Tag: Fantasy & Science Fiction (page 2 of 4)

Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Twenty

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

The ship door closed and Adar lowered his blaster, wondering what kind of damage a blast would do to the hull of the ship. He wasn’t willing to risk taking a shot just to see what happened, but it was difficult to watch another ship slip through his grasp even though it was part of his plan to let exactly that happen. Once two more ships were gone, it would be time to make his move, but as each one disappeared, he would become more anxious about their chances.

Adar’s mouth formed a thin line when he took in the wounded man who had died within a step or two of the door. As Adar had thought, his hand and lower forearm had been taken off by a blast as well. If only the man would have ducked down. He would have blended in with the other bodies, and the Hunwei would have walked right past him.

Adar examined the distance from the man to the house.

Just that much further and we would have had a real mess on our hands, Adar thought. He wasn’t glad for the man’s death, but he was happy he hadn’t had to fight the Hunwei. The shooting would have drawn the attention of the others, and with only Barc for support, Adar didn’t think that they would have survived. He was glad he didn’t have to find out what would have happened.

It is a dangerous game I play, and so far I’m not winning it either. If I had returned directly to the Arches, I could have handled Tere and had the tablet in my hands to take care of the Hunwei. He pushed away the thought to calm his nerves. There were always ways to have done things differently.

The whine of the engines disappeared as their volume increased to a roar. The ship lifted up into the air, hovering a few feet off the ground. After a minute or so, it gained altitude at an ever-increasing rate. The sound of its departure was loud enough to make him wonder if they were at risk of hearing loss.

A grim smile crossed Adar’s face. Maybe I’m getting too used to all this. It isn’t any louder than what I experienced outside the entrance of the Arches. If anything, that was worse because it was a much larger ship. He slung his blaster over his shoulder and covered his ears with his hands still the same, trusting his eyes to warn him of any approaching danger.


Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Nineteen

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

The front of the town hall was all but destroyed. Adar was relieved to see that the back of the structure near where the archives were located still stood firm. He intended to go back into the archives to poke around if he got a chance, there hadn’t been time to explore during any of his previous visits. The rest of the building was on its last legs. It looked weak enough that the smallest of breezes should be enough to topple it.

It must be sturdier than it looks, Adar thought when the wind picked up, and the remaining part of the destroyed structure didn’t move.

A Hunwei ship had crashed into the field before the town hall and slammed into the building. The small side door Adar had used when leaving the town hall earlier in the day was still standing, but the great double doors were not, they had been shattered by the impact.

A large piece of the great door lay on the ground not far from where Adar knelt, peeking out of the open door of an empty home. The great doors had been works of art. It saddened him to see them lying in pieces.

The same could be said for the town hall itself. It was a relic of the ages past. It was a shame it had made it through the invasion only to be taken out now. It may have taken more than a decade to build, but it had been destroyed in the blink of an eye.

The domed roof over the great meeting hall had caved in. Adar had noted it had suffered a lot of damage when he had passed through the large room earlier in the day, right after the tower had been activated. At least something had still been there. Now the whole of it was gone. It had stood for more than a thousand years and was gone in an instant.

Smoke still rose from the pile of burning Hunwei bodies that had blocked his path earlier. The flames had died down, and it was possible to see bits of the armor pointing out here and there, but much of it had melted as it slowly formed into a single mass.

Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Seventeen, Part One

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Fire was all Adar could see. It filled his vision wherever he looked. Flames climbed the walls of the buildings and danced at the top. In many places, those walls had started to crumble. It was becoming more difficult to tell where the alley—and his path to freedom—was located.

It even seemed as if fire burned in the sky above him, though there wasn’t anything up there to burn. The thought crossed his mind that it might be a weapon of the Hunwei with which he wasn’t yet familiar, but he pushed it away. He told himself it was just the wind moving the flames and he hoped to the gods he was right.

A pool of water that had been much larger when he’d first entered the alley was now minutes away from being completely turned into steam. The flames reflected off the remnant of the pool as he splashed through it. The water that splashed onto his legs was warm. When he’d first entered the alley he’d been soaked to the bone, now his clothes were almost dry. It was a mercy he’d been thoroughly drenched by the rain when all this had started.

Wasn’t the pool on the far side, nearest where the ship went down? He shook his head as he ran without changing direction. It wasn’t the first time he’d wondered if he was turned around and running the wrong way.

Wouldn’t that just be my luck? He held his breath hoping to avoid taking in more of the smoke. Melyah knew he’d already inhaled enough of the stuff already. He’d been so focused on fighting the Hunwei he hadn’t even thought about the fact he was breathing in the heady stuff. At first, he had bent over every few steps to take a breath, but it hadn’t helped so he’d given up and pushed all the faster.

It wasn’t until he almost passed out that he tried again and lost precious time sucking in whatever air he could before his fears overcame him and propelled him forward again.

Each second that passed made it that much harder to keep from taking in the smoke. I may be headed into the belly of the beast, but at least I’ll die on my own terms, refusing to breathe of my own accord rather than choking on the smoke. He let out a snort of derision that turned into a fit for breath.

His body rebelled, and smoke was pulled into his mouth. He coughed and pushed out the breath of air he’d been holding, dying to inhale again, but knowing he shouldn’t.

The heat was unbearable. The air was poison. It was impossible to see.

Through it all, he didn’t stop moving.

Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Sixteen

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Nine bleeding burning fires! Adar thought as he watched the smoke spread into the room, Hunwei outside and a fire inside. All I need now is for Tere to show up as well. Why not Isak and Erro too, so I can fight everybody at once? With his luck, Kura would show up in the middle of it all, demanding to know what was taking him so long.

Sweat trickled down Adar’s neck and onto his back as he walked over to the kitchen. When he walked in, he was relieved to see it wasn’t on fire, though the ceiling was covered with smoke.

On the left side of the room was a window that looked out into the alley, but there was too much smoke outside to see through it.

A wood burning oven under the window had three loaves of fresh baked bread resting on the top that were still in the pans. Various pots hung from hooks on the ceiling, and a large wooden bowl that had been covered with a towel had formed into a domed shape.

He immediately went to another partially ajar door directly across from the one that he’d just used to enter the kitchen. Smoke came over the top and around the sides.

Adar covered the distance in three steps and swung it open. Billows of smoke and a wave of heat assaulted him, so he went to his knees and crawled forward into the room. It was bathed in a reddish orange flickering glow that came from the fires outside the building.

The smoke came through a small broken window and an open door that was tossed by the firestorm outside. The shattered pane of glass was a twin of another several feet over from the first. This window was still intact.

As his eyes adjusted to the garish light, he looked around the room, surprised there didn’t appear to be any signs of fire in here. The building still held for now.

Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Fifteen

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

The short man had lost weight since Adar had last seen him. Barc’s belt was cinched up over pants that looked like they might fall right off of him and there was blood on his face.

Barc froze when he saw Adar, his hand went to the sword at his side. That too was a change to the man. By the look of it, Adar would venture to say the sword was from one of the Zecarani town guard.

Adar shook his head. Barc had probably picked it up off a dead man. If Barc stuck around Zecarani for long, it would be wise for him to get rid of it. It would only be a matter of time before one of the town guard recognized it for what it was and started making accusations.

Barc’s hand rested on the hilt as if he appeared to be thinking of attacking Adar. The absurdity of the situation made it impossible for Adar to keep from smirking. As soon as he felt it forming, he tried to smother it, but he was too late, Barc had already noticed.

The man went red in the face.

Adar held his hands out to the side and approached. Why does everybody from Neberan want to kill me today? He wondered. If anything, we should all be happy about the fact we’re still alive.

Was it a coincidence to find Barc so close to the Arches? Or had he stumbled across Jorad and followed them here?

Adar could make out several scrapes and bruises on Barc, but other than that, Barc looked as though he’d done all right. He had managed to survive two invasions. Maybe the guy was made of sterner stuff than Adar had originally thought.

Barc’s eyes narrowed as Adar approached and it looked as though he wasn’t going to move his hand. Adar didn’t care, he was certain he could take Barc without needing either his sword or blaster. Unlike Erro, Barc hadn’t charged, waving his blade like a lunatic.

By the time that Adar closed the gap, Barc had apparently decided not to risk it because his arms were folded as he scowled at Adar.

“Have you seen Jorad and Soret?” Adar asked.

Barc shook his head. At first, Adar took that as a no, but then he recognized that Barc had been unable to hear him over the ruckus the ship was making. When Adar tried again, Barc held a hand up to his ear and shook his head, yelling something that Adar couldn’t make out as well.

Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Fourteen

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Adar scooped up his blaster from where he had dropped it on the ground as he splashed through a mud puddle. The mud hit with a shock of cold, causing him to shiver. It was funny how some things seemed less important in the face of death and destruction. He would have taken care to avoid the mud on a normal day. His pants were already soaked through anyway and caked with dirt and grime. A black streak came down the front of his wet shirt, and it had torn in several places.

At least the rain had let up some during the last few minutes.

The wreckage and everything in its path were a terrible sight. A building that had been there one moment had been demolished the next. The ship had left a path of destruction all along the rest of the way. The alley where he’d been before the crash was blocked with rubble from the building. If he and Kura had been a few seconds slower, they would have been in the middle of that.

Kura was several houses down from all the damage, squatting at the side of the road beside a tree while clutching Lars to her chest. Adar frowned when he thought of all the children that couldn’t be shielded from the brutal reality that was enveloping them all.

Lars won’t remember what life had been like before all this. Melyah, if we can’t find Donni he won’t even remember his own mother. He studied Kura, wondering if she would pick up the role if Donni couldn’t be found. She didn’t seem the mothering type, but he’d learned over the years never to underestimate a woman’s maternal instincts.

Adar was almost to Kura when a rushing sound from overhead broke into his thoughts. He came to a halt and located another ship that came from the opposite direction of the first. It too looked as if it were falling out of the sky. A streak of fire and smoke came from behind it. It would hit on the far side of the city. They weren’t in any danger.

He hadn’t had the right angle on the first ship to see the smoke trailing behind it but he looked back and could now see a line that rose into the clouds from the direction the first ship had come. None of the other Hunwei ships had left behind the smoke. He hoped it meant these had been damaged.

“You’re covered in mud,” Kura said. He had heard her approach but hadn’t turned. “And you smell.” Lars peeked his head out from under her coat using his hand to push it away while the rain pelted his face. He gave Adar a smile that split his face in two.

Adar returned it and patted Lars on the head. “How’s the boy?”

“He’ll take sick if he’s out in this much longer. Didn’t you say we were getting close?”

Adar barely heard her response as he examined the rest of the sky looking for other ships. So far, there was nothing else. He wouldn’t mind if they all crashed, he just didn’t want to be dodging the things while trying to assess whether or not he could reach the Arches.

“You should take shelter while I go on alone.” Adar motioned towards the crash and the trail of wreckage the ship had left behind. “That’s where we were headed. I’ll scout ahead and see if the way is blocked.”


Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Thirteen

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

The breeze blew against Soret’s face, but she didn’t notice as she stared into the fire beneath the pot while taking deep, steady breaths.

She had tried to sit at first but had been too antsy to rest and had paced for a while after that. It was a matter of time until Adar came back. It might be safe to look for her father when Adar returned. She wouldn’t take Jorad with her, of course. The two would need to be kept as far away from each other as possible. Maybe after Barc had a chance to calm down, he would be more open to reason, and she would be able to prevail upon him to join them on the trip to Rarbon.

The others in her group spoke of Rarbon as if it was a great city that would be able to withstand the Hunwei. She hoped they were right but was trying to not let herself count on it. If Rarbon turned out to be the haven it was purported to be, then the smart thing for her and her father to do would be to go there. It would grate on Barc, but she might even be able to convince him to apologize to Jorad. It wouldn’t be a real expression, to be sure, but given how everybody in the group either feared or respected Adar, it would be best to have both Adar and Jorad as allies.

Barc’s face came to mind, the fear and the betrayal ripping through her as though it was a knife. She sighed as her heart raced and she returned to pacing. Even after reminding herself that Barc had already survived one Hunwei invasion, it was a struggle to stop worrying about him. To calm down her nerves, she focused instead on what she could have done differently.

A hundred different scenarios danced around her head, but it all came back to an inescapable conclusion. She had let others have too much influence over her. Originally, she’d felt like the men in her life were controlling her but she had decided that was the wrong way to look at it.

Shouldn’t she be able to make her own decisions regardless of what others were doing? Nobody had held a dagger to her throat and made her do something that she hadn’t wanted to do. The situation had made the outcomes inevitable.

No, she thought, that’s wrong too. There isn’t anything that can’t be changed, if something seemed like it had to happen, that didn’t mean that it should happen. It doesn’t mean I couldn’t have stopped it. I was going along because I was afraid and lacked the skills to survive. I turned off my brain and trusted somebody else to use theirs. Well, she was done with that and wouldn’t let that happen again.  

“That water boiling yet?” Karn poked his head out of the arch. His calm demeanor had returned, but had his eyes narrowed slightly when he looked at her?

Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Twelve

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Adar ran down the street with Kura and Lars bringing up the rear. If he was shivering from the cold and exposure to the rain, he could understand why Kura was having such a difficult time with Lars. It isn’t coming down as strong as before, he thought, but we’re not getting any drier either.

He came across a dead Hunwei that hadn’t been burned to the bone and did a double take. The beast had died from a blast to the chest. A puddle of blue blood had formed around the corpse and was being washed away by the rain.

This isn’t a good sign. Adar lurched to a stop, spinning around with his blaster. He scanned the area, expecting to see Tere with a blaster pointed in his direction. When Kura stopped beside him, Adar put his finger up to his mouth. Lars—thank the gods—was quiet. Adar checked to make sure that the boy was still alert and was glad to see Lars’ eyes moving. The rainstorm wasn’t as loud as it had been before and didn’t provide as much cover for Lars’ crying.

Adar’s chest tightened, and he took his next several steps at a run until he forced himself to slow down so that he could think things through. Now was not the time to act rashly. They were too close to the Arches to continue to run as they had been before.

The further he’d gone from the tower, the more anxious he became that there might still be live groups of Hunwei about. This dead Hunwei seemed to confirm his fears.

Jorad and the others should have been back in the Arches long before the Hunwei invasion had gotten to this point. Xarda and Tarner should have seen to that. It was possible this was the work of Tere and Karn, but Adar wasn’t willing to bet on it. Jorad would have held out for as long as possible, trying to save as many townsfolk as he could. Confound that boy’s willful spirit.

“What is it?” Kura asked, her voice low enough to be a whisper but still louder than Adar would have liked.

“This Hunwei was killed by a blaster and has been dead for some time.” She was going to find out about Tere anyway, it might as well be now. “This was either the work of my son or somebody else who is trying to kill me.”

Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Eleven

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Wiping the rain out of his eyes, Adar blinked and looked around. His senses were heightened to a level that they hadn’t been before. Kura had done a good job of getting Lars to calm down. Lars was no longer screaming at the top of his lungs, but the boy was still fussy.

So much for hoping to catch Tere unaware, Adar thought.

The street looked much like any other, there weren’t as many dead, but there were a great number of homes that had been leveled by the Hunwei bombs. He supposed that most of the occupants of this street had been caught in the wreckage. At some point, search parties needed to be organized so that those who were still alive could be rescued.

With the governor’s mansion destroyed, Adar hoped there would be somebody else who would take charge of the city and see all of that was done, assuming, of course, the Hunwei didn’t come back to finish the job. Adar didn’t know enough about the political structure here to venture a guess as to who that would be. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be Isak. Adar hadn’t met the man, but he sounded like a fool.

Smoke curled up from the wreckage of the nearest home, but it hadn’t caught fire. That was a small mercy. The streets weren’t as wide here, and the homes were closer together. If a fire were to start, it would be hard to keep from spreading.

When Adar realized that things were too quiet, he looked back at Kura and saw she had Lars’ head tucked under her coat. The babe’s eyes were open and looked out at the bleak world. The kid was old enough he might be able to walk and was probably just on the verge of learning to mimic words. Jorad had been a lot of fun at that age.

Adar made eye contact with Kura who gave him a tight smile. He nodded back. They made their way down the rest of the street in silence.

A scream came from up ahead, and Adar darted forward around a corner, blaster at the ready. He lowered his weapon when he saw it came from a woman who was hunched over the body of a man. Her hair and dress were drenched, her legs covered in mud. She probably started the day wearing two sandals, but she was missing one. It was difficult for Adar to determine her hair color as it was dirty, but by her face, he wouldn’t have thought her much older than twenty-five.

The scene made him think of Nelion’s last moments, and his mind went to his own son when he noticed several small children with the woman. The rain didn’t seem to bother her, but her children were shivering. The oldest child was red-eyed and wailing. The younger didn’t look like she was old enough to understand what was going on. She tugged on the pant leg of the dead man saying “Dadda” over and over again.

For a moment, Adar was no longer running through the rain down a street in Zecarani. Instead, he found himself in the Rarbon palace, kneeling over the body of his wife.

Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Ten

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

The sun peeked out of the clouds and Adar relished the feel of it on his face. His clothes were soaked through, and he was chilled to the bone. He kept moving his wrists and alternating which hand held the blaster so that he didn’t become too stiff to respond to new threats. It didn’t help matters that he was tired and starving. He stumbled on a loose cobblestone and almost lost control. He was forced to skid to a stop.

The encounter with Isak’s men still had his heart pounding in his chest. The deadly efficiency of killing and wounding multiple men with one blast made him wonder again how things would change if the use of blasters became widespread.

Melyah. The only chance we have of making it through all this is to arm everybody that can handle one of these infernal weapons. What would happen afterward once the Hunwei had been dealt with?

He snorted. Even though he pretty much knew this was mankind’s last hurrah, he couldn’t help but hope that this wasn’t the end. Hope, even in the face of insurmountable odds, was the one thing that kept him going.

Things could change. The darkest night always had a sunrise. That was why he needed the tablet. The forgotten weapons of their fathers brought hope.

As Adar and Kura drew closer to the Arches, he noticed without surprise the dead tended to be men. Every now and then, they stumbled across a woman. Most of them Kura passed without comment, but there had been several where she’d stopped, forgetting the dangers that lurked all about them.

It had been a struggle for Adar to not say something that he would later regret, but his patience was stretched to the limit. Enough time had passed that the lone survivor from their encounter before would have found Isak. Tere could be half a continent away by now. Erro might come charging at him again like a wild man, determined to kill or die trying.

Adar gritted his teeth, furious that so many different things were all going on at once. On any given day, handling one of these issues would have been plenty, but to have all of them forced upon him in the same hour? He must have done something to piss off one of the gods.

Or perhaps they were testing him to see if he would be worthy to handle an even worse task.

“Hurry,” Adar said, glancing back over his shoulder. Kura’s eyes were red as she gripped her blaster in an almost challenging way.


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