Box Set Title: The Immortals Bundle
Story Titles and Authors:
The Goddess Problem by Sherry D. Ramsey
Glamour of the God-Touched by Ron Collins
A Man and His God by Janet Morris
Unnatural Immortal by Russ Crossley
First Chosen by M. Todd Gallowglas
Walking Gods by Leah Cutter
Rainbow’s Lodestone by J.M. Ney-Grimm
Brainjob by David Sloma
Silver Dust by Leslie Claire Walker
Vale of Semūin by Eric Kent Edstrom
Fate’s Door by J.M. Ney-Grimm
Kaylyn the Sister-in-Darkness by Barbara G. Tarn
The Legend of Oeliana by A. L. Butcher
Jamal & the Skeleton’s Heart by Ezekiel James Boston
Genre: Fantasy/Spec Fic
Publisher: Kydala Publishing
Gods, nymphs, vampires, deathless clones, cursed mages and those who serve them face perils where immortality acts as either curse or blessing or...both. Souls and selves lie at stake in this eclectic bundle.
Excerpt from A Man and His God by Janet Morris
On the landspit north of the lighthouse, rain had stopped work on Prince Kadakithis’s new palace. Only a man and horse, both bronze, both of heroic proportions, rode the beach. Doom criers of Sanctuary, who once had proclaimed their town “just left of heaven,” had changed their tune: they had dubbed Sanctuary Death’s Gate and the lone man, called Tempus, Death Himself.
He was not. He was a mercenary, envoy of a Rankan faction desirous of making a change in Emperors; he was a Hell Hound, by Kadakithis’s good offices; and marshal of palace security, because the Prince, not meant to triumph in his Governorship/exile, was understaffed. Of late Tempus had become a royal architect, for which he was as qualified as any man about, having fortified more towns than Kadakithis had years. The Prince had proposed the site; the soldier examined it and found it good. Not satisfied, he had made it better, dredging deep with oxen along the shore while his imported fortifications crews raised double walls of baked brick filled with rubble and faced with stone. When complete, these would be deeply crenelated for archers, studded with gate-houses, double-gated and sheer. Even incomplete, the walls which barred the folk from spit and lighthouse grinned with a death’s head smirk toward the town, enclosing granaries and stables and newly whitewashed barracks and a spring for fresh water: if War came hither, Tempus proposed to make Him welcome for a long and arduous siege.
The fey, god’s breath weather might have stopped work on the construction, but Tempus worked without respite, always: it eased the soul of the man who could not sleep and who had turned his back upon his god. This day, he awaited the arrival of Kadakithis and that of his own anonymous Rankan contact, to introduce emissary to possible figurehead, to put the two together and see what might be seen.
When he had arranged the meeting, he had yet walked in the shelter of the god Vashanka’s arm. Now, things had changed for him and he no longer cared to serve Vashanka, the Storm God, who regulated kingship. If he could, he would contrive to be relieved of his various commissions and of his honor bond to Kadakithis, freed to go among the mercenaries to whom his soul belonged (since he had it back) and put together a cohort to take north and lease to the highest bidder. He wanted to wade thigh-deep in gore and guts and see if, just by chance, he might manage to find his way back through the shimmering dimensional gate beyond which the god had long ago thrust him, back into the world and into the age to which he was born.
Excerpt From Unnatural Immortal – by Russ Crossley
In mid-August, nights in the Tall Timbers forest are muggy and stifling, the air thick as pudding. But the tranquility of this green meadow in the middle of these elegant pines and majestic oaks provided a welcome respite for Amy Selkirk, who sat almost buried in the long, wild grasses tipped yellow by the sun. Leaning back she rested her weight on her hands, relishing the peace and quiet of the dark woods surrounding her. But even the meadow's tranquility could do little to lessen the oppressive humidity of the summer and the danger that lurked around every tree.
She was bathing in this fleeting escape from the real world.
Amy lolled her head back with her eyes closed, dreaming of her revenge while the sweet odor of wildflowers filled her nostrils, the fragrant jasmine and lavender providing a pleasant distraction. In reality, she was unable to fully relish the peace this place of retreat promised for very long.
The unquenchable thirst gripping Amy's every waking hour was like a massive weight pressing on her by some unseen force. Too often these days the hunger for blood pushed away all other thoughts. Each passing day this need became more intense, threatening to consume her. Soon Amy's humanity would disappear, completely lost in a swirling vortex of lust and death that had become her new reality.
Time was growing short.
Excerpt From The Legend of Oeliana – by A.L. Butcher
Oeliana watched, unseen among the low light of the trees, sunlight flickering on her ivy-coloured hair and skin like polished oak. A gown of bright leaves covered a slender frame, flowing around her like leaves in the autumn breeze. Indis did not hold any fear for her, an avatar of the forest as she was. The nymph had fed him apples and occasionally sweet-bread as he loomed, bristling and ferocious, taking the fruit gently from her; she had seen him born from the sow Elricana and survive his siblings to be Lord of the Forest. This young elf was either foolhardy or uncommonly brave, but she did not rate his chances either way.
The squeal of anger and pain rent the forest as the elven arrow found its mark. Indis turned eyeing the trees for his tormentor and spying a shadow plunged into the forest. Seven hundred pounds of enraged pighood felt the pain of the arrow in its flank and was going to make someone suffer for the indignity. Shrubs and undergrowth were no match for Indis and, tearing them aside, his gaze locked on the elf.
Rii’Athellan saw the error he had made, too late. He was a good bowman but even an elven lord may miscalculate and, although wounded, the boar was still formidable. Swiftly the elf loaded his bow, stepped back and fired, grabbing another arrow from the quiver. The arrow skittered along hide tough as cured leather and bristling with stiff grey hair before burying itself into the flank, although not deep. He had hoped to fell the beast but had simply succeeded in driving the boar even madder with rage. Rii’Athellan dived among the trees, running; he was not a coward but even a brave man knows a foe he cannot beat. Hearing the boar gaining ground, the elf tried to quicken his pace, feeling the pain of tearing muscles as he ran faster than he had ever run, and expecting to feel the tusks in his back or be trampled into fertiliser. He had not banked on such a large beast being so fleet footed. The light flickered beneath the canopy of the trees and in his fear, he failed to see the root in the rough, moss-covered ground. Tumbling down he thought it likely to be his grave as his ankle snapped, pain ripping through him and unable to stop himself the elf cried out, the bow flying from his hand as he fell.
A wind rose and with it a song, soft like the lapping of the waters yet powerful as the ancient trees. Leaves swirled and danced, faster and thicker until Rii’Athellan was blanketed, mesmerised by the sound and the sight of the creature which stood between him and the boar. Ivy green hair swayed around her feet as she strode, unafraid, towards the boar which had slithered and slipped to an unsteady halt in mud, blood and undergrowth. A small soft hand the colour of hazelnuts caressed a bloody, saliva-flecked snout until the panting, snuffling breath eased. Oeliana gave the pile of leaves a long look and saw the elf, and the pain and fear in his eyes, yet they were eyes which followed her every movement. The arrows were gently teased from the pig’s flesh, and Rii’Athellan was amazed such a fierce beast simply stood and let the nymph tend him, although her song would have calmed a dragon. Soft light, green as springtime, rippled across the wounded boar and flowed down to the ground and into the half-hidden elf, and as the flesh and bone began to knit, saplings sprouted through leaves and coal black soil. The song rose to a crescendo, a primal sound filled with primal magic and, as it poured through the elf, he had never felt such intensity, such desire and longing, or such terrible sadness.
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British-born Alexandra Butcher (a/k/a A. L. Butcher) is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as evocative. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.
Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.
Her short novella Outside the Walls, co-written with Diana L. Wicker received a Chill with a Book Reader’s Award in 2017.
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