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Demonheart
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-252-4
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Dark Fantasy
eBook Length: 354 Pages
Published: July 2015

From inside the flap

Vogel is a spy for the Teutonic Order who spends his time chasing down villains and indulging his love for good beer.

Life is good and uncomplicated.

Or so he thought until he’s dragged before the Bishop of Rittershafen and the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order. There have been two murders, he is told, two priests. The chief suspect is a possessed novice. Find him and bring him in, unharmed! How difficult can that be? After all, Vogel is good at tracking down people. But the supernatural may be involved, so the Church are going to provide him with the necessary muscle to deal with it.

Enter Stefan von Stern, a Teutonic Templar and divinely-aided arse kicker built like a brick cowshed with a crap sense of humour and a sword arm like an anvil. He’s also Vogel’s right hand man on this job.

Alex von Plauen is a member of the Sword Brethren Order, templars and renowned martial mystics. He too has been assigned to babysit the spy. And, God knows, Vogel’s going to need them!

He’s going to need their help to navigate the supernatural world he’s about to be plunged into and they’ll need him to help steer them through the murky machinations of the underworld. Together, the trio are going to storm through the city of Rittershafen until they come face to face with the nightmarish and frightening power of sorcery and by the end Vogel is going to make strange and powerful new friends, but most of all he is going to have the adventure of his life.

And he is going to love it!

Demonheart (Excerpt)


PROLOGUE

The sound of breathing echoed around the room. Not his own, but the chamber's. A deep, rhythmic, inhale and exhale, like the wind whistling through the cloistered galleries of a large monastery, combined with a throb, like the distant pounding of waves on surf.

His eyes flicked open bringing his meditation to an end. He was ready. His energies were harnessed and his mind and will focused. He was as prepared as he would ever be for his first solo foray into the real art of sorcery. "I am ready now, Meister," he said, turning over his right shoulder to address the figure seated, cross legged, in a protective pentagram like his own. A short portly individual with a warm and kindly face, the type of demeanour that belonged to a man who helped people, dressed in black robes, its cuffs and breast linings traced in the flowing script of sorcery.

He then turned and flicked a look over his left shoulder, to the short figure seated behind him also safely ensconced in a protective pentagram. A figure with the face of a full grown man and the build of a young boy. His steward and right hand.

"I believe you are," his teacher replied. "Remember the golden rules."

"Greed kills. Less is more."

"Good!" The master replied, nodding approvingly. "But don't just squawk the words for my benefit, Herzog, heed them. This is not like summoning your steward. These are going to be far more powerful and far harder to control and feed. But! If you can handle them then power, undreamed of, will be yours. Tread carefully!"

"Understood, Meister."

"Very well," the master replied, taking a last, lingering, look around the room.

The chamber was devoid of any windows and furnishings, except for a small, ornate, wooden cabinet in the far corner. The walls, ceiling and floor were the colour and texture of flint, black, with a creamy fudge coloured vein swirled through it. The walls, ceiling and floor lacked any mortar gaps, as if the room were somehow shaped out of a single piece of stone. Seamless. Perfect. A perfection which was beautiful, alien and frightening and so very like my student, the master thought, disappointedly.

"Then I bid you farewell. This stage is for you and you alone. And know that I wish you every success."

The student bowed his thanks. The master bowed his head in return and vanished.

Herzog scooped up his spell book, a large black leather-bound tome with a metal clasp fashioned in the likeness of a snarling, horned demon. He brushed his fingers lightly over the metal clasp and it sprang open, the pages of the book flicking of their own accord to the page the sorcerer desired.

Herzog placed his book on the floor in front of him and began to chant. A slower but considerably safer method of casting, as the book itself aided the black-robed sorcerer in his struggle to master the arcane words and their resultant power which writhed and twisted, resisting all attempts to bend to his will.

The sorcerer and his little steward, however, weren't the only ones in the room.

Lying in another pentagram was a young man with dark hair and lovely, innocent, blue eyes, now wide with terror. The captive moaned, bucked and jerked, struggling to break free of his bonds. It was a desperation borne of absolute terror.

But he couldn't. He was securely bound and gagged. He was trapped with no means of escape and his efforts to slip free of his bonds were so desperate that blood started pouring from his wrists and ankles where the hemp bonds had sanded his skin and flesh away.

The black robed figure's chanting was interrupted by someone clearing their throat.

"Good evening!" The figure greeted with a cheerful smile.

He was a handsome man of average height, about middle age, with a face devoid of lines and even the corners of his eyes lacked crow's feet. His dark hair, which was short and slicked back, only accentuated his pale skin and small, neatly trimmed, goatee and moustache. But it wasn't his appearance that mesmerised the sorcerer. It was his eyes, large and black, like a shark's. Cold and merciless. Inhuman and utterly without any warmth and pity. A killer's eyes.

Yet he had the air of a nobleman, charming and debonair, with raiment to match: fine leather boots, expensive pants, shirt and cape, all in fine black silk, of course.

The mark was the elegant cane he was leaning on, elegantly fashioned from some dark wood, very expensive and expertly polished and lacquered. It was topped with a silver knob in the likeness of a demonic head complete with curling horns.

That said it all.

The figure needed no introduction.

"You summoned me?" He said leaning forward. The beaming smile still fixed in place.

"But... I... I didn't finish the incantation, lord."

"No matter!" The figure replied, waving dismissively. "It's not the words, my good man, it's the intent and the sacrifice of that small bit of you," he said, holding up his thumb and forefinger an inch apart, "that really counts!"

"Yes my lord!" The sorcerer said, bowing low.

"Yes, yes, very good, much appreciated. Now, why don't you stop all the fawning and let's get down to business, shall we? What do you want! And tell me honestly, speak your heart. What do you really want?"

"I crave knowledge, my lord! Greater knowledge of sorcery!"

"And power, yes?"

"Yes, lord. And power."

"And what are you willing to sacrifice for this power?"

"Anything, lord, anything!" The black-robed figure started genuflecting.

The man with the cane sighed, shaking his head wearily. "Look, I'm suitably placated with your previous fawnings. Very good etiquette. Commend your master when next you see him, he has schooled you well. But we can dispense with the grovelling now, okay?"

"Yes lord. May I still call you lord?"

"You may!" The smile and smarmy charm was back. "Now, you're willing to do anything, are you?"

"Anything lord!"

"And my payment?" The figure asked innocently, admiring his finger nails.

"Anything, lord. Anything you ask for!"

"Very well. I'll grant you the names of two powerful demons and the name of a sorcerer. In return, you feed me the souls of the innocent and the souls of the pious. Give me the priests! Do you agree to this?"

"Done, my lord!"

"Done and done!" The figure said whooping, clapping his hands and pointing at the sorcerer. "Good doing business with you! If there's nothing else... "

The sorcerer shook his head. "Nothing more, lord."

The demon lord touched two fingers to his forehead in salute, gave the sorcerer a wink and with an "Anon!" vanished, leaving nothing but the faint smell of sulphur behind.

The sorcerer bent his head to his book where the long, graceful, flowing script of sorcery had appeared, slithering its way sinuously across the pages.

Herzog began to chant, again, and as he did so blue flames suddenly erupted from the boy's pentagram, swaying and roaring and slowly growing in intensity.

The boy was no fool. He had been schooled in this kind of lore and knew what the flames heralded.

The knowledge only fuelled his fear and he started mewling and sobbing in terror.

And then he froze.

Through the dancing flames, he spied a figure.

His doom.

It looked like a person in that it had two arms, two legs, a torso and head, but the creature, the size of a new born babe, had no skin to speak of. It moved by dragging itself, like a seal, using its arms. It shuffled forward rapidly, a starving animal, drooling as it crawled and stared hungrily at the boy, its sacrifice, with milky orbs. It stopped, about an arm's length away from the boy and opened its mouth, stretching its jaws impossibly wide, revealing rows of pointed, razor sharp, pearly whites with long, sticky, strands of saliva, stretched like webbing, between them.

The boy froze, like a mouse caught in the soulless, mesmerising, gaze of a cobra and like the merciless snake the creature reared, poised for a moment and then shot forward with blinding speed.

Like an arrow it punched straight into the boy's abdomen, folding him in half and throwing him backwards. He clutched at his gut and screamed, curling into a foetal position, thrashing, as tears poured from his eyes while his lifeblood leaked through his fingers. Tearing into the boy's stomach was just the beginning of the creature's journey. It now set off, munching its way through the boy's innards and then up, using the boy's spine like a set of bone stairs spiralling upwards towards the real prize.

The brain.

The boy's body arched in pure agony, his cries, echoing around the chamber were ripped from the depths of his being. The demon's hunger caused it to kill quickly, a mercy few demons show their quarry and after an eternity of pain and torment, the boy's prayers were answered. The agony eventually ended, as with a final shudder the boy's corpse lay still. The soul was mercifully allowed to depart, leaving the flesh to the creature. It continued with its feast-journey, chewing its way through meat and crunching bone until it reached the boy's brain.

The sorcerer could hear it noisily slavering its way towards its goal and smiled in satisfaction when he saw the boy's skull writhe and pulsate as the creature scrambled about in the boy's head.

The body began to jerk and thrash violently again and then, as swiftly as they had started, the fits ceased. The boy sat up and looked around. He fixed his burning blue eyes on the black robed figure and fluidly rose to his feet.

"Why have you summoned me?"

"To do my bidding."

"I need to feed, master."

"What do you require, my servant?

"The energy of the Gifted."

The sorcerer fell silent as he and the boy locked gazes, neither of them unmoving or unwavering. The battle of wills lasted for a few heartbeats before the boy brought it to an end. He grinned, revealing rows of sharp teeth. "What is your will, master?"

The sorcerer flicked his hand in a dismissive gesture and the blues flames vanished.

The cage opened.

He beckoned the boy forward. "Go. Feed, but feed only on those who I say. Come close and heed my words. Follow my instructions to the letter."

The sorcerer leaned forward and spoke softly to the boy, when he finished the creature nodded and then departed. The sorcerer reached down for his book and as he lifted the weighty tome, he watched as its pages whirred, flicking once more. The page the book had stopped at was blank but the sorcerer knew his book and knew if it stopped at a blank page, then the book had cause to do so. Even as he watched, writing appeared. The eldritch language of sorcery, yet again, snaked its way across the pages and when it had wound its way across a score of pages, it ceased.

The sorcerer smiled and leafed back to the beginning of the new spell. He inhaled deeply and paused for a moment before letting out his breath slowly, clearing his mind as he did so. He placed the spell book back on the floor, straightened his back, focused his will and began the sonorous chant of summoning the next creature.