Shadow of the Winter King
World of Ruin #1
By-Erik Scott de Bie
Genre- Epic Fantasy, Adventure
Published By- Dragon Moon Press
Armed with the voracious sword Frostburn, court slayer Regel Winter once shed the blood of countless foes in service to Orbrin the Winter King.
But even the coldest steel cannot save those Regel loves: his beloved Princess Lenalin, her daughter Semana, and the Winter King himself, felled by treachery five years ago.
Barely an echo of the man he was, Regel forges a pact with the assassin who slew Orbrin, setting out on a deadly quest for vengeance that will change the face of the World of Ruin.
As cries of “Murder!” rang in his ears, Regel skittered spider-like up the mountain wall of the palace, trying to slow his raging heart. He could no longer hear the accusations, but only the wind that sang of his victory, so long overdue.
He drove his fingers into a handhold and pulled himself to the next, shoulders corded with effort. Breath came hard as he worked, so he found a perching dragon, wedged his calves inside, and leaned back to rest and gulp down the cold mountain air that rushed through his hair, chapped hands hanging. Thirty years had passed since he had first made this climb, and he had grown no younger in that time.
A thousand feet below him, low-city sparkled with a night sky’s worth of candles burning in thousands of windows. From this distance, Tar Vangr looked peaceful, even though he knew the watch would be storming house to house, searching for the murderer of Paeter Ravalis. Fitting, he supposed, that he had dealt Paeter’s death on this night of all nights. Doom stalked the streets on Ruin’s Night, the last night of the year, visiting death and destruction where it wished.
He had ridden a skylift most of the way up to the palace, but ultimately he’d had to duck Ravalis guards at the gates. They were out in force, and had even rounded up ironclads to guard high-city for Ruin’s Night. Any other route—even killing the guards, regardless of armament—would have been easier than the climb, but the effort quieted the fierce joy and anger that warred in his heart. Scaling the mountain gave him a chance to be alone and think.
Regel felt it before he heard it: stone trembled and cracked under his feet. He lunged out and caught himself on the dragon’s wing, then leaped from there to the carved slit of a window. The dragon itself broke away from the mountain and tumbled down over low-city. Regel remembered the jackal figurine, falling on Paeter’s body. The stone beast shattered into rubble on a lower ridge.
The whole city was falling apart, as Ruin encroached outside the walls.
Regel flexed his arms, swung about, and alighted on a high balcony that looked out over low-city and the bay. As a nameless child climbing and skulking in the passages beneath the palace, he had delighted in his skill. The palace had been his world, and these stones his kingdom. Now, as a man, he was tired and wanted nothing more than to find a warm place to rest.
He thought of the king. “We are all of us old men,” he said to no one.
The darkness of Ruin’s Night whispered in reply, but he thought that just the wind. Either way, it chilled him.
Before that night, Regel had expected to feel righteous or at least justified. Finally, Orbrin had loosed his hand, and Regel had avenged the only woman he had ever loved. Finally, Princess Semana was old enough to rule on her own without Paeter, and depriving her of her wretch of a father seemed like a service. Finally, the Blood of Winter could break free of these damned Ravalis of the summerblood.
So why did he feel no warm elation, but only cold dread?
Then Regel saw something afire in the ice-choked harbor. Ships were making their way toward burning hunks of metal that lay strewn across the harbor: the wreck of a crashed skyship.
Regel’s stomach lurched. This very eve, Princess Semana had been returning to the city by skyship.
It took a moment for the horror to strike him—a moment wherein his chest heaved in increasing panic and he almost lost his grip on the window. He knew, with a frenzied, mad certainty, that something had gone terribly wrong this night, in part by his own hand.
Then he saw it: a dark shape framed against the moon, flying toward the king’s balcony above. Not a bird, he thought—a man.
Heedless of the deadly drop below, Regel leaped up the outside wall and caught one of the nearly invisible handholds he’d cut years ago. He climbed, racing the flying man, and swung up over the banister onto the main balcony just as he landed. Inner light through the stained glass of the palace window cast scintillating colors over the two figures.
Before Regel stood a spindly creature wrapped toe to crown in black leather. Its arms and legs—the latter trailing smoke in the wake of the flight—looked more like black-swathed bones than the limbs of a living thing. It wore mismatched gauntlets: one of fire-blasted metal with talons, one a more elegant construction of silver and iron. Its face hid behind a leather mask that covered its head entirely, leaving only small slits for eyes and mouth. Regel might have thought the creature a manikin, but for the way its eyes flicked to him beneath the mask. The moonlight made the eyes seem blood red.
Regel knew this creature and his murderous powers. Frostburn was instantly in his hands, filling him with a cold hunger. “Mask,” he said.
The sorcerer considered him a moment, as though pondering his presence. In his left hand, he held what looked like a hempen rope soaked in blood. “Regel, King’s Shadow,” he said, his voice both sibilant and rough-shod, like a snake slithering through jagged glass. “I always knew it would be you.”
Regel found the words odd, but a surge of anger drowned out all thought. The ravings of a lunatic could not be credited. “What are you doing here?”
Mask hesitated a moment. “I slay the Blood of Winter this night—what of you?”
He thought of the destroyed skyship he’d seen in the harbor. “It was you,” he said. “You crashed the Heiress. You...” He raised Frostburn. “You killed Semana.”
He could not read Mask’s expression, of course, but the sorcerer hesitated. “Why would you care? Were you not here to kill the king, slayer? Do you not kill all that you swear to love, by your hand or another’s?”
Then Mask tossed the gory rope to the stone between them, and Regel knew it for what it was: a sticky mass of hair. It was Semana’s silver-white braid, smeared with half-congealed blood.
Rage welling, Regel tensed to spring, but a cry from the throne room broke his concentration. His eyes flickered to the window for an instant, and something struck him from Mask’s direction—sickly green magic that flared around the slayer’s mask and surged forth to saturate him like a flood. His body felt hard as bone under Mask’s power, every muscle afire. His insides churned and air would not come. He coughed, spattering the stones with blackish blood. He fell, nerveless beyond his inner agony, face turned so he could see into the throne room.
A score of guardsmen stood in a circle, weapons drawn, frozen. There, in the center of the ring, knelt King Orbrin, leaning against Ovelia. Regel thought at first that they were embracing, and found it strange. She was devoted to him, yes, but that embrace was too intimate—like that of a child and parent, or even that of lovers. Then she pulled away, and her sword wrenched free of Orbrin’s chest. Blood smeared across her face. For a moment, her hazel eyes wet and gleaming, she gazed out at them—at him. Then she saluted with her bloody sword.
The guardsmen roared a chorus of anger and charged her.
Regel heard a sound like a choked gasp. Mask was looking into the throne room, hand at his obscured mouth. Was that laughter?
Then the creature strode away and leaped from the balcony to take flight.
The magic wracking Regel’s body subsided, but he was too weak to move, too weak to defend his king or even himself.
The scalding rain returned, sliding across his face like burning tears as he lay helpless as a corpse.
Shield of the Summer Prince
World of Ruin #2
By-Erik Scott de Bie
Genre- Epic Fantasy, Adventure
Published By- Dragon Moon Press
Publication Date- December 11th
Though the knight Ovelia Dracaris swore to defend the Blood of Denerre with her life, hers was the dishonored hand that felled the Winter King.
After five years as a spymaster, Ovelia resurfaced in a desperate quest for justice that cost her everything: love, her sight, and almost her life.
Blinded and exiled, Ovelia wards her only remaining friend on his quest to save the burning city of Luether, hoping to find what has eluded her for so long: redemption.
I am a speculative fiction author, mostly writing fantasy, science fiction, and some mix of the two. I'm probably best known for the Forgotten Realms series SHADOWBANE (the tale of a thief turned vigilante paladin, sworn to a dead god), as well as a growing body of short stories in various anthologies and available for download on the web. (Seriously, check my website, it's pretty awesome.)
I am also a known quantity in the gaming industry, designing for the legendary tabletop RPG Dungeons and Dragons as well as other systems.
When I'm not writing, gaming, or more writing, I compose technical documentation by day and fight injustice by night. I lives in Seattle and am married with pets.