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Elf Wars Trilogy Book I Cover Reveal…

Greetings blog readers! It’s been a while since I’ve done a blog. Today I’d like to share the cover reveal for the first book of the Elf Wars trilogy: The Last Field of Honor. We are mega-excited about this book since it reveals several more key heroes and villains who will play a major role in the Triloriad. It also allows readers to finally meet Shade’s ruthless old master, Sadora, who is a major antagonist in the Elf Wars.

The front cover shows off the dueling generals of the Elven forests. General Ka-ling (left) of the golden forests of Jui-Rae leads the Elves in their conflict against General Sien (right) of the black forests of Jui-Sae. The two generals face off on the last field of honor in the two-thousand year old conflict known as the Elf Wars. Both generals are inspiring figures, national war heroes, who represent the last pillars of honor in the Elvish kingdoms, but that hope begins to erode as war crimes by secret meddlers of both Elvish houses send the war spiraling out of control. The fighting turns bitter and the blood runs so red that both Elvish kingdoms battle to the brink of total annihilation.

The Last Field of Honor will be out less than a year from today. It kicks off a totally new set of stories for those looking for a Chronicles of Covent alternative to our original Shade Series that revolves around a cold-hearted assassin. So if you’re looking for stories about war, bravery, honor and sheer tragedy then Elf Wars is the story for you. Shade III: The Weeping Grounds is also coming along well. It will be released as soon as possible.

The story description is located here. Free chapter sample coming soon!
www.chroniclesofcovent.com/elfwars.html

In other news we’ve finally finished the Shade II: Kingsblood updates to the Chronicles of Covent.com. Characters, Races, Factions, Creatures, Places all have new detailed entries from Shade II including new artwork from a variety of our generous artists. We’ve decided to start doing Elf Wars related entries BEFORE the book release on our official website to create a buzz with each book release and keep us ahead on site updates.

You can check out the newest updates here: www.chroniclesofcovent.com

Lastly, I do apologize for the lack of blog updates in the last few months. My wife and I just welcomed the addition of a new little one to our home. In addition I have made GREAT progress on the actual books. The full draft of Elf Wars I is complete and it is our longest book yet. I’m making great progress on a major rocking revision of Adventure Series I and the killer draft to Shade III, so rest assured the time is being well spent.

This blog will mostly be used for news updates and author thoughts in the future. Do to the increase of demands in my life right now I’ve been forced to make a choice. Last year I was dissatisfied with the lack of updates I was able to complete on the official Chronicles of Covent website. The blog, while fun, ate up a lot of time last year. The original vision was to the make ChroniclesofCovent.com an ever expanding content based website that invited our readers to continually explore the world of Covent. We want to recommit to building the official Chronicles of Covent mega website, more than doing traditional blogs since the official website has received far more rave reviews from web visitors.

With all that said I’m sad to announce we’ve been nerfed! During the genesis of the Chronicles of Covent blog our blogs were being released in the public reader’s sections of WordPress, which gained us web visitors and new followers every week. Then suddenly about four months in we were nerfed by WordPress without explanation and not a single Chronicles of Covent blog has appeared in the reader’s sections since. This as result killed our following and lowered my incentive to keep pouring time into writing witty blogs when books waited in queue. If any WordPress veterans have any advice on this please be so kind as to shoot me an email at jlficks@chroniclesofcovent.com

Thanks again to all our readers support the last two years! We’ve seen the most success on Kindle and Nook, which have received the largest positive reception from readers. We’re continuing to offer Shade I: Waiting Game for free on all e-formats, which has helped us reach thousands of new readers, mostly on these two great formats. Last month we were the number 1 download for Epic Fantasy in the entire Amazon Kindlestore! We will also continue to offer Covent books in paperback, i-bookstore and android as well in hopes of expanding our reader base to other new audiences as well…

Look for more great books from “The Chronicles of Covent!”

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Shade 2: Kingsblood Official Book Release

***BOOK RELEASE ANNOUCEMENT***
Shade Tale II: Kingsblood is finally available for sale in print and all major e-book formats!

Shade 2 Front Cover High Rez

 


Shade has returned to his asylum in Jile after single-handedly ousting the ruler of the Kurn underworld. He did not find the challenge he had thirsted for, but deep in the shadows of the nation’s colossal capital a far greater danger brews. An assassins’ war…

Shade is on a colliding path with the challenge of a lifetime. A contract has been written soon to be sealed in the blood of kings. A guild of assassins creeps out of the shadows of mighty Doljinaar, eager to collect on the royal bounty.  Shade is sent in counter and so he must reach down deep inside himself to find out whether any good still lives within him.

The time has come for the world’s darkest assassin to make a stand, but will he stand for good or for evil? And what will Shade do when he at last meets a worthy rival face to face?

Don’t miss the book our reader’s group is calling “twice has good as Shade 1” and “a new level of craftsmanship”

Get your copy today!
http://www.chroniclesofcovent.com/shade2.html

In celebration of our new release, Shade Tale I: Waiting Game has been reduced to 99 cents on all major e-book formats!*

*Please note offer applies to all major formats except Googlebooks. Sadly, Mirror Images Publishing has no control over pricing on Googlebooks.

 

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Happy Holidays from the Chronicles of Covent…

Greetings blog-readers! I just wanted to take a moment and wish everyone happy holidays!

Just a few short announcements. I know I had promised Shade 2 would be released at the end of 2012, but it seems Christmas has snuck up on me this year. The book is on the last few chapters of its final proof and I am so excited about Shade’s sequel. I really feel this story shows so many deeper dimensions of Shade’s soul and puts him in a far more interesting role of an anti-hero. There are also so many strong characters introduced in Shade 2 that will play major parts in Shade’s life and he finally finds the worthy adversary he has been thirsting for…

That said I made a promise last year to my wife that I wouldn’t let a book release get in the way of the holidays. Everything was on track this year until that Frankenstorm Sandy hit in late October. Bad Frankenstorm! I spent the last two months working double shifts in servicing the superstorm. I came off of catastrophe storm assignment a few days ago, but in order to complete the book release before Christmas I’d have to eat up all my family time.

As many of you know my wife is pregnant with our second child and my four-year-old, Everett, has been in need of some serious daddy time. We are very excited about this new little addition to our family! Looks like my son is getting a sequel… ; )

The good news for Chronicles of Covent fans is that the release of Shade 2: Kingsblood may be put off until next year, but next year is just around the corner! I am so close it kills me to hold off on the book’s release, but that means you will see Shade 2 appear on the market early 2013! Look for the official release announcement in very, very, very early 2013! Website updates and promotions to follow!

Thanks again,
J. L.

For now whet your whistle on this free sample of the first couple chapters of Shade 2 available for download at ChroniclesofCovent.com

 

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The Brand is Growing…

The Brand is Growing…
I’m very excited to announce I’ve holding the first proof of Shade 2 in my hands! It’s pretty cool to be holding not one, but two Chronicles of Covent books in my hand. Sorry I haven’t been blogging much, but I’ve been tied up working Hurricane Sandy over the phone, so I’ve been quite busy working storm hours. I have been pouring over this proof copy in the evenings however and on my Kindle, which technically means I’m now onto proof 3.

If you can bear with me for one blog, I thought I’d make this blog more about Covent news rather than a terribly clever blog update. That said I’ve got a lot of exciting news and am developing a new strategy for next year that should see a better balance between blogging and the official ChroniclesofCovent.com web updates I promised last year. Although, I enjoyed the blogs I think they distracted me a bit from all the official CoC.com web updates I had originally planned. I think a massive content fantasy website could really walk hand in hand with our books and hasn’t been done before on a large scale.

That said I also believe in blogging. It’s a great way to have get clever, show off content, interview guests and get your name out there. I’ll still be doing blogs, however, I’ll probably stick with once a month so I can continue to pump out books and official ChroniclesofCovent.com web updates. Except far more official ChroniclesofCovent.com web updates next year including characters, races, creatures and more.


Updates! Updates! Updates!!!

We’re excited to announce that the first round of Shade 2 updates had gone live for Characters and Races on ChroniclesofCovent. We have added over 50 new characters and 10 new races to the website. Expect Shade 2 updates to Factions, Races and Places over the next few months. Please forgive a few typos. I’ve had to focus my late evening proofing sessions on the next book, which you can’t fix after it goes to print so website is priority 2. You will notice we had to move away from the fancy flip format pages on these pages. Sorry about that, but loading time was getting worse and worse with all the new entries, especially on Characters. However, going to simpler HTML will allow me to make far more updates myself without waiting forever on our web guy.

New Artwork!
You’ll also notice a lot of new artwork on the official homepage. Some artwork was made by our cover artist Thom Scott, but several other artists submitted Chronicles of Covent artwork to us as well. We realize that some of these art styles don’t totally mesh on the website, but we’re excited for the interest. By representing all of the different artist submissions we’re received is a great way to show off some of the excitement that is buzzing around our new brand and also help artists fond enough to support us to promote themselves. We welcome any other artists wishing to send us more art from our world. We are now listing artist credits in the description of each Character, Race, Faction, Creature or Place. Stay tuned! More artwork to come!!!

So When Is Shade 2 Coming Out?
Shade 2 is reaching its final stage in far more pristine condition than our original release of Shade 1. I’m hoping to release the softcover, PDF and Kindle edition next month, that’s December 2012! The iStore, Nook and Googlebooks versions will probably be available in January as it seems these vendors take twice as long to put the book on the virtual shelves. We are discontinuing hardcovers as this format has not been supported by sales. We are very excited about Shade 2 since our reader’s group has been saying it’s twice as good as the original. Shade 2 is also a bit longer than the original, clocking in over 200 pages. We can’t wait to get this new book in your hands!!!

Stay tuned for a far more active ChroniclesofCovent.com this coming year!!!

 

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Not Sold on the Wii U (Part 2 of 2, Yes I Kept it to 2)

Sorry blog-readers part two of this blog has been so long in coming. I’ve been immensely productive on our book series. I completed two full proofing runs of Shade II, seven more chapters of Elf Wars, three totally new chapters of the finished book one of Adventure Series and even six full chapters of the completely overhauled Triloriad. As result, the importance of my ranting on the Wii U felt small by comparison. That said, let me jump back on the whine wagon.

Ok, ok, onto my hardcore concerns…

The Big N Always Trying to Outdo the Big N
There is no doubt that Nintendo has some of the strongest video game franchises of all time and makes some of the best games in the world. I just don’t understand why they can’t just embrace a technology they made last generation and simply pour all their energies into making epic Mario, Zelda and Metroid in glorious high definition. I do not want to play another Zelda game without Skyword Sword motion control! I don’t care if link’s menu now appears on a little screen on my controller. I want to wave my sword around like Link!!!

Right now I feel like Nintendo is its own worst enemy. The Big N is infected with a major case of “out-do-itis”. Instead, of releasing a major epic Nintendo franchise at launch I feel like they’ve spent too much time trying to come up with the next revolution in gaming. The E3 coverage was highly disappointing because Nintendo didn’t unveil what everyone was really waiting for…a high definition Mario Galaxy, Legend of Zelda or another mega launch franchise. Instead, we get Nintendoland. Whoopie! I can now shake my blocky controller like a Japanese tourist with my grandma in high definition! Again, why am I not playing Mario or Zelda with traditional Wii controls in glorious high definition?

Of course, I will acknowledge that there is a time and place for motion control. Some Wii games got too gimmicking trying to incorporate actions that simply can’t be done naturally with a Wii controller. Like kicks or headstands or cartwheels or bellyflops, but the Classic controller, classic NES style among other control schemes provided a wide array of options. Right now Zombie U is one of the only Wii U games that looks like it has some good ideas on how to incorporate the Wii U controller. That said, my biggest turn off is that I’m going to have to aim this clunky Wii pad or an analog stick at the screen to shoot zombies. I’m a Japanese tourist again…say cheese, zombie!

Alas, I’m getting back to controls again. Sorry, I’m grabbing a hold of the blog wheel and steering toward my other Wii U concerns. There, back on track…

Lack of Third Party Support
My biggest fear is that Nintendo’s latest toy will distract Third Party Support from making some truly awesome high definition motion control or point and shoot games. Third Party Developers already shied away from the original Wii because as one of their toothy programmers put it, “Nintendo just took two Gamecubes and stuck them together with a roll of duck tape.”  Ok, so Wii U has some power under the hood. So developers can finally make some hi-def games, but the last thing I want them to do is to try to incorporate the new controller into everything just to please Miyamoto. Then if third party sales don’t come in because we tried to mold the game to the controller instead of the controller to the game, they’ll back off the Wii U entirely.
Third Party Support was such a glaring issue on Wii I don’t think I’ll be able to run out and buy a Wii U before I see how well they support the Wii. This puts me in a one to two year post launch window for even thinking about buying a Wii U. Pretty much all the groundbreaking third party games were made on Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 because, and I cough, the Wii’s graphics sucked! Even though the Wii outsold both the PS3 and the 360, it was largely ignored by third parties.

Lack of Online
Another of my biggest complaints for the Wii was the HORRIBLE online experience. While the 360 was rocking a far more customer friendly Xbox Live, I was still stumbling around trying to enter Friend Codes. Worse, Wii didn’t even get a fraction of the online options available on other systems. Entire game expansions, free downloads and customization options GREATLY enhanced many of the game releases on other systems. People were playing and replaying the games they loved through new downloadable content and I was still trying to type in that pesky friend code!

I’d hate to admit it, but I am still a wrestling fan. Yes, I know it’s fake, but for some reason I am drawn to the flashy muscle-headed soap opera known as professional wrestling. Sometimes even more than watching wrestling, I enjoy a good highly customizable wrestling game where I can make my own feuds and have greats clash across impossible intergenerational lines. WWE on Wii not only had worse graphics, but it also ALWAYS left out a lot of content that was included on PS2 and 360 counterparts of the same game. It also had NO customization options outside what was included on the disc itself. It had no downloadable packs to download new wrestlers. It had no way to download other gamer’s CAWs (nerdy way to say player created wrestlers). It had no way to upload custom music so my Goldberg or NWO CAWs could actually come out to their real life theme music. Ugh!

The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that I’m not going to run out and buy a Wii U like last time. I appreciate that the Wii controllers are still compatible with the Wii U, but I’m going to wait and see if programmers bother to still make games for the truly innovative motion control scheme. If Nintendo ignores the original Wii controls, I will ignore the Wii U. If third party Wii U sales fail because they spent too much time trying to make games for Nintendo’s latest gimmick, I will ignore the Wii U. If third parties cannot compete on Wii U due to Nintendo’s super franchises (I have play a thousand times), I will ignore the Wii U. If I cannot download packs or CAWs or upload custom music to my Wii U wrestling game, I will ignore the Wii U.

Nintendo, this lifelong Nintendo fan’s loyalty now rests in your hands, so try not to blow off your fat foot with that new clunky Wii controller…

To find out more about us check us out at the www.chroniclesofcovent.com. Next blog will be Covent centric and the entry after that will be an Author Interview with my special guest, Michael Patterson, the author of a killer new super-hero title called Freak.

You can check him out here for in the meanwhile…
http://www.amazon.com/Freak-Michael-Patterson/dp/1453666192/ref=sr_…

 

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Not Sold on the Wii U (Part 1 of 2, Maybe 3 Week Rant)

Kishrub & Zulbash on the Wii UI thought I’d take a break from our regular content that revolves around our insanely overblown fantasy world and talk about something off subject. As all of my friends know I’ve been a loyal Nintendo fan since the original console. I have been loyal to every Nintendo console owning every single system from the original NES to the Wii with the exception of the Gamecube. I have owned no other system but the Playstation 2 which I bought used post generation and an imported Japanese Turbo Duo back when I was into Japanese Anime. I got out of videos games for what I call the “Too Many Buttons” Generation, but I found the Wii to be so innovative in its simple and fresh approach to gameplay that Nintendo won me back to the fold.

Now don’t get me wrong. How can one go wrong with a High Definition Wii? I mean after all the Wii’s outdated graphics did not stop it from being wildly successful. Boy does Wii Sports look bad on any decent flat screen TV, but it was fun. The new high definition graphics should make these clumpy polygons a thing of the past and I’m sure Nintendo will deliver some of their franchises in jaw dropping 3D definition at last! Seeing a high definition 3D Mario or Zelda should be every Nintendo fan boy’s dream, so what am I complaining about?

I’ve been reviewing news presses, launch announcements and E3 coverage, but I find myself lacking any initial excitement over the new system. It’s not the graphics or the lack of a MAJOR Nintendo launch title that is putting me off. It’s just I don’t trust this blocky DSi turned controller Nintendo is touting around as the next major video game revolution.

Controls were exactly why I hesitated so long to buy any gaming system in the “Too Many Buttons” Generation. I remember trying Starfox at Walmart and walking away in disgust because the Gamecube controller just was a button too much for me. I fear that Nintendo’s next effort to redefine the industry is a break away from the ingeniously simple customizable Wii controls and a return to a caveman beating himself over the head with an awkward stone tablet.  Duuuuuuuh, how dis work?

I have other concerns, but let me get to them one at a time. Here goes. What’s wrong with the Wii U?

The Shape
Look at this thing! The shape feels all wrong to me. What is this a motion controlled brick? I could not think of a more awkward motion control device. I have a hard time wrapping my imagination around a brick. There were so many natural items the original Wii controller and nunchuck could create together. What am I supposed to do with this thing? Shaking in frustration. What is this an Etch-A-Sketch? Oops I shook the remote when I meant to push a button. Mario just jumped into a pit!

Let’s compare the new so called revolutionary Wii U controller to the original truly revolutionary Wii controller. Look at the sleek long design. It fits very naturally in one’s hand. Oh, I can imagine that shape as a sword or a bat or a tennis racket. Really, all I have to do is swing it like a sword or a handle? Brilliant! What’s this nunchuck thing do? Oh, wait I get it. I can run around with it. Or put up my fists and box. Feels good to throw punches. Goodbye “Too Many Buttons” Generation!

And on top of that it has point and shoot capability? Just point at the screen. Oh, like a gun? Yes, just like a gun. You mean I don’t have to sweep an awkward dual analog stick across the screen to shoot targets? No, you just point and shoot. BRILLIANT! Now I don’t need every first person shooter in the world, but let me tell you playing Metroid and Goldeneye on Wii caused me to NEVER, EVER want to play another first person shooter without Wii controls again.

But now we’re back to this. Mind you its’ not a Gamecube controller, but it’s a glorified DSi controller in disguise. I appreciate what Nintendo has done for the industry, but why do we need to reinvent the wheel every generation? Is there ever a time when Nintendo’s cutting edge efforts ever cut off their foot? This new peripheral is going to drag attention away from the control schemes I really like and go back to playing Gameboy with motion control one hay-wired.

It’s Not Simple

Duuuuuuuh, what we do with this thing? This pad makes me feel about as stupid as Kishrub and Zulbash. It makes me want to wrack my brain over it. Part of the initial appeal of the original Wii was that it was so simple. People just picked it up and used it. It made even casuals instant converts. Now Nintendo you want me to hand this thing to my grandma? Are you nuts?

I can just imagine the look on her face. The “what in tarnation” have you handed me look? I might as well hand her my multi-function TV, amp, VCR, DVD remote back from the 80s. Look grandma its motion control with dual screens. Grandma stop looking at the Wii U controller screen, you can’t see where you’re driving. No grandma don’t shake the controller, you’ll speed boost into a tree. Grandma please don’t stand on the controller. It’s not a Wii Fit board.

This doesn’t sound fun to me or her at all. I’ll feel like I’m telling her how to program the VCR all over again. It’s just not simple. I don’t think casuals are going to embrace this devise like they did the Wii because it feels far less natural, because it’s basically a big awkward object and I don’t think casuals are dying to see Wii Sports in high definition. That’s why Solitaire and Minesweeper have been popular for years. Casuals just want simple straight-forward games.

I have several more hardcore gamer reservations, but I’ll save those comments for next week. I’ve gone on this tirade long enough for one week. Stay tuned for Part 2, and maybe even Part 3, of my rant. I guess I’ve got a whole lot more bottled up inside…

If you’re wondering who we are. You can find out more about us here: http://www.chroniclesofcovent.com/

 

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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