Excerpt – Tales of Erana: Just One Mistake – A. L. Butcher #Fantasy

Excerpt – Tales of Erana: Just One Mistake – Adult Dark Fantasy

(c) A. L. Butcher

*Adult rated

https://www.books2read.com/Justonemistake

The candle spluttered in the attic as the wind curled about the badly thatched roof. Glowglobes were currently beyond Coel’s means so in the small flickering circle of meagre light Coel assessed his night’s takings. The tavern wench had gone to her own bed or someone else’s and in many ways he was glad; any undue attention would be unwelcome in the circumstances. Coel had got away with the theft, at least he could hear no hue and cry from below or boots on the stairs. With luck, the fellow would either not miss the trinket or simply not recall his movements that evening. There had been no mistake, not this time.

Darkness oozed lazily in the remainder of the room, nosing into corners, under furniture and behind Coel, unseen, part of it detached. “That was quite a performance, bard. You have some talent, and not just your music. Although your judgement is flawed, it is never wise to steal from a thief,” the voice was smooth, like liquid velvet and very sure of itself.

Coel’s hand moved towards the dagger nestling in his belt; it would not be the first time he had been called on to defend himself, although that was how he had ended up in this mess he thought bitterly. Just one mistake, then another and now, it would seem, another.

“I do not know of what you speak! I am not a thief.” His brain caught up and he continued, “How did you get into my room? The door was locked. I’m not a bloody fool.” Coel could hear his own heart pounding. There was something about this man which frightened him. He felt like a mouse beneath the gaze of a cat. Perhaps the hangman’s noose would have been the better option.

The slate-grey cloak swirled around boots of ebony leather and the cowled figure chuckled. “That lock was barely a moment’s work. I must have a word with the owner of this place about his security. I have yet to find a door in Erana which will not yield to me. You may as well remove your hand from that blade, or would you bet your life you are swifter than the Thiefmaster? I doubt it, boy, I doubt it. Believe me when I say you would be dead before that knife left its scabbard. It would be a pity to waste such talent, would it not?”

Coel removed his hand from the dagger, his sense telling him that continuing to draw it would be a terminal decision. Instead, he placed his hand on the table and the voice breathed into his ear, Coel shivered, he had not heard the man move.

“I thought not. Sensible lad, if a lying one. This too can be a skill which can save your life, if it is used correctly and with assurance,” Darius told him.

This menacing shape was right behind him and Coel began to turn, opening his mouth to protest, and found a gloved hand on his jaw, firm but not unduly painful. “Curious are we not? This may sometimes serve you well. As for other occasions, it is wise to accept things as they are, this is one such occasion… Coel.”

The bard caught his breath, how did this man know his name? The sweat began to pool in his back, making his shirt stick unpleasantly to his skin. Had this man been hired to kill him? Had his mistake finally caught him up? Yet as Coel’s brain frantically grasped at any hope and his fingers tried to overrule his brain and reach for the dagger he realised the man had said he was a thief. A robbery, that was not so bad. It would not be the first time.

“This is not merely a social call; you are honoured for the Master of Thieves does not always test a potential recruit’s skills for himself.”

“I usually charge for my skills, music and other kinds, if that is what you prefer. I can be flexible, and my tastes are…varied. Perhaps just this once I might offer them for free. Take the coin and the trinkets, take it all.” Coel’s brain finally caught up with the conversation, “What do you mean potential recruit?”

Swift Six Author Interview – Jon Cronshaw

Name: Jon Cronshaw

Please introduce yourself (250 words or so):

I’ve been a full-time author since 2017. I’ve zig-zagged between high fantasy, post-apocalyptic, and gamelit. I’m trying hard to stay focused on writing fantasy stories, but that doesn’t stop the Muse teasing me with ideas for space opera tales.

Tell us about your book(s) – title, genre etc (short)

My main fantasy series is called The Ravenglass Chronciles, this is a 21-novella series where each book is inspired by the tarot. My latest novel, Dawn of Assassins is set a few hundred years after The Ravenglass Chronicles and tells the story of a pair of thieves who are recruited by a master assassin. But they’re thieves, not killers.

When did you start your writing adventure? What was the inspiration for it?

I’ve worked as a professional writer for most of my adult life, mostly in journalism. I’ve written stories, comedy scripts, and lyrics since I can remember, so I’ve always had that drive to tell stories. When I saw I could bypass corporate publishers and produce books on my own terms, that’s when I decided to follow this as a career path.

What writing plans do you have for the future?

To keep writing stories in my Ravenglass Universe. As I establish the universe, I want to branch out into other media and work with other writers. There’s potential for video games, movies, and comics. It’s very exciting. It’s also meant that when I get an idea for a story, I ask myself whether it will fit in the Ravenglass Universe. If it doesn’t, I thank the Muse and move on. 

What do you like to read?

Books! And lots of them! I read in most genres. My favourite stories tend to be fantasy. Give me banter and swashbuckling and you’re onto a winner.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you’d started your writing adventure?

Just because someone’s got a system that works for them, it doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.

There is no magic bullet.

Author bio and book synopsis

Jon Cronshaw is a full-time fantasy and speculative fiction author based in Morecambe, England.

Born in Wolverhampton, he has a PhD in the history of art and has written for local and national newspapers across the UK.

He’s an avid reader, podcaster, and history geek.

Dawn of Assassins:

Two friends. A master assassin. One deadly choice.

Fedor and Lev are thieves…not killers.

They lead a desperate life in the tunnels of Nordturm, conning and stealing to buy their next meal.

But when an assassin recruits them against their will, they are forced into a life they do not want and cannot escape.

If they leave, they will die. But if they stay, they must kill.

Can they survive the master’s relentless evaluation?

Is loyalty stronger than the will to live?

Will their friendship last the ordeal?

From the best-selling author of The Ravenglass Chronicles, comes a new thrilling adventure featuring a new cast of unforgettable characters.

You’ll love this high fantasy series, because these unlikely heroes have a story you won’t be able to put down.

Links/Social media

https://joncronshaw.com

https://facebook.com/joncronshawauthor

https://youtube.com/c/joncronshawauthor

https://instagram.com/joncronshawauthor

You can also find Jon Cronshaw’s Author Diary wherever you listen to podcasts.

Y Goedwig Olaf – Argraffiad Cymreig – The Last Forest – Welsh Edition

Pan ddaw pobl i gwympo’r goedwig olaf, maent am gael sioc ysgytwol. Stori ffantasi dywyll fer am ddigofaint byd natur.

 #Ffantasi #Ffantasitywyll

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

The Last Forest – Excerpt #Fantasy #Shortstory #Dystopian

The Last Forest (c) A.L. Butcher

The whine of the chainsaws, and the rumble of iron machines cut through the growing sound from the forest. Death came on tracks of metal and wheels of rubber. The monkeys who commanded the machines waited, smoking and pointing towards the edges of the forest. “Where do we start?” one asked, eyeing the trees.

“Make your way to that big old one – the tallest. That will take out plenty when it falls. Look it’s three-quarters rotten anyway! Break the heart of the forest and tame it! That is how it’s done, lad.” The speaker pointed towards the Great Oak, satisfaction creased his face, and power gave his countenance a smirk. The monkey who walked on two feet was lord of the land and knew it well. He had brought death to the flora and fauna of this land, and their sap and blood soaked the soil. And he ignored the cacophony of music around him.

“This is the last patch of woodland in the country, the only unspoiled wilderness left,” someone said, from the back. “Must we?”

“It’s coming down. It’s needed for houses – people are more important than trees. They are just plants.” The foreman glared at the speaker, as the wind began to blow around them. “It’s not the last, there’s that coppice over in Haydock, and the Amazon of course.”

“The Amazon went a decade ago, boss. And that place in Haydock was bulldozed last year.” The first speaker reminded him.

The boss shrugged. “Not my problem. We have our orders. Now get to it, there is no place for conscience or sentiment here.”

The machines snarled, they spat their poison breath and rumbled forward, inexorable, awful. Monsters of modernity, some had called them. Progress had been their name from others. All the trees understood was the choking stench and the inexorable roar of impending death. Trees are not complicated, but they are not stupid. The knowledge of the wood pulsed through every branch and root; the force of nature, the will of life to survive surged.

Crack! The sound of tons of wood uprooting drowned the roar of the engines. It was the sound of defiance. Earth showered from roots, and leaves swirled as the mighty trees moved. Nature stopped; from red fox, and blackbird to tiny grey mouse life paused – the cry of war flowed through the ground, squeaked from the lowliest and sung from above. ‘We come! We stand! We fight! Nature Rises!’

Birds swooped, squawking at the monkeys who walked on two feet. Beaks were sharp, and eyeballs soft. The brave robin and the humble thrush dived, their song the sound of battle as they flew towards danger. ‘Be gone! Be gone!’

The humans flapped their arms against the onslaught.

“Get away, filthy creatures!” one monkey yelled. “I hate birds!” His flapping arms knocked birds to the ground, and some rose up for another onslaught. Others lay broken but roused the song to inspire their comrades.

“What is this? Alfred Hitchcock been ‘ere?” The foreman cried, trying to bat away the crows, pecking at his face. Blood flowed, feathers flew, and the beat of the Primal Song changed again – the music surged as other creatures joined the fray.

Available as an ebook and audiobook https://books2read.com/TheLastForest

Cover Reveal – The Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book III #Fantasy

Here is the new cover for book III

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.

#Fantasy #Darkfantasy

Universal Link https://www.books2read.com/StolenTower

The Shining Citadel – Cover Reveal #Fantasy

2022 is a new year, so to celebrate I have updated the covers for my novels.

The Shining Citadel

Who rules in this game of intrigue where magic is forbidden, and elves enslaved? Journey where beliefs shatter like glass, truth is unwelcome, and monsters from ancient times abound: share the romance and revenge, magic and passion, and the wages of greed in a world of darkest fantasy.

(18 rated)

Universal Link https://www.books2read.com/ShiningCitadel

Stolen Tower – Now in Large Print and Hardback

The Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book III is now available in both Large Print Editions and Hardcover.

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.

Large Print – Amazon US https://amzn.to/3eIVCCn

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09PHHH5NZ

Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Tower-Light-Beyond-Chronicles/dp/B09MYYW9T6/

Swift Six Character Interview – Saelth #Fantasy

 

Tell us about yourself: (Name, race/species, etc.) I am Saelth, a warrior lord and slayer of monsters. My band has ventured where none other dare tread to best creatures of legend.

Which book/world do you live in? Erana – from the Tales of Erana – The Warrior’s Curse

I’m an adventurer – why should I recruit you to accompany me? Did you not hear me? I do not fear the monsters who infest this realm. I will slay them, large or small. If I am victorious so much the better and if I fail, I shall go to the Halls of the Dead a hero, not one who cowers behind the table, or beneath the bed. I am no coward, nor simpering woman. Nothing is all powerful, or unable to be vanquished, save the gods. My name shall live forever.

Tell us about your companions?  How do they see you?  I am their chieftain, they respect me. Perhaps they speak of my arrogance, but so long as they praise my exploits I do not care. I like women and have bedded many. So perhaps there are husbands, brothers and fathers who would speak ill of my exploits.

What’s your most heroic exploit to date? Slaying the witch-born monster of the Hellirinn mountain – that foul beast had brought many warriors to the Halls of the Dead and near-ruined the old king.

What’s your greatest failure? I have none. (Although fate would say it’s my love of a pretty face and a seductive smile).

Where do you think you’ll be in a decade? Lord of this land, renowned in song and tale and in the bed of the most beautiful women.

Do you have a great love? (This could be a person/trait/item). Glory

 

 

Links to book etc

 

He who bargains with monsters beware! A hero forges an unholy bargain with a witch and learns magic never forgets.

Mythic tales in a land of forbidden magic.

A Tales of Erana dark fantasy novella.

Audio editions narrated by Rob Goll

Universal Link  https://www.books2read.com/WarriorsCurse

 

Excerpt – The Stolen Tower – A. L. Butcher

 

Excerpt – The Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book III (C) A. L. Butcher

 

“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.

Links/synopsis

 

The Stolen Tower – the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book III

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.

Universal Link https://www.books2read.com/StolenTower

Dark Tales and Twisted Verses – NN Light Book Heaven Finalist

Dark Tales and Twisted Verses is a finalist in the NN Light Book Heaven awards for 2021, for the short story category.

https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/post/2021-book-award-finalists

Check out the awesome books here.

Dark tales of ghosts of war, blood from the Autumn of Terror, the wrath of nature, an unusual murder and a cynical vampire. Twisted poetry of loss and mayhem.
Some adult themes and language.
https://books2read.com/DarkTalesTwistedVerses