Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dark Heroes released by Pill Hill Press, Did Someone Say ‘Excerpt?’

After all the excitement of getting my first ebook out, I should have mentioned by now that I also had a short story published in September in Pill Hill Press’s DARK HEROES anthology, available through all the usual sales channels. I’ve read a few stories in the pages of DARK HEROES (other than my own, of course) and must say that editor Jessy Marie Roberts did a fine job of selecting some quality talent. I specifically enjoyed tales by authors J. Leigh Bailey, Christopher Heath and Darin Kennedy.

Anyhow, here’s a snip of my story. Perhaps one of you will like it enough to order the entire antho! You never know.

HE FROWNED, PEERED DOWN at the large wolf. It laid still, on its side, a stark heap of brown and red and gray against the snowy forest floor. Four ash wood shafts jutted out of its thick fur—four dark-quilled arrows. The man took care to look around, slowly, his intense gaze ranging out from the cowl of his worn woolen hood of gray, scanning the trees high and low for a long quiet moment.

He sniffed the frigid air, then sucked his own teeth, his frown refusing to leave its perch above his whiskered chin. The man had his black bow in hand, leaned on it as he squatted, silent and sullen. He looked the wolf over from just a foot or two away, his gaze moving back and forth. He saw its blood still wet, not yet congealed, not yet turned to frost. Leaning closer, inches from the stilled creature, the man saw the arrows bore small carvings, a crudely etched design to a pair of arrows each and he knew them for what they were: hunter’s marks.

He looked around the woods again, stock-still, his gray cloak splayed about, his face in shadow. It was early winter—Brooding Rise it was called in the lands without, in the High Kingdoms and the nearer parts of the Empire—and the forest floor was blanketed white.

The undergrowth and the surrounding somber aspens and cocked-crown elms, though mostly leafless, had not yet taken on their mantles of ice. No flakes fell, yet it was a misty morning, and good for hiding.

After a bit of silence, the man resigned to set his bow on the ground, reached to his belt and drew a single-edged knife with a curved point, its grip fashioned from deer antler, its blade from cold-quenched iron with a keen bright edge. He grasped the nearest arrow, buried deep between the ribs of the beast and poised his knife to cut the shaft loose. The wolf jolted and yawped, went rigid, then twisted its head back to snap at him. The man let go and straightened, barely avoiding those dire, gnashing teeth.

“Still alive…” The man settled back at a somewhat less intimate distance, small puffs of white air issuing from between his blue-tinged lips.

He and the wolf crossed stares briefly, wet golden eyes sweeping through the frigid air locking longingly unto the man’s earthy brown, then the wounded creature laid its shaggy head down again, and the man watched now the slight rise and fall of its chest. “Killing you would be a mercy, eh, wolf-brother?” his voice came soft and low with a tinge of kinship. “Would you welcome such comfort, though, without taking off my hand?”

A rumbling came from somewhere behind, and the gray-cloaked man’s head turned toward it just slightly before the snapping of brush made him seize up his black bow and roll forward rather than stand. He sheathed his knife into the ground as he rolled, procured a shaft from his quiver, whipped around, still low, and brought arrow to bowstring, all in one smooth motion. At the same time, a dark blur sprang from a tangled thicket of snow-clumped bushes and weeds, issuing a deep throaty growl that was anything but human.

A beastly thing it was, a hybrid of wolf and man, leaping lightning-swift on powerful haunches, its elongated torso upright, with man-like arms fitted with long claws at the ends of each extended finger. Above its dark mane a vicious snout bared a mouthful of canines behind black lips drawn back in a deathly glare. In its baleful eyes, black and shining gold—much like the wolf that lay dying—there abided an alliance of the primal instinct of the beast and the cunning intelligence of man…[END PREVIEW]


READ MORE by getting your copy of DARK HEROES today!

DARK HEROES
Publisher: Pill Hill Press
Pages: 228
Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 1617060879
Price: $15.99

Also available for your Kindle for just 99 cents!

2 comments:

  1. Sounds like something to review over at Adventures Fantastic once I've finished the stack of novels I'm committed to reviewing. As is Tisarian's Treasure (already downloaded and in the reading queue). I'm looking forward to reading both your ebook and your story (as well as the others in the anthology). I'll order a copy today.

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  2. Thank you, Keith. Looking forward to what you think of it! Please post a link when your review goes live.

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