Today’s our stop on the Steven Montano’s Path of Bones blog tour and I have an exclusive excerpt!
Return to the world of Malzaria in the highly anticipated sequel to the best-selling epic fantasy adventure City of Scars.
Hunted by Empires and crime lords alike, Ijanna Taivorkan and the young warrior Kath Cardrezhej make their north through the dire Bonelands, a twisted wastelands populated by unnatural terrors. Hoping to find the answers to her dark destiny and driven by a need to escape her fate, Ijanna won’t rest until she locates the last of the Skullborn.
Azander Dane, fallen Dawn Knight, pursues Ijanna in order to help her as a way for making amends for the crimes of his past. Aided by an exiled giant and gripped by a magical disease that is slowly driving him mad, Dane must brave the dangers of the Phage-controlled city of Kaldrak Iyresin order to reach the Dream Witch in time.
Beset at every turn by evil magic, powerful assassins and dark revelations, Dane and Ijanna will ultimately find themselves in the ruined city of Corinth, where ancient artifacts may hold the key to the world’s salvation…or to its untimely doom.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble
Kruje smelled oil and musk as he came to. He realized he was walking as if in a trance, his bare feet bloody and raw as he stepped on water-slicked stones wreathed in mist and smoke.
Chains connected his wrists to an iron collar wrapped around the throat of an enormous green-scaled beast, a twelve-legged lizard twice as long as Kruje was tall. The creature smelled terrible, like a combination of urine and burning tar, and Kruje gagged as the monster dragged him along behind it. The lizard darted through the maze of stone hallways with surprising speed, and Kruje had to maintain a good pace just to keep up.
Black-clad men led the reptile through a stone labyrinth. Slits in the crumbling mortar allowed blades of gilded light to weep through the ceiling.
Kruje jogged along behind the creature as it moved towards a massive black oak portal rimed with iron and steel. Strange glyphs Kruje didn’t recognize had been burned into the wood. The chamber before the door was enormous, a foyer linked to several side-corridors filled with more black-clad soldiers armed with longbows and curved blades. The assembling soldiers wore crimson cloaks and used weapons of the same make and style as those of the men he and Dane had fought during their escape from Black Sun
Chairos and his masked lady marched through the chamber to the head of the troops. Boots crushed mounds of dusty bones, which covered an ancient mural dominating the floor. Kruje twisted his head as the lizard came to a stop and tried to get a better look at the faded image of a great and twisted tree with large bulbs of rotting fruit. Something about the mural was hauntingly familiar, but before he could study it for more than a few seconds the massive doors opened and the lizard jerked forward, dragging Kruje along with it. A cold blast of dry air pushed into the chamber from a field of ice-white mist.
Kruje kept his eyes on the floor as they walked with the ranks of darkly armored soldiers, and at last he caught full sight of the mural under his feet. The tree in the image stood against the backdrop of a gigantic eye that leaked light; in the foreground, at the base of the tree, were a number of human females clawing their way out of gigantic bulbs of fruit. A second tree extended from the base of the first, growing underground in the opposite direction, not a root but a dark and twisted twin, a black mirror to its white sibling.
Kruje recognized the image as the Janus Tree.
By the J’ann, if these idiot humans worship the tree that means they know the secret behind Chul Gaerog! That truth had been entrusted to the Voss at the end of the Rift War, and as far as Kruje knew only his kind were even privy to knowledge of the Tree’s existence – the Arkan couldn’t be trusted, and the Tuscars were ignorant when it came to magic.
What was going on? Everyone was frantically chasing this Dream Witch, and now it seemed that Chairos also knew of the inner workings of the Black Tower.
The Skullborn, Kruje realized. The woman Dane is chasing must be one of the Skullborn. A strange calm settled over him in spite of his realization that the world might be doomed. At least I know where we stand….
The lizard dragged him forward, but Kruje didn’t bother to resist. His shoulders ached in their sockets, and every time the beast lurched the shackles scraped flesh from his wrists and made him wince in pain. The troops around him swelled to a score as they left the confines of the fortress and stepped onto the pale field. High tower walls appeared through gaps in the fog. The air was crisp and cold as they marched through a gargantuan courtyard.
It was a grim and silent procession. Kruje considered singing the Hymn of the Damned, the Voss’ death song. He didn’t want to be unprepared if this march should prove to be his last.
They approached a cutgate, a large and blinking portal of blood red light that shimmered like a pool of broken glass. Stone cast with dark runes and screaming gargoyle visages circled the gateway, and piles of icy dust were everywhere. The soldiers filed through one-by-one, voiceless and unafraid as they vanished into the folding crimson light.
Kruje smelled acid smoke and white flames and tasted dirty cold in his teeth as the lizard moved through the barrier, which pulsed and bubbled like molten metal. The giant closed his eyes and held his breath. The fluid was dry, a wash of pinpricks against his skin.
They must be stopped, he thought. And if it falls to me, then so be it.
Steven Montano is an author, accountant, and blogger, part human and part…well, we’re not entirely sure, but he sure does write a lot of books.
Steven is the author of the Skullborn novels (City of Scars, Path of Bones), the Blood Skies series (Blood Skies, Black Scars, Soulrazor, Crown of Ash, The Witch’s Eye and Chain of Shadows), Tales of a Blood Earth 1 and 2, Crucifix Point, and something black…. He’s currently hard at work on Blood Angel Rising, a paranormal action/horror/thriller; Vampire Down, the next installment of the Blood Skies series; and The Black Tower, the conclusion to The Skullborn trilogy.
He and his family live in Michigan, where even zombies fear to tread.
Visit Steven’s official website at www.stevenmontano.com.