Enjoy this sample of one of the 10 books on the new e-reader you could win in BestSelling Reads’ Spring Fling Science-Fiction and Fantasy Giveaway, the historical fantasy
By Scott Bury
The cave was narrow, so Javor went in front. The last of the dying daylight did not penetrate very deep, but a strange pale light came from the top of Photius’ walking staff. They could see the sides of the cave were wet, dripping with a foul-smelling moisture. “Do not touch the wall, Javor!” Photius warned. Javor tried to draw his shoulders in. His skin crawled when he thought of the liquid on the cave wall touching him.
There was a heat coming from within, and soon he was sweating. He could see a dull red glow ahead in the tunnel. A dark mist coiled about them.
The tunnel opened into a wide cavern, and the ceiling receded to a height Javor couldn’t guess at. The red light and the heat came from a gaping chasm at the far end. Strewn about the uneven floor were bones—human bones, and armour and weapons and coins that glimmered dully in the red light.
All this Javor took in within a second, for crouching in front of the chasm was the proof of the story: man-shaped, but far, far larger. It was hideous, covered in a dull grey, leathery hide. Its impossibly wide, pig-like mouth was chewing something. Glowing red eyes shadowed by a stony brow glared at him with an alien expression for less than a heartbeat, and then it was reaching for Javor, right in front of him, filling his field of vision, roaring so loudly that Javor’s ears hurt. Its claw slashed at his head. Without thinking, Javor lunged forward, between the monster’s legs. The monster hit the cave wall and bits of rock flew in all directions.
Javor rolled and sprang up. If he had time to think, he would have been surprised to find his grandfather’s dagger was in his hand. The monster had Photius trapped against the wall. It seemed to be wary of his glowing staff, squinting against its light.
Javor screamed as fearsomely as he could and sprang forward, slashing the knife downward. He aimed at the monster’s back, but with agility surprising in such a large creature it twisted out of the way, and the knife bit into its arm. The monster roared again, a sound that froze Javor’s heart, and then with awful strength flung Javor across the cave. He rolled to the edge of the chasm. For a second, he felt as if he was going to tip over and plunge in; below was only a dull red light in a deeper blackness and a foul odour. He knew there was no bottom, only an endless drop that called to him; something in Javor’s mind yearned to lean over and fly into the chasm, to give himself to the infinite fall.
With a huge effort, Javor twisted away from the edge. He gripped his knife but the monster grabbed him in one huge claw and lifted him off the ground, pinning his right arm against his side. Its mouth opened, revealing row upon row of triangular teeth, and its hot breath stank.
About The Bones of the Earth
Book One of the Dark Age trilogy
The Dark Age, eastern Europe: the earth has decided to rid itself of humanity with earthquakes, volcanoes and new plagues. Civilizations, even the mighty Roman Empire, crumble under the pressure of barbarian waves that are fleeing worse terrors.
Rejected by his own people, pursued by a dragon, young Javor heads for Constantinople, the centre of civilization, looking for answers to the puzzle of his great-grandfather’s dagger and the murder of his family. On the ancient, crumbling Roman highway across haunted, deserted Dacia, Javor rescues the beautiful Danisa from a human sacrifice. He cannot help falling in love with her.
But Danisa has her own plans, and when she is kidnapped again, Javor has to wonder: what is the connection between his dagger, his lover and his enemies?