Ain’t she gorgeous? 😍
Ain’t she gorgeous? 😍
The Tall Priest
Book Four in The Martuk Series
From the blood drenched depravity of The Wounded King, the ancient curses of The Elder and the heartbreaking betrayal of Red and Gold, we now follow The Tall Priest as he meets the boy who will soon become the immortal Martuk.
Ordered to bring the famous Seer from the Mountains to the Elder, the Tall Priest quickly discovers a world outside Uruk’s massive gates. A world alive with the impossible. A world screaming, warning him of the unseen darkness shadowing his every step. Of the horrors of a past that still live. Capturing. Trapping. Feasting. Horrors the Seer is desperate to fight, her only hope the Tall Priest taking her beloved son far from danger and saving him from certain death.
Once home, betrayed by the one he loves, his end ignominious for one so powerful, the Tall Priest waits for death. Blinded and mute, fearing an end that never ends with Those Bones in the Stones, this is the story of a heart broken by unimaginable truth. Of honesty and kindness met with torture and death. Of how unconditional love results in the prison of timeless immortality.
This is…The Tall Priest.
The work-in-progress epilogue for my work-in-progress Shayateen, third book in the Martuk…the Holy 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.
From the blood drenched depravity of The Wounded King and the ancient curses of The Elder, we now follow a young man in his journey to the coveted red and gold robes of a Priest in Red and Gold, the third installment in The Martuk Series, Jonathan Winn’s ongoing collection of short fiction inspired by his award-winning novel Martuk … the Holy.
It begins with a whisper.
The words a warning, silently spoken to the heart of this innocent kneeling in the mighty Temple of Uruk one thousand years before the birth of Christ. A young one who dreams of being wrapped in the red and gold robes of a priest.
But this warning whispered by a mysterious Magi leads to doubt. And then to fear. This stranger who wields magic from the anonymity of shadow forcing this initiate to look beyond the power of the Temple into the frightening black hearts of those who rule.
Haunted by the cries of those Bones in the Stones, his kindness stumbling under the weight of a young boy he leads to slaughter, all while trapped in this life he’s chosen and now can never escape, this is the story of how horrible truths and bloody betrayals destroy the dreams of innocent hearts.
This is … Red and Gold.
— available now —
Doing a final polish on Red and Gold, the latest installment in The Martuk Series, and should have it Live on Amazon, etc. in a day or two. 🙂
Until then, here’s the cover.
Tip of a grateful cap to my cover artist, Timothy Burch. He’s kinda awesome. 🙂
And, yeah, why the hell not? Here’s a brief excerpt:
Listen well …
The voice, the whisper, came again.
The Elder was passing me. He moved by, calm and quick. I did not exist to him. I was no one. A stranger to ignore. An initiate who had yet to earn the priesthood, my thick hair damning me to ignominy on sight.
Ah, but this stranger, the one with the cloak ringed with the dull white of bone, he was not one to ignore. I could sense fear in the old man, The Elder. I could feel the air thick with secrets and shame and an utter sense of powerlessness.
The Elder stopped.
I glanced at his bare feet.
They were covered in blood. And bits of flesh? Yes, that’s what it looked like, his long toes smeared in discarded shards of torn flesh. And the hem of his red and gold robe, it, too, was covered in blood. It was dripping, small drops of blood staining the stone beneath his feet.
The blood was fresh.
And they, the two of them, The Elder and this stranger who could whisper to the darkest depths of my soul, both smelled of smoke and raging fire and torn flesh.
But The Elder had stopped. Could he hear my thoughts? Could he read my soul? Did he know I had linked his name, his greatness, with words like shame and powerlessness?
If so, I would incur his wrath.
The stranger grew close. Looked at me. He, too, was covered in blood. His robe dripping fresh blood. His feet stained red. More so than The Elder’s. As if this stranger, whose toes almost squished with fresh blood, had waded through an ocean of red to stand before me.
I raised my eyes, slowly, so, so slowly.
His chest was bare. It was covered in blood.
His head was shaved smooth. It was covered in blood.
His eyes, peering from beneath a layer of red, were looking at mine.
A small smile grew on his thin lips.
Young priest …
came the whisper.
Listen well and I will give you the world.
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