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Monthly Archives: August 2012

A Ghost and a Whisper…

“Of course, I don’t have so widely esteemed reputation as you, but that’s partially my doing. I make no show of my kills, you see. I am but a shadow and a whisper…a ghost that moves silently among men.  My appearance sudden and terrifying. My departure leaves behind no trace, but the dead.”
~Raithe, Shade 2: Kingsblood

Those are some of the first words Raithe boasts to Shade upon their epic meeting in Shade 2: Kingsblood. Now I know I touched on this character in the blog, The Who’s Who on Shade 2, but Raithe was so much fun to write I can’t help but say more about this ballsy, but chillingly capable rival.

Raithe is in many ways a flip-side to Shade. He is clad in white, as opposed to our dark anti-hero, with mysterious powers that make him terrifyingly elusive even to our accomplished Dark Elven assassin. Raithe’s cockiness even exceeds Shade’s own. His barefaced arrogance is a mixture of his astonishing talents and zealous ambition that truly sees himself as the world’s deadliest assassin. Shade is the past and he is the future, as Raithe believes. And so, at long last when Shade meets Raithe for the first time, he sees what it’s like to be ridiculed and belittled by a foe oozing with as much confidence as him.

I won’t say anything else about Raithe himself. I’ll let the free sample below speak for itself.

The lack of a worthy rival in Shade 1: Waiting Game was one of the few criticisms we received on Shade’s original work. We set out to establish Shade as the apex assassin of Covent and Waiting Game certainly did just that. We treated readers to a wild action-packed ride of what happens when the world’s deadliest assassin gets into the world’s longest lasting bar fight with a powerful mobster.

Of course, this approach left some readers thirsting for a more worthy rival for our seemingly invincible assassin. Shade wiped the floor quite easily with Lewd and his goons after all. Shade was more tested by unexpected enemies, like the undead in the Ruins of Garrlohan and the Sharlak in the Sharkgates, than his primary antagonist—the Troll with the winning smile. Again, Shade 1 was supposed to establish a seemingly untouchable legend. We built that mountain up pretty big and it can only go downhill from there.

Let’s start with Raithe. Here is another free writing sample of Shade and Raithe’s first meeting from Kingsblood—the upcoming sequel to Shade’s original book. The scene is the Hall of Kings. Shade waits up on a ledge, silently watching over the king of Doljinaar like a dark guardian angel. The king is unbeknownst to his presence. The palace is locked down, but neither can anticipate the ghastly foe that is about to slip into their midst…

 

An Excerpt from Shade 2
Kingsblood Chapter Twelve:
A Ghost and a Whisper

Shade looked up just as a bright glowing form descended from the stained glass oratory domed window. He blinked. It had been a ghastly humanoid figure. The Dark Elf’s heart froze. A ghost!

The ghost resembled a man clad in baggy white cloths. He wore a white turban embedded with a single sapphire stone on his head. A cloth mask had been wrapped over his mouth and nose. The ghost’s icy light blue eyes chilled Shade’s blood, but the apparition did not appear to spot him. It landed silently on the throne room floor and turned to face the king. Shade’s eye widened in alarm.

The ghost materialized before his very eyes and transformed into the living flesh of a man. It wasn’t a ghost at all.

“Greetings, your Godliness,” the eerie ghost-man smirked through his mask at the king.

“Who are you?” King Magnus shouted, “How did you get in here?”

The ghost-man unsheathed a pair of half-crescent daggers that resembled sickles. The deathly blades curved back over the handles and continued up to his mid forearm. Hand sickles. He took a gracious bow. “I am the last face you will ever know.”

“Guards!” the king called.

Captain Aagren let loose a bellowing war cry and charged. The other Majesterium raised their pikes and stormed forward.

Shade watched as the ghost-man met the guards head on. He faced at least forty guards. The Dark Elf gasped.

The man moved with an alarming swiftness—a dead match to Shade’s own speed. He tripped Aagren and then parried two Majesterium. He spun with swift well-placed slashes and cut three guards down at the hairline chinks in their armor. He danced around the other guards blocking and spilling blood. His footwork was masterful. He danced across the floor like an arrogant showoff hitting every move.

Aagren swung his great axe wide.

The ghost-man merely laughed and half-faded. The blade passed harmlessly through his body.

The captain gasped.

Shade blinked. He could not believe his eyes. His mind was still flying backward reeling by the dazzling lethal gracefulness of the ghost assassin. He realized after all these long years he may have finally found a true equal. The Majesterium fell at a record pace. Six. Eight. Twelve guards down in a matter of seconds.

“Guards!” the king shouted even louder, “More guards!”

No one else came. The throne room doors remained closed.

Shade heard shouting from behind the doors, but still no one came. The clash of steel also sounded from the hallways, at which point he decided he had waited long enough. He grabbed a hold of a curtain. He wrapped the rich violet fabric around his waist and jumped. He swung across the throne room and descended on the duel—a hunter of hunters. He would teach this swaggering young upstart a thing or two.

Shade landed noiselessly behind the ghost-man.

The Shaltearan Assassin had made short work of most of the Majesterum. Twenty-six down. The ghost-man ducked Captain Aagren’s mighty swings. He blocked and dodged two other Majesterium. Aagren was bleeding in at least three places, but he fought on. King Magnus stared on in shock. He backed slowly away.

The ghost-man whirled around blades flashing and two Majesterium fell dead.

A small handful of Majesterian guards pulled a lever and activated a secret door. Part of the stone wall slid to the side revealing a hidden tunnel.

The guards waved for the king to make a run for it.

“My king, my king!” one of them shouted, “This way!”

“Your king isn’t going anywhere,” the ghost-man boasted.

Shade walked right up behind the cocky assassin. “Oh, yes he is,” he said loudly and kicked the man in the back.

The ghost-man fell forward and sprawled face first on the ground.

The Dark Elf shouted, “Run king!”

King Magnus stared back at him in disbelief. Aagren glared in confusion, but shuffled over to his king. He was still glaring at Shade as he escorted his king toward the secret entrance.

The ghost-man did not appear at all concerned about the king’s departure. He simply stood up, folded out the wrinkles in his cloak and turned around. He regarded Shade with a cool confidence that crawled deeply under the Dark Elf’s skin.

Shade recognized that cocky condescending look. It was the same look he gave his own adversaries. It dripped of belittlement and ridicule. Now he really hated the man.

“Ah, the great Shade,” the ghost-man beamed widely, “we meet at last. I knew it was only a matter of time before our paths crossed.”

The king disappeared behind the secret door. The wall slid back in place, but the ghost-man did not so much as cast a cursory glance back.

Shade grimaced, “And just who in the Shadow Realm are you?”

“I am Raithe,” he said in a cordial tone and took a gracious bow, “Shaltearan of the Ninth Rank. Nine-hundred and ninety-four kills to my credit. Six kills to the Tenth Rank and I start you. Funny, the Shalton should let you count for all six.”

“You can try.”

“My apologizes, Shade, where are my manners? It is proper to finish introductions before moving onto threats. I consider this meeting a true honor.” He bowed again, this time lower. “Of course, I don’t have so widely esteemed reputation as you, but that’s partially my doing. I make no show of my kills, you see. I am but a shadow and a whisper…a ghost that moves silently among men.  My appearance sudden and terrifying. My departure leaves behind no trace, but the dead.”

“Oh, I’ll make you a ghost alright,” Shade smirked.

“My dear, Shade, must we be so cross with one another?” Raithe gestured broadly. “Why won’t you pass the torch of your own free will? Must I pry it from your dead fingers? You do not yet see full circle. You are the past and I am the future. You will understand by the end why your skills have grown obsolete.”

“You seem so sure of this.”

“I told you,” he grinned again, “it’s only a matter of time,”

Shade scowled. “We’ll see.”

Raithe sprung forward suddenly. His swung his eerie sickle-like daggers at the Dark Elf. Shade swiftly parried blow for blow. Raithe pushed him back through sheer veracity, but Shade did not miss a step. Shade turned the attack and pushed the man sharply back. Raithe calmly blocked Shade’s blows. Then Raithe recaptured the advantage before Shade turned it back again.

Sparks flew.

The two assassins recognized the skill of the contest as a clash of historic beauty and grace. Then the pride turned bitter. Shade caught his cheeky foe across the right cheek. Raithe gritted his teeth and wiped the trickle of blood off his cheek. He slashed back and caught Shade across the right cheek. The two assassins glared at one another and rubbed their light wounds in mutual disbelief.

Shade was infuriated. He may have stung Raithe’s pride, but he had been dealt an equal blow. Worse, he still had not wiped that smug smirk off the Shaltearan’s face and he got the feeling Raithe was still holding back on a few wild cards.

Raithe grinned in amusement, “That’s enough for now.” He floated suddenly upward by some unknown magic. A brilliant white light shined around him shimmering with golden sparkles. He drifted slowly backward toward the nearest wall. “Catch me if you can, Shade,” he laughed mockingly, “I have an audience with the king.”

Then to Shade’s shock Raithe passed right through the wall. His jaw dropped as he stared at the solid masonry. He heard Raithe’s crowing laughter echo loudly through the wall. Shade cursed and dashed madly for the throne room doors.

Look for more free chapters of Shade 2: Kingsblood coming soon to www.chroniclesofcovent.com

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Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

The Tribes of Men (Part 3 of 3)

Welcome back blog readers! I won’t waste time with an intro this week, but let’s jump right into part three of the Tribe of Men. A special thanks again to all these great artists for helping to bring our world to life. And now the exciting conclusion to the Tribes of Men…

13) Shamite [sham-ite]
Shamites are a tribe of flashy white men who are the shrewdest of traders. They adorn rich golden embroidered clothing, troves of jewelry and sprinkle their blonde hair with gold dust. Their faces are heavily pierced and hung with gold chains. Shamites are known and at times despised for their honey smooth speech and well oiled grins. Shamites have risen to the highest classes of Doljinaar due to their ability to amass wealth and control the economy.

Shamites struggled in the Age of Tribes. Although their civilization grew quickly, they had little in the way of defenses. They desired to trade with their hostile neighbors. So when Shamites heard of the united kingdom of men they welcomed Doljinaarian rule with open arms. Shamites have since wormed their way into every market in the Doljinaarian economy and given rise to the Merchant Guild. It is said that a boy can’t even buy a loaf of bread off a street corner without somehow slipping a coin into the guild’s back pocket.
14) Terramothian [tare-a-moth-e-an]
Terramothians are a large clan of hardy blonde humans who inhabit the Plains of Terramoth, which was named after them, but they lead simple hard-working lives as farmers, herdsmen and craftsmen. Terramothians treasure good honest hard work and despise greed and corruption. They prefer to trade in their old capital at Feltmore rather than deal with the corruption of other major metropolises. A good number of Terramothians have grown poor working off the land due to increasing aristocratic land grabs, leading them to despise the very rich, city folk and outsiders in general.

Terramothians worked the land in the Plains of Terramoth during the Age of Tribes. Their lives consisted of driving off hostile neighbors, which they succeeded in doing for centuries since their work ethic also made them durable warriors. The Terramothian were eventually conquered by the Buurghast Empire until they were liberated by the forces of Doljinaar. The Terramothians have lived peacefully under Doljinaarian rule ever since, but they still don’t care for city life.
15) Tulestine [tul-es-teen]
Tulestines, or “Tuls” for short, are a clan of hardened hill-men. They are masters of arms and some orders such as the Tulestine Monks even shun weapons for martial arts. Tulestines have long black hair they braid into topknots to display their battle prowess. The phrase, “Never tussle with a Tul’,” is muttered in countless taverns across Doljinaar. This Tul’ is not traditionally dressed, but he is featured in the Adventure Series as the deadliest Mage Hunter alive.

Tulestines warred amongst their own tribes in the early Age of Tribes. Some Tulestine camps bred raiders who preyed on other towns, but many Tulestines built defenses and warded off invaders. The Tulestines united against the Buurghast Empire in the late Age of Tribes. The Buurghast far outnumbered the Tulestine tribes and wiped out three-fourths of the tribe, but the victories came at the cost of hundreds of thousands of Buurghast troops. The last of the Tulestines were able to hold off at Tulus until eventually the Buurghast Empire fell to Doljinaar. Of course, Doljinaarian aide did not curry Tulestine favor, so even Doljinaar itself was forced to lose a devastating number of men in taking Tulus. Tulestine numbers have begun to recover under Doljinaarian rule.

16) Valsharen [val-shar-an]
The Valsharen, or Riverfolk, are a clan of humans who live off the lakes and rivers of Doljinaar. Valsharen are relatively peaceful, but they can spear a would-be thief some forty feet right off the shore. The Riverfolk have strange blue hair they string with beads. They live in complex river towns both ashore and on houseboats. Valsharen are skilled fisherman, boatmen and run a barrel-running service that ferries goods downriver.

The Valsharen were able to avoid conflicts by taking to the waters in the early Age of Tribes. However, as their populations grew they were forced to build on the shores of lakes and rivers. The Valsharen were conquered by the Buurghast Empire and oppressed for decades. The Riverfolk were later liberated by the forces of Doljinaar and they have been faithful citizens ever since.

17) Vespuvian [ves-poo-v-an]
Vespuvians are a clan of seafaring humans that are more at home at sea. They have only a handful of port cites on the coast, but an untold number of other cities in the Vespuviar Depths. Vespuvians have long black hair they typically wear tied back into a ponytail. They are loyal to Doljinaar so long as the kingdom continues to keep their ports secure and the seas open. They’re employed as explorers, deep sea fishermen, whalers, poachers and a growing number have adopted lives of piracy.

Vespuvians accepted Doljinaarian rule without resistance. Vespuvians never saw much value in land anyway and Doljinaarian military strength meant they no longer had to guard their ports. Vespuvians have fallen under criticism for founding unsanctioned cities on deep sea isles. Vespuvians are often resented by Haradrik due to the naval aid they offered Doljinaar in the Icefarer Wars, which brought the Haradrik under Doljinaarian rule.
18) Wickovan [wik-cov-an]
The Wickovan, or Witchmen, are a clan of humans whose ways are steeped in the Black Arts. The Wickovan sprinkle themselves with ash and used to practice their rituals in Fogrim Forest. Though, the Wickovan never openly fought Doljinaar, the kingdom outlawed many Wickovan practices that included human sacrifices. As result, the Wickovan have scattered all over the kingdom hidden away in secret societies that continue their practice the occult.

The Wickovan hid away in Fogrim Forest in the Age of Tribes. Most other nations left them alone, fearing the Wickovan would put a curse on their heads. Doljinaar nearly forgot about the Witchmen, until they were forced investigate the disappearance of many people and livestock in the towns surrounding Fogrim Forest. Authorities later discovered Wickovan were making sacrifices to an ancient evil that granted them powers that some say even rivaled the High Mage Order. Doljinaar forbade Wickovan practices and hunted down practicing Wickovan, but rumors persist that Doljinaar never fully succeeded in putting a stop to their black arts.

Get a preview of more human tribes and fantastic races here:
http://www.chroniclesofcovent.com/races.html

New races will be revealed with every new book! Shade 2: Kingsblood updates coming soon!!!

 

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