TREASURE HUNT WEEK 2

Where will I be hiding, this Saturday, for you?

I need to be found, so I’ll give you a clue

It’s on a type of bank down by the town river

And where the city cat has passengers to deliver

These parklands are popular and have a lot of appeal

There’s a cinema and markets and even a Ferris wheel

And quietly in this forest sits a pagoda of peace

Where I will be meditating, waiting for release

Where Am I?

Advertisements
Published in: on December 6, 2012 at 10:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

OUROBORUS BOOKS TREASURE HUNT

OUROBORUS BOOKS TREASURE HUNT

Hi Book Fiends!

This December Ouroborus books invites you to join The Great Ouroborus Books Treasure Hunt!

Three free signed copies of Everdark Realms – Book 1: The Darkening are going to be left in 3 separate locations somewhere in Brisbane. It could be anywhere! It could be a park, or a bench, or a beach or a unicorn. Okay, maybe not a unicorn, an alpaca sure, just not a unicorn. They’re busy.

The first person who finds a book gets to keep it. Yep, a free signed copy of our latest release. It’s that easy!

Clues about where the books will be left will be put up on our site, on Twitter and on Facebook and also in some bookstores. Just look out for the above Ouroborus Books logo!

And just because we’re super excited about our treasure hunt and can’t wait to get excited – the first super awesome signed book will be released on Saturday Dec 1, 2012.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Published in: on November 22, 2012 at 2:47 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Everdark Realms: The Awakening – Sneak Peek

 

Image

Saboo flew through the air. He tumbled and somersaulted, head over tail. The wind slapped against his face, burning his skin and ripping out his hair. He closed his eyes tightly as he fell, his arms waving around recklessly. The Calavera’s hand snatched him from his freefall, jerking him from side to side. Its morbid eyes glowed in the darkened sky. Saboo was dropped again, the air tore past him, coursing up his arms and tearing his clothes. He was swiftly caught once more, this time by a different Calavera. It flipped him around and tore at his backpack. Its grotesque hand reached inside, blindly grabbing at something. It pulled its hand out, dropping the pack. Saboo watched it fall away and disappear in the flurry of tree tops. Saboo tried desperately to punch at witch as they wrestled in the air, but its hands were too quick. He was now being held by the neck. He squirmed to get free but the Calavera’s grip was too strong. Saboo gargled, managing to get a few words out.

‘Let…me…go!’ he choked, his face going blue. The witch’s octopus-like legs wrapped around his body and squeezed him tight. Saboo could feel the remarkable pressure they housed. The Calavera’s gold chains clanked against its chest, its yellow, round earrings glimmered and reflected the moon’s glare. Saboo tried to push it away, his fest hitting the witch, its body as hard as steel. The Calaveras took turns carrying him. They tossed him to one another, recklessly throwing him high into the air and catching him like a play-toy. The speed they achieved was inconceivable; Saboo’s ears were pushed flat against his head, his tail streamed out behind his body. Saboo was panicking, he didn’t know where they were taking him, and he had lost all bearings of his surroundings. One moment he was standing on the stage in the Monkish City, the next thing he was being taken by the Calavera witches. He had seen the comet descend and everything had illuminated in all its glory.

Saboo looked up at the witch and saw the malevolence in their face, and knew they were going to kill him. He thrashed about, but its grip got tighter, almost cutting off his airway completely. Saboo reached up, his lungs restricting, and snatched Calavera’s necklace. He pulled down on it hard, breaking it in half. The Calavera screeched, falling from the sky, as they swan-dived towards the ground at a remarkable velocity. Then, as Saboo started to lose consciousness, he noticed it was holding the Mask of Ebb in its free hand. The tusks jutted out, carved with alarming detail; the small inscriptions glowing and radiating before him.

Saboo reached for it, his finger tips caressing the mask.

The witch screamed, sending its morbid howl out over the lands of Amitav. Suddenly he gathered its strength, after losing one of its neck pieces and flew in a quick arc, away from the ground.

They flew higher and higher. The other witches started circling them. The Calavera holding him, brought the mask up over his head, its laughter was frantic and supernatural. With one quick strike, the Calavera slammed the mask onto Saboo’s face. It burnt like nothing Saboo had ever felt before in his entire life; even when the Lepordconda bit the end of his tail off, this felt a million times worse. The wood seared to his flesh, burning the hairs around his face. Saboo screamed in pain. He could feel his hair being singed, and he could smell it. The Calavera felt the mask give off a sonic wave of energy and it screamed in terror, dropping Saboo. He fell from the hovering creatures, desperately trying to pull the mask off his face. It was searing. He could hear his skin moulding to the wood. The tusks felt alive, as if it had become part of his face now. His eyes were fused shut.

Saboo was dropping like a stone from the sky. The Calaveras watched him fall, their long tentacles wavering in the clouds around them. They stared with grotesque eyes, waiting for him to hit the ground. Saboo tried frantically to tear the mask from his face, his fingers gripped the sides and he pulled and pulled. His ears rung out loud and his hair was being pulled by the friction. Then, his eyes shot open, he could see normally out of the mask, its wooden jaw moved and he was able to scream for the first time since it was scorched onto his face. It was a gut-wrenching howl of pain. The ground was coming up faster and faster, he looked down and his heart sunk low into his stomach. He wasn’t about to fall upon the hard ground, instead, he was about to land in water.

Sneak Peek at Everdark Realms: The Darkening

Everdark Realms: The Darkening 

by Ella Hazelwood, Sabrina RG Raven and Mitchell Tierney

Prologue

Everdark Beginnings

When the isle of Amitav was new and still part of the mainland, the Ancients of the races there lived in harmony. They fashioned the diverse landscapes of their homes, and imbued the lands with their own magic and guardians.

The Ancients, of course, were just that – ancient. They witnessed many things in their time, but most sacred of all was the Everdark Alignment.

Every sixty years, a cosmic alignment of stars was pierced with a blue comet known as Everdark.

It was discovered by the Ancients, living much longer than any other creature on Amitav, that this alignment shone its sacred blue light upon the children who would aspire to greatness. No one could discern how Everdark knew who would be the best leader for their people, but the chosen ones were always gifted whether anyone realised it or not.

As the races grew, thelandofAmitavgrew with them, splitting from the mainland. Some left the island almost entirely, leaving only a few of their kind to wander and mix with the main races of the land; some travelled to the far corners of Amitav, to the lands that suited them best. The Luna Lukkos journeyed to the canyons, the Aistríonians to the forest, the Sapphyrians from their palaces in the south and forced to tunnels below, the Jishakus roaming the land and eventually inhabiting the Tendril Valley, the Aquillians expanding their underwater kingdom off the coast, and the Illumiens to their lofty tower.

Peace reigned for many generations. Traditions were born and legends were made. Four of the races kept the Everdark Alignment sacred, using the mighty power to select their new leaders.

Nevertheless, peace does not last forever. Soft words turned bitter and spiteful, and for many years war raged between the races. Times of peace became fewer and further apart until eventually the lands became a war zone and it was dangerous for even the brave to leave their home. Fear began to confine all but the wild creatures and the few traders willing to risk travelling. Blame was laid by all, on everyone else and never on themselves, becoming a part of life with every person ready to fight even if the conflict was, in essence, only kept alive by the mob mentality their history had created.

By chance, circumstance or perhaps something more, there was a meeting of three children of Amitav, moons before the Alignment, and though they had all pressed the occasion from their memory, knowing it would be frowned upon, in their hearts they wanted something to come from it, they wanted the peace they had shown to each other for all the people of Amitav. A life without fear.

Now, once more, it is the legendary coming of the Everdark Alignment and the finding of leaders new. A selected few would gather, all hoping to be chosen as leader. They would unite under the eyes of their ancestral kin. At their own sites of sacred power the Everdark Alignment would shine and illuminate the leader of nature’s choosing.

That is the ritual of the Everdark as it should be, but not all is well in thelandof Amitav…

 

Part One

The Luna Lukkos: The Curse of the Calaveras


Chapter One

A Not-so Family Portrait

In the family tree of the Mantilla’s, Saboo would be somewhere near the bottom… and a little to the side. It wasn’t that his parents didn’t love him; he was born eighth out of sixteen children and often got lost in the throng of family members when they had a reunion. In the picture over his mother’s stove you could see only his left ear, broad and round as a dinner plate… and that’s it. Saboo would tell you that you could see some of his whiskers if you squinted and got really close to the portrait.

Saboo was a Luna Lukkos, a tribe of tree dwelling natives that thrived on adventure and fun. He could often be found swinging from branch to branch, catching animals in his traps or just playing a local game called hide-and-come-find. Saboo’s fourteenth birthday had come and gone recently and with little fuss. He received a small apple, picked from a far away orchard which he had never been to; a new hunting rope, which had been cut in half so his parents had something to give him for his next birthday; and small sack of beetleberries, which he was allergic to. His parents often forget he was allergic to them, but they couldn’t be blamed, they had sixteen children to buy gifts for.

Saboo was small for his age; all his brothers towered above him and often mocked his short stature. His coat was a sun kissed reddish-brown, whereas his brothers’ coats were just brown, better for hiding in trees and less visible. Saboo had one other abnormality that made him different from his siblings; his tail was shorter. It was severed at the tip after a run in with a lepordconda as a child while playing hide-and-come-find with his brothers. His brother thought it would be funny to hide the rock in the lepordconda’s nest just after it had laid its eggs – talk about an over protective mother – and the dangerous animal had bitten the tip of Saboo’s tail off. The end was now a small, fleshy stump, a frayed fuzz of fur around it. Saboo looked at the portrait, his large, brown eyes reflected back at him, when suddenly his mother yelled for him.

Saboo!

‘Right here, mum,’ he said, standing right beside her.

‘Always disappearing… one day you’ll turn invisible and we’ll never find you.’

‘Mum,’ he protested, ‘I’ve been here all along.’

‘Go get all your brothers and sisters, it’s dinner time.’

The pot over the stove was huge. Saboo had once used it as a hiding spot when they played hide-and-come-find. His mother had not been impressed.

Dinner time at the Mantilla’s was always chaos. Hand over paw reaching for spices and juice; tails sneaking extra dessert and after dinner sweets.

The family had been gathered around the table, basking in the afterglow of a home cooked meal, when Uncle Bajool opened his big mouth about Everdark.

‘So Taboo, are you going to try out for the contest?’

Taboo was the tallest of the Mantilla clan. His shoulders were broad and his muscles were well built and structured. His hair was grey on the top, a feature thought highly of in the Luna Lukkos community.

‘Well, you know me, Uncle. Not only will I try out, but I will get in and win… and when I’m leader, you can come over to my palace for supper.’

All the other children rolled their eyes.

‘I’m gonna try out too, Uncle Bajool,’ came a voice from the far end of the table, slightly around the corner and into the lounge room. Everyone craned their necks to see where the peep had come from.

‘Saboo?’ his sister Shiloo said.

‘I didn’t even know he was here,’ his older sibling Masoo answered.

Uncle Bajool laughed while holding his bulbous stomach. His long beard bounced up and down.

‘You, enter the contest, Saboo? I think not.’

‘Leave him alone,’ his mother cried out, slapping Bajool on the arm.

‘Saboo is… well… a runt?’ he said, waving his arms in the air like he was juggling.

‘A runt?’ Saboo echoed, taking offence. ‘I’ll have you know, Uncle Bajool, that I have climbed the Gargantuan Tree twice!

‘That means nothing,’ his uncle snapped, even though everyone knew that it was indeed a mighty feat.

‘You can’t even see the top of the Gargantuan Tree, Bajool, it’s out of sight!’ his mother said, passing yet another bowl of food down the procession of Mantillas.

‘It took me four days. Up and down.’

In his anger Saboo picked up his mashed Poa-Poa Yam and tossed it right at Bajool’s ugly face. It struck him square in the forehead, knocking his head back. The other fifteen children burst out laughing.

‘Saboo… to your room,’ his mother said quite solemnly, although Saboo thought she may have been stifling a laugh.

‘Mum?’ he whined.

‘Come on, mum,’ Masoo said. ‘Bajool deserved it!’

Bajool wiped his face. The creamy goo was in his hair and his mouth; some was on his ear and a little was up his nose which had blushed as red as his face. He slammed his fist down so hard on the table that drinks toppled over.

Saboo’s mother shot up from her seat. Her eyes were warm when they wanted to be and stern when they had to be; today they looked fierce. Everything stopped when they saw her face.

‘Saboo… to your room. Bajool, it’s time for you to take your drunken tail home.’ They both looked like they were going to question her, but thought better of it.

***

 

Saboo sat on the edge of his parents’ balcony. The stars were brighter than usual, shining down with delightful intensity. Saboo looked up and let out a long sigh. He ran his filthy fingers through his long hair and huffed as Lazarus, his pet lizard, crawled up beside him and gave him a nudge, nearly setting him off balance.

‘Hey, boy,’ Saboo said. ‘Wow, you really are getting big, almost as long as me now.’ Lazarus nudged him again in agreement and almost knocked Saboo off the city.

‘Whoa, boy… steady there, it’s a long way down.’

The city ofMonkishwas hundreds of metres off the canyon floor. From up close it looked like a massive cubby-house. Panelling and antennas sticking up from various places. From a distance the shrubbery covered most of the framework, and the canyon hid the rest.

They both peered down to the canyon floor below. In the darkness they could just make out the guards of theMonkishCitychasing glow-wasps, instead of being at their posts.

‘I don’t wanna end up some ground-dwelling guard, Lazarus… I wanna be… something,’ he said, patting the giant lizard’s head. Lazarus gurgled slightly.

‘Saboo,’ came the soft voice of his sister Shiloo.

Saboo turned around. She had snuck him some dessert from the dinner table – a small round plate covered with little purple cakes slathered with rich dark sauce. She handed it to him with a smile.

‘I don’t blame you for what you did; Uncle Bajool can go too far sometimes.’

Saboo nodded and threw Lazarus a cake.

‘If you give him too many he’ll leave mess around the house again and mum will seriously kick your –’

‘Look at that!’ Saboo shouted. Above them a falling star exploded and descended towards them, burning away in a fiery glow.

‘The first signs of the Everdark,’ she said, crossing her arms to protect herself from the cold breeze her tail tucked in beside her.

‘Do you think I have a chance of getting in?’ Saboo asked.

‘If Taboo can get in, I’m sure you can… when you see the Elder, just pick your words carefully.’

Saboo thought about this for a moment.

‘I wanna show everyone that I can be a leader, that I am not a chimp anymore. If you could just see me out there.’ He waved his hands towards the dark, dense jungle. ‘I can swing higher than anyone I know. I’ve invented new traps to catch the pot-belly twisterpigs. I’ve created new weapons and learned moves that Taboo doesn’t even know about!’ He put his cake down, too distressed to eat, which was odd for a young Luna Lukkos.

‘It’s more than that, Saboo. It’s here,’ Shiloo said, as she touched his chest with her finger, ‘in your heart… and here.’ She pointed to his head. Saboo nodded.

‘Your heart will tell you what to do and your brain will tell you how to do it, and these will make it happen,’ she said lifting her paws up to the afterglow of the falling star. Saboo looked at his hands. He had the feeling that if he was going to get in, he would have to push himself beyond the limits of anything he had ever done before.

***

 

When Saboo awoke, his head was pounding, his eyes dreary. He shifted his legs and kicked something hard in his bed.

‘Ouch,’ he cried, lifting his sheets to see what intruder was in his bed.

A filthy, oddly shaped rock lay near his throbbing toes.

‘What the?’ He lifted it up.

The window beside him let in the cool morning air. He looked through the window to see a few younger kids arguing outside.

‘Hey!’ he yelled as they looked up. ‘Who put this in my bed?’

One of the small children, whose name was Razzy, slapped his forehead.

‘Saboo!’ he hollered out. ‘That was the best hiding spot I could find!’

The kid next to him whipped his tail back and forth. He had seen the rock, making him the winner.

The rules of hide-and-come-find were simple: one person hid the rock and the other person had two days to find it. If the first person didn’t find it they had to do a dare. If they did find it the other person had to do the dare.

‘Thanks a lot, Saboo!’ Razzy said. ‘He would have never found it up there!’

‘Go play hide-and-come-find someplace else!’ Saboo said, tossing the rock down to the now irritated adolescent. He limped into the kitchen where Taboo was flexing his muscles. No one noticed Saboo pulling up a chair and wiping the sleep from his eyes.

‘…and then what will you say?’ his father asked Taboo.

Taboo scratched his chin and thought for some time. Saboo almost fell asleep again.

‘…Oh yeah! I’ll say how my family is one of the original ancestors that helped build theMonkishCity…’

‘…and…’ his father pressured him on.

‘…and we helped set the traps around the borders and we make up a large number of the voting tally for next year’s Mayoral elections!’

His father dropped his head and shook it from side to side. The Everdark comet had been seen soaring through the sky late in the evenings, and everyone was getting nervous that it was so close. They thought the Elder would announce the contest any day, so some early practice was in session, but none knew exactly when it would be called.

‘What?’ Taboo asked.

‘What about honour and the skills needed to bring this city into the new era?’ Saboo said nonchalantly.

Everyone turned and looked at him in stunned amazement.

‘Saboo?’ said one of his sisters.

‘How long have you been there for?’

‘Saboo,’ his mother told him. ‘Go check the traps for meat, we’ll need to celebrate if either of you get in to see the Elder.’

Saboo nodded and yawned again.

‘Have two brothers ever been in the contest, dad?’ Taboo asked.

Their father was a large man whose shoulders arched forward, his back was curved and sore from years of building and construction.

‘When the last Everdark Alignment occurred, I was only a toddler. I can barely remember it,’ he laughed heartily. ‘All I can remember is that the ones chosen to receive the clues and start the contest are very brave. They have something inside them that only the Elder can see.’

Saboo’s mother wrapped her arms around him and hugged him close.

‘They are excellent in battle,’ their father continued, ’and swift on their feet. They don’t need the local markets and canteens in the city to survive. They can live off the forest and canyon floors.’

Their mother rolled her eyes and patted Saboo on the shoulder.

‘Now, Saboo, before we all have to start eating off the floors, go get meat from the traps.’

As Saboo dragged himself off the chair and went to his room to get his utility belt, Razzy was climbing back through his window with the hide-and-come-find rock.

‘Razz!’ Saboo shouted.

‘Saboo?’ he said guiltily, having been caught red pawed.

‘You can’t hide it here. I don’t want the entire population of Monkish searching my room for it.’

‘But I wanna be the hide-and-come-find champion!’

Saboo picked up his utility belt and strapped it to his waist. It was full of pockets and compartments. It was packed with smoke-cluster bombs, wire, trip-string, scent-disguise pellets and knock-out throwing discs. He grabbed his spear, which was compacted down to a foot long, metal rod. A button was positioned in the middle, so with just one touch, it extended to full length. He put it in a pouch that was flung over his back.

‘Give me the rock,’ Saboo finally gave in. Razzy’s eyes lit up.

‘You’ll hide it for me?’ he said.

‘Sure I will,’ Saboo replied.

‘Great! They’ll never find it!’

‘Ok, good, now go… I’ve got work to do.’

***

 

Once Saboo had left the gates, the guards went back to their normal sleeping positions, spears left lying on the ground and empty, fermented juice bottles by their feet. It had been a while since anyone had dared attack the city; but visitors were still common as Monkish was one of the only mixed race city’s left as far as Saboo knew, although most the population were Luna Lukkos like himself.

I would hate to know what would happen if we were ever really under attack, Saboo thought. The guards are more like baby sitters for the iron doors, making sure they don’t get too rusty.

He continued on his path. After some time he came to a deep valley. The trees angled down towards the bottom of it, almost pointing the way. Saboo could smell the rotting meat. He knew there would be no animal in this one, but he better take a look anyway. He grabbed onto a branch and lifted himself high, swinging between the branches. He leapt off a huge, thick tree arm and soared through the air, gracefully snatching a hanging vine and landing on his feet on the valley floor. He walked over to the middle. The trap was near invisible. Just where his feet were was a stinking heap of grey meat, tempting to any wandering animal. He bent down. A thin piece of wire hovered gently over the rancid mess. He dare not even breathe near it, or it would send several razor sharp spears into him before he could blink twice. Saboo stood up, grabbed the vine and climbed it. This was the first of many that he had to check.

The Luna Lukkos were excellent inventors. They loved setting traps on the ground as well as up in the trees. They preferred the trees because they disliked being on the ground for long periods of time. It felt unnatural to them. They favoured their homes high in the trees. It felt as if they were being pushed up and away from danger, and the water. The Monkish hated the water, in fact they dreaded it. The city was the farthest place they could find that was away from any water. Many lived in caves and tunnels on mountain ranges, but most lived in the City ofMonkish, high in the trees, connected by cables and flying-foxes, lifts and conveyer belts. Once up in the city you forgot the fact that you were up so high. The ground was level and covered many, many acres of sky. Sometimes the height of the city scared some of the visitors, but once they were up in the city they forgot all about the ground far below. As the city grew and grew, more outsiders came to investigate and ended up staying. Now the Monkish City was a bustle of different races and creatures, but most were still the Luna Lukkos.

The day moved on with dismal slowness. The heat stuck to the bottom of the forest like a fog. It was thick and difficult to walk through. Not many animals were out hunting, preferring to stay in their caverns and holes and sleep the hot day away. The green moss turned yellow, as it sometimes did when rain was days away. The air above the canopy was cool and welcoming on Saboo’s face. He knew he couldn’t spend all day jumping from tree to tree, he would have to, at some point, check his ground traps.

As he landed his stomach grumbled for food. His eyes still felt puffy from only being awake a few hours. He reached into his bag and pulled out a compass. He flipped it open and several small dials whirled to life, buzzing as electronics calculated his position. The circular screen lit up and a little red arrow spun around and around, finally resting to his left. He looked up into the trees. There, hidden among a mimica bird’s nest and a vine, was his mark: a yellow paw print to remind him where he had set the trap. He closed his compass and placed it back in its compartment. One of the first things he noticed was an absence of smell. That meant one of two things: the trap hadn’t gone off, letting an animal have a free feed, or meat for a feast!

Saboo walked into the thicket, pushing large plant leaves out of the way. He got closer to the trap and could see his make shift vine ropes had released the cage. He ran the last few feet without fear of getting caught in the trap himself. An upside down bowl-shaped cage made of branches and wires sat where he had set the trap. Inside the cage, carved spear heads chewed down on the back of an animal. As Saboo poked his head through the bars of the cage he could see it was a gawk-antelope, a slow moving animal that ate ants, scraps of meat and dead leaves. They often got lost from their herds and wandered over this side of the island in search of food or a dry spot to lay eggs.

Saboo ran to the nearest tree and pulled a lever he had made from his mothers old clothes-line retractor. The spears squished as they were slowly pulled out of the gawk’s skin, the cage withdrawing back up into the leafy awning. The gawk was slightly bigger than the ones that had wandered here in the past. Saboo picked it up and heaved it onto his back, thinking it was good luck finding some meat before it got too dark. The forest could be quite scary after the suns went down.

The body being so heavy, it would put a little strain on swinging home, so he opted to walk it.

The gawk’s head, flopped over his shoulder, looked almost mummified. He stopped and examined it some more. Teeth marks were located on the outside of its face and neck. That’s strange, Saboo thought, I knew they were stupid, but how could it bite itself there?

A deep rumbling growl echoed around him. Suddenly, the forest was deathly quiet. The heat had intensified. The rumbling noise of a beast rattled the twigs and shifted the dead leaves. Saboo dropped the gawk and stood dead still. Something had killed this animal before his trap had a chance to. Now it was here, and he was the meat.

Out from the dark shadows of the forest trees came a silhouette of a huge creature. As it came closer, Saboo could see the redness of its eyes, the stringy hair on its back and the huge paws… a crimson wolf. Due to their hypersensitive eyes being very distracted by the light of day, they usually only hunted at night.

Saboo circled the crimson wolf. Its fangs were like picket spikes; not made of bone or flesh, but wood as hard as rock. Its eyes were sunken back into its head like pits of flaming red anvils. The crimson wolf’s eyes never left Saboo’s.

‘Okay wolf,’ he told it. ‘Let’s do this the easy way… you take my meat and I’ll starve.’

The wolf bared its teeth. Hundreds of dark, splintered stakes spread across its mouth. Its hind legs compressed, lowering it to the ground. Saboo knew the crimson wolf breed; they could pounce hundreds of feet into the air, coming down on their victims with such force it left craters in the ground, being able to pinpoint its prey’s future location with alarming ease. He had seconds to think of what to do but that was more than enough.

He reached into the utility belt that hung low around his hips and pulled out a black cube, no bigger than a die. His eyes shot down at it at lightning fast speed. He flipped the safety switch off. When he looked back, the wolf was gone.

Damn, he thought. Rule one with crimson wolves: never take your eyes off them. He knew it was above him, claws extended and seconds away from landing on him. He threw the cube down and green smoke spewed all around him. The wolf thundered into the ground the smoke throwing him off target. Nearby trees shook violently, sending birds and animals scurrying for cover. The wolf was frantic, tearing at the smoke, gnashing its teeth, its jaws snapping open and shut. Pieces of the ground were sent into the air. Then it stopped suddenly. The green fog floated gently around its black fur, the wolf’s red eyes glowing through the mist. Breathing heavily, its rib cage heaved in and out.

‘Pssst… wolfie. Up here!’ Saboo sat up high in a very tall tree, holding the gawk over his shoulder. His tail was wrapped around the branch.

The wolf went berserk, racing up the tree with the speed of an arrow. Saboo gulped. He had forgotten the crimson wolf had the ability to hunt prey in the tallest of tree tops. He swung down, his tail catching his weight and catapulting him into the next tree. He gripped a branch with his spare hand, continuing his motion, swinging to the next. It was not easy with the weight of the gawk over his shoulder. The wolf followed, biting branches clean in half. Splinters showered down and leaves fell to the ground. Its breath was beating on Saboo’s neck.

Saboo moved horizontally through the foliage, behind him the deadly creature gaining momentum. Saboo leaped high into the air, standing out in the suns’ rays. He reached over his back into his pack and pulled out a small staff. It was the size of his forearm and brown in colour, with silver patterns engraved up the handle. In midair Saboo turned, dropping through the trees like a heavy stone. Twigs slapped his back and face, cutting him under his eyes. The huge wolf followed him, bearing down on him from the tops of the trees. It was just feet away, its paws extended, massive talons bared, ready to tear flesh.

Saboo’s tail was curled up beside him, guarding it from the wolf’s blood-thirsty mouth. He aimed the spear at the wolf. Its huge body flew through the air, hair in waves behind it. Its eyes were a scrub-fire red, burning with the hunger for fresh meat. Saboo pushed the button, at the same moment that his arm smashed into a stray branch. The spear head shot out, whizzing through the air and tearing through the crimson wolf’s ear, ripping it in two. The wolf let out a howl of anger. His aim would have been a bullseye if the branch hadn’t redirected it.

The spear was attached to the handle by a single strand of wire, tough enough to hold ten gargar-moths. He fell faster and faster, smashing against large branches. The spear tip zoomed up into the air; the small barbs attached to the sides ripped a giant hole in the leafy canopy. The ground was coming closer and closer. He could almost feel his body smashing against the hard surface, shattering all his bones. The blue sky flashed in his eyes for a split second, the white clouds formed images of the Elder looking down at him, displeased. He looked at the wolf’s open maw. Saliva poured from its mouth. Saboo reached for his kill and threw it at the wolf. It rocketed through the air and straight into the wolf’s mouth – much to its surprise. Saboo used both his arms to yank the spear back towards him. The spear head turned in mid air and plummeted back towards earth. The barbs struck the wolf’s back, digging into its hair and skin.

Saboo could now smell the dust of the forest floor. The wolf looked up, the kill still wedged in its mouth, and it saw the spear sticking into its back. With its attention diverted it lost track of its fall and plummeted into the fork of a tree, crashing into instant death. The spear wire twanged as it was stretched tighter than a drum skin. Saboo closed his eyes and tightened his grip as he prepared for the slack to catch up. His fall stopped dead quick, sending him jerking into the air and dropping the last few feet onto the hard ground. Wham!

The wind shot from his lungs, he gasped for breath. A large dust cloud puffed around him from where he landed. The staff handle swung idly just above his head. Far, far up in the trees the massive wolf was nothing but a mangled mess of skin, bones and teeth. He sucked in air quickly, filling his lungs once more. His breathing returned to normal, his head hurt a little and his tail felt bruised. He wiped his brow.

All of this for meat? he thought. If getting meat was this hard, maybe I’m not cut out for the Everdark contest.

Out of the tree the gawk-antelope dropped and landed on his head.


Don’t Dismiss the Unknown

I, like many of you I suspect, have read a lot of books, and what I’d like to discuss is the way I discovered two of my favourite authors – chance.

I frequently will wander bookstores and book sections in department stores, looking for something new and interesting or sometimes just to pass the time. It was on two of these occasions I happened to discover authors that I have grown to adore. First of these two was Scott Westerfeld.

Scott Westerfeld is a Texan sci-fi writer, best known for his teen fiction and I must say some of the best teenage girl characters I have ever read. I was wandering around a bookstore when my eyes fell on the cover of Uglies. I did the usual, read the back, realised it was part of a series (I do so love series) and then when I saw it was $12.95 (this was several years ago) I grabbed it and went to the checkout. I read that first book that night. I inhaled it. The story was light enough to read without getting bogged down but was still full of action, intrigue and dealt with very real issues in a not so real future society. The next day I went and hunted down the other two books available at the time: Pretties and Specials then made my long suffering but luckily book-loving friends read them too.

I realised I had to read more. Next up I found the Midnighters trilogy. Set in modern day this time but still with the same mix of topics in an enthralling set of books that hopefully won’t get killed if they ever make the movie adaptation that gets whispered about. After that I was on a roll. I found every commercially available one of his books I could find (see list at the bottom) and the only ones I didn’t immediately fall into were his adult sci-fi; however I was glad to stick with them as the stories unfolded like opening flowers.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Westerfeld at a book signing after the release of Leviathan (the first of a steampunk inspired series he is currently working on) at a little book store called Pulp Fiction in Brisbane. His odd combination of Texan drawl, New Yorker twang with a hint of Australian (he lives between New York and Sydney, and you can hear it in his accent) was rather soothing and he was friendly and as lively as his characters. It seems he was as awesome as his books. I really recommend checking his stuff out.

Next on my list is a fairly recent discovery of an author many people seem to have heard of that I apparently have never noticed before: Jim Butcher. Again on a ramble through a bookstore I fell upon a book that I actually picked up because of the cover. It looked like a dirty manila folder. It reminded me of brown paper. It was simple and interesting. The blood splatter across the cover’s corner helped pique my interest. I read the blurb and was a tad wary. A detective who was also a wizard – it would either be amazingly good or amazingly tacky and bad. But seeing that I wanted something new and my other options all appeared to be vampire love stories (guh) I grabbed the first two books of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and head home.

Again I did the inhale of words and read the first one that day, bringing Harry Dresden into my life. I am so glad I got the next one as well. Not only was it an urban fantasy done well but the style was something different. It had the flair of a first person, film noir, 40s detective series, but it was modern day, gritty and full of real life issues tangled up with werewolves, vampires (real ones), and a multitude of other creatures as the story continued.

And it still continues. So far there are twelve books, the next due out in July (which is WAY too long to go), and a book of short stories called Side Jobs. All awesome and they get even better as they go on. Seriously I yelled at the end of Changes (book twelve) because I couldn’t believe it was over.

Next I intend to read his Codex Alera series that so far seems to be more straight fantasy but that underlying sense of geeky humour remains even through the forests and elementals. The other thing that impresses me about Mr Butcher is his knowledge/research. When this man talks magic theory, he actually bases it on magic theory. Anyone with any occult interests will be impressed at his depth of terminology and history. He also encounters an epic bestiary of actual mythological creatures along with a  few made up for good measure.

A small word of warning though. If you love the Dresden Files as I do after reading them give the horrible tv adaptation by the sci-fi (or however they spell it now) channel a wide berth. Or if you have seen the show, don’t be put off by it. The books are a bajillion times better.

So if you’re hunting for new reads give these guys a go. Both are available in major bookstores and online.

Scott Westerfeld Bibliography

Novels

Polymorph (1997)

Fine Prey (1998)

Evolutions Darling (2000)

So Yesterday (2004)

Succession Series

The Risen Empire (2003)

The Killing Worlds (2003)

(both titles re-published in 2005 in one volume as The Risen Empire)

Midnighters Series

The Secret Hour (2004)

Touching Darkness (2005)

Blue Noon (2006)

Uglies Series

Uglies (2005)

Pretties (2005)

Specials (2006)

Extras (2007)

Bogus to Bubbly: An Insider’s Guide to the World of Uglies (2008)

Peeps Series

Peeps (2005) (also known as Parasite Positive in Britain and V-Virus in Canada)

The Last Days (2006)

Leviathan Series

Leviathan (2009)

Behemoth (2010)

Goliath (September 20, 2011)

Jim Butcher Bibliography

The Dresden Files

Storm Front (2000)

Fool Moon (2001)

Grave Peril (2001)

Summer Knight (2002)

Death Masks (2003)

Blood Rites (2004)

Dead Beat (2005)

Proven Guilty (2006)

White Night (2007)

Small Favour (2008)

Turn Coat (2009)

Changes (2010)

Ghost Story (July 2011)

 

Other Dresden Stories

Side Jobs (2010)

 

Codex Alera Series

Furies of Calderon (2004)

Academ’s Fury (2005)

Cursor’s Fury (2006)

Captain’s Fury (2007)

Princep’s Fury (2008)

First Lord’s Fury (2009)

 

Other

Spiderman: The Darkest Hours (2006)

 

~Sabrina R G Raven

Published in: on April 27, 2011 at 11:08 am  Comments (4)  

Meet Mel Clarke and hear a reading from her thrilling new book!

From 12pm-3pm Sat 20th November, Mel will be at Borders Brisbane (162 Albert St, Brisbane) greeting fans and signing books. Stick around and you will hear a tantalising tidbit from her exciting new novel – The Riders War: Battle for Today. Come along and bring friends!

Published in: on October 29, 2010 at 7:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Read the chilling intro to MA Clarke’s newest action adventure book!

As we said, we are all about promoting local authors and so in the spirit of this here is a taste of The Riders’ War: Battle for Today. Published with the help of Ouroborus Books and through Melbourne based publisher Brolga, Mel’s talent for story-telling was quickly recognised and this book became on of Brolga’s highlight titles. This meant Mel had the opportunity to attend the MacMillan National Conference this last Feb where she was able to promote her work and talk to other publishing representatives, giving her an all important insight into the publishing industry!

Prologue…

A child psychiatrist for fifteen years, Arturo Garcia-Arroyo had seen just about every type of child come through his office. It had become a sort of game to him to single out their dominant personality traits within the first five minutes of a session – usually before he had even said a word. Eleven-year-old Julian was different. He seemed completely unconcerned by being forced to see a psychiatrist.
‘Hello Julian, my name is Arturo. I’m going to be talking with you for a while. How are you today?’
‘Bored.’
‘Bored? I’m sorry to hear that. I hope our talks won’t be too boring for you. Now, do you know why you’re here?’
‘Because I killed the neighbour’s dog.’
‘And?’
‘Because I mailed the head to her daughter for her birthday.’
All this was said without a trace of emotion. That just wasn’t normal – and Arturo had a pretty wide definition of normal. At the very least, Julian should have showed some concern that he had been caught.
Arturo settled the cloak of his professional manner about him, hiding how unsettled Julian had made him.
‘Do you mind telling me why you did that?’
‘Practice.’
‘What sort of practice?’
‘For when I kill my mother.’
This wasn’t the first time that Arturo had heard a patient threaten to kill a parent. It was quite common for children to blame their parents for hardships and to believe that removing the parents would remove the hardship. What wasn’t common was Julian’s cool disinterest. Like an anatomy instructor over a cadaver taunting first-year med students. Julian was unnerving.
‘Why do you want to kill your mother?’
‘Because I can.’ No explanations and no justifications, what on Earth was he dealing with?
‘Now come on Julian. I’m here to help you. I need you to be honest with me. What has your mother done that’s so terrible that you feel you want to kill her?’
‘She breathes. Don’t bother saying it.’
‘Don’t bother saying what?’
‘What you’re going to say. Don’t bother. You’re wasting your time.’
‘Why would I be wasting my time?’
‘Do you really think I would be telling you all this if I thought there was anything you could do about it?’ Something in the way Julian said it had Arturo thoroughly convinced that he was right. There would be nothing he could do about it. Suddenly, Arturo had no desire to know what he was dealing with.
‘Good – I can see that you’re beginning to understand. However, I think I’ll continue the lesson for a little bit longer. I am a God amongst mortals, you see. I can do things you couldn’t possibly imagine. No man can catch me, no prison can hold me. I can see in your eyes that you know I’m not idly boasting. Good. So when they ask you if I’m cured, you will tell them yes, because if you don’t, you know that your six-year-old daughter Mia will be posted back to you in small pieces from a distant part of the globe.
‘But why?’
‘Because I can,’ the boy answered again, an unholy grin on his face.
Arturo felt physically sick with fear. More because he felt he had to say something than because of any particular bravado he felt, he made an attempt to crack Julian’s eerie calm. ‘One day, someone will come along who’s stronger than you are.’
‘I doubt it,’ the boy replied with all the disdain that those three syllables could contain. ‘No, I’m going to kill my mother. Then I’m going to track down the son-of-a-bitch that knocked her up and kill him. Then I’ll disappear. If, as you say, someone comes for me – I’ll kill him too.’

Want to read more? Battle for Today is available at all Australian and New Zealand bookstores and online from http://www.ouroborusbooks.com

Published in: on October 26, 2010 at 11:51 am  Leave a Comment