Book in a Blog: Mandestroy 1

What’s the deal?

Well, by way of introducing readers to the World of Ku, and ultimately to the epic fantasy series ‘Age of Ku‘, I have been writing a novella which will be released free to all electronic book stores later this year.  When?  Okay then, I’ll commit to a date.  I’ll  make sure it’s live by the 31st July.

The book is called Mandestroy, and it is in effect a prequel to theMandestroy_Book_Cover Age of Ku  trilogy [the first book of which is called Fear’s Union].

But who says you can’t read it sooner?  Well, not me for sure.  So here’s the deal: I am going to blog this book over the coming weeks to celebrate its arrival at the end of July.  Hooray!

But more than that: because this is a “work in progress”, there’s still time to have your say and influence the outcome.  Exciting huh?  So I encourage you to leave comments and thoughts at the bottom of this post, and I’ll take the feedback on board.

Is that all?

No – not quite: because this novella has actually been available to read for a few months already.  And the reason for that: well, I’ve been documenting every step of the writing and production process here.  Call it an ‘anatomy’ of my writing process if you will.

And I’ve also uploaded an early version to a couple of social writing sites below, but if you’re reading this, then you’re reading a better version.  But with your help it can get better still.

Link to Wattpad version of Mandestroy

Link to Inkitt version of Mandestroy

What’s next?

Well if you continue down then you will be able to read the Prologue for the novella Mandestroy – I hope you enjoy.  And as mentioned, feedback is not only welcomed, but encouraged – have your say before it goes live in book stores!

And then keep an eye out for future chapters.  Here’s a schedule for those that like to plan ahead (I’ll embed this in a calendar soon):

And please help spread the word by sharing this post.  If you like it, then please help others find it.

So – let’s get down to business.  Here is the Prologue to Mandestroy to whet your appetite: hot off the press.  And remember, if you enjoy then please shout about it.  And if there’s things you’d change, or indeed if you have any questions, then please let me know.


The Moment

Death approached.  It always did on the battlefield; but this was different.  The Grey Plague was coming, stalking through the mist; grey cloaked by grey; the ashen shade of destruction.  It was coming, and his smile held a manic edge.

Because you couldn’t beat a Mandahoi.

Arrows punctured the cannon-fog; piercing in sporadic displays of projectile authority.  Each missile held destructive potential in its path, but he stood firm nonetheless.  The sound of missiles piercing plate rang through his head, oddly reminiscent of the forge – a history he refused to recognise – but that was not his death.  The reign of the arrow was over; the reign of the Grey had begun.  And that was another proposition altogether.

Because you couldn’t beat a Mandahoi.

Of course, he should be fleeing; that was the logical solution.  He knew the enormity of the proposition, and knew that the odds were against him.  Even in a fair duel the odds were against him, but there was no guarantee of such a field.  And yet he stayed; firm; defiant; mad.  And mostly mad; a product of his past.  The only path was flight, and yet the soldier took the tougher route – the route that none other dared.  He chose to face the Grey, and he chose the unlikely path.

Because you couldn’t beat a Mandahoi.

And yet he was calm; at least on the face he was calm.  Within, he was a seething cauldron, the emotions that had always been inside him boiling themselves into a frenzy.  But he would not let them show; he never had.  He didn’t have the right.  Instead he harvested the maelstrom, infused his body with the essence of chaos.  His charge had been laid, and he had the purpose he required.  Now all he needed was somewhere to focus; something to assault.  But this was madness beyond madness, surely?

Because you couldn’t beat a Mandahoi.

He stood firm; ready; legs slightly apart.  His arms were relaxed; by his side; resting before the exertion.  Only his right hand was agitated, knuckles white about the grip of his great-sword.  And damn was she a great sword.  He gazed upon her, marvelling at the glorious multi-coloured smirk of the weapon; marvelling at the waves of her construction.  She was a beautiful thing, made by the hands of his hateful father, and she was a mirror of the Plague’s steel; maybe even better.  But was parity in weaponry enough?

After all, you couldn’t beat a Mandahoi.

But time was still with him.  Yes, he had a moment.  He could sense the coming, but it was not upon him, and so he let his mind wander; fuelled by the boiling emotions within.  Why was he doing this?  Why had he got here?  A great woman had once said that ‘anything could be solved by curiosity’, and this is where his inquisitive streak had got him.  He had always been heading for this, hurtling towards the flip of a coin.  But it wasn’t a flip of the coin, because a coin is balanced.  No, he was playing the house, and house always wins.

Because you couldn’t beat a Mandahoi.

But he was not alone.  His charge was here, and the officer now screamed for his departure.  “Get out of here you fool!”  If anything, his officer was the fool – a shield-hand was good as tied to the master, and so here he was, waiting to die.  He turned to face his officer, left leg broken and trapped beneath a dying horse.  He was young for an officer, and yet he was actually far more than that.  He was the Prince, heir to Delfinia, and he was the charge; he was the purpose that drove the crazy.

Because you couldn’t beat a Mandahoi.

As he looked to his master, he saw the plight in the eyes; but he also saw through that.  They were one and the same, hand and shield-hand; prince and pauper; fates entwined by the Gods.  The path to this point had been laid by the right hand of the duo, and it was time for the left hand to swing.  It was time to repay his master, and indeed, repay him a thousand times.

Because you couldn’t beat a Mandahoi.

Time scraped with that frictional quality it only adopts before the chaos.  Each moment heaved itself into the next, elongating the existential path to death’s door; but time marched forward nonetheless.  It always did.  He needed calm, and he needed focus.  He needed his charge to be silenced, but he didn’t have the right.  He did however have the means, and he released just the tiniest morsel of maelstrom to devastating effect.  The manic smile he forged must surely have been terrible because his Prince silenced instantly.  It was not right, unsettling his Prince, but he needed focus.

Because you couldn’t beat a Mandahoi.

He turned to face the battlefield, taking in the scene of defeat.  And it was a defeat – an utter and catastrophic defeat.  They had approached with hopes that Southern black magic was the answer, and for the briefest time the cannon seemed to sing.  But then the arrows had come, and the reverse was immediate.  Cannon-fog now cloaked the field, intoxicating the scene, and the dry scrubland was littered with the heavy markers of projectiles.  The archers had done their work; Delfinia was in retreat; and now the Plague was upon them.  Mopping up.  And what a mop to have.

Because you couldn’t beat a Mandahoi.

Two desperate bodies burst from the vapid blanket, running as fast as their breath would allow and as their heavy armour would permit.  They were allies, the last fragments of the shattered infantry, and their faces betrayed the defeat that had spread through the ranks.  A spike of darkness punctured the fog, and suddenly one of the men fell forward; arrow burying itself into his back.  The second continued desperately on, terror on his face, but also frustration; he had seen this all before.

Because you couldn’t beat a Mandahoi.

And they were coming.  The shadow in the fog was deepening, the form of the Plague sure and threatening.  The fleeing ally screamed for him to turn, run, but that was not the way to greatness.  That was in fact the exact opposite direction to greatness, for it was a strange quirk that the pinnacle and the abyss held the same directional quality.  To flirt with one was to face the other, and as the shadow stalked forward, the chasm opened up.  Death was here; the stuff of nightmares; the eternal rot.

The Mandahoi were upon him, and they would not be beaten.

It burst from the swirling fog, and for just the briefest moment, the Plague seemed mortal.  A man; grey clothed; bare arms littered with heavy rings.  A hood concealed much of the head, and the rest was covered by a silver mask in the likeness of a bear – only the eyes were visible.  A confident man yes, but a man nonetheless.  And yet reputation was everything, and this was a Mandahoi.  Death followed where this man led, and the two blades held before him sang of profound ability.  If killing was an art, then this man was the master.  The odds were long indeed.

Because you couldn’t beat a Mandahoi.

And then the odds grew longer.  Two further Mandahoi melted from the fog-bank, moving forward with terrible surety.  The first was almost upon him, casual eagerness in his set, weapons flickering dangerously.  But the shield-hand did not falter.  The infusion of his body was complete; the chaos was consumed; and his purpose was set.  All his life had been moving to this moment, and now it was here.  Now it was here.  He smiled at death herself.

For he was Adnan ap Kantal, and he chose the barely trodden path.  Eminence or extinction, that was the coin he faced, but it was the path he’d been treading all his life.  If he wasn’t ready now, then when?  The Plague approached, and he stepped forward.  This was a one-way journey; as it had ever been.  Whether it ended today was now down to the Gods, and to the strength of Kantal’s stubborn resolve.

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