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The Who’s Who on Shade 2—Part One

Thanks everyone for the positive feedback on the cover of Shade 2: Kingsblood! We are very excited to be following up with the second installment of the Shade Series. Last week we simply pulled back the curtain and unveiled the cover. This week we thought we’d run a magnifying glass over the cover and give you the who’s who on Shade 2: Kingsblood.

We’ll start with the most out of place character on the cover: Jago.

Jago is a Dragol or a rat-man as they are sometimes called. Dragols are a cross-breed of unknown racial origins, just called rat-men for their humanoid appearance. Dragols are known for being one of Covent’s uglier races and have an insatiable appetite for garbage.  Hunted down for years, Dragols have proved to be extreme survivors and are slowly gaining a loose acceptance in Doljinaar.

Jago is from Jile, Shade’s town. He’s an orphan taken in by the kindhearted owner of The Pig’s Trough eat house in Jile.  He works as a dish boy, but has a mischievous streak for troublemaking and picking Starlilies from the Ice Marshes to sell to drug-dealers. Dragols are extremely agile and stealthy and his skills enable him to become an unwanted tagalong in Shade 2.

We were very happy with this concept picture, though we asked that the artist reshape the skull a bit to make it look more ratlike than catlike.  As you can see Thom Scott happily obliged.

Now we’ll move onto Aagren, captain of the Majesterium.
Aaagren is a Haradrik by blood, a clan of ice Vikings who live off the southern coasts of Doljinaar which lies on the shores of the arctic ocean known as the Haraglace. Haradrik are divided into two camps: Loyalists and Icefarers. Icefarers are known for rebellion and their stubborn wills in their efforts to sail south and colonize the frozen southern continent. They are trying to make a new country of their own, but most families don’t survive the harsh winters.  Loyalists have accepted life under Doljinaarian rule.  Aaagren is a Loyalist.

Aaagren is captain of the Majesterium, which is the royal guard of the king. He never leaves the king’s side.  Aaagren carries a two-handed battleaxe in one hand and a tower shield in the other. In this scene Aaagen has lost his axe, the wounded king leans on his shoulder and he waves his shield in a desperate last ditch effort to save the king.

Finally, let’s finish up with King Magnus…King Magnus is close to 1,000 years old. Unlike mere common humans, the eyes of the royal line of Doljinaar glow a solid white. The combination of their abnormally long lifespan and their ethereal gaze feed the perception that they are in fact gods in flesh. It is believed that the Doljinn kings ascend into godhood at death. The most memorable kings are worshiped as gods, as either a deity who stands for good or for evil, depending on the manner of their rule.

King Magnus has been a fair and wise king. He has had a long and hard rule. He has managed to keep a relative peace in Doljinaar, unlike many of the past Doljinn kings. He will be remembered well, but has been forced to spend much time on the battlefronts, stemming the tide of threats from entering the kingdom. His most controversial decision was the abolishment of magic, but there are many in Doljinaar who supported the bold decree. Doljinaarian history is filled with devastating magic wars that left entire towns leveled and left wounds upon the lands that have never fully healed. Magic is greatly feared.

Stay tuned for next week, when he dive into the other characters on the cover including the Shaltearan Brotherhood and Shade’s cocky nemesis in Shade 2: Kingsblood.

Need to get caught up on reading?  You can always start with Shade 1: Waiting Game:
http://www.chroniclesofcovent.com/shade.html

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Shade 2 Book Cover Reveal…

Greetings blog readers! Sorry I haven’t had a lot of time to blog lately. I’ve been traveling far and wide, but to make it up to you I’ve got some very exciting artwork to reveal. Our artist, Thom Scott, has been hard at work on the artwork for the cover to Shade 2: Kingsblood! Shade 2 reveals a cast of reoccurring characters both to the Shade Series and the larger Chronicles of Covent brand itself.

I’m very excited about the release of Shade 2, even more so than Shade 1 because the book takes our anti-hero to new levels of story-telling. Shade finally finds the trial he is looking for, but he is forced to play the unlikely role of hero. This allowed us to explore new dimensions of his character that just weren’t possible in Shade 1, which was aimed at merely establishing our cold confident killer.

And so without further ado, allow me to reveal the cover to Shade 2!

I won’t say too much this week about the story and its characters, but look for a more in depth blog next week that dives into far more detail. To whet your appetites, let me entice you with the book description and the FULL COLOR COVER WRAP down below that shows TWICE the scene!

Doljinaar.  City of Kings. A contract has been signed in the shadows of the great capital, soon to be sealed in the blood of kings. The Shaltearan Brotherhood moves to make good on this contract. It has unleashed its largest force of elite assassins in history.

Shade is sent to foil the assassination and waylay the conspirators behind the plot, but to do so he must venture deep into the bustling heart of Capital Doljinaar. A city the size of ten bustling metropolises walled together side by side. Thousands of eyes lurk at every corner, none trusting of Dark Elves.

Shade must take the deepest, darkest roads to reach the palace secretly and when he finally reaches the palace he must face off against the Shaltearan elite in an ultimate showdown. Among their number awaits a worthy adversary who has been dying to meet him. A ghost who moves silently among men…

 

Shade 2 will be out late this year or early next year (I told my loving wife I wouldn’t release our next book so close to Christmas again). Watch our website and the blog for more announcements and updates. We will be updating the Chronicles of Covent homepage with new artwork, new character, creatures and place reveals over the next 6 months. It’s going to be a very exciting time for the Chronicles of Covent!
http://www.chroniclesofcovent.com/shade2.html

Comments and feedback on the cover are welcome on the blog or by emailing me direct at jlficks@chroniclesofcovent.com.  We still have plenty of time to tweak the cover this time around, so any constructive feedback would be much appreciated!


 

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Free Stuff! The Fantasy Epic Continues…

Greetings blog-readers! I’ve been traveling a lot this week, so I’ve included an excerpt from Shade 2: Kingsblood due out late 2012 or early 2013 as my blog entry this week. Our artist, Thom Scott, is hard at work on the cover as you listen to my mindless drivel! I’ve included only the first section of Chapter One in the blog entry to ensure the entry is not too long, but if you want to read the full chapter, check out the sparkling new link that contains the full sample chapter here.
Also don’t miss the Shade One free Giveaway!!!

Sorry I had to make that abundantly clear! If you haven’t already, don’t forget to enter the Waiting Game book giveaway at the Book Review Club.  Only 2 days left to enter!

So without further ado, the opening to the oddly anticipated sequel to Shade One–Kingsblood:


Chapter One:
A King Among Thieves

In the wee hours of the night, a man lay captive. His wrists and ankles had been tied to his bedposts. A shadow sat over him. The shadow’s face housed a pair of glowing yellow eyes that burned in the darkness. The two prostitutes who had tied the man up in a harmless game of lewder pleasures lay unconscious on the floor. The man was a handsome Shamite, a competent conman, a mere twenty-nine years of age. He had long curly blonde hair and a charming grin that had been the undoing of many maidens. His lips found no smile this night. He fought against his binds, but they would not budge. He opened his mouth to scream, but his tortured throat exuded nothing but an indistinct numb choking.

“Scream,” came a callous voice.

The man’s heart jumped.

“Scream,” the voice said again. The shadowy figure leaned forward from a chair beside the bed. Those piercing yellow eyes carved into the man’s soul.

The man tried to scream again, but it came out as nothing but a miserable muffled shriek. He trembled and stared at the door, eyes wild with desperation, but no one came. There was no escape. Not from the hands of this assassin. An Unseen killer whose very name had become intertwined with fear.

Shade grinned darkly at his latest victim. He leaned further in. “Your guards are right outside your door, Oisleean,” he whispered in the Shamite’s ear, “they could still save you if only they could hear you, so, scream.”

Oisleean struggled for words, for the familiar peal of sound off his tongue, but nothing came. The shadow of one of his bodyguards in the hallway shifted in the torchlight that shone from under the door. The man whimpered.

“What’s the matter, Shamite?” the Dark Elf mocked him, “Don’t you want to live? You can scream, can’t you?”

The Shamite thrashed his arms and legs, but his restraints held fast.

“Muffle Juice,” Shade said. He leaned back in his chair. He shook a half-empty vial of an amber-colored goo. “It’s a wonder back in my own dark country. Sprinkle a dash of freshly ground Mummel Flower in molasses and you have the world’s only known mute agent. It finds much use in the dungeons of Aaagdensool when our ears tire of our victims’ screams of horror.”

Oisleean yanked so hard at his binds he burned his wrists.

Shade watched him and chucked softly. His victim had not come to terms with the hopelessness of his situation. He supposed he could not blame the man. After all, few men understood the many secrets of Jui-Sae. Muffle Juice caused aphonia—a bilateral disruption of the recurrent laryngeal nerve, which supplies nearly all the muscles to the larynx. In layman’s terms, it strips the voice box of all sensation and motor function. Of course, he would not bore his victim with some dry old scientific explanation. The inability to call for help in the company of one’s executioner was terrifying enough.

“You really should hire better help, Oisleean,” Shade mused, “one of these days someone dangerous might come looking for you.”

Oisleean whimpered at the cold hard door.

“Oh don’t feel so bad,” he patted the man’s chest. He tucked the vial away and retrieved a dagger.

Oisleean watched in arrested horror as the assassin played the blade over his fingers. The razor edge flashed in the darkness reflecting off the moonlight that poured in through the window. The Shamite gasped.

“You see, I’m not usually so sophisticated in my methods of execution. Slide an acute piece of metal into a vital organ and the victim will die quick and without much fuss,” he continued as he rubbed the razor sharp edge against his thumb, “crude, but effective. Assassins have neither the time nor the creative vision to entertain so elaborate deaths as, say, your common serial killer.”

The man stared vacantly at Shade.

Shade leaned forward in the chair. He traced the tip of the blade across the man’s smooth features. The Shamite shook even more violently. The Dark Elf’s voice died to a hiss, “But I’m afraid your lifestyle has made it personal.” The assassin flicked the blade drawing a trickle a blood from the man’s cheek.

Oisleean breathed out a short hoarse soundless scream. He kicked and yanked at his binds, but he could not escape. He wept hot desperate tears.

Shade stood up and casually paced the room. “You see my father was quite an accomplished thief,” he said softly, but his voice had not lost its hard edge, “he acquired a mass of wealth before he died, just as you. He grew rich robbing the helpless, the blind, the foolish,” he paused and turned around, his glowing eyes ablaze with anger, “he too preyed on weak-willed women and fathered many orphans. He too surrounded himself with thugs and filled his bed with whores, but in the end nothing could save him.”

The Shamite blubbered like a pathetic wretch.

The assassin stopped and leaned over the bed. He brought the blade to the Shamite’s neck to ensure he kept the man’s rapt attention. “Do you know the difference between me and you, Oisleean?”

Oisleean flailed and kicked desperately at his restraints.

“I no longer prey on the weak,” Shade whispered in the man’s ear, “I have evolved, moved onto larger, more worthy prey. I am now the hunter of hunters, the killer of killers—the very top of the food chain.”

The Shamite shut his eyes tight. He held his breath and prepared himself for the killing blow. Two tears squeezed from his eyelids.

Shade traced the tip of the blade down the man’s neck and across his chest. He paused at the man’s ribs. “Arctavian sends his regards.”

The man shuddered and gasped.

“Tisk, tisk, Oisleean,” Shade whispered in the Shamite’s ear, “you could have gotten away it. A young naïve lovesick daughter. An only child. A perfect target. You could have swindled her out of her father’s inheritance, and left, moved onto to the next town, like you always do, but that wasn’t enough for you. Not this time. Instead, you had to murder her and dump her out on the streets like a common whore.”

The Shamite trembled with violent sobs.

Shade turned the blade suddenly. He drove it deep into the man’s spleen.

Oisleean’s eyes shot wide open. He opened his mouth and cried out in voiceless pain. He managed a faint indistinct scream, barely a whisper.

The assassin yanked the blade out. The Shamite would bleed out in a matter of minutes. The Dark Elf retrieved a long rolled up cloth from the back of his belt-pouches. He quickly unwrapped the cloth revealing a black rose native to his homeland. He laid the rose on the Shamite’s chest and closed the man’s fingers around the stem.

Oisleean shook violently as his life slipped away.

The Faelin turned his back in remorseless indifference. “Consider it his bride price,” Shade said coldly. He walked over to the window. He climbed up onto the windowsill and disappeared. Just then a bloodcurdling scream rang out loud and clear from the bedroom cutting deeply into the night. Shouts of alarm sounded as Oisleean’s bodyguards barged into the bedchamber. The Dark Elf grinned darkly. It appeared the Muffle Juice had finally lost its effect…

To finish the full chapter one excerpt of Kingsblood, click HERE!

 

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A Troll in the Kissing Booth…

That’s right! Line up ladies and try not to push in line! We’ve got a surprisingly winsome Troll in the kissing booth this week and he’s very, very rich…

So pucker up ladies…he’s got very nice, eh um, teeth? That’s it! One flash of those pearly whites is enough to bedazzle you! The Sewer King did not win his throne without showing off a bit of flash and flare. In fact, he can be quite charming once you get past his initial Trollish features. He’s the world of fantasy’s very first charismatic Troll. What does that even look like? Well, the Chronicles of Covent® would tell you it looks like Warlord Lewd.

Don’t let his name fool you! He has the most disarming smile and he really does have a perfect set of white teeth. If you were to sit down with him to discuss let’s say a hostile criminal takeover, you would initially cringe at your choice of a dinner party guest. But then you would admire his courtly bow and his well-mannered polish to which you would drop your jaw in amazement. After you picked your jaw up off the floor, he’d flash his perfect white teeth at you. You would catch the alarming brightness in the reflected torchlight and you’d undoubtedly flinch. You’d flinch because Lewd’s winning grin should compliment the face of a handsome prince, certainly not a hideous Troll. His wit and charm would befuddle you through the rest of the meal and by the end you would swear your allegiance. You would make sure he didn’t leave without a handsome tribute and the choicest of your subjects.

It appears all the ladies who originally fled are flocking back to the kissing booth. Again ladies, it’s not polite to push and shove in line!

Now before any maiden gets too carried away with the hopes and fantasies of marriage, I have to warn you about Lewd’s Palace. His kingdom is, well, a sewer. It may have a slight odor. Kurn is actually a very nice city on the streets above, well in the rich parts anyway. But as queen, you’d have to settle for living UNDER the nice parts. Lewd would certainly fashion you a throne and maybe a splash of red to go with his purple tapestries and royal runner. Although as soon as the décor was rolled out, it might make you sad since the mold and filth of the sewers is quite thick. That said you could always enjoy a leisurely stroll in the underground Black Markets, which are thriving with dark, monstrous races and other villainy (just bring a lot of bodyguards).

Warlord Lewd rose to power through a mixture of force and diplomacy.  He was a Trollborn child in the Kurn sewers when a Doelm fell in love with a human woman. Trollbreeds are ordinarily butchered at birth, since it is said a human and Doelm half-breed yield the most hideous race imaginable. The couple tried to flee the Kurn sewers immediately following the birth to protect the child. Lewd’s father was butchered trying to stop other Doelms from slaying his son.  Lewd’s mother hid with him until he was eleven years old in Karus Forest.  She sacrificed herself as a band of human cutthroats also tried to butcher the Trollborn child.

Lewd wandered the forest alone and learned to trust his wits to survive.  He befriended Kishrub and Zulbash who protected him, as he had a keen mind by which he kept them well fed.  He eventually led his own camp of forest brigands.  He earned the title of warlord in a Thieves War that united all the competing factions of Karus Forest. Lewd used this force to seize control of the real crown jewel of the underworld—the Kurn sewers.

The Kurn sewers had been divided by centuries of power struggles prior to Lewd’s rule. The Minolord, Tantarus, had a very shaky reign in which the wrath of the Minolord spawned an endless series of mob wars. Lewd eventually slew Tantarus with his dagger after Kishrub and Zulbash held the Minotaur down. Tantarus’ head and those of the other warring crimelords have been stuffed and mounted above Lewd’s throne. He thinks they look quite nice.

Gents, watch your step around the Sewer King. He warms up to a bit of well-buttered flattery, but watch what you say behind his back. Lewd has ears everywhere in the Kurn Sewers. You don’t want to wind up with your head stuffed and mounted above his throne or have Lewd’s Hand, which is his hand-picked assassin, make off with your tongue. Worse yet, you could be thrown into the Sharkgates. There is no way out of those gated off seaside corridors. Lewd has a shatter-proof viewing window in which he enjoys watching these amphibious monsters rip malcontents limb from limb. Nothing like a pack of Sharlak fishing you INTO the water by catching you with one of his roped spears and those rows of nasty teeth are quite hungry to tear you apart!Ladies and gents, you have but two lessons to learn to survive in the Kurn sewers!

1) Malcontent = chum chum
2) Kissy Troll = yum yum

Now enjoy another killer interior black and white illustration of Lewd’s throne room from Waiting Game. And this is how you lay the flattery on extra thick, ladies and gents!

“What a handsome smile you have, Warlord Lewd! What lovely décor you have! What smarmy flatterers you have! What fine wine and serving wenches you have! What bandaged brutes you have…my my how greatly Shade handed their butts to them, oh lowly Sewer King! Oh dear, now I have to run…”

For more do’s and don’ts on Lewd’s Syndicate and other factions go here:
www.chroniclesofcovent.com/factions.html

 

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