Welcome to the third day of The Path of the Fallen blog tour. It will run until July 8th and will feature excerpts, new author interviews each day, character interviews, and a casting call by the author. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this sprawling fantasy world:
Set against the backdrop of the tundra and a world desperate for hope, the journey of a young man, E'Malkai, will come to define a realm that has been broken by an evil that does not sleep. A bitter betrayal, and the inception of a war that will consume the world, forces E'Malkai to confront the past and undertake a pilgrimage that is his birthright. Follow him on his journey and be transformed.
A few questions for the author:
What is the most demeaning thing said about you as a writer?
Probably a whole variety of things that would make me cry myself to sleep, but none that I would share. People are going to love you and hate you for what you do. Best prepare yourself for it now.
How do you react to a bad review of one of your books?
Read it, see if there is anything useful, and then flush it from memory. It is easier now than when I was first starting out.
When are you going to write your autobiography?
It has been in the works for a while, though it might turn into one of those 80% autobiography, 20% bullshit books.
Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:
Fe’rein was an abysmal sight. Crimson and shadow energy cascaded around him as he descended from the skies of Culouth, death and blood materialized. He lowered himself through the atmosphere feet first, as if gravity really held some control over him. His dark black boots emerged as he set foot on the platform outside the Commerce Deliberation Hall. The powerful energy trail diminished like ash and fog; his features returned. His white suit was unfettered, as if he had done no more than take a leisurely walk down the street.
The great balcony was a sight to behold. Golden railings ran the length of the three exterior sides. The interior wall was a tapestry of stained glass, ornate shapes and colors dancing across the crystalline surface. His feet clicked on the marble tiles. Strict arms were at his sides, as if restrained by some force. Hateful eyes directed forward, though a cruel smile crept onto his lips. As he approached the wall of tempered glass, a grand sound resonated in the open air. If Fe’rein had heard or cared at all, he chose not to show it outwardly so.
“Fe’rein, you have returned unscathed,” called the voice.
Fe’rein regarded him with a critical eye. He did not bother to turn as he passed by the diminutive orderly whose name he had chosen not to remember. The orderly opened his mouth to say more, but Fe’rein had already continued on. The mion moved through the wall next to the metallic port. He remerged within the confines of the inner chambers of the highest echelons of the Deliberations, into the personal chambers of High Marshal Kyien.
The room was dark. An artificial tint made the room darker than it would have been otherwise. Despite the impressive floor space there was only one real piece of furniture: a steel desk at the far corner of the room. The base possessed no legs that were apparent from the front. Deep indentations were carved into it; each was accompanied by another and another, until they appeared as erratic scratches on the surface.
“There is no need to degrade Jilen. He was merely greeting you as I had instructed.” The voice held power and influence––a tone of supreme confidence that was not readily found in such abundance, even in the overzealous confines of Culouth.
The walls were darkened as well. Fe’rein could make out the outlines of the Umordoc guards set shoulder to shoulder the length of the entire room, more than twenty-five in all. None of them were as intelligent as Elcites, nor were any of them so affectionately named.
They were designated by letters and numbers randomly assigned within their divisions. Each carried the metallic pikes that the lower beings told stories of them possessing. Their eyes had a haunting amber color to them, as wolves did when they hunted in the night.
Fe’rein stopped as he approached the table, behind which sat the High Marshal. The man’s face was a sneer no matter what angle it was perceived from. His stature was not as his voice suggested. He was almost a head shorter than Fe’rein, a fact that was amplified by their current positions.
“You were successful.”
Fe’rein cocked his head and bowed slightly.
“Though sloppy. The entire collective already knows of your exploits as if it had been broadcast all over the frequencies.” The High Marshal rose from his chair, his hands gripped one another behind his back. His gray suit flared out in the arms and legs as Fe’rein’s did. “You were instructed to kill those aboard, not to obliterate the entire installation.”
The man’s face flushed. His cheek muscles flexed as if to personify his anger, while Fe’rein remained as he was, uncaring. His face was impassive as he watched the smaller man.
“Have you nothing to say?” challenged Kyien.
“They decided what was necessary, not you.”
“They?” queried Kyien, the arch of his eyebrow rising.
“The word of the tribunal supersedes your own. I did as instructed. No more, no less.”
Kyien turned, resuming his seat behind the desk. He folded his hands and propped his face atop his arms, watching Fe’rein with a scornful snarl. “They speak to you directly now?”
Fe’rein merely looked at the man.
“Then you believe that you can perceive their will?” His words were feverish. But he kept his voice low, restrained. The High Marshal knew what would happen if the wrath of the mion were incited.
“They would have wished any indication…”
He was cut off as Kyien leapt up from his seat once more and approached Fe’rein with an unbridled speed. The smaller man raised his hand as if to strike. Words rolled from his lips before he had thought them through completely. “You are a fool of a human,” he roared.
Fe’rein caught his arm. His hand glowed as he did so, the energy seeping out like bloodied smoke and wrapping around the High Marshal’s arm. He lifted the squat Kyien into the air. The grimace on the High Marshal’s face grew exponentially as Fe’rein’s grip began to burn through the suit. A stomach-turning smell of boiling flesh flooded over the room.
“Damn you, Ryan.”
Fe’rein’s eyes exploded into energy, as did the rest of his body. The Umordoc began to move, a light twitch of their feet. Yet, it was far too slow to catch a Creator, the mion, unprepared. He extended his free arm out behind him, not bothering to look. An undulating pillar of liquid energy burst from his outstretched palm. Taking in three Umordoc with one blast, the energy incinerated them to ash as soon as the beam passed over them.
“Stop it, Ryan,” struggled Kyien. But as he looked into Fe’rein’s eyes, he saw the anger, the hatred, and realized that he had used his human name. He grimaced then, mostly from the pain, but more so from his stupidity at angering a Creator. “Stop this, Fe’rein.”
The energy receded as quickly as it had come. Fe’rein let Kyien fall back to his feet. Twisting his arm, the bones and metal there clicked against one another. They made a cracking sound with each turn of his wrist. “You forget your place, Kyien. I serve the Intelligence, not you.”
Kyien pressed the burnt flesh that had been underneath the grasp of Fe’rein. Looking ruefully at the mion, he grimaced. “Forgive my impertinence, Fe’rein. I was not myself. I trust then that the Resistance forces in the space station are no more?”
Fe’rein nodded in agreement.
His unwavering posture was strange after witnessing the power that resided at his fingertips, the awesome energy he commanded with nothing more than a thought. The orderly remained huddled inside the far balcony entrance. His wary eyes watched as the room returned to the more pleasant darkness that had been there before Fe’rein’s outburst.
“Jilen,” spoke Kyien, regaining his former confidence when addressing the cowering man. He eyed Fe’rein, though the mion did not bother to return the gaze.
Jilen pushed himself to his feet and approached, shuffling them at first. The stern look from Kyien quickened his step. He moved alongside the desk, bowing and not even looking in the general direction of Fe’rein.
“Yes, Kyien sien. How may I serve you?”
“Would you please escort the good councilman in, we now require his presence. The mion has arrived.” Jilen bowed and scuttled past Fe’rein. Disappearing past the Umordoc, he moved into the darkness of the council chambers.
“Why do we require the councilman? His words are useless, and neither truth nor action comes from them,” commented Fe’rein with a frown.
“Because there is a council. The citizens of Culouth may be sheep, Fe’rein, but they still like to believe they have a say. That belief originates from their spokesman, Augustine.”
Fe’rein blew air through his lips in distaste. Folding his arms across his chest, he moved about the room for the first time without violence. He faded back into the darkness near the balcony entrance.
“I would ask a favor of you. Do not be harsh with the good councilman, he scares rather easily,” commented Kyien as cautiously as he could without sacrificing his pride.
“So be it,” the mion replied with a dismissive wave of his hand.
The opposite doors slid open and Jilen appeared, scuttling across the floor in hurried steps as he had before. This time Augustine remained no more than a few paces at his back, his robes dragging on the floor. His robust face beaded with sweat from the minimal exertion of walking.
Kyien stood, spreading his arms wide. A smile crossed his face as he took in the approaching figure of the councilman, but not before looking across the chambers to the pacing, faint figure of Fe’rein. “My good friend Augustine, how nice of you to join me––us here.”
“Kyien sien, it is good to see you as well,” he replied stiffly, still not yet aware of Fe’rein’s presence. Jilen disappeared and reappeared with a flat-backed chair. The plush cushion at its bottom was a dark purple, the yellow-clawed globes at its feet were engraved with runic symbols of ancient languages. “Will M’iordi sien be joining us as well?”
Janel M’iordi was another member of the council. His position dealt more with the war maneuvers of the Culouth state. He served as Secretary to the Intelligence, a rank set just below High Marshal Kyien. “He will be joining us shortly, but I wished to speak with you about the nephew of the mion, the one called E’Malkai sien.”
“Yes, young E’Malkai sien. He is well, even though the meeting was sullied by that bumbling fool Fredrick. The drunken one who blathers on; he said some things about Fe’rein.”
Fe’rein came out from the shadows in a flash. He was next to Augustine so quickly that the large man leapt from his seat as if a ghost or specter had accosted him. “What did Fredrick say?” rasped Fe’rein with interest.
His wide eyes subsided. Augustine evened out the twisted ends of his robes, his sweaty hands drying against the fabrics. “Nothing of consequence, my mion.”
“Let me be the judge of that, Augustine,” replied Fe’rein. His tone assured the councilman that he held him in no respect, his title meaning nothing in his eyes.
“Of course, Fe’rein sien,” stuttered Augustine, casting a worried glance at the calm features of Kyien. The High Marshal allowed himself a smile as he watched another of power quiver beneath the mion. “He said that you were not a hero, not like Seth, I believe is what he said. I do not know of any Culouth warrior by such a name.”
“Nor would you,” snapped Fe’rein, ending the man’s words with a thin hiss.
“Your nephew has accepted the trials. He seemed dispirited by the human’s words,” added Augustine, his fat face frowning in contemplation.
“Fredrick’s words,” mused Fe’rein, eyeing the reluctant councilman.
“A ward of a mion has not been chosen for a thousand years, perhaps a thousand’s thousand. Nor has there been a Creator for near as long,” spoke Kyien, sensing that Fe’rein’s already dark mood threatened to grow worse after hearing the councilman’s words.
Jilen approached the table; his hunched shoulders slackened since Fe’rein had returned to the far shadows of the room. “Secretary M’iordi has arrived, my sien. He asks for an audience with you,” spoke Jilen, his head bowed, body lowered to one knee.
“Show him in, Aide Jilen.”
“As you wish, Kyien sien.”
Jilen disappeared as quickly as he had come. Silence descended upon the three of them. Fe’rein’s anger manifested as the dark energy billowed off him, lighting the shadow with the blood red of his power.
“Is it true that the Harbinger has been destroyed?” queried Augustine, trying to break the tense silence that had wound itself around the three men.
Fe’rein did not look up, but instead fader deeper into his thoughts of E’Malkai and Fredrick. His cold eyes permeated the darkness, sending a shiver over the portly councilman as he averted his gaze back to Kyien.
“It was indeed, though it was necessary in order to seal away any indication of the Resistance,” replied Kyien, choosing his words carefully. He felt the power that he wielded sapped by the mere presence of Fe’rein. He could feel that the mion had his eyes on him at all times, listening, seeking out those who were not worthy. “There is little left of them now. They hide in the streets and here among us, chameleons that they are.”
“They will not for long, High Marshal Kyien.” The voice came from the direction in which Jilen had exited. The shadow broke, and a man strode forth, sauntering. His lank frame was taller than Kyien’s. Although his waistline possessed much less girth than the High Marshal’s, he still had much wider shoulders.
M’iordi had stark white hair, as white as the garb Fe’rein wore. His eyes were blue globes, and his pale skin was freckled. He extended his hand across the desk to Kyien as he came in range, waving away Jilen who had brought a seat for the Secretary.
“Kyien sien, you look well,” he offered. His accent was lighter than any of the others and then turning to Augustine, he bowed slightly. “Councilman Augustine, you look well-fed.”
They all laughed, even Augustine, though his faded the quickest. He watched the lank Secretary with a distasteful glare. Kyien leaned back into his chair and gestured to the shadow, his fingers twitching under the cold glare of Fe’rein.
“You, of course, know Fe’rein.”
M’iordi bowed, interrupting Kyien. “My mion.”
“You look well, M’iordi,” returned Fe’rein, stepping out from the shadow. His thoughts lost for the moment. A twinge of a smile crossed his face, the canyon of his scar twisting as he did so.
“Only through your graces, my mion.”
M’iordi remained bowed as he spoke.
Fe’rein stepped forward. He placed a gentle hand on him before he spoke again. “Call me Fe’rein. If the others see fit to do so, then so shall you,” replied Fe’rein as amiably as he could muster.
“Of course, Fe’rein. There is talk that your victory was complete; that their base is no more and the day of their meddling will soon come to an end. Is this true, my mion?”
“Fe’rein has…” began Kyien.
The dark demigod silenced him with a wave of his hand. The High Marshal bowed, although his contempt was not lost on the others. “Yes, there were some there, even Marion. I doubt that they were based there. It is my belief that the base was merely a diversion. It matters little, for it was necessary to make an example of their impertinence. The destruction of the space station was an unfortunate side effect––an effect that has seemed to create a rather heightened state of affairs here within the city.”
Kyien looked on with surprise, Augustine as well. It was well known that Fe’rein rarely spoke at length, and to hear it in person was something of a memorable occasion. Many spoke of the trust between Fe’rein and M’iordi; a bond built on the distrust of the hierarchy of the Culouth Commerce.
“A decoy in space to draw you away from the city? To what end?” queried M’iordi incredulously. His concern and surprise were not as heartfelt as they seemed, but the others went on whether they noticed or not.
“There is a belief that they wish to strike Fe’rein’s own blood, to attack a blood relative of a Creator. How foolish. E’Malkai, sien of the House of Di’letirich, has been advised of a possible attack, yet he and Leane ilsen seemed rather unconcerned with it all,” replied Augustine, the jowls of his face swaying as he spoke.
“Then the rumor that the young sien of the House of Di’letirich is to take on the trials of Tal’marath is true. What do we hope to accomplish from this?” continued M’iordi, pacing behind Fe’rein.
“A ward of a mion is granted powers, so it is written. To have another powerful force aligned with us will be a great help as the Resistance continues to gather followers to its cause with each passing day,” explained Kyien. He laced his hands together and placed them on his chest, leaning back in his chair.
“Do you believe this as well, Fe’rein?” queried M’iordi as he turned to the stoic mion.
“There is certainly a possibility. There are those who doubted I would become what I am, yet here I stand. I believe that what was written possesses the same power now as it did then in the cradle of its birth,” replied Fe’rein, his arms crossed in front of his chest.
“There are also those who say you do not deserve the gift that you have received,” spoke Augustine. His eyes glazed and he stared forward, his lips moving mechanically.
Fe’rein was beside him with such deftness that neither M’iordi nor Kyien had the skill to follow. “What did you say, Augustine?” queried Fe’rein with a deepening scowl.
“You do not deserve the power that you took,” echoed another’s voice through Augustine. The robust man was no longer himself. “Seth Armen, son of Evan, was to inherit the mantle of the Believer, not Ryan, son of Evan, desecrator of the power.”
M’iordi took a step back, gasping. He held his hand over his mouth in horror. Kyien rose from his seat, drawing a weapon from underneath his desk. The sidearm was twice as large as the High Marshal’s hand. He held it unsteadily as Augustine stood from his chair, throwing it aside and pointing a putrid finger at Fe’rein.
“This is not over, another will see you fall.” Those were the last words as a blue light fell over Augustine. It consumed him, bathing him in unnatural energy and then dissipated in a flash of light. The heavy councilman dropped to the ground with a colossal thud, sprawling him out on his stomach.
Fe’rein remained were he stood; his face showing as much surprise as he would allow himself. M’iordi and Kyien ran past him to the side of the fallen councilman, jostling him. He opened his eyelids and looked at them with a hazy, glassy stare.
“What happened?” he asked as he wobbled, trying to get to his feet. He fell back to a sitting position with an uncomfortable groan.
“Shaman,” whispered Fe’rein.
“Fe’rein, what was that?” spoke Kyien.
“What is it that you remember, Augustine?” responded Fe’rein, not bothering to turn or answer the High Marshal’s question.
Kyien’s eyes were aflame again, his passions getting the better part of him as he stormed toward Fe’rein. He paused, his shoulders shrugging as Fe’rein turned to face him. His cold stare reduced him to a child once more.
“Answer my question, Augustine. Do not think, just speak what you remember. The words that still linger,” continued Fe’rein, standing over Kyien. His eyes swirled with liquid shadow and flame.
Augustine shook his head. His hands trembled. “I––ah…”
“Speak, do not think,” commanded Fe’rein with considerable force behind his words.
“Seth Armen of the Fallen. The true herald of the Believer,” replied Augustine with shame. He lowered his eyes away from Fe’rein, a whimper escaping his lips.
“Fear not Augustine, I do not blame you. This was not your doing,” spoke Fe’rein with a sigh, as though a fantastic weight had been placed on him. “There is another at work here.”
“Are we in danger?” asked Kyien, placing his hands on his desk for support as he rounded it. “Will this voice come again?”
“I doubt that he would risk it again, but he came for me. He wished to speak to me and did so through Augustine,” returned Fe’rein with disgust plastered across his features.
He turned now, fading into the darkness, leaving the others to care for Augustine. His voice floated back over the shadow and his words froze their hearts. “If this being returns, it will be the end of Culouth and all those who serve the Intelligence.”
Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com. He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here: http://www.amalgamconsulting.com/.
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Visit http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com/ and follow the blog for a chance to win a Kindle Fire!