Wednesday, January 10, 2018

#Calamity #Fantasy #Adventure

EXCERPT: Calamity

Joseph’s second day of travel from Glowing Rocks was nearing its end when Dorav came upon a side passage that would lead them through the rear entrance to the chamber of the Well. This was the same entrance they had used last fall to take the Baron by surprise. Another hour they pressed on until finally Dorav signaled that the door was just ahead, around two more bends in the tunnel. Joseph took stock of the band. The hret-dialt were beginning to fray around the edges, and Ten’marden was now shivering with fever, though he had kept the pace during the march.
Fifty yards ahead they crept, Dorav and Joseph going in front and peering around the corner while the hret-dialt protected the party’s rear. As soon as the human and dwarf poked their heads around the bend in the tunnel, it was clear something was wrong. At the next bend some hundred yards distant, instead of a murky tunnel lit only by the steady blue-green radiance of Dorav’s bowls of lichen, the walls reflected an orange, flickering firelight. Confirming the immediate stretch of tunnel was clear, Joseph motioned the rest of the party forward as he and Dorav continued on to the next bend.
Looking around this next, and final, corner, Joseph’s fears were confirmed. The rearward door to the Well stood wide open, and the Baron stood on the other side of the yawning pit, looking at the open doorway as if expecting someone to appear, his one-eyed gaze fixed on he and Dorav’s position. Aside from the patch over his eye, the rest of Turov’s features were now restored, the scar tissue and missing hair replaced by the face he had worn in life.
Suddenly the ground shook, and Joseph heard cries from the rest of the party behind them. A deep cracking sound echoed overhead, and Dorav threw Joseph forward only just in time to avoid the slab of rock that crashed down from the tunnel ceiling. Around them, the rest of the band was likewise issuing into the chamber as rock and dust cascaded from above them, choking the rear tunnel within moments.
“Your arrival is well timed,” the Baron announced. “The rituals are all but complete, and the master’s heart needs but one thing to be reunited with him.”
Joseph pressed off the stone floor, moving from a prone position to a crouch, his weight on the balls of his feet and ready to shift. As he moved, he saw the stone heart sitting at Turov’s feet, still pulsing with an internal glow. The Baron had ended his statement with a pregnant pause, but Joseph wasn’t about to give him the satisfaction of asking him to continue. He looked to the left, where the rest of his companions were scattered. Ten’marden inched toward Joseph, but Tes’sael was leading the others around the rim of the Well, trying to flank the Baron. The main, and now only, entrance to the chamber was in the same direction, which Joseph thought was fortunate, the need for flight being far more likely than any opportunity to attack.
“You see,” the Baron continued, “those who have grown wise in the deeper ways of the world understand that there has ever been but one true currency. So it is today and ever shall be. Only one commodity is placed above price by mortals, and thus is it the only coin worthy of commerce: Life.”
Baron Turov glared at Joseph with his single eye, and Joseph couldn’t help but lock with it. Even over the hundred feet of the Well between them, the hunter felt suddenly sick. He had never struggled with heights, spending most of his youth and adulthood climbing up and between trees, but in that moment he thought he understood the queasy dizziness of people who did, the inexplicable sense of falling even though his feet were braced on solid stone. Though he was ignorant of such things, he felt sure this was no spell; it was the result of seeing into the depths of a dead man’s eye.
Joseph clenched his jaw and took a slow breath through his nose, steeling body and mind for whatever assault was sure to come. The hunter caught a flash of movement out of the corner of his left eye, then everything happened at once.
The Baron flicked his hand out toward Joseph, and a bolt of crackling darkness sprang forth from the stone heart and headed straight for him. Tes’sael and the elves nocked arrows and shot with lighting speed. Dorav threw something, and in a dim corner of Joseph’s mind he was aware it was his blast rope still in a coil, with one end burning. Joseph lunged to his right, but the dark energy arced in midflight, continuing its bearing toward him. The elves’ arrows struck home, piercing the Baron and driving him a step to Joseph’s right. The blast rope landed between the Baron and the stone heart. Joseph, horrified that the bolt of darkness seemed to be following him, reared back in surprise, rising from his crouch into a half-standing, half-stumbling posture. Suddenly, Ten’marden slammed into Joseph, bowling him out of the way with his shoulder. Had they been of like size, perhaps his momentum would have continued and carried him clear, but knocking the larger human aside left him hanging with his back to the Baron and directly in the dark bolt’s path. Joseph watched the energy strike the elf and lift him from the ground, a white light coursing back up the bolt’s path to the stone heart. The hunter could see in Ten’marden’s eyes a blankness he had scarcely seen since the war. All life had left him in an instant. The Baron howled in frustration at the sudden change in his sacrifice as he stepped toward the blast rope, poised to kick it into the Well.
The rope exploded. As Dorav had predicted, it was not the staggering blast the powder keg had yielded, but it was enough to fling Baron Turov back against the nearest wall. The pressure of the explosion hit the stone heart and moved it, half-sliding half-rolling, to the very brink of the Well. It teetered crazily on the edge for a moment. Joseph scrabbled for his bow, but Tes’sael was already shooting, hitting the dense stone once, twice, thrice in rapid succession. Then it was too late. The stone was too heavy, and Tes’sael’s angle too shallow. The heart slid off the ledge and fell.


fantasy, ranger, elf, magic, adventure

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Joseph's life changed when a prophecy foretold his future, but now his world is threatened by a menace from his past. To prevent a catastrophe, this lone hunter must accept the help of his newfound friends and journey into the very heart of the mountains' stone.

The tale of Joseph, the Spirit of the Trees, continues to unfold with mystery, action, and adventure. To fulfill a prophecy, Joseph chose a new Identity. Will his new perils convince him of his need for a Community?


Title of book:  Community, by Shane Coffey (The Spirit of the Trees Book 2)
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 114 Pages
Rating: 4
Reviewed by: Courtney Rene

This is the story of Joseph, a loner and survivor.  His life changed drastically thanks to a prophecy that told of his future, all the while being threatened by his past. Joseph sets out to prevent war and destruction.  He is joined by new friends and old on his trek underground and to new worlds.  

I enjoyed this story.  It was fast paced and well defined.  The worlds were creative and hashed out so that I could really see them and get into the story.  I was happy to tag along in the back ground while the characters came to terms with who they were and what they could offer to the story.  It wasn't all sunshine and roses either.  There is always death.  It's part of life and war and battles.  The author did a great job of keeping it real and not gratuitous just for the sake of killing someone off.  Plus you get elves and dwarfs and trolls, what's not to like? 

I give the book a firm 4 star rating.  The books jumps right into the action without giving you time to catch up.  Usually I like that, but in this type of book, sometimes we need a bit of lead in.  Other than that, I thought it was well-written, well thought out and quite the entertaining read.  Very well done.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

#Hobo #Paranormal #horror

A rogue vampire takes siege of the midnight express.


“Why didn’t you pull the emergency cord? It would’ve saved you a cleaning.” Freddy said, looking at Ed’s coal stained uniform. He grinned as Ed continued to brush off coal dust.
“Cause I know you wouldn’t want to stop on a grade. Besides, he’s dead…can’t change that fact by slamming on the brakes,” Ed said.
“And I’m happy you didn’t. We gotta make that damn bridge before this storm washes it out,” Freddy quipped.
“Think that hobo kilt Carl?” Junior wondered.
“Who else gonna do it? Freddy snapped, “We never have a problem ‘till one of ‘em low-life’s sneaks a ride.”
“Musta been some fight, Carl died pretty violently like,” Ed added.
“Looking for a strongbox more than likely,” Freddy said. “Better check on Hardy, goddamned hobo’s trying to rob us.”
The emergency brakes applied with a jolt just as Ed opened his mouth to report Hardy was okay. All three men in the cab lurched forward. Sparks filled the rail bed as the steel wheels ground against steel rails. The locomotive came to a rest, on the incline, its cowcatcher pointed to the Braveman Tunnel entrance cut under a rocky shelf one-mile ahead.
“Jesus, mercy!” Junior exclaimed as he rubbed a bruised elbow.
Ed clamored down the locomotive’s steps to the gravel road-bed. “I’ll see who pulled the cord.”
“They better have a good reason, goddamn it…” Freddy snarled and spat a wad of displeasure against the hissing boiler door.
Ed ran back to the first coach, passing through escaping steam from the locomotive’s drive pistons. He began to raise his collar to the gale flowing through the pass like a rogue ocean current, but thought, would be the same as pissing on a forest fire.
He jumped onto the stops steps to the coach car’s platform just as Raymond opened the door.
“You pull the emergency?” Ed asked loudly over the wind. Raymond nodded a few times holding onto his cap which almost flew off.
“Yeah…one of the passengers, a woman…” He turned to point out the seat she had occupied. “She went out the window.”
Ed glanced though the door window. Inside he saw the Mayor and his bodyguard collecting the scattered pages of the speech. The cowboy removed his wet gun belt and slung the dual .44’s over the woman’s seat. The window frame, wall, and seat were soaked. A parasol lay on the floor in a puddle of rainwater. Ed turned back to Raymond.
“What do you mean she went out the window, a suicide—?”
“I’m telling you, she went out the window. That cowboy almost grabbed her, but she went out as if sucked through a drainpipe. I pulled the emergency so we could find her, she might be hurt.”
“Ha…” Ed laughed. “Might be hurt? Boy, if she ain’t in a few pieces I’ll be a monkeys…”
The blast from a shotgun cut Ed’s words short. The sound came from Hardy’s RPO mail car. Raymond and Ed ran to the car and pounded on the door.
“Hardy…Hardy, open up, it’s me, Ed…”
Raymond tried his passkey in the lock, fumbling with the latch. It finally swung open. Ed and Raymond peered in cautiously before stepping in.
“Hardy, are you all right?” Ed said.
The silence was familiar, the same as when he found Carl. He stepped inside. The lanterns were still burning. Ed scanned the area with Raymond close behind.
“Oh god, no…” Ed said finding Hardy’s body. He could tell Hardy met the same fate as Carl. His body was under the sorting table, his two feet showing in the swinging lantern light.
Raymond knelt beside the body. “Maybe he’s okay?”
Raymond rose quickly to his feet and moved away after viewing the full nature of Hardy’s injuries. Ed found another fire blanket and covered Hardy. A dark splotch seeped through the wool blanket where it touched his head, a deep gash at his throat.
“Oh damn, what could do that to someone?” Raymond said, almost in tears.
“Something evil…” a voice said breaking through the morbid silence. Ed and Raymond straightened with surprise, their eyes wide in fright seeing the cowboy standing at the end of the sorting table.
“You scared the be-Jesus out of us, mister. What you doing in here?” Ed huffed.
“Investigating these killings,” the cowboy said, nodding to Hardy under the table. He held up a silver badge shaped like a star. “Name’s Thomas, a detective with Pinkerton.”
“Pinkerton?” Ed repeated. “You boys usually chase robbers, like the Daltons and James gangs, don’t cha?”
“So why you on this train, we ain’t been robbed?” Raymond said.
Thomas nodded in agreement. “Yes, sir. We track down robbers, as well as anyone else who cause problems with the line. That’s why we’ve been looking into several murders over in Penterville; something over there killing folk…much the same way this ‘ere fella died.”
“This ain’t killing, mister, this ‘ere is mutilating,” Raymond said, nodding to Hardy’s body.
“This kinda murder ain’t natural, don’t know of anyone who ever died like that ‘cept a fella I knew got ripped up by a grizzly,” Ed added.
Thomas knelt beside Hardy and pulled back the fire blanket. He leaned closer to examine the throat wound. “No bear did this.” Thomas replaced the blanket over Hardy’s head. “We got problems on this train, and I mean a serious kinda problem.”
“How come the Penterville Sheriff or U.S. Marshal ain’t looking into this? Why they got Pinkerton hunting this butcher?” Raymond asked. Ed waited for an answer, also.
“The killings happened on rail property. The Sheriff is investigating, but his jurisdiction doesn’t include the rails. The Marshal could, but he’s got over three hundred miles to cover and right now he’s up North. That makes it a railroad problem, and the railroad will take care of it.”
“So what has Pinkerton found we’re gonna look for?” Ed asked.
“We ain’t gotta look for nothing, mister. This thing’s looking for us.”
“Thing…?” Raymond said.
Thomas nodded toward Hardy’s form under the fire blanket and grimaced. “We got us an honest to God vampire, and from the looks of the wound, this one’s a thirsty bastard.



Doc Jacobi, a Civil War veteran surgeon, travels the territory serving medical assistance to towns between the Noel mountain range and Sessions River Indian territory. Along the way, the doc and his trusty Appaloosa named Bell encounter thieves, murderers and hustlers. In Black Knife, the Doc and Bell face two killers, renegade Indians and a rogue marshal.  




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