Allow me to offer you a sneak peek at the first chapter of Grim Dark. I'm still toying with the cover files, but this story is heading for edits soon. As always, please keep in mind that this is a work in progress, which means it could change at anytime. Read at your own risk. Copyright imposed. All Rights Reserved.
He Fought Death
Five hundred years after Lucifer voided
He stood on the banks of the River Styx. One wing hung shredded in tattered ruins, with over three quarters melted away by acidic slime. It would be so easy to hand over the coins and take his seat on the boat. An immortal gryphon could allow the Ferryman to pole him across to the Underworld. He could sink into oblivion, forget it all, maybe eventually float into the Gan Breith, cross the rainbow bridge and be born again. He could live without the horrors of his life, centuries in the future.
Sinclair peered into the fog, but whatever lay on the opposite shore, not even Sinclair’s eagle eyes could glean. He looked back over his shoulder. The battle raged on far behind him, and the gryphon knights fought valiantly against Bushyasta’s bastard slugs. He should be with them, not staring down the reaper. He wasn't finished yet!
The skeleton fingers on an outstretched hand beckoned him to step into the boat. His misery and defeat in battle weighed heavily. Sinclair took a step and stopped.
The black cowled Ferryman held out his hand with the palm open. Sinclair’s left hand clenched around two gold coins. They were all he had left of the life he once led.
He backed away from the Ferryman. He wouldn’t give up his memories. Thanatos wasn’t getting paid that day. Sinclair hadn’t once led that life, he still clung to it. It was his.
The god of death could rot in Talamh na Marbh for all Sinclair cared. He was going back. He had things he still desired to accomplish. Sinclair still needed to find everything. Never mind his brokenness. He turned to walk away from the river.
The black-robed apparition suddenly stood before him, wielding a scythe, blocking the road back. The skeletal fingers pointed toward the boat behind him.
Sinclair drew his sword. Kharon Thanatos would have to reap his soul if the fool wanted it. Sinclair wasn’t going quietly into some good night he never wanted to see. His life wasn't over. Hell, he never even found the one meant to be everything. Surely a man deserved a chance at that!
The scythe met his blade, and the battle ensued. Sharp metal rang in strange echoes in the fog as the warriors met and parried blow upon blow. Sinclair glared at Death as the two backed away from a gridlock, and swore he got a few good licks in, only to realize the bastard was nothing but a skeleton and a robe. Still, he stood sweating in the humid air.
Sinclair frowned as he circled with his opponent, parrying the scythe with his blade. How did one vanquish Death? It made no sense. Still, he fought on.
Two strange figures stepped out of the fog, clapping their hands as if they were spectators to a grand display, interrupting the combatants. They drew his attention away from the fight, but once a knight, always that, and when Death shifted his position, Sinclair moved to defend himself once again.
Motion from the corner of his eye had him alert, but it was for nought. He watched as Thanatos bowed before the pointy-eared, slender creatures who stood before him. They bowed in return, as if they were equals.
“Kharon Thanatos, the White Buffalo Woman sends her greetings.”
The head beneath the cowl inclined, accepting the greetings offered by the two. No one disparaged the Queen of the Dream. It seemed even Death paid her heed.
“She desires to grant asylum to one Sinclair Gautier. She believes he would be useful in a future time. By your leave, we'll take the living.”
A deep rumbling laugh emerged from the cloaked spectre.
“I was enjoying sparring with the gryphon. Few come with enough fire remaining in their souls to be worthy of my scythe.”
The hooded head nodded at Sinclair.
“It was a worthy match, sir. Go in peace with the elvish lords, Sinclair Gautier. Perhaps we’ll meet again under different circumstances.”
Thanatos’s voice was a hollow echo before he simply vanished.
“Come with us. Asylum awaits. It will be a long journey on the road to recovery, Mr. Gautier. That wing is a serious issue. There is a price.”
Sinclair uncurled his fingers from the coins he still clutched in his left hand and stared at them.
The elf curled his fingers back over the coins.
“Keep them. We’ll simply need to retain your services for some time afterward. You understand, don’t you?”
“You wish to help me heal?” Sinclair asked, confused. Maybe he’d lost too much blood, or the sword match with the Reaper had taken its toll. The elves nodded.
“Fealty for years of service. It’s the general payment method.”
Sinclair nodded. He understood fealty. He’d sworn his oath to the Gryphon Clan many times. But death had severed that oath.
The elves approached him carefully and placed a blanket around him.
“Few fight Kharon Thanatos and win. Today must be your lucky day. You’ll live to fight another day.”
He stared at the elf. Losing a wing, nearly dying on a battlefield, and sparring with Death to escape his demise didn't equate with luck in his mind.
He desired to heal and fight another day, though. More than that, he wanted another chance to find everything.
Sinclair allowed the elvish lords to lead him through the fog. When he stepped out of the fog, he stood on a path toward a low castle. He stumbled and fell to one knee.
Several people rushed out to help him. Placed on a stretcher, Sinclair entered Asylum, the elvish hospital. Life continued for a gryphon knight. It took twenty-seven years to regain the full use of his regrown wing and enjoy the level of health and vitality he had before he found himself injured and dying on a battlefield.
When he knelt and swore one hundred years of service and fealty to the elvish lords at Asylum in payment for all the effort and magic, which the elves put into restoring his life and his health, Sinclair smiled.
He fought Death… and won.
Behind the Scenes
As many of you know, I publish nothing unless I feel as if it is done. By done, I mean the essential storyline won't change. A word or two here and there may alter in editing, but even if you read an early version like this excerpt chapter now and again in the later story, this portion would feel as if you read it and knew that already.
I also write in scenes. They don't need to be in order, or even be in the same story or miniseries. (They don't need to be in the same world, either.) This makes it difficult for me to post much beyond the story description or the character introductions while I'm writing. I worry I will need to revise something in an earlier scene once I know where the story is going as another scene reveals itself.
I'm not finished with Mystic Dark, but I think the last short story is nearing completion. I have adjusted nothing in Grim Dark in a while. So I included the disclaimer, but this chapter might be done.
Believe it or not, writing the Mystic Dark miniseries has revealed a minor word change necessary in Vampire Knight, which is the first volume in Royal Council. Good thing I was already editing that story for re-release.
I've contracted with Get Covers to do the cover art for the Royal Council miniseries. I'm hopeful to have the covers before I finish the editing.
I'm publishing Royal Council as I edit. I've reworked Arctic Fox, and it's live as well as more than half of Vampire Knight. If you want to read, Kingdom Rising is currently available. I'm adding the bells and whistles to the serialized miniseries. So purchasing the miniseries and reading online, directly from me, is the most economical way to read the dream. It's also the way to get the most from the stories. I've included video for the character introductions and book descriptions, and AI audiobook chapters are coming soon.
I love writing, publishing, and creating the dream. Even this post is part of the experience for me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Thank you for taking a moment to enjoy a sneak peek at my current work in progress. Before I get back to work on my obsession, allow me to leave you with one last sentiment. Authors can't pay for reviews. We need readers to speak up when something they read was useful or entertaining. So when you read, please remember to be kind to an author and leave your honest review. It means the world to authors to get a sneak peek into what readers think and it offers social proof to others who might consider reading. Enjoy your weekend,
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