(renamed from The Demons Within)
The Maingard Chronicles Book 1
In a fantasy land, a land of swords and magic, a young woman, Bex – a sword for hire and thief – and her newly found symbiotic ‘demon’, Ishtara, stand against an invasion from another dimension. They must learn to live as one as they find themselves at the forefront of the resistance against the invaders, who are hellbent on enslaving Bex’s world.
Bex suddenly felt her arm explode in a ball of pain and she turned and fell onto her back. Her blade fell from her hand and skittled across the floor. She looked across and saw the arrow point protruding from her bicep. She felt nauseous from the sight and pain, her mind groggy. She could see the two guards moving towards her and the third stringing another arrow. She turned her head to the other side and saw that she still held the burning brand.
Mustering as much energy and power as she could she rolled towards the cage and held the brand up to the creature. She seemed to black out for a fraction of a second, her whole arm awash with agony, but she could see the creature stretch more and finally grasp the brand, its fingers grasping the burning flame itself, whilst its other hand reached out to hold her bare wrist just above the glove. As she did so she felt one thought.
‘Trust me’ and then another, slightly fainter, ‘I’m sorry’.
She watched in amazement as the flame on the brand crackled with renewed energy, and the whole thing burst into flame, engulfing first the arm of the creature and then its body. Bex struggled to free herself from the grip of the creature as the flames raced down the other arm towards where the creature held her fast. She looked on, face aghast, as her wrist and forearm blistered and ignited. She screamed, unable to escape the blaze.
Imagine War of the Worlds with a smattering of Star Wars thrown in, all set in a world of sword and sorcery. The Cassallian invaders attack begins with great dragonships that are magically propelled through the skies, firing weapons of mystical power that can devastate buildings. Vile agents of the Cassallian Emperor spread dissent and treachery throughout the kingdoms of Maingard and proud cities and nations fall under the assault.
It was the sight that met his eyes when he turned, his knife now unsheathed fully and held out in front of him. His hand shook, the rusty blade wavering, as he realised that the knife was of inadequate protection to the danger. Ten metres above the Street of Souls flew a huge dragon, luminescent green patches glowing on its black and brown scales and green lightning crackling from its dark form, arcing across to the temples on either side.
Gudnar stood petrified and in his fear induced paralysis noticed that it wasn’t a true dragon, but a ship designed with the appearance of a flying lizard. There were no wings and the head that he had mistaken for the head of a dragon was just a figurehead. Unlike the drakkars of the north where the figurehead rode high on the bow, this dragon head was thrust forward as if the giant worm was in flight. It was also immense, much larger than any seagoing ship Gudnar had ever seen. Yet this ship was built to fly through the sky and not the waters of Maingard.
Gudnar could see no sign of life on the deck but the towering walls of the hull made it difficult to see the whole deck. He jumped as the green lightning discharged once more, a powerful arc to a stone gateway to the gardens surrounding the Temple of Noona, which shattered and exploded as the bolt hit it. Smoke billowed from the nostrils of the dragonhead and the carved, ornate maw seemed to leer at him. A growl like sound came from the ship and a dark red liquid poured from the mouth onto the dusty street below, so much that it started to pool. And the ship started to sink slowly to the ground below, its immense size flattening the boundary wall of the Temple of Noona.
But first, Bex and Ishtara find themselves enlisted by Garlen, Prince of Danaria, to help carry out a daring rescue of his sisters, kidnapped by the invaders in order to force his mother to cede without a fight.
“Where are we?” whispered Moren. She clutched her sister tightly as they both sat huddled on the floor of the cabin. The room was no bigger than a cupboard, with barely enough room for either of the girls to lie flat out. The only light came from outside the door, a small grating at face level allowing just enough light from the lantern beyond to break the darkness.
Ingren had regained consciousness after her little sister and had awoke to find Moren curled up next to her sobbing. She had felt shattered and ached, as if she had risen from a tumultuous night, and had lain still for a few moments listening painfully to Moren’s sobs. The older girl had wrapped her arm around her sister and held her tight. Realising her elder sister was awake had quietened Moren’s sobbing and had brought a brief smile to her face. The smile was dashed from her face as Ingren jumped up to investigate the room.
Princess Ingren moved slowly around the room poking at the walls and floor before standing tall in front of the door. She was only just tall enough to peer through the grating.
“What can you see, Ingren?” Moren stood and grabbed at her elder sister’s arm. Ingren shook her sister off and continued to look through the grating, angling her head to look as far left and right as she could along the corridor that was on the other side. “Nothing!” she hissed, and her younger sister stomped away to the far corner of the small room.
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