Crimson tears

from my book, The Wounded King:

He took a breath, the words coming, swollen and thick and carried on the stench of impending death.

“Beyond the Veil, they suffer, brother. The King, my mother, the Darkness around them, trapping them. It waits for me. It’s here –”

“No,” I interrupted. “I’m here with you.”

“No, no,” he insisted. “Here in the Temple, in the palace, outside in the city, in the night, in the sky, in the air, the wind, the sun. In the dark.”

“You’re safe,” I assured him, my hand once more on his, the square cloth still on his eyes blinding him. “I’m here and you’re safe.”

He released me, pushing me away. His hands reached to remove the cloth.

He opened his eyes.

They were unseeing globes of wounded white.

He spoke, crimson tears staining his scarred and bloody cheeks as he blinked.

“The Darkness, it’s here with us.”

Behind me, the Old Man bowed, the rustle of his garments distracting me.

“It’s here,” my brother, the King, repeated, the wounded globes now closed.

I turned.

Eyes rimmed red, sallow skin the color of sun-bleached sand, holes where healthy teeth had been only hours ago, each heavy step a great effort, she approached.

Mother.

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anguished screams of the stolen innocent

Here you go, guys. The back cover book blurb for The Elder, coming this week:

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.

***

The Elder is the second book in The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of Short Fiction inspired by the full-length novel Martuk … The Holy.

“walking on the bones”

(excerpt from The Elder, the next book in The Martuk Series)

Elder …

I wiped my cheek and lifted my head.

The Child had stopped, her body still, her blood-drenched toes far from the ground, her face stained red as she watched me with bleeding eyes.

The Seer had stopped, the bent body now still, waiting.

The wolves were quiet, their bodies hidden in the dark, waiting.

She spoke, The Child, her words silently on The Seer’s lips.

“Made of ash, of stone, burning from the bones, warriors and Queens, a woman trapped in time, a rival drawing near, hatred, love, pain, hatred, love, pain, hatred … ”

The bones crunched and snapped as her head circled quick, chin to chest and then back, her mouth opened and closed, opened and closed.

Then she paused.

Breathed.

And then spoke again.

“He will come, the one you seek, with the death, the life, stepping through the light, walking on the bones.”

She then closed her eyes …

I had lost — an excerpt from The Wounded King

An excerpt from The Wounded King, the first book in The Martuk Series, a collection of Short Fiction based on the full-length novel 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.