I had originally planned to only post material on Mondays and Wednesdays, but I’ve already had a couple of requests for some preview pages. Pleasing people is something of a specialty of mine (or so I’d like to think), so here you go.
Right now I’m stuck in the formatting stage for “Blood Skies”, but I will be making one or more chapters available for download pretty soon. In the meantime, let this random slice of text from Chapter 3 of “Blood Skies” whet your appetite :]
From Chapter 3: Knives
The bottom level of the bell tower was an open space. There were a few chairs where people could sit and rest, and a table for meals and games. Now, everything was covered in knives. There were thousands of blades, and they covered every visible surface in a sea of razor quills. There couldn’t have been more than an inch of space left between the jagged edges. It looked as if ten thousand points had been jabbed into the walls, floor, ceiling and bodies and then broken off. Morg had to kick blades out of his path just so he could step into the room.
Three corpses lay in unrecognizable heaps on the ground, their bodies perforated head to toe by the rusty blades. Shreds of clothing clung to their decimated bodies. Bloody messes of hair and skin had spread like grisly jam across the room.
“Wow.” Cross gagged and covered his mouth with a gloved hand. The smell of opened intestines and spilled bowels filled the air with the scent of an outhouse in summer. Neither Morg nor Graves showed any such signs of being repulsed. They moved slow, in an effort to avoid the pools of blood on the floor and not to trip on or break any more of the blades. “I haven’t seen a vampire that used weapons like this in a while.”
“Me, neither,” Morg said.
“We think,” Moone said from behind them, “that the suck-head had been hiding out here in the tower. This building was condemned for safety reasons a month or so ago.”
“Sir, who are the victims?” Graves asked Moone, but it was Cross who answered.
“Two girls, one boy,” Cross said. His spirit clung to him as if for dear life. The spirits of the victims, severed from the human hosts, were close by. He felt them in the air, and their presence made it heavy and sick. They were lost and confused, and they would try to take Cross’ spirit with them, or else claw at her and attack her in their rage and confusion. “They were just having fun,” he said as the information came to him. “They were going to do some drinking, maybe some black powder.” He swallowed. His skin was frozen, and his fingers shook. It took everything he had to keep her close, to hold her back from those lost and tormented souls. They’d be gone soon, and she’d be safe.
“There,” Moone said, and he indicated the far wall of the downstairs room. “That’s what I wanted you to see.”
Scrawled markings covered the wall. Runes had been drawn over a rough map, and coded notes, arrows and cross-marks connected dots and triangles and pictures of what looked like eyes. The entire wall had been hidden behind a sliding panel, a removable plate secured by old magic that the vampire had apparently torn away. The map was of the northwest part of the country, and it bore location markers for the Wormwood, the Bone March and even the Carrion Rift. The markings were coded, but from what Cross could determine they seemed to be arcane calculations, geo-empathic equations and cartothaumaturgic drawings. Someone had worked out a location, a place where they wanted to go.
“What happened here?” Morg said out loud.
“From what we can tell, the vampire came here for this map,” Moone said. “Either he meant to read it, or to destroy it. Then these young people came along…” They stood in silence for a moment. Soldiers barked outside at bystanders to back away. “My squad got the bastard.”
“This map,” Cross said. “I’ll need some time to decode it, but at a glance…it looks like directions.”
“To where?” Graves asked. “And who made it?”
Cross stepped closer. It would have taken an extremely experienced mage to make those calculations, to work out the geometry and arcane algorithms. He had no idea where the raw data had come from, but the work itself was complex. Only a few mages could have done it.
“The Wormwood,” he said. “Red made this map. And if it leads where I think it does, she’s headed for the Wormwood.”
Copyright © 2011 Steven Montano