By this time tomorrow you will be able to purchase a copy of "The Bastard Gods", the third installment in "The Chronicles of Fu Xi' epic fantasy series. You'll also be able to download the first two books in the series for free starting Monday and running for five days.
I hope it hasn't been too long between books. I fear many readers have drifted away in the past six years. I hope this new installment rekindles interest in the series. I probably could have done more marketing and publicity to push the debut. I could have lined early reviews, solicited some professional reviews, or paid for online advertising. It's all irrelevant now. The die is cast. "The Bastard Gods" is what it is, and will be read by whom it is read by.
I scanned "The Bastard Gods", looking for one more teaser to show you on the eve of the novel's release. I think I've shown about all I can without spoilers. Instead, I'd like to leave you with an excerpt from the series' second installment, "Tears of the Dead." I think this scene truly sets the table for what "The Bastard Gods" has to offer.
This scene in "Tears of the Dead" offers a glimpse at the immensity and epic scope I tried to create in my latest novel. "Black Sea Gods" started the series with an intimate story of an isolated, primitive tribe thrust into a much larger world. "Tears of the Dead" pushed that world's boundaries far wider. Now, "The Bastard Gods" brings that enormous world of gods and empires crashing down upon the Lo.
Enjoy, and I hope to see you tomorrow for the "The Bastard Gods" debut.
26. The Kingdom of the Mind (Excerpt from "The Chronicles of Fu Xi, Book II: The Tears of the Dead")
The sultry morning breeze woke me from my wine-fueled slumber. The sea breeze carried the promise of rain, and the faint pounding from the distant quarry. The wind became a messenger for my conscious. I stared at the gilded ceiling, trying to ignore its call.
Two slave girls shared my bed, one ebony, the other as pale as the gossamer curtains dancing over my window. They snuggled close to me as I lightly caressed their brands, wondering how much pain they had felt under the iron’s kiss. Then a familiar, smoky scent tickled my nose. Across the room someone cleared his throat.
I craned up to see Amiran standing patiently beside the door.
“I bid you good morning, Lord Fu Xi. I am here to ensure your needs are met in Lord Leviathan’s absence.”
“My needs?” I considered the two girls, one under each arm. “I think my needs are already taken care of.”
Amiran clapped twice and barked, “Be gone!”
The girls slid from my bed without so much as a pout or a glance backward. No blessing asked, none given. Last night’s pleasure forgotten, diminished.
Amiran stared at me with that same penetrating gaze.
“Give me your thoughts, Scholar. I’ve suffered that damnable look on your face more than once since my arrival. Why do you disturb me?”
Amiran grinned and bowed slightly. “It isn’t my intention to be disrespectful; it is only that you are so different from the Princes of Poseidon.” Amiran caught himself as if he’d been speaking out of turn. “Would you care to join me for breakfast?”
Eager for the food and conversation, I quickly donned the garment they called a toga, relishing its comfort and simplicity. Following Amiran through the palace, I realized he’d been speaking in my native tongue.
“You’re speaking Cin in my own dialect.”
“Does it please you, Lord? I’ve been practicing. Your language is exquisite.”
“Do you attempt to ingratiate yourself?”
His backbone stiffened. “I do not ingratiate.”
I realized I’d insulted him. “I did not mean to offend.”
His demeanor softened. Grinning wide, he rubbed his round belly. “No offense, Lord Fu Xi, only hunger. We will dine in the library.” The contrast between his white teeth and black skin gave the impression his smile might swallow his face if it grew any wider.
Plump, with delicate hands like a woman’s, yet possessing iron’s glint in his eyes, Amiran presented a quandary. Neither king nor vassal, how do I classify this slave who spoke like a god?
“What is a ‘library’?” I asked as I followed. I’d yet to hear Leviathan or Quexil speak of this place.
He spoke over his shoulder. “Perhaps we should stop in the rotunda first?”
Like Mother, he answered questions with questions.
“You irritate me,” I said bluntly. “You speak in a free manner with both me and Lord Leviathan. No other mortal I’ve encountered here does this, even Quexil.”
“I overheard you tell Lord Leviathan you often live among mortals as one of them, teaching them. Why, then, Lord Fu Xi, would my manner irritate you?”
I held my tongue, realizing all in Nushen spoke to me with easy familiarity. Why, then, did it disturb me now?
We entered the rotunda, where Poseidon’s statue greeted all who entered Leviathan’s palace.
“The Caste of Scholars enjoys special privileges bestowed by our master, The Glorious God Poseidon. Collectors of the world’s knowledge, we are slaves to the truth, and the truth must never be afraid to speak.”
“Why are you here, serving Leviathan?”
“As Expedition Scholar during the exploration of Asu, which you know as Cin.”
Amiran motioned to the floor where I stood, with its intricate, if puzzling, tile patterns. “Do you know what this is, Lord Fu Xi?”
I shook my head. “I’ve passed it by many times, but there are still many questions I have yet to ask. Leviathan has kept me occupied with sword and horse.”
Amiran grinned and winked. “Yes, I see. It’s a wonder you find time for wine and women.”
“You aren’t afraid to speak, are you?” I warmed to this odd, fearless man. I never saw this side of Amiran during my tutelage following my arrival. But then again, Quexil wasn’t here.
He circled the outside of the tile pattern, never stepping inside the black inlaid border. “Your right foot treads the western coast of the continent we call Olma Major.” He pointed. “Your toe touches a star, which represents the Imperial Colony of Nazcu. Your left foot rests in the Ocean Gadeirus, named for Leviathan’s half-brother and Ruler of Olma Major.”
I knelt down, touching the tiles, unsure exactly what Amiran meant.
“To your left, across the Ocean Gadeirus, is Wu, that tiny crescent off the coast of the Continent Asu, what we call the New World. To your right lies the continent of Olma Minor. Farther right, the Ocean Atlas, and then the continents of Alkebulan and Ereb.”
Then it all formed in my mind, an overwhelming truth. I reeled under its power.
“This is the world, Lord Fu Xi.”
- The Chronicle of Fu Xi
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