Here’s another snippet from Book 5 of the Blood Skies series, due out in ebook format this coming January.
In this scene, Ronan, the team’s resident swordsman, is navigating through the ruins of Voth Ra’morg and recalling the traumatic and formative events of his childhood.
Ambient green light shone from above through the thick and unnatural fog. The entire shaft reeked of sorcery.
Ronan knew they didn’t call it sorcery, but he’d decided some time ago he didn’t give a shit – he’d call it what he wanted. He’d been taught to distrust magic. It didn’t matter it was the only thing that had kept humans alive in their war against the Ebon Cities. It was hard to fear and kill mages if you believed they were doing the world good.
The people who’d raised him were twisted scholars and sages whose idea of rearing a child was to push them to their physical and psychological breaking points. Ironically, those men were all mages themselves, older warlocks who’d gained their spirits later in life. When magic had been discovered, many people had randomly acquired magical powers. In those early days it had almost been like a lottery: people of all ages and creeds found themselves possessed of magic, and that was how the Southern Claw had learned that only the young and the strong could bear the burden of an arcane spirit and live. Most of the older mages died quickly.
Most. Except for those bastards who learned to sacrifice others to keep themselves alive.
Ronan’s memory flooded with images of his tortured time in the Order. He saw red-cloaked men with hidden faces kneeling beneath a desert sun; blood-washed stones and rune-cast altars; yards filled with young men and women as they burned in the midday heat, their skin scarred by arcane chains. They learned to fight, to kill, to forget everything they’d once been. He saw fields of torture and remembered marches across endless white deserts. He heard the children who were too weak, who couldn’t take it anymore and cried for their parents, as any normal child would. They were dealt with harshly, slowly, and most often at the hands of other youths in the Order.
Only the heartless survived.