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Release Date: January 11, 2018
Until then, please enjoy this excerpt:
As Reslo took his first step, a great shape eclipsed the sun and cast him into shadow.
He turned, but he was too late. The giant plucked him from the ground. Reslo squirmed in the giant’s grip, the meaty fingers fully enveloping the elf’s torso and giving him little room to writhe. He only caught a glimpse of the creature’s face—a drooping, bearded mess of flesh with an open cavern where an eye had once been and the other orb clouded a swampy green color—before he had to turn away from the pestilent stench exuding from behind its cragged and crusted teeth. Reslo glanced the Dark Elf’s triumphant grin and from the corner of his eye he saw a glinting armored figure being pulled from his saddle. Then the giant tossed him aside with the casual ease of a bored child.
The exhilaration of falling two stories made the descent seem to last for nearly a minute, but Reslo knew had it actually lasted that long, he could have prepared for the landing. Instead, the back of his shoulder and a few ribs took the impact of his body’s and armor’s fall with a symphony of cracks followed by the crescendo of Reslo’s pain-filled gasp.
It hurt worse than anything he had ever felt. He had been cut before and nearly gored by antlers and tusks, but this new pain felt as if his own body was tearing and stabbing itself from within every time he moved, which it likely was.
Despite the noxious pain, Reslo turned his head toward the hate-filled scream smothering out the din of battle.
Gratas stood poised for a duel, his claymore held before him in challenge to the ogre standing between Jerah and him. All around the templar gore and viscera fell with no sign that the meat and bone had once been a creature. Blood matted the long threads of his hair and bespattered his face and stained his noble armor red with chunks of flesh clinging to the plates. He no longer had the visage of a knight, but of the barbarians who drank and danced in the slaughter, his eyes an inferno of contempt. He no longer reminded Reslo of the ignorant youth who joked his way through the haunted forest and drank his way through the ethereal Seelie realm. He was terrifying.
Despite their mass, the other two ogres struggled to contain Jerah. The knight now fought with kicks and thrashes as they tried to hang on to his arms. While Gratas’ face was marred with a thirst for blood, Jerah’s was cast into a howling plea for deliverance.
Gratas held out his great-sword and stared down its length at the pudgy, monster ogre before him, clad in a tattered hide and with a bronzed pot atop its skull. In its mitts it gripped a club carved from a solid chunk of rock. Reslo couldn’t understand the words that erupted from Gratas’ throat, most likely one of the hundreds of battle avowals the templar had been lectured on during his studious days.
Gratas raised a hand to the sun and hurled empty air at the ogre. Somewhere between the two foes, the empty air became a streak of pure and holy light. The luminous lance found its mark in the ogre’s chest, passing through the monster with a flash of purifying flames. The ethereal weapon continued on its skyward trajectory, toppling the peak of a pine and vanishing into the clouds.
I guess I should have been more specific when I told them not to do anything to anger the Boggar, Reslo said to himself. Furious that something would summon a spell within the glade, spoiling the natural perfection of the forest’s magic, the dryads burst from the tree line and leapt upon Gratas like a pack of starved wolves. They wrenched the templar’s sword from his hands and pinned his armored body to the ground.
With his friend in peril and his chances of survival dwindled, Jerah’s desperation became fury. An ogre’s face exploded with blood as Jerah’s mailed elbow shattered the cartilage and bone in its nose. Through the disorienting droning in her ears, he heard one of the templars cry out.
“By the Second Law of Cuglas!”
Reslo didn’t see what happened next. His pain and anxiety at the templar’s plight masked that only a few seconds had passed since his own unfortunate encounter with the Dark Elf and giant.
Reslo turned to the black-armored elf, who walked casually to where Reslo lay. The bastard still had that idiotic grin of self-satisfaction on his face, even though the giant had done all the work.
“A fine ending to your little mission, Traluíl,” the Dark Elf said. Is that the best line he could think up to laud his victory? There was only a flash of pain as the Dark Elf drove his steeled toe into the side of Reslo’s skull. Then there was just the euphoria of release, and the sunlit glade became blackness as he lost the strength to keep his eyes open.