Mask of the Gods
Synopsis: Soul Demons live off the souls of the living. When Haydan’s home world is invaded by a soul demon seeking an item shrouded in myth and legend, his father evicts him and sends him to safety. His chosen one and warrior should provide reassurance and sanctuary, but neither appears to be working very well. Just when he thinks matters cannot get any worse his scheming grandmother arrives. She has her own plans that appear to involve him, none of which bodes well.
Diego feels confident he has the soul demon under control. Overlooking his devious mother’s involvement, he fails to appreciate that he is not only storm rider elder, but also an elven prince and certain debts are about to become due. Lavinia worries about her grandson, but also who she left behind in the elven realm a long time ago. Tallin thinks she abandoned him and he is livid. She has everything under control, including Tallin…at least that is what she thinks. They all need to learn afresh who to trust. With a soul demon on the rampage, an unleashed, angry and betrayed elven king and a long-forgotten mask surfacing, what could possibly go wrong? The past is about to catch up with all of them. Nothing is going to go as planned because the mask and the gods have other ideas.
Extract from Mask of the Gods
Arriving in the fae realm Haydan finds his sleep haunted by strange visions of the mask. A bad nightmare convinces him that the mask has found him. He leaves the safety of the tent and his warriors proximity to calm himself outside and clear his head. There he encounters the following…
Out of the corner of his eye, Haydan detected movement. It was slight, but light moved around in the distance by the trees. For a minute he pretended he hadn’t seen it. The light grew confident, emboldened by his distraction. It crept closer, reminding him as it slid out from the forest foliage of a timid chosen one hiding in the sea. The way it drifted sent a chill down his neck. It glided like their souls did, except this one was a strange colour, not red like a chosen one’s soul, but a pinkish colour and it didn’t glow with the same intensity as their souls. This one flickered, the light pulsing as though it grew faint.
Haydan’s gaze slid across to watch it glide up to one of the fence posts. It disappeared around the back of the post and Haydan held his breath. It coasted back around the post, keeping close to the carved, ornate edge and he knew his theory was correct. He dropped down to the same level, watching as it edged closer, keeping a safe distance between them.
“You’re Diego’s?” The sudden pulse of light it released suggested Haydan was correct. “Storm alive…I think he’d like you back.”
Lowering the red trail that flared behind her, she ducked behind the nearest fence post. The coy move a reminder to Haydan to temper his enthusiasm; there was a lot of ground to cover before that happened.
She glided closer, hesitant, uncertain. Haydan opened out his hand, letting his altera appear. He realised too late his mistake.
The warning thrum of approaching danger threatened to overwhelm Haydan’s sensitive hearing. The sound threaded through his veins like ice. Something was hunting him. The soul that had almost reached his palm shot off into the nearby forest. His fingers closed around thin air. He silently cursed as it disappeared into the distance, before quickly hiding his altera. Not that it would do him any good now. The damage was already done.
The air cooled further, chilling Haydan’s face as the intensely uncomfortable feeling of being hunted overwhelmed him. Fog dropped like a blanket from above with too much speed to have formed naturally. Great swathes gathered inches from the ground and churned around. The larger of the two moons took on a vibrant blue hue as it shimmered and silently shifted from its silvery colouring. He turned towards the forest as eerie cries and shrieks of delight issued from the forest creatures hiding there. A chill slid down his neck as he rushed towards the tent. In direct contact with the ground he would be easy to find and revealing his altera had made him an easy target. The magic he used to display his altera was distinctive. No doubt the king could detect the presence of new magic sources and revealing the origin of his power so abruptly had just announced him to the realm. He should have slowly revealed his altera, not rapidly unveiled it in a moment of total stupidity.
The grass rippled beneath Haydan’s feet as magic flickered and danced like mist in the morning air. The ground glowed and with a soft thump, power shot past him into the distance. Any hope he had of it missing him vanished when the wall of glowing, dancing energy paused, then backed up towards him. Panic snatched all the air from his lungs as he froze, his heart hammering so hard in his chest he was certain the entire kingdom could hear it.
It might miss him if he calmed himself down. Haydan took another deep breath in and watched the strange phenomenon come to a halt by his feet. It moved like waves on a beach as it rocked around him, assessing him.
Just when Haydan allowed himself to think his misdirection had been successful, he felt the pull at his feet as power slid into his being, anchoring him to the spot. His feet felt like lead weights. Dragged to the floor, his knees found the hard ground as his hands sank down to touch frosty blades of grass.
Cold engulfed Haydan as his altera appeared, rising abruptly from within his wrist as he lost control of any ability to disguise it. It began glowing, announcing him to the nearby guards on the wall, who would now know who he was.
Arianna you need to run. Haydan pushed the thought out, unsure if it would reach Arianna given the current situation.
Is Arianna your warrior? The cold mocking male voice in Haydan’s head chilled him to his core. Did you think you could hide from me? I am king of this realm – You do not have permission to be here. There was no understanding, or hint of compromise in the fae king’s commanding declaration. It is time to die, storm lord.
A strange cry filled the air, a cry of agony.
It took Haydan a moment to realise the cry issued from his own throat, as the power he held began draining. Pain wracked his body as he doubled over and resisted, knowing how futile it was. The more he fought and struggled the more the pain intensified and lashed at his body.
Her expression fierce, Arianna rushed from the tent, making straight for Haydan in her warrior form to protect him.
“No, stay back.” Haydan barely uttered the words, before strands of power filtered out from the ground around him, towards her. It was too late. The king would recognise Arianna from her proximity to him.
Perhaps reasoning with the king would work. I yield. I’m not here to hurt you.
Yield all you want…what was that?
The last part made no sense, as though the king was speaking to someone else. The sea of fog vanished as mysteriously as it had appeared. He didn’t know if he had enough power to reach Diego. It was the last thought that entered his mind before darkness and the vision of a glowing mask consumed him.
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Author Bio – Karen Furk loves fantasy stories. She has done ever since she was a small, lonely child with an over active imagination. She’s particularly fond of stories that are crammed full of magic, mayhem and magical creatures. Karen’s background in marketing laid the foundations for her writing career which began after a serious bout of depression. No longer able to contain her over active imagination, the stories finally flowed onto a page. She aims to surprise and delight with the characters and worlds she creates. She lives in the North West of the UK with her husband, two boys and a hamster called Rufus (Yes, a girl hamster with a boy’s name. Don’t ask, she just embraces the crazy!). Visit her at karenfurk.co.uk or find her on social media and say hello – she’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest under the user name karenfurkauthor.
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