I’ve written well over 20 books. Few of them I found as enjoyable to write as the rebranded Forgotten Gods Tales. A combination of Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings, I couldn’t help but fall for the story and am enjoying pursuing the characters as the series lengthens. Now on book 5 I am thoroughly enjoying my writing. This wasn’t always the case. Most of my books have a slightly lighter tone and were faster to write. Not so with these puppies.
First, my former publisher did the books a grand disservice by using crap covers and no marketing. Free to pursue my own course of action, I have a kick ass cover designer (too bad that stupid Avengers movie came out and now my covers look like Thanos got a hold of them), and a new title, since Sleeping Gods became a hit series for another dude- good for him. Regardless, book 2 is set to release on 1 June: The Madman on the Rocks. Feel free to preorder your copy now.
To celebrate- this week’s freebie is the original: Dreams of Winter. Here’s a taste:
Fifty years had passed since the Bloody Man arrived in the village of Kovlchen, and the ghosts remained. Charred beams and braces stuck up from the ground like broken spines of ancient beasts. The aroma of death clung to the area, as strong as it had been on the day of the slaughter. Tannus found it strange, but there were rumors of his brother dabbling in ancient magics long forgotten.
Nothing grew within the old borders. The very earth was struck dead. Sunlight held no warmth. Ash and grime scarred the land black. Bones littered the area. Hands curled with pain raised skyward, dead where they lay. Skulls and ribcages made it difficult to walk. Tannus and Dye stepped carefully, for they did not want to disturb the ghosts of Kovlchen.
“What could have done this?” Dye gasped. He walked wide eyed through the ruins, the limits of his imagination stretched.
Tannus struggled to keep his rising sorrow in check. “My brother.”
“No one being has this type of power,” Dye insisted.
“Would that were so,” Tannus replied with empty words. Kovlchen was not new. He had seen this before on countless worlds. The indulgences of Amongeratix and the unpredictability of Sorrow left ashes in their wake. “Look around, Father. Everything that once grew here is dead for eternity. All of this is the result of the excess of my blood.”
Dye offered a soft prayer skyward before replying, “Not everything died that day.”
“What do you mean?”
Dye cleared his throat. The acidic taste of ash tainted his mouth. “Most of the towns in Berchenfel heard rumors, whispers that a single child was spared…this. I do not know whether it was substantiated or not, but we heard that investigators arrived.”
Tannus began to pace. New possibilities came to light. Could it be? Could the one thing Amongeratix sought be here on Crimeat? He didn’t see how. They had searched for centuries with no results. To have it under their very noses, with one brother imprisoned, was too much to put faith in.
Dye noticed the sudden apprehension changing Tannus and timidly said, “You know something.”
It was more statement than question.
“Possibly, but I must think,” Tannus replied.
The truth was that he didn’t know what to think. He wasn’t close to either of his brothers, not since the sundering when their father had cast them down. Amongeratix devoted his life to vengeance, Sorrow to grief. Tannus took the mantle of defending humanity and trying to find a new path through the course of time. Their war never let him achieve his goal. He was constantly under siege or responding to unwarranted attacks.
Tannus began to pace. Each footstep ground desiccated bones to dust. The brittle sound made Dye cringe. Frustration beset the giant. Too many possibilities and legends surrounded the Three to make sense of the desolation before him. Sorrow was ever unpredictable and had done this same deed a hundred times before, though never when either of the other two was on the same planet. Amongeratix wanted to reopen the war against their fathers and desperately needed to return to Occanum to begin.
Tannus growled, a deep throaty noise that would have run off a wolf. The obvious continued to elude him. Why did Sorrow suddenly find it necessary to follow Amongeratix, especially once their angry brother was in the custody of the Inquisition? It made no sense. Tannus resisted the urge to punch something. He kept his anger close, refusing to vent until he stood face to face with his brother again. Then Dye’s comment pushed itself to the front. Rumors of a survivor. A young girl. What made the girl important, or was she at all? Tannus wished he could be sure.
Crimeat was far enough out of the major hyperspace trading and shipping lanes to not make much of a difference in the grand design of the universe. It seemed improbable that a woman from this unimportant and technologically inferior world could affect anything to do with the gods. The legend was particular, but he didn’t know enough of it to make it useful. Sorrow was always the one who mired himself with useless knowledge and ancient myths.
He cursed his lack of knowledge and tried to refocus on the girl. What was so important about her? He frowned, heavy brow concealing his twilight eyes. The girl. The damned girl! He fumed and raged, but the answers remained hidden until finally a spark took flame. His face paled, his skin grew cold. It couldn’t be. It’s impossible.
Father Dye glanced up at the sudden lack of noise and looked into Tannus’s eyes. What he saw frightened him more than the thousand deaths visited upon Kovlchen. He saw pure, stark horror. “Tannus?” he hesitantly asked.
The giant struggled with comprehension. “We may be in more trouble than I believed. Where is this girl, does anyone know?”
Dye cocked his head in thought. He explained what little he knew of the impossible survivor. She’d grown to be an angry woman, drifting through the center kingdoms as a bounty hunter. Men said her heart was rough stone, black as the midnight hour. Dye didn’t place much stock in such fanciful descriptions. He had little doubt that her heart was poisoned by her experience and paused to wonder how he would have reacted. The thought was unfathomable.
Tannus listened intently, carefully picking apart Dye’s words for any clue that might help. An empty wind surged through the ruins, tickling his nape. The stench of death was insulting. Kovlchen was a permanent scar. Frustrated, Tannus threw up his hands. “Nothing. Nothing you said means anything to me. I cannot imagine a peasant girl having any importance to either of my brothers.”
Dye let the obvious question go unanswered. Having all three titans loose on Crimeat represented an unprecedented disaster. Worlds were destroyed with less. Instead, he asked, “What is our next move?”
Not for the first time, Tannus wasn’t sure. “This village holds nothing for us.”
Dye held a suspicion that Tannus was hiding some key piece of information. “We shouldn’t stay here.”
“Nervous, priest?” Tannus asked with an arched brow.
“This village is not natural. Great evil rests here.”
Tannus agreed but felt no fear. The dead offered him no trouble, for he was the son of gods. The sun started to set, and a fine mist rose from the scorched earth. Shapes took form. Dye gasped as he made out dozens of faces locked in a rectus of fear and eternal torment. Kovlchen’s dead stretched up from the earth where they had died. A baleful wail echoed across the ruins, chilling his soul. Father Dye had not believed in ghosts until now. The supernatural held no sway over the depths of his faith, but he could not refuse the truths being exposed to him tonight. Dye reeled back.
Even Tannus paused as the ghosts of Kovlchen formed around him. Fading images of desiccated corpses rippled on all sides. The dead stared accusingly, recognizing him. He was one of them. The dead did not care that he wasn’t covered in blood. They only cared that he was the same size, for there couldn’t be many giants left in the universe. Tannus was amused to see Dye making warding signs and whispering prayers. As if that was strong enough to break the will of the damned.
“Save your prayers, Father,” Tannus offered, “they will only offend them. Perhaps it is time to leave after all.”