Book 4 in the Sundered Crown Saga will be released on December 30th so I thought I’d share another sneaky peek at the book. This scene takes place early on in the book and introduces a new monster; The Devourer.
Suddenly, one of the sandbanks exploded outwards and a monster the likes he’d never seen before came screeching from it. It was like a giant worm covered in thick bony armoured plates and vicious razor-sharp spikes. The head was nothing but a cavernous maw of deadly snapping teeth. The Rider cried out, only just guiding the Whale out of the reach of the Devourer. With a thunderous boom, the Devourer crashed back down beneath the dunes sending clouds of sand flying in all directions. The whale sped on through the dunes, the Devourer hot on its heels. Luxon glanced over his shoulder and instantly regretted doing so. All he could see, and gaining quickly was that cavernous teeth filled mouth. Ferran too was looking over his shoulder, but unlike himself, there was no fear on his face, instead, his brow was knotted in concentration. The master monster hunter was studying every detail of the creature, analyzing it for any visible weakness. The Rider spurred the Whale to veer sharply to the right causing the less nimble Devourer to speed on past. It let out a frustrated screech before arching around in an attempt to re-engage its prey. Luxon pushed himself up in his seat, his arms trembling against the forces trying to pin him down. Ahead was a rocky outcropping. The Devourer couldn’t travel through the stone.
“Head toward the outcropping!” he shouted to the panicking rider.
With a crack of the rod, the Whale veered to the right and sped toward the rocks.
“Get ready to jump!” Luxon shouted. He followed words with action and unsnapped the harness holding him into place. Ferran likewise detached himself. It was hard to move as the speed of the Sand Whale threatened to pin them into their seats. Luxon narrowed his eyes and channelled his magic to create a shield that enveloped him, Ferran and the rider. The G-forces immediately eased allowing them to move more freely. He grabbed the rider’s hand and Ferran gripped onto his cloak tightly. The outcropping approached and Luxon jumped. With masterful skill, he cast a levitation spell that launched them high into the air and off the terrified Whale’s back. They floated across the sand and onto the high rocky cliff. A solitary dead tree stood on the peak to offer some much-needed shelter from the blazing hot sun. Once they were safely on the rock the Whale dived beneath the sand desperate to escape the monster. Strangely, the Devourer allowed the Whale to go, its attention fixed on them.
“I can’t be the only who thinks it strange that such a beast would be more interested in us than such a large potential meal,” Ferran remarked.
Luxon crouched and watched the Devourer as it circled the outcropping. In its huge armoured head was a solitary red eye that was fixed on them. He closed his eyes and focused on the monster. There was a familiar presence emanating from it, one that he’d hoped they would not encounter so far from Delfinnia.
“N’Gist magic,” he muttered. There was no mistaking it. The gnashing monster below was one made from the darkest sorcery.
A shout came from below. Sir Beric and the other Bannerlords had arrived. Hastily they disembarked their Sand Whale and hurried toward the rocks. To Luxon’s surprise, the Devourer ignored them.
“Er, it really seems to like you, Luxon,” Ferran said.
The Bannerlords clambered up the outcropping and joined them at the top.
“There’s the hideous beast,” wheezed Beric. Despite the desert heat he and his companions were wearing their plate armour. On their backs in packs was an array of weaponry.
The Devourer’s red eye stared unblinking at the outcropping it’s body eerily still.
“I trust it didn’t do this when you first encountered it?” Ferran asked Beric.
“No. When we faced it the beast attacked without mercy. It ate our horses first and then two of our squires. The poor sots didn’t stand a chance. Ah well-”
Beric said as he took a spear from one of his comrades “it’s still as a rock now. Let’s kill this thing.”
His squire handed him a spear. Creeping to the edge of the outcropping he drew back his arm and hurled the weapon with all his might. Just as the spear looked as though it would strike its intended target, the eye snapped shut. The spear struck armoured shell to spin wildly and harmlessly off its surface. Beric swore loudly.
The eye opened again, it stared at Luxon.
“What’s up with this thing?” Beric grumbled taking another spear from his comrades. The four Bannerlords stepped to the edge and all hurled their spears. Again, the weapons bounced off its armoured shell.
“Let me try something,” Ferran said as he conjured a fireball into existence. With a flick of the wrist, the magical projectile shot downwards to strike the Devourer. The flame engulfed the monster but instead of it retreating in pain as expected it began to vibrate.
To their surprise, the creature absorbed the flames and with a sickening crack, the shell split and it began to grow in height. It grew so high that now it’s snapping jaws were just a few feet from the top of the outcropping.