Friday, October 2, 2015

Maiden of Secrets (World of Almir #2)

Maiden of Secrets banner

This is my stop during the book blitz for Maiden of Secrets (World of Almir #2) by Paul Neslusan. This book blitz is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 1 till 7 October, you can view the complete blitz schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.
So far this series contains 2 books: The Depths (World of Almir #1) and Maiden of Secrets (World of Almir #2).

Maiden of SecretsMaiden of Secrets (World of Almir #2)
By Paul Neslusan
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Age category: Adult
Release Date: October 1

Raised deep underground in the city of Solypse, Caelin dreams of life in the world above. Her dreams are crushed when she is coerced into service, plunging her into a world of spies, smugglers, assassins, and corrupt politicians.

As Solypse negotiates a treaty with the city of Phira, a beloved war hero stumbles into secrets that could drive the political order of the depths into chaos. In the aftermath, they will have no choice but to try to save a mysterious nation from its own dark necessity, and in doing so, save themselves.

Maiden of Secrets Excerpts

Bittersweet Rescue

“Wake up.”
Le’illi shook Brug gently, whispering again.  “Wake up.”
Brug’s eyes snapped open, greeted by inky blackness.  Slowly and deliberately, he rolled over and raised himself up on his fingertips and toes.  He drew a knee in beneath his body.  He gently plucked the pack that he had been using as a pillow off of the ground, and slipped it over his arms.  He reached out to the left and right of where he had been sleeping, drawing in the pick and shortsword that he had pre-positioned before bed.  Years of combat in the tunnels had turned such rituals into a reflex.  He silently raised himself to a crouch on his feet.  He slipped his pick into his belt, opting instead for the pouch with firestones wrapped loosely in oily gauze.
    Through crisp dark vision, Le’illi watched this ritual with profound respect for Brug.  Though she knew that Brug was blind in the darkness, he operated with a precision that made it appear as if he could see everything around him.  The human warrior equipped himself, and silently snuck after the noise echoing down the corridor without a second order.  Le’illi padded after Brug, both covering their rear and watching with wonderment at the blind human stalking the darkness like a native creature of the dark.  Le’illi reached a hand forward to quietly tap Brug on the shoulder. 
    Before she reached him, Brug held up a fist--signaling stop, silence, or both. Her mouth fell open.  Unused to being detected, the veteran scout certainly wasn’t expecting it from a blind human.  Brug lowered his hand as he rounded the corner, the din of combat ringing out in the darkness.  He cursed under his breath.  Even though the twisting passages could conceal noise, he should never have slept through an attack so close by.  From the rear vantage point, Le’illi saw a massive Ephir caravan under attack from a pack of ledgederops.  Le’illi snarled in distaste; of all vermin, these were her least favorite.
    Brug sensed his proximity to the combat.  Le’illi seemed competent. If Le’illi was a scout worth her weight in seawater, she should be close.  Brug held up the fist clutching the firestones, indicating a full stop.  In his unit, the Darkened Veil, they had grown accustomed to the sharp twisting sound of leather that accompanied such a gesture; he only hoped that it translated to well enough to Le’illi.  Brug cocked his arm back, and hurled the firestones at the floor of the cavern towards his targets.  The firestones connected with a sharp crack, sparking and setting the gauze aflame. 
    Brug hoped this was enough of a distraction to keep the advantage on his side.  He had a minute, maybe two if he was lucky; he had to assess and act quickly.  In the bright flash, he saw a score or more bat-like creatures before him.  They had the bodies of swollen pink hairless cats, if cats had teeth like the Ephir and a mouth that appeared as if they had smiled a bit too wide.  They all appeared momentarily dazed by the light, the large orbs of their eyes contracting from the flash.  The eyeless Ephir immediately pressed the advantage, felling nearly half of the ledgederops’ number in the ensuing confusion. Brug stepped in quickly.  He pulled his short sword down through the nearest one.  The creature’s belly opened up like a stringless pouch, spilling its contents on the ground before it collapsed.  He saw one diving headlong toward the neck of an Ephir.  He snapped his blade out, letting the momentum of the ledgederop carry its neck across his blade, severing its head from its body.  He saw two more coming from the shadows ahead and swung, just as the light at his feet sputtered into darkness.  He knew where they were around him, and he heard them move.  Even in the darkness, he stalked and slaughtered his prey.
    Le’illi plunged both hands into stiffened leathery gloves, hands now tipped with bladed fingers.  The gloves were solid as stone, the fingertips extruded into long pointed blades sharpened to a surgical edge.  Le’illi ducked around Brug, swinging both hands into the belly of a ledgederop and scooping its viscera out.  The two scouts dodged and wove around one another in a fluid dance, preternaturally sensing each other’s next moves, felling over a dozen creatures in the process.  Le’illi reached around Brug, slicing through the wing of the creature attacking Brug and plunging a clawed hand into the creature’s side.  The Ephir scout twisted a hand inside the ledgederop until something in the creature snapped before she withdrew a gore soaked claw.  All around, Le’illi could see skirmishes drawing to a close.  Soon the shouts and clangs of battle subsided, the ledgederop attackers vanquished.  The soft moaning of wounded Ephir broke the silence, punctuated by the heavy rhythmic sounds of the fighters trying to regain their breath.
    Le’illi’s focus snapped back to the creature in front of her.  Something wasn’t right; the creature was still vertical.  Le’illi felt a surge of panic in her chest as she realized that the creature had fastened itself to Brug.  The creature’s massive maw had clamped onto Brug’s face and neck.  Even in death, the jaw was trying to contract on Brug, exposing the sinew and blood beneath the warrior’s skin, dropping acid into the wound.  Le’illi swiped at the creature with a gloved claw, piercing its skull and knocking it away.  Brug collapsed in the quiet cavern, his head connecting with the ground with a sickening crack, heart still pumping lifeblood out of his neck and onto the floor.
    Le’illi knelt by him and gave him a cursory inspection.  Brug hadn’t yet succumbed to his wounds, but he would not last much longer.  The pool of blood grew rapidly outward from Brug’s neck and head in a neat circle.  Le’illi lept to her feet, re-attaching the claws to belt loops and looking at the aftermath.
    The caravan was large—a wagon train disappeared around the next bend, wagons wide enough that they wouldn’t have fit through the narrow passages a few short months prior.  It was clear that though this team was used to driving caravans through the depths—they were armed to the teeth—they had sustained far more of a formidable assault than they were accustomed to.  Several lay dead, and several more were in various forms of personal disrepair.  Le’illi looked around, trying to discern who might be in charge.  One Ephir stood back several paces, while the dozen able-bodied Ephir darted to him, seeking direction.
    Le’illi walked swiftly to him.  “Le’illi, scout of Phira.

The Ephir trail boss nodded testily.  “I know who you are.  We can exchange pleasantries once the wounded are tended to.”  He turned and barked an order to another caravaner, who disappeared into the back of a wagon in search of supplies.


The pair trotted down the dock toward the slip for the Night Wisp, hurrying up the gangplank.  Garesh glanced at them and thumbed toward Dier’s quarters.  “He’s in there.  He’s got company too.”

Vizzer and Buhnd quickly crossed the deck, Garesh pulling the gangplank up behind them.  Vizzer glanced at Buhnd apprehensively before he laid his hand on the handle.  “Do you think everyone will be here?”

Buhnd shrugged.  “I’m not sure I have ever seen the whole Society assembled.  It’s probably better that way.  You will have Dier of course, though that might be it.”

Vizzer exhaled, steadying himself before opening the door.  He had not yet been accepted as a full member of the Society.  He had been working with them for almost the same amount of time as Riggle.  Riggle.  Probably dead.  Perhaps there was a lesson to be learned from that.  He shook his head silently as he pushed down on the handle.  Too late now.

He opened the door to the parlor room just as he felt the boat cast off from the dock.  He knew that the two lamps hanging from the bowsprit would be dark; their business was not one that Dier and his crew intended to advertise.  The fire danced lively in the fireplace, silhouetting Dier and a buxom young woman chatting by the fire.  Buhnd shut the door behind them, the noise catching the attention of Dier and his companion.

“Ah yes, welcome my friends, good to see you.  Perhaps it is time that we all sat together, yes?”

Caelin knitted her brow.  “Hello, Buhnd.”

Buhnd gave a half wave from behind Vizzer.  Vizzer glanced back at Buhnd.  “You two know each other?”

Dier clapped his hands together once, catching their attention.  “Quick summary, yes?  Caelin is a diplomat for Bruemarrar.  She may prove useful in our endeavors.  We have discussed the mutual benefit of this arrangement.”  He gestured at Buhnd.  “Buhnd is our resident tailor, information gatherer, and parlor magician.  Vizzer, she is the one who found our good friend the diplomat here.”    He glanced at Caelin and gestured at Vizzer.  “Vizzer is our normal courier, when he’s not up playing professional council lapdog.  It was he that dropped the message that you picked up.”  Vizzer cursed under his breath, his face turning crimson.
    “Ms. Amorit, we are members of a group that calls itself “The Society of Clear Sight.”  The primary goal of the Society is to monitor the Council, and find out what terrible underhanded things they are up to.”  He paused, flashing a toothy grin.  “Our secondary objective is to exploit that information as much as possible, chiefly for profit.  We have informants and helpful people scattered about the tiers of Solypse, helping us keep abreast of current events.”  He paused again, ensuring that all three of them were paying attention.  “Recently, there have been reports of the Council brokering a trade agreement with the Ephir.  This appears to be heavily influenced by some external party, though we still do not understand whom, or why, exactly.  We understand that the Council is contemplating building a merchant route similar to the Path.  The Path, as you well know, leads to the Dwarven Kingdom of Bruemarrar.  This new route would go to the Ephir city of Phira.  I am fairly sure your dwarven employers would find this disconcerting.
    “We find this information interesting and useful; at least potentially.  Unfortunately, we still know very little about Phira or the Ephir themselves.  We know they play a substantial role in the trading civilizations of the deep dark.  Much has been spoken of a farm, which leads us to think that Phira is a provisioning hub for the deeper races.  It is our thought therefore, that the Council seeks to use this as an alternate means of providing Solypse food.”
    Buhnd sighed, shaking her head and looking at Caelin.  “Of course, this is still a guess. We still do not know what grows on the farm.  If we don’t learn more about Phira and the Ephir, a huge opportunity will slip by, and the Council will grow even more powerful.  Your help could be crit-”
    A shriek sounded from a pile of blankets on the chair next to the fire.  All four pivoted their gaze toward the pile.   “Gods!” Dier muttered.  He had hoped the Delf by the fire would remain asleep.

Manin ridi loiquim!  Qhinn i vosislii, tyamani iosun ind iloio--Is noin voiu voilvir!  Oti!  Oti aen faen.”

    Something crashed loudly to the floor behind Dier, causing him to whirl around.  He saw Buhnd partially collapsed over the small table before her, its former contents now scattered about the floor.  Vizzer put a steadying hand on her back.  “Are you okay?”  Buhnd wordlessly stared at the Delf by the fire.  Vizzer looked at the Caelin and Dier.  “She’s trembling.”

The Delf beneath the pile of blankest whispered in a low tone.  “Mawani eth lanan natan eret ereten.  Otina aern. “

Buhnd stared at the little Delf.  She looked pleadingly at Dier and opened her mouth, but no words would come out.  She could see Vizzer talking to her, but she couldn’t focus on what was being said.  She struggled to stand upright. Buhnd looked at Caelin pleadingly.  “She says-  she says she watched them kill her mother, and take her to be butchered for food.”  Buhnd vomited and lost her grip on the table, as her world went black.

You can find Maiden of Secrets on Goodreads

You can buy Maiden of Secrets here:
- Amazon
- Amazon Paperback

First book in the series:
The DepthsThe Depths (World of Almir #1)
By Paul Neslusan
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Age category: Adult
Release Date: December 9, 2014

Thousands of feet below the surface world and tucked behind a waterfall lies a ceaseless juggernaut of commerce, the six tiers of the city working together to provide anything desired. Some come to Solypse for trade; others simply come to disappear. Though the descent to the city is treacherous and long, it is lucrative for those willing to brave the trek. Those who stay are bolder still: for in a city full of those who wish to be forgotten, the real rules are often made in the shadows.

With promises of wealth come promises of power. As evil brews beneath the city, clandestine power struggles between politicians, magicians, merchants, and assassins bring the city of Solypse to the brink of annihilation. With a temple unable to help and a council unwilling to save its own people, it is up to an exiled dwarf, a reluctant assassin, and a failed priest to save the city.
Excerpts from The Depths

12 Servitude and Ambition

   Nanong hummed quietly to himself as he worked.  Though he had never been one for manual labor, he had never been one to shy away from work that needed to be done.  “It doesn’t get done until you get doing,” as his father used to say, and that included the grunt work associated with his craft.  His hard work and talent had already been rewarded, and that encouraged him.  Nanong snagged the gaff hook from where it leaned against the stone wall, along with the ropes to the sledge.  He trotted merrily down the dark corridor, the light of the vaulted room fading away; his sight was quickly replaced with vision of equal clarity in the pitch black.  As a people, the gnomes had physically adapted to living in utter darkness long ago, and it wrapped around him like a comfortable old blanket.
    Nanong came to the end of the corridor and ran his hands along the stone wall until his fingers sensed the depression for the hidden catch.  He pressed on it, and swung the door inward. 
In the distance, he could faintly hear the sound of the Veil crashing into the massive underground sea; though Solypse had been enchanted to deaden the sound coming from the outside, it was impossible to completely drown out the sound of hundreds of rivers pouring from the sky.  He spread his feet wide, leading a little with his right, and swung the gaff hook into the underground river in front of him.  It connected with a satisfying wet smacking noise; success on the first swing was always a good thing.  Sometimes he would come up with logs, boat debris, or old fishing nets; any of which would slow him down and sometimes require him to waste even more time disentangling his tool.
    He leaned back, pulling the hook and his quarry up against the rock ledge at his feet.  He reached down and felt a belt.  This was good.  When the corpses were naked, or their clothes had mostly rotted, pulling them up required unconventional handholds that were both inconvenient and ran the risk of damaging the bodies.  He pulled the body up onto the sledge, carefully shut the door, and headed back up the corridor.  It was a shame that he wasn’t strong enough to drag more than one at a time, though he had perfected a sort of rhythm to it after many months of practice.  As it turned out, he had a natural knack for organization, and a nearly compulsive ability to count and manipulate numbers.  He chalked it up to his proud gnomish heritage.  As of this snag, he had stacked 2,643 corpses in the main chamber, and one in his own quarters for personal uses.  This snag was also his last of the evening, which meant he could now focus on his true passion.  He dragged the sledge over to the most recent pile, the drenched body now leaking from a hole in its stomach where the hook had punctured it.  He tipped the sledge on its side.  The body rolled neatly into place, where it would function as the bottom of a new pile.  He swiftly replaced the sledge and gaff hook in their positions by the tunnel entrance, and rushed off to his quarters.
    Stripping off his leather apron, tunic, and breeches, he replaced them with a simple black robe.  He lit a candle at the corner of his desk, and looked down in the warm glow at his spellbook.  Though he had been studying and scribing in it for over a decade, it still seemed new.  He smiled and traced a hand over the stack of un-scribed pages on the right side, imagining it as a tome as filled and complex as the one owned by Gerrus.  He looked next to the desk, at the makeshift cot that he had built for the corpse—the one that Gerrus had graciously allowed him to keep in pursuit of his studies. 

24 Faith And Magic 

“So what’s your story?”
“My story?” Pash looked at Therrien quizzically.
“Everyone has a story.  You got here somehow.  What’s yours?   How did you end up at the Temple?”
Pash gave a slight nod.  “I guess so.  Nothing terribly exciting, I’m afraid.  I grew up on the fourth tier; my father is a councilman.  When I came of age, my parents sent me to the Temple to study.”
“He didn’t want you to follow in his footsteps?”
Pash shook his head.  “I remember that he said ‘This family needs balance, not political rivals’, whatever that means.”
Therrien pondered this for a moment.  “So you’ve never studied the magical arts?”
Pash shook his head again.  “I had mentioned it to him before I went to the temple; he refused to even entertain the notion.”
Therrien nodded in understanding.  Though the Wizards Tower held a prominent place in Solypse, they were ill-understood, and oft regarded with suspicion.  In a town where deep dwarves and deep elves mixed freely with humans and surface dwellers, the citizens had formed a common bond of superstition towards the inhabitants of the tower.  The lower ranked magi were mocked as charlatans or dreamers; the higher ranked magi were simultaneously feared and revered.  As a child, he had been fascinated by the stories he had heard of them:  planeswalkers, dragon-whisperers, men who could fly…  He had aspired to become one of these gods among men.  The process of getting accepted as an apprentice had was arduous for everyone; worse still, it didn’t come easily for him.  His master had taken a chance with him, noting that what he lacked in skill, he made up for with effort. 
As time progressed, he had discovered that being one of their number required a level of zealous fixation that he lacked.  With his teacher’s blessing, he took a leave of absence to join the expedition; it had been a welcome break.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t sure he wanted to go back, though he wasn’t sure what else he would do.
Therrien looked ahead.  Larrik and Mikkel were several paces ahead, but their torch clearly marked their location.  He paused mid-stride.  “So you’re telling me that you have never studied under a wizard?  Cantrips perhaps?  An old friend who taught parlor tricks?”
“No,” he said hesitantly, “Father… father said that magi were worse than followers of Dark Orders.”
Therrien let out a low whistle.  “That’s a pretty serious dislike.”
“He said that at least followers of the dark gods believed in something; Wizards only believed in power.”
“Hm.  I suppose there is a grain of truth in that.  But truth isn’t measured in grains, is it?”
Pash shifted uncomfortably.  “I suppose not.”  He looked ahead at Larrik and Mikkel.  “We should start walking again.”
“I suppose so.”  Therrien began walking again, slowly.  “Pash, did you know why I wanted to talk to you in private?”
“Because you bore witness to my heresy?”
“Heresy?” Therrien queried.
“Heresy.  As a follower of Lethos, I’m forbidden from calling upon magic.  I am supposed to rely upon Lethos to give me my spells, and trust that he will provide what I need.”
“Ah, I see; no, that’s not it.  But my apologies for leading you astray—It was never my intention to cause you to stumble in your faith.”
“You cannot be responsible for my actions; only I am responsible for my choices.”
“If you had the choice, would you do it again?”
Pash considered this for a moment.  “Yes, I think I would.  I am, after all, an acolyte.  Though an acolyte is a student of a profession, one cannot choose faith; one simply must have it.
Therrien looked at Pash, mildly surprised at his admission.  “I want to teach you some of what I know,” he blurted out.  “We have a couple days’ journey before we arrive at Solypse.  I can’t teach you much actual magic in that time, but I can teach you about magic.  There is no need to fear it, and rarely a reason to fear those who wield it.
“What about Brother Larrik?”
Brother Larrik?  I suspect Larrik will not mind.  What you do when you return to the temple, however, is up to you.”

“We’re on the outskirts of the city,” Pash said softly.
“Can they hear us?”  Larrik whispered.
Pash shrugged and held up his hands.  “Do you really want to find out?”
    They surveyed the city before them; truly, it had once been quite formidable.  A broad main boulevard ran the length of a long, narrow cavern, lit overhead by a cavern roof completely covered in the subtly shifting colors of luminescent crystals.  What once had been homes and businesses had been carved into the rock faces on either side of the cavern, three tiers high on either side.  Stone ramps led up and down the levels on both sides.
“They had cross-bridges too, look-“  Larrik pointed at pairs of stone pillars set at intervals on the upper tiers.  “The bridges would anchor to those.  There’s pretty much nothing left there though; this place has been here for a long while.”
Therrien looked puzzled.  “Larrik, how long would it take to carve a city of this magnitude?”
Larrik looked around the cavern thoughtfully.  “The work could be done in a decade or two.  What’s interesting is that it was done at all.  Look at the ramp intervals, and notice how they set in front of the upper paths, all seamless cuts.  Now look how the buildings set back from the paths.  Dwarven craftsmanship is peerless, but this sort of work takes many years of planning, even for Dwarves.”
Therrien furrowed his brow.  “How is it that no one talks about this place?  It’s half as big as the merchant tier in Solypse; such a thing would have been of considerable note, at least at some point.”
“It could be a settlement from a different Dwarven clan.”  Larrik furrowed his brow.  He knew that wasn’t right.  There was something very distinctive about the craftsmanship, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.
Pash sighed, voicing what no one else wanted to.  “Shall we go in?”
    The long, narrow road in front of them conjured up different terms.  Pash conjured up images of a bustling main street from days gone by.  Therrien saw the long, narrow corridor, and thought both “ambush” and “alley” simultaneously.  Larrik simply thought it looked like a bad idea.
    “I thought we were done with such foolishness when we got to Shoal,” Therrien muttered.
“We’ll be adventuring until we’re dead, ye know that,” snickered Mikkel, pulling his heavy warhammer to the ready, and poking him with the end of it.  “Ye ain’t dead yet, are ye?”
They walked forward cautiously, four abreast with Larrik to the left, Mikkel to the right, Pash and Therrien in between.  The path sloped gently downward, leveling off as it reached the first buildings in town.  They peered into the doorways as they crept past, but the swirling red and purple hues above did little to illuminate the doorways to either side.
“It all seems very quiet,” Therrien muttered.
They walked forward for several more minutes, peering into doorways at a distance, the ceiling shifting into bright bursts of blue and aquamarine.  As they came closer to the center of the main road, a bright shining crystal came into view, reflecting the ceiling’s colors on the building and the road.  The crystal sat above the third floor level, the center of the town a broad open circular space.  The walls on the left and right had been carved back to make way for the space, rather than populating the sides with buildings.  Graceful stone bridges on the second and third floors arched over the carved out stone below, connecting the rows of buildings before and after the town center.  They approached the center cautiously, barely daring to breathe.
“We’re halfway through, no sign of anyone.  Maybe they’ve abandoned the town,” Pash whispered.
“Let me tell ye somethin’ about attackin’ on a bridge,”  Larrik growled in a low voice, “ye don’t attack when the enemy is at the beginnin’ of the bridge.”
    As if on cue, the cavern erupted in a cacophony of sound, from all directions.  Therrien groaned.  “You wait until they are in the middle!”
    From their position in the middle of the town, the crystal blazed orange light in every direction, casting light on hundreds of bipedal creatures at the ground level, and dozens of insectoid creatures skittering across the upper levels.
“They look like zombies,” Pash said breathlessly.
Therrien shook his head fiercely, his voice nearly in a panic.  “Not zombies.  Zombies are slow and stupid.  These are far worse than zombies.”
The creatures on the ground level pressed closer, and the foursome could see that they were humanoid; hard, angular skull-like coverings adorned them, clamped on with teeth that encircled the crown of each victim’s head.  Bone-colored bands encircled the arms of the encroaching mob.  The Clutchers guided their hosts swiftly, purposefully towards the four adventurers.
    The realization of the city finally dawned on Larrik.  “Elves!  I knew that construction wasn’t Dwarven.  But what was a city doing so close to Solypse?”
    Before anyone could answer, a shrieking noise like a thousand screaming children erupted in the chamber.  The mobs on either side of the town stopped instantly.
    Mikkel felt his stomach clench and the blood drain from his face.  He looked around rapidly, and saw dozens of hungry Clutchers drop from the bridges on the sides of the cavern, skittering towards them at lightning speed.  They continued shrieking as they advanced on the four companions.  Pash’s breath caught in his throat, and stood still, paralyzed with fear.  The loud clattering of the claws of the creatures got louder as the creatures advanced upon them. Therrien blinked, unarmed and uncertain of what to do.
“Backs!” Larrik yelled.  Mikkel and Larrik reflexively snapped into position, back to back with Therrien and Pash in between.  They circled slowly in a counterclockwise motion as the Clutchers drew near.  “Yer left!”  A Clutcher darted out at Mikkel from just beyond Larrik’s reach.  Mikkel flipped his hammer low, and thrust back and around.  The pointed pommel of his hammer caught the Clutcher through the center of its skull, the motion of his swing flinging it into a group of its companions.  Larrik drew a second mattock from his belt, looping the corded end to his right wrist.
    A Clutcher dove for Larrik’s midsection; Larrik swiped it away with his right, slamming the point of his left into the brain pan of another to his side.  He shook the creatures free just in time to swing his left mattock up and block one aiming for his face.  By the gods! He thought.  They jump!
“RIGHT!”  Larrik heard Mikkel’s shout just in time to see a Clutcher diving towards Pash’s face.  He hurled his mattock at it, the point of the mattock digging into a segment of the creature’s spine.  The barbed stinger at the tailbone of the creature twitched spasmodically as its spine snapped in half.  Larrik jerked back on the cord, pulling the mattock back into his hand.  Mikkel was a whirling dance of death, spinning his hammer as he circled Pash and Therrien like a lion protecting his cubs.  He jabbed and swung in either direction, parrying attacks and bludgeoning the oncoming swarm.  “There’s too many of them!  I don’t know how much longer we can keep this up!”
    Pash’s mind was overcome by the horrors surrounding him.  When he was a child, he remembered seeing other children cheering as a beetle was overrun and consumed by a colony of ants; today, they were the beetle.  As he stood there catatonic, he saw a clutcher convulse, and fly towards him.  His mind registered the rings of teeth, set into the fleshy underside of the skullcap, the teeth extended towards his face.  Like a flash, he saw a mattock fly out in front of him, and the visage of death was gone.  He blinked, and did the first thing that came to mind.
    Therrien heard the strange words tumbling from Pash’s mouth as the dwarves concentrated on beating back the waves of creatures.  “Larrik, look ou-“  Therrien’s words were cut off as the wind was knocked out of his chest, a Clutcher slamming into him, and slamming it’s poisoned barb into his diaphragm.  Larrik saw the barb bury itself just above Therrien’s stomach.  He reversed his mattock and slammed the wedge into the creature.  He yanked back with all his might, pulling it away as hard as he could, but it was too late.
    Therrien collapsed to the ground, and the world erupted in a blinding spray of light.  Larrik’s jaw dropped.  Pash stood between him and Mikkel, hands outstretched, his body a blazing beacon. Huge gouts of flame shot from his hands, blackening buildings as they consumed everything in their paths.  The flames ceased nearly as abruptly as they had begun, and Pash collapsed next to Therrien.  Where the zombified masses had once stood now lay an ashen path.  The insectoid clutchers backed up, as if reconsidering their attack.  Mikkel wasted no time.  “Grab Pash, I’ll grab Therrien!”
    The dwarves holstered their weapons, and grabbed their companions.  The creatures were at bay right now; that wouldn’t last long.  The dwarves sprinted through the ankle deep soot toward the cavern exit, their legs powered by pure adrenaline.  Before they had cleared the town center, the creatures began to fall in behind them, chasing to press the attack.  The ceiling turned to a menacing purple-black, the crystal reflecting dark and eerie shadows in front of them.
Dozens of buildings blurred by, blackened in the aftermath of Pash’s spell.  The dwarves began cresting the hill at the edge of town, their legs burning beneath them.  “We can’t run forever!”  Larrik yelled, gasping for air.

You can find The Depths on Goodreads

You can buy The Depths here:
- Amazon
- Amazon Paperback

paulAbout the Author:
Paul Neslusan devours books whole (figuratively speaking), and has since he was a child. When he finally decided to put pen to paper, he set a goal of writing something that was understandable to a fifteen year old, engaging to a twenty five year old, and still compelling to a thirty five year old. Basically, he wanted to write the kind of books that he would want to read, and would have wanted to read when he was younger, and wants to read now. He lives in Central Massachusetts with his extremely patient wife and three children.

The Depths was his first work of fiction, released in December of 2014. His next book in the world of Almir, Maiden of Secrets, will be released in early fall of 2015.

You can find and contact Paul here:
- Website
- Twitter
- Goodreads
- Amazon
- Newsletter


There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Maiden of Secrets. These are the prizes you can win:
- 3 winners will each win a set of e-copies that includes: The Depths and Maiden of Secrets by Paul Neslusan
- 1 winner will win a 10$ Amazon gift card

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

No comments:

Post a Comment