Shadow of the Winter King
World of Ruin #1
By-Erik Scott de Bie
Genre- Epic Fantasy, Adventure
Published By- Dragon Moon Press
Armed with the voracious sword Frostburn, court slayer Regel Winter once shed the blood of countless foes in service to Orbrin the Winter King.
But even the coldest steel cannot save those Regel loves: his beloved Princess Lenalin, her daughter Semana, and the Winter King himself, felled by treachery five years ago.
Barely an echo of the man he was, Regel forges a pact with the assassin who slew Orbrin, setting out on a deadly quest for vengeance that will change the face of the World of Ruin.
And here is an Excerpt from Shadow of the Winter King
Waiting at the rail for him to return, Ovelia watched the crew haul lines, mend sails, and perform the countless other tasks required of a ship at sea. Morning wind and spray caught at her cropped hair, and her weather-cloak pressed tight against her wiry frame. Idly, she ran her fingers through a curl of her hair. The crimson roots had shown in the mirror just that morn: she could conceal her mingled heritage, but the Blood of Summer would never truly leave her. Dracaris was a southern blood, so its folk had red hair, sun-kissed skin, and hazel eyes, though her mingled blood left Ovelia paler than most southerners.
The only other feature Ovelia bore of the winterlands—her sharp nose—came from her northern mother, a lowly maid in the winter palace, unnamed and unmarked. To hear Norlest speak of her, on one of the rare occasions he’d done so, she’d had an unbreakable spirit, which had attracted him with irresistible force. The honorable Norlest had named the maid—Aniset—and wanted to tie her to his Blood, but the Old Gods of the Nar did not give him the chance. The newly named Aniset had died bringing their child into the world, and Ruin had made Ovelia a murderer from her birth: a Bloodbreaker too, if Aniset (the first and only of her name) could be called the last of her own Blood.
A cursed child, marked by ill fortune—was it any surprise she sowed Ruin in her wake?
Ovelia had loved her father dearly, and she remembered many nights crying herself to sleep after seeing the wistful way he looked at her. Ovelia thought of Orbrin the Winter King, his own sad look and his blood on her hands. She remembered what she had done to Lenalin’s son Darak the day of his birth, and what she had done in Lenalin’s own bed that tenth anniversary of her passing. And lastly, she thought of Regel, and how badly she had hurt him. Was she doomed to betray everyone she ever loved?
She sensed Regel and had more than enough time to settle herself before he offered her a practice sword. He held up a wooden shield. “Do you still hide behind one of these?”
“A swordsman has to be an idiot not to, unless he wishes to die.” Ovelia seized the shield and strapped it to her left arm. “What’s your excuse?”
“Confidence.” Regel tested the balance of his blunt sword: straight, unlike his favored falcat.
More of the crew were watching them, suspicious and expectant. Half of them suspected “Lady Aniset” was more than she seemed, and half only wanted to leer. Ovelia would give them a show.
Ovelia stepped away and loosed the ties of her weathercloak. The bulky garment slid from her shoulders to the deck. Beneath, she wore a red vest laced over a half-shirt that left her shoulders bare. It was one of Serris’s outfits, and far less modest than anything Ovelia might have chosen for herself.
Regel nodded approvingly. “Serris has such...dramatic taste.”
Ovelia rolled her eyes. “It will serve well enough.”
Too well, Ovelia thought, by the looks of one sailor who threw her an obscene gesture. In another lifetime, she might have taken the offending fingers for his insolence, but this was not Tar Vangr where such things were not tolerated. And she was the Bloodbreaker now—she had no honor left.
Ovelia saluted and took a defensive stance, sword low.
Regel held his sword high, hanging toward Ovelia like a spear.
“You still take a high guard?” Ovelia asked.
Regel considered her coolly. “Fight low only when you have a shield. When you are a coward.”
“Trying to rattle me already?” Ovelia turned her buckler slightly, both to emphasize it and to prepare her move. “You can surrender now if you’re so scared.”
“Hmm.” Regel stood still as a statue, practice sword in hand.
“Well?” Ovelia pursed her lips. “What stays you?”
The first attack came fast. One instant Regel stood like stone, the next his sharp steel sparked off Ovelia’s sword and shield. They stood locked together, weapons high. Ovelia twisted the sword aside and thrust back, matching speed for speed. Regel parried and dodged a step back, casting her attack wide.
Gasps and fire-curses rose from the crew of the Dart: none would expect such speed from a man past his fortieth winter or a noblewoman. They had suspected anyway, of course, but now they knew without doubt: it would not do to trifle with their passengers.
“I thought we were merely sparring,” Regel observed, his voice and face blank.
“Say on, turncloak.” Ovelia swashed her blade against her dented shield with a hollow ring of steel. “Your first cut would have taken my head.”
Regel brushed back an errant spike of hair from his face. “You blocked it.”
“And if I hadn’t?”
Ovelia understood well enough the warning he’d delivered with that blow. Regel had never been one to give easy tests, be they of steel or anything else. “I’ll start with Rising Heron,” she said.
Regel nodded, his face blank.
She struck with the technique Norlest had taught them: an upward cut at the sword arm. Regel parried perfectly, dropping his blade point-down to deflect her slash up into his cross-guard. He could have locked the sword wide, but instead he stepped forward in a counter and laid the flat of his sword against her throat.
“Well?” she asked.
“Dancing Deer,” he said, and pulled away.
He struck once, twice, then feinted the third strike to her left ear. She anticipated the real cut—the fourth of the deer’s steps, a reverse strike at her right cheek—and raised her blade alongside her face to block it next to her head.
“Good,” Regel murmured. “Now—”
Ovelia thrust her shield at his nose, and he narrowly dodged. His eyes gleamed.
Warning received, she thought, and returned.
They traded blows under the rising sun, and the crew of the Dart put their work aside to watch in silence. The sea air was still but for the shriek of steel, the groan of a gouged wood buckler, and the heavy breath of the duelists.
After a time, Ovelia and Regel stopped calling out the moves they would perform and fought without pause. Their duel became a fluid thing, and individual exchanges melted into unconscious movements. Their minds fell silent and they communicated with their bodies. Ovelia could not say how much time passed in this familiar dance. The years fell away and they were once again young, each full of the other’s pain, each the answer to the other’s need.
Regel was excellent. Though his age might split forty and fifty, he had the strength and speed of a much younger man. Ovelia used feint after twisting strike—some Norlest had taught her and more she’d devised herself. She tried forthright attacks and deceptive turns, then jabs and slices, then thrusts in varied time. Regel dodged or parried every one, even when Ovelia thought for certain he would falter. He was the faster, she the stronger, but they fought with equal skill, and neither could touch the other.
Then, inevitably, the delicate balance cracked.
Toward the aftcastle, Ovelia saw Fersi emerge from his cabin, fingers working at his laces. His eyes found the duel and burned into Ovelia. He smiled knowingly.
Ovelia tried to lose herself again in the swordplay, but the distraction broke her rhythm. She and Regel could not match each other, and he surpassed her. Regel had already won.
A particularly strong blow rang off her buckler. He struck her shield over and over, his blows falling harder and harder until her arm trembled.
She fell to one knee under his assault. “I yield,” she said.
Heedless of her surrender, Regel hacked at her buckler-guarded arm like a woodsman worrying a log. The shield groaned and shuddered as he pulled back to strike again.
“I yield!” Ovelia said.
Regel’s sword struck her shield squarely, and it splintered. Her arm fell limp and burning at her side, and she got her sword up in time to deflect Regel’s next strike barely wide of her face. It rustled her hair and cut through the left shoulder of her vest, biting into the skin beneath. Had Regel’s practice sword been sharper, it would have taken her sword arm clean off.
Blood spattered the deck, and she exhaled sharply—in pain and a sickly sort of euphoria. “Stop,” she cried, her voice delirious. “I yield!”
Regel’s ears seemed deaf and his eyes clouded. He did not hear her—did not know her. He was death, she realized, and his rising sword would bring hers.
And oh, how she loved him for it.
Something groaned deep within her, a dam swollen nigh to bursting. Deep within, sickness and fury warred with one another. She wanted to die, and she wanted so very badly for him to be the one to kill her. But not yet, by the Old Gods. She needed to make amends. She needed justice.
Ovelia planted her feet beneath her and lunged forward. Her whole body shivered as her cut shoulder crunched into Regel’s midsection, but—thank the Nar—he fell backward. Ovelia felt his blade skip along her back, tearing her vest. Dizzy with pain, she straddled him and lifted her useless sword—nicked and dented and, Old Gods, bent—only to toss it clattering to the deck.
“Regel.” She gasped for breath, heart beating in her throat. “Regel!”
His body trembled and she could feel his muscles clenching between her thighs. He opened his mouth to speak—a vow of love or a malediction, she did not know.
Ovelia kissed him.
All her thoughts fled as Regel returned the kiss in full. Need blazed within her, and she could not touch enough of him at once. She had to be part of him. All the weariness and the pain of her wounds built to a rising tide of fire that—
The name between Regel’s lips shook her. Lenalin, he called her—the woman he had loved and the woman she had so desperately wanted to be.
Shield of the Summer Prince
World of Ruin #2
By-Erik Scott de Bie
Genre- Epic Fantasy, Adventure
Published By- Dragon Moon Press
Publication Date- December 11th
Though the knight Ovelia Dracaris swore to defend the Blood of Denerre with her life, hers was the dishonored hand that felled the Winter King.
After five years as a spymaster, Ovelia resurfaced in a desperate quest for justice that cost her everything: love, her sight, and almost her life.
Blinded and exiled, Ovelia wards her only remaining friend on his quest to save the burning city of Luether, hoping to find what has eluded her for so long: redemption.
I am a speculative fiction author, mostly writing fantasy, science fiction, and some mix of the two. I'm probably best known for the Forgotten Realms series SHADOWBANE (the tale of a thief turned vigilante paladin, sworn to a dead god), as well as a growing body of short stories in various anthologies and available for download on the web. (Seriously, check my website, it's pretty awesome.)
I am also a known quantity in the gaming industry, designing for the legendary tabletop RPG Dungeons and Dragons as well as other systems.
When I'm not writing, gaming, or more writing, I compose technical documentation by day and fight injustice by night. I lives in Seattle and am married with pets.