Feast of Fates
Four Feasts Till Darkness, Book One
Christian A. Brown
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Date of Publication: September 9, 2014
Number of pages: 540
Word Count: 212K
“Love is what binds us in brotherhood, blinds us from hate, and makes us soar with desire.”
Morigan lives a quiet life as the handmaiden to a fatherly old sorcerer named Thackery. But when she crosses paths with Caenith, a not wholly mortal man, her world changes forever. Their meeting sparks long buried magical powers deep within Morigan. As she attempts to understand her newfound abilities, unbidden visions begin to plague her–visions that show a devastating madness descending on one of the Immortal Kings who rules the land.
With Morigan growing more powerful each day, the leaders of the realm soon realize that this young woman could hold the key to their destruction. Suddenly, Morigan finds herself beset by enemies, and she must master her mysterious gifts if she is to survive.
Available at Amazon and Createspace
Feast of Fates, Excerpt #1
Morigan took the bracelet.
“I accept your offering.” The Wolf’s face lit and she thought that he would leap at her. “Yet first, I have a request.”
“Anything, my Fawn.”
“I would like to see…what you are. The second body that shares your soul. Show me your fangs and claws,” she commanded.
Perhaps it was the steadiness of her voice, how she ordered him to bare himself as if he belonged to her that made the Wolf’s heart roar to comply. He did not shed his skin but for the whitest moons of the year, and even then, so far from the city and never in front of another. In a sense, he was as much a virgin as she. With an unaccustomed shyness, he found himself undressing before the Fawn, confused for a speck as to who was the hunter. The flare of her nostrils, the intensity of her stare that ate at him for once.
I have chosen well for a mate. She is as much a Wolf as I, he thought, kicking off his boots and then shimmying his pants down to join the rest of his clothing. No bashful maiden was Morigan, and she did not look away from his nakedness, but appreciated what she saw: every rough, hairy, huge bit of him.
He howled and fell to all fours. Bones shifted and snapped, rearranging under his skin like skeletal gears. From his head, chest and loins, the soft black hair thickened and spread over his twisting flesh. His heaving became guttural and sloppy, and when he tossed his head up in a throe of agony or pleasure, his beard had coated his face, and she noticed nothing but white daggers of teeth. Wondrously Morigan witnessed the transformation, watched him swell with twice the muscle he had possessed as a man, saw his hands and feet shag over with fur and split the soil with black claws. Another howl and a final gristle-crunching shudder (his hindquarters snapping into place, she thought) signified the end of the change.
Her dreams did not do Caenith justice. Here was a beast twice the size of a mare with jaws that could swallow her to the waist. Here was a monster that had stalked and ruled the Untamed. A lord of fang and claw. The birds and weaker animals vanished, knowing a deadly might was near. Around her, the Wolf paced; making the ground tremble with power; ravishing her with his cold gray gaze; huffing and blasting her with his forceful breaths. While the scent of his musk was choking, it was undeniably Caenith’s, if rawer and unwashed.
Morigan was not afraid, and was flushed with heat and shaking as she slipped the bracelet on and knelt. She did not flinch as the Wolf lay behind and about her like a great snuffling rug and placed his boulder of a head in her lap. No, she stroked his long ears and his wrinkled snout. A maiden and her Wolf. Soon the birds returned, sensing this peace and chirping in praise of it. And neither Morigan nor the Wolf could recall a time—if ever there was one—where they had felt so complete.
Feast of Fates, Excerpt #2
Menos was darker than usual: its clouds as black as the shadow of fear that haunted Mouse. The city felt more menacing to her. She saw shadows in every corner, noticed the glint of every ruffian’s blade or slave’s chain as though they were all intended for her. The warning of Alastair played inside her skull on a loop of nightmare theater.
A hand over her mouth startles her awake, and she twists for the dagger in her pillowcase until she recognizes the shadowy apparition atop her, who hisses at her to calm.
“Alastair?” she gasps.
The hand unclenches and the willowy shadow retreats to more of its own; she can only see the scruff of his red beard in the dark.
“Get up, Mouse. Get dressed.”
Her mentor sounds annoyed or confused; she is each, but finds her garments quickly enough anyway.
“I don’t like good-byes, so let’s not call this that,” Alastair says with a sigh. “But it will be a parting, nonetheless. You need to go low. Lower than you’ve ever been before. A new name won’t be enough. You’ll need a new face. I don’t know how or who, but the sacred contract of our order has been broken. Your safety has been bought.”
Mouse knows the who and how, and as she glances up from her boot-lacing to explain to her mentor her predicament, she sees that he is gone. Just empty shadows, echoing words, and the sound of her heartbeat drowning out all the rest.
She expected the dead man and his icy master to emerge from the dim nooks and doorways of the buildings she passed at any instant. With a hand on her knives and a fury to her step, she swept down the sidewalk; no carriages for her today, as they were essentially cages on wheels—too easy to trap oneself in. With its sooty storefronts and their wrought-iron windows, its black streetlamps that rose about her like the bars of a prison, Menos was constricting itself around her, and she had to get out.
You’ve survived worse than the nekromancer, she coached herself, though she wasn’t certain that was true. She hurried through the grimness of Menos, dodging pale faces and quickening her step with every sand. By the time she arrived at the fleshcrafter’s studio, she was sweating and stuck to her cloak. She looked down the desolate sidewalk and up the long sad face of the tall tower with its many broken or boarded-over windows. When she was sure she wasn’t being pursued by the phantoms that her paranoia had conjured, she pulled back a rusted door that did not cry out as it should have, given its appearance, but slid along well-formed grooves through the dust. She raced through the door and hauled it closed.
It was dark and flickering with half-dead lights in the garbage-strewn hallway in which she stood. Mouse picked through the trash with her feet, tensing as she passed every dark alcove in the abandoned complex. Hives, these places were called, and used to house enormous numbers of lowborn folk under a single roof. In Menos, even the shabbiest roof was a desirable commodity, so the building’s ghostly vacancy meant that it likely was condemned by disease at one point. Soon the stairwell she sought appeared, and she tiptoed down it, careful not to slip on the stairs, which were slick with organic grunge.
Couldn’t have picked a nicer studio, she cursed. I’ll be lucky if this fleshcrafter leaves me with half a lip to drink with. Lamentably, speed and discretion were her two goals in choosing where to have her face remodeled. Such stipulations cut the more promising fleshcrafters off the list and left her with the dregs. She hadn’t put much thought into what she would have done, or even if she would end up hideously disfigured. Monstrous disfigurement could even work in her favor, as she bore an uncanny resemblance to that crow-eviscerated woman whom she suspected was the object of the nekromancer’s dark desire. I’ll take ugly over dead. Over whatever he has in mind for me.
About the Author
Christian A. Brown has written creatively since the age of six. After spending most of his career in the health and fitness industry, Brown quit his job to care for his mother when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2010.
Having dabbled with the novel that would eventually become Feast of Fates for over a decade, Brown was finally able to finish the project. His mother, who was able to read a beginning version of the novel before she passed away, has since imbued the story with deeper sentiments of loss, love, and meaning. He is proud to now share the finished product with the world.
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