SHADOWS OF KINGS
by Jack Whitsel
Steel and sorcery clash as the Harhn incursion sweeps through the Hugue. Mankind faces its greatest peril without the Order Knights of legend to defend them. Crusading deep in the frontier, the Order is unaware of the savage beasts threatening their homeland as the Hugue realms muster their armies for war.
Between a cunning Harhn sorcerer, and an alliance forged with the decadent Darkfey, the horde threatens to extinguish the domains of men. Only Lord Baudouin and Lady Lucia, a Dragon Maiden from the Order, stand in the enemy’s path. One must find the strength to unify the realms. The other must discover the strength within her, while coming to terms with the agendas of her Order. But only together will there be any hope to repel the onslaught, and preserve the future for a mysterious girl they do not know.
Chapter excerpt: http://twilighttimesbooks.com/ShadowsofKings_ch1.html
Jack Whitsel is a native Californian, but has made Oregon his home since 1982. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Finance from Portland State University, but studies medieval history in his spare time. His favorite genres are fantasy and historical fiction with a medieval emphasis. Shadows of Kings, the first novel of the Dragon Rising Series is the love child born of these two passions.
“I love the elements of fantasy when mixed with the gritty aspects of a medieval society,” states the author.
Facebook fanpage: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shadows-of-Kings-Book-one-of-the-Dragon-Rising-Series/119975978113722
Title: Shadows of Kings
Author: Jack Whitsel
Author web site: http://www.jackwhitsel.com
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Print ISBN: 978-1-60619-223-8
Format: trade paperback
Distributors: Brodart, Follett, Ingram
eBook ISBN: 978-1-60619-222-1
Format: ebook in pdf, ePub, Kindle, Mobi, PRC, etc.
Distributors: Amazon Kindle; Apple iBookstore; BN.com Nook; eReader; Fictionwise; Kobo Books; OmniLit; Sony eBookstore, etc.
Excerpt from SHADOWS OF KINGS
"Great Dragon, be with me. Let your strength be my own. Let your countenance…"
Her prayer was cut short by the sound of air whistling around her. Arrows rained upon the Harhn from a group of archers approaching from her left. The arrows slew all the Wargunds, but the sorcerer had deflected their lethal intent while catching some of them in midflight. With a force of will, he suspended the shafts momentarily before hurling them at Lucia. Five arrows were deflected by her magic, but one got through, striking her left shoulder. She cried out from the pain, instinctively favoring the wound with her right hand. The act did not dispel the magical shield erected around Narvauth, but its intensity had lessened. She refocused all her remaining strength at him, disregarding her own protection. The next attack was directed at the necromancer, but was easily deflected from the Harhn’s waning strength. The Horgund followed up with another attack directed at Lucia. Every hair rose on her body from the impending attack. When the lightning struck, it sucked all the air from her lungs and singed the cloak wrapped around her body. The assault knocked her to the ground and caused her muscles to mildly spasm. Seconds that felt like hours elapsed before she could catch her breath and regain her faculties. Once she willed herself into an upright position, the air escaped her lungs again. She clutched her throat, but her mortal hands gave no relief to the unseen grip squeezing her esophagus. Her head ached and spun. Rivulets of blood began to flow from her nose from the concentration she exerted to dispel the assault. The more she focused, the more the pounding in her skull intensified. The Horgund slowly advanced, his magically imbued grip still firmly around her throat. The spell would have crushed her throat by now if it were not for the energy she instinctively allocated before the assault. But her mind began to strain as unconsciousness tried to claim her. Lucia fell sideways, her lungs still desperately attempting to capture some of the night air. Then she heard a deep voice say, "It is done."
Air abruptly entered Lucia’s lungs, forcing a fit of gagging. Her eyes drifted to the necromancer. His staff was pointed at the Harhn sorcerer; the ruby at its head glowing with an infernal red glimmer.
The Horgund was paralyzed as Narvauth’s spell lifted him off the ground. The necromancer was uttering a new incantation that differed from the deep monotone chant used for awakening the dead. His mouth stretched open as if muscle and bone could not restrain his jaw. Lucia covered her nose and mouth as the stench of rotting flesh filled her nostrils beyond anything she had experienced while in the necromancer’s presence. A black fog poured from Narvauth’s mouth engulfing the Harhn in darkness. The shroud of death entered into every cavity, causing the Horgund to spasm and gurgle with unsettling shrieks. She still lay upon the ground, her eyes glued on the horror being unleashed upon their adversary. When she caught her breath and fully regained her senses, she realized the black fog was not fog at all. Her eyes widened in fright and awe as the swarm of insect-like apparitions invaded the Harhn’s body. When his struggling ceased, Narvauth released his grip, allowing the limp body to plummet to the ground.
Lucia rolled on her back and gave a quick prayer of thanks, enjoying the air flowing freely through her lungs despite the stench of decay that shared every inhale. She stared at the stars twinkling in the clear sky, and aside from being drenched with the smell of the graveyard, she felt at peace. She had fulfilled her role, lifting a heavy burden that sat so heavily upon her shoulders. But regardless of her moment of satisfaction, she knew there was more to do.
Lucia was startled when Narvauth approached. His skin was paler, almost glowing underneath the moonlight.
"My lady," he said, extending his bony hand to her.
She took it, surprised at the strength hoisting her from the ground. The gaping jaw that released the swarm from the abyss had returned to normal, but she could still feel the residue of his craft emanating from his person.
"Well?" she asked as she applied sorcery to the wound on her shoulder.
"The fullness of the spell has been cast and cannot be undone until I will it so…or negated by means far grander than my own, which is unlikely," Narvauth said with a near smug tone.
"It appears to be working," Lucia said, observing the host of knights as they charged into the panicked mob.
"Of course it’s working," he said, admiring his handiwork before turning to Lucia. "You did well, Viscountess. I trust you are all right?"
Lucia caught his eyes peering at her nose. She became self-conscious, wiping the blood away with her sleeve. "Yes…I’m fine. What now?"
"I shall have my share of ale before retiring for the evening. Then…I shall make for Verslund upon the dawn."
"But there is another Horde at Yalveth. There is still much to be done," she said.
"Indeed. But I must answer to my master just as you must answer those within the Order," he said calmly.
"But…the army needs you," she said, surprised how the words flowed so freely from her tongue. Just minutes before she had loathed his presence, but now she despaired from the thought of his absence.
The necromancer chuckled, his pale fingers moving a straying strand of hair from her face. "The army is in good hands, my lady. They have you."