The Seven Hungers, Book 2: Brine Council by @morgan_quaid is a KU Event pick #uf #horror #giveaway
Title: The Seven Hungers, Book 2: Brine Council
Author: Morgan Quaid
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Horror
On the back of his confrontation with the Crimson King, formerly disgraced Crown sorcerer, Ambrose Drake, is sent to picturesque Port Douglas to investigate a curious emergence. Still reeling from his recent elevation to Regional Director, Drake and his companions are confronted by something ancient and hungry which has clawed its way out of the briny depths.
Drake must meet this challenge while struggling to control the powerful Sovereign who resides within his flesh, a Hungerborn being that threatens to tip the balance and send Drake and his companions to a watery death.
Torture for One
He sits with his head pulled back, wearing a pained grimace that somehow still manages to be smug. Delicate metal filaments hang a few inches from his temples, glowing with amber light as the mind scour does its work. Etheric power pulses through the room as disgraced Agent Adam Taylor spasms beneath the abrasive touch of the scour. He bellows in agony, spit frothing at the corners of his mouth.
"Anything useful yet?" I ask, turning to the newly appointed Director, Karen Winter.
She shakes her head, dark features harboring a heavy scowl, arms crossed as we watch through a two-way mirror.
"Nothing yet. He seems to have been acting alone."
"Isolated from the others?"
"It looks like it. He was contacted initially via a series of dreams while he was on assignment in LA a few years ago. He only ever met in person with one Hungerborn—a Craven named Jinks, who acts as a translator and mediator for the local enclave."
I nod, sifting through her words. "I'm guessing you picked up this Jinks?"
"We did. As we speak, he's having his mind scoured at our LA office. We should have the results soon. With any luck, he was a conduit for more agents than just Taylor."
The mind flay does its work, and former Agent Taylor lets out a howl of agony. His chest heaves as he sucks in breath, desperate to escape the attentions of the mysterious device currently plumbing the depths of his mind.
"Brings back memories," I offer, realizing that I've been clenching my teeth for the past few minutes.
"It does, but I don't have any sympathy for this bastard. He deserves everything he’s getting, and more."
She’s right, of course. Adam Taylor had been her lover and fiancé, back before the Crimson King and his cadre of horrors staged a failed invasion of our world. I'd always considered Taylor to be a greasy toad with a god complex. His perpetually smug grin and cavalier arrogance made me want to provide a swift introduction between his face and my boot. Then there was the fact he betrayed the Crown and colluded with an invading Sovereign from the Third Hunger, selling out the human race on a vague promise of immortality.
If it weren’t for a quick-thinking agent and a significant dose of a rather potent and fast-acting tranquilizer, Taylor would be long gone. He was caught in the throes of transformation, his body preparing to be reformed into a horror, a puppet for the Crimson King to wreak havoc in our world.
For once the Crown did something right, managing to subdue the bastard before his transformation fully took hold and keeping him sedated until it was time to start up the mind scour.
Winter checks her cell phone, tapping at the screen distractedly as the interrogation continues in the adjoining room. A speaker in the wall to her left crackles to life, voicing words spoken in a tone stripped of all nuance.
“We’re approaching the ten-minute mark, Director Winter. Would you like to halt the session here?”
She doesn’t look up from her cell phone but keeps tapping away with one hand while she reaches up to the speaker with the other.
“Another five minutes.”
There’s a pause on the other end of the line. I imagine a bespectacled technician preparing to cite Administratum regulations about the maximum length of time stipulated for a mind scour, then think better of it.
“Of course, Director. Five more minutes. We’ll get everything we can.”
She doesn’t look up from her phone. Brow furrowed, she grits her teeth as she taps away at the screen, former Agent Taylor howling in the background. I can sense the worries compounding in her mind. I reach over, lightly touching her arm. She turns to me, still wearing a mask of clenched anger.
“Probably better that we don’t kill him,” I suggest. “The scour only gets so much out of a person, and I have a feeling there will be more questions we’ll want to ask down the line.”
She wants to fight me on this, wants to turn Taylor’s mind into jelly, and I can hardly blame her. It feels a little like the world has turned on its end with me standing here, trying to be the voice of reason while Winter struggles to get her anger under control. She takes in a deep breath, then moves over to the speaker and presses the button nestled in the wall panel below it.
“That’s enough for now, thank you. Clean him up and have him taken to his cell.”
The speaker crackles.
“Yes, Director. Right away.”
Even bleached of emotion by the inner workings of the intercom system, I can sense the relief behind those words. This could have gotten very messy, very fast.
“Come on,” Winter says, walking toward the door. “There’s something new I need to fill you in on.”
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Rapidly increasing peril, lots of twists and turns, important character development.
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Runs November 15 – November 24, 2022.
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Morgan Quaid is an Australian writer of speculative fiction, fantasy, and horror, specializing in fast-paced page turners set against expansive fantasy backdrops. When Morgan isn’t writing novels, comics, graphic novels, or short stories, he’s usually composing or producing music, or staring with longing and regret at a bar of chocolate.
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