The Wounded King – FREE

Yep, you read that right.  The Wounded King, Book One in The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of Short Fiction based on my award-winning debut novel Martuk … the Holy, will be FREE for one day and one day only, March 27th.

Curious?  Here’s an excerpt:

 

“I eat,” Mother suddenly said.

“The flesh –”

She interrupted me with a nod.

“It’s hungry,” she said, her voice low, the words almost a whisper. “Its stomach desperate for the meat, the muscle, the skin. If I don’t feed It, there’s pain.”

Her hand on her stomach, she continued.

“I am powerless, my son. I don’t want to. I don’t want this. It’s disgusting, it sickens me, it’s something I cannot stop, and it’s destroyed me. The taste, the feel of it in my mouth, the smell on my hands, my fingers –”

She stopped, this brief moment of lucidity gone as quickly as it began.

Closing her eyes, she cocked her head, distracted by something only she could hear. The morning had grown dark, the sun shadowed by a rare cloud.

I looked up to see a clear blue sky.

The shadows grew.

“A God is being born,” she finally said. “The pain, the anguish I endure, is this body dying so that this God, this Dark God, can be born. And I, as that God, will rule.”

The dark grew darker.

I moved closer to her.

“Mother …” I began, “the shadows, they’re moving.”

“Yes, It moves and It is only one shadow.”

It quickened, the dark, as it slid along the ground, vaporous fingers reaching out to my Mother as she spoke.

“It needed the flesh, you see. An eternity caressing all those bodies as they slept, lifetimes licking the skin, the flesh on its tongue only a taste, ephemeral, quickly gone.

“It needed to eat. Finally. Needed more. It needed to feel the life in Its mouth. It needed to tear the skin and rip the muscle and gnaw the bone. Experience being alive, experience living, all those deaths feeding It.

“And now It will live through me, with me, as me.”

The shadow grew, an immense cloud around us, the dust lifting from the ground to churn in the black, the warmth of day now the moist, steamy heat of something uncontrollable, unknowable, and wrong.

“Mother, It will eat you.”

She no longer heard me, the silent song of these shadows obsessing her.

I grabbed her hand.

“Please …” I began as the Darkness lifted me.

You will see …

(a small excerpt from Martuk … the Holy:  Proseuche)

“You will see the beginning,” she then said.

With a small shake of my head, I focused on the water.

Another fire.

This one in a small room. A cave, I think, the ceiling low.

And around the flames, a group of people chanting.  Cecilia chanting.

“You will see …” she began.

A dead boy.

“You will see …”

A dead boy who now sat up, his eyes open, his mouth open.

Words coming from the dead boy.  Words that were not his in a voice that was not his.  The voice too deep, too rough, too masculine and wise and …

“You will see …”

The dead boy lifted and held in the air, his mouth open as the words spewed forth, words I couldn’t hear, as the fire behind him grew, the flames reaching the ceiling and then, spreading like water, to ripple across the stone and race down the walls.

“You will see …”

Cecilia and these strangers clambering away, desperate to escape.

From the fire he came.  The Magi.  The Master.

“… this stranger come from the flames,” she finally finished.

I am no dream

(Another brief excerpt from the upcoming Martuk … the Holy:  Proseuche , the sequel to the award-winning Martuk … the Holy )

“So many lies.”

I knew this voice.  Though I didn’t turn, my eyes stubbornly shut as I pretended sleep, my arms hugging my chest and my back turned, the cloak drawn close against the night, I knew who spoke.

And I knew it to be impossible.

“I am no dream,” the voice then said in answer to my next thought.  “And what are you?  What did you think you would be?  At your end, what did you think awaited you?

“Turn and look upon me,” he then said.

I turned.

Judas killed the Messiah …

He kneeled next to me in the sand, the familiar dark eyes watching me.

And then he killed himself …

But he was not real, this Judas who now leaned forward.  He could not be.

Hanged by the neck from a tree …

Unless the words truly were lies and Judas still walked.  I reached for him, my hand almost on his arm.

He no longer kneeled within reach.  In a breath, he had moved, this Judas, this one who could not be real, now standing many paces away.  It had been too quick, this small journey of his.

It had been too quick.

I was going mad.

The money from the Priests at his feet …

“Tell me,” I said to this man who could not be Judas.  “Is that true?  Was their money at your feet?  From the Priests?  From the Temple?”

My voice, though but a whisper, sounded so alone in the desert, the words lost in the emptiness of this sun-parched world and the endless blue of the too big sky.

And I was alone now, the lie that disguised himself as Judas gone with the breeze.

I closed my eyes.

Yes, I was alone, so alone, and I was going mad.

sleep without dreams

There were screams.  A frightening din unlike anything he’d ever heard.

He lay on the altar.

The Elder, a priest, an old priest, an old man, the red and gold of his robes familiar and strange, stood over him.

Another dream, yes, the young priest turning to push his face into the pillow, the sheets clenched in his fists, the sunlight of a Paris day blocked by the heavy curtains, his desperation for rest, for escape, having chased him from the dark of night into the light of day as he fought for sleep.

The Darkness was here.  In the dream.  The Darkness was coming near.  In the dream.   The Darkness would rob him of his humanity. Would make him a monster.  One trapped by time.  Like a mist, a fog, it was, the Darkness.  A black cloud sprouting fingers and toes and teeth, it slid along the blood-drenched floor of the altar, the crowd bellowing for his death below, their appetite endless.

In the wine was salvation.  The wine the Elder, this skeletal man with the dead eyes who loomed over him, was holding, was offering.  In the wine was the poison that would offer relief.

The warmth was around him now, in the dream.  The steamy heat of the Darkness.  The priest, in the here and now of Paris, trapped in sleep sitting up in his bed, falling from the mattress to the floor, dragging the sheets behind him as he crawled to escape.  The Darkness in the dream wound ’round his ankles, his calves blushing red, the sickening steam slithering up his legs to his torso, this ancient evil drawn back like a snake, ready to strike and force its way down his screaming throat.

And that’s how he was discovered, this young priest, his neighbors breaking down the door to find him asleep and screaming at the window, his face pressed against the glass, the sheets wound ’round his legs.

“You need to rest,” the neighbor, an older woman with a kind face, had insisted as he sat later, sipping water and ignoring the remnants of this new nightmare still echoing in his mind.

“Take a vacation,” the second neighbor, a younger man, fashionable, handsome, professionally patient, had urged in accented English, his strong hand resting on his arm.  “You will be no good to anyone if you do not have the sleep, no?”

He shook his head.  No, no vacation.  He needed to be at the church.  Needed to be there when the stranger would return.  He needed …

He didn’t know what he needed.  Answers, probably.  Answers he may never get.

And he needed sleep.  Yes.  Sleep without dreams.

No, he assured them, a smile on his face as he politely ushered them to the door.  He was fine.  It was stress.  Lack of sleep.  He was fine, he then said again, closing the door and clicking the lock.

The bed waited, calling his exhaustion, the dreams waiting.

He ignored it, his body stretched on the floor, no pillow, the sheets left by the window.

The stranger would come, he told himself, a tumble of images rumbling near as the Darkness pulled him back to the world of altars and priests and a screaming that felt as if it would never stop.

He would come.

(excerpt from the upcoming Martuk … the Holy:  Proseuche)

silent and still no more

Another quick peek at the upcoming Martuk … the Holy:  Proseuche

 

I washed away my sins with the sand.

His body I’d left on the road, the Samaritan.  Naked and unrecognizable, his face sunken, his eyes dangling on his cheeks, the nose no more, the skull crushed.  I had taken the robe and the mantle, discovered the hidden coin, and taken this, too, and then slid the sandals from his feet.

Then, leaving him to the birds and the blistering sun and those animals that would soon come to sniff and paw and shred and feast, I left the path and turned, the desert a half-day’s walk.

With the setting of the sun, I found myself alone in a sea of shifting sand.

I stopped.

There was nothing but silence.

I was alone.

This was when I fell to my knees.  This was when I plunged my hands into the heated, soft earth.  When I rubbed my flesh with the pale soil.  Massaged the fingers, my wrists, even my forearms, the red of this kind stranger’s blood pulled from my skin by the persistent sand.

Only when the day died in the deep shadow of a desert night had I wiped the stain of the Samaritan clean.

And then I laid back and looked at the stars.

The thoughts of this, my life, and what waited with the rising of the sun tomorrow and what I would do, then, here in the desert, all of this I pushed far away, my eyes on the black of the sky and the light of the stars, my mind focused on stilling my fears and finding blessed peace.

I inhaled, deep, and exhaled, deep, and listened to the silence.

They spoke.

From cities far away, I heard them.  From rocky shores slapped by white capped waves, there was talk.  From dark valleys glowing with quiet fires that crackled and spit tiny tongues of fire, the voices came.  Plucked from the chaos of noisy tabernaes, the arguments and debates stole into my mind like thieves.

And the desert was silent and still no more.

A sudden, shocking silence

A quick excerpt from the upcoming Martuk … the Holy:  Proseuche

In my desperation for peace, for a rest with gentle dreams, I focused my thoughts on pleasant memories, leaving the ghosts behind as I drifted into sleep.

And I dreamt.

Jesus was speaking.  And Mary stood near.  She watched me.  And, still, He was speaking.  But the words were hushed, and tumbled off His tongue.  They were too quick.  Mary glanced over her shoulder into the dark that surrounded us.  And He continued to speak.  She had done that before, Mary.  Glanced over her shoulder.

In this dream, she had done that, though when, I couldn’t tell you.

Her brow was furrowed.  Her heart was worried.  Her hand rested on her breast over her heart.  And Jesus’ hands were on me now.  He held me by the shoulders, His voice rising.

He yelled now.  Jesus was yelling at me, the spit flying from His lips as His face contorted in rage.  But His words were lost.  I could see them leave His mouth.  Could see the lips open and the words come forth, but in that small space between the words spoken and the words heard, they were lost.

Mary looked over her shoulder.  She stopped. This was not a glance.  This was a look, the hand from her heart rising to her throat and then her mouth, as if silencing a scream.  And then she reached to Jesus, her head still turned, still watching.  He continued to hold me.  His hands gripped me.  He shook me.  He screamed now, the tears falling, His nose running, His face blushing red, the spit rolling from His lips and staining His chin, His eyes wide and desperate and afraid.

I feared He would strike me in His rage.

Her hand was on His shoulder.  She clutched the thick fabric of His mantle in her fist, pulling Him away from me.

But His words!  I couldn’t hear them.  I so desperately wanted to hear them.  But even though screamed and shouted in a panicked rage, I heard nothing.

Behind her, the dark thickened.  Grew darker, deeper.  Inched forward.

She pulled at Him still.  She was desperate.  She was frightened.  She screamed at Him as He screamed at me.  I could feel His fingers dig into my flesh.  Those long fingers bruising my flesh.  And her fingers gripped and dug into Him.  Pulled and pulled.

His hand raised now, the palm up as it faced me.

He had grown silent.  A sudden, shocking silence.  A sudden, shocking stillness. His words, His rage, dying a sudden death.  And she had grown still and silent as well, Mary, her head bowed, her eyes closed.  Her hands rested on Him, but no longer pulled.

They had both stopped.

They both watched me, silently, as the shadows drew close and fell first on her, on her head, her shoulders, darkening her brow and then her nose, and then the hand that rested on His shoulder, the darkness then moving to Him, taking Him, both of them soon lost.

It swallowed them.

His hand, the palm facing me, came from the dark then and, with a movement that was gentle and slow and calm, He placed this open palm on my face, over my eyes.

demons, angels, and another 5 star review

The Martuk … the Holy Blog Tour rolls on with an amazing 5 Star Review.

If you enjoy books with a new twist on a familiar plot similar to Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code”, then you will most certainly love “Martuk . . . the Holy” by Jonathan Winn.  This intense, gripping tale will keep you turning pages, biting fingernails, and re-evaluating your beliefs until the final sentence.

I’m not sure if Winn’s book can be classified into a single genre . . . or even a sub-genre. It’s multi-faceted and that’s part of the appeal. The fact Martuk . . . the Holy is a debut novel is impressive beyond words.

Martuk is a tormented immortal with roots in ancient history. Before you start thinking Adrian Paul and the TV series, “Highlander”, let me assure the differences are vast. Martuk . . . the Holy is a dark story filled with demons, angels, beastly abominations, …

And that’s just the beginning!  You can read the rest over here.  Plus there’s also a very generous Excerpt.  One of my favorites, actually.

Seriously, guys, this review brought tears to my eyes.  Not that praise should matter, but … hell, sometimes it just does.

This was one of those times.  :)

churning and turning and whipping

An excerpt from The Wounded King, the first book in The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of short fiction inspired by Martuk … the Holy:

 

I ran.

The shadows followed.

It had dropped me, the Darkness, Its strength not yet great enough to hold me.

But I had climbed to my feet, the dark unbelievably dark, my ankles stained by the moist heat as I tripped and then stumbled and, tumbling down the hill, ran.

She was on the ground, Mother, oblivious, the dirt against her cheek, her hands buried in the earth, the shadow rolling and twisting around her as It ate her whispers, her sighs, her tears.

And now I sprinted toward the city under the glare of a bright sun as It chased me, churning and turning and whipping in the dust.

My heart pounded in my ears as the rocks cut my feet, the Darkness’s desire for me inflamed by the blood staining the ground.

The city drew near, the thick walls and heavy gates in sight.

In the quiet calm of morning she had urged me to leave the city with her.  Had insisted on passing through the gate to climb the small hill so we could speak away from those who would see, our secrets unknown to those who would hear.

She had lied, my Mother.

I stumbled and fell.

The heat was on me, the moist fingers wrapped around my ankle, my calf burning in the heat, the flesh raw under Its touch.

I kicked It free as I crawled, my hands pawing at the dirt as I climbed to my feet to run again.

It reared back, the shadow lunging forward like a snake before It followed, the Dark rolling on the ground like a wave.

I was close, so close, to the city.  To safety.

What if the Darkness followed me beyond the gates?, I suddenly thought as my heart beat in my ears.  What’s to stop It were it to slip into the city and torment me there?  Is there anything to keep It from swallowing me while I sleep?

What if this monstrosity were inescapable?

The guards recognized me, the brawny men in a rush to open the gates for the Almost King.

I darted through.

The Darkness followed.

I felt It on my heels, my calves, the back of my thighs, my back, my neck, the fingers around my skull as I ran and ran, the pain a constant sting, the burn excruciating as the Darkness took hold of me.

I had lost.

 

The Wounded King Final - cover

All Eyes on Martuk

So, with Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche, the sequel to Martuk … the Holy, almost finished, I’m doing a bit of marketing via a great, big two week Blog Tour.

Try not to get too excited, guys.

Baltimore concert

If you haven’t had enough of me by now, no doubt you’ll most certainly have your fill by the 15th of October.  ;-)

That being said, check out the tour dates:

 

October 1
Interview with Fang-tastic Books
http://www.fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com

October 2
Interview with BookwormBridgette’s World

http://bookwormbridgette.blogspot.com/

October 2
A Guest Blog for Rose & Beps Blog -

http://rosebeps.blogspot.it/

October 3
A Spotlight over at Eclipse Reviews

http://totaleclipsereviews.blogspot.com

October 4
Interview with Dalene’s Book Reviews

http://dalenesbookreviews.blogspot.com/

October 7
Interview with Pembroke Sinclair
http://www.pembrokesinclair.blogspot.com

October 7
A Spotlight and a review from Deb Sanders

http://debsanders.com

October 8
Interview with Author Karen Swart

http://authorkarenswart.blogspot.com

October 9
A Guest Blog for So Much TO Write So Little Time

http://somuchtowritesolittletime.com

October 9
A Spotlight on Mommasez…blog

http://ccclubbs.com/

October 10
A Guest Blog and a review from Roxanne’s REalm
http://www.roxannesrealm.blogspot.com

October 11
A Spotlight over at Fae Books
http://www.FaeBooks.co.uk

October 14
A Guest Blog for Simply Infatuated

http://www.simplyinfatuated.com/

October 15
A Guest Blog for Cloey’s Book Reviews and Other Stuff

http://cloeyk.blogspot.com

October 15
A review from Bookworm Babblings –

http://inspirationsbysimone.blogspot.com