11/20/14, on Amazon for pre-order now.
Veil of a
~ Hammerblood, Book 1 ~
By Clifton Hill
(Novel is Epic Fantasy, approx 550 pages)
Expected Publish Date: 11/20/2014
All rights reserved. ©Clifton Hill
~2 years earlier, in the mostly uncharted Northern Sea, hundreds of leagues away~
“What takes you to Molroun?” rasped the man of the sea, his left hand gripped to a salt stained till, worn and pale.
The tall man with wide and strong shoulders, sat hunched over on an old bench. He did not look at the old captain, his eyes were lost upon the blue ocean expanse. The boat — for it was hardly worth calling a ship — rocked with a swell of wind-tossed water, spray dusting the deck. Grasping and ungrasping his large hands, he looked at calloused palms. They were not the hands of a craftsman, nor a politician, and they were certainly not the hands of a magus. But they were his hands, and they would do.
Finally, looking to the short-statured sea captain, he said simply, “I have business there.”
The captain’s lips wrestled open in a smirk. “Business, aye? If you don’t mind my saying so, you don’t look like any trader I’ve seen.” Lowering his voice, the captain glanced across the deck, seeing that they were undisturbed. “You come from that ruined pisspot of Beckenburg, but you don’t look like you’re running from anything. No... Not a refugee. Not like them.” The sea captain paused, his left hand moving of its own accord, years of experience guiding his boat across the waves, steering his small vessel without effort or concentration. The wisps of his gray beard fluttered around without any single purpose. “Looks to me, and I’d lay good coin on it, that you’re looking for a fight.”
The hunched man said nothing, just stared back down at his hands: smooth skin rippled over tendon and vein. They did not look like the hands of a fighter. But they were no longer the hands of a boy.
“Looking for something to fill your purse, put that big hammer of yours to some use?” The sea captain grinned, as if sharing a secret. “A mercenary? Hammer for hire?” the captain chuckled with a hush. A dozen other comments and questions followed, each one going unanswered.
The others passengers had learned to keep their distance from the talkative lips of Captain Flannesy, but the warrior, sitting quietly, had his reasons to shun their company.
Secrets were easier to keep that way.
“Don’t know why you want to bother with Molroun, land’s lost if you ask me. Oh, not as bad as Beckenburg, it’s much bigger, for one. Fine country back when they still had kings. Or so they say. Now, they just run around waiving their swords, like little whelps, hoping to look fierce. No one guiding them. No, I tell you, take to Alkmaar. The Dark Brotherhood haven’t found them yet. It’s a small place, but well guarded by their sea cliffs. Their Premier, he don’t brook fools. Keeps his men in line, or hauls them up by the ear. They don’t call him the Rock of Alkmaar for having a tender heart. But you could find work there, and if you live by the law... Well, the Premier is always looking for good men. Smart fella. And the Saeordin would be dolts to bother with little Alkmaar.”
The warrior didn’t know if the captain cared, or just wanted to avoid the trip to Molroun. In the end it didn’t matter.
“Molroun,” he said with a quiet rumble.
“No one listens, I say. The land of trees is a mistake. You could find a better cause for your...steel,” the captain glanced down at the hammer, eyes squinting at the silvery sheen, the luster as different from steel as tin was to copper and he scratched his chin.
“I paid you for Molroun.”
“Aye, you did.”
“Then, what is the problem?”
The sea captain shook his head. “Fine, fine, don’t take Cap’n Flan’s word. See for yourself. Just hope that when the time comes, you can find someone to float you out of that dead forest.”
“Molroun will be different,” said the warrior, eyes looking inward.
“Different? You think they’ll last against the hordes of Saeorda?” The captain laughed short and hard. “Now, you listen to me lad, Cap’n Flan’s been to a place or two and I know what I see. That land is ready to slip away, ready to give its last breath. Country might even be better off under the Brotherhood. Some call them dark, and I will deny no one’s claim that their methods can...” the captain seemed to struggle for the words, “go too far, but I’ve called on some of their ports, and if you do as you’re told, keep your nose straight and on the narrow, then they don’t bother ya...much.”
Something about the captain’s twitch of his eyes, told the warrior there was more to be said. “You feel the butchery and murder of the countless lost is...justified?”
Captain Flannesy squinted, then shook his head roughly. “Not what I said, not what I said.” Lips pressing together, he paused, then continued, “You just can’t always fight. Sometime’s it’s a lost battle, no matter how hard you try...”
Clouds scudded overhead, as the captain steered in silence, his handful of sailors going about their work without effort or prompt. “So, you’re not going for the coin, I take it?”
The warrior stared forward, and said nothing.
The captain shrugged, turned back to his till, but then glanced back at the warrior, a strange light in his eye. “What was your name again, lad? Must have slipped my mind.”
The man nodded, no humor, just purpose in his eyes. “I didn’t say,” came his deep voice. Then added, almost reluctantly, “Hammerblood. My name is Hammerblood.”
Thanks for reading, watch for the book release: 11/20/14.
And read the short novelette, Seeking the Veil. See Hestea as he first leaves his secret home, raw and untested. Discover his past and the trials of Beckenburg that he will not speak of. Part 1 is now available on Amazon, Parts 2 and 3 will release in 2014.
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