Authors: Lucas Thorn
Tags: #world of warcraft, #vampires, #trolls, #r.a. salvatore, #thieves guild, #guilds, #warlock, #heroic fantasy, #warhammer, #joe abercrombie, #david dalglish, #wizard, #d&d, #mage, #assassin, #necromancer, #brent weeks, #undead, #neverwinter nights, #fantasy, #elves, #michael moorcock, #sword and sorcery, #epic fantasy, #warcraft, #dungeons and dragons, #grimdark, #druss, #thief guild, #game of thrones, #george rr martin, #david gemmell, #robert jordan, #elf, #axe
Nysta #4: Blade of the Vampire King
who died of natural causes a rich and happy man in Vegas, 30 years after tracking down and shooting Blondie in the face.
First Digital Edition
published in August 2014
Lucas Thorn 2014
This book was probably one of the hardest I've written so far. It took so long to write. But not for reasons you might think. I have had a rather tough year of work, and this has meant I had less and less time to work on the book than I wanted.
It's the harsh reality of an Indie Author, I guess. I don't get a magical advance from a publisher.
Having said that, these final lines are something of a joy to write. It's with great satisfaction that I write out my usual rounds of thanks.
Firstly, I'd like to thank everyone who wrote a review of my books, and especially those who've been kind enough to join me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/swordpunk). Without having the support of a publishing network, I instead rely on the cheery voices of people who liked my books. And those voices have been so generous. In fact, my head seldom fits through my front door nowadays.
For this book, Nysta's knives were inspired by the works of some other Indie authors I was reading at the time. I'm very fond of this growing genre of Indie fantasy. Especially the Sword and Sorcery kind. It's a love story to a golden age of fantasy.
I'd also like to talk about the character of Eli from
When Goblins Rage
. I had obviously been inspired by Eli Wallach's Tuco from
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
. During the writing of this book, Eli Wallach died. I was saddened to hear that. We lost a lot of good people this year.
Eli's character of Tuco inspired me a great deal. His character was clownish and had the opportunity to be nothing more than just comic relief. But there was a hardness to him, too. A ruthless cunning that took him beyond a one-dimensional joke machine and turned him into a Man of the west.
I admired Eli's performance. So much so that I had to steal him for my novels.
He will, of course, return. Until then, I'd like to thank Eli Wallach for his wonderful and timeless performance. It's pure art. And, of course, I dedicate this book to his memory.
Again, I'd like to thank Amir Zand for the cover. Have you seen this cover? This is the kind of cover which would make Samuel L. Jackson say “Motherfucker.” A lot.
I couldn't believe my eyes when he gave this to me. I still can't. I would like to have it painted onto the inside of my eyelids so I can see it when I go to sleep.
I'm definitely thinking of getting it turned into a shirt.
Also, my good friend Andrew Hindle has suffered many of my first draft jokes. He's shuddered. He's shouted at me to go away. And he's wept like a babe, begging I don't send him any more.
Thanks for your continued support, old pal.
Lastly, and as always, I thank my wife. She is always there for me. Always listening to my rambling theories of what's happening next with Nysta. Always offering suggestions and advice. Steering me in the right direction.
It's for her that I ask you to please tell your friends to buy this book.
You see, my wife needs a new pair of shoes...
the map for this book can be found at:
Deep within the mountain tall,
the Dying Tower waits to fall.
Poems of the Night Age
When I stand on the Wall, I can feel Rule's hatred lash at me on the wind rising from the south. It's only there, in those moments, that I am ever tempted to spit into the wind and damn the consequences.
Memories of Doom's Reach
by the Imperial Princess Asa.
And the Mother said to Veil, “What good is a ship with a hole in its keel?”
The Lost Legends of the Younger Gods
by Sturgis Relli.
His name was Urak, and he was the King of his kind.
He stood tall on the highest mountain, eyes burning with determination. Magic crackling and boiling the air. His powerful arms raised to the heavens as he sought to tame a being beyond his understanding.
It defied him for three nights.
Its pain brought the fire bubbling from deep beneath the earth. With each thrash of its body, mountains were raised, and mountains were felled.
The skies above were blackened by smoke. Clouds drooling snow which melted in the heat of the battle.
Mud was slick beneath his boots and the earth was warm for the first time in millions of years.
The being bled blood which was thick and black. There was something mysterious about that blood. Something which teased the curiosity of Urak. Something which made his mouth water.
The being heaved, its monstrous and formless body yearning to escape the magical ties Urak was working to attach.
If the being had a voice, he knew it would be screaming.
If it could speak, it would be pleading.
Because it wanted only one thing in this ice-locked world.
It wanted to die.
Its anguish might have moved a man, but Urak was no man. His face was tight, weary from the long battle. A battle he refused to lose. He would not let this being die. Could not. First, he would know its secrets. He would taste its living essence, and he would absorb all it contained.
Its magic had, at first, frightened him. And Urak was not used to fear. But when he'd seen the terrible wounds, he knew he had to strike first if he was to conquer this being. Knew he had to bind it fast before it submitted to death.
He watched in awe as the being warped and twisted in front of him.
Its skin, cracked and blistered by the molten earth spewing from the ground, rippled and changed. Mouthless head raised to stare at Urak, huge round eyes shooting beams of light. Long insectoid appendages erupted from its sides, digging into the ground. Tunnelling. Trying to drag itself into the ground.
To bury itself like the corpse it wanted to be.
He couldn't allow that.
Urak howled words of power and felt his magic wrap around those giant legs. Then snap tight. He grimaced as the legs were shattered. Broken to pieces.
Torn from its body, the glittering legs toppled into the foaming lava and were consumed with a savage hiss.
The being squirmed close to the ledge, pushing itself forward through sheer willpower.
It lunged for the fire.
But he held it, strangling it with his power. Pulling it from the fire as though dragging a horse from water by its reins. A horse whose strength defied his own.
“You will serve me,” he hissed, fangs gleaming in the moonlight.
The being moaned. A sound which rushed along a current of energy beneath the newly-formed mountains.
Then, with a whimper, it was still.
Urak turned, motioning quickly for the Dhampirs to descend and scout the shattered ground toward his latest conquest. Exhausted, he knelt and faced the shining moon.
The cool icy breeze tasted of smoke and burnt iron.
He looked down again, feeling the wind tease his sweat-drenched hair.
Still couldn't believe how massive the being was. Also couldn't believe the shapes it had twisted itself into. The textures its skin had cast. He wondered at its purpose, and how to twist its power to suit his own.
Weeping blood from wounds both old and fresh, the being lay motionless above a lake of fire. Staring down at its salvation. So close, yet never close enough.
It had come so far. Seen so much.
Had almost tasted freedom. Freedom it would now never know, for it was bound to serve the Vampire King for all eternity.
The prisoner could hardly lift his head, but could still hear the two men arguing. Understood enough through the pain of his last beating to know they argued about him.
About whether Willem should have killed him or not.
Blood trickled like red tar from the prisoner's nose. A solemn echo of the torrent which had flowed only hours earlier. Ran down the rough bristles above his upper lip and soaked into the sour-tasting rag which served as a gag. He didn't want to think about where it'd been before it was shoved into his mouth and tied roughly into place.
He tried to remember what had happened.
How he'd been caught.
There'd been a Dhampir. He remembered that much. A massive apelike creature with the snout of a wolf. Mottled black fur and drool-drenched fangs. Claws like scythes.
Stink of rotten meat on its breath.
He'd fought it. Got the damned creature to the point of dying when he heard a crash of noise from behind.
Turned, too late to do more than blink.
Remembered a flash of grey. Glint of steel.
Then nothing except pain. The kind of pain which cut through his body in waves.
Though he couldn't see his face, he knew it was swollen. Knew from the sharp stabbing pain in his side that something was cracked in his chest. A rib. Maybe two.
Not that he could move much.
They'd wrapped him in chains. Their fear of him turning them to excess. A heavy padlock rested against his sternum, pressing inward. Its weight made it harder to breathe than it already was.
Smell of metal. Was it the iron, or the blood running across his lips?
The two men kept arguing, their words growing more heated. However, it wouldn't come to blows. He knew they were friends. Had picked that much up from them. They just couldn't seem to stop bickering.
A cycle of endless snapping which was driving not just the prisoner, but also the other soldiers, mad.
Which was probably why they'd left the two to guard him while they abandoned the camp in search of the very thing which had drawn him to the shadows of the imposing mountains.
Before leaving, Willem had beat him more than once.
Another soldier had kicked him.
Someone else threatened him.
Their spit was dry on his face, but he could still feel it there. Sticky with contempt.
They thought he knew more than he was telling them. He told them he'd seen it. Seen the same thing they had. He knew as much as they did.
“Just came for the lights,” he'd said through swollen lips. “Just came to see.”
After a while, they left him alone. Called him pathetic. Called him weak. A coward fleshed in yellow skin.
But he'd fooled them all. Coward? Yes, he might be. But he was also a liar. Not that they could tell. He'd lied to better men than them. Women, too.
He would have grinned if the gag had let him.
“Are you gonna be the one to tell him?” Lopan sneered at his friend. “Tell him to kill the fucker and be done? Maybe you'll go over there now and cut the bastard's scrawny fucking throat before Willem gets back? You think he'll thank you?”
“Horseshit.” Lopan spat. A wet globule which hissed as it was consumed in the embers of the small campfire. “You ain't got the guts, Delfar. And I should know. Known you since you were a snot-nosed punk and ain't all that much has changed, I'll tell you.”
“You calling' me a coward?” Delfar raised a fist, but still kept his distance. “That it? You calling me out?”
“Keep your fucking pants straight, lad. All I'm saying is you ain't got the guts to tell Willem nothing.” A long pause. Then conceded; “And I ain't saying that's a bad thing, right? He's a mean bastard, he is. You know, for what he is.”
Delfar grunted, accepting the truth of it. His eyes narrowed as he looked over at the prisoner chained to the tree. “I still reckon we should kill him. Look at him. Sneaky looking fuck. Gives me the creeps just seeing his eyes open. Knowing what he can do? You saw that unholy book he had. You heard what Hyrax said was in it. Rule-blasted son of a bitch don't deserve to live.”
The prisoner would have laughed if he could.