Today I’m pleased to be part of blog tour for Seven Deadly Swords by Peter Sutton, organised by Love Books Group. Check out book details and excerpt in this post.
For every sin, a sword
For every sword, a curse
For every curse, a death
Reymond joined the Crusades to free the Holy Land from the Saracens and win glory for himself. Instead, with six others, he found himself bound under a sorcerer’s curse: the Seven Sins personified. Doomed to eternal life and with the weight of the deaths he has caused dragging his soul into the torments of hell, Reymond must find his former brothers-in-arms and defeat them. Riding across a thousand years of history, the road from Wrath to Redemption will be deadly…
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Avignon, France, 2012
Reymond hummed Alouette and sharpened his sword; this time the priest would die first. The rain hammered relentlessly upon the roof of the people carrier. He’d never got the hang of identifying machinery: it smelled new and it was red. He glanced out of the window into the night, seeing nothing, remembering deserts. His hands worked, a slow circular motion, comforting. He’d long since discovered that poetry and song soothed the constant rage. What was keeping Fisher?
Muscle memory took over and he contemplated the coming violence, the necessity of it. The priest had drawn him in, initially. It wasn’t his fault, as such, but he held a fair measure of culpability. This time Reymond would end it. This time.
He was aware that he smiled grimly. How many times had he sworn that this time would be different, the last? He glanced back out the window. Avignon. So near where it had all started. Seat of popes. A fitting place to find the priest. The car was parked next to an ancient wall which stretched down the road to the priest’s door. Where Fisher had gone some minutes ago. The priest would have had the dream, Reymond would be expected. Or one of them would be expected anyway. Dreams and portents, curses and sorcery. Reymond spat on the blade. This time he’d end it.
The sliding door of the car rattled open. Fisher, despite his bulk, and age, moved quietly: military training honed through many years of covert operations. Reymond raised an eyebrow at the Englishman who nodded and moved off, his yellow-white hair a flag in the dark. Reymond dropped the whetstone into its velvet bag, jumped out of the car and splashed through the wet clay mud covering the road to catch up with the larger man.
Once the big man was close enough for Reymond to see Fisher’s cauliflower ears he asked, “And?”
“He’s still there.” The Merseyside accent seemed out of place here in France.
The priest’s house was modest, a window onto Passage Saint Agricole, a door on Rue Felicient David. A courtyard interior. Sand-coloured stone. The priest’s church, Saint Agricole, a short walk away.
The door swung open under Fisher’s meaty hand and Reymond walked in ahead of the Englishman who held the door open for him. Reymond was struck again by the fact Fisher was approaching sixty. Soon to be too old for this work. Another good reason to end it this time.
The sound of prayer drifted down the stairs as the door swung shut behind Fisher. Reymond hefted his sword and followed the chant. The stairs were narrow and slippery, the plasterwork walls cracked and scabrous. A miasma of overcooked greasy food hung heavy on the air. Reymond continued to sing Alouette.
At the top of the stairs a nut-brown door stood open a crack. Latin spilled out. Reymond tightened his grip on the sword and pushed the door fully open. The short hallway he walked through, past a tiny kitchen, ended in a left turn into a sitting room. Waist-high bookcases flanked the door and ahead was a well-used sofa of cracked brown leather. The Latin abruptly stopped.
“Reymond. And Mr Fisher. Welcome.”
“It’s just Fisher.”
The priest sat at a dining table, a bottle of single malt in front of him, empty glasses waiting. “I wasn’t sure if Fisher would be joining us.” He picked up the bottle and screwed the top off, pouring a generous measure into each glass.
Reymond’s gaze roved the room: he narrowed his eyes and tried to ignore the siren song of fury that bubbled just beneath the surface. “After everything. After…” Reymond’s hand, the one not holding the sword, made an abortive gesture. “You still believe?”
The priest followed Reymond’s eyes to where his own hand had picked up a set of mahogany beads and a silver crucifix. A simple enough rosary, well-made, expensive, but not ostentatious.
“It is ever a mystery to me that you no longer do, Reymond. You were always a great believer.” The priest picked up his glass, his finger and thumb counting beads. The glass shook as he raised it to his lips.
Fisher crossed the room and took the offered glass. With a glance at Reymond he knocked back the whisky, then sat to one side and kicked the chair opposite the priest out as an invitation to Reymond.
“You don’t think that all we’ve seen proves that He has no plan for us?” Reymond asked.
The priest shrugged. “We are what God has made us.”
Reymond barked a humourless laugh. “And what is that exactly? Father.”
“If your dreams and times in between are as mine then I think you know.”
“You know nothing,” Reymond took a step towards the table. He could feel his control slip: he bit his lip and started reciting Dante under his breath.
The priest held out the rosary. “Come, Reymond. Pray with me, like we used to. It will give you comfort, like at Dorylaeum.”
Reymond’s sword flicked out, and the beads rattled across the table and onto the flagstone floor. “It is time,” he snarled.
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