Author Topic: Etchings of Power - New epic fantasy  (Read 1309 times)  

Offline TerryS

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Etchings of Power - New epic fantasy
« on: October 10, 2011, 12:12:11 pm »
The culmination of ten years of worldbuilding, writing and rewriting, Etchings of Power is the opening stanza of an epic fantasy series, Aegis of the Gods, by new author Terry C. Simpson, that is sure to leave you wanting more as you follow the trials, plots and growth of the characters and the world itself.

Death feeds life in the world of Denestia. The shade advances, bathing the land in blood as they massacre all before them. Magics and creatures long thought dead rise again.

To the east, in Ostania, an ancient clan re-emerges to begin their conquest anew, leaving carnage in their wake. To the west, the ruling Granadian Tribunal tries to maintain its stranglehold on its empire while expanding into Ostanian lands under the premise of converting the uncivilized to the path of enlightenment.

Hope rests on the swords, intelligence, and power of four:

Ryne, a living legend at the edge of madness, haunted by a murderous past, the voices of his power that whisper in his head, and hunted by the Tribunal, strives to defend a village he swore to protect.

Ancel, a gifted student who has lost his way due to a love spurned, is stalked by the shade's minions and must learn to accept who he is or perish.

Irmina, Ancel's former lover, an assassin mired in her quest for revenge on those who destroyed her family must put her emotions aside or fail her final test.

And Galiana Calestis, Ancel's Teacher, whose greatest wish is to see her people survive, must manipulate whoever she sees fit to help the Chronicles come to pass.

Between warring nations, vengeful leaders, magic and steel, myth and men, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Who can unite the kingdoms against the encroaching darkness? Who shall bring the power that drives the world to heel? Who will walk the knifes edge of harmony? If none can, then Denestia is doomed.  




Amazon US: Etchings of Power (Aegis of the Gods)
Amazon UK: Etchings of Power (Aegis of the Gods)
« Last Edit: October 15, 2011, 10:08:56 pm by TerryS »

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    Offline TerryS

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    Re: Etchings of Power - New epic fantasy
    « Reply #1 on: October 15, 2011, 10:14:08 pm »
    I always feel maps are important in fantasy, especially when you've created your own world. They give a sense of realness, a feel to explore that works in conjunction with the story.

    This map I created myself. You can read my post about its creation on my blog at http://terrycsimpson.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/adventures-in-mapmaking-2/


    Offline Ann in Arlington

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    Re: Etchings of Power - New epic fantasy
    « Reply #2 on: October 20, 2011, 03:23:26 pm »
    Welcome to KindleBoards, Terry, and congratulations on your book!  :)

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    Offline apatos99

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    Re: Etchings of Power - New epic fantasy
    « Reply #3 on: October 20, 2011, 03:27:10 pm »
    very nice cover1 I'll have to check out your novel!

    Offline TerryS

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    Re: Etchings of Power - New epic fantasy
    « Reply #4 on: October 24, 2011, 12:34:26 pm »
    Here goes an introduction and an excerpt to one of the main characters. I'll post one of these a week or a piece of world building.

    Ancel Dorn:


    The most gifted student in Eldanhills Mystera, Ancel Dorn is the son of leader, Stefan. Hes also Irmina Nagels former lover. Abandoned by Irmina once she found out his parents secret, Ancel has neglected his studies and his training. Hes also turned to womanizing in order to patch the pain he feels. In turn he doesnt care which women he hurts in the process. This has gained him quite a reputation in the Whitewater Falls area.

    Encouraged by his friends to forget Irmina and once again strive to be the best, Ancel is mired in his own self pity and heart break. Lately, hes been plagued by the uncanny feeling that something or someone is stalking him. The ill moods of his pet, Charra, has helped little to dissuade these uneasy feelings. Coupled with the strange colors that have started to flash across his vision, Ancel has begun to wonder if its time he sets his feelings aside and pursue his studies once more. After all, they may yet lead him back into the arms of his lost love.

    Excerpt:

    The music started up again, this time a slower song. Another girl came out and danced. A black-haired girl, wide as a bull, with ear lobes pierced in multiple places in the typical Dosteri fashion. Her dancing paled in comparison to the Ostanian, but the patrons showed their appreciation all the same. War did not matter to the Sendethi men when it came to enjoying a womans pleasures.

    The honey haired dancer now visited tables. Ancel tried and failed to watch subtly, and instead, openly stared.

    Mirza signaled for more drinks. So, do you really believe what you heard at the palace?

    Ancels shoulders rose, eyes still riveted on the dancer. Why not? Id bet theres a lot of truth to the story. Ancel didnt quite know why he felt that way, but something in his gut told him he was right.

    Id take that bet. Mirza grinned and held his hand out.

    Me too, Danvir slurred.

    Ancel wagged his finger. Now you know Im not making that wager.

    How about another then? Mirzas eyebrow arched.

    Im listening.

    You and the Ostanian.

    Ancel suppressed the need to draw in a breath.

    Dont tell me youre scared, Mirza chortled. Not good old Ancel who can charm scales off a fish.

    Fine, fine, Ancel said. He wasnt about to be outdone by Mirz. Lets say five hawks. Each.

    Mirza pursed his lips and stroked the stubble on his chin before nodding. As long as you dont pay for her services. Charm the dress, well, underwear off her.

    Ill only use what coin it takes to get her to the table.

    Danvir and Mirza glanced at each other. Youre on, they said together.

    The serving girl returned with their drinks. She winked at Ancel, and smacked Mirzas hand before he could slap her ass again.

    Ancel did not really want to, but he would have to disappoint this serving girl. He scratched his head. What was he saying? He wanted to disappoint her, especially since it meant chasing after the Ostanian dancer. That was indeed half of the intriguethe chase. This serving girl offered no challenge; he could have her any time. Now the dancer, she was special. Several men were after her, and shed already refused quite a few. He needed something unique to stand out.

    Ancel flicked a gold hawk to the girl. Tell the Ostanian I want a word with her. Theres another hawk in it for you and four for her.

    Danvir spit out his drink. Did you get knocked over your head? Thats fifty silver owls you just offered to go with the ten you gave her. Enough to buy drinks for everyone in here twice over. Danvir slurred so hard now he sputtered.

    Ancel shrugged. Its just coin.

    Danvir grumbled under his breath about wasting good coin and put his drink back to his mouth. Mirza had one of those leers of his written across his face. The girls eyes widened at the coin, before they narrowed when she grasped what Ancel asked her to do. She gave him a look that said he didnt know what he was missing.

    I guess this means its you and I threading the needle, Mirza sang and flicked her another hawk. Theres more where that came from.

    The girl caught the coin despite the tray she carried, and now she graced Mirza with a smile. She saved a pout for Ancel and strutted away.

    Mirza rubbed his hands together. This, I cant wait to see.

    A few moments later, the honey-haired dancer arrived at their table. Up close, she was even more breathtaking. Her slim curves reminded Ancel of Irmina again, but he pushed the thought from his mind. A thin mouth and a dainty nose highlighted her smooth face. Looking into her deep, lemon-colored eyes made him feel as if he could drown in them. Perfume drifted from her carrying the spicy scent of bellflowers.

    Well, are you going to say something or just stare all night? She asked in a thick, singsong accent.

    Oh, um, hullo. Ancel said, fidgeting with his hands. Direct, like Irmina too. He almost pinched himself.

    Mirza chortled. Why I never thought Id see the day when some woman made your silky tongue stick to the roof of your mouth.

    Ancel glared at his friend before turning back to the dancer. Would you mind taking a seat? Under the table, he kicked Danvirs chair.

    The big man pulled his face from the mouth of his glass. Hmmm? Whyre you kicking my chair?

    The Ostanian shook her head. Ancel rolled his eyes. He stood, walked around to the other side of the table, and pulled out a chair for her.

    Why, thank you, she said in a sweet tone, but her eyes spoke in volumes of ice.

    A smile tugged at the corner of Ancels mouth. Without the use of coin, this conquest appeared more difficult than he expected. A refreshing thought. Hed noticed how standoffish she was earlier when she patronized other tables. The men in this place were so lost in their drink they either did not notice or did not care. Music started up again.

    Ancel took a chair next to her and met her defiant gaze with a smile. Im Ancel. May I have the pleasure of knowing your name?

    Iris. She still wore the same cold look in her eyes.

    Thats a very old Granadian name for an Ostanian woman.

    Her expression changed, and she leaned forward slightly. What do you know about Ostanian names?

    I know, he said as he took out a silver flask from the inside pocket of his velvet jacket. That Ostanians love good kinai. He took a swig and nodded to the flask. I also know you say your names and eyes are windows to your soul as

    Your words are doorways to the heart, she finished in a soft voice.

    So, should I ask again?

    Kachien.

    Ah, a flowing wind. It suits you. Ancel passed her the drink.

    Kachien sniffed at it, and her eyes widened. You know our sayings. You understand our language. And you have distilled kinai. Who are you?

    Miss, I was about to ask the same thing myself, Mirza said, his gaze fixed on Ancel. He stood, flipped on his hat, and left a gold eagle on the table. I think Ill retire now. Dan?

    Danvir grumbled and stumbled to his feet.

    One moment, Ancel said to Kachien.

    Ancel stood and helped Mirza get Danvirs big arm over his gaunt friends neck. His gaze followed them as they stumbled out. At the door, Mirza paused and tipped his hat to Ancel, who smiled in return.

    Now, back to me. Ancel savored the tone of her tanned skin as he sat. My parents are famous for their kinai wine. My father always brags about his travels, saying Eastern Ostania was the most cultured place he ever stayed in. They lived there for many years before moving here and brought the art of kinai making with them. I used to drink in all his stories about Ostania. Not that I had much choice. He always talked about the place.

    She studied him for a moment, her eyes narrowing slightly into a dubious expression. Did he also tell you that many of the women from that part of Ostania are hard and not easily impressed by boasts or flattery?

    Indeed. But more than most, you have an undying love for song and poetry.

    We do?

    Yes. If you let my father tell it, many of our songs were taken from old Ostanian lore. He even claims the best musicians lived in your side of the world, and much of their music was steeped in truth.

    Eyes keen, Kachien leaned forward even more.

    Take the song you danced to for example. Damals Sacrifice. A strange song to dance the Temtesa to.

    Why?

    Well as the legend goes, Damal was one of the last Eztezians. A great Teacher. Supposedly, in a desperate attempt to save Denestia, he ventured into Hydae in order to battle a Skadwaz overlord. The battle took place at the once great city of Jenoah with its gleaming spires and famous fountains. Having found out he was betrayed by the Exalted Ashishinsomething I dont believeDamal sacrificed himself to trigger some great Forging. One that would make the Kassite impassable, sealing the Planes of Existence, not only imprisoning the gods in the Nether, but locking away Denestia from Hydaes threat.

    Kachien sat staring into his face, her eyes wide with wonder. Ancel smiled. When her lips curled with the same warm expression, this feeling came over him. Not the heat of his loins, or the racing heart that often began when he knew hed made some headway. This was different, seeing her smile. It was sunshine glowing through dark clouds to spark a rainbow over freezing waters. Whatever coldness he harbored toward women, somehow fled, chased away by Kachiens radiance.

    She broke into a mischievous grin and took a sip from his flask. For an instant, a flash of hunger filled her eyes. So was your curiosity what made you call on me? She set the flask down, her thumb playing around the rim.

    Ancel blushed, but he didnt waver. He knew he had her now. Drinking from his flask meant her interest was assured. No.

    She cocked an eyebrow at him. Oh?

    By the way, your Temtesait wasexhilarating.

    This time, she blushed. So far, his fathers words proved true. Ancel shrugged. Why not? Kachien, I came here tonight to seek pleasure and hope to forget about some things in my life. Ive decided. I will forget about them with you.

    Her slim fingers brushed against his. They sent a tingle up his spine.

    I thought you would never ask, she said in a breathy voice. Come. She stood and swayed toward the door leading upstairs.

    Did all these women go to a school to learn to walk that way? Ancel picked up his flask, firmness pushing against the fabric of his trousers when he stood. As he placed his drink container into his jacket pocket, he felt Irminas letter there. He took the letter out and dropped it into his glass. Red kinai soaked into the paper. A thin tinder stick the smokers used to light their giana pipes rested on a stand next to him. Picking it up, he lit it in an oil lamp, and touched it to the paper in the glass.

    Irminas letter burst into flames.

    With that flare-up, the kinai took hold and another kind of blaze soared through his loins, enveloping his mind as he stared at Kachiens swaying form. Yes, tonight marks a new beginning. And Ill start by threading your honey-haired needle. He strode after the woman with a smile on his face.

    Offline TerryS

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    Re: Etchings of Power - New epic fantasy
    « Reply #5 on: November 03, 2011, 06:04:12 am »
    Meet Irmina Nagel:

    Irmina Nagel was one of Eldanhills other prized students and Ancels former lover. After graduating from Eldanhills Mystera, she moved on to the Iluminus, the premier institution ran by High Ashishin of the Tribunal, and the only place where one can become an Ashishin or more.

    Once Irmina discovered that Ancels parents were involved in her familys murder, she cut all ties and swore vengeance. She used that need to fuel her ascent through the Iluminus. Eventually, she was recruited by High Shin Jerem and became a favorite among the Tribunal for covert operations involving everything from infiltration to her specialty of assasination.

    On the cusp of her graduation to a rank higher than Ashishin, the rank of Raijin, (the premier assassin corps of the Tribunal) Irmina is given one final task.

    Find Ryne and bring him back to High Shin Jerem.

    Without knowing his name or who or what he is, Irmina sets out on her task. The one thing she does know is this: If this man she seeks senses her use of her power or witnesses her power, he WILL kill her. Her task become almost impossible, but without its completion, not only will she not graduate, but any chance for revenge will slip from her grasp.

    Excerpt:

    Flickers of lightning illuminated the leaden clouds shrouding the twin moons. Moments later, thunder offered its response in continuous growls. Irmina didnt bother to wipe the rainwater running from her hair. Instead, she allowed it to caress her forehead and cheeks as she held her face to the sky and smiled at the clouds that leaked the light drizzle. Next to her rode Jaecar, his wife Melina, and their two children. Jaecars odd looks and cold eyes made her regret releasing the rockhound before they left the forest.

    Thinking about the hound made her consider the men who set it on her. Why did her master send her after this stranger? And on the other side of the world no less, where a Granadian uniform representing the Tribunal proved to be one of the few things these Ostanians respected or feared. Well, at least now she could make some progress in securing the giant, or so she hoped. If not, she would return to Carnas after helping this family reach a town where she could be sure of their safety and where she might find someone who could translate. Jaecar and Melina could take care of themselves, but the children would be at the mercy of the wilds if either faltered. What couldve driven them to risk travel not only in the Mondros, but at night? Irmina wished shed taken her language lessons more seriously.

    Ahead of Irmina, Melina rode in the front-most saddle position, the long, chain reins in her good hand, and her children strapped in behind her. The boy, Kass and his sister Blas, had gone from wide-eyed expressions and whimpers when placed upon the dartans, to comfortable sleep within an hour. Melina often glanced over her shoulder at her children. Without the vile-looking paint covering her or her husbands face, the worry creasing her features was plain to see.

    They rode on a much-traveled road lined by low foothills, small pastures and the occasional copse, having left the Mondros behind to their southeast and the Nevermore Heights in the opposite direction. Jaecar urged them on until the drizzle, as it increased, whipped by them. Combined with the cooling wind, it was a refreshing respite after the hot forests.

    We stop soon. Town come, Jaecar shouted.

    At the mans insistence, theyd skipped every village and farmstead along the way. From the mans frantic gestures and mispronounced words, he wanted his family as far away from the Mondros as possible. Irmina nodded, glad she could understand that much. Almost as if he could read Irminas thoughts, Jaecar grinned at his wife and said something in his language. Melina smiled at himthe first time Irmina had seen a pleased expression from the woman. They rode the rest of the way in silence.

    The rain ended a short time later, and they rounded a corner out of the foothills. Lights sparkled in a wide, square shape below. A twenty-foot stone wall, with towers spaced at matching intervals, encircled the town.

    Jaecar pointed. Ranoda. Flapping his reins, he raced down the hill.

    Ilumni works in mysterious ways, Irmina thought, her lips twitching into a brief smile. Shed secured a place in Ranoda on her way to Carnas. At first she hadnt recognized the town as it appeared a lot different at night. Here, she would be able to get all she needed.

    They reined in before a closed, wide gate. Large oil lamps inlaid into the walls and several torches hanging from braces threw yellow light across the area and glinted off the helms of soldiers who manned the bulwark. A guard called a challenge from a window slit in one of the two towers on either side of the gate. Movement on both towers and between the crenels of the wall resolved into more guards armed with crossbows.

    Jaecar raised his hands to show he was unarmed. He then pointed to his wife and said a few words. Irmina remained silent, allowing her uniform to speak for itself.

    The wait seemed to last forever. The dartans mewled to each other, and their necks swung from side to side. Restless murmurs came from the walls above them.

    Devout Irmina, called a familiar voice with a hint of surprise.

    Instructions bellowed from the same voice in Ostanian. A sally gate swung open, and they entered in single file with Irmina in the lead. A bleary-eyed, scarlet uniformed Dagodin, Knight Caden, stood with his hands on his hips a few steps inside the wall.

    I apologize, holy one. We didnt expect you back so soon from your inspections, and coming from this direction, no less. Why

    Is that your excuse for having me sit outside and wait? Irmina pursed her lips as she studied the short, square man.

    No, Devout Irmina. Cadens eyes flashed for the briefest moment before he dropped his gaze from hers. Discipline must be maintained as by Tribunal law. No one is allowed into a Granadian occupied town without the officer in charge confirming their identity. It

    Thank you, Knight Caden. You do not need to quote the law any further. Its good for you to maintain discipline even this far from Granadias borders. My superiors will be pleased to see this in my report. That should keep up appearances nicely. Let the fool man mull over my perceived intentions.

    Knight Caden blinked and smiled.

    Send Knight Ormand to me at my office. Im in need of his services. Her stomach growled. And send up some food. Without waiting for Cadens response, she inclined her head for Jaecar and Melina to follow and rode toward the barracks.

    They trotted down a wide cobbled main road intersected by winding, narrow streets and alleys at haphazard intervals. Occasionally, the murmur of conversations between passing townsfolk interrupted the sound of the dartans padded feet thudding softly on the cobbles. Music tinkled through the air in muted tones, often interrupted by distant laughter or cheers. Irmina flicked her thumb across her nose at the noxious fumes of  p*ss  and refuse spilling from the overflowing drains that the earlier rain had did little to help unclog. Ever since shed come to Ostania, she found herself longing for the nightly sanitation practiced by large Granadian towns and cities.

    Breaking glass sounded over the music drifting from the many taverns along a nearby side street. Irmina turned her head to the noise.

    Three tall Ostanian men stumbled out onto the main road, throwing bottles, singing raucous songs and cursing. Within moments, men garbed in tawny town watch uniforms confronted them and a brief scuffle ensued. When it was over, the watch dragged the now unconscious men down the street toward the holding cells. They would release them after they slept off their drink. Irmina shook her head and continued to the barracks.

    The small, drab building stood only two stories tall. Some superstition to do with the Ostanians who resided here preferring to stay closer to the earth and its Forms. Like Jaecar, many gave their praises to Humelen or one of the other gods of Forms instead of Ilumni. Grimacing with the thought of the backward Formist religion, Irmina led them toward the open gate in the wooden fence surrounding the structure.

    Two guards in burnished armor stood at attention before the gate, each with a lance twice their height. They kept their eyes forward under bowl-shaped helmets as Irmina and her charges rode through.

    An old man with a bent back, accompanied by two other handlers, hurried out from the adjoining stables and pens and bowed to Irmina several times. She dismounted and passed Mistys reins to the old fellow. The other men waited on the Ostanians.

    When they finished, Irmina led the way through the wide training yard and into the building. Inside the barracks, Irmina ignored the hallways to the left and right, leading them straight ahead to a set of stairs that creaked as they ascended.

    Upstairs was just as bare as the floor below. Irmina guided them to the large corner room she used as both bedroom and office. A simple oak table and four chairs, one of them cushioned, sat on the large center rug, and a bed hugged one wall. Several lamps hung on the walls at even intervals between the rooms windows, already lit for her arrival.

    A painting of Ilumni and his Battleguard standing before a rift to the Nether hung on the wall above her table. Depicted as a gigantic, faceless man swathed in white light, the god and his Battleguard, a darker man holding a massive sword, stood back to back in defensive stances. The light from both men held an encroaching darkness surrounding them at bay.

    Bowing to the painting, Irmina issued a prayer. When she finished, she turned to Jaecar. You can rest the children on the bed.

    Jaecar nodded and spoke to his wife. Her shoulders relaxed, and she eased over to the wide bed with its thick mattress and lay Blas upon the covers. Jaecar rested Kass next to her. Both children were sound asleep.

    Irmina flopped down onto her cushioned chair and closed her eyes, the effects of the long, trying day settling on her. When she opened them, both Jaecar and Melina stood next to the bed studying her. Irmina gestured to the chairs. Take a seat. The couple complied.

    A few moments later, a knock sounded on the door.

    Come in, Irmina said.

    Knight Ormand, a heavyset man with a thick mustache and beard entered. His forehead furrowed until his bushy eyebrows almost touched as he took in Jaecar and Melina. Behind him came a Cadet pushing a cart laden with food. The door swung shut behind him, ushering a spicy whiff from the dishes into the room.

    Ormand bowed to her with a fist placed over the crossed, double bronze swords pinned to the lapel of his scarlet jacket. Devout Irmina, praise Ilumni for your safe return.

    Only the light can save us from the shade, Irmina responded.

    I see you have company, holy one. His eyes drifted to the children on the bed, and then back to the two Ostanians.

    Theyre the reason I asked for you. I need you to translate. Sit, Ormand.

    Ah. Thank you. Ormand tipped his head to Jaecar and his wife when he sat, and they responded in kind.

    After much bowing and scraping to her, the Cadet laid out dishes and trays on the table. Scents from roasted pheasant, stewed mutton, several types of spiced rice, and sweet potatoes mingled in the air creating a mouthwatering brew. After dried rabbit and fish, Irminas stomach growled, and she licked her lips. The Cadet topped off the dishes with several flagons of wine and yellow gooseberry juice.

    Irmina smiled wryly at the two Ostanians as their eyes lit up with each dish. They gave her an inquiring look and she indicated they could eat. She didnt need to make the gesture twice. Soon, the two were tearing at mutton while swallowing down wine in deep gulps. So much for the Formist belief that eating meat was to give ones self into the impurities of the flesh, which weakened the body and was thus forbidden. Irmina shook her head and nodded her thanks to the Cadet.

    As she studied the two strangers, Irmina took her time eating her fill. She even gave in to the temptation of licking her fingers. When she finished she poured herself a glass of wine. The liquor was not as good as the Dorns, but she still found it refreshing. By the way, Ormand, she said between sips, did you find out anything concerning the man I inquired after?

    Very little, Ormand replied, his voice muffled by his chewing before he swallowed. Hes revered as a great warrior among the Ostanians. His name is Ryne Waldron. Most became silent whenever I mentioned a giant man with tattoos or his name. It wasstrange. Ormand paused, his face reddening. Wish I could have gotten more, holy one, a-apologies. The mans hands drifted to his neck, and he loosened the collar of his high-buttoned jacket. An unusual amount of sweat cast a bright sheen on his forehead.

    Irminas brow creased at the sight of the mans concern. Failing High Shin Jerems requests often came with unpleasant consequences, but their master had nothing but praise for the Knight Ormand. No need to apologize. At least I have a full name to add to the face now. Youve done better than I have and found out more than I could. Its not like our master gave me much to go on when he sent me here. Well, the good news is this man here seems to know Ryne personally. She indicated Jaecar with a dip of her head.

    Ormand gave her a weak smile at her compliment and dabbed at his forehead with a handkerchief he produced from inside his jacket. Where did you meet them?

    Jaecar eyes followed their mouths whenever they spoke. His face wore a frown.

    In the Mondros Forest. They had a fight of some kind with this man, Ryne, and his bodyguard. During the fight Ryne saved their children from several forest lapras. After they spoke Ryne ran off with his bodyguard.

    The Mondros Forest? Most stay away from the place. Too wild. And they were there with children? You said they fought, your holiness. Where are their weapons? Ormand leaned forward, his eyes intent on the Ostanians.

    I had them leave their knives and daggers on the dartans. Why was Ormand curious about their weapons?

    Knives and daggers? Ormands eyes narrowed. Did they have their faces painted, holy one?

    Yes.

    Ormands body stiffened, and his pudgy hand drifted toward his sword. Jaecar made a great show of placing his hands with his fingers spread wide onto the table. His eyes became slits as he watched the Dagodin.

    Cease, Ormand, Irmina commanded. I invited them here. She looked at Jaecar. You, stop.

    B-But, Devout, theyre Alzari, Ormand blurted out.

    Irmina shrugged. And that means what to me?

    Theyre wanted mercenaries who fight in the territorial battles among the cities here, and

    Are they considered enemies to the Tribunal? Irmina asked in a soft voice as she slid her hand closer to her swords hilt below the tabletop.

    No, your holiness.

    Ostanias internal squabbles are not a concern of ours, Ormand. Please, remember we have a task. Or would you rather disappoint High Shin Jerem in pursuit of some bounty? Irminas eyebrow rose.

    Face paling, Ormand said, No, Devout Irmina.

    Good. Now, ask them who Ryne is, and why were they in the forest. Irmina focused on the Alzari.

    Ormand turned his attention to Jaecar and began to question him. With each answer, Jaecar gestured several times with his hands. Neither his golden eyes and or his facial expression changed.

    He says Ryne is a hunter. A hired killer to be exact. Hes surprised we dont know him. Claims Ryne fought for the Tribunal in the War of the Remnants.

    Memory followed by pain flared at the wars mention. Irmina took a breath and forced the feeling down. Why would High Shin Jerem need an assassin? That was her job. Unless he wanted to use someone who couldnt be traced to him. But why send me to fetch him? Did Jerem also send the strange golden-haired woman? No, she doubted it. Jerem knew she worked alone. He was obsessive about maintaining comfort for those who served him.

    Jaecar continued talking. With each word, Ormand leaned closer.

    He says he hid his family in the Mondros because their clanhold was destroyed.

    Irmina almost waved Ormand off. No. The best way to find information sometimes was to feign concern for the plight of those she questioned. She put on her most sympathetic face. How? What happened?

    The conversation between Ormand and Jaecar resumed. A change came over Jaecars face. His eyes flickered in fear, and his pitch increased and sometimes grew soft. Tears ran down Melinas cheeks. Ormands mouth hung open.

    What is it, Knight Ormand?

    All their clanholds were destroyed, not just one, Ormand whispered.

    So some force had defeated these warriors. Irmina shrugged. Their plight was not her concern.

    Ormand continued, Youve seen them fight, your holiness. They had six clanholds. Each occupied by eight to ten thousand warriors, each fighter as capable as these two, if not better. He says everyone in his clanhold died or was captured within an hour. He says the invaders used shadelings. He claims the army was led by Amunis Children.

    Impossible, Irmina whispered.

    Her haunted memories flashed again. Word of her parents death to shadelings in the War of the Remnants felt as if she just heard it. That night her life had shattered, and remained in shambles even after the Dorns took her in. Somehow, shed managed to patch herself together with the love they showed her. Through it all, shed fallen in love with Ancel. Then came her last Ashishin trial when shed discovered who the Dorns were, the part they played in the War of Remnants and the Shadowbearer War before it. The part they played in her parents deaths, in the demise of much of her family.

    Devout Irmina?

    Irmina looked down. She was standing with her unsheathed sword in her trembling hands. I-Im fine. She took a deep breath.

    She hadnt noticed the heat flowing through her. The same heat Jerem taught her to control when she touched Mater. The same heat that brought a craving to kill. She forced the feeling into the coldest part of her mind until it dwindled to nothing.

    Neither Jaecar nor Melina had moved, but a still air hung in the room. Irmina met their gaze and slid her sword into its scabbard. Jaecars lips parted before he gave a simple nod. Ormand sweated profusely, and he wrung his hands several times.

    Continue your questioning. Irmina paced across the room.

    With a nervous nod, Ormand turned to Jaecar, and their conversation resumed. If Jaecar was telling the truth, an army possibly several hundred thousand strong was sweeping across Ostania. Those numbers must be an exaggeration. Yet, she needed to consider the worst. She would get word to High Shin Jerem and the Tribunal regardless.

    Ormand, did he say which way they were headed?

    Yes. Southwest, toward the larger cities beyond the Orchid Plains. Its why he came this way. Hes trying to reach the Vallum of Light to warn our armies there, and to get his family to safety.

    Irmina pondered the news. If indeed the invading army headed across the Orchid, it would only be a matter of time before it reached the Vallum itself anyway. She needed to get a warning across as soon as possible. She stopped pacing. Where are the closest Envoys or Heralds?

    Ormand shook his head, reading her thoughts. There are none before the Vallum of Light.

    Striding to a window, Irmina stared out at the twin moons and another set of thunderclouds. She would have to do it herself then. Misty would have to run like she never ran before. Granadias fate may well depend on it.

    Ormand, gather the men, Irmina commanded. Let them know what was said. Also dispatch several eagles with messages of these tidings. Tell Jaecar he can leave with me if he chooses, but I wont be staying with them. Ill push to the Vallum to warn the army and pass word to the Heralds for the Tribunal.

    Devout Irmina, Ormand said, his tone a plea. I mean no offense but, its one thing to speak to us with your authority as a Devout, your holiness, but the laws prevent you from commanding any military into action. Knight Caden is mostparticular about the laws.

    Irminas mouth curled into a devilish smile. She strode to her desk, reached down, and clicked a hidden lever. An extra draw slid open. She removed a rather skimpy crimson uniform and two pins, one in the shape of crossed lightning bolts and the other of the Lightstorm.

    Ormand gaped, his eyes shifting from the clothes to Irmina. Her gaze met the mans as his recognition of a Raijins uniform changed his eyes from those of reverence into fear. As the elite assassins among the Ashishin, Raijin could command anyone at anytime and their rank fell just below a High Ashishin. Irmina had not noticed a reaction to her real name from Jaecar earlier, but the Raijin garb brought a gasp from him and a hiss from his wife. Both dropped to the floor with their heads down.

    Snapping to attention, Ormand rose to his feet. This time when he bowed, it was from the waist, and his eyes never left the floor. I shall inform them, Shin Irmina.

    Outside, lightning flickered and thunder rumbled. A scream sounded. Then another. A trumpet wailed.

    Irmina swung her head around toward the window. Instead of Ranodas lights or the dark curtain of clouds crossing the moon, blackness greeted her in a raspy whisper.

    Offline TerryS

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    Re: Etchings of Power - New epic fantasy
    « Reply #6 on: November 10, 2011, 12:50:17 pm »
    Meet Ryne Waldron

    Ryne Waldron is an eight foot tall, living legend. A man whose name is mired in myth and prophecy.

    Rynes body is covered in Scripts, a type of imbuing in the form of extensive artwork, from which he can draw on the power of the world itself, often using what is depicted to enhance himself.

    Ryne woke some 70+ years ago without memory of who or what he is. The only things he remembers are limited uses of his Scripts, his swordplay and his name. Over the years since he woke, Ryne worked as a mercenary with an utter disregard for life, slaying many in the Tribunals name.

    Driven by the bloodlust and the whispers that rises in him whenever he touches his power, Ryne kills to feed its need. He essentially had no morals. As his sense of self grew, so did his regret.

    Hunted by many for the atrocities he committed as the Tribunals top mercenary, not only by many kingdoms, but by the Tribunal themselves after he turned against them, Ryne has hidden himself away in the small village of Carnas where he has grown to love its people, and his solitude. Yet, his past still haunts him, and he still seeks knowledge of who he is.

    Now, the assassins and the Tribunal have once again found him. This time, they will stop at nothing to capture him.

    Excerpt:

    Go! Kill, tear, maim, destroy. The world is at your fingertips. Take them, they deserve death. They killed yours. You kill theirs. One good turn On and on the deep voice droned whenever his Scripts drew in more Mater, the energy caressing his ears with vengeful whispers.

    His head filled to the brim with the words as his body embraced the need to kill. The voice built into song, a chaotic opera with blaring instruments playing a rousing rhythm. Sakari had named it his kill craze, and rightly so. Ryne cackled with the thought. A maniacal sound he didnt recognize as his own voice.

    The second voice attempted to find purchase, but this time it gibbered. No. Calm yourself. Harmony. Seek it. Calm. Kill only if you must. Draw back, peel away. Subdue the power of the Scripts.

    Ryne sneered. He slammed his thoughts shut against the second voices pleas.

    Heat exploded from him like the mouth of a volcano, an insane cackle erupting from him once again.

    A grin splitting his features, he reached the middle of the field and spun to face his pursuers.

    Offline TerryS

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    Re: Etchings of Power - New epic fantasy
    « Reply #7 on: November 25, 2011, 09:10:36 am »
    From Jackie over at http://mytowerofbooks.blogspot.com :
    "I have to say, I was really impressed by this book. Fantasy novels can be tricky and insanely hard to write. The world created by Terry Simpson is well thought out and nicely executed. This author is one to watch in the Fantasy writing community."

    Read more of the review here: http://mytowerofbooks.blogspot.com/2011/11/review-etchings-of-power-by-terry-c.html

    Offline Steverino

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    Re: Etchings of Power - New epic fantasy
    « Reply #8 on: November 26, 2011, 12:32:21 am »
    Very interesting... nice cover, and great work on that map!
    Outrageous Fortunes:
    A Novel of Alternate Histories 
    New World:
    A Frontier Fantasy Novel 
    If you read this ebook, you will die.

    Offline TerryS

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    Re: Etchings of Power - New epic fantasy
    « Reply #9 on: December 02, 2011, 05:00:32 am »
    Chapter 11 Excerpt.

    Ancel marveled at the ebb and flow of the battle between the two men in the distant city. Dear Ilumni, I beg you, let your light bring victory. As the prayer crossed his mind, he licked his suddenly dry lips, before taking a quick glance around him. Calm down man, stop jumping at shadows. Yet, here in Hydae where the shade held sway he couldn’t help the fluttering in his stomach.

    At that precise moment, citrine and emerald lightning skittered across the banks of char-colored clouds drawn to the conflict raging in the city. The flashes made Ancel’s gut lurch, and he gritted his teeth at the sky. Why was he here on this forsaken ledge exposed to the angry elements?

    Ancel’s loose-fitting clothes flapped about him as the winds howled and swirled like a crowd decrying some terrible act before a revolt. Eddies snatched at his cloak in an effort to fling him from his rocky perch high above the vast black plains and forests. He took a slow breath and forced his stomach to near silence.

    Elemental power continued to roil across the sky as if the gods of Streams and Flows battled for supremacy. Ancel could imagine them and their fear inspiring visages clad in the finest armors, only their sparkling eyes showing through slits in their helms.

    On one side, there would be Ilumni and Amuni wielding light and shade representing the elements of Streams. Ilumni’s power resonated in the lightning flashes and in the wan afternoon sun. Amuni’s taint bubbled everywhere, from the foliage below, infected and decaying with his shade, to the darkness choking the air. Even the sun appeared diminished in Hydae.

    On the opposite side, Ancel pictured the twin gods of Flows lashing out together; their power sending prickles across his skin as if he stood naked on the ledge. Aeoli commanded the void, using the air itself to form the storm winds. Hyzenki paired with his sister in the fight, breaking the thunderheads to make water join the fray. Black rain pelted down before howling winds whipped the drops sideways like arrows shot from a million bows.

    A loud, piercing chime echoed from the city like steel screeching against stone. Something metallic flew into the air, Mater shooting from it in sparkling glows. The winds, rains, and clouds swirled into a gigantic maelstrom above the city—.

    A sharp tap on Ancel’s head knocked him from his daydream.

    “Ancel!” shouted Teacher Calestis, drawing her slim staff back.

    Ancel shook his head as his eyes focused on his surroundings. The expectant gazes from the Teacher and several students of varied ages, from youthful like himself to wizened and bent-backed like Calestis, greeted him. Mirza leered at him from his bench across from Ancel, his gray eyes a reflection of his expression. Besides the benches filled with students and the Teacher’s chair and table, the only other furniture in the room were a few bookshelves. Two windows in the yellow brick walls looked out onto Eldanhill’s cobbled streets.

    Teacher Calestis rapped her staff into the floor with a dull wood on wood crack. “If Nerian the Shadowbearer was a Devout—a priest bonded in heart and soul to Ilumni—why did he forsake the Lord of light and answer the shade’s call? Why did he turn to Amuni?” Several students raised their hands, but Calestis ignored them all. “Ancel,” she said, pointing a gnarled finger and scowling, “This question is yours. Since the Teachings bore you so much, you must know all the answers.”

    “He was misled into believing his people were betrayed and massacred at the Tribunal’s command. He convinced himself the Skadwaz had somehow crossed from Hydae and delivered Amuni’s power to him. Blinded by rage, he sought revenge, resorting to the use of shadelings,” Ancel answered without hesitation.

    Galiana’s golden eyes twinkled. “And how did he persuade the remainder of those loyal to the light to follow his lead.”

    “By the sword. However, a few did support his cause willingly, convinced of their retribution. Those who resisted were forced to fight or die. Once many saw Nerian could stamp his name in history as the first to reunite the world and return Ostania to its former glory, they accepted his rule. They ignored that he now wielded shade and all its horrors to do his bidding.”

    Calestis gave him a small smile. “Well done.”

    As soon as Calestis’s attention shifted elsewhere, Ancel allowed his thoughts to drift back to his daydream. Why did he keep having these images of a land that existed only in the stories? What city was that with its sparkling spires and streets lined with colonnades and fountains? His dreams the night before had also included the green-eyed beasts and the kinai rotting in their glen. What were those creatures? Could they really have been wraithwolves? He’d thought about approaching Teacher Calestis, but his father’s warning prevented him from doing so. Ancel sighed. He wished he had someone he could confide in. Ever since Irmina left Eldanhill, he dreamed more often than before. Without her to talk to, little made sense.

    Thoughts about Irmina made his gaze drift to Alys Valdeen in time to catch her soft eyes regarding him. Her hair shone in as deep an orange as a brilliant sunset. Her eyes glittered, and she sniffed, turning away from his gaze.

    “Thinking about Irmina again?” Mirza’s voice broke Ancel from his thoughts.

    Ancel glanced around at his friend and saw Teacher Calestis had dismissed the class. Students headed to the doors, laughing and chatting amongst themselves, most happy to see the end of another day of learning.

    “Something like that,” Ancel finally replied. “I wonder what she’s doing now. Did she complete her training? Did she pass the test? If she would at least write—”

    “You would go running off to wherever she is,” Mirza quipped. “Or try to. Even if she was somewhere across the sea in Ostania.”

    Ancel shrugged and stood.

    “You know, you p*ss me off sometimes.” Mirza shook his head, his unkempt hair, the color of dirty red bricks, spilling about his shoulders. “I mean, you’ve been blessed to be with two of the prettiest girls in all Eldanhill and you moon over Irmina. The girl was as rough as any soldier. Me? I prefer them soft and supple like Alys.” Mirza’s gaze followed the girl who was now just leaving with a few friends.

    Ancel’s lips twitched. “And here I was thinking you had no preference at all. We both know even one of the old apothecaries or retired Shin like Teacher Calestis would please you, wrinkles, warts, and all.”

    Mirza stared at him, aghast. “I know Irmina addled your brains, but I didn’t think you lost all your senses. Here, let me run call Alys for you, maybe she can make you feel better some.” He made to run after the girls.

    Ancel snatched at the arm of Mirza’s beige coat. “Don’t you dare.”

    Mirza grinned. “That’s what I thought.”

    They were the last to leave the building used as the Mystera’s main study hall. Bright afternoon sunlight greeted them accompanied by a breeze from the snow-capped Kelvore Mountains. The mountain range stretched as far as the eye could see to the north in this part of Granadia. No sooner had they stepped outside when ham-sized hands snatched Mirza at the door and twirled him as if he was a dancer at a ball. A body built like a draught horse, deep and broad of chest with legs that could be two of Ancel’s came into sight as Mirza tottered away in the opposite direction. Ancel burst out laughing.

    “I hope you’re ready to spin the girls and dangle them on your knees.” Danvir Bemelle slapped his big hand on his thigh as Mirza stumbled to a stop. “We’re leaving this evening to deliver the kinai wine.”

    “What?” Ancel’s eyebrows rose and his lips curved into a smile.

    “Yes, my Da convinced yours he should let you go. He said it was best for your nineteenth naming day not to coddle you anymore.” Danvir tilted his head as he regarded Ancel with eyes of burnished copper, the one feature that might make a person overlook his bulbous nose. “Although, I’m not so sure. You still behave as if you’re pining away to me.”

    “Wooo,” Mirza said, finally regaining his breath. “Taverns, wine, women, and song.” He rubbed his hands together. “Here we come. Oh, and yes, he’s still mooning over Irmina. As usual, he was lost in class.”

    Danvir grunted, and rubbed at his oversized ears. “Did the old bag clip him on the head again?” He straightened his coat back into position, running his hands down the sleeves and nodded with satisfaction.

    “You know it.” Mirza chuckled. “Then somehow he managed to answer a question about Nerian the Shadowbearer without missing a beat.”

    Danvir let out an exasperated breath while combing his well-oiled, blond hair back until it fell neatly at his shoulders. “That nonsense again? I still don’t understand why we need to study history anyways. What does it all have to do with becoming a Matus.”

    “Well,” Mirza began, “you know what Calestis always says—”

    The three youths looked at each other and grinned. “Becoming a Matus is not just about touching the elements of Mater that reside in the world around us,” they recited in their best all-knowing imitations of their Teacher. “Becoming a Matus is to learn from the Ashishin before us who have wielded Mater unto their own demise like the Skadwaz. After all, Mater is more than just the elemental force that resides in everything and drives our world. It drives all worlds. Just as present action dictates our future, so does history dictate our present.” They all burst into laughter afterward, Mirza’s gaunt face going red, and Danvir’s guffaws making a rumble in his broad chest. Tears streamed from Ancel’s eyes.

    “At least the seats you took up in my class have not been a total waste of space.”

    Ancel jumped at Teacher Calestis’s voice, his laughter coming to an abrupt end. His two friends gave the bent old woman wide-eyed stares. Calestis drew herself up straight, her golden eyes stern, and tapped her staff on the cobbles. The youths all began stumbling over themselves with apologies.

    “Nonsense,” Teacher Calestis said, waving a dismissive hand, “I do tend to ramble on, but you three have remembered an important piece of your training. So, I will let you have your moment.” They all breathed easier. “However,” she continued, “Should I have any issues from you in class at any time, your parents will be informed about you making fun of the Teachers. A disrespect well worthy of a chore penance I’m sure. Now off with you.”

    Given a reprieve, they didn’t wait to have it withdrawn. They scampered away, heads held down.

    Ancel glanced over his shoulder once to see Calestis shambling off in the opposite direction. He was tempted to run after her and tell her about the creatures and what he suspected. Coming to a swift decision, he turned. Before he could take a step, a hand grabbed his arm. He looked around to see Mirza.

    Mirza shook his head. Ancel had wondered how his friend could act all day as if nothing happened. Now he saw the truth. Mirza’s slate-colored eyes bore the same concern as his, but somehow he did a better job of hiding it. Ancel nodded, and they followed Danvir who was in the process of righting his clothes again after the short run.

    They travelled along Learner’s Row, and its multitude of buildings, practice areas, and side streets packed tightly together where Teachers held classes and lectures for a variety of arts. The dense gathering of structures often made the Mystera appear to be a miniature village within Eldanhill. Ancel often wondered if the other Mysteras in other towns and cities were similarly built.

    Weaponmasters, bearing the Lightstorm insignia on their breast, drilled soldiers in enclosed spaces between the buildings, each practice area large enough to hold two hundred men. In other sections, Teachers practiced Materforgings with students, teaching them how to grasp the essences and direct earth, fire or light in various applications from lighting a torch to opening a pit in the ground. Yet others taught more mundane tasks like cooking to more advanced like apothecary and alchemy.

    The students walking ahead through the Mystera were mostly dressed in earthy yellow or beige uniforms, the men in tunics and pants, and the women in dresses that stopped below the knees. Soldiers stood with chests puffed out among them in their deep blue garb, golden shield and sword pins shiny upon their breasts. Ancel’s eyes shone with admiration as he watched them strut among the students. The Teachers kept to the other side of the Row, most striding with a purposeful gait in their pristine white robes.

    Ancel noted the vast majority of students still bore the book and pen insignia stitched or pinned onto their breast or shoulder denoting them as novices. Remembering when he once displayed the same, he smiled and fingered the silver sword on his lapel, puffing himself up with thoughts of his promotion to trainee. With the memory, a longing for Irmina flashed through his mind. He touched his breast pocket.

    A step away from a Matus. One more step. Then I’ll earn the right to petition a Weaponmaster to be trained as a Dagodin. He smiled inwardly with the thought as his dreams swept away to a more ambitious status. A Dagodin so I can graduate from the Mystera and study either in Calisto or at the Iluminus to become an Ashishin. Then I’ll join the Pathfinders. No one will be able to stop me from finding her then. His smile grew wider.

    “You know, I would hope that look meant you’re eyeing some new girl,” Mirza said, his lips pursed. “But knowing you the way I do, that’d just be wishful thinking on my part.” He sighed as Ancel offered no reply. “Hey Dan, who’s escorting us with the delivery?”

    Danvir’s eyes twinkled and his mouth twisted into a slow grin. “Headspeaker Valdeen.”

    Mirza cackled. A groan escaped Ancel’s lips. The last thing he needed was to be in the company of Alys’ father especially after what happened the evening before.

    “There’ll be several guards coming with us to help protect this year’s delivery because of the recent feuding between us and Doster. Maybe—”

    “You know, Dan,” Mirza interrupted. “You always say us when you speak about Sendeth, but—”

    “Yes, yes, I know,” Danvir retorted. “I swear you listen to your father too much about how they treat us. We pay taxes and tribute to King Emory regardless. And the whole of Whitewater Falls belongs to him, Eldanhill included. Whether we’re far north and behind the King’s back as people like to say, it doesn’t matter. We pay all the same. Think on it.” Danvir gave Ancel a sidelong glance, his annoyed expression changing to a grin. “Anyway, as I was saying, maybe Ancel can huddle with the soldiers so Master Valdeen doesn’t get to questioning him about his plans for his daughter.”

    “My chances of avoiding that man are about the same as us running into Dosteri raiders,” Ancel grumbled. “Slim to none.”

    “Well, I’d suggest you make nice with Alys before we leave then,” Mirza said, making a humping motion.

    Danvir chuckled, clapping Mirza on the shoulder hard enough to make him stumble.

    Ancel ignored his friends, staring off toward where the girl rounded the corner off Learner’s Row onto Henden Lane on her way home. The end of the Row split into several streets that meandered through this side of Eldanhill before they met the Eldan Road. Houses great and small, all sandstone or brick with tiled roofs, painted in white shades or dull yellows lined the roads. The citizens of Eldanhill bustled about the streets, busy with their preparations for the upcoming harvest celebrations. For a moment, he thought about hurrying after her before he changed his mind.

    “He has more women on his mind than he knows what to do with,” Mirza’s distant voice said.

    Ancel stopped walking. His friends stood a few feet behind him both acting as if they did not see him.

    “Happens to the best of us,” Danvir quipped, “or so my Da says.”

    “Does this mean we’re better than him?” Mirza nodded toward Ancel.

    Danvir rubbed at his clean-shaven chin, his face feigning seriousness. “I don’t know, maybe he just needs a class in how to love them and leave them. Let them do the chasing. Maybe, you and I…”

    Ancel couldn’t take anymore. Yelling, he chased after his friends as they ran off laughing.
    « Last Edit: December 02, 2011, 05:04:55 am by TerryS »

    Offline TerryS

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    Re: Etchings of Power - New epic fantasy
    « Reply #10 on: December 10, 2011, 01:30:46 am »
    Another great review from Kate at Urbanfantasyreviews.com.

    "Overall, I am going to call this an exciting read. The world building is quite good, and well thought out, the characters vivid and easy to identify with, the plot is interesting. There was seldom a moment while reading this book that I thought it lagged, it kept me engaged the whole way through."

    Read the entire review here.

    http://www.ufreviews.com/2011/12/etchings-of-power-by-terry-simpson.html

    Offline TerryS

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    Re: Etchings of Power - New epic fantasy
    « Reply #11 on: December 21, 2011, 03:08:12 am »
    My proofs for the print edition. Yay.

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