From now until the 22nd The Wounded King – “a character study in evil” and the first story in The Martuk Series, Vol. 1 – is FREE over on Amazon.
You can go ahead and click HERE for an excerpt.
And how about a look at the cover?
A brand new FREE short story from the Eidolon Avenue universe.
A heartbroken widow. An infamous building. A darkness desperate to feed. This is Eidolon Avenue.
Young, bereaved and abandoned, the recent Knickerbocker Crash having taken more than just her savings, Mrs. Artatlan Fogoly considered herself lucky to have found a room to let. But when devout visitors refused to darken her door and an impossible stain appeared on the wall, what had felt like the beginning of something new and wonderful soon became a dangerous path to a surprising end.
The Realtor, an Eidolon Avenue Short, is the tale of how a heartbroken widow turned into Eidolon Avenue’s constant revenant. A siren call for those destined to end their wretched days in that wood, those bricks, that stone. The captive wraith who opened the door and brought the damned home to die.
And what of those wretched damned? Their stories are found in Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast as well as the upcoming Eidolon Avenue: The Second Feast.
This story is merely a glimpse of Jonathan Winn’s work, so if you enjoy this introductory story, be sure to pick up Winn’s Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast, available from Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.
““The Martuk Series” of novellas… really captivated me…with an amplified sense of brutality and pain, there’s dark stuff here kids, all the way around. And I am on pins and needles for the next entry in “The Martuk Series”, “The Tall Priest”.
Not only will this push the envelope, it will guild that envelope in gold, hone it to a razors edge and use it in a beautiful & brutal ceremony. It so fucking heavy and beautiful and I loved every moment of it.”
So head on over and pick up The Wounded King, the first in the series, FREE now thru Sunday, March 12th, 2017.
Since Amazon cut off the sample before it got to the text, I’ve included an excerpt here from The Tall Priest:
I was blood.
The taste of it raced ‘round my teeth and flooded my throat. The warmth of it fell from my eyes and stained my cheeks. The red of it dripped off my chin to wander along my neck and down my chest.
I’ll give you my son, she’d said, the Seer from the Mountains. Leave me here to do what must be done and I’ll give you my son.
Her words the darkest of shadows clouding my calm, I’d returned to Uruk that morning, the Seer’s son, an unexpected charge, in hand. Soon I’d stood in the Temple, my explanations useless, The Elder’s rage quiet and terrifying. Moments later, I, a powerful priest in a land of powerful priests, had been dragged across the stone to face my fate.
Now I kneeled, a powerless man in a prison of wood and stone, broken and bloodied in the dead of night.
By morning I’d be a corpse.
I’ll give you my son.
Those words, heavy with heartbreak, had come from the Water first.
Days ago in a small room hidden far beneath the Temple, I’d stood with my beloved, The Elder, as the shimmering pool had whispered
“Don’t. Please,” The Elder said as I’d waited, gripping the edge of hollowed stone, my face dipped low as I silently called to the Gods.
the Water whispered, answering me, the words caressing my cheeks.
He’d begged and pleaded, the Elder, this most powerful man in a city of powerful men. Implored me to turn away. Allow the Water to hold its tongue. Keep its secrets. “It’s dangerous and I can’t bear to lose you,” he said, his voice thick.
“I need to speak with the Gods,” I said, braced with uncommon courage. And I’d ignored him, leaning forward, blade in hand, to slice, to watch, to see. To listen and hear, the blood dripping from my wrist the key unlocking my fate.
And the Seer from the Mountains had appeared in the shallow bowl, the words
Take my son
falling from her lips.
These words, these three syllables, soon to be spoken a three nights walk from Uruk where she, the Seer, and I would stand, watching, under the shade of trees.
Take my son
Hearing her, I’d pause.
For that the guards put me in chains.
More words would be spoken on that path a three nights’ walk from Uruk, a darkening sky above. Of dangerous shadows and ravenous demons. Of monsters and magic. Of battles being fought and wars being lost. Here. Now. Unseen yet all around.
My heart, my gut, trusting her, I’d listen.
For that I lost my eyes.
Days later, now days ago, the tears wetting her cheeks as she stood, silent and waiting, her story at an end, my heart heard
And, against logic and reason and rules, braced with yet more uncommon courage, I’d relent.
For that the guards cut out my tongue.
Learning I’d heard and listened and trusted, my secret beloved, The Elder, had grown dangerously quiet. Discovering I’d acted against logic and reason and his rules, he betrayed me. In response to my misplaced courage, he ripped out my tongue, robbing me of my words, my knowledge, my secrets. And then, my eyes dug out and tossed to the hounds, those two words
finally took from me the pleasure of seeing the sun, the moon. The once-adored face of the love who betrayed me.
The Water in a small, secret room far below the Temple had spoken of that, too.
As had the sky, the earth, the forest, the stones…
Now I turned. My long legs tucked under, I rested on my knees, the cold stone of the cell burning my shins. In the dark of blindness, I heard them. Other prisoners. Their sighs and whimpers, tears and whispers. Heard the shuffling of thin fabric and the shivering of bare flesh. Felt the Silent Other, a stranger to me, waiting, watching. Drawing near, slow and patient, from the other end of the earthen hall.
A Silent Other I’d glimpsed when my eyes could still see, though I stood in the shade of trees under the gathering grey of relentless clouds. He haunted me still, this Silent Other, this stranger. His dishonest smile cutting through the terrifying darkness. The leather cloak falling from his shoulders hemmed with the clattering clank of tiny bones.
I swallowed the memory away, the blood from the still-bleeding root creeping down my throat. It still stung, that stolen tongue, though the burn in my missing eyes had given way to an exhausted thump, thump, thump.
Had I tears, I would have wept. For all I’d lost. All I’d never have. For mistakes and regrets. Lies. Betrayal. The ache of a broken spirit.
For my stupid willingness to abandon reason and peer into an endless wall of black.
But I’d been warned.
the earth had whispered.
the trees had echoed.
the sky had promised.
I’d been warned.
“It’s said she Called the Rain,” the Fat Priest said. He leaned, red-faced and sweating, against a boulder. “And that she battled a demon or something.”
I’d grinned, willing him silent, eager for the sound of the breeze snaking through the branches or skimming over the grass. The blessed silence of a bright sun warming my skin. The private joy of crisp air in every breath.
“A darkness,” I said instead.
“A darkness,” I said again, my voice louder and perhaps too harsh. “She battled a darkness, not a demon.”
“Stupid peasants.” The Fat Priest said. The rolls of flesh circling his neck jiggled as he chuckled before stopping to choke on a fit of sudden coughs.
I looked away. Ignored my travel companion, still resenting this pairing forced on me for this most important of tasks.
“Six days,” the Elder had promised. “In six days you will be home.”
And so the Fat Priest and I left when the moon was still high, walking into the shade of the thick trees outside Uruk. Stumbled up the trails into the deeper dark of the hills where the stars could no longer light our way. Struggled past the boulders and the stones. Angled past the vines and climbed over the immense roots of massive trees. Made our way, step by lumbering step, into the ancient mystery of the mountains as night relented and morning came.
All for him, The Elder.
And for her.
The mother of this young man who could speak with Those Beyond the Veil was coveted and desired. “Do you think she Called the Rain?” the Fat Priest said as his pudgy paw mopped the sweat from his brow. “Probably not,” he then said, answering his own question. He wiped his hand on his robe. “All this work, all this walking, hot sun, steep hills, bugs and who knows what watching from the trees, and all for nothing.”
“And if you’re wrong?” I said, my eyes on the distant hills awaiting us.
He grunted, the sound not quite a laugh, but not daring to be disrespectful.
“I do know this,” I said, keeping my temper in check as I refused his gaze. “It is said by those who know of such things, travelers and traders, those who’ve sat and supped and broken bread with her, that this woman speaks with Those Beyond the Veil.” I looked to him. “She has a rare and powerful gift given by the Gods.”
The Fat Priest watched me, his hand rising to shield his small eyes from the sun. “Is that so?”
I nodded. “If this is, in fact, true…” I stopped.
I took a breath. Steadied myself. Willed myself not to smile, the desperate ambition of this simple man an instrument almost too easy to play. “If this is true,” I then said, “think of the glory that awaits. The eager affection of those painted women in those dark alleys known only by a select few. The ample reward, the coin, the respect, that’ll be showered on you from the most powerful of priests.”
He watched me, the small eyes narrowing to mere slits atop the rounded, reddened cheeks. “Who are you?” he said. “The Elder favors you. Why?”
Pushing forward from the stone, he rose with a grunt to take a lumbering step toward me. “It’s said you have access to him that others don’t.” He paused, the hand again rising to block the sun. “How did you get that?” Another step, the eyes still narrow. “Tell me.”
“I serve the Gods, the king.” My heart was racing, my throat dry. “I do as you do, my friend.” I offered an easy smile. One that was ignored. “I cannot say why the Gods, or the Elder, favor me, if, in fact, as you say, they do.”
Feeling the Fat Priest’s jealousy, perhaps even anger, I could not tell him the truth. Could not share the beginning.
How The Elder and I came to be was my secret to keep.
And pick up The Wounded King, the first installment, for FREE
(March 10th thru March 12th)
So it is.
In The Elder, the latest installment of The Martuk Series, Jonathan Winn, author of Martuk … The Holy, digs deeper into the world of ancient Uruk. A world of power and absolute rule. Of magic and superstition. Of Dark Gods and mysterious Ancients, magical Immortals and unseen Seers. Of powerful Priests cloaked in robes of red and gold and a Man from the Mountains who has yet to arrive.
From the innocence and depravity and blood-drenched chaos of The Wounded King, we now follow The Elder, a Priest desperate to rule, blinded by power, afraid to die. A man who climbs deep into caves beneath sun-scorched mountains and sacrifices anonymous flesh in a blood-stained Temple. A desperate soul driven by words whispered from the lips of a doomed Child and haunted by the warnings of an Immortal buried in ash. One who makes an impossible choice for the promise of Life Everlasting and, riddled by doubt, chooses again, this final act of violent desperation opening the way for an ancient curse from a Darkness older than Time.
From the whispered pleas to the Darkest of Gods to the anguished screams of the stolen innocent, this is … The Elder.
How cool is that? Oh, and here’s a review of The Elder from Amazon:
Once again Jonathan Winn has successfully made me cringe with yet another wonderfully descriptive piece. I loved Martuk…the Holy, and these short stories that delve into other characters from the story line are just fabulous. Never before have I had to set a book down and take a breath in order to regain some composure. The vivid imagery that Winn brings forth in his writing is amazing. I can see and feel every bone popping, tendon splitting, blood curdling scene that he describes.
Winn’s style is unique and special. Go out and read Martuk if you have not already, then devour this series after! If you’re looking for a great book that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and your face cringe, then look no further.
And tomorrow? Yep, you guessed it. Red and Gold, the third in the series.
The word came again, lost in the earth as she lay on the ground. Fistfuls of dirt clutched in her tiny fists, her neck rolled, tender bones popping while The Seer nodded its head and the mouth open and closed, open and closed.
The Child stopped and rose, crouched on hands and knees.
“Man … ” she said before she fell to the ground. Her back arched, then released only to snap back into another arch, the head once again low.
“From the …” the words came, her face hidden behind her golden hair.
The Seer ducked its chin to its flat chest, its large, long hands dropping to its side.
The tears came then as she wept, The Child. Her body convulsed with sobs, with hiccups. She tried to crawl away, slipping on the urine soaked ground, trapped by the rope around her wrists.
I leaned forward and reached my hand out. But not close enough to touch, to intrude.
“Man from the …?” I asked. “From the mountains?”
The Seer raised its head, the long fingers splayed wide as they stretched and reached and grabbed the air, pushing away the Voices.
The tears stopped as The Child moaned and then grew quiet.
She abruptly rose to her knees, her back straight, arms to her side and her chin to her chest, the mouth now open as drool leaked from her lips.
“From the mountains?” I insisted.
It gasped, The Seer, its head back, the fingers quiet and still, the ribs rising and falling as it fought for breath.
The Child lifted into the air.
Her knees left the ground, her shins dropping to hang as she rose. The tiny feet dangled as she lifted higher and higher, her chin in her chest, her face still buried under a sheath of shining hair.
She stopped, waiting, suspended.
I paused, waiting.
“Elder … Priest … King,” she said, the voice low as it echoed the Whispers.
“Yes,” I replied, my voice weak.
“Yes,” I said again, stronger.
The head rose and the hair fell away from the sweet face. Her mouth stretched wide as she tried to speak, the jaw again a series of pops and cracks as it opened and closed, opened and closed.
“Yes,” I repeated.
She stopped, trapped in midair, the jaw frozen in a silent scream as The Seer attempted to speak through her.
And then she began to bleed.
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