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Excerpt from Black Sky
It is both strange and abhorrent that the most terrible conflict ever to come to pass was fought over a mere lump of rock. The Tablet of Destinies, a clay tablet forged by beings beyond even the gods and cast down to Earth in times immemorial. Whoever possesses this artefact can wield a power to rule the world and shape it to their will. It was sought by all beings divine so that they might dominate all things. Many times did it change hands before through unknown circumstances, it found itself in the possession of humanity. Mankind was frequently a pawn in the gods’ machinations, but after millennia of subjugation was free from their influence. They sought in their arrogance, to use the Tablet to achieve godhood and challenge the gods themselves on their lofty thrones. Yet, the gods would not allow such unbridled ambition to go unpunished. Divine emissaries came in their dozens, some to treat, some to threaten. But humans, wily as they are, tried to play the gods against each other, knowing that to accept one offer was to invite the ire of all the others. Meanwhile, the leaders of Man in their gleaming capital in a long forgotten land, tried to use the Tablet of Destinies to gain advantage. Yet, for all their cunning, they could but access only the most minute fraction of its power. With this, they did empower the thousand mightiest warriors of the world. They each received an Empyreal Soul brought forth from the Chaos and infused into the trembling, unworthy hands of Men.
The gods were not oblivious to such blasphemy and as surely as the sun rises their wrath would soon be felt. First to march against mankind, came the sons of Olympus leading armies of Chimaeric beasts. Though with great valour they fought, the armies of Man fell before them like leaves in the wind. So, it fell to the thousand Empyreal warriors to save mankind from certain destruction. At the gates of the great capital, the Olympian demi-gods for the first time, knew defeat. Over-confident they charged, little realising that they faced warriors now much like themselves. Smelling weakness, Asgard mustered the Einherjar and sent them to crush the Olympians retreating armies. Thus, distracted by a fellow race of gods, the Olympians failed to act when their foes the Gigantes, led by Eurymedon assaulted Tartarus and freed fellow downtrodden deities, the Titans. Yet, Cronus, King of the Titans, was not satisfied with mere freedom from his hellish prison. He marched against the capital of Men, to seize the Tablet and absolute dominion for himself. Fearing Cronus, the gods of both Olympus and Asgard descended and faced him. With war raging outside the besieged capital, the Empyreal warriors were once again sent forth to do battle. With great cost, Cronus was driven back. Many gods were slain by him and only a mere one hundred of the Empyreals remained. And yet, Cronus was defeated not by the power of a god, but by the hand of an Empyreal. He fled back to the safety of his brethren.
The many races of gods were shaken by the sight of a deity brought to his knees before a mere human. Marduk, Ba’al Hadad, Svarog, Hachiman and Lugh mobilised their respective forces to do battle not just with mankind, but with each other. The armies of man were torn asunder and crushed beneath the warring deities’ feet. Across the world, the cities of humanity were reduced to dust. With Earth as their battleground the gods did battle for a hundred and one years. The valiant warriors who bore the Empyreal Souls, once again stood in defiance of the gods, but prevail they did not and with their defeat, the hope of mankind was dashed and scattered. They sank into the depths of legend and superstition, largely forgotten by time. After the fall of Man, the Titans, now led by Hyperion, marched forth again with their allies, the Gigantes to take revenge on the gods who wronged them. Cronus consumed by an insatiable greed for personal power, betrayed his kindred and allied himself with the brother of Hadad, betrayed their families and together tried to consume the powers of their fellows. Cronus began cannibalising lesser Titans, first in secret, than as his power grew, he did so openly. Finally, together with his co-conspirator, he devoured the father of Hadad granting them great powers. With abhorrent malice, they mounted an assault on their brethren in an effort to exterminate and consume them all. But mercifully, they failed and into the Stygian darkness they were cast.
In the end, the king of the Enochians, an entity contradictory in nature emerged. Prior to unknown and his origin shrouded in mystery. He was both ancient, yet new; singular, yet multiple and both familiar and strange to his foes. He was a god, so arrogant and self-obsessed that he viewed all other gods as false. He preached that His word was law and His authority absolute. Thus he became known as the One-God, for the lesser deities who were his vassals believed his will to be the one, singular truth. Setting his seven eyes, unblinking on his goal, he bided his time until the final decade of the war. Only then did he send forth his armies. Victory was his and the Tablet of Destinies passed into his hands, though at terrible cost. For all his efforts and for reasons unknown he found himself unable to use the Tablet to dominate all, a fact he hid from the remaining gods. Most of the surviving gods departed Earth to other realms while the few who stayed sealed themselves away to sleep until their time came again. This terrible destruction we call the Great Cataclysm.
The first in what I hope to be a series of novels set in a common universe.
This work in first and foremost intended to entertain.
A fantasy novel with a late-Medieval/Renaissance/Early Modern setting as opposed to the more common Early – High Medieval setting.
In a fantasy world principally inspired by the historical 15th and 16th century Europe and Asia (with a healthy dose of creative anachronisms), there has been a protracted period of peace and prosperity, but that is beginning to come to an end. Cracks are forming in some of the old powers and new up and coming polities are starting to grow strong. Subjugated and oppressed peoples are growing restless under the yoke of their imperial masters. The long decades of peace are under threat from political, religious and cultural divisions surfacing to threaten the world. Additionally, the machinations of scheming deities as they vie for power behind the scenes serve to create further instability and set their worshippers against each other.
With this background, an expedition from a previously isolated island state seeking to open up their insular homeland to new ideas, cultures and technologies arrives. Alexander Hawke, the son of the expedition leader sets out on an exciting journey through a land teeming with monsters, magick, brigands, warring factions and political intrigue. Along the way he meets a host of colourful characters and dangerous enemies. As he ventures through unfamiliar territory he learns about the world, about himself and about his place in the world. He will know both joy and tragedy as he is swept up in history’s stormy tides.
This book explores themes of friendship, loyalty, love, war, revenge and coming of age. It also explores the nature, honour, motives and morality of heroes in addition to casting a cynical eye over the nature and differences between good and evil.
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