A sneak peek at Voyage for the Sundered Crown

I’ve been asked quite a lot lately about when will book 4 in the Sundered Crown Saga be released. Well, let me just say that I am working on it and that I hope to have it finished by the end of the year. (Yes, I know I write slowly compared to some authors). To ease some of the wait here’s a sneak peek at an early part of the book. I hope you enjoy it.

The Leviathan

 A worried shout came from the helmsman. Luxon followed the direction the man was pointing in. A massive wave taller than all the others was coming straight at them. It was the size of a mountain, and as it drew closer, its shadow loomed over the ship. Whitelaw grabbed a rope and began tying it about his waist, the other crew members on deck did likewise.

  “I suggest you do the same Master Wizard; this is going to be a little rough,” Whitelaw said with a twinkle in his eye. Luxon gulped and did as suggested. He took the rope offered to him by Whitelaw and rapidly began tying it around his waist. Water poured into eyes, and he could feel it soaking through his overcoat. The massive wave struck causing the Agatha to climb the wall water at a near ninety-degree angle. On and on it climbed until it looked as though the ship would be smashed like a twig.  Luxon cried out, expecting the ship to be flipped over. To everyone’s relief, it crested the summit of the waves to plunge down the other side. The descent was a hundred feet, almost causing Luxon to spew his guts everywhere.

   Another shout of alarm came from the deck. A fork of lightning split the sky illuminating the giant waves. Even in the turmoil of the thrashing sea, the flash revealed a massive shadow moving against the storm. Luxon’s stomach flipped at the sight; even Whitelaw went quiet.

  “Fell Beast!” the captain bellowed. He grabbed the petrified helmsman and set him back to his task.

  “Don’t make it easy for the bloody thing!”

 Luxon staggered over to the deck’s rail his eyes fixed on the shadow. He couldn’t make out any details of the beast, but it was massive in size and aquatic. Huge taloned flippers were the only obvious feature. The ship began to rise again as it rode another giant wave. The Fell Beast, however, launched itself through the water to push its way through the other side of the wave. Luxon shouted a warning as the creature took up position right where the ‘Agatha’ was due to fall. A long, lean snout, itself the length of a ship, burst out of the water and opened wide to reveal a cavernous mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth. Luxon turned his head to see Captain Whitelaw grab the ship’s wheel in an attempt to help the helmsman steer the vessel. The two men strained with all their might to get the ship to steer through the stormy sea and avoid the beast.

  The Agatha turned just in time, avoiding the Fell Beasts snapping jaws. As the ship turned the crew hastily armed themselves with bows, crossbows and whatever else they could get their hands on. Luxon struggled towards the hatch that led below deck; he had to warn Ferran and the others. The Beast exploded through another wave, sending a wall of water smashing down onto the deck. Luxon was swept off his feet, only the guardrail stopping him from being tossed overboard. Other crew members weren’t so lucky. Three sailors were sent screaming into the icy cold waters of the deep.

  “Man the harpoons!” Whitelaw bellowed to his men. The ‘Agatha’ was equipped with two large harpoon guns located on the foredeck. Fell Beasts of the Void was a terror the world over, and often ships were destroyed by their talons or tentacles. As a result, most merchant ships that dared venture into the deep sea were armed with harpoons or ballistae.

  The squall that had fallen upon the ‘Agatha’ began to recede just as quickly as it had arrived. The waves remained rough and tumbling, but the howling wind and rains were moving quickly southwards towards the continent of Delfinnia, now a brown smudge on the distant horizon.

  With the storm quickly passing overhead the Fell Beast was revealed in all its horror. Luxon clung to the guardrail and gasped. He’d read tales of the Fell Beasts that used Esperia’s oceans as their hunting grounds, but he’d never really believed them. The monster that was now stalking the ‘Agatha’ was larger than any creature he’d ever seen including the dragons. Ferran and his fellow Nightblade Welsly emerged from below deck. The specialist Fell Beast hunters ran over to the rail and helped Luxon back onto his unsteady feet.

  “What is it?” Luxon asked unable to take his eyes off the beast pursuing the ship.

  Captain Whitelaw hurled insults at his men as he ordered them to unfurl the sails. With the storm over it was now safe to use the mainsails once more. The sailors moved through the rigging with incredible skill and agility as they unhooked ropes and pulled pulleys. Within moments the mainsail was deployed. The huge piece of blue fabric unfurled and flapped before catching the wind. With a whoosh the sail deployed, and with a jolt the ‘Agatha’ surged forward, picking up speed.

  “It’s a Leviathan,” Ferran said in awe. “There are Void Rifts deep beneath the waves just as there are rifts on the land. This is beyond any Nightblade’s skill to fight.”

  Suddenly, a melody began to play, causing everyone to look at the deck. The bard Eripa stood there, her fingers playing expertly over the strings of her lute. Her blonde hair billowed in the breeze, and her long red bard’s cape whipped out behind her in the wind. She began to sing, her voice piercing the roar of the waves and the hearts of every man on board. It was a song of the storms and seas, one of a tempest’s passing. Her song was literally magical. Lightning still lit up the sky, and the rain still fell, but the intensity of the storm began to fade.

  Eripa winked at Luxon and the Nightblades as she continued to play her tune. With the storm weakening, the Agatha was able to pick up speed. The monstrous beast was now in pursuit, the waves parting as its enormous bulk barreled through the water. The Agatha’s crew were shooting their weapons to try and scare the Beast off. Luxon watched as a harpoon struck the Leviathan only for it to spin wildly off its thick skin.

  “I have an idea,” Luxon said as he rushed to the hatch and clambered down into the hold where they were billeted. Next to his wildly swinging hammock was a chest containing his valuables. He opened it and reached inside. His fingers tightened around a long wooden object; the dragon enchanted staff Dragasdol. A whimper caused him to look up. Cowering in the darkness of the hold was Alderlade. The boy king looked positively terrified. Luxon hurried over to him.

  “Are you ok sire?” he asked. The words still felt strange to him knowing that the boy and ruler of Delfinnia was, in fact, his half-brother. Kneeling next to the bleary-eyed lad, he took his hand in his own.

  “It’ll be over soon. Stay down here and keep your head down,” he said. He looked over his shoulder to see Sophia stagger over to them. The Witch hunter looked wretched; the sea had not been kind to her stomach.

  “I’ll keep an eye on him,” she said weakly.

Luxon nodded and picked up his staff. He ran back to the ladder and looked at them both.

  “Stay strong,” he added before climbing back to the deck.

  Eripa was still singing, her voice somehow carrying loud and clear over the roar of the waves and Leviathan. The crew were growing increasingly desperate as they continued to shoot everything they had at the rapidly gaining Fell Beast. Luxon ran to the aft deck and raised Dragasdol high. He focused on the fading storm. With a deafening crack of thunder, lightning split the sky and struck the tip of the staff. The hairs on his body stood on end as Dragasdol absorbed the power of the bolt. Electricity crackled and fizzed about him until with a shout he thrust the staff towards the approaching monster. Blinding white-hot power lanced out from Dragasdol striking the Leviathan. Electricity mixed with seawater, vapourising the tough outer skin of the creature. The beast roared in pain, but still, it came.

  “Shoot everything you’ve got!” Luxon commanded the crew.

  A volley of arrows and harpoons were loosed, and this time the deadly projectiles hit their mark. With its thick hide burnt away by the lightning, its soft under tissue was exposed, and the harpoons punched deep. Luxon ran to the ship’s aft and watched in awe as the massive creature reeled back in agony. The Nightblades dashed to the rail and together pulled their banishing vials from the pouches on their belts.

  “We could use a boost here Luxon,” Ferran shouted as he arched his arm back ready to throw the vial. Luxon nodded and focused.

  “Now!” he shouted.

Ferran and Welsly hurled the vials as hard as they could. Just as they reached their zenith, Luxon pushed with telekinesis to send the vials soaring through the air where they shattered against the writhing Leviathan. Instantly a blinding light flashed into existence as two portals to the Void ripped open. An unnatural wind began to blow, threatening to pull the ship and its crew towards the tear. Vast amounts of seawater were sucked into the powerful vortex, including the Leviathan. At first, it seemed like the massive creature would escape the pull of the magical portal, but the wounds inflicted upon it by the Agatha’s crew took their toll, and soon its strength faded. With a last roar, the Leviathan disappeared into the portal with a flash. With its purpose fulfilled the portal collapsed in on itself to leave tumultuous waves in its wake.

  The Agatha lurched forward once more as the pull of the void rift disappeared, and Eripa’s strange song continued to calm the sea. The crew cheered and let out laughs of disbelief at surviving their encounter with a beast of the Void and the storm. Luxon couldn’t help but laugh with them. Whitelaw clapped him on the shoulder and cackled before pacing down the deck to inspect the ship.

  “I can’t believe it. A Leviathan! I’d read about them in the old tomes from Caldaria’s library but never in a million years did I expect to ever set eyes on one,” Welsly was saying to Ferran in excited tones as the two Nightblades walked towards the aft. In the days of the world-spanning Golden Empire, Nightblades had been common on the high seas, but after the Empire’s collapse and the subsequent decline in global trade, ships travelling from one continent to another became rarer and rarer until now, millennia later, the other lands were nothing more than a myth.

  “It doesn’t bode well that we encountered one so soon into the voyage. We’ve been at sea for what, a week? If the maps Thanos recovered from Caldaria’s archive are correct then we have a long way to go until we reach Tulis,” Ferran said with his arms crossed.

 Luxon looked to the horizon, not to the west where they were sailing, but back towards Delfinnia and the friends they had left behind. Dark clouds swirled in the far distance; he hoped they were not an ominous sign.


Not read the rest of the Sundered Crown Saga? Get books 1-3 below.

Heir to the Sundered Crown (Book1) – Amazon link Other retailers link

War for the Sundered Crown (Book2) – Amazon link Other retailers link

Quest for the Sundered Crown (Book3) – Amazon link Other retailers link

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Terran Defenders Sneak Peak

With the release of Terran Defenders rapidly approaching I thought I would give you all a sneak peak of the book. I hope you enjoy it! To pre-order, the book click here.

***

The small salvage ship fired its retro engines creating another bright dot of light in the vast ocean of stars in the depths of space.

Tumbling and rolling before the  ship was the desolate hull of the legendary SS Regent. Debris and flotsam spiralled away from the wrecked vessel causing the salvage ship’s captain to reinforce the shields. Tiny sparks like miniature solar flares brightened the cockpit as the shields disintegrated the potentially lethal detritus.

Captain Finley Adams scowled at the sad scene of the once mighty ship crumbling apart before his very eyes. With a skill that comes from years of experience, he brought the salvage ship in closer and activated the powerful searchlights that were sat above the cockpit.

“Are you seeing this captain?”

Over the intercom came the voice of his engineer and wife Carolyn Adams.

The married couple had been salvagers for over ten years making a good income from their dangerous work. This case, however, had been a complete surprise. They initially hadn’t had any intention of scouting the Ro system. Their contract had told them to search the much more profitable region of the Eagan system, another twenty light years away from their current location. No large scale battles had ever taken place in Ro, according to the charts Ro was a quiet backwater of a system, not having much in the way of resources and was home to only four gaseous planets.

Finley took the smouldering Chindin cigar from his mouth and blew a thick cloud of bluish smoke before replying; “Yeah, I see it. Looks like something ripped a chunk out of the port side of the hull. Jesus, it looks like an Asteroid strike to me.”

He tapped a series of buttons on the control console bringing up the external scanner. On the small screen to his right, he saw a 3d model of the wrecked Regent materialise as the ship’s computer began its spectral analysis. The powerful scanners blasted out radiation ranging from gamma rays right through to X-rays to get a complete readout.

“Any life signs?” enquired his wife over the comm.

Finn snorted at the silly question.

“No darling, if this is the Regent the poor sods on board would have died 200 years ago.”

The scanner pinged indicating the initial scan was complete.

“What the hell?” Finley exclaimed as the image of the Regent zoomed in showing the ragged hole that was threatening to tear the stricken hulk apart.

Impossibly the hole came into focus showing the sheared metal facing outwards, as though something had ripped out of the ship rather than struck it.

“Maybe the asteroid came through from the other side?” offered Carolyn as she joined her husband in the cockpit.

Her long brunette hair was tied up in a bun and her ragged features were as usual covered in grease and oil stains. She wore the same blue overalls as her overweight husband, each bearing the sign of the Space Exploration Ministry.

“I don’t think so, according to the scan only this side of the ship has been ruptured.” Finley leant forward and brought up another screen showing the magnified X-ray image of the stricken ship.

“Fuel leak, munitions explosion?” Carolyn offered again.

Fin smiled at his wife’s persistent use of logic. Fin, however, couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. After so many years scouring battlefields, wrecked colonies and ancient scrap yards he’d never had his ship brought out of FTL right on top of a wreck, and the Regent was as famous as they came. She had once been the colonies most prized vessel but had mysteriously vanished on her maiden voyage two hundred years ago.

“Well honey, there’s only one way to know for sure” Said Fin as he prized himself out his chair setting the smaller ship to begin docking procedures.

*

The airlock hissed as it slid open to reveal the dark opening of the Regent’s docking bay. Fin and Carolyn were now wearing their bulky zero G-suits. Neither of them enjoyed travelling in them, the suits made them feel claustrophobic and clumsy. Each of their breaths made a sharp hissing noise through their internal comms making Fin more and more uneasy as they slowly made their way across the empty bay.

Scattered about the place and floating lazily in the vacuum were crates and tools. Carolyn caught one of the papers and held it up to her torch light.

“It’s dated August 2145. That was two hundred years ago,” she said in surprise.

Fin nodded, the dates fitted.

“That confirms it then. This is definitely THE SS Regent,” he replied as he too knelt awkwardly and picked up a page.

It was from an engineering manual for an ancient victor class of starfighter. He shook his head in wonder.

“This place should be in a museum. Imagine the finder’s fee were gonna get Fin!” Carolyn whooped.

Fin smiled, but that nagging feeling returned.

“Come on, let’s get to that hole. I want to know what happened here,” he said as he carefully moved to an access hatch at the far end of the bay.

The pair of salvagers made their way through the ship encountering nothing but eerily empty rooms.

“How come we’ve not seen any bodies Fin?” asked Carolyn nervously.

The emptiness of the place was starting to get to them both. It was strange not to encounter any dead crewmembers, those they could handle; it was a common thing for salvage crews to run into.

“Maybe they all got sucked out into space through that hole,” Fin offered, shrugging his shoulders. “I’m picking up some faint electrical anomalies.”

He glanced at his wrist scanner that displayed readouts of the interior of the ship. Another left turn and they would arrive at the damaged portion of the hull. Rounding the corner a vibration ran throughout the ship causing them both to stop dead in their tracks.

“Movement?” Fin wondered aloud.

He placed a thick-gloved hand onto the passageways wall and sure enough, he could feel a tremor running through the hull. His wrist scanner began to beep insistently, the speed increasing at a rapid pace. He quickly looked at the readouts.

“Holy hell, our ships engines are spooling up,” Fin cried in alarm.

He spun around and grabbed his wife’s hand pulling her after him as he rushed his way back to the scout ship. They ran as fast they could back towards the small craft. The wrist scanner was going crazy as the sensors detected that the ship was about to jump away at any second, stranding the salvagers on the dead Regent.

Desperately Fin jumped and kicked off from the access hatch they had gone through sending him flying through the vacuum of space. Within seconds, he reached the air lock and frantically removed his zero G-suit. Carolyn was screaming over the comm., screaming at him to hurry.

Fin was sweating, the perspiration was getting in his eyes and the sense of dread he felt was now of absolute terror. The airlock opened as he bounded through the ship towards the cockpits access ladder. All the while, he was swearing under his breath. The sound of the ships engines was deafening, at any moment the ship would jump ripping apart the wreck of the Regent and vaporising both of the scavengers. He forced his bulk awkwardly up the ladder and threw himself into the command seat. Urgently he brought up the console and with a cry of relief, he punched the engine override button, shutting them down. Fin collapsed back in his seat in utter relief, panting for breath and sweating profusely. After a few moments, he collected his thoughts and picked up the Comm.

“Carolyn. Honey, I did it, the ship’s secure. I don’t know what caused that. I’m gonna start a ship-wide diagnostic.”

No reply.

“Where is that damn woman? Carolyn, Carolyn can you hear me?” he asked in frustration and more than a little worry.

No reply.

Fin felt fear once more knot in his guts. He was just about to try again when a voice came over the comm.

“My god Fin, you got to take a look at this honey. I’m at the impact site.”

Fin frowned. It was Carolyn’s voice but it sounded distant almost ethereal. Cautiously he headed back to the airlock and once more donned his suit. Quickly he made his way back across the bay but not before disabling the scout ship’s engines with a computer override. Whatever had caused the mysterious engine start-up could happen again, he wasn’t prepared to take any chances.

He reached the point they had made it to before the incident and slowly rounded the corner. There before him was a scene of utter devastation. This was where the crew was, all five hundred of them. A cavernous space lay before him, the massive hole that led out into space on the far wall.

However, it was the rest of the walls that made Finlay vomit into his suit.

There, impaled on the walls was the ship’s crew, frozen in terror thanks to the vacuum of space.  Blood covered every surface, disembowelled corpses littered the floor and there standing in the middle of it all was Carolyn her back to her husband. Finley staggered towards her desperate to take them away from this nightmare. He grabbed her arm.

Slowly she turned to face him.

“Nooo!” Fin screamed as his wife stared at him. Except it was not his wife.

A sadistic grin adorned her face, her eyes were black slits and the skin was ripped and torn. He staggered backwards screaming. The thing that wore his wife’s suit reached for him, gripping his suit, and pushing him down to the ground with a superhuman strength. Fin struggled against the creature but it was too strong.

He screamed again as out of the corner of his eye he could see the corpses of the ship’s crew stirring, moving slowly towards him, arms outreached to drag him to their fate.  The last thing Finlay Adams heard was the scanner on his wrist beeping frantically. Someone or something had started up his ship…

***

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Asphodel Prologue

 

Copyright © Matthew Olney

Silently he moved in the shadows, sliding deeper into the darkness.  Pausing as a guardsman walked past, the light cast by his lantern failing to reveal the intruders location. The thief sighed in relief as the guard walked out of sight. The King’s spire was thought to be impregnable, but for the right coin anything could be breached by the Fleetfoots. The thief sneaked forward until he reached the base of the Hall of Treasures. The vast vault held the item his paymaster sought.

Carefully he took the rope hanging from around his shoulders and affixed a grapple hook to one end, the other he loaded into the crossbow which he slid from his back. He took aim and pulled the trigger. The snap of the crossbow’s string sounded deafening in the stillness of the night. With a satisfying clink the grapple hook bit into the stonework of the Hall. The vaults heavy iron doors were said to be unbreakable, but no one said anything about the stained glass windows placed high on the Hall’s walls. The thief pulled the rope and grunted in satisfaction that it had anchored itself successfully. With agility that comes with constant practise the thief nimbly clambered up the rope. At the top he paused, listening for any sign of the guards. There was only the sound of the wind.

The thief reached into his leather tunic and pulled out a small knife. He ran a gloved finger along its edge and smiled as the diamond encrusted blade glinted in the moonlight. With deft movements he cut a hole in the base of the large glass window. Once done he gently pushed the glass causing it to come away cleanly. He carefully placed the glass onto the tiled roof under his feet before crouching down and squeezing through the hole he had made.

He now found himself in the rafters of the Hall. Below him was a large open space. The floor was made from the finest marble, and gold leaf covered the walls and ceiling. It was an impressive place, but that was not why the thief had come. He turned and pulled the rope inside. A dozen pedestals stood in the Hall, each displaying something valuable. Precious stones and gold jewellery glinted in the moonlight.  Licking his lips the thief anchored the hook once again before tossing the rope down to the floor. With casual grace he slid down the rope to the ground. One by one he checked the pedestals. Each had ancient books or precious jewels covered by glass cases on them, all of them, except one. The thief felt his heart quicken as he spotted his prize. In the centre of the Hall was a pedestal with a red velvet cushion on top. Upon that sat a stone. It looked like a piece of slate, of no importance whatsoever and yet the thief’s contractor had offered him a fortune for stealing it. He cut open the glass case and removed the stone, tucking it into the pouch hidden inside his tunic. Smiling, he hurried back to the rope and climb back onto the roof. Again he pulled up the rope from inside and threw it down into the courtyard below. With catlike grace he slid back down to earth, careful to not make any noise. If he had timed things right, then the guardsman was still making his rounds on the other side of the spire. Quickly he gathered up the rope, slung it back over his shoulder and sneaked back the way he had come. With a little luck no one would notice his incursion until the dawn.

*

A tall, black cloaked figure was waiting at the crossroads just outside the city. It had taken the thief an hour to get out of the capital without drawing any unwanted attention. Whistling merrily to himself the thief strode down the road, a lantern lighting his way. Upon seeing the cloaked figure he hesitated.

“Do you have it?” the figure asked his voice quiet and menacing.

The thief nodded pulling the stone from his tunic.

“I do indeed friend. It was surprisingly easy if I do say so myself. For all the talk, the Hall of Treasures was not that hard to crack,” the thief bragged smugly.

The cloaked figure took the stone from the thief’s grip. It stared at the stone and chuckled. No kindness was in the sound, just wicked malevolence.

“Er…so where’s my pay?” the thief said, a knot of fear slowly worming its way into his guts. The figure was scaring him.

The chuckling stopped.

“Here is your pay,” the figure replied. It snapped its fingers.

Out of the shadows stepped other cloaked figures, theirs the colour of crimson. The thief tried to scream as they pulled out knives and plunged them into his flesh.

As the thief was being murdered the cloaked figure smiled.

“You have doomed all the world thief and its fall shall be glorious to behold.”

 

***

Are you excited for book two in the Sundered Crown Saga? Let me know in the comments. 🙂thief_by_idriu95-d4iwt1u