Thursday, August 24, 2017

Excerpt from Warden (Book 4)

So it's been a while since I posted anything - far longer than I intended (or even realized, to be honest).  Needless to say, the time got away from me, but I promise I haven't been idle.

For those interested, I'm still grinding away, trying to finish the next book (and I'm actually so close I can taste it).  However, someone recently asked if I could post an excerpt from something, so I decided to do so.

Frankly speaking, I actually have a pretty good stockpile that I could post something from, with the bulk of it being new material. However, I thought it better to post from something that readers would be familiar with, so here's an excerpt from the next book in the Warden series:


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Errol jerked awake, knowing instinctively that something was wrong but not immediately recognizing what it was. His hand went automatically to his dagger, resting on the hilt as he sat up, trying to get his bearings.

The cabin was still dark, and he innately understood that he hadn’t been asleep for long. Through the porthole, he saw a remarkably clear reflection of the moon on the still surface of the sea. And just like that, he realized what the problem was: the ship – it wasn’t moving. Not heaving up and down, not rolling side to side, not surging forward. It was completely still (which was completely unnatural).

The hairs on the back of his neck rising, Errol raced for the door, the outline of which was framed by light coming from the other side. Yanking it open, he saw the lanterns in the hallway burning uncommonly low, as if their light were diminished by some unseen force. Pulling out his wand, he raced down the passageway towards the stairs, then up and out onto the upper deck.

Once out in the open, Errol saw that his earlier assessment was correct: the ship had come to an utter standstill. Moreover, the water around them was completely calm, the surface lying so flat and motionless that one could almost mistake it for dry land. Eerily, there was no wind, and none of the usual sounds associated with maritime travel – no birds cawing overhead, no waves slapping against the side of the ship, no creak of wood or flap of sail.

Turning his attention back to his immediate environs Errol saw Jaden standing nearby, wand in hand, along with several members of the crew. Jaden cast a quick glance in Errol’s direction, noting his presence, then turned his attention back to the main deck. Following his friend’s gaze, Errol saw a bizarre scene below him.

All of the ship’s wards were flaring, beacons of red light that practically bathed the vessel in crimson. The fact that they were active meant that something malevolent was nearby, and it took Errol almost no time to single out the danger: a hooded figure standing in the middle of the main deck.

It was taller than any man – at least eight feet in height. Its features were hidden by the cowl it wore, but Errol saw two glowing red eyes within the hood and garnered the impression of an elongated, inhuman face. A dark robe – soaked and dripping water onto the deck – covered it down to its feet, but the girth of it gave Errol the impression of a powerful body underneath. Moreover, the robe seemed to bulge and swell ominously in random spots, as if there were a roiling ocean underneath. It was immediately evident that this was some type of creature from the sea.

The air around it was heavy with magic, pulsing with a dark and foreboding power that Errol felt seeping into his bones. More to the point, their visitor gave off an especially sinister vibe; it was singularly dangerous – something Errol would have recognized even if the wards weren’t blazing like bonfires. Apparently the ship’s crew felt the same way, because a large number of them (with weapons drawn) had surrounded the hooded figure, although none dared get too close. In fact, he saw the captain standing directly in front of it, giving the thing his undivided attention. It was at that juncture that Errol realized the creature was speaking, its voice a deep baritone that carried easily – especially since, as Errol had already noted, no wind was blowing.

“–sspass on the sacred domain of the Each-uisge,” the creature said. “Men are not allowed here.”

“How are we supposed to know that?” the captain asked, sounding harried. Errol had to give the man credit; there few people other than wardens who would dare to face some monstrous fiend like this.

“You were warned,” the creature replied.

“Warned how?” 

“A messenger was dispatched. You tried to slay it.” Unexpectedly, a supple limb, like the tentacle of an octopus but seemingly covered in seashells, slid out of the robe and pointed to a dark, blood-stained spot on the deck.

“What, that weird bird?” the captain asked, almost incredulously. “It gave no warning – just let out a bunch of caterwauling that grated on everyone’s nerves.”

The creature seemed to take offense. “There are more tongues in this world than solely that of men. It is only your arrogance that makes you think otherwise. Now it shall be your undoing.” 

The captain’s eyes widened in alarm. “What do you mean?”

“You have encroached where your presence is proscribed, cast your nets where it is forbidden, and willfully attacked a consecrated servant. Each of these alone violates a sacrosanct tenet of the Each-uisge. Combined, your transgressions constitute intolerable heresy – a stain that must be wiped away. Your ship – your very lives – are forfeit.”

“What?!” the captain screeched. 

“Thus I pass sentence,” said the creature, acting as if the captain hadn’t spoken. “Now I execute judgment.” 

The air, already pregnant with supernatural power, somehow became even more gravid as three elongated tentacles, each brandishing a flaming sword, suddenly burst from the creature’s robe. And then it went on the attack.




3 comments:

  1. Why must you torture us like this? Please, I'm all out of reading material. I might not make it if I have to wait much longer. Counting on you, Hardman.

    ReplyDelete
  2. LOL! I've got something coming soon...

    ReplyDelete

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