Anoushka Demaine and her fearsome tank squad know war. Thirty years ago, for a reasonable rate, they could be hired to fight for anyone. Now, with the war between Rammelstaad and the orcs threatening to spread, Anoushka wants to get … Continue reading
A message appears on the moon. It is legible from Earth, and almost no one knows how it was created. Markus West leads the government’s investigation to find the creator. The message is simple and familiar. But those three words, … Continue reading
When Amos, a rebellious young man in the 1930s, attempts to stop time travelers from kidnapping a girl, he learns the future is overrun by aliens—and his future grandson will cause the invasion by contacting them. When the time travelers … Continue reading
There is an open wound in the heart of the cosmos. A wound that tears at the flesh of reality, drawing powerful and malign aberrations from an unknowable realm. Salem Ben stopped the first, but more are coming, and now … Continue reading
An isle in the Southern Sea of Etlantis. Thirty years before Aeon’s End, the first apocalypse of Earth he sky was a slate gray when Darke’s ship pulled into the island’s cove. The waters of the lagoon could have been inked. Darke, the corsair, was a lean figure atop the forecastle; his black mantle flared in night’s wind; his hair curled about the shoulders of his leather jerkin. His men were gathered. They were men hard of the sea. At the forward ports, archers crouched, waiting. Amidships, the mighty crossbow, with its fifty-stone draw, was armed with an oaken bolt fitted with a heavy, rusted iron tip. At the cutwater strakes, the siphon jets of the flame throwers curled their fire breath against the prow. In the lagoon across from them, an Etlantian galley rested. Rather, it once had been an Etlantian galley. Etlantian ships were brightly painted—red and blue, green and white. Solid plates of oraculum, the Etlantians’ silver-red metal, always wreathed the top strakes; in the sun they could reflect the color of bright blood, but this ship was a brigand, with time eating slowly at the hull and sailcloth. Darke’s own ship was black and waxen. Its sails were designed light but strong, a sacred ashen color that had allowed the night runners of Captain Darke to cut the sea like shadow. Darke’s ship could appear from nowhere— always at Darke’s chosen time, always at Darke’s chosen place, always with speed, and sometimes with such stealth that many an Etlantian had died in the sea never knowing he had been brought down by the Shadow Hawk, the last of the Tarshians—the giant killers, the raiders of Ishtar’s horned moon. However, this night Darke had not come for battle. Continue reading
When I was a boy my smiling schoolteacher asked my class a very simple question: “What is the one thing in this world that we can all know as an undeniable certainty?” The students looked at each other, smirking as they whispered their sarcastic remarks, but the grins soon fell when she spoke again. Not because she had brought her palm down hard on her desk when she revealed the answer. It was the tears in her eyes. “One day every last one of you will die.” I was the only person still smiling after she said that. I used to worry that it was the sight of other students in shock that amused me, but now I think it was something else, as if I had some peculiarity in my soul, sensing that this simple statement about the irrefutability of death was not true for me. Read More of The Soul Consortium Excerpt
The Dreamer dismounted from his tired horse. Bran’s long, sweat-soaked, auburn hair hung lankly around his drawn face, strands of it tangling in his closecropped beard. His silvery eyes glittered as he surveyed the now still battlefield. Too late, he thought. He had come too late, and there was nothing to be done now but to search for the body of the friend he had loved. As a drowning man clings to a scrap of floating wreckage, he clung to a ragged hope that he would find his friend still alive.
But although he resolutely refused to acknowledge it, his heart already knew the truth. He held out his hand and called Druid’s Fire, for night had long since fallen, and it was Calan Llachar Eve, so there was no moon to illuminate the bloody scene. The fire flickered orange and blue as it danced in the palm of his hand as he began to search the still faces of the dead on the shores of Llyn Mwyngil.
Dorfas, Marc of Cantware Weal of Coran, Coranian Empire Natmonath, 458 Sweltan Daeg—night She was barely alive when her body, battered by the relentless waves, washed up on the sands. Slowly she dragged herself farther up the deserted beach, clutching at the sand with her hands, pulling herself away from the swirling, black water inch by precious inch. Her breath came and went in harsh gasps as she coughed weakly, expelling water, blood, and bile from her aching lungs. Her sodden gown, its rich materials in tatters, clung to her body, weighing her down unbearably. Blood dripped slowly from her matted hair down her once-beautiful face.
After an eternity she stopped moving and lay on her side, clutching her swollen belly, her face buried in the rough sands. A spasm rippled through her, and she clenched her teeth against the pain. She shuddered as the cold night wind whipped around her and whispered, “No, no, bachen. For pity’s sake, wait. Not here. Not here.” Slowly she lifted her head to the night sky. The stars were cold and clear and the rays of the waxing moon spilled over her, wrapping her in cold, silvery fi re. She wondered vaguely if the Lady of the Moon could see her lying here; wondered if Nantsovelta would take pity on her and send someone, anyone, to help her live through the storm’s sullen wake. Another spasm rippled through her pain-wracked body. “No, no, not yet,” she whispered. “Wait. Wait.” Continue reading
Coed Aderyn Kingdom of Prydyn, Kymru Bedwen Mis, 499 Suldydd, Disglair Wythnos—night Gwydion ap Awst, Dreamer of Kymru, twisted and turned on his narrow, sweat-soaked pallet. His face, illuminated by the shining moon that slipped through the shimmering waterfall and into the cave, was rigid with loss, with grief, with unyielding pain. And the dream unfolded. He stood in a dark forest, lit fitfully by the pale light of the waning moon riding high overhead. The dark trees surrounded him, hemming him in tightly. The night was cold, and he was alone in a strange place he did not know. The silence hummed loudly in his ears, drumming like thunder with every beat of his heart. Inky black shadows stretched around him, growing and wavering in the uncertain light. Suddenly the trees shivered as a chill wind blew through the forest, moaning and wailing of loss and despair. Leaves fallen from nearly bare branches rustled around him like the rattling bones of a restless corpse. Continue reading
Neuadd Gorsedd & Cadair Idris Gwytheryn, Kymru Helygen Mis, 500 Llundydd, Lleihau Wythnos—night Sledda of Cantware, Arch-wyrce-jaga of Kymru, sat back in the Master Bard’s chair with a satisfied smile on his cruel, pale face. His silken black robe lay loosely against his bony flesh as he perched there like a night crow come to pick over the remains of the dead. His remaining eye glittered as he surveyed the Great Hall at Neuadd Gorsedd, the place that once was the college of the Bards. On the whitewashed stone wall above the Master Bard’s sapphire-studded chair hung the wyrce-jaga’s banner of black and gold. The velvety sable background shimmered in the torchlight as the tree stitched in golden thread glimmered in the flickering flames. Long gone was the Bard’s banner of white and blue; tearing the banner down had been one of the first things Sledda had done when he had been given this place for his own. Black-robed wyrce-jaga filled the tables set for the evening meal. Once, blue-robed bards had sat at those tables—but no more. Bards had not lived in Neuadd Gorsedd since the Coranians had come to Kymru. The Coranians had easily conquered those witches, driving them out of their colleges to hide in the mountains and forests of defeated Kymru. Soon, very soon, Havgan the Warleader would crush them all, and Kymru would truly belong to the sons of Lytir, the One God. Sitting in the ornately carved wooden chair that had once belonged to Anieron Master Bard filled Sledda with an even greater satisfaction—a far more personal one. For Sledda had been the one to kill the Master Bard in the dark dungeon of Eiodel those many months ago. It was Sledda who had had the honor of plunging his knife into the Master Bard’s heart, killing both the old man and the song he had been singing, a song heard within the mind of every man, woman and child in Kymru—Coranian and Kymri alike. Yet, though it had brought him satisfaction, killing the Master Bard had not even come close to the payment Sledda craved for the eye lost a few years ago to Ardeyrdd, the High Eagle of Kymru. The eagle had snatched away Sledda’s eye with its cruel claws, and that was something that the witches of Kymru must still pay for. He would never, never rest until the last one of them lay dead at his feet. And only then would he feel that something like true payment had been made. And payment would be made. Read more. . .