CHAIN OF SHADOWS Preview

Book 6 of the Blood Skies sage comes out in less than a week.  Here’s a last snippet before the October 25th release.  This scene takes place later in the book, as Ronan and a band of natives prepare to do battle with an army of ghost-possessed marauders and their leader, the Black Witch.

chainofshadows_final

****

They rode hard over shattered rocks and crossed dry riverbeds and bubbling pools of something like tar.  A haze rose over the plains of dead grass, dust smoke fused with grey.

“There they are,” Ronan said.  All around him the desert nomads readied themselves.

They saw the silhouettes of massive horned elephants in the distance, shifting towers of darkly scarred flesh near the low city walls; the great beasts stamped the earth and tore at the ground with spine-covered tusks.  Possessed Skaravae warriors floated in the air like candles on water.

The Sundered shifted the blades and armor on their leonine and lizard mounts.  They readied bows and dipped arrows in caustic and explosive poisons, hammered the hilts of their blades against their chests and pushed forward, eager to expunge the nightmare invaders from their lands.  Unnatural lightning and the stark and massive moon bathed the desert in bone white light.

“I don’t suppose we have a plan of attack?” Ronan asked, expecting no answer, and naturally none came.

The ground trembled.  Small desert animals scattered and fled into holes in the ground, sensing the coming conflict.  Stones cracked and shattered as the Skaravae bombarded the plains using trebuchets and mangonels located just outside the city walls.

There were more than a score of the massive elephantine brutes and easily a hundred Skaravae, men with pale glowing eyes and shifting cloaks of shadow vapor and oily blood.  The smoke wrapped around the advancing horde and made them difficult to see.  The corbelled rickshaws on the backs of the shadow beasts were the size of small boats, laced with barbed perimeters and masked by strips of black cloth and chainmesh veils.  The creatures tore up earth as they started their slow and deliberate charge.

The Sundered surged forward.  The Pale separated themselves from the nomads and spread out in a phalanx formation of spectral white skin and bone blades. 

We’re screwed, he thought.  He still didn’t know where Creasy or the others were.

On the largest beast, a voice told him.  It was her – the Black Witch.  I have what you want.  I won’t hide from you, assassin.  Come to me, and die. 

Ronan found the calm inside of him.  He took deep and steady breaths, felt his chest rise and fall as his heartbeats slowed.  He narrowed his vision.  The already polarized landscape lost its last shreds of color: black and white, noise and silence.  Everything twisted to sharp edges.

He stepped into the Deadlands.

I’ll be right there, he thought to her.  

****

Steven Montano is freaking out, largely because he and has family have just decided to move, but also because, well, he’s just a freak.  Find out why at http://bloodskies.com/.

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