Happy Thanksgiving, to all my US readers, and Happy Holidays to everyone else! Advent of Ruin will be on Kindle Countdown promotion from Black Friday all the way through until the end of the month. Now’s a great time to pick it up, whether for yourself or for the ebook fan on your list.
If you’ve been on the fence about this one, I’ve included an excerpt from the first chapter below.
One night past the third oasis, about a week and a half out of Udhampna, Shahin was beginning to think he might just make it, although he was lucky to have avoided bandits so long. Not far off the side of the road he spotted a place to camp; a hollow that should be shaded from wind and sun alike through the worst of the day’s heat. Govad danced a bit and balked as Shahin guided them toward the hollow. Teqrab, following now and carrying most of Shahin’s gear, whistled and planted his feet at the base of a dune.
“Is there something there, then?” All he saw was sand. “All right. The next one.” Gray dawn was breaking, but he hadn’t lasted this long without learning to pay attention when his camels acted out.
A swishing sound came from the dune peak, the sound sand makes when it slides over itself. Govad bellowed as both camels broke into a gallop – away from the road. Shahin had to grab the pommel of his saddle to keep from falling off.
Something heavy thudded into the sand, and Shahin felt as much as heard the lead line snap. Teqrab bellowed. He spun around and grabbed at the end even as Govad sped up. The camel had his head, and Shahin almost lost his grip on the reins when he caught a glimpse of what was behind him.
What in the name of all the absent gods are those?
Three long, black shapes easily the size of the camel, with curving tails and stingers that made pikes look like twigs, fought amongst themselves over Teqrab’s still-struggling body. One of them abandoned the fight, skittering across the sand after the prey that still ran. Now came dry-mouthed, sweaty terror, and he urged Govad still faster.
The creature was faster than Govad. Shahin wished, momentarily, that he had Kriila instead – but this was not the time for regrets. He looked forward again, urging yet more speed out of his beleaguered mount, scanning the sand ahead for anything resembling salvation.
The thing screamed, sending a fresh pulse of fear radiating out from Shahin’s chest.
A black scar marred the ground ahead. Better than nothing. He yanked on the reins, harder than he liked to, to remind Govad who was in control here. The camel obeyed, turning to the north and the uncertain safety of a hole in the ground.
Whumph. The thing tried to strike at them as they turned, and it was thanks to the turn that it missed. This was already faster than Govad had run before, but Shahin still asked for more. The camel’s flanks were damp with exertion. Just a little farther…
Thump-bump, thump-bump – the hollow sound of a thin crust over a pocket – and then Govad leapt out over a chasm, striving for the other side. We’re not going to make it.
Govad bellowed, as did Shahin. The saddle fell from beneath him and he instinctively let go of the reins as they plunged into darkness.