With the release of the next book in my Mages of Martir fantasy series–titled The Mage’s Ghost–set for release this month, I thought I’d build up some hype and interest by posting an excerpt from the first chapter. I originally planned to post the entire first chapter, but it is too long and I didn’t want to spoil everything, so I thought a shorter excerpt would be more appropriate.
Without further ado, here is the excerpt:
“What … was that?” said Carcello, the anger in his voice replaced by fear. “What’s?”
“I don’t know,” said Darek. “But whatever it is, it can’t be—”
Another boom and the doors went crashing inward. They landed on the floor hard enough to shatter into chunks of ice, which scattered all over the icy floor like dropped coins. Darek gulped and let go of Carcello’s beard when he saw who stood behind the door, though Carcello didn’t even try to run away.
The being that had knocked down the door was large and bearlike in appearance, with thick red hair and massive ape-like fists that looked more than capable of crushing human skulls. She looked like a monster, but Darek knew who and what she really was, even though it had been quite some time since he had last seen her.
“Who in the name of Xocion is that?” said Carcello with a gulp. “No, what is that?”
“Not a what,” said the new arrival, her tone harsh and cruel, “though I will tell you I am a katabans. It is who, though I don’t think I need to tell you that, as Darek and Auratus already know who I am.”
“Yeah, we do,” said Darek. He glared at her. “She’s Durima the Demon, a servant of Uron.”
“Indeed I am,” said Durima calmly. She gestured at the shattered doors at her feet. “Like these doors, Martir, too, will be shattered into a million pieces by Uron. It is only a matter of time before he hunts down and kills every last god in the world; after that, it will be even less time before Martir itself is no more.”
“A servant of Uron, eh?” said Carcello. He drew his own wand out, which was made out of ice, and pointed it at her. “I don’t know how powerful you are, but I have the power of Xocion flowing through me, and he is no weak god. If I were you, I would run back to Uron now.”
Durima smiled an ursine smile. “Why would I ever do that? Old, fat mortals wielding icicles don’t scare me.”
“This ‘old, fat mortal’ is the Abbot of the Xocionian Monastery,” said Carcello. “But what does that matter to you? Whether or not you understand the significance of my position, I will kill you where you stand.”
Durima rolled her eyes. “Right. Well, why don’t we test that theory? It’s not like I have anything better to do, after all.”
“Why are you here?” said Darek. “Did Uron send you?”
“Yes,” said Durima. “He hasn’t made his way to the Great Berg yet, but he wanted me to take out any possibly obstacles on his way to destroy North Academy once and for all. He’s already had me destroy more than a handful of other magical schools. They died screaming.”
“How monstrous,” said Carcello, shaking his head. “If you are truly a servant of the gods, why would you choose to serve him?”
Durima crouched low to the ground, like she was going to jump at them. “My reasons for why I do what I do are my own. Anyway, talk is a waste of time. I came here to tear this Monastery to the ground, and to do that, I must first kill you.”
Carcello marched forward, his wand glowing icy blue. Darek reached for his arm to get him to stop, but Carcello was already out of his reach.
“Stay back, you two,” Carcello said, glancing over his shoulder at Darek and Auratus. “I will take care of this traitor in less time than it takes for a cup of water to freeze in the Great Berg.”
“Quite confident,” said Durima. “Too bad you won’t be able to back up that confidence with anything even remotely resembling talent.”
“I need not talent to do away with the likes of you,” said Carcello. “For I have the guidance of Xocion, the God of Ice, the Frozen Lord, to—”
Durima vanished and reappeared in front of Carcello so fast that Darek didn’t even realize it until her massive hands grabbed his head and neck and twisted.
A terrible crack shot through the air like a bullet. Carcello immediately collapsed onto the ground, dropping his ice wand, which Durima crushed with one of her big fists before it even stopped bouncing on the ground, shattering it like the doors she had knocked down.
The next moment, the doors to the Mourning Room opened and the other Monks peeked out. Many of them looked confused until they spotted Carcello’s corpse lying on the floor underneath Durima, at which half of them yelled in fear and the other half just stared in horror.
Seeing an opportunity, Darek yelled, “Run, you idiots! Or you’ll end up like Carcello!”
He didn’t need to say that twice. The Monks shut the doors to the Mourning Room, but he could hear them hurrying out of the secret exit at the back of the Mourning Room. He had no idea where they would run to. He hoped that they would go to North Academy, as they would be safe there, but considering how fearful everyone was, he wondered if it would even occur to them to do that.
Darek thought for sure that Durima would get angry at him, maybe even attack him right away. After all, he had just saved the lives of two dozen people she was supposed to kill. That had to make her angry.
Instead, however, Durima cocked her head to the side, confusion spreading over her beastly features.
“Let me get this straight,” said Durima. She pointed at Carcello’s corpse. “After I kill one of your allies, you tell a dozen well-trained Monks—who specialize in ice magic and live in a temple made of ice in the coldest place on Martir—to run away from me. Thus leaving you two, a mage who can’t use any magic and an aquarian who clearly doesn’t like the cold. I don’t think you thought this through very well.”
Darek opened his mouth to say that he had, but then it struck him that Durima had made a very good point. He stepped back in fear, because he knew that he couldn’t take on Durima in a straight fight, though Auratus stood her ground, like she wasn’t afraid of Durima at all.
“Based on your silence, I’m going to say that you seemed to have realized just how dumb your ‘heroic’ efforts were,” said Durima. Her wicked smile revealed row upon row of sharp, ursine teeth. “Not that it matters. I will kill you two and smash the foundations of this useless Temple, which I think should be more than enough to clear the path for Uron’s eventual arrival in the Great Berg.”
The Mage’s Ghost is set for release in ebook and trade paperback formats later this month. If you’d like to be the first to know about its release, you can sign up for my email newsletter by typing your email address into the box on the side of the screen or in the one at the bottom of the screen.