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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: WWS - Apparitions Amid the Whispering Woods - Scene I Excerpt
« Reply #340 on: July 3, 2023, 08:03:13 PM »
“Another murder,” Ara uttered beneath a frozen gale. “Slain with an arrow placed straight through the heart.”

Clambering up a steep veridian slope in the Halliya Hinterland, Ara Zakarian knelt down before a nearby Perseus Pine Tree. It appeared more ethereal at a distance than it did now. A slender trunk, the texture of the wooden bark lending it an almost twisted appearance, reared high up out of a bed of gnarled roots nested into the ruddy soil underneath it.

The yellow-golden pine cones dangling from its branches looked like ornaments to him, organic carvings shaped to resemble the likeness of unlit lanterns.

The corpse of a young woman had come to rest on that bed of thickened roots. Maybe twenty-four summers old, Ara estimated with a glance over her pallid skin, the tone likely once soft like the sands of the Southern Wastes.

He found no signs of who had killed her in cold blood, save the aftermath of her death.

She lied there with her back reclined against the twisted trunk, having struck the ground hard, he guessed from the subtle crater framing her still form. Her hands had come to rest on her midriff before her final moments, drenched in coagulated blood after grasping at the wooden haft protruding from her heart.

The young woman had perished here alone, cut down with the precision of a seasoned marksmen. Ara counted another score of fallen village-folk that had suffered similar deaths in the hinterlands, scattered about the nooks and crevices of the autumn wood.

Without another word, he climbed back onto his feet, casting his gaze farther afield into the wilderness.

A forgotten remembrance drifted up from the depths of Ara’s meditative mind, delivered back to him by a gale howling out from the gates of winter. Remnants of ancient memories, echoes of dormant emotions that he had once experienced a decade ago, stirred from within.

A familiar voice, a mixture between boisterous and rasping, but jovial, snapped Ara from his reverie.

“Something about the Autumn wind so near to the coming winter.” Vahe of Grand Damiira waded through the white-sprinkled earth beneath his matte black leather boots. “Our minds wander from remembrance to remembrance in search of forgotten faces and lost pieces of ourselves that we may have lost to the cruel past. The peoples of the Southern Kingdoms often speak that they would never interrupt a man or woman lost in such thought…”

He craned his head to regard a male in the prime of his life, some thirty-and-odd summers of age. Lengthened strands of lustrous hair, black like a raven’s feathers, coiled and shifted in the wind’s billow. Dark auburn eyes as large as moonstones, observed him with curious intent.

Ara counted only a pair of noticeable scars that marred his face. One appeared cut roughly from the nape of his neck and across his cheek, while another minor blemish ran diagonally from hairline to the brow of his right eye.

Vahe equipped himself in a heavy midnight doublet underneath a suit of chainmail, no plate steel equipped on his chest, but present in the form of gauntlets, greaves, and pauldrons to provide ample protection elsewhere. A heavy saora of a drab gray shade, ruffled and scrunched in the wind from underneath his greaves.

He kept a kite shield slung over the shoulder and a crested steel helmet tucked underneath his arm. A flaming plume fashioned from shades of cerise, crimson, and ginger hair fell back behind the helmet in a lengthened tail.

The strands reminded Ara of a burning sunset during the evening. It dangled past the helmet in a lengthened tassel from where Vahe kept the equipment tucked under his shoulder.

“Autumn has come to an end.” Ara chose not to regard him with a welcome look, but looked back toward the winter-touched woods. “The hinterlands of Halliya shed their last leaves to the four winds as snow begins to fall over the Southern Reach. Aiman always loved watching the leaves fall through the season’s end.”

“You mention that as if she had died many moons ago,” Vahe said. He reached out to clap Ara on the shoulder. “You two fated lovebirds will meet again at some appointed place and time. I suppose that none among our band will, however, live to see too many more dawns without keeping pace with these White-and-Vermilion banners.”

White and Vermilion, Ara considered, scattered between the gnarled trunks of Perseus Pine trees and Blood-leafed Fern groves. He counted several with a glance, planted into a wet and ruddy shade of forest earth, concealed amid twisting roots and veridian fauna that sprawled across much of the hinterlands.

As the woodland shifted with the howling gale, a light snowfall crept through the canopy onto the earth.

“Hmm,” Ara said, “You believe so? The Light of the West pays no mind to the benighted world it continually leaves behind on its journey toward the horizon’s end.” His sentence trailed off as he changed the subject. “I’d hasten to agree with you, however, that these white-and-vermilion wolves have taken to another hunt.”

“Give the signal?” Vahe asked. “We might be able to catch up to them this time.”

“Or stumble into an ambush as many innocents have already made the mistake of doing.”

Vahe scoffed, shrugging broad shoulders. “More will die should the Anahir Immortals stall here and do nothing.”

Anahir. Old Myria’s jewel in the Autumn Queen’s crown, the Autumn Realm’s captial and heart.

Immortal. A brotherhood of champions from across Old Myria’s divided lands. Warriors tested already from a myriad ways of life, battle-hardened, and steadfast against all enemies south of the Alabaster River.

“Our command is simple,” Ara said. He gave his consent for Vahe to give the order with an absent nod and wave of his hand. “We hunt the Steppe Warriors down and take the Child of the Sun captive. Have our brethren prepare their mounts for the hunt. Should the Steppe warriors of the White-and-Vermilion deign never to show themselves here in Halliya, we will ride them down elsewhere.”

“Let’s make all haste then.” Vahe called out into the autumn woodlands. An echo that resounded into the hinterland’s four corners. “Knights of Old Myria and Immortals of Anahir, prepare to ride into battle and hunt the foe!”

Ara lingered a moment longer, watching shades of yellow-gold and orange, vermilion and faded emerald dance upon a bitter winter wind.

Dying near to autumn’s end retained a sense of beauty that he found difficult to describe. Or, maybe his battlelust became more alluring near to the season’s end. Ara found that emotion strange. He never desired to spill the blood of others and yet, something appealed to his darkest senses about the implications of what could be waiting for them in Halliya.

A test of steel and wits. A conflict of hunters skilled in both steel weapons and survival. A battle through the snow-white forests at Autumn’s end whilst winter approached. Apparitions locked in battle across Old Myria’s untamed wilderness.

A growing piece in the back of Ara’s mind longed to charge headlong into that trial-by-fire…
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: ROMS - Fragments of Her Shadow Excerpt One
« Reply #341 on: July 20, 2023, 09:58:50 AM »
The crackling of dim fires resounded within the silence of the underground. Shoushan listened to the sound of her own leather boots thump against the earthen trail, winding through the darkness alongside that of her own hurried breathing. She darted up a lonely path, a hollowed dirt road, hemmed in with concave walls of earth and stone.

The smoldering light of torches guided her farther up the ascending road, still half unlit amid the fathomless dark. She measured every step taken forward in the uncertain lighting, the road shifting from pitch black to dimly lit to utter dark in an endless cycle.

Eventually, her world brightened with searing light the moment after rounding a bend in the path. Flickering, but intense burning fires emanated from a pair of gargantuan braziers, arrayed on either side of a looming doorway. Shielding her gaze behind the sleeve of her brigandine, Shoushan warily approached to study the entrance further.

A door carved out from ebony stone, a depiction of a gladius pointed in reverse and a corallis wrapped around its length with its fangs bared above the pommel emblazoned on its surface.

The Sigil of the Ashen Blades.

The ebony entrance was lying cracked open before her, the right door jarred aside just enough for a human to squeeze by. A stench like ancient death wafted out from the opening, mingling with dust and stagnant air. Creeping cold lingered about the breached doorway, reaching Shoushan even through the intense heat coming off the braziers.

And… a woman’s alluring voice, quiet like the dark, a coarse lilt to her every spoken word. The female hidden behind the open entrance appeared to be speaking quiet prayers.

Taking a deep breath, Shoushan entered through the jarred opening between the double doors. Her first attempt to push the breached door aside proved futile, requiring a strength beyond her ability to budge. She squeezed through instead, sliding her bare hands across the ebony stonework’s pitted and marked surface.

Whatever had passed through this abandoned shrine and left it a forgotten place had clearly invested a monumental amount of time to deface everything of the Ashen Blade’s heraldry.

Sparing a quick glance behind her, Shoushan caught a subtle disturbance echoing out of the dark behind her. The recent memory of her pursuers surfaced to the fore of her mind. She banished her doubtful thoughts about entering the tomb for sanctuary, almost throwing herself through the gap into a ruin of death.
   
The ancient, timeworn remains of deceased human beings snapped and crunched beneath her weight, shifting with Shoushan’s every movement. The fallen numbered in their scores, carpeting a floor of dark grayish-blue granite stone of the forgotten temple. All of them were garbed in the midnight uniform of the Ashen Blades, the presence of any foe that might’ve reaped them entirely absent.

The unburied dead lie scattered amid shattered and overturned wooden pews, embedded with discarded weapons. Shoushan took in the rest of the temple with a purposeful crane of her head, finding stonework monuments of Zahira, the Guardian of Silent Graves, dashed to crumbling ruin across the fractured granite floor.

Swathes of crimson blood painted the temple like a faded mosaic, the grander work scarcely intact, appearing like paint.

Shoushan waded through the broken remains of what looked like a vicious siege. Attempting in vain to avoid treading on the skeletons, she eventually gave up, lifting and casting aside the remnants of pews obstructing her path forward.

Through all the deafening clamor created in her wake, the praying woman within the heart of the abandoned temple continued her litanies, undeterred.

She looked up after her mind registered falling beams of golden light, creeping through the gaping chasms in the temple ceiling from the surface world above. Compromised through war, the ceiling appeared to sag beneath the crushing weight of the earth. As Shoushan ventured further into the temple grounds, she could feel the Southern Wastes’ searing heat banish the creeping chill raising the hair on her skin.

Unfamiliar voices barked within earshot from the way she had arrived, sounding distant from beyond the breached temple doorway. Rogues of the Black Syndicate, a notorious underground ring, half-criminal organization, and half-necromancer coven. They had quickly pursued her from Bethaka Sanctuary far above this forgotten sanctum of the Ashen Blades.

Shoushan had slain her fair share of them, cutting them down with divine wrath and her estoc, Severance.

Their venomous brood had swarmed after her, provoked like a disturbed hornet’s nest. She had quickly lost them in the dark beneath the township, finally stumbling upon her destination after another hour of treading through the dimly lit underground.

Eventually, Shoushan approached the temple altar. It seemed swept clean of dust and detritus, a neatened stack of skulls placed upon it in offering. Recent kills, she wagered, another soul had clearly reaped vengeance for their fallen kin here.

It reminded her of the Sanctum of Swords between time and space, her mother Karyan Akara’s domain, the very place she had met her end at the blade of her firstborn daughter and her companions.

She searched the abandoned temple of Zahira for any sign of the praying woman, still speaking aloud into the silence. Yet Shoushan found no sign of her beyond the echo of her voice. Closing her eyes, she listened to her every word, attempting to trace the sound of the woman’s voice to its source.

Her prayers resounded throughout the quiet temple, emanating from every nook and crevice.

“Amid the tranquility of emptiness, I find solace…

“Amid the darkness within the soul, I keep fragments of my shadow locked therein…

“Amid a quiet place, I’ve found another semblance of self, far from both the illusions created by sun and moon…”
Opening her eyes, Shoushan called out into the emptiness.

“Forgive me for wandering in without being invited,” she said, “but I’ve come seeking haven.”

A moment’s silence reigned over the temple grounds.

“A bold request to make from a disciple of the Art of Death,” the woman replied, “to grant sanctuary to an unfamiliar soul. You could at least tell me your name, traveler.”

“I won’t share my name with someone hidden in the shadows, but… I am grateful for your protection.”

“You don’t appear disarmed to me,” the woman proclaimed, “and I detect a searing heat from within your soul… Forgive the morbid atmosphere of this ruin, there is little in the way of comforts and a warm fireplace. All that remains is death, reminding us that concepts like lineage, birthright, and heritage mean little at the end of one’s life. The reaper claims our souls and our blood spills all the same…”

The sound of a baying mob approaching the temple entrance came through the doorway, echoing from within the emptiness.

“I’d hate to end our conversation on an urgent note,” Shoushan said, “but–"
   
“Caretaker,” the woman interrupted, “call me caretaker. Are you fearing the corallis’ deathly bite? You could escape the temple through a myriad of lesser exits. Yet I fear your pursuers will discover your presence here before long and hunt for you. You’d be better off eliminating the threat and leaving their bodies here within our forgotten sanctum, hidden from plain sight.”

Looking back over her shoulder, Shoushan came halfway into the movement, finding an intact statue looming over the altar. A fierce likeness of a manticore, all swollen musculature beneath a stone replica of fur. Rearing up from behind the beast was a serpentine tail, crowned with a corallis’ head, appearing locked away in time.

The lion body lifted its hind legs, stooping down like a feline attempting to conceal itself before oblivious prey.

It extended Shoushan the impression that the beast leaning down to accept offerings placed on Zahira’s altar.

Hostile voices spilled through the open doors like an audible wave of sound. It became everything that Shoushan could hear for a moment. Alerted to the presence of her hunters, she spun around on a heel, taking up Severance with midnight leather gloved fingers.

The deafening grind of stone against stone resounded amid the silence, the breached door sliding back with incredible resistance beneath what sounded like half-a-dozen warriors shoving the gate aside.

Half a dozen warriors clad in ebony silk garments, a golden filigree decorated with ornate patterns of bright yellow gold. Vermillion Sphere emblems emblazoned on their chests, the sapphire corallis appeared wrapped around its circumference and bearing fangs at any standing before them in challenge.

“Our Guardian of Silent Graves is a stern, but forgiving mistress. She won’t turn away from an innocent bystander in need. Very well, traveler, I will aid you in your cause.”

Gentle footfalls echoed out from behind the manticore and the temple altar, ascending a stairwell hidden beneath them. Out from behind the other side of the altar, a darkling figure emerged into the dimmed light.

A Sukhanite woman approaching her middle-age stepped around the unadorned altar to stand before Shoushan. Ritual scarring marked the soft caramel shade of her skin like quill-thin engravings, created with blades and not an artist’s brushwork.

Shoushan studied the woman and noted an underlying strength to her physical frame underneath her uniform. Every ounce of her was whipcord musculature between swollen and heavily defined.

She kept her midnight black hair of a cobalt hue braided along the left side of her skull. A twisting cascade of combed strands flowed down the right side of her face to the end just shy of her collarbone. Lustrous eyes of a garnet shade stared from a chiseled face, complimented with faded lips like pale roses.

The Ashen Blade looked Shoushan over with curious eyes.

“You’re not quite what I imagined after hearing so many stories about you.” Caretaker raised her hooded head to assess the royal princess standing before her. “I’m honored to meet with the Heiress of the Carth Dominion…” Her sentence trailed off. “However, I’m not too welcoming to the Black Syndicate storming into Zahira’s abandoned house.”

Shoushan didn’t avert her gaze from the female Ashen Blade. She knew that Caretaker was attempting to read her at a glance, but was struggling to look past her stoic countenance.

“A second time that a Child of the Sun can say that she’s fought beside a mythical assassin from the Southern Wastes. We’ll have to share our stories around a hearth once we’ve dealt with the syndicate’s thugs.”

Shoushan assessed her surroundings, both the Black Syndicate’s formation and the terrain. Her enemies advanced at a cautious pace, striding through the temple interior to close the distance between them. Their numbers flickered erratically, disappearing amid the shadows, only to manifest again beneath pillars of sunlight.

Together, their ranks un-sheathed wicked blades from their scabbards. A wild assortment of daggers, hooked swords, and long knives.

“I would grow accustomed to us Ashen Blades, Heiress.” Caretaker glanced up into Shoushan’s emerald-and-silver eyes. “You’ll be meeting many more here in Sukhan. Sooner than you may think… strike them down, my kindred blades!”

Shoushan detected subtle clinking sound from the nooks of the ruin. Darts of shadow flew through the dimmed air, barely visible to the Syndicate henchmen even as three of their number spasmed to the ground. Feathered missile bolts, Shoushan noted upon nearer inspection, unleashed from a crossbow contraption. Arcs of blood lashed out through the air, raining down on the moldering and recently fallen alike.

As five sentient shadows–Ashen Blades–detached from the darkness within the temple, the Black Syndicate recognized their peril, and charged headlong to come to grips with their enemies. Guttural shouts and quiet breaths of effort echoed throughout Zahira’s abandoned sanctum where silence had reigned once.

Shoushan lowered her estoc to lift an open palm, conjuring a fusillade of firebolts at the foe. A tremulous force rocked her back with each successive burst of her unleashed magic, quaking the temple floor beneath them all.

Golden and ebony clad rogues weaved around the burning flames, even as the scattered ranks behind them became ignited. Pitiful howling filled the air as the Black Syndicate warriors caught in the blast, writhed until nothing remained but cinders.

A deafening clamor of honed steel tested against steel resonated throughout the abandoned ruins, the Ashen Blades gliding into the wading foe. Both factions laid into each other with ruthless abandon. The midnight clad assassins cut down another handful, landing quick blows with precision. The Black Syndicate’s remaining warriors assumed a compact formation, managing to deflect the first pair of Zahira’s disciples with a weight of blows.

The first pair of Ashen Blades committed to an organized retreat before committing to their assault, even as the Black Syndicate intercepted their effort to regroup with well-timed spear thrust.

An Ashen Blade cried out, the female Sukhanite half leaping, half tumbling onto the temple floor. A thick expulsion of blood erupted from her mouth upon her smashing into the remnant of a shattered pew. Already weeping from a fountain of blood spilling out from between her ribcage, the Sukhanite keeled with a ragged gasp...
JohnMaloneBooks website - Blog #2 - A Sanctum of Swords: Embers Edition

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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: ROMS - Fragments of Her Shadow - Scene I Excerpt
« Reply #342 on: July 27, 2023, 09:56:15 AM »
Just noting some signature updates for some preview builds gone live!

Apparitions Amid the Whispering Woods is nearing completion!

A Sanctum of Swords is approaching gold status!

Work on the Reaper of the Mortal Sands continues!

Got three or four artwork appointments coming up in the later half of next year - so stay tuned!
JohnMaloneBooks website - Blog #2 - A Sanctum of Swords: Embers Edition

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A Sanctum of Swords: Embers Edition is coming soon w/ audiobook!

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: Update Summary
« Reply #343 on: August 20, 2023, 10:04:17 AM »
Quick update summary:

A Sanctum of Swords came back from the editor - copyedited!

The proofread will begin next month - pouring through all of the changes now.

I have a new artwork piece scheduled to begin in October - focused around the 2nd chapter of The Reaper of the Mortal Sands: Fragments of Her Shadow.

Whispers of White Sapphire cover art illustration is set to begin in October as well - so busy busy.

The Reaper of the Mortal Sands cover art illustration will begin in January.

I am still wanting to hit my goal for getting the audiobook recorded before December, but we'll see if I am able to hit that target!
« Last Edit: August 21, 2023, 11:42:18 AM by Myen'Tal »
JohnMaloneBooks website - Blog #2 - A Sanctum of Swords: Embers Edition

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A Sanctum of Swords: Embers Edition is coming soon w/ audiobook!

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords - Post Copy Edit Excerpt
« Reply #344 on: August 22, 2023, 09:46:45 AM »
Amid the deep places beneath Akara Sanctuary, Korian detected an otherworldly pulse. The Gates of Dusk lie buried here somewhere near to the Southern Wastes’ esoteric heart.

Following a cobblestone road’s winding course, he found the fork dividing High Akara coming into view up ahead. Hanging lanterns dangled on either side of the road, guiding him in an otherwise impregnable dark.

The abyss below the city almost appeared to be sentient. A cosmic entity unto itself considering him an invader. Was he an invader?

An inanimate blade guided by his Goddess’ hand to reap the sands of an immortal life.

He descended away from the main road leading toward the main city. A vast palace citadel situated atop the settlement’s higher echelons loomed in the distance.

Korian glanced over his shoulder, back toward the natural sunlight that poured through the surface world’s gaping wounds. An unapproachable gate back into the Southern Wastes and the Golden Sun in the desert sky.

He spiraled deeper into the depths, distant from the lantern’s light.

Akara’s bazaar-warrens were an amalgamation of market districts built into a dense urban sprawl, an impoverished commune of rough spun shacks built upon it. Hanging Lanterns swayed from large wooden posts between the back-alleys and pathways running between the market stalls.

The district seemed to be abandoned in haste by merchants and roguish figures alike. He searched the bazaar for any signs of life but spied none.

An obscured figure sprang out from a nearby alleyway. The coiling shape bounding beneath the lanterns assumed the aspect of a female Ashen Blade fast approaching him. Korian ground himself to a halt, sliding back and around a thrust from her blade.

Korian turned the weapon aside with an uncaring backhand sweep. Flitting back across the cobblestone for space, she changed her stance when countercharging into his guard.

Dominion’s End slid free from the scabbard. Korian reinforced his weight on the Ashen Blade’s sword arm. Seeing an opportunity, he punched the blade straight out at her lungs. She leaned to one side, using his own momentum against him as the blade thrust wide of its mark.

Footfalls pattered across the cobblestone to enter the combat. He counted one, two, and then three kindred warriors joining the fray.

Korian ducked and rolled beneath a serpentine glaive known as a Reaper’s Scythe. He spun Dominion’s End around in his hand in that movement, holding the blade in reverse upon leaping back onto both feet.The gladius found the kindred blade’s joint behind the knee, splitting the flesh and bone beneath.

A barked cry of pain echoed through the abandoned warren, making Korian’s heart beat faster. The wounded male staggered back, caught on the embedded blade, somehow keeping balance. A spring off the backfoot pushed him past the glaive’s pendulum motion.

Stepping around his opponent, Korian charged another pair of Ashen Blades in the rearguard. He shouldered through the narrow gap between them, slamming an elbow into a female’s throat hard enough to dislodge her footing.

He raised Dominion’s End toward his face, still held in a reverse grip, blocking a sweep at his eyes. Channeling his momentum, Korian pivoted and delivered a vicious knee into a male’s gut, hard enough to cause him to slip and fall onto the cobblestones. 

A seventh sense made him duck in the same movement. The Reaper’s Scythe passed overhead to cleave the male assassin’s head from his shoulders.

Another pivot brought him around the falling corpse, the body coming between Korian and the limping glaive wielder. He revealed a throwing dagger in his other hand and pitched the blade with unerring accuracy into his assailant’s beating heart.

Reality blurred. Korian stole himself from the mortal world for the briefest moment. He returned, bursting through a fall-out of shade mist at full-tilt past the female Sukhanite leaping back to her feet.

Dominion’s End lashed out in an arc before him. The Sukhanite female crumbled upon herself, his blade cleaving through a vulnerable point between her ribs, a crimson spray trailing behind.

He didn’t arrest his momentum but glanced sidelong to find the previous Sukhanite female that had ambushed him first, a tasseled straight sword still clutched in hand. He slid around on a heel toward her to thrust the blade home.

She weaved around the thrust, allowing Korian’s momentum to carry him into her guard. A savage elbow to the flank sent Korian hurtling to the stone onto one side. He struck the road with dazing force, but avoided a mortal blow aimed at his throat with a fluid roll onto his feet.

The female Ashen Blade gave chase, cracking a leaping kick against his jawbone, hard enough to pitch his head back at an awkward angle. Korian detected the tasseled sword rushing up over her falling leg, a quick thought from cutting through his throat.

He cracked an elbow into the Ashen Blade’s sternum, winding her, driving her back beyond his immediate reach. Correcting his posture, Korian blinked out of reality to avoid the counterassault and summoned himself back into the mortal sphere to land a mortal blow straight into her gut.

Blood streamed out from the wound, spilling over his hand and gauntlet as the female assassin fell onto both trembling knees. Dominion’s End slid free from the wound with a pull.

Korian flipped the blade upon stepping around the defeated assassin’s back. He rammed Dominion’s End through her spinal cord from behind. A merciful blow to end another mortal’s needless suffering.

He found himself standing alone in the bazaar-warrens, nothing but the quiet dead scattered about the road. An oppressive silence followed the aftermath.

Korian pulled Dominion’s End from the corpse, still sitting in place upon producing a piece of white cloth hanging from his belt. He cleaned the blade with several passes through the fabric.

A familiar woman’s voice crept out of the dark from the way he had entered the warren.

“Honorable kills, traveler,” Anoush said. “Zahira will guide them through the Gates of Her Palace. Of that I am certain.”
JohnMaloneBooks website - Blog #2 - A Sanctum of Swords: Embers Edition

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A Sanctum of Swords: Embers Edition is coming soon w/ audiobook!

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past Series - Quick Updates!
« Reply #345 on: September 4, 2023, 10:53:40 AM »
Quick Summary for a few coming changes to the website:

Proofread is almost done! When that is finished - I'll finally (at long last) be updating the excerpt on the website.

Two (Two!) character portraits are scheduled and will be underway in mid-october - a Twin Portrait that will feature Shoushan, Heiress of the Carth Dominion and her mother, Karayan, High Queen of Sukhan and Grand Master of the Ashen Blades.

Cover Art for Whispers of White Sapphire will begin in October as well! The Reaper of the Mortal Sands Cover Art will begin in January!

Apparitions Amid the Whispering Woods near completion - likely around 25,000K word count in total.

I'm also devoting a little more time to The Reaper of the Mortal Sands and created a few more additional pieces of content.

Once the proofread is finished - I'll begin prepping for launch.

What's kind of up in the air right now is the audiobook - as I am trying to find someone ahead of time, but it looks like it may be a Q1 2024 addition.

We will see - still trying on that front!

Have another look at some rough draft material!

EXCERPT #2:

Amid the Hall of the Amber-Golden Phoenix, situated in the higher echelons of the royal palace, was a quiet room. A midnight breeze drifted through the curtains dancing about the entrance to the balcony of an expansive chamber. It was hidden behind scrawled walls of sandstone, held aloft with alabaster colonnades.

Weathered from centuries of weathering, creeping vines, and hanging leaf stalks decorated every column.
 
A smooth-textured, amber-golden stone made the floor of Voshki Sar Amun’s chambers, rising and falling in some sections like angular stairways. A lavish bed made for a queen lay by the balcony’s open doorway, draped beneath several layers of silk blankets and embroidered sheets of satin. A grand wardrobe lay between the bed and a sweeping desk of curved angles, equipped with a gargantuan mirror holding her chambers within its reflection.

All manner of ancient parchment, beauty tools and perfumes, in addition to several other exotic frivolities arrayed themselves in organized sections from one end of her desk to the other. The tanned pelts of slain feline beasts were laid out around the hearth, emanating heat enough that the mountain wind about the High Quarter’s summit didn’t seem too chilly.

Seated at her desk, peering into the crystalline surface of her mirror, Voshki searched in vain for the presence of her shadow. Nothing like the darkened pall created in the presence of light, her mother and High Oracle, Tabia Sar Amunn, had explained to her but a few recent moons ago.

A fleeting relief flowed through her after realizing nothing was there aside from herself. A young girl, thirteen summers of age, of lithe build and with a skin tone between russet and teak. Her ebony hair appeared bounteous atop her skull, falling bangs halting around her brow, the rest pinned up in an arched braid falling past the nape of her neck. Large eyes, bright and shining like yellow-gold gemstones, studied herself in the mirror’s reflection.

A quiet knocking rattled the oaken door to her chambers. It sent subtle vibrations through the wooden slab, betraying the fact that someone lacking the authority and right to enter had come calling.

Yet Voshki couldn’t quite tear her gaze away from herself in the mirror, haunted by the shadow of something absent in her life.

“Come in already, before Sahak returns from another patrol.”

All sound ceased behind the door to her chambers, quiet even as the entrance swayed open and fell back on its hinges.

“You know, we should be meeting anywhere but here.” A young male sharing her age whispered into the quiet atmosphere of her room. “Your divine blessed father and mother are just down the hall.”

“Yet here you are without a welcome invitation to enter at all. How are you still managing to steal yourself through the royal palace without anyone noticing?”

She didn’t have to crane her head to look Hasani in the eye, watching him clearly through the mirror’s reflection. A young man, lean of build and regal of poise, though ultimately roguish to a royal member of the Sar Amunn house like herself. He clothed himself in a tunic of alabaster white and a matt black saora, replete with a toga of sapphire satin marking him among the Carth nobility...

EXCERPT END
« Last Edit: September 4, 2023, 03:48:40 PM by Myen'Tal »
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past Series - Quick Updates!
« Reply #346 on: September 21, 2023, 11:28:46 PM »
A Sanctum of Swords has gone gold!

Several other platforms are lined up for launch on October 23rd - still a WIP at the moment.

Working on getting changes to website made as well!
« Last Edit: September 23, 2023, 03:16:56 PM by Myen'Tal »
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past Series - Quick Updates!
« Reply #347 on: September 28, 2023, 10:31:52 PM »
A quick update for everyone!

The audiobook version for A Sanctum of Swords in currently in the making! Expect a go live date sometime around early December!

You may also want to review my signature - if you join booksprout, you can read A Sanctum of Swords for free in exchange for an honest review.

I've actually decided delist the book on all other platforms outside of Amazon - and will be joining Kindle Unlimited soon - so keep an eye on that!

Haven't really written much new material at the moment, had a health scare a few days ago that I am still recovering from (and am thankfully on the mend!).

Apparitions Amid the Whispering Woods' rough draft is completed and I'm currently expanding out Act I of The Reaper of the Mortal Sands. I still have one more novella to achieve as well, so busy busy!
(
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past Series - So What's Next?
« Reply #348 on: October 23, 2023, 07:42:54 PM »
Hi everyone!

So A Sanctum of Swords has launched to not much fanfare (to be expected) and not much marketing, because I admit that I needed a long break and immediately took one!

It's been about a full month since launch and now people may be asking: now what?

I am happy to share some glimspes into some work in progress stuff I've been collaborating with some illustrators on.

First off:



The Whispers of White Sapphire Cover Art! Looks beautiful, my illustrator has done great work yet again!

I am also excited to show off a *very* early look at a twin character portrait for Shoushan and Karayan!



I am back from the long haitus, and my first priorities aside from these illustrations is finishing A Sanctum of Swords audiobook. I did delay that - but hope to get the ball rolling again!

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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The Embers of the Past Series - So What's Next?
« Reply #349 on: November 3, 2023, 06:38:07 PM »
Website update time!

Whispers of White Sapphire now has a dedicated spot on the website, with a description and preview. They will remain in place until I can get the novella collection to the editor!

Karayan and Shoushan artwork, in addition to the Whispers of White Sapphire artwork has been added to the gallery!

Audiobook progress resumes in January!

The Reaper of the Mortal Sands artwork will be revealed sometime around February-March - so stay tuned!

A Sanctum of Swords will be coming back to several third party retailers and a few others in addition.

Will keep writing away here - until the next update!

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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: Whispers of White Sapphire & A Sanctum of Swords Update!
« Reply #350 on: November 20, 2023, 07:38:03 PM »
Hello everyone,

Another update session here!

A Sanctum of Swords is currently about two months into its launch on Amazon. I've sold a number of copies and am patiently waiting for reviews to start trickling in over the winter season.

Speaking of that, I currently have a free giveaway for the ebook going on Amazon until November 24th for anyone interested!

A Sanctum of Swords also has earned its first review from Reader's Favorite - a 5/5 that's earned me a seal that I've uploaded onto the ebook cover art and the website. You can find a link to the review on the website in the signature :). This means that A Sanctum of Swords has been selected for a Featured Book Rotation and a spot in the Reader's Favorite December Newsletter - going out to 500,000 users, libraries, and other organizations! Cool stuff, huh?

Apparitions Amid the Whispering Woods is still in completed rough draft mode. I am currently working on Whispers of White Sapphire's second novella, In the Shadow of Her Past, set in Tushik, the City of Grand Canals that tells a narrative of an unfolding web of intrigue that young prince Abasi Sar Yen'Qaira must untangle to uncover those who murdered his father. A handful of characters from A Sanctum of Swords will be featured in this one, specifically Shoushan and Tabia Sar Amun, as well as a plethora of additional new characters.

In the Shadow of Her Past is sitting at around 40-50% completion.

A manuscript evaluation will be held in February in addition to the Reaper of the Mortal Sands cover art appointment starting. Backing up to January, the audiobook version of A Sanctum of Swords will resume in earnest for hopefully a Q1 release!
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re:A Sanctum of Swords - Reviews & Post-Launch Reflection
« Reply #351 on: November 27, 2023, 09:25:17 AM »
Hello everyone,

So, it's a little more than two months since A Sanctum of Swords has launched and just wanted to have a quick post-mortem about it. I think the launch overall hit the hallmarks more than I expected in some areas, and in some areas actually hit above its weight in surprising ways.

Presently, there are about four total reviews for A Sanctum of Swords. One five star from Reader's Favorite, two four stars, and a three star from Net Galley. That's not bad! I've been reading through each review and the four stars stated they had fun with the read. The five star goes into detail about the books positives, while the three star is an objective, positive-critique on the novel's flaws. I've been reading through the three star review and it did confirm some suspicions that I believe are strong points to attempt to correct sometime in the future.

A quick lessons learned here for individuals that are interested.

1. Book Formatting, I shouldn't have done this by myself and hired a formatter. While the ebook came out okay, I've had to upload about four to five versions of the ebook to flatten out some obvious issues with the ebook and paperback's layout. I think those are mostly taken care of by now, but some mysteries about novel formatting are still eluding me.

2. 2nd round of editing is likely needed - and, first off, I don't blame my editor for this. I gave her a whirlwind of manuscript to sift through. She helped iron out a lot of issues with the book, but I am inclined to agree with the reviewer who left the three star review that another full round of editing may be warranted in the near future. So there will likely be an official "A Sanctum of Swords 2.0" within the next several months to help alleviate what I can about what ails the novel thus far.

3. I love that everyone is definitely seeing the potential here, no matter what star review has been left so far. I continue to practice and hone my own skills so that the editor does not have to do so much work  ;D, and I am hoping that people will find Whispers of White Sapphire a streamlined and fluid experience. We shall see on that front!

4. I confess to taking a 'just get in there' and publish the book attitude when the launch began. This both had drawbacks and successes, but I own the achievements in addition to the mistakes made along the way.

5. I am now deciding whether A Sanctum of Swords needs that second round of editing before producing the audiobook or to just commit.

Decisions, decisions!
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Re: A Sanctum of Swords - Reviews & Post-Launch Reflection
« Reply #352 on: November 27, 2023, 11:47:31 AM »
Thanks for the post mortem. It's interesting to sneak a peek beyond the curtain into the world of book publishing, which I knew very little about. Are ebooks so important now that you can adopt the 'just get in there' attitude you describe on the reasonable expectation that you can fix any mistakes later? I imagine you would have been more cautious if paperback accounted for 100% of sales.

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords - A Sanctum of Swords 2.0 Announcement!
« Reply #353 on: November 29, 2023, 08:46:37 PM »
Thanks for the post mortem. It's interesting to sneak a peek beyond the curtain into the world of book publishing, which I knew very little about. Are ebooks so important now that you can adopt the 'just get in there' attitude you describe on the reasonable expectation that you can fix any mistakes later? I imagine you would have been more cautious if paperback accounted for 100% of sales.

Sorry for the delayed response, but yes, if paperback accounted for 100% of sales I would've been far more cautious. Still, live and learn! I do think ebooks do give authors a lot of leeway to fix mistakes, however and whenever they catch them. It's definitely a luxury that I've already learned to take advantage of lol!

Announcement Time:A Sanctum of Swords will be undergoing a second round of full-scale editing Q1 2024 next year! That means the audiobook will be a bit further delayed, but definitely for the best!
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The Embers of the Past Series - What's Coming!
« Reply #354 on: December 11, 2023, 08:35:20 PM »
Hey everyone!

It's been a little while since I've given any update on The Embers of the Past Series, so here is what is coming down the works!

- A Sanctum of Swords 2.0: So I don't know what I'll be officially naming this - or if I should add any additional words to the title at all. I am convinced that I should add something to differentiate the new edition though, so we'll see! As of current, I've progressed to Chapter 11 in my own self-edit revisions. Appointment with the editor for the second edit is in February.

- The Reaper of the Mortal Sands cover art illustration is set to begin in February in addition! It will feature another landscape portrait in a location of which I am certain many people will successfully guess.

- A Sanctum of Swords Audiobook will begin in March time and will be narrated by a human, a very talented human that I believe will bring the story off the page with his audio rendition of the novel!

- Whispers of White Sapphire's editing appointment has been pushed back to May to make way for the second edit of A Sanctum of Swords. I am about 3/4 through completing the novella collection, however. It will be two stories of slightly above novella length!

- Outside of that, I am planning on having another illustration and Whispers of White Sapphire voice-narrated in Q2-Q3 2024!

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Re: The Embers of the Past Series - What's Coming!
« Reply #355 on: January 1, 2024, 10:05:01 PM »
It's been a little bit since my last update - I've decided to re-double my efforts on writing - but am replanning out how to most efficiently release new content going forward. I was trying to do too much at the same time before.

So what am I working at the moment:

A Sanctum of Swords 2.0 - final revision: I've been diligently working through the manuscript another few times with the intent on correcting the overwriting / purple prose issue. I've done a lot of self-revisions, and I think the manuscript is already showing a night and day difference just scaling back a lot of simple things and some sentence reworks. I've also targeted dialogue to increase clarity and am focused on changing a few confusing descriptions that left readers unable to quite comprehend what those sentences were conveying.

I've progressed to Chapter 20 - so I've got about seven more chapters left before I hand the manuscript back to the editor a final time in February.

A Sanctum of Swords 2.0 Audiobook - had to delay to work on the 2.0 manuscript, so that the audiobook can be created from the latest and greatest version.

Whispers of White Sapphire rough drafts: Almost done.

The Reaper of Mortal Sands - I am hoping to begin revamping what I have for the sequel to A Sanctum of Swords and building out another full-scale narrative.

So we'll see how that goes.
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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Embers Edition
« Reply #356 on: January 21, 2024, 02:41:12 AM »
A Sanctum of Swords: Embers Edition

I am happy to announce that we are approaching the release of an official second edition of A Sanctum of Swords!

Here is a detailed list of primary changes:

Novel-wide revisions to eliminate over writing and repetition, adding clarity to text and dialogue, and streamlining to both areas of the manuscript.

Elimination of confusing descriptions and simplified dialogue.

Revised scenes for every chapter, including additional in-depth content in the form of additional scenes and chapter.

Re-imagined combat scenes from Chapter 22 and onward.

Additional Chapter: Sun's Descent

An additional professional editing session.

A Sanctum of Swords: Ember Edition is also receiving an audiobook audition, narrated by Marcus Freeman.

There's no changes on the website yet, but they are coming nearer to time of release!
« Last Edit: January 21, 2024, 08:59:27 AM by Myen'Tal »
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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Embers Edition
« Reply #357 on: January 23, 2024, 11:03:40 PM »
Glad to see your progress.
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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Embers Edition
« Reply #358 on: January 24, 2024, 01:39:32 AM »
Congratulations! That must have been a lot of work.

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Embers Edition
« Reply #359 on: January 24, 2024, 06:30:34 PM »
Glad to see your progress.

Thank you!

Congratulations! That must have been a lot of work.

It is, still in the process of revamping the last three chapters. Winnowing things down to the wire here. Upwards and onwards!
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