Book Excerpt: From Wrath To Ruin by Justin Enos

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Justin Enos, for sharing with us the excerpt from his upcoming novel From Wrath To Ruin.

Read ahead to get a sneak-peek into this amazing new release.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

In exile from his homeland… As a mercenary, Tijodrin has wandered far and wide, and now his travels have brought him to the great city of Hohvenlor, a city he knows well. He quickly finds himself caught up in a fierce rivalry that threatens to destroy two powerful merchant families and turn the streets of Hohvenlor into a battlefield. Within the city walls, Tijodrin will find danger in many forms. Can he survive the endless plots of the vengeful merchants and the swords of their bloodthirsty henchmen, as well as the lurking daggers of the shadowy assassin’s guild?

Book Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wrath-Ruin-Justin-Enos/dp/1483598004/
Goodreads
: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35070270-from-wrath-to-ruin 

BOOK EXCERPT

In the fading light of the afternoon, Tijodrin strode further down the Street of Arches before turning east down a winding side lane and a series of short steps. Soon, the fine shops and dwellings were replaced with shabby tenements, squalid workhouses and storefronts with no name or sign to indicate what sort of shadowy business went on inside. The streets narrowed so much that two people could scarce fit between the buildings. Overhead, upper floors shouldered outward until they almost touched, blocking out most of what little daylight remained. Refuse of every description was littered about, and weeds sprouted up amid paving stones that were uneven, cracked, or missing altogether.

This was the Warrens, the most disreputable area in Hohvenlor. A haven for thieves, cutthroats, and a host of other criminals. Hooded eyes watched Tijodrin from doorways and windows – footpads sizing up a potential victim and whores sizing up a potential customer. Tijodrin returned their stares with bold ferocity. The footpads retreated into the shadows to await easier prey, while the whores responded with lewd suggestions and flashes of pale flesh.

Eventually, he came to a small open space that could only very generously be called a square. It was an area of dirt and patchy brown grass with bits of rotted wood, broken masonry and other debris strewn about. The middle of the square was currently occupied by the prone figures of two men, whether dead or merely passed out Tijodrin could not tell. Four buildings surrounded the area, and a more ramshackle collection of structures could hardly be imagined. A tenement that looked abandoned and in danger of falling in on itself, a dank bawdy house with rusty iron bars over its lone window, and two taverns as decrepit as any he had ever seen. It was to the tavern on the left that Tijodrin turned his attention.

The Withered Man occupied the whole of a single-story building that leaned drunkenly against the larger building behind it. Thrown together with roughhewn timbers, it’s few windows were all heavily shuttered and its door was a patchwork of several pieces of mismatched wood. The rag-draped skeleton on the crooked sign out front was desperately in need of a fresh painting. Scowling, Tijodrin strode across the square to the tavern and pushed through the flimsy door.

If the outside was a wreck, the inside was even worse. Candles burned weakly in wall lanterns and on some tabletops, while the sunlight barely peeked through the shuttered windows. The fireplace in the corner had partially collapsed and was now only useful as a resting place for a mangy brown dog. The bar was nothing more than a sagging plank of pine laid across some empty ale barrels. A short, bald man stood behind it, staring suspiciously at Tijodrin.

The air was thick with the acrid smell of skral, the cheap narcotic so popular here in the northern lands. Half a dozen men sat at the battered tables scattered around the room, puffing on large pipes of the stuff, each in varying states of oblivion. Tijodrin wrinkled his nose in disgust as the clouds of skral were not quite enough to mask the odor of stale beer and unwashed bodies. The man that he was looking for was easy to spot as he had been unflatteringly, and thus accurately, described.

Obrik sat at the least worn of the tables, one cluttered with half empty plates and several wrapped blocks of skral. He was a corpulent man with a double chin drooping over the collar of his tunic, a tunic that had once been fine but was now stained with wine and sweat. He was chewing noisily on something, and his greasy beard held the crumbs of at least one meal. A scrawny girl wearing a thin cotton shift was slumped against Obrik’s shoulder. Tijodrin could not help but notice the collection of bruises that covered her arms.

Standing on either side of the table were two huge men in loose trousers and leather jerkins. Short stabbing swords and thick, curved daggers hung from their belts. Seeing Tijodrin’s gaze fall upon their master, the heavily muscled giants uncrossed their arms, their hands falling to sword hilts. One of them lumbered around to stand in front of the table. Tijodrin withdrew the leather wallet and stepped purposefully toward the table.

“Letters from Harnir of Skoden,” he announced over the giant’s shoulder.

The hulking bodyguard turned his head in Obrik’s direction, and the fat man responded with a grunt.

The bodyguard shifted to one side, just enough to allow Tijodrin to get past. Placing the bulging wallet on the table, he pretended not to notice the bodyguard taking up position directly behind him. Obrik glared up at him through bleary eyes as if Tijodrin had interrupted something more important than another unneeded meal. Belching loudly, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

“An islander,” he muttered, easing his bulk forward and resting his elbows on the table.

Next to him, the girl stirred from her slumber and gave Tijodrin a yellow-toothed smile. She could not have been more than twelve or thirteen.

“Didn’t think they let your kind wander out of the guildhall.” Obrik’s sneering tone implied a strong support for that particular restriction.

Tijodrin said nothing, only regarded Obrik impassively.

Opening the wallet and removing the letters, Obrik jabbed his finger at the empty chair opposite him.

“I’ll stand,” Tijodrin said flatly. He did not wish to spend any more time in this man’s presence than was necessary.

Obrik’s eyes narrowed, but he shrugged and started sifting through the letters, carefully checking the wax seals on each of them.

“You know Harnir well?” He asked, tapping a dirty fingernail on the parchments. “Well enough.”

What Tijodrin knew was that Harnir was a minor merchant who traded in information as much as in goods. He was also a smuggler, a fence, and possibly, even a spy. As unsavory as he was, Harnir had a certain amount of honor, of decency. The same could not be said of this foul person in front of him.

“Everything seems to be in order,” Obrik muttered again, sounding almost disappointed.

He tucked the letters back in the wallet and slipped it inside his filthy tunic.

“I am surprised Harnir would trust an islander. I have always heard that your ilk are dishonest.”

“Perhaps you have also heard that we do not take kindly to insults,” Tijodrin replied, his eyes growing cold. The warning in those eyes went unheeded.

Obrik said something in a dialect that Tijodrin did not understand, but by the way the girl and the two bodyguards laughed, it was clearly crude and at his expense. Tijodrin gave the fat man a small smile, though it was anything but friendly. It was a smile that promised malice.

Slowly, and with obvious reluctance, Obrik withdrew a small handful of silver coins from his belt pouch and slapped them on the table. Tijodrin scooped them up and placed them in his own pouch.

“Care to spend any of that now?” Obrik leered, jerking his thumb at the skinny girl.

She rewarded Tijodrin with another wan smile and pushed a few loose strands of tangled hair out of her eyes. Making no attempt to hide the expression of contempt and revulsion on his face, Tijodrin started to turn away from the table. A hand like a slab of granite came down on his shoulder, holding him firmly in place.

“I did not dismiss you,” Obrik growled.

“I do not require permission from the likes of you.”

“Arrogant cur! You would be wise not to disrespect me in my place of business!” “Were I you, I would not be so quick to claim this cesspit.”

As Obrik’s face darkened in anger, Tijodrin sensed a surge of movement from behind him. He hunched his body forward so that the fist intended for the back of his skull found only air. Grabbing the edge of the table with both hands, Tijodrin shoved it into Obrik’s ample chest. Then he swept up the chair and turned to swing it at the bodyguard behind him.

The chair was poorly made, shattering against the man’s body and doing nothing more than momentarily stunning him. Tijodrin was on the man as quick as a panther. He unleashed a pair of punches to the bodyguard’s stomach that had him doubling over. As the man’s head came down, Tijodrin’s knee came up, cracking the bodyguard’s jaw like an eggshell.

Pushing the collapsing guard away from him, Tijodrin moved to face the second guard. The giant had drawn his short sword and was advancing on Tijodrin with loud curses. Tijodrin brushed aside the sword with his sleeve shield, then drove the heel of his hand into the bodyguard’s nose, crushing it in a spurt of red. A heavy clout from the sleeve shield smashed against the bodyguard’s head, knocking him to the floor. Meanwhile, Obrik had pushed the table away and was shouting for aid. From one of the tavern’s back rooms came the hurried thumping of booted feet. With a swift kick, Tijodrin sent the table smashing into Obrik’s body again, then turned to face the new threat.

Three more men burst into the room, their steel already bared. Tijodrin’s sword hissed ominously out of its scabbard as the men charged him in a mad rush. He knocked aside the first blade, letting the attacker’s haste carry him past.

Ducking under the swing of the second man, Tijodrin lunged forward, his blade sliding easily between the man’s ribs and plunging out of his back in a gout of blood. In one fluid motion, Tijodrin pulled his sword free and spun to catch the descending blow of the third swordsman.

With a deft flick of his wrist, he sent his opponent’s weapon clattering to the floor. Before the man could react, Tijodrin’s sword was chopping clear through his forearm. Screaming in pain, the man stumbled back against the wall, spewing crimson.

The first swordsman came after Tijodrin again, swinging his weapon hesitantly. Dodging to the side, Tijodrin brought his sword flashing down to slice through the back of the man’s ankle. He dropped his sword and fell shrieking to the floor, his bloody foot flopping uselessly. Tijodrin silenced him with a hard crack to the side of the head with the flat of his blade.

The two huge bodyguards were now beginning to recover their wits, and their feet. The first wobbled upright, groaning and clutching at his shattered jaw. Tijodrin sent him back to the floor with a brutal kick that cracked his kneecap. A second kick cracked at least one rib. The other giant flailed wildly at Tijodrin with his short sword, his face a mask of blood. Tijodrin lunged swiftly at him, his sword piercing the man’s shoulder. Another clout to the bodyguard’s head with the sleeve shield tumbled him down onto his comrade.

Springing over the fallen pair, Tijodrin brought his sword whistling down in a two-handed blow that hacked Obrik’s table in half. Kicking aside the broken halves, he placed the tip of his sword under Obrik’s bulging chin. Rage and fear battled in the man’s eyes as his henchmen’s blood trickled down the length of the blade to stain his throat.

Beside him, the girl was curled up in a ball, whimpering softly. The barman and the other patrons were cowering out of sight, while the mongrel in the ruined fireplace slept on. There were no further sounds of reinforcements, only the painful moans of the wounded and the dying.

“Our business here is concluded,” Tijodrin said in a low, menacing voice. “I want no further trouble from you or I will return and burn down this fetid hovel with you still inside.”

Slowly and deliberately, Tijodrin wiped his sword across the shoulder of Obrik’s tunic, removing the remaining blood from the blade. With one last withering look around, he carefully backed toward the door, not sheathing his sword until he was outside the tavern.

[divider]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Growing up in a military family, Justin Enos was lucky enough to get to see a lot of the world as a child. Born in Thailand, he subsequently lived in Kentucky, Maryland, Vermont, California, Germany and Virginia. He hasn’t stopped moving around as an adult either, calling Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Thailand again, and now Portland, Oregon home.

Justin began devouring books at a young age and his interest in writing followed soon after. Never much of a student, he could at least count on his creative writing abilities to gain him some top marks. Fantasy novels were his main love as a teenager and that led to what has now become a long-term interest in fantasy writing. After publishing a couple of short stories in fantasy magazines that no one has ever heard of, he buckled down and began working on his first novel.

“From Wrath To Ruin” is the first in what will eventually be an ongoing series of books. Inspired in part by the Conan novels written by both Robert E. Howard and Robert Jordan, each of Justin’s books will be stand alone stories.

Contact:

Website: https://justinenos72.wixsite.com/mysite
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Justin-Enos-Author-1215967911845266/
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16792333.Justin_Enos

[divider]If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

The Next Worst Thing (Annihilation #2) – #Blogbattle

BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration. You can visit Rachael’s blog to find out more about #blogbattle- Writing Rachael Ritchey.

This week’s word: Leviathan.


Annihilation (Part #1)


The Next Worst Thing

479808518_preview_Leviathan_II_by_MercurialXen

Genre: Dystopian, Apocalyptic Fiction, Young Adult

Lilly, Grandma and I sit in our rocking boat hugging each other tightly, waiting for our doom. Waiting for the Others to come and get us, but all of a sudden a silence falls upon us all like a heavy veil.

I open my eyes hoping against hope that the swishing noises we heard from the water around our boat were not others, but when I look around us all I can see in the dim moonlight and a few odd reflections of moon and lightening on the surface of the water.

The river is eerily quiet as if it’s scared to make even the tiniest of gesture. I squeeze Lilly and Grandma’s hands and move my right index finger to my lips motioning for them to be quiet. The clouds above roar, and thick droplets of water start falling on us making the already dreadful darkness seem gloomier by the second. The darkness around us coupled with the rain makes my heart heavy with fear and my breathing comes in small gasps.

Lightning strikes the dark sky as if announcing the hour of the Others and making us feel insignificant in the vast dark river.

We are bone wet and shivering from the cold. I look at Lilly and Grandma’s pale faces and realise that the temperature is dropping, fast. And out of nowhere a loud wail tears through the silence like a sharp spear making all of us  literally jump out of our skins.

We cover our ears in a feeble attempt to block the sharp and chillingly scream and that’s when I realise that the Others are gone. They’ve left us. But after listening to the second wail it dawns on me that the Other’s have not left us, they’ve run away.

Forgetting about what the loud wail could be, I grab a set of drenched pedals after thrusting one set in Grandma’s hands and start rowing fiercely in the direction in which we were headed earlier. I feel sorry for her, but I can’t help it. Right now we need to get away from this river before it, whatever it is, get to us.

Rowing the boat with all my strength leaves my mind wandering back to the wails we heard. It’s quite again and right now I hate the silence more than ever. All my life I’ve preferred silence over everything, but right now it might lead us to us our deaths.

My mind starts racing again, what could have wailed so loudly? I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of a creature can scream like this. But I do know one thing- I need to make it to the Camp on the other side before Others or that screaming thing get to us.

The wail rises again, this time, it’s louder than before and after a few agonising seconds as the wail drops I realise that it’s not getting louder, it is getting closer. I hope that it isn’t the Others, because frankly, I don’t think anything could be worse that having Others feed on our blood and flesh.

Whatever it is, I’m not a fool to let go of this miraculous opportunity to get the hell out of this river. I don’t have the time to sit here and ponder what could have chased the Others away from living flesh.

Guess we’ll have to find out about it afterwards, that is, if we survive the next ten minutes.

#

Relief floods over every tissue in my body as our tiny boat hits the ground. Without even waiting to catch my breath I jerk Lilly out of her seat and, pulling at Grandma’s hands, I literally drag them out of the boat within two seconds.

We straightaway make a dash for a tall concrete building standing just a few yards away from us. It looks strong and is a quick glance around it ensures me that it is deserted. We hide behind the building taking cover of the darkness. Sitting down with my back to the rough and grey concrete wall, I try to catch my breath.

Lilly and Grandma also do the same following suite. I turn towards my little sister and touch her button nose with my fingers. She hasn’t said a word since last night. And now that I think of it, she hasn’t spoken much in the last two weeks after the Other’s killed mom.

Looking at Lily’s dirt-covered chubby face I feel a pang of anger so deep that I feel a sharp pain in the pit of my stomach. She’s too young for all this. It isn’t fair. I shake my head in frustration and that’s when I hear a wailing similar to before coming from just behind the building.

It’s too close to ignore and run again exposing ourselves. I grab Lilly’s arm making a promise to myself that I won’t let anything happen to her or Grandma, I lean towards my left a little making sure I won’t be seen from the other side. And as I sit there trying to understand what could have made such a noise, the water of the river splashes wildly and I see a 100ft shadow rise from the river.

Words leave my mouth unbidden as panic grips my insides, “What the hell…?” And right then it turns to face me and, locking its with mine, it lets out another wail, but this time, it is so loud that I almost faint because of its impact.

Lily tugs at my hand with her trembling ones and asks me in a shrill voice, “What is it, Kia?”

I turn back to her, my face a white mask of fear, and say in a tiny voice , above the loud wailing, barely audible to my own ears, “a leviathan.”

***


ANNIHILATION (PART #1)


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Annihilation

This short story/flash fiction is written for the photo prompt at Describli.


The Next Worst Thing (Annihilation #2)


Annihilation

pexels-photo-55367-317x159

Genre: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult

I make my way quietly to the other side of the road, hiding in the shadows of the cars on the road.

I turn back for a second and sneak a look at the frail figures of Lilly and Grandma worming their way slowly behind me. If I’d been alone I would have already crossed the North Fork last week. But I’m not. I have a responsibility. And I’m not ready to abandon it, unlike Ian.

I don’t blame Ian for deciding to leave us behind. I understand the need of surviving. I know that the presence of a 70-year-old lady and a 5-year-old girl is a sure way to death, but I don’t care about that. I’ve already lost enough to be scared of death. Death can’t do me any harm. I just want to make sure that before the Others get me I’ll get grandma and Lilly to the safety of the Camp.

The Camp is beyond the river on North Fork. If we continue our journey tonight we’ll be there by tomorrow afternoon. But that is if we continue tonight. I can already hear Lilly complaining to grandma about her sore legs. I know she won’t admit it, but even grandma is looking tired, really tired.

As soon as I cross the road, I sit beside a car that is standing at an awkward angle on the side of the road. Three doors are open as if the family sitting inside got out of the car and ran when the Others came out of the ground wailing.

Well, I hope that they made it alive and are safely tucked into soft beds at the Camp at this moment. The idea makes me smile- a warm bed, a soft pillow and a good night’s sleep- the simple pleasures of the world before the Others took over. We took them for granted never realizing that we had everything we ever wanted. But we humans always craved for something better. More. Always more.

I sigh heavily trying to change the track my thoughts are leading me towards. Right now I would kill anyone to get a good night’s sleep.

Grandma and Lilly sit beside me, listening to the sounds of the night carefully. Trying to listen to anything that sounds out of place. By now it’s almost second nature to us. The Others always make this swishing noise when they walk or move, or whatever the hell they do with their knees bent in awkward directions, gliding on the ground. Face tilted sideways and wearing the same expression- a bloodcurdling smile that stretches from ear to ear.

I motion for them to follow me to the dark shop in front of us. Its door is ajar and it looks mostly abandoned. We can rest here for an hour or two and then continue.

#

I wake up to the sound of a loud screaming. My hand automatically reaching for the gun resting on my coat. It’s a distant screaming. The Others are here.
I wake up Grandma and Lilly slowly shaking them. They know enough to not make any noise even if I startle them every time I do this.

They wake up and like me reach for their weapons, a worn baseball bat and a butcher’s knife for Grandma.

We slowly move, not walk, but move without lifting our feet off the ground. Making a noise like a windblown dirt would make in an open field. That’s the way to move when Others are around. We figured it the night Mom died.

Slowly we go towards the back door and move towards the trees that line the other side of the shop.
Woods are always a safe place, so many animals walking, it confuses the Others. We move faster as we make it into the forest.
The sun will be out in less than an hour, then we’ll be able to walk, or if we’re lucky, run. We need to make it to the Noth Fork by tonight. We’ve already tested our luck more than a dozen times. And I have a feeling that it won’t be long before the Others get us.

We continue without stopping and as the sun starts rising, so does our hope- like every single day from last 2 weeks.
But it will end today. We’ll go to the safety of the Camp and as far away from the others as we can.

#

The sun is setting as we make the final turn. I can see the Camp in the distance. The evening light plays tricks with our vision and the Camp itself looks like a mirage or an elusive dream that’ll vanish the moment we’ll step closer.

But as we continue to walk towards it, it becomes clearer and clearer and we know that we’ve made it. Finally, we’ve beaten all the odds and made it to the Camp. I’m sure Ian will be embarrassed to see that his little sister made it to the Camp without abandoning the seemingly useless baggage.

There are a few boats resting on the riverside along with a couple of worn off paddles in them. We quickly get onboard and Grandma and I start paddling with hurrying motions, well aware that the sun has almost set.

As we drift closer to the Camp I start to have a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Something’s not right.

And as the realization dawns on me, I hear the swishing noise around our boat.

I look up at the darkening sky- the sun has set.

***


The Next Worst Thing (Annihilation #2)


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.