Wednesday, February 15, 2012

West of the Warlock (Peek/Sample 1)

There are a lot of new people reading the blog these days, and many of them aren't aware that much of my unique Fantasy-Western cross-genre novel is available to read for free at Hall Brothers Entertainment.  So, for those who haven't stopped over there and started reading, here is the beginning of Episode 1:

The dust of the hills rolled up in great plumes behind the stagecoach as it thundered down the well-traveled road. The blued steel plates glistened in the late-afternoon sun, an armored behemoth among parched sagebrush. It was the pride of the fleet, owned and operated by Ferguson and Finney Limited. The mining consortium had a dozen coaches that made trips between Sacramento and Selwood, but this one was special, for transporting the most valuable cargoes.

The beasts hauling the coach were not horses, but sand mares. The cold-blooded reptilians looked more akin to dragons than equines, with scales and thorny protrusions covering them from head to tail. Six of the bulky creatures were attached to the yokes, and even with the heavy load they could outrun the fastest racehorse. The wild version native to the southern Rockies and Sierra Nevadas could turn you into a tasty snack with ease, though the domesticated variety were gentle enough, and could gallop in a smooth fashion.

Atop the armored coach sat a round cylinder of menacing armaments; the famed Gatling gun, the greatest machine gun of the day. With a few turns of the crank, it could fend off a pack of angry Indians, or slaughter the most ruthless elven bandits. Additional backup lurked inside the coach, as a pair of well-armed men waited with rifles and pistols, prepared to defend the cargo with their lives.

None could stand against the combined strength of these defenses which sought to safeguard this special transport, or so the stockholders hoped.

The man smiled. He's seen it all before. Similar weapons had done no good last week for a band of disagreeable elves. The pointies really thought that a few hunks of metal and a few guns could stand up to his might, but he'd shown them. The rowdy claim-jumpers who'd wanted to hoard a mother load of antimony had tasted his wrath, and not one had lived to tell of it.

That had merely been a warm up. Today, the warlock in black would prove his true mettle.

Rubbing at his chin, the warlock felt the start of stubble growing there, and his thoughts momentarily shifted to his personal hygiene. He was never one for beards, and he'd be damned if he'd grow one like the old stuffed shirts at the academy. How careless he was being, forgetting to shave over the excitement of a heist. That could not be tolerated.

With a thought and a rolling of his eyes, the man activated the magic at his command, and a ripple of red rolled down his face, removing the tiny stubble growing on his cheeks and chin. The end result was a perfect shave, smoother than the best barber could provide. He stroked himself appreciatively, and decided he was ready.

Stretching out his arm, the man formulated a magic spell in his head, and directed it toward the charging sand mares. A scarcely visible streak of light flashed through the air and shot into each of the animals, disrupting their central nervous systems. Paralyzed, they stopped dead in their tracks, and began to tumble from their remaining inertia.

Under ordinary circumstances, a stagecoach would flip over, or even end-for-end after such an abrupt stop, but the added weight of the armor plates prevented the thing from toppling. Its back wheels lurched up in the air a couple of feet, then came back down with a great crash, bringing everything to a halt.

With the coach motionless, it would be such a simple task for any parlor magician to teleport the wealth inside, or so the man in black believed until he tried. Clearly, the brains behind this armored wagon's design had anticipated the possibility of mystic assault, and laced the exterior with a neutralizing ward. Your typical warlock or elvish bandit would find it impossible to extract anything from within the vehicle, though there was nothing typical about this darkly clothed gentleman. If he wished, he could defeat the magic wards, and take what he desired with a thought, though encountering resistance made him bold, and eager to face his foes in person.

"Time to say hello,"

If that piques your interest, be sure to get over to Hall Brothers Entertainment, and download the whole first Episode.  Then, get the other 7 for free, and buy the book, which contains more of the story plus extras!

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