SS BannerPlease Note: The book review will be posted later on this morning.

 

Chapter 1 – Birth

 

Burning oil and cooked meats barely masked the acrid smell of death. His swollen tongue tasted thick dust on cracked lips. Rough stone dug into his back. Opening his eyes he flung his hands up to shield his gaze. Dust billowed around nearly skeletal fingers, which glowed red against the searing light.

The reek of death grew stronger. He struggled to move. His legs were stiff; his shoulders jammed between stone. He was in a cramped box. Sweat poured from his brow. He kicked his legs and grappled toward the light.

Straining against the edges of the box, he pulled himself up toward the ruddy glow. Grey dots danced across his vision and he nearly fainted. His head spun. At last, the room steadied.

He sat in a granite box on a raised platform at the end of a long narrow chamber. Stone sarcophagi lined both sides of the room. A chill prickled his skin. I have awakened in a tomb.

His mind raced, as fresh sweat rolled down his grimy forehead into his eyes. Nightmarish visions of faces filled his mind—faces surrounding him—large pale eyes watching, always watching. A need to climb free of the coffin overpowered him.

Gathering his strength, he lifted his leg over the side and stepped to the floor. A dusty linen sheet fell from his body, and cool air tickled bare flesh. He felt a touch upon his breast. A delicate amulet dangled on a thin gold strand; a dragon and a lion locked in mortal combat. Set between the beasts a clear, flawless diamond.

Lamps on golden stands filled the chamber with warm light. Rows of columns on each wall supported a ceiling lost in darkness above. Sharp pain wrenched his hollow stomach. How long had it been since he had eaten? The aroma of food nearby drew him toward a bright alcove a few yards down the wall. His legs buckled as he lurched toward a coffin opposite his. Stone, intricately carved in the shape of robes and boot-shod feet, greeted his touch. The sarcophagus lid bore the likeness of a warrior, with a sword crossed over his chest. A name came to him, Vuzhex Mqueg.He strained to remember.

A rich mural covered the wall above. Vuzhex Mqueg stood with a gleaming sword lifted toward a sky of red fire and black smoke.

I dub thee Loequazh Thabo, Bane of Death. Memories gnawed at the edge of his mind.

Columns on either side of the mural, carved in the likeness of majestic oaks, soared toward the ceiling and intertwined with branches from columns on the far wall. No frescos stood watch over his coffin. How did he come to be entombed with such as these? He looked at the richness beyond his drab, stone box. It was apparent he did not belong.

He stumbled toward the flickering light of the alcove. Fire smoldered on a hearth at the far end of a small chamber off the main. In the center, nearly filling the room, stood a polished cherry-wood table, surrounded by ten chairs, their backs carved like the wings of dragons. Jewel encrusted plates and goblets sat ready for unseen guests. Large platters and bowls contained soups, meats, cheeses, vegetables and hard-crusted bread. His mind filled with wonder at the sumptuous meal, but his stomach called for action.

Moving to the nearest chair, he sat. Fine utensils lay on each side of the dishes, but he tore into the fare without regard for manners, hoping whoever prepared the banquet would not begrudge the sacrilege. He devoured the food, tearing off large chunks of meat and bread followed by frenetic gulps of a warm, sweet drink found in a finely etched silver pitcher. When he could eat no more, he leaned back in his chair. His body shook as he gazed around. He was in a tomb, with no idea how he got there, nor any apparent way to leave. Where am I? Am I dead? Am I doomed to spend all of eternity roaming this mausoleum, being fed by invisible beings?

SS BCThere were no doors in the paneled walls. Standing, he found he had a bit more strength and could walk with a higher confidence. To think his body had grown so weak. Once I led legions in battle. This thought stopped him, and he leaned his weight on a chair. He too was a warrior? He strained to remember. Fog enveloped his mind.

Shuffling from the alcove, he passed a stone basin with cool water. After splashing his face, he peered at the sarcophagus in front of him. Again, a kingly soldier lay in repose. The same sword, Loequazh Thabo, crossed his chest. No name for the warrior came to him, however. His gaze darted toward the fresco behind.

Dark reds and purples defined a scene drawn from the final moments of a grisly battle. A vast host arrayed in crimson surrounded a mounded hill. Fallen men lay in mangled heaps all around, as the vile army taunted their encircled prey. Fire filled the sky. At the summit, an ancient stone hand held aloft the broken body of a woman dressed in tattered white robes. In front of the woman, a shadow of a man grasped a bloodied sword; hope faded. Nevertheless, the figure stood, feet planted wide, blade held high. He heard a voice as if through a great wind, “Desperation does not become you. Surrender now and sue for leniency.”

He staggered back from the fresco. I will not let you have her. His eyes leapt to the figure of the woman, broken and bloodied on the stone hand. Tears blurred his vision. Why did she move him so? He clawed at his head trying to remember, but the fog did not lift. He slumped to the floor and cradled his face in his hands. The voice faded. At the same time, his stomach began to murmur.

He should not have eaten so quickly. Within moments, his insides twisted in pain. He lurched to his feet and staggered toward the stone basin. Dousing his face with cool water did nothing to quench sweat that poured from his forehead, while his body quaked in the cold of the room. Bile rose in his throat, and he retched into the bowl. The room blurred around him as his limbs tingled and grew heavy. He collapsed to the floor, feeling cold stone before all went dark.

 

 

About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!

About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of Shadow Swarm! Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog

DRP PictureThat’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Shadow Swarm tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

About the book: Aberthol Nauile doesn’t know that he once led legions in a war that raged since the dawn of time, against an enemy that cannot be killed. He doesn’t know that he rode on a dragon with his father, and saw his mother die while giving birth to him. He doesn’t know that he once saved his great, great, great grandfather by defeating the black enemy on the slopes of a volcano. Aberthol doesn’t know that he beheld the creation of the world, as his grandfather eight generations before took the planet ravaged by a war of the gods and began anew. All he knows is that he awoke in a coffin in a tomb, and now the whole world thinks he is their savior. All he really wants to know is his name, and why he keeps hearing voices in his head.Get Shadow Swarm through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: D. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn’t been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer’s Sirens. It’s not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters he brings to life.
Connect with D. Robert on his website, Facebook, Twitter,or GoodReads..

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