For those who don’t know, I’ve been working on a fun epic fantasy romp called Demon Age: Will of Shadows off and on over the last couple of years.
While I was once considering pursuing some type of publishing for the story (either independent or traditional), I’ve instead decided to release it FOR FREE* to all my readers and fans that have supported me over the years.
I started last week by releasing the prologue, which reveals the story of Princess Regesh, a mysterious woman on a mysterious quest to recover a relic that will save her kingdom from certain destruction.
This week, the real story begins with Chapter 1.
In this chapter, we meet our protagonist — Audoin — who is a young man with no past and very little future. Living as a poor buildsman, Audoin is a man with a bad attitude who lives in the poorest district of the sprawling capital city of Ashusrith (referenced in the prologue.) Audoin has a complicated story, and that story becomes even more complicated when he has an experience that changes his life forever.
Demon Age is about friendship, growth and overcoming the difficult moments in life. It’s also just a fun as hell fantasy romp that I wrote because I love nerdy epic fantasy.
If you haven’t read the prologue yet, get caught up. Otherwise, enjoy this excerpt from this week’s installment of Demon Age below and follow along to make sure you don’t miss a page of this epic tale.
(*Please note that sites like Medium only allow a limited number of free ‘reads’ each month and may require you to create a free profile in order to read certain content.)
The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Demon Age: Will of Shadows.
Audoin stumbled out of the tavern and into the night, the innkeeper hot on his heels. His head swam with ale and his vision split in two.
“If I catch you here again, I’ll have you boiled down for soup!” the fat man yelled. Audoin slipped his dagger from the sheath at his hip and spun, raising it in the air before him.
“If I ever see you again, I’ll kill you,” he slurred over his shoulder. “How about that, you fat bastard?”
The big man’s footsteps faltered and his chins heaved as his lungs strained beneath a bulging vest and sweat stained linens. Eyes watched them from the warm glow the Grey Goose’s windows. Somewhere above, a whore giggled over the rail of a balcony. A tangled web of flats twisted up dark and silent toward the sky.
“Don’t you dare come back here!” the big man shouted again, his chins wobbling in the moonlight.
Audoin smirked and stumbled down one of the many winding alleyways that made up the streets of East Ashusrith. He folded his arms into his chest and shivered. The summer nights were cool and he had no money for a jacket. Above him, the moon was low, heavy and draped with cloud.
It was late and Ashusrith was growing still. Even the drunks were clearing the taverns, crawling back to whatever bolt hole they called home until it was time to drink another night away. Audoin wandered through empty wynds, first down one crooked path and then another. All around him, shops and poorly-built tenement buildings rose up silent toward the sky. Walls of grime-caked beige bricks created a tangled web of streets that only a lifelong local could hope to unravel. Audoin navigated them effortlessly as his head began to pound.
Over the roofs, the chimneys gave an occasional sign of life. Smoke rose coyly and disappeared into the inky sky. Bats fluttered in empty eaves, their wings flapping frantically against the stillness of the night. Audoin traced the windows with his gaze from time to time. Most of them were boarded up against the darkness and the cold and the thieves that liked to lurk in the city’s shadows.
Audoin brooded as he stumbled back to the small flat he called home.
Ashusrith was the largest and oldest city in the world — or so it was said. It had been founded by the first Demon King, more than a thousand years ago, when he had lost his heart to the beautiful Princess of Araspea. More than twelve million souls counted their homes among the shanty shacks and sprawling manses that filled Ashusrith’s five districts and Audoin’s was but one of the lowliest.
The city was the capital of Araspea, the largest and most prosperous of the Four Realms. All of its citizens lived and worked within the four main districts of Ashusrith and hardly ever left its ancient walls. There were five districts in total and the Eastern District, where Audoin lived, was the poorest and most populated of them all.
East Ashusrith was infested with the kind of rabble only poverty could bring. Home to the city’s main shipping ports, the men women and children that called the district home were a varied sort and came from all over the Four Realms. Boasting everything from fishers to sailors, whores to tavern owners and thieves, it wasn’t the sort of place one wanted to be — the Eastern District was the sort of place one ended up.
Audoin had lived all of his life in the same district and had never bothered to set foot outside it. Indeed, it was almost impossible to set foot outside of Eastern Ashusrith when you were a lowly worker like him. The city’s four districts were divided by class and economic rank, with each one walled off and managed by a series of guarded gates. To pass from one to the other required a complicated series of papers, which had to be stamped by members of the Vizier’s Regulatory who demanded a high fee for their efforts.
The Eastern District held the hardest working citizens, while the Northern District — which was perched along the side of a hill that overlooked the city — held the richest and most ennobled members of the city’s peerage. The Western District was home to the merchants, intellectuals and skilled wealthy who had been able to work themselves out of mediocrity. The Southern District — which was nestled along the side of the Oolakty River — was inhabited entirely by the thousands of religious temples and their priests, who catered to the many faiths observed by the city’s citizens.
The fifth district sat perched atop Demon’s Hill and towered above the rest of the city. It was not much of a district at all and only housed a single building — the Black Palace. The Black Palace was home to the Grand Vizier and his council of Sacred Priests. The vizier and the priests saw to the running of the realm, and managed relations between Araspea and the other realms.
Shut up behind slick black walls of a mysterious and impenetrable stone, the palace was an imposing structure. It was comprised of a series of sweeping black spires that rose windowless into the sky. Some of the towers were so tall that they disappeared into the clouds altogether; their smooth faces disappeared into a haze of grey, their bases disappeared in shadow below. It was said that the Demon King had perished by throwing himself from the tallest tower of the palace, but others say he simply returned to the hell that had birthed him.
Audoin passed beneath the imposing shadow of the palace without throwing it so much as a passing glance. He had been raised beneath the mythological shadow of the palace and it no longer unsettled him as it had when he was a child. Audoin turned and slipped down another abandoned wynd, the night’s events fresh on his mind.