Click to Enlarge

Rise Of The Apostate
Click one of the above links to purchase an eBook.

ISBN-10: 1-77115-410-1
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Dark Fantasy
eBook Length: 318 Pages
Published: May 2018

From inside the flap

Rhys North awakens to find that his village has fallen prey to a dark curse. All life and colour has been sapped from the land, and every single inhabitant of Longford has perished during the night; all except Rhys.

Amidst the ruin Rhys comes upon a mysterious stranger named Arlas: the leader of the Circle of Magi, an ancient order of magical warriors sworn to protect the inhabitants of the continent of Cambria against dark magic and mythical beasts. Driven by the need to uncover the truth behind the fate of his village, Rhys embarks on a journey to join the Circle of Magi, yet in doing so he becomes entangled in cataclysmic events that threaten peace across the continent.

Thrust to the forefront of a conflict that has been building for centuries, Rhys is forced to seek out long lost stone circles that reside in every forgotten corner of the continent in a desperate attempt to save the world from a fanatical mage of unspeakable power.

Rise Of The Apostate (Excerpt)


One

The world was dead. It came during the night. Without warning and without mercy, the villagers perished before dawn ever came, and when Rhys awoke, he rose to the bleakness wrought by whatever curse had befallen his home. Now he stood there in the emptiness, in the silent ghostly streets, paralysed by grief, despair, and uncertainty. The Grey had come to Longford. All colour had faded. The air had soured and turned poisonous. Life had been quenched. The world was dead.

In the ashen skies above the sun loomed pale and cold, its warming rays unable to penetrate the pervasive evil that settled upon the land. It was mid-June, yet swathes of crumbling frost matted the ground and dagger-like icicles hung from the thatch eaves. The cold seemed preternatural in its ferocity; it was sinister and merciless, gripping Rhys with icy talons that sapped the warmth from his flesh, numbed his mind and senses, and pierced deep into his bones. It was suffocating; each lungful Rhys drew was shallower and sharper than the last, and what little air entered and escaped his lungs did so in frozen wisps of breath.

Time passed and clouds plumed from nothingness in the colourless skies above. Churning out of the venomous atmosphere they sank heavily into stifling fogs that drowned the streets of Longford. Through the dense murk came whispers of darkness: a darkness that drew inwards upon Rhys, towards the very heart of the malefic curse, all the while he stood silent and unthinking as he felt the life slowly draining from him.

Then he saw it. At first it seemed so faint that he thought it perhaps an illusion of the gloom, yet as his eyes settled upon it for a time Rhys discerned the hovering glow that shone dimly through the darkling mists. It was mere yards away, but the near impenetrable veil of insidious haze that continued to effervesce around him blurred the white light beyond his perception. Yet as Rhys continued to gaze upon the glimmer, it rescued a portion of his mind from the abyss upon which it teetered, and for a fleeting moment, the grasp of the cold lapsed long enough for Rhys to shake himself free of the paralysis that seized him.

Air flooded suddenly into Rhys's chest, and he realised now it had been some time since he had previously drawn breath. Though the air was noxious and stifling, it cleared his thoughts and rekindled vigour in his muscles. Lifting a benumbed foot from the ice-coated road, he stepped forwards and began to struggle through the throttling murk that pressed upon him. Each inch he battled forwards burnt into his last reserves of strength and brought him closer to death; but if Rhys was to die he was determined to do so in the light. He fought on with outstretched fingers, and suddenly the murk tore open and he stumbled forwards as the clasp of darkness released him.

He had pushed through a threshold into a void in the gloom, where the air was clear and still held some warmth, where patches of colour remained, and where the aura of death was not so absolute. He now gasped deeply, sputtering and coughing up the last of the toxic fumes in which he had been drowning. He shivered violently as heat seeped slowly back through his skin, and his eyes flared and refocussed, adjusting to what now was a blinding glare. The arcane shimmer dimmed to a gentle shine at the tip of an ebony staff etched with runic symbols down its length. The man gripping the stave revolved at Rhys's coming as if his very presence had been sensed, and Rhys was suddenly met with a stare like no other he had ever seen. Two bronze-flecked golden eyes radiated from the stranger's dark face; his irises incandesced and swirled with vibrant magic that whispered of a hidden world beyond Rhys's wildest imaginings.

The stranger's mahogany skin and tall broad frame suggested he heralded from the south, though his rusting mail and tattered violet robes were hard to place. His matted hair was threaded black and silver and continued across his hirsute jawline to a short but unkempt beard. But every detail of the man escaped Rhys's notice, for his attention was fixed unwaveringly upon the supernatural glare that scrutinised every fibre of his being.

"Who are you?" the stranger demanded deeply.

Rhys's tongue was immobilised by shock as he beheld the man before him and continued to endure his gaze.

"Who are you?" he repeated more forcefully with a narrowing stare.

"Rhys," he stuttered, finally able to summon words. "My name is Rhys North."

"Why?" the stranger uttered coldly.

Rhys shuddered in fear and confusion as the man before him intensified his piercing stare.

"Why have you done this?" the southerner hissed, his bulking form rippling with barely contained fury.

Rhys shook his head, almost ready to retreat back into the deathly gloom.

"Why have you invoked such wretched magic upon this place?"

"I haven'tů" Rhys stammered. "You think I did this?"

"You stand amongst the dead, in a place where there is only death, and where only the dead lurk. I sense the darkness upon you."

"This was my home!" Rhys cried in defence before suspicion of his own began to emerge through his fear.

"I have walked these haunted streets and seen what wickedness has been summoned. The dead litter the roads; some lie cold in their beds having never drawn breath this foul dawn. None have survived. All have perished in the wake of this evil, and yet you emerge from this acrid murk barely tainted by the deathly malevolence that claims all and spares none. And you say you know naught of what has transpired! You think me so foolish to believe that you have not played a part in conjuring this curse?"

Rhys shook his head in defiance fighting back acidic tears.

The stranger remained silent as he continued to study Rhys.

"You arrived in the wake of this evil!" asserted Rhys accusingly. "You brought this wickedness with you!"

The man began to slowly encircle Rhys, dissecting him with his glare.

"Who are you?" Rhys demanded.

No response came.

"Why are you here?"

Still he was ignored.

"Answer me!" Rhys roared.

"You are wrong," the man replied after completing his circle. "I am not responsible for the curse that has desolated your home. I am here to discover its cause!"

"It is not me," Rhys growled.

"So you said," he returned. "Where were you? When the curse struck?"

"Here. In my home."

The stranger rubbed his beard forcefully and through his fingers emitted a single word, "Impossible!" His leering gaze seemed to warm as the harshness that was there seconds earlier melted away.

"Who are you?" Rhys repeated.

"You need not fear me," he assured with a voice now devoid of animosity. "My name is Arlas."

Rhys nodded and felt somehow comforted.

"Are you alone? Have any others survived?"

Rhys shook his head as the haunting images of the dead flickered through his thoughts.

"Your family?"

"They were already amongst the dead," he voiced gravely.