oh let me see… 10 fucking hours. You careless bastard.’

Her voice was scornful yet sweet sounding, the blonde man noticed, with an ever so slight lisp to it. He raised a hand and then stepped forward only to be pushed back by Kelken.

‘Well I’m sorry ok?’ he snapped back, determined not to be hit again.

The woman clenched her fist and slung the bow onto her back. ‘This isn’t the first time, you sod. Remember back in Port Pillin? That time when you told me to wait in that crate so I could jump out and get the man we were hired to kill? Remember that one eh?’

Kelken’s bark-brown eyes darted from side to side, looking at the cobbles. ‘I… erm… I apologised for that one, if you’ve forgotten?’

The red-head weighted herself onto her left leg and winced a little while she adjusted her long black battle skirt. ‘Oh yes and so sincere it was too,’ she snorted before spitting at Kelken’s boots.

The blonde man sighed loudly.

The woman turned to him with a fiery look in her face, causing him to step back. The look in her eyes was not the thing that startled him… it was the presence of two vertical pupils tinged with green and yellow.

‘What the hell are you?’ he stammered as he stumbled back a few steps.

She turned to Kelken. ‘Is this him?’

‘Yeah this is him… this is blondey.’

The man grunted and glared at Kelken. ‘I have a name you know?’

The woman turned and stepped towards him. Even though she was slender and athletic in demeanour, she was still an intimidating force even for a female. ‘Yes, I know – Morjat Villes; black market trader, womaniser, supplier of illegal substances including drugs, alcohol, weapons and magical devices. Am I right?’

It was then that the light revealed the clusters of small grey scales running up both sides of her neck and around the back.

Morjat tilted his head. ‘You a half-breed?’ he whispered in astonishment.

Without a word, the woman grabbed her bow and nocked a feathered arrow, aiming the projectile point-blank at the now frightened Morjat.

‘What the fuck are you doing?’ he exclaimed, his hands palming the air above his head.

She remained silent, her secondary eyelids blinking slowly as she pulled back the string.

‘Oi, old man tell her to stop,’ he said imploringly.

Kelken massaged his forehead before looking up at him. ‘Why should I?’

Morjat looked to the woman then back to Kelken. ‘What about that contract you mentioned? I’m sure we can cut a deal.’ He laughed hesitantly.

‘Oh yes… the contract. I forgot to tell you what that was all about.’ Kelken’s body language suddenly changed; it was as if he had not been drunk at all. He walked up to Morjat, flexing his arms. ‘The contract was for your life – I neglected to tell you.’ He smirked and waved his hand.

The tainted water on the cobbles stained Morjat’s hair and clothing as his now lifeless body toppled backwards like a falling statue; the sheer force of the antiquated-style arrow cracking open his skull and spilling the contents onto the floor.

Kelken breathed a sigh of relief and fought back another resounding burp, but to no avail. ‘’Scuse me.’

The woman swung her bow around and caught the thickened length of it on his belly.

Kelken leaned forward, wheezing heavily. ‘For the love of the gods will you stop hitting me?’

‘And what are you going to say? Same as last time? “Have some respect for your father”? Stop pissing me about when we do these contracts then.’

He stood up, still rubbing his tummy, and swallowed hard. ‘OK… I am sorry Breena, and I mean it this time.’

There was an eerie sincerity in his tone that Breena had rarely heard in her 22 years of being alive. ‘That’ll do… I suppose,’ she sighed.

He placed a hand on her shoulder and then held her apologetically. ‘Let’s go back to the tavern and freshen up,’ he said softly.

Breena stared at the body then nodded.

As they left the bloody scene, the street fell back into its silent decay. The scuttle of hungry rats could be heard in the stillness of the bloodied air as they homed in on the fresh meat.

This had been the most activity to happen on this street for days. The rodent population was the only non-gang presence in the low-town area; searching for scraps of food whenever the contraband goods of the hooded thugs passed through and was carelessly handled.

Morjat’s soul was bound to the hellish middle realms – the gangs would just toss his body in a gutter and leave it to rot in the infected slush of old body flesh, rotten food and stagnant waters.

The innocents longed for a reprise, but it never came along. They had been left to suffer in forced silence.

Hope you enjoyed the read. Criticisms are welcome :-)

Excerpt Of My Work

I have been debating this – like any writer I am never pleased with what I have done… maybe a fear of getting bad feedback. However, without it how am I to pick up on things?

Anyway here is the Prologue from my upcoming piece.

Enjoy!

Prologue

There was only one thing going on.

A sudden attack was laying waste to this small village on the eastern island of Xenoc. The thatched homes burned with a raging intensity as if the flames themselves were possessed. The night air was filled with a thick, acrid haze that was choking both villagers and attackers. Blood soaked the ground. All was lost.

Kasten dived through a gap before the stable ceiling collapsed under the fiery plague. He scrabbled like a startled animal for his sword. He was the village leader and protector of the ancient Lupian sword that was regarded as a treasure worth dying for.

The blade was in danger and Kasten was desperate to seal it away with the incantation. He was one of the last in a line of ‘Casters’ – the people who infused mystic powers into objects to make them unusable by anyone other than themselves. Trusted by the ancient mystics, these people had been hunted and killed; many of them failing to cast anything into the objects they protected.

He swung the endangered sword around and caught his pursuer, slicing the long silver and green blade across his gut and spilling his entrails onto the ashen floor. Kasten’s leg was a mess from a couple of arrows and was slowly festering from the noxious poison that had been on the tips. He could feel his heart pounding against his chest as he gripped a beam of wood to hoist himself over a flaming corpse – so many had died in this slaughterhouse.

Screams echoed from the heat; the souls of many villagers already trapped in the middle realms between life and death. A single tear parted the dirt on Kasten’s face as he ran, the sword held firmly in his burnt hand. More attackers, dressed in heavy leather armour, charged at him emitting deep howls that wrenched his stomach with a sense of despair.

He felled them all with clumsy slices and stabs before falling forward, his head flickered with searing pains. The people of the village were lost – sealing the sword was his only concern now. No evil-minded force was allowed to lay their hands on any mystic object, especially one with immense destructive powers.

Towering sheets of flame crept in upon him. His eyes were fuzzy and oozing from the fast-acting poison of the arrows. He breathed heavily; his legs were like stone. The stench of death was ever near as Kasten staggered forward still, the casting shrine within reach.

He toppled carelessly over the small slate wall surrounding the sacred grounds in the western part of the village – a place of much history and magical wonder. The shrine itself was a sturdy, cylindrical granite structure rising to six feet. Silver lines were wrapped around like vines on a tree trunk and they emitted an ethereal glow which was almost hypnotic.

Blood splattered onto the flattened grass as he vomited, saliva trickling down his chin as thickened rouge. He hacked up violently as the sword fell from his grip. His mind whipped from side to side, the voices creeping up on him calling his soul. The ashes that had blackened his light brown hair tumbled onto the floor as he coughed.

The sword – he had to cast the seal quickly.

His lips trembled as he stood up, the weapon held to his side. The words jumbled through his mouth haphazardly. He swore. The attackers were closing in fast.

‘Come on Kasten,’ he mumbled to himself gruffly. He could hear the screams.

A sudden surge went through his spine as ancient words spilled out into the murky atmosphere.

The shrine glowed.

Kasten lifted the sword above his head and his eyes went pale and filmed over. The silver vines ebbed mystically, vibrating the air around the stone column. Infusions of lost magic whirled around in elegant, mist-like forms, but remained intangible to mortal fingers.

An arrow split the harmonic ambience causing time to stand still. The sword fell and clattered onto the ground, sending ripples through the night as Kasten’s chest crumpled from the impact. He flopped to the ground, his lungs wheezing out gargles of terror. The casting was incomplete.

A heavily armoured figure shadowed into focus outside the shrine, two archers poised behind him. He let his crossbow fall to his side. He sniffed the air from underneath his dark green helmet, the subtle sound of purring perforating the thick metal. His yellow eyes squinted through the visor.

‘Stop him,’ the figure roared to his people.

‘Malkieu Delkhat.’

The arrow quickly pierced Kasten’s forehead, delivering the fatal blow with god-like precision. The armoured figure swore continuously before he turned to the archers.

‘If you two morons hadn’t missed the first time then we would have that sword in our possession and completely unsealed.’ His howling, raspy voice grated the inside of his helmet as he scathed them.

They both apologised profusely.

He removed his helmet to reveal a mound of short fur. His ears twitched on the top of his head as he smoothed out his whiskers. He purred harshly as he walked over to the dead caster, his paw-like fingers slipping around the hilt of the sword.

The mists cleared swiftly with a soft whoosh; the disturbance of the feline warrior’s presence bringing the airs of evil to the shrine. The silver glow dissipated from the column as if wilting like an elderly flower.

Regardless of the casting he smiled; his small fangs sliding out over his bottom lip menacingly. He rested the cast blade on his shoulder, the gentle clang of metal on metal resonating against the silence. The air was clearing slowly.

One of the archers stood to one side as the warrior walked away without a look to either of them. The other slung his reflex bow over his shoulder and stepped after him.

‘Sir? What do we do now?’ he asked nervously. He was obviously scared of him.

The leopard-spotted figure stopped and held his head upwards. ‘We are withdrawing,’ his voice boomed. ‘This casting is incomplete – at most it will last a few decades. For now we will add it to the collection.’

Constructive criticism is highly encouraged! As many feedback comments as possible would be highly appreciated!

Book 1 – My New Fantasy Series

So now that Book 1 of my new fantasy series is all planned out and drawn up I can now go about setting the scenes and really hammering this idea out onto paper. I will try and keep people updated whenever possible in between other random posts :-)

I am planning for this idea to span out over 3 books or maybe more if I feel that it could go further.

Wish me luck!

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