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Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

her very existence is illegal - Storm Chronicles by A.L. Butcher

18++ "On the whole, The Shining Citadel is an exciting, heroic fantasy adventure with great characters that kept me reading, wanting to know what happens to the characters and to learn more about this fascinating world." Kyra H., Goodreads (#2)

Description:

The Light Beyond (#1) 

A beautiful young elven sorceress flees for her life in a dark world where magic is forbidden and elves are enslaved. A world in which her very existence is illegal. Watching her are the Order of Witch-Hunters; the corrupt organisation that rule Erana by fear and ignorance. An iron fist which itself is watched. As the slavers roll across the lands stealing elves from what remains of their ancestral home the Witch-Hunters turn a blind eye to the tragedy, and a story of power, love and a terrible revenge unfolds.

3rd Edition - revised and expanded.
*18+* age limit - this contains adult themes, including scenes of a sexual nature, violence, slavery and some profanity. 

EXCERPT

Olek stayed in shadow and walked in silence, forever gaining upon his prey. As Petrus stepped towards the door, he was suddenly grabbed with a gloved hand across his mouth. He saw the edge of a crossbow bolt in the sleeve attached to the hand now gripping his hair as he tried to turn his head and was dragged back behind the house. As he struggled, a voice said close to his ear, “At this range I reckon I can hit the door yonder. Your brain will merely impede the speed it hits. Struggle, lad, and I will test my theory.”
The young man was forced into a small empty courtyard with no windows overlooking it, as it was full of rubbish and refuse. The voice in his ear said, “How nice privacy…”
The hand was removed from his mouth and Petrus blustered, “Who do you think you are, common thief? I will see you flogged through the streets then hanged. My father is an important man! Unhand me.”
Petrus found himself with a sharp blade pressed against his groin, the deadly edge close to his privates. He could feel the weight of the blade pressing into him. The shadows played around him and the voice in his ear softly replied, “Unhand me? Please, could you not think of less of a cliché? Move or scream and your balls will be rolling in the gutter before the cry is finished.” The young man tried to turn and felt the edge of the blade press against him again and the voice hissed, “The city guard would never find me, for I am the shadows. Now, who would this illustrious father be that I am to be so afraid of?”
Trying to look down and as he moved, the swift edge of the blade split the silk of Petrus’ breeches. “My father's men will hunt you down,” he managed, now feeling distinctly less brave.
Olek yawned loudly. “By all means, call his men. They will be hunting a shadow, a ghost. Much expense will be used, to no avail. How much is your life worth to him, do you think? Not only do you deem it suitable to rape young women and brag about your prowess to your friends, but really, you are extremely dull in conversation. If you answer my questions, you might yet live. Believe me when I say I could take you to a man who would not be as…merciful as I, for what you have done and said. A man who could no doubt keep you alive for some while, although I doubt you would be in much of a state to enjoy that life. Now, who are you? This young lady whom you found so…enjoyable, where is she?”
With the blade against his skin, Petrus’ courage failed him. His voice trembled as he whispered, “I am Petrus, son of Lord Renfrew. The girl, the little virgin whore, she is in the Mermaid. She was just an elf. I paid the price thus she was mine.”
There was a hiss from behind him and the blade moved yet closer to his balls. Suddenly there was a sharp pain as the edge scratched him, not quite breaking the skin. He whimpered and tried to back up. The voice continued, “There was mention of an elven girl called Dii. How do you know her? The other fellows, who were they?”
Petrus swallowed and whispered, “Just a little slut…er…I mean, girl that I had a while ago, a Kept of Lord Tremayne, used to share her around. Little witch warmed his bed too when that human witch bored him. Just an elf Kept, no one of importance, just some fun for the menfolk…the others…oh…er…fellows I just met.”
“Oh, now, lad, you were doing so well… You seemed too intimate to be mere acquaintances.” Olek smiled beneath his cloak.
Petrus felt the blade against him and with a whimper and a squeak, he felt the skin break and a thin trickle of blood begin to flow, soon joined by wetter warmth as he pissed his breeches. Suddenly the only focus was the blade against him, and he squeaked, “Just a little Kept whore, I swear, merely Tremayne’s girl. The others, oh, just Janik of Argen; Edwaen, son of the House of Andert; and Reflin, son of the House of Sardak, the merchant.”
Olek twisted his wrist and drew his blade deep into the man's private parts and as he fell screaming, drew the sword across his throat, cutting off the scream to a gurgle. Crouching, letting the blood flow away from him, he hissed, “Women are not yours to use, elf or not. I do not like a man who betrays his friends. This information will be most useful.”


The Shining Citadel (#2) 

In a dark world where magic is illegal and elves live as slaves, a desperate elf and her human companion seek aid from the mysterious sorcerer, Archos and his lady, the sorceress Dii’Athella. Hoping to unearth the secrets of the Shining Citadel, lost for centuries in the mists of magic and time, they begin a dangerous and arduous journey. Could these secrets change the lives of an oppressed people or will such information bring about a worse fate?

Yet all is not as it first appears for the corrupt Order of Witch-Hunters watch from afar and one man’s obsession leads to a deadly trap. Avarice and betrayal are everywhere; who can be trusted? Creatures long thought dead rise in the darkness, and forgotten magic burns with a bitter flame.

Who makes the rules in this game of intrigue and lies? Shattered beliefs and unwelcome truths abound in an adventure filled with magic, passion, greed and revenge.

18+ rating - contains scenes of both sex and violence.
Extra warning - contains elves!

EXCERPT

Commander Hendrick of the Order of Witch-Hunters was alone, having dismissed his companions save for the unfortunate victims of his wrath and his greed. A blonde-haired elf knelt at his feet and the mage, her twin, hung in chains at the wall whimpering in pain. Blood stained the stone floor crimson from the whip coiled loosely at his side.

“So, scholar, you will lead us to that Citadel of which your late companions were so keen to tell. All the lost riches of the Elfkind,” he said. Gripping her hair, he pulled the elf close, his mouth to her ear. “A pretty thing, are you not? Both you and your sister. Now if you are a good girl, she might get to keep those looks. The Baneshackle scars will not be so bad. She might yet live to see the sun rise over your Shimmering Forest.”

Dragging the elven woman roughly so she could see her weeping and bloody twin, the Witch-Hunter continued in a voice which made her blood run cold, “See what you have consented to? That she lives. It is simple enough, elf.”

Th'alia fought back her tears, shame and degradation pricking her eyes and burning within her far stronger than her own physical pain, yet she summoned the courage and the pride to whisper, “I have a name, my sister has a name. My name is Th'alia Er'lis. We are not property. I will seek the Citadel, but for her, not for you, Witch-Hunter.”

Hendrick scrutinised the elf woman and, releasing her hair, laughed at her audacity. “Is that what you believe? She is a mage, an elf witch, and thus she belongs to us, to me. However, I may be persuaded to look the other way. Lead the Magelord Archos of Tremellic and that slut who shares his bed to this Citadel, allow them to perform the ritual needed to enter, and I may ignore the fact of your sister's existence.”

Motioning towards M'alia he removed the whip from his belt, letting the weight of it lie in his hands as though emphasising the point, for she had felt the bite of it and both elves knew he would not hesitate to use it once more.

“I will arrange escort and the required paperwork, for you cannot wander the human lands alone. Mark this however, you will be watched. If any harm befalls your escort, if you escape from him, if you fail or deceive him, the woman who hangs in chains yonder will die. Then I will inform the slavers of what stock resides in your settlement, for if they produce more as pretty as you, the slavers will indeed pay handsomely for the information. One way or the other, I will get my gold. Surely it is an easy enough choice, the lives of strangers for those of your sister and your town.”

He looked into her eyes and saw compliance if not consent, a realisation that choice was not a luxury she could afford. Th'alia nodded slowly, and with an unpleasant grin and the thought of elven treasure shining in his eyes, Hendrick said, “Good girl. Your sister will not be harmed or molested. She will be safe. You have my word on that.”

Th'alia turned her tear-filled brown eyes to his face and replied quietly, “What is the word of a Witch-Hunter to me?”

Hendrick looked over to the chained mage. Running the whip through his fingers once more, he replied, “It is the word of a man who has the power of life and death. Heed it well.”


With that, Hendrick unchained the mage, and instead of letting her fall, he wrapped his cloak about her and gave orders she was to be healed and removed from the cell. Casting one final glance at Th'alia, he exited, locking the door until his plans were in place.


The Stolen Tower (#3)

What stalks the land cannot be, but is.

Where magic is outlawed a troll Shaman calls from her deathbed to her heiress, Mirandra Var, daughter of the storm. Mirandra vows to find her missing kin, sort friend from foe, and claim the dangerous secrets guarded by unthinkable creatures. If she succeeds, she will become the leader of her tribe. If she fails there, will be no tribe to lead.

Please note 18+ rated. This contains scenes of violence and sexual situations. 

EXCERPT

“So, you are the Heart of the Mountain. What can you show me, I wonder?” Kherak muttered, pulling her thoughts back to the task in hand. She settled back in her armchair with the crimson embroidered and beaded Shamanic Shawl across her shoulders. The item was old, far older than the Shaman herself, and imbued with magic, for it had passed down from Shaman to Shaman, and each woman had added to it. To all appearances it was simply the shawl of an old woman, but there was nothing simple about the garment. It was a symbol of status, an heirloom with much Power and, of course, it kept her warm.

A pearlescent glow rose in the Opal, which hovered above the Circle adorning the table. Colours shifted and, as she placed the Heart of the Mountain over the large stone, the red and black pattern began to move, swirling like a whirlpool. “I am Kherak Var, Shaman, as my kin have been before me. Show me your secrets; guide me in seeking my kin.”

 This was strong and wild magic, flowing in a torrent which was close to sweeping the ailing woman away with its force. Suddenly a voice rumbled around, timbre low like thunder, drawing her in and making the old Shaman tingle in ways she had not experienced for many years. The language was strange, ancient and arcane, the very language of the earth. Such words Kherak had seldom heard; the sound held Power, the very essence of magic and rose like a song. She had not expected this, even with all her foretelling. Peering into the depths of the Opal, the images swirled like mist on the mountain and the shifting vision would not yield further. “You will reveal, my eyesight fades but my Sight is clear. You will reveal to me, as is my right and my Power.”


The humming Opal whined with a painful shrill, and tired Kherak fought the errant vision to do her bidding. The Shaman’s Focus shifted— partly in the Realm of Dreams and partly remaining in the mundane world. In Astral Sight the Opal loomed large and bright, a globe of dancing images woven in mist; before her rose a peak of reddish stone, run through with black veins arising from a lake of greenish water, and high in the peak an arch looked out across the lake, weathered but dark and foreboding. As she watched, the lake filled with blood, and screams echoed in her head. As quickly as it had appeared Kherak saw the half-dream flicker away to be replaced by a high-roofed chamber of rock, lit with crystal, and in the centre a red and black stone statue, circled by molten rock, runes glowing like fire about it. The strange words roared as the rolling of waves against stone, echoing in the Realm of Dreams as it did in her parlour, rattling the shelves from which items tumbled. Then the vision was gone.

About the author:
British-born A. L. Butcher is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as ‘evocative’. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be. 

Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror, including the Legacy of the Mask series. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life. 

She also curates for a number of speculative fiction themed book bundles on BundleRabbit. 

Her short novella Outside the Walls, co-written with Diana L. Wicker received a Chill with a Book Reader’s Award in 2017 and The Kitchen Imps won best fantasy for 2018 on NN Light Book Heaven. 

Alex is also proud to be a writer for Perseid Press where her work features in Heroika: Dragon Eaters; and Lovers in Hell – part of the acclaimed Heroes in Hell series. 


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5 comments:

DebP said...

I would really enjoy reading this trilogy. I think I'd find the book engrossing.

Dale Wilken said...

The books sounds like really great reads.

Nancy Payette said...

Fabulous cover

Anonymous said...

The books sound great but the cover art is very muted and not as eye catching.

Brooke Rose said...

Love the covers!