Excerpts

Fractured Fragment Friday: Swordsmaster Promotion, Weird Tales Coming…

I joke that Swordsmaster was forty years in the making, but it’s not quite a joke.

In the 70’s (some of you may think of it as the Stone Age), the germ of a story came to me. I started writing, and got eighty handwritten (there were no PCs back then) pages into it before I decided it was growing in a direction that I didn’t like, and not knowing how to prune it back or force it into an acceptable shape like a banzai, I stuck the manuscript in the proverbial sock drawer and forgot about it.

Well, I didn’t exactly forget it. The initial images that I had seen (the four basic set pieces in the story) kept rolling around in my head until I finally thought I had enough of the sense of it to help it grow into a proper novel.

I started writing in earnest in 2015, and four years later the novel was ready.

Here’s the Blurb

Swordsmaster4The sorcerer Svaerd destroyed the Aurae Council in his quest to take the power of Taernfeld for himself. He almost succeeded in his designs, but was defeated by the council’s lone survivor. Trapped within a haeld-sword, he plots his escape.

For four-hundred years, magic has been outlawed by Tor-Haval. Sandrik is the first bright-eye to be seen in Caladon in living memory, and he doesn’t want anyone to think of him as they did the ominous Aurae of legend, so he keeps his special abilities hidden. But there is more to Sandrik than even he knows. Now he is about to enter the ancient ruins of Taernfeld to be declared a man, but another fate awaits him. Will he escape it?

And now for an excerpt…

The top of the door rested on the single object in the room. It could have been an altar, or a funerary box, and the door appeared to have fractured the white stone top some two feet from one end. The young goat stood atop the stone with its hindquarters in the air; it had managed to catch one of its front legs in that crack in the lid, and was bleating its little heart out, its pleas echoing in the chamber. Sandrik set the lantern on the larger section of the slab and tried to gently lift the kid out, but its leg was wedged too firmly in the gap. He tried to push his practice sword into the space to act as a lever, but the wood was too thick, so he slipped his fingers into the crack and put all his weight into it; the broken piece of slab moved much more easily than he had expected, and he had to step quickly aside to avoid it crushing his feet as it toppled noisily to the ground.

Now that the kid had finally stopped bleating, Sandrik became aware once again of the whispers. The goat stood where he had placed the lantern on the other end of the funerary box – for it was now obvious that Sandrik was in a sepulcher. With the smaller piece of the cover slab gone, he could see the skull and the bare skeletal remains within. The lantern light glinted off something metal; it was the hilt of a long sword which lay on the skeleton’s chest.

 It is unseemly to interfere with the dead once they have been laid in the ground, and there are many tales that include curses for the offender, with the act of disturbing a corpse as the final seal on the defiler’s fate. Sandrik was no different from others brought up on these tales, so he had no interest in further exploring the container. Instead, he picked the kid up and tucked it under one arm, but then he heard something. At first, he feared that the stones over his head were shifting, until he realized what he heard were dozens of hooves milling wildly in the ruins above him; something was disturbing the animals in the tower.

Then he heard shouting from away down the tunnel, and he knew that the Jarrun must be attacking their camp. Sandrik bent to pick up his wooden sword, but the memory of what had happened with the two Jarrun in Brother Anchel’s barn made him pause. A yew rod would be no use against sharpened steel; how could he expect to win Merith’s hand if he wasn’t able to defend her?

That decided the matter; Sandrik set the goat down. He leaned over the skull, and despite the feeling that those vacant eye sockets were staring at him in reproach, he wrapped his fingers around the hilt and pulled. The metal rang against the stone lid as he drew the sword out of the sarcophagus, and a chill spread up his arms. A feeling of exhilaration swept over him, and he heard a voice shout.

At last!

Sandrik turned quickly, sword at the ready as he scanned the chamber for the source of the voice. But the kid was the only other living thing there, and goats had never spoken to him like this before. No animal had.

After. All. This. Time!

He leaned over the fallen door and peered into the tunnel. There was no one nearby, although he could hear shouting. It was probably just more of the whispers, and it didn’t matter what he had heard – Merith was alone out there. He climbed over the door, crouched low, and quickly made his way back to where he had fallen into the tunnel.

The shouting was louder now; he could also feel someone close by, with an unpleasant nature he would rather not encounter. Well, what did he expect, with Jarrun about? Sandrik braced himself and climbed out of the pit.

When he reached the top of the jumbled white stones, he could hear that the fighting was off toward the road, beyond the tower. But he also saw that they had been mistaken about the Jarrun; two of them had snuck around behind the tower and were creeping up the hill in front of him. They reached the tower wall, and the larger one boosted the smaller onto the stones.

“Watch out, Merith!” Sandrik shouted as he charged up the hill toward them.

The Jarrun on the wall looked down at him disdainfully and pointed his sword at Sandrik.

“I think we know this boy. Finish him, Braga – do not toy,” Vardal sang before he disappeared over the wall.

Sandrik slowed his approach as he watched Braga lumber casually down the hill toward him, the big man had his sword drawn, but he carried it loosely at his side. He remembered how easily Braga had overpowered him in Brother Anchel’s barn. Even with a real sword, Sandrik knew he would be no match for the man. Petron always said that he should count on others to wield swords.

“I cannot do this,” Sandrik whispered to himself. “I could not handle him before.”

He is not a swordsman – see how he holds his weapon. He is a mere brute, and he underestimates you. We can use this.

The words sounded clear to him, silky smooth, but there was no reaction from Braga. Sandrik knew then that the voice was only in his mind; a thought, but not his own. But how…

There will be time for that later. Point me – point the sword at him.

Sandrik felt the sword tug downwards as though its weight had shifted to its point. What was this? He almost let go of the hilt.

No – wait! I can help you save your friend!

“You can save Merith?” Sandrik asked.

We can. This Petron, he has trained you?

“Yes, but…”

Hold me tightly with both hands and do as I say.

Sandrik gripped the sword hilt as he was told, and kept it pointed at Braga. The big man glanced quickly to either side.

“Talking to yourself, little boy?” Braga grinned. “You won’t be saving anyone.”

As he had done before in Brother Anchel’s barn, Braga brought his sword forward and feinted with it, then he swung with his free hand at Sandrik’s head. As Sandrik tried to duck, Braga reached for the sword.

Up, right, and do not let go!

Remembering the training sessions with Petron, Sandrik swung the sword up almost reflexively; it felt different this time, as though his body knew to do things before Sandrik thought of them. At the same time, the sword twisted and spun itself in a downward spiral. It happened so quickly, Sandrik could do little more than hold on as the blade sliced into Braga’s hand.

The big man cried out in surprise and pain and stepped back. Sandrik thought he saw a smear of blood on the blade, but then it seemed to vanish. He felt light-headed – almost drunk.

Yes-s-s, the sword hissed, Life can be a drug. En garde!

Sandrik did as he had been taught, leveling the sword toward Braga’s chest, and the Jarrun’s eyes widened in anger.

“You will die for that,” he growled.

Braga pressed his bleeding left hand against his belly as he charged, slashing down with his sword.

Up! Left!

There was the ring of steel as the swords connected, then a grating screech as Sandrik’s sword twisted again, slid along Braga’s sword and nicked his right arm. The Jarrun’s eyes widened even more. He was enraged, but at the same time Sandrik thought he saw…

Yes! Fear me! the sword gloated.

Braga raised his sword high, and then bore down with all his size and strength to put an end to the fight.

Up! Center! Lunge!

Sandrik meant to merely lean forward to comply, but his body took an extra step to inside Braga’s guard, where the Jarrun’s slashing blade could not reach him. His own sword was faster than either of them were, and there was a gush of blood as it plunged into Braga’s throat. Sandrik hesitated in an awkward frieze with Braga; the sword seemed infused with a blue glow, and a strange and overpowering thrill coursed through his body.

I have so missed this! the sword exulted.

Tingling all over, Sandrik pulled the sword from Braga’s throat and stumbled to the side. Braga collapsed, spasmed, and was still.

“I killed him,” Sandrik murmured in shock.

We work well together. What now?

“Now?” Sandrik asked. His thoughts felt as much in a fog as the marsh behind him.

Shall we just stand here? Or run away? Or…

Sandrik’s awareness returned to the shouts of men, and goats bleating, and the continuing sounds of struggle.

“Merith! Vardal is in there with her!” Sandrik said.

Good! There is another of them to kill.

This sword may be a little more bloodthirsty than is to Sandrik’s liking; he may wish he had left it where he found it. Swordsmaster is a fantasy novel, and is available for a SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL PRICE (only $2.99!) at several online retailers including, but not limited to:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/954501

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WNK79FM

(Reviews are appreciated, as always. Thanx!)

Up for Preorder and Presale

 

WEIRD, But Not TOO Scary Tales, my newest THEMED collection is now available for Preorder and PRESALE.WeirdButCover

Submitted for your approval, a collection of 21 short, speculative fictions by William Mangieri, in preparation for the upcoming Halloween holiday. Or just because… Within these pages you will find ghosts, undead, demons, assassins, villains, aliens, and the mostly normal (by comparison) people who have to deal with them. Enjoy!

WEIRD, But not TOO Scary Tales is scheduled for release on October 23rd, but it’s available now for preorder at a REDUCED PROMOTIONAL PRICE at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1044795

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JWXKHCR

WEIRD, But not TOO Scary Tales is also available as a Smashwords PRESALE for an EVEN MORE REDUCED PRICE (only 99-cents!!!) HERE from now until the release date: 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/presale/1044795/EPNNMJ

(As always, HONEST reviews are appreciated, especially during the presale/preorder. Thanx!)

Free Series’ Starters

 

William Mangieri has written several pieces of short fiction, but he also has two series of short stories.

PurrMission-MainTall_025The first series is Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire; the inaugural story – “Purr Mission”, won him the first of his Honorable Mentions in the Writers of the Future contest.

Major Tom’s dander is up. His cub is dying of the Morient Virus, and this cat knows that the Ramses Empire’s sworn enemies (the deceitful feline Baastards!) are responsible, but bureaucats have ordered him not to go to their planet to recover the antidote. Well, it’s easier to beg forgiveness than to ask purrmission. Ready for heroism, space, spies, and lives in the balance? Read “Purr Mission.”

“Purr Mission” can be found FOR FREE at various retailers, including, but not limited to: 

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/211302

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008SFD2EKNippedCoverFinal

(AND – there’s also a link inside for the opportunity to receive “Nipped in the Butt” – the 2nd Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire tale – for FREE as well!)

His second series is Detective Jimmy Delaney, with “In a Flash” as the first story.

In A Flash-2200Cover-WhiteJimmy was a good cop, but age and changing times were getting the better of him. If he could only get an edge – what would be the harm? I mean, everybody cheats a little, don’t they? Read “In a Flash” to see Jimmy get himself out of trouble.

“In a Flash” can be found at several online retailers for FREE, including, but not limited to: 

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/120247

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006W8UXSI

Go out and give them both a read (and a review would be appreciated, too – thanx!)

Reaching Out…

 

William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction. His other 80-some-odd short stories (plus his collections & Swordsmaster) can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
• Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri

To CONNECT WITH HIM (and LIKE and FOLLOW – you know you should…), go to
• His site on WordPress:  https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri• His • • • • On BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/william-mangieri-58193793-177b-4177-b6f8-6192f5187ad5 
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

 

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