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Excerpt: The Bard’s Blade by Brian Anderson

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Mariyah enjoys a simple life in Vylari, a land magically sealed off from the outside world, where fear and hatred are all but unknown. There she’s a renowned wine maker and her betrothed, Lem, is a musician of rare talent. Their destiny has never been in question. Whatever life brings, they will face it together.

Then a stranger crosses the wards into Vylari for the first time in centuries, bringing a dark prophecy that forces Lem and Mariyah down separate paths. How far will they have to go to stop a rising darkness and save their home? And how much of themselves will they have to give up along the way?

The Bard’s Blade by Brian Anderson will be available on January 28, 2020. Please enjoy the following excerpt!

Excerpt

Lem wanted to weep; to scream; to do something, anything that would take away the feeling of helplessness that threatened to overcome him. He threw back the blanket and placed his feet on the cold wood floor and slumped at the edge of the bed. Perhaps a spot of whiskey might help. Shemi kept some in the kitchen pantry. He didn’t enjoy it as much as his uncle, preferring wine. But it had its uses.

A garbled cry sounded from beyond the door. Lem snatched up a lantern and hurried into the hallway, turning toward Shemi’s bedroom. But another agonized moan from the spare room had him sliding to a halt and running in the opposite direction. The stranger was still in bed, but was twisting and groaning as if in horrible pain.

Lem placed the lantern on the floor and leaned over the ailing man, unsure what to do. “It’s all right. Calm down. You’re safe.”

Shemi. He should get Shemi. He turned to call for his uncle, but a hand shot up and gripped his wrist.

“He’s coming!” the stranger shouted, thrashing his head from side to side. “He’s coming!”

Lem tried to pull free, but the steely fingers held fast. The stranger’s eyes popped open and fixed on Lem.

“Is it . . . is it you?”

Lem could not form a reply.

Sweat drenched the stranger’s hair and face. “You must go,” he rasped. “You must leave this place. He’s coming. You must go before he finds you.”

“I’ll get help,” Lem finally managed to say. Again he tried to break free.

“No!” With irresistible strength, the stranger pulled Lem forward and wrapped his other arm around his neck. Lem panicked, frantically pushing against the stranger’s chest, but to no effect. In a single motion, the stranger leaned up, crushing Lem to his body.

A flash of white light covered Lem’s eyes, momentarily blinding him. As his vision slowly returned, his nostrils were assaulted by the rancid stench of burnt timbers and rotten flesh. The bedroom and the stranger were gone. In their place was an open field roughly two hundred yards in diameter, completely encircled by a massive inferno reaching as high as the treetops. Heat assaulted him with brutal ferocity, but there was nowhere to run. Strewn across the ground like broken twigs were hundreds upon hundreds of bodies, mangled and twisted, some hacked to pieces, their faces contorted and frozen into their final horrorstricken moments. Many he recognized at once—friends, acquaintances, students. He averted his eyes, fearing that one of them might be Shemi . . . or Mariyah.

“This can’t be real,” shouted Lem. “It’s a trick. What have you done to me?”

He is coming. The voice of the stranger called out from all directions. No longer shrill with madness, the enormous volume of the deep baritone reverberated in his chest.

He will find you. He will destroy everything you love. You must go. Hurry. Before it’s too late.

Copyright © 2020 by Brian Anderson

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