What Would You Sacrifice?

What Would You Sacrifice? Your Wealth? Your Life?

What About Your Soul?

Protect the Innocent. Punish the Guilty. 

It’s Almost Here! The Obsidian Gates (Book Two: Heart of The Warrior) comes out in print on November 17th!  Stay tuned to DTJ or sign up for my newsletter for updates on the book tour, giveaways and author interviews.

Back Cover:

A new series from award winning Author, C.R. Richards: The epic tale continues. A new covenant has been forged in the chaos of war. Its price is nothing less than the Bearer of the Lion Ring’s soul.

The rivalry for dominance over the continent of Andara has taken a dark turn. Eternal enemies – the Jalora and the Sarcion – pit their forces against one another in bloody battle. Good weakens, betrayed by the very humans it has sworn to protect. Valdeon, its stronghold on Andara, falls to sword and flame. The fires of its destruction are set alight by barbaric invaders from across the sea. Their brutal hand conquers the land in a night, exiling the Lords of Valdeon – Sacred Guard of the Covenant. Cut off from the center of their power, the Jalora’s greatest heroes are helpless to defend their homeland.

Hope still lingers. Seth D’Antoiné, Bearer of the Lion Ring, journeys to the great Obsidian Citadel seeking a magical relic, the Book of Ancients. Its power could hold the key to Andara’s defense. He alone can open its pages, sparking the magic into life and restoring the Jalora’s waning power. Finding the book won’t be easy. Elusive Obsidian Gates – appearing and then vanishing again by their own will – keep the secret of the book’s location well hidden.

In the depths of the mountain fortress, he finds treachery and intrigue hiding within its walls. Can Seth open the Book of Ancients before the Sarcion’s men find him? Or will the power of Good leave the land forever? Andara’s future awaits behind the Obsidian Gates…

Boo Alert – Don’t Forget to enter my Spooky Season Sweepstakes! Enter by Midnight, October 27th for a chance to win 1 or 3 EBook copies of The Lords of Valdeon (Book One: Heart of The Warrior).

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The Obsidian Gates – Chapter One Excerpt

Silver ribbons from a lonely moon fell in tatters through the fog about the docks. Their thin fabric touched the surface of dark water as it slapped against rotting wood. Nature’s other voices had been silenced this night, as if Erthe was holding its breath. Julian D’Antoiné wrapped his cloak tighter about his body against the chill of an islander autumn night. He too felt the horrible anticipation as he waited for the heavy axe of war to fall.

A lone pillar stood broken amongst the cold waves. It was a testament of simpler times before airships and industry had come to these little islands. He gritted his teeth as another bit of metal from the abandoned dock struck the wood with a hollow thump. Storming toward his personal albatross, he gripped the man’s arm as he was about to throw another noisy projectile.

“We’re trying to avoid detection, Marcellus, not announce our presence to these Grey Cliff Islander bumpkins.”

“We wait in the darkness for a filthy thief with no honor.” Marcellus De Costa turned incredulous eyes upon him. “Why trust this mercenary scum, my lord prince? You have loyal men who could see the job done.”

He raised a hand again to toss the bit of metal, noticed Julian’s glare and then placed it carefully atop a pillar. The deep, ill-formed indentation in his cheek paled to a sickening gray under the moonlight. Marcellus was a rabid dog. His own father had tried to put him down. Julian, at the Sarcion’s wish, had saved him from public stoning. It was Marcellus’ thirst for power, rather than gratitude, which kept him by Julian’s side.

“Our friend can’t resist the smell of money.”

“And what of Valdeon? The people need their prince to lead them when the storms of war come.”

Julian slammed a fist against the rotting wood of the railing. “The Lion Ring is the key to Valdeon’s salvation.”

His Akutarian allies had come to Andara’s shores promising Julian aid in taking the throne. Their lust for the continent’s resources and wealth hadn’t become clear until their Emperor had sent his general to oversee Valdeon’s conquest. Lord Gorman was impatient to spill Andarian blood. If Julian didn’t find the whelp who bore their father’s ring soon, it would be Gorman upon the throne.

Hatred tightened around his heart in a painful embrace as he thought of the half-breed boy. A child of two ancient enemies, he was an abomination. No one would embrace his reign. Rather, he’d be given a painful death by an angry mob. It would be a kindness on Julian’s part to kill the boy quickly, instead.

“You have left your ship against Lord Gorman’s orders, Andarian.”

Two Jackal warriors stepped from the ruins of an abandoned boathouse. Julian took an involuntary step away from their gruesome visages. Blood encrusted braids fell across battle worn armor. The odor of their unwashed bodies drowned the stench of discarded fish entrails and stale brine. Teeth, yellow with age and neglect, escaped the confines of cracked lips as they grinned.

One of the Jackal warriors, a man with an empty left eye socket, stepped forward. He extended his hand palm up and began tapping the tips of his fingers together. Julian understood their culture well enough to know that they reserved the gesture for calling wayward harlots in their brothels.

“Why do you linger here? Guilt? No. I think not.”

“My vessel is in need of minor repairs. I have no interest in hovering over the crew as they perform menial tasks.”

“No doubt they were happy to be rid of you.” He turned toward his comrade. “Go. Inform Lord Gorman our wayward dog likes to roam when he’s off leash. I will stay with the Andarian’s ship until he reaches San Leonora.”

Obeying with surprising discipline for a barbarian, he left them as soundlessly as he’d arrived. Wrapped in armor and weapons, the Jackal warriors were infamous for their stealth and lust for blood. They were brutal killers who took joy in violence. Working in packs like their namesake, the Jackal were expert predators. Though he refused to tolerate their disgusting taunts, Julian took great care not to push them too far.

“Lord Gorman knew you’d try to go back on your word, prince of nothing. He told me to watch you like I would a cornered beast hiding in the darkness. Murdering your own kin for a trinket. I would say you were more of a vulture who should have its neck snapped.”

Then the man’s remaining eye went wide. Blood dribbled from his open mouth. He dropped to filthy knees and onto the gray boards of the dock. Marcellus stood over the body, knife steaming with the man’s blood.

“You should have listened to your lord.” He spat atop the body.

The mad fool had just signed his own death warrant. Lord Gorman had a disturbing way of knowing the desires in a man’s heart. One glare into Marcellus’ crazed eyes and the Jackal General would see what he’d done. Watching the euphoria upon his murderous companion’s face, Julian wondered if exposing the deed would be of benefit. Lord Gorman would most certainly kill him, leaving Julian with one less burden.

“What foul stench plagues us? It turns the stomach.”

Light burst from a lantern, removing their blanket of secrecy. Its owner leaned against the remains of a boathouse with arms folded and an amused look upon his face. The devil only knew how long he’d been watching them. Short blond hair bristled atop a sunburned scalp. Bronze pierced his ears in long rows of loops. A dull brown cloak hung over his loose-fitting trousers. Its filthy hem brushed at the rim of worn leather boots.

Known for stealth almost as much as for greed, mercenaries were the nomads of Andara. They held no allegiance to anything except wealth. His impertinence was no surprise.

“You’re late, Cutter.” Julian stepped around the filthy body to join him at the edge of the light. “I should think you’d be on time for the large sum I’m paying you.”

Cutter shrugged and rubbed at the dirty blond stubble on his scarred chin. “You said you were interested in the boy. If you’d rather I come to hold hands with you in the dark, so be it.”

“You know where he is?”

“He escaped Marianna on a cargo airship. They’ll land here on Larkspur soon. I have men waiting on the docks.” Cutter let the greedy smile cross his face. “So many men to feed and arm. It may take a few extra coins to see the job done.”

“Do you think I care about the cost?” Julian shoved a dagger under his chin. “Listen well. Find the boy. He has a ring I want. Cut it off his hand if necessary once you’ve killed him. Bring the ring to me in Valdeon within three days’ time or I’ll send my new friends to fetch you.”

Julian waved his hand toward the shadows. A shroud broke away from the darkness and floated toward them. The Dirge hovered beside the corpse. Lowering its head like a hungry animal, it sniffed and grunted toward the abandoned flesh. Gray-skinned fingers wagged anxiously toward its bloodied prize.

“My Dirge is going to accompany you to find the boy. It will keep you true to your word.” Julian grinned as Cutter paled and took a step away from the creature. “If I may offer a word of advice? Don’t come between it and a meal.”

Julian nodded at the Dirge and turned away when it pounced upon the body. Chewing flesh and bone, the creature began to devour its feast. Raw, frenzied hunger drove the Dirge to near madness as it ate. They were difficult to control at the best of times. Bloodshed turned them feral.

“You’d better hurry, Cutter. This body should sate its hunger for a few days, but I can’t promise the creature won’t turn feral if you’re delayed.”

“You’ve made your point,” Cutter said, disgust upon his face. “I think I’ve been properly motivated to kill this boy of yours.”

Julian pushed past Cutter, leaving him to stare unabashedly at the feasting Dirge. Money was an excellent motivator for most, but no one could stand against the fear of certain death. He took a happier pace across the rotting docks. The Lion Ring would soon be upon his finger. Lord Gorman hadn’t secured the throne of Valdeon quite yet.

Boo Alert – Don’t Forget to enter my Spooky Season Sweepstakes! Enter by Midnight, October 27th for a chance to win 1 or 3 EBook copies of The Lords of Valdeon (Book One: Heart of The Warrior).

Rafflecopter Giveaway Link

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