PATH OF BONES, the sequel to CITY OF SCARS and the second book of my epic fantasy Skullborn Trilogy, releases in exactly one month. Enjoy this snippet from early in the novel, when a large scale excavation in a ruined city is interrupted by some brutal creatures of the desert…
Kala looked towards the dig. Slaves ran in every direction and mercenary soldiers drew their weapons and made for some unseen threat at the edge of the square. Crogas barked orders, and Vance drew his blade and moved down the steps.
A blur of razored steel and black fur moved down near the pit, a giant hunter cat with smoking skin, a lashing tail and disproportionately huge claws and teeth. Diamond black eyes glittered in the morning gloom, and a tongue lined with dark spines licked across its slathering and oversized jaws.
“Razorcats!” someone shouted.
The one Kala saw had the shredded and bloody corpse of a serving girl under its claws. More cats moved into view near the squat stone fountain, the tents, and the ruins of nearby buildings. The Razorcats’ black eyes were like cold dead mirrors and their growls sounded of breaking glass. There were least a dozen in all, and maybe more.
Two of the cats jumped into the slaves and slashed bodies apart in a storm of blood and limbs. Shrill screams rang out, pitiful and mewling cries. A dozen mercenaries pushed through the slaves, hacking down those who got in their way. The Razorcat’s tongues snatched off heads and their claws crushed skulls.
Armed men descended on the Razorcats with flashing swords, but the beasts of the Bonelands were stronger and faster, and the mercenaries were hacked to pieces.
Crogas and Kala both called on the Veil from their separate positions. Crogas was suddenly aloft, floating on an invisible disc of force that carried him high into the air. Kala lifted herself from the ground on freezing wind that rippled her hair and swept her up like she rode on the back of an ocean wave.
The air crackled with the smell of death. Her lions stayed behind her in spite of their roars, obeying her silent will. Down below she heard Vance order her personal guard to form a perimeter around the manor and wait for his orders.
Crogas fired molten blades from his hands, and the air burned. The Veilcrafted missiles dodged around Cabal mercenaries until they found the Razorcats. Gritty roars turned to painful hisses as the burning projectiles sprayed the cat’s insides to the ground. Two of the creatures fell.
Kala’s vision turned red. Spiky tendrils of ebon frost oozed from her fingers. Spectral tentacles twisted around the bodies of two more Razorcats and crushed them, squeezing out blood and guts until the bodies exploded across the ground and covered nearby slaves and soldiers in a nauseating splash.
Only a few of the predators remained. Drazzek and Gallaean led the next wave of soldiers through a crowd of mutilated slaves in a clang of rushing steel and battle cries. Drazzek’s black armor and white skin stood out in the tide of bodies, and he moved with the grace of a dancer as his raak’ma sliced through a fast-leaping Razorcat and opened it from groin to throat. Gallaean took a claw wound across his armored chest, but he hardly seemed to notice as he swung his heavy flail and murderously bludgeoned the offending creature to a bloody pulp.
The soldiers mopped up the last pair of cats. In just a few short minutes it was all over, but the price paid was heavy: thirteen Razorcats had killed twenty-seven slaves and a dozen armed soldiers.
Steven Montano is part man, part…well, we’re not sure yet. But he sure writes a lot of books, including the Blood Skies series (Blood Skies, Black Scars, Soulrazor, Crown of Ash, The Witch’s Eye, Chain of Shadows), The Skullborn Trilogy (City of Scars, Path of Bones, The Black Tower), and something black…. He lives in Michigan, where he shovels snow more often than he actually goes to work.
Learn more at http://steven-montano.com/