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The Seven Hungers, Book 1: Rise of the Crimson King by @morgan_quaid is a KU Event pick #uf #horror
Title: The Seven Hungers, Book 1: Rise of the Crimson King
Author: Morgan Quaid
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Horror
Censured Crown sorcerer Ambrose Drake is hired to investigate a bizarre emergence in a city halfway across the world from his native London. Drake soon learns that a being from one of the Seven Hungers beneath our world is attempting to cross over. Flanked by his ex-lover and betrayer, Agent Karen Winter and a young acolyte with a severe lack of magical ability, Drake must plunge once more into the depths to save humanity.
The Seven Hungers is a fast-paced fantasy thriller which blends sorcery, horror elements and the exploration of dark new worlds with intense emotional struggle.
The sound of my forearm snapping cuts through the din of chaotic violence, accompanied by splintered wood and clouds of debris. I can’t help but grit my teeth as the shattered bone rubs against itself within the mangled flesh of my right arm. The pain brings with it a flood of power, followed closely by nausea. I swallow it down and try to keep my focus as the tentacle wrapped around my torso slams me into the kitchen wall.
It’s times like these I tend to reevaluate my life choices. Standing with my right arm elbow deep inside the wall of a haunted London apartment while the under-dweller who lives here tries to debone me; it’s the kind of thing that makes you wonder if a mundane life in the burbs wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
The building shakes violently, as though in the throes of a localized earthquake. I almost lose my footing but manage to stay more or less upright, my back bent over kitchen cabinetry, legs splayed, and one arm barely holding together beneath the under-dweller’s vise-like grip.
From somewhere below, another tentacle bursts from the kitchen wall, wrapping muscular cords around my left leg and wrenching with such force that I can’t help the high-pitched squeal that slips from my mouth.
“Rook!” I cry out, in a voice somewhat shriller than I would prefer. “Rook, you big bastard! Hurry the hell up!”
There’s no way Rook can hear me. At a guess, I’d say there’s half a dozen feet of concrete, wood, and insulation between us, and I’m guessing she’s got her own problems at the minute. Still, I let fly a string of obscenities in her general direction, hoping that their vigorous application might somehow aid Rook in putting an end to this business.
The creature, in whose copious limbs I am currently caught, shakes violently. I lose my footing and flail about helplessly as the room shudders. Glass and crockery fall to ground in a spectacular bombardment, sending up flecks of sharp teeth that cut at my face and pepper my clothes. The pain brings clarity and a seductive promise of power. Once more I fight back against the dark impulse screaming from within.
“ROOK!” I screech above the din of impending destruction.
The building shakes, and I feel the brute pull against me, wrenching my splintered arm out of its socket and battering my shin so violently that I feel it give way entirely. The power grows, sickeningly sweet. It whispers to me, begging to be used, threatening to drown my objections. I could end this in a moment, just by reaching out and taking hold of the black ether, by permitting a little of what lies within to be freed. So quick, so easy. But giving up control in a confined space like this is likely to leave a dozen mundanes dead, and I can’t have that on my conscience.
In the reflection of a nearby piece of broken glass, my eyes catch sight of the tattooed shackle on my neck. It wouldn’t be much of a struggle to break these bonds and unleash the black ether—no struggle at all, actually. But that would mean breaking Crown law, and I’m not ready for the kind of attention. It would also mean burning every bridge I have left and spending the rest of my days running, so I swallow it down and keep fighting against the shadow within.
The room shudders, and I hear a roar come from somewhere beneath.
“Rook! Where the f—”
My words are cut short as the apartment shudders and the tentacles gripping my body suddenly loosen. They slip into various cracks and crevasses in the walls and leave me to fall in an undignified heap upon the floor. I sit, my chest heaving as I suck in breath, collecting my wits and considering the myriad ways this morning could have gone differently.
“God’s blood, I hate my life,” I mutter as Rook comes thudding up basement stairs, walking with such heavy steps that I can feel them reverberate through the floor. She enters the kitchen wiping her soiled hands on a grimy towel, her outfit splattered with purple ichor.
“Jesus, Rook. Did you beat it to death with your bare hands?”
She mimes one hand chopping another, as though in reference to some large pipe or other implement. Rook is nothing if not resourceful, and I’m guessing she found something to use as a bludgeon down there in the depths of the building.
“And it’s dead?” I ask between rasping breaths.
“Good. Then we can tie it all up with a bow and leave the cleanup to the Administratum.”
Rook moves toward me, leaning down to pick me up off the floor and cradle me in her arms. She carries my broken body like a child gingerly transporting a damaged doll. I’m too exhausted and in too much pain to protest at the indignity of the situation. Ten years as a censured Crown sorcerer has knocked most of the pride out of me. This isn’t the first time Rook has had to scrape my broken body off the floor, and it won’t be the last.
Just shy of seven feet tall and layered with thick cords of muscle, Rook is a tank on legs. She wears combat boots, camo pants, and a plain black T-shirt, now slightly soiled by the under-dweller ichor splattered across its surface. Close-cropped blonde hair and a face which seems perpetually caught in a wry smile complete the look—my own personal John Rambo.
We head into an adjoining room where a family of three sit patiently, their glassy eyes oblivious to the violence which has unfolded in their kitchen. Rook sits me down at a free chair, then throws me a questioning look. I motion to my broken, dislocated arm.
“Gonna need something strong for this one, Rook. Something alive, I think. Something fairly big.”
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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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