13 Nov 2016

The Necromancer—Out Now!

Hello readers!

As promised, Alex will stop talking about the American elections, and talk instead about the promise he made to you back in October: to release a new version of the Necromancer!

As of now, it is available on Amazon to pre-order (and very soon, to buy). It’s out folks! Presently it has no reviews: Alex has contacted a number of reviewers, but they are yet to respond. No matter. Alex is sure you will enjoy the book—and he is also quite sure that you’ll be posting a review. (Right?)

Below is the new cover complete with a new blurb, as well as an excerpt. Just in case you needed tantalising ;)

In the frozen heartlands of the north, a dark force is reborn; his power is great, and his army swells with every monstrous recruit. In the Arachadian capital, Dresh, a string of mysterious kidnappings leaves the Great Mage puzzled. And in the mage academy of small town Renas, an unwitting apprentice is plunged into a quest: it will prove a fight for her life, a fight for the man she loves, and – ultimately – a fight for the future of the land.

Delve into this dark world of mystery and magic; of beings that walk the great forests and haunt the alcoves of the night. The necromancer awaits you...

THREE

Deep in the frozen north, a fortress stands tall.

It is a huge, magnificent thing: a towering construction of granite. The mountain on which it rests makes it no less humble; indeed, it seems the mountain is the subject, and the fortress the king.

Though magnificent, no ordinary human would observe it. Strong magics concealed it from mundane eyes – and stronger magics still guarded it from those with power.

In the midst of this fortress lies Neshvetal. He is the necromancer; the king of this forgotten realm. He is in the throne room. The floor is black marble, polished by the blood of the fallen: it reflects the necromancer’s face, emblazoning it in horror. The windows are tall, and shine a pale grey light – the light of approaching winter.

At the centre, lies the throne.

Carved from trees long extinct, adorned by gargoyles in vicious form, the throne is pale compared to the being that rests on top.

His black robes absorb the light, like an infinite void of darkness. His cobalt blue eyes scan what is around him.

His guards – skeletons, devoid of eyes, and armoured by growths of bone – raise their axes. Leira walks past them. She is his apprentice; and she is beautiful. Her eyes are ruby red, and her hair black as the silk of mourning. Her dark robes do not conceal the figure within.

Yet Neshvetal feels nothing. He did not live; his elixir was death. Sexual pursuits scarcely troubled him. No: he had chosen her because she was powerful. A little young in the dark arts, perhaps, but that was a deficiency he could more than rectify.

“Hello, apprentice Leira. Why do you seek my presence?”

““Apprentice Leira’ – really, Neshvetal?”

The necromancer smiled.

“You never did care for formality, Leira; an admirable trait, in truth. So let me put it to you more simply: you’re supposed to be busy spying on our enemies and commandeering our army. What the hell are you doing here?”

“I was wondering about that Silver Mage you killed.”

“Her? She was an arrogant fool – she deserved her death,” Neshvetal replied, his voice gaining the passion that all zealots possess.

“But Neshvetal... don’t you believe whomever sent her would come looking if she doesn’t return?”

“I doubt it. Silver Mage or not, she is still just one mage.”

“Perhaps it is as you say. But I am your spy, and I know many things. Our Wraiths have reported activity.”

“What kind of activity?” Neshvetal enquired.

“Vague unrest so far – a mage knows of her death, and news has spread to the student body. I shall need to find more informative spies to discover more. You know how the limitations of our undead.”

Indeed he did. Wraiths were powerful beings, immune to physical harm and capable of traversing great distances. At night they could hide among the shadows; and no physical barrier could contain them. But Wraiths could not blend among the living; they could not discover their inner secrets. And mages were particularly difficult to spy on.

“In that case, I suggest you persuade a man to work for our cause.”

“I thought as much. Thank you for the advice, master.”

“Whose the one being formal now, Leira?”

She only smiled at that.

Neshvetal waved his hand. “Very well; is there anything else you wish to discuss?”

“There is still the question of our undead army.”

Neshvetal permitted himself a small smile. It was not a pleasant one: it revealed teeth that were inhumanly white, and a twinkle of madness within those cold orbs of sight.

“Do not worry, Leira. I have many plans in motion.”

As if on cue, a screech penetrated the air. It was not the cry of a bird: it was too deep, too unnatural for that. It was followed by a terrible scraping sound, like metal on stone. Then the creature entered the throne room.

It was difficult to believe it had once been human. Its eyes glowed red, like coals; its skin was deathly white. Its claws still held blood. It smiled: its mouth was filled with canines, like those of an airborne shark.

“Master,” it said. Its voice was as inhuman as its body. It bowed, respectfully though clumsily.

“Rise, Dragethir, and tell me what brings you here.”

“Master, I am bored. And we are still too weak. Shall we kill more?” It licked its lips, savouring the blood that still dripped from its teeth.

Neshvetal pondered the Dragethir’s words, stroking smooth stubble. (It was one of the few parts of his undead body that continued to live.) He had ordered the death of a few elves, more out of curiosity than necessity – he wished to see what beings could be created from their bodies. Now he considered whether to extend his efforts.

“Dragethir, I give you permission. Find the elves, and kill them.”

The thing smiled gleefully. Then it unfurled its wings: they resembled the wings of a bat, though they were immense, and the skin was like no living creature. With a single stroke, it was out of the throne room and into the sky.

“Do you think that was wise, Neshvetal? Killing elves would give them a reason to attack us.”

“I doubt it – the elves’ power is bound to the forest, and they dare not leave it. And even if they do attack us, they are few; they can be no more than a nuisance. No, let us take this opportunity. I am pleased with their undead forms.”

“If you say so. We shall see what they can do, when battle comes.” Leira did not sound particularly convinced.

“You will not have to wait much longer, my apprentice.”

Leira rolled her eyes, and turned to leave. “See to your business, master. I have my own to deal with.”

“I trust your spies will prove reliable.”

“You have put faith in me, Neshvetal, and I will not betray it.”

She left. Neshvetal smiled faintly, in the cold light of that room. He had put much faith in her: he had entrusted his spies, part of his army, and many of his secrets to her. She, too, had been betrayed. She, too, would be there when he crowned himself ruler of Arachadia.

It was a pleasing thought. Neshvetal laughed; the castle trembled from his madness.

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