Hey Book Lovers! Today I would like to highlight Emilie Knight’s first novel Era of Undying. Please check out book details and excerpt below.
Era of Undying by Emilie Knight
Publication Date: January 19th 2018
Genre: Fantasy / Supernatural
There hasn’t been a Blood Warrior for decades. Everyone assumed they were extinct and couldn’t return. Turns out they were just in hiding. Pen chose to revert back to her nomadic life after the death of her family. Life was always safer that way, away from people. Now she’s been caught and odd occurrences have been happening in Ichorisis. People are surviving horrible injuries and illnesses that they shouldn’t be. Now that Pen is under custody of one of the several kings she’s been sent to fix the problem. Whether she wants to or not.
The night was warm, though clouds hung heavily, obscuring the moonlight over the countryside of Ichorisis. The pleasant weather made the small caravan of travelers settle down early by the fire. There were maybe a dozen people in the caravan, so one could easily assume they were just a family of merchants. One aspect that contradicted that idea was how little the group was carrying. Pen had been watching them long enough to know that once anything of value came into their hands, it was quickly sold or hidden away. She had been following them for a while and learned that they hid the most valuables items in a small lock box tied to the leader’s horse.
The leader of the caravan was close to the fire, carving into a boar. His arms were painted crimson past his elbows. Everyone else was strewn about doing various tasks, but most of them were sitting lazily by the fire, listening to a short man with scar tissue covering his left arm tell a hunting story. Soon afterwards when the boar was cooked, they all ate and talked and laughed. When most of the boar was gone they settled down for sleep leaving the half-eaten carcass over the coals. The leader had eaten with gore still on his hands but had washed up in the nearby creek before using a saddlebag as a pillow. Two of them stayed awake to keep watch. One stayed by the horses, while the other walked around their makeshift perimeter. Neither saw Pen crouched behind the thorn bush.
Silently, she crept out from the bush to follow the man behind the tree line. He kept the caravan in sight but wandered a good distance into the trees. She wondered what he was doing; he wasn’t patrolling. He walked aimlessly, then stopped. She heard running water then realized he was relieving himself. He was clearly relaxed and sensed no danger. She picked up a rock and threw it. It thunked against a tree and fell into a bush. The man glanced toward the rustling noise but dismissed it. She almost felt bad at how easy this would be. Then her stomach growled. Gritting her teeth and clenching her stomach muscles, she stifled the noise, but her nerve wavered. Her last proper meal had been three days ago. Doing her best to ignore the hunger pains, she gripped her knife. As the man was arranging his trousers, she stood behind him and struck.
One of Pen’s hands covered his mouth first, catching him off guard. He grunted in surprise, but the blade across his throat silenced him quickly. He panicked and buckled as his life pulsed from his throat, but she kept her hold. He was heavy, but she managed to ease him to the ground in near silence. No one moved in the camp, and no one heard their friend die. It took a moment for the blood to finish flowing out, and she cringed when he coughed more over her hand. It wasn’t the first time she’d felt that much blood, of course, and it was by no means the last; it had to be done. She wiped her hand and knife on the dead man’s woolen tunic, then turned back to the shadows.
Keeping low, avoiding the dry twigs, she made it around the camp to where the horses were tethered. The other man was leaning against a tree, flask in hand. He was closer to the camp, so she couldn’t kill him without exposing herself or spooking the horses. She didn’t want to risk sneaking closer to the horses and the strongbox — he was beside the leader’s horse. She hid behind a thick oak tree and searched around for a dry stick on the ground. She stepped down hard. It made a crisp snap in the silence.
The man looked up and gazed into the darkness in her direction. Pen darted from one tree to another and crouched under the pine branches. He saw her. Stepping away from his tree, he peered into the forest and came closer. He glanced at his companions, then back at the trees. He put the flask away and unsheathed his sword silently, presumably so as not to alarm the others, and then approached her hiding place. He passed her, then paused. Her heart was in her throat. She prayed he wouldn’t shout.
“Who’s there?” he called.
It wasn’t enough to wake the camp, thankfully. The man grumbled “rabbit”, sheathed his sword, and turned back. He passed her again, and she slipped out of hiding to stand behind him. She must be quick and silent: she stabbed the knife into his ear. She used too much force, though, and he hit a maple tree while falling, rattling the branches. He was dead, at least.
She took a breath, forcing her heart rate to slow. She saw no sign of anyone stirring in the camp, so she approached the horses again. The leader of the caravan might have been sleeping on his saddlebags, but the lockbox was attached directly to the horse’s saddle, hidden under leather. He probably thought it was safer because it was unexpected. The lockbox was strapped to the saddle, with two locks on the straps themselves. Luckily, the dozing horse provided a little cover, but Pen was still within the ring of firelight, and her legs were exposed. She took out her lock-picking pins and went to work. The second lock gave her a harder time, but both clicked open. The lid of the small box squeaked, but no one noticed. Inside was a silver pendant with a ruby on a thin chain, and a gold ring. Their price could buy her food for at least a week.
A twig snapped behind her.
She spun with knife in hand, but pain erupted in her head and everything went black.
She was on the ground when she came to with a splitting headache. Panic grabbed hold of her when she realized she couldn’t move. Her hands were tied behind her back, and her feet were bound too. The panic nearly won when she realized she was by the fire, with the entire camp surrounding her.
“I’ll admit I didn’t take you for a woman at first.”
The leader stood over her with his arms crossed. He was a big man with thick black hair and beard.
She shifted to her knees, which was awkward with her hands tied, but she managed. Her vision was blurred from the blow, but it was clearing. There were eleven men and women standing around her — three of them behind her — and one small figure sitting by a tree behind the leader.
“You even killed two of my best fighters,” the leader said casually, as though this were an everyday conversation.
“Even the best can get lazy and ignore the shadows.” She couldn’t feel warmth spreading from where she was struck so she didn’t think she was bleeding; there would probably be a good bruise later. She started twisting her wrist into the rope.
“Let’s just kill her. She murdered Belos!” said a skinny man holding a bow.
“And Hason,” a woman added.
The rest of the followers muttered in agreement.
The leader raised a hand and they stopped grumbling.
“Not until we’ve had a little chat,” the leader said. He knelt before Pen. “Did anyone send you?” His voice made her want to shiver despite the fire’s warmth.
She looked him directly in the eye. “No.”
“Are you alone?”
“No,” she lied. She wasn’t sure if he believed her. He had a good face for gambling.
“What are you doing with your arm?” He sounded intrigued but not entirely distracted.
She felt her wrist sting, then blood trickled down her hand.
He chuckled and stood. “I honestly don’t know if I want to kill you or let you join us.”
“She murdered Belos!” the skinny man yelled again.
“I know he was your brother, and I will mourn him too.” His steely voice made the other man look away. “She struck silently, and that could be useful. But considering I don’t let anyone already in kill a member without due punishment, I can’t just let in someone who did kill a member. Killing her would be safer and easier.”
“She’s pretty, though, sir,” a burly man said. “Can we play with her first?”
“Normally I wouldn’t care, but she’s proven to be an efficient assassin. I don’t think—”
She willed her blood to rise. Sensing there the three stood behind her she shot her blood toward them, striking two in the throat and one in the eye. At the same moment she hardened it into a blade to cut the ropes. As the first three fell gurgling and screaming, she stood to face the others, snaking the strings of blood around so it floated in front of her.
All of her opponents had drawn their weapons, but now they froze. Three tendrils of solid blood floated several feet from her wrist, sharpened to points facing the bandits.
Staying calm was a challenge, but she managed it. Panic would cloud her thoughts and thin her blood.
“I don’t believe it,” one man muttered.
“M’lady,” the leader said. One of his hands held an axe, but he raised the other to show peace. “No one else needs to die tonight. You can walk away, and no one here will repeat what happened.”
“Rumors spread like wildfire,” Pen replied.
“Not this one. You can keep what was in the lockbox, plus anything else I have of value. You can take what you need and go.”
“The hell she will!” the skinny man shouted.
He fired an arrow at Pen’s heart.
One tendril caught the arrow, twisted it around, and stuck it into his neck. Three more men charged her with swords in hand. Two were pierced through the heart, but the last one was too close. Pen retracted the tendrils and dived under his blade, which was aimed at her head. She changed her blood into a blade and stuck him in the gut. He fell groaning while she stood with a crimson blade in hand.
One woman charged at her with a hammer. Pen killed her with a dodge then a slice to the neck, following through to the next man, lopping off his arm before stabbing him in the chest. Another turned to run, but she extended her sword into a spear and got him in the back. That left the leader, who had stayed back until now. She faced him.
He had his axe at the ready. She considered switching to a sword for speed but kept the spear for distance.
“Damn that Hados, he was always a wild card,” he growled. “You’re the Blood Warrior.”
She stayed quiet.
“If you leave me be, I’ll tell no one of this.”
“I can’t do that.” She didn’t enjoy killing, but it was necessary. No one could know she existed. Not after what happened to the last Warriors.
“Fine, then.” He had no intention of dying.
He stalked to the left. She followed, stepping over a body. He lunged with the axe, but she parried with the spear. His fist flew, catching the side of her face.
Stunned, she staggered back but managed to avoid his next swing. She caught his axe with her spear and pulled him off balance, hitting him over the head with the end of it. Then she melted her spear, changed it into a hammer, and brought it down on the back of his head.
He went down hard but caught himself on his knees. She sharpened her hammer into an axe and embedded it in his skull.
She slumped among the bodies next to the fire, panting, and listened for any movement, tense with anticipation of another attack — but none came. Then she remembered the small figure by the tree. She stood and saw a boy, perhaps ten years old, hiding behind the tree. He was staring at her and trembling.
The boy bolted into the forest. She swore and followed him. The chase only lasted a few minutes before she lost him in the gloom. She cursed louder. The boy would tell people what he saw. Rumors of her existence would spread. Cursing again, she went back to the dead camp.
She cleaned any dirt or blood that was not her own off her axe. Once it was clean, it lost its form and melted back into her wrist. Despondent, she sat by the fire and ate her fill of what was left of the boar. There wasn’t much after having been picked over by a dozen people. At least her stomach was full for one more night. She then took a pack and filled it with what food was left, along with the valuables the traveling bandits had hidden on them as well the jewelry from the lockbox.
She took the saddles off all of the horses except the leader’s. It looked the strongest; a big gray-and-black-speckled stallion. Hefting the new pack and mounting her new horse, she rode off.
Emilie Knight is a writer, and author of her debut Era of Undying. After years of reading fantasy and horror she combines them together into her own dark fantasy writing. Using her BA in Classical Civilizations and fascination in Ancient Greek mythology she blends it well into her fiction. Other than reading in her spare time she plays video games quiet often.
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