Buffalo Comic Con 2014 is this weekend, Sunday October 5th. I'll be there along with Paul to show case the initial artwork for the hard copy of "Ancient Darkness" the graphic novel/Comic. Copies of the original novel will be available as well. If you live in the area stop by and say hello.
The official website and guest list is available here.
(Another excerpt from my novel "Ancient Darkness")
They surrounded the inn like a pack of ravenous wolves. The shrieks and howls echoed across the valley like a violent storm thunderously rolling down the mountain side. Dkhra sprang forward and approached the door, his talons scratched across the wood surface loudly as he grasped the latch. He pulled and turned but the lock refused to give. He stepped back his feral rage increasing as he anticipated the sweet victory of killing and feasting on his prey. He let out a howl that pierced the valley and echoed for miles. The Uttar sprang forward attacking the inn with fang and talon smashing through the windows and ripping the inn down piece by piece.
Forge yelled as the Uttar attacked them from every angle. Forge swung his axe with bestial fervor, his anger fueling his attacks. He picked up body parts from impaled and severed Uttar and tossed them into the surging horde.
“Stupid beasts….butt ugly, foul smelling, inn destroying …. Arrrrhhhh…!” Forge sputtered out insult after insult as he attacked with no concern what so ever for his well being as he waded deeper and deeper into the mass of Uttar.
“Forge! The idea is to defend the tunnel entrances!” Rastain yelled to the half crazed dwarf as he impaled one Uttar after another with deadly accuracy. He was precise and deadly with his bow, moving fluidly and with practiced ease. Saleena found her self enthralled watching him fight, as one Uttar broke through her defenses and sliced her arm. The warm sensation of blood running down her arm broke her momentary lack of focus and brought her back to the task at hand. She cursed loudly as she unleashed a series of savage attacks impaling the Uttar hilt deep with her sword. She kicked the dead body back and backed up next to Rastain. Forge came crashing through the advancing Uttar, severing heads and limbs as he came to stand next to Rastain.
“You know you do this to me every time.” He huffed as he tried to catch his breath.
“Do what?” Rastain asked as he fended off the surging horde of Uttar, trying to give the dwarf time to catch his breath.
“Cost me money… The inn is completely destroyed…. The damn beasts even ripped up the floor boards! Why the hell do they need to rip up the floor boards?” Forge smashed his axe into the head of a lunging Uttar and felt a small sense of retribution for his lost inn.
“Do we have a plan?” Saleena asked as they backed up closer to the tunnel entrance. They were surrounded on all sides with their backs to the tunnel entrance. Rastain looked to Forge.
“Something will come to mind eventually.” The dwarf grinned in response.
The Uttar stopped, pacing back and forth like ravaged dogs encircling them. Rastain knew something was about to happen he couldn't see any way out for them, he just hoped that the rest had made it through the tunnels and out the exit already.
“How far is the tunnel exit?” He asked. Forge looked around at his feet for a few minutes before answering.
“Umm…” He wasn't sure how to answer.
“Forge?” Rastain asked, the alarm in his voice making Forge feel even more guilt then he already was. “Bah…. The exit collapsed in the spring after the heavy spring rains.” He couldn't bear looking at Saleena or Rastain.
“So they are trapped?” Saleena asked she was on the edge of breaking down into tears as she held back the hopeless feeling in her gut.
“You are all trapped….” The voice was hoarse and grating that answered. They all looked up to see a large Uttar standing several feet away. His long black hair soaked in blood hanging over his face. The eyeless face looked at them as he grinned.
“Give us the priest… my master has need of him.” Dkhra cracked his neck and shoulders as he dropped to all fours and slowly inched forward.
“And you might live.” He whispered.
Forge laughed before anyone could answer. He spread his feet apart planting them firmly and gripping his axe with both hands.
“Come and get him.” Forge sneered as he answered.
Dkhra sneered and simply nodded. The Uttar horde screamed and surged forward. The ground suddenly started to shake and rumble causing the Uttar to halt in confusion. Then the ground stopped shaking as abruptly as it started. The Uttar surged forward once again as they did a loud thunderous clasp of lighting exploded across the forest. The sound and light expanded from one focal point at the base of the hill like ripples across the still surface of a pond. The Uttar fell to the ground withering in pain as they grasped the sides of their heads.
“What was that?” Saleena asked as she covered her ears, the ringing in her head was intense.
“Trolls” Forge shouted as he pointed to the hill side.
The forest seemed to suddenly come alive itself as trolls appeared ripping into the flanks of the Uttar horde. The trolls rushed forward picking up the Uttar and snapping them like twigs. The Uttar recovering from the stun spell surged forward attacking the trolls in response.
“Ha-ha!” Forge cheered as he rushed into the battle.
“I told you something would come up.” The dwarf shouted over his shoulder as he joined the battle.
“Where did they come from?” Saleena turned to ask Rastain but she noticed he wasn’t standing there. She looked around and saw him fighting with the Uttar that had demanded they hand over the priest.
The tide of battle had turned and now the advantage was no longer on the side of the Uttar. Dkhra was unsure what to actually do next. He could hear the cries of his brethren as they fought, they all wanted to flee but the desire to kill was to strong. They also had their orders to retrieve the priest. Defying those orders would mean certain punishment, even death from the master.
He rolled to his left as he avoided the ranger’s furious attack. He had never encountered any one that could attack so fast before. It took all of his ability to stay out of the ranger’s deadly reach. He crouched low and sprang forward lashing out with his talons. The ranger easily sidestepped and countered with a savage thrust of his blade. Dkhra parried off the attack and skidded across the ground to come to a stop a few feet away. He remained crouched on all fours staring at the ranger. His sightless vision was confusing him the ranger’s aura seemed to change during the battle. The normal energy that surrounded the ranger seemed to change and fluctuate from blue to yellow then to red. Most humanoids, elves, dwarves and humans appeared blue to the Uttar as a blue shimmer of energy and noise, while demons and other celestial beings appeared red or yellow. Dkhra couldn’t understand why he was seeing different auras, but for one reason or another it frightened him. It was an odd sensation to feel fear from a human and something in his mind told him he needed to get away. He frantically looked around for a way to escape but saw none. The ranger charged forward his two blades held close to his side. Dkhra slid to his left but the ranger seemed to anticipate the move, the blades slicing deep into his side. The pain was intense as he slid across the ground his breathing was becoming more labored, each breath brought a burning pain and a rush of lightheadedness. Dkhra could feel his life draining from his body, he needed to escape. He turned to flee and came face to face with the large wolf. The aura of the wolf flared red and then yellow as it attacked. Dkhra fell to the ground as the wolf lunged and then the world went black.
Saleena watched in horror as Sid emerged from the tunnels and lunged savagely to help Rastain. The wolf was savage and brutal as it ripped the wounded Uttar apart, it was as if the wolf had snapped and its killing instinct took over. She turned her head away, even though the creature was intent on killing them the sight was to gruesome to watch. She heard Sid howl and then both him and Rastain dashed off into the heart of the battle.
“It makes you wonder doesn’t it?”
Saleena turned to see Kiera standing next to her. She was weak but her wounds had been bandaged and she stood there swords drawn ready to fight.
“What does?” Saleena asked
“Watching a battle from the sidelines… The gruesome brutality and senseless taking of lives. We hide behind our ideals and morals but in the end this is what it comes down to. It’s either us or them.” Kiera looked at Saleena, she could tell the woman was torn, her world was changing and she was no longer in control of those changes.
“I have no pity for these creatures…” Saleena answered with a steel edge in her voice.
“You do. You just don’t want to admit it and that is what angers you.” Kiera simply answered. She was answering from experience. The conviction in her voice cut to Saleena’s heart and tugged at it.
“What do we do then?” She sighed as the world she once knew came crumbling down. She could feel it as she watched the battle unfold in front of her.
“We have faith.” Icardan answered from behind them.
“Rastain!!” Saleena cheered and quickly blushed as she realized that she must have sounded like an enamored school girl. She grabbed Kiera and pulled her toward the other side of the village center.
“Come on, follow me.” Saleena yelled as she raced through the village center. Kiera shrugged and followed, it didn't matter to her which side of the center she died on.
Saleena was overjoyed to see Rastain, more so then she would have liked to admit. She felt as if suddenly everything was ok, his presence alone ensuring their survival. She scolded herself mentally though, she needed to remain focused.
“Quickly. Head up the hill toward the portal and get everyone through it…” Rastain turned to Saleena as she stood at his side fighting off the Uttar. He needed everyone in the portal no exceptions.
“That means you too.”
Saleena heard the commanding tone in his voice and instantly her anger rose, she was not a farm girl to be ordered about.
“I’m staying here. You need my help.” She answered in between slashes of her sword and bashing of her shield against any Uttar that managed to get past Rastain’s barrage of steel and Sid’s fury of fangs.
“In the portal… Azzorrian can only maintain it for so long.” Rastain looked over his shoulder noticing that Nadja was ushering the villagers through the portal as they fought off the Uttar.
“I’ll go through when you do.” She grunted as another Uttar slammed her to the ground. Kiera responded faster then Rastain could by kicking the Uttar off of Saleena. The Uttar sprang to his feet and leapt towards Kiera. She expertly sidestepped and parried off the creatures attack.
Rastain was getting annoyed now he couldn’t concentrate on protecting them and fending off the Uttar at the same time. He picked Saleena up and pushed her toward the portal.
“Go!!” He fended off another attack while ducking to avoid forge’s wide arched swing of his axe.
“Forge?” Rastain looked at the dwarf exasperated. Forge merely laughed and charged forward into the nearest group of Uttar.
“Yer quick on yer feet lad… What you whining about?” The dwarf shouted in response as he severed limbs off of several Uttar at once.
“I told you I’m staying.” Saleena’s voice was edged with steel. She couldn’t understand his over protectiveness, she was a trained warrior and able to handle herself in battle. Why could he not see that? She turned to see her mother standing next to her struggling to fend off one of the creatures. The creature had flesh and blood dripping off its fangs and face. It had just recently finished devouring the remains of one of its fallen comrades. Driven by a crazed bloodlust the creature was relentlessly gaining an advantage on the older woman. Saleena intercepted the creatures lunge with a shield bash to its face. The stunned creature slumped to the ground shaking its head. Saleena pounced upon the stunned creature like a cat would a mouse, severing its head open with one swift blow.
She then turned to help her mother.
“Mother, get through the portal.” She turned to see Rastain looking at her. He said nothing but the look in his eyes said it all. He wanted her to take her own advice and go through the portal as well.
Nadja noticed the unspoken battle of wills between the two and decided it was time to intervene. Her daughter could be stubborn at times and if she felt she needed to make a point she was even more so. Nadja let her left leg start to drag and grunted in mock pain. Saleena instantly noticed.
“Are you ok?” Her voice softened with worry. She looked around frantically for help.
“Kiera! Help my mother to the portal.” Saleena shouted. Kiera turned and was instantly hard pressed as two Uttar attacked her. She slipped upon the blood drenched ground, letting out a yelp of pain as one of Uttar sliced open her side. Rastain was at her side in an instant fending of the attacking Uttar. He whistled attempting to call Sid to his side. The large black wolf responding instantly raced to his master side. Sid stood protectively over Kiera defending her as she pulled her self up. She was bleeding profusely barely able to stand. Rastain lifted her up in his arms and ran toward the portal. He glanced at Saleena and Nadja, hoping the stubborn female warrior would listen to him this time.
Forge noticed Rastain running toward the portal carrying the wounded woman. Most of the villagers were safely through the portal, with the exception of themselves and a few others. Forge ran over to Nadja and Saleena. The dwarf grabbed them both and started pulling them toward the portal.
“Hey… I’m not leaving till Rastain does.” Saleena pulled away from him.
“Yes you are.” Forge grabbed her and dragged her toward the portal. He wasn’t about to argue with the crazy woman.
“Listen… I don’t know who you think you are.” Saleena was interrupted as Forge pushed her through the portal.
“Shut up.” He turned to see Nadja standing behind him. She bent down and gave the dwarf a kiss on the cheek.
“Thank you, my daughter can be stubborn at times.” She smiled and walked through the portal. Forge stood there for a moment blushing and looking at his feet before he realized the Uttar were still advancing up the hill.
Rastain had given the wounded Kiera over to the priest who was struggling to get her to the portal. Forge charged forward smashing into the front lines of the Uttar that Rastain had been fending off, knocking them back. A loud piercing howl echoed across the valley followed by a series of shrieks and guttural sounding grunts. The Uttar stopped attacking and backed off a bit surrounding them and the portal completely.
“Now what?” Forge panted as he stood next to Rastain.
“I don’t know but go through the portal with those two now. The priest is past exhaustion and needs your help.” The steel in Rastain’s voice told Forge that he was expecting the worse. Forge nodded and ran over to the priest and the wounded Kiera.
“Come on lad, let’s go.” Forge grunted as he lifted the unconscious Kiera, the battle fatigue was setting in faster then he had anticipated. Icardan nodded and stepped through the portal followed by Forge.
Sid stood at Rastain’s side his fur bristling and fangs dripping with saliva. The large wolf was filled with rage and fury that needed to be unleashed. Rastain looked down at his life long companion.
“Go and protect them.” He stood with his swords drawn watching the Uttar that surrounded them. Sid looked up whining, the wolf wasn't about to abandon his master.
“Go now!” The emotional strain was evident in Rastain’s voice, he didn't want Sid to leave but he had no choice. Sid dropped his ears and tucked his tail in as he whined and stepped through the portal.
Azzorrian stood entranced, sweat pouring down his face as he strained to keep the portal open. He had pushed beyond his limits and abilities to maintain the portal. The sheer power of his will alone was sustaining him. Paligar and the rest stood at his side looking through the portal. They saw Rastain standing there waiting encircled by the Uttar with his back to the portal.
“What’s he doing? Why doesn't he just run through the portal?” Saleena asked. She wanted to dash through the portal and physically drag him back through.
“I’m going back.” She grabbed her sword and shield and headed to the portal. Icardan stopped her. The priest’s complexion was pale and ashen. He was exhausted and barley able to stand.
“You can’t, the strain on the mage is great, if you go through he won’t be able to maintain the portal. I have already cast a power tab between him and myself, but I’m afraid that I am weak and have little power to help him. He’s holding it open by sheer will right now.” His voice weakened as he collapsed to the floor. Nadja ran over and helped him to stand. She looked at her daughter the steel in her eyes burned like a raging fire.
“Stop it Saleena. You will make his sacrifice mean nothing.” She turned and headed into the kitchen toward the tunnels. Forge sighed and gently turned Saleena away from the portal.
“Come on Lass, at least get to safety. Do that much for him.”
Azzorrian screamed as the last of his power faded. He slumped to the floor his vision fading as the last bit of strength left him, his will giving out under the immense strain.
“I’m… sorry….” The words slipped out as he faded into the black numbness of unconsciousness
Tears rolled down her face as she slumped to the floor. She saw Rastain look over his shoulder one last time as the portal began to close. He turned and dashed toward the portal as it shimmered out and closed. The room went dark and cold as Saleena felt her heart shatter open. The portal had closed and its light faded, leaving her in complete darkness.
“RASTAIN!!!!!” she screamed as she slumped forward sobbing.
Excerpt from "Ancient Darkness" - Available anywhere books are sold.
We let the world change us…
In our pride we fought the darkness, but it invaded our minds and souls. The darkest aspects of our minds became the very essence of our society.
Above all else…
We were once a proud nation, united as one. In ages past we stood together. Race, religion and politics never divided us. Our differences were what united us. Those days are passed, we are a divided people whose differences have splintered us like reeds cast upon the river.
Justice and truth have been twisted and cast aside. We no longer look out for our brother and sister, instead we use and abuse them. In the end our only goal is our own self gratification.
We look to our Kings and Princes as would be messiahs. We look the other way as they plunder our lands and people. We mock our priests and despise our sages as they speak out in warning.
We are no longer a free people. We have been imprisoned by our own hands. We have locked ourselves behind our gates in false security.
Our joys have become our sorrows.
Our past triumphs and achievements have become something we despise.
We leave behind only a legacy of death and war.
We once claimed that we were gods. We wore the mantle of “the first born”. We are now the first to perish.
In our memories we will relive our days of glory as we march once again to war.
This maybe the end.
This maybe the beginning.
This is the sorrow of our nation.
Age of Ruin: The hunt – ( Prelude to war : Part 2)
Darkness, an ally that never fails.
The darkness concealed Rastain and Sid as they moved silently amongst the trees. The remaining Erahaim were camped about a mile west of the caravan. The soldiers were sitting around the fire laughing and drinking. They were completely unaware of the fate that had befallen their fellow companions or the fate that was about to fall upon them.
“What in the name of the underworld is taking Haydrin so long?” One asked as he stood and looked west.
Rastain remained crouched on the low hillside above the camp, as Sid disappeared into the shadows. The time to strike was not right. Rastain cautiously positioned himself just a few feet away from the fire’s revealing glow. The darkness would cloak him from their casual glances into the shadows outside the camp.
“Shut up and sit down, Darrin.”
“Yeah. No one cares about Haydrin and his goofy side kick. They probably got lost in the dark.”
“Bah… Rimick most likely got lost and Haydrin didn’t know what to do next.”
“Haydrin is even more clueless then a freaking changeling. The big ox is probably just standing there waiting, with that dumb look on his face.”
“I can see it now. He’s contemplating if he should take a leak or wait for Rimick. Most likely wondering if it would be best to just stay put and take a leak right there on the spot.”
They all laughed at the expense of their fallen comrades. Rastain smiled, they would soon join them. They could spend the rest of eternity in the underworld drinking, laughing and joking.
Rastain gripped his swords tightly as he saw Sid slowly advancing toward the fire. The wolf boldly entered into the camp.
“Whoa! What the…” One yelled as he came face to face with the snarling wolf.
“Kill it!” another cried.
The Erahaim drew their swords and Rastain stood up from the darkness above them. He jumped right into the middle of the three soldiers, slashing their hastily drawn swords aside. Rastain crouched low as he circled around the soldiers. He was consumed with an uncontrollable rage that burned in his veins.
The soldiers stood their ground, but fear was rising quickly in their hearts. The blood covered mad man and his wolf had emerged from the darkness like demons from the deepest pit. The look in the man’s eyes was dark and rage filled, giving them pause to the idea of fighting or fleeing. One of the soldiers lowered his sword as he nodded to the others. They turned and slowly backed off.
“Who the hell are you?” The one they referred to earlier as Darrin asked.
“I’m your judge and executioner.” Rastain snarled as he slowly continued circling.
“Rimick and Haydrin have already been sentenced for their crimes, now it’s time for your sentencing.” Rastain spat out the words with contempt.
“What?” Darrin asked. He knew instantly that there was no reasoning with this man.
“You killed and slaughtered innocents. Women and children in the dark while they slept.” Rastain pointed his sword directly at Darrin.
Darrin swallowed hard. This crazy man must be referring to the elven caravan they had encountered earlier. Rimick and Haydrin had been ordered to detain them. Haydin although had a taste for blood, Darrin could easily guess what they had done.
“Look… I didn’t order my men to do any such thing.” Darrin tried to plead with Rastain.
“Enough… you carry the responsibility for the actions of your men.” Rastain shouted as he nodded to Sid.
The wolf reacted instantly leaping into the air and knocking one of the soldiers to the ground. The soldier tried to fight back but sid was a blur of fangs and fur. The wolf went instantly for the soldier’s throat, ripping out bone and flesh in one swift motion. Rastain charged forward swinging his sword at Darrin as he spun around to come behind the soldier. Darrin barely was able to recover. He backed up and raise his sword in defense. The blood gushed out of his nearly severed left arm as he raised his sword to defend off Rastain’s relentless barrage of slashing blades.
Darrin’s attempt at parrying off the attacks was feeble and ineffective. Rastain’s twin blades sliced through the Erahaim’s neck in one swift motion. Rastain stood over the fallen man’s body as he stood with his back to the remaining soldier. He needed a witness, a survivor that would tell the others the cost of slaughtering innocent elves.
“Run…” Rastain growled over his shoulder.
The remaining soldier needed no further encouragement. He had stood motionless and transfixed in horror as the wolf and blood crazed hunter had slaughtered his two companions. He was just a foot soldier following orders, untested and newly recruited. The soldier ran toward a small cusp of tree’s where their horses had been and grabbed the nearest one. He paused to look over his shoulder as he galloped off. The wolf stood silhouetted against the dark sky its blue eyes seemed to burn into his soul from atop the small hill. The blood crazed hunter was chasing him on foot. He spurred his horse on faster as the image of the hunter’s blood covered face and body was burnt into his mind’s eye.
Rastain led chase only for a minute or so. The horse quickly out distanced him and headed deeper into Erahaim territory. The soldier would live another night, maybe another day.