Bathgate’s richly imagined epic fantasy series immerses the reader in a vibrant magical world whose peace has been shattered. The struggles of the people of the Ceniac Island are viewed through deeply dimensioned characters with massive battles and epic wizard duels. Victory comes from understanding what magic will allow and what it will punish. While the violence plays out there is a mystery secretly driving the war buried beneath a barren landscape where no creature lives, not even plants or insects, the ancients have buried something which will grant godlike power.
1500 years after the fall of the ancients with their science a medieval style civilization has arisen amid a new power made possible by the last invention of science… magic. This action packed epic fantasy series continues where the first book ended. New evils arise to join old ones. New wars must be fought. New alliances must be made. New kinds of magical creatures join forces to support or to oppose the destruction of humanity.
COMING November 2021: The Dragons Awake : Book 3 of the Icor Tales
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COMING SEPTEMBER 2021: The Dragons Awake : Book 3 of the Icor Tales
Here is my pledge: It’s all going to make sense. I will not raise a mystery, create a puzzle, build suspense and then not provide the payoff. I WILL ALWAYS DELIVER! That’s my pledge.
I watched J.J.Abrams series Heroes and Lost. I was hooked, but, in the end they disappointed. There were so many things that did not make sense. There were so many mysteries unresolved. Abrams explained it with what he called his mystery box. He liked to promise the audience that a great mystery would be solved… and the audience would wait and wait and watch and watch and he would get richer and richer but in the end nothing got revealed, nothing got solved. At the end of his TV Series and his movies we are always given a childlike deus ex machina, it was all a dream.
This killed TV and movies for me, because whenever there was a mystery that had me hooked, I would always think: nothing is really significant, and I might wait three years only for the series to end without resolution. IT IS A BROKEN PROMISE. The result is I rarely get hooked by TV series any more and even movies don’t hook me…. well it is rare. I loved LOVED “The Boys”.
Game of Thrones was a mixed blessing. I knew they could not resolve all the mysteries, but I have the books. Thank God for the books.
There are a lot of mysteries to be resolved in the Icor tales books, and not all of them are solved in Book 1, but I promise they all make sense, they are all inevitable results of the cause of the fall of the ancients. In book 2 “The Ancients awake”, we got to meet more of the ancients and find out why they are underground. I will never raise a mystery just to hook the reader. I will foreshadow, and I will tease but I will ALWAYS deliver. I WILL ALWAYS DELIVER!
The pacing definitely became problematic in the closing scenes of Book 3 Dragons Awake. Too many things happening too quickly, such that the reader’s head would be spinning. I ignored the problem for now and will need the help of a great editor to pace it better.
There are a bunch of twists and turns and my beta readers will need to help me out to determine if they’re too obvious or too obfuscated. I am almost ready for the beta reading process.
My best guess is I will finish writing the first draft this weekend. It is by far the most complex, most action filled book of the series so far. I am so glad I took five days away to outline the next book in the Icor Tales world, which is a stand alone novel set during the fall of the ancients. The book is unnamed at the moment but in my notes I call it “MS and BS”. It does feature Violet. Events from this next book are mentioned in Book 3.
I got my first one star review this month which is a right of passage for every author.
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The third book in the Icor Tales Series “Dragons Awake” has … you guessed it dragons… and a lot of them… a heck of a lot of them. It also has crimson wizards, which we meet in Book 2 : “In the Hall of the Ancients”. It’s not really a spoiler to say they meet. Sometimes they work together and sometimes they are enemies.
Dragons awake features a confrontation where crimson wizards, with their endless shields and streams of fire, battle almost indestructible dragons with their enormous strength, claws and fire. Who will win? Well that would be a spoiler.
I don’t have an artists render of Phillipa yet but this is my inspiration …
The plan was to escape the town tonight. She had buried supplies outside the city gates. She knew where to rendezvous with the rebels. She had discreetly sold all she could not carry. For the next twelve hours she just had to pretend to be another manic supporter of Mott, Bestich and the menzach. Mott had sent his wizard’s flame into countless numbers of the faithless.
There are two parts to me now, thought Phillipa, as she sat upon the cart. There is the part that lives in this world, and sits here and smiles, and laughs and watches the butchers. Then there is the part that watches the other part with horror. It scorns me. It flinches in horror while I laugh at another execution. That part of me will always stand in judgement over the coward that wants to survive. What is so good about seeing another sunrise? I have not been brave these past few days… but tonight I will be.
She continued knitting as the man screamed and begged as he was dragged to the cart. Phillipa threw her head back to show how hard she was laughing. Goddess forgive me. I threw myself on my knees to worship Bestich as soon as his crimson wizards were reborn. The victim locked eyes with her. It was Araman, the man who made cider, elderberry wine and gooseberry jam. He would sharpen knives and sell pins and now he was being lashed to the wheel of a cart.
“Please, I thought he was dead,” said Araman. “I worship Bestich now. I will be loyal.”
Mott’s icor enhanced voice responded. “Sweet summer friend. You took the blessings of Bestich’s harvest. You took the safety and security Bestich gifted you but when our wise and loving lord gave you the slightest test of your faith, you spurned him for the false prophets and promises of the rebels. Let your bones serve to cushion the cart. As they break at least they serve to comfort the loyal passengers of Bestich’s chariot.
Phillipa closed her eyes momentarily — just a brief second to shelter against the horror, before again being immersed in her reality, not just witnessing but participating in the subjugation of those who had dared to dream to be free.
She was surrounded by flags, black circles on a red background, the flags of Bestich’s Merconia. Flags are excuses for inhumanity, she thought. The more someone waves the flag of their nation, the more they hate the people of that nation. They hide their resentments, bitterness, and vile intent behind shows of patriotism. They disconnect the people of a nation from the idea of the nation, and then they can unleash their most bestial impulses on the people; waving the glorious flag, beating their chests in the certain knowledge that their rapes, their tortures, and their executions are noble and just. Never trust a man waving a flag. There is no flag imbued with indulgences for the murder of innocents.
The cart was now adorned with sixteen traitors to Merconia who had dared to speak for freedom from fear, and the menzach, and all the odious apparatus of subjugation. Phillip beamed a manic smile at Mott, praying the smile did not freeze and falter, and praying that her name would not be pricked on the scrolls before she had time to flee. Night can’t come too soon, she thought.
The cart jerked into motion as the horses strained to pull the uneven wheels. The screams from the victims tied to the wheels startled the normally laid back shire horses; one reared up a little, just a couple of feet in the air, but then it pulled forward. More screams. She could hear the crunching sound as the cart began to crush the victims’ bones. A spray of blood hit her face. Her smile froze and tears came to her eyes. She looked urgently to see if Mott had noticed. He was busy scanning the crowds for signs of anyone who showed a lack of enthusiasm. She smiled just before his gaze met hers. She knew better than to wipe the blood from her face, instead she licked her lips as if savoring the taste. Mott’s reptilian smile was her response and her reward.
Later she stood before her wash bowl looking at the black flakes of dried blood on her face. The black badge of cowardice. She plunged her face in the bowl and kept it there as long as she could, impotently trying to bury her shame in watery grave. She pulled her head up and gasped for air. Her shame had not lessened. She opened her eyes and stared at her reflection. There were still black flakes on her face. She rubbed them, but they did not come off. Freckles? Did I always have this many? She shook her head and threw the bowl of water out into the street gutter. It was dark but the swathe of stars in the sky looked like frothy river.
Time to go.
She looked around furtively; there were no watchmen in sight. She reentered her home and went to Elijah’s bed. He was sleeping soundly. She pulled back the covers and with a practiced hand she turned the sheet he was sleeping in into a sling holding Elijah. She wrapped the sling around her stomach so she could carry him with ease. Quickly she grabbed her arrow, quiver, backpack, wine bladder and water bladder. The moment of no return was upon her. A weight settled on her shoulders. I am making a decision here that could cost me everything, including the life of Elijah. Am I doing the right thing? She closed the door of her home for the last time and leant her head against it. She kissed the door. Goodbye home, you saw me give birth thrice, raise my boys and lose two of them. Now I take the last of my blood before Bestich’s minions take him too.
Book 3 “Dragons Awake” is big, its complicated and its bloody. It is full of fantastical creatures: vampires, trolls, demons, 103 dragons, pixies, clones and the Beast with its drones.
My outline and background document is now 30k words.
I am about to start writing the campaign in Merconia section so I wrote a background doc with Bestich’s rise to power, including a scene which I will make into a freebie for my newsletter subscribers. Arden will get his own novella too, perhaps as a stand alone freebie.
I have a release date in November, which will take a lot of hard work to achieve. (I will make it tho).
The third book is a biggie. Everything scales up. The stakes are higher, the armies bigger, new villains join the pantheon and there is … the Beast, a creature that fills a miles long valley…. and there are a lot of dragons.
I got some feedback that the cover was not on genre. People thought it might be a horror book. The new cover is more representative of the book which features some epic battles, and the “Dragon’s run” is a pivotal moment in the story line. Hopefully the new cover appeals more to my audience.
Sam’s face felt warm. “Are you trying to be human?”
Jark’s eyes flickered blue. “Good heavens no. Humans are smelly, dim witted, and cruel. The young ones are insanely incapable, then they become hormone enraged monkeys, they get a few years pretending to know what they’re doing and then their knees go and they creak around groaning in pain for the remainder of their pathetic existence. Becoming a human would be an immense step down for me. Emulating a human can be useful though… and I do wish to understand them better. I just wish humans would stop killing me, dismantling me and putting me back together… it’s irritating.”
He sniffed the Chrysanthemums by the eastern fence and looked up leisurely upon the southern mountains. The garden was perfect, as usual, each plant was blooming as per his orders. Each grain of sand was groomed to perfection. The blood from the patio had been cleaned and no trace left behind.
A brief shadow flitted over him and so he lifted his gaze to the sky. The clouds offended him. They were all free spirits with no balance, no purpose, and no control. One of them must have impertinently passed briefly before the sun. He snarled as he saw one that resembled a dragon. There is no one to punish for the haphazard clouds. He took a deep breath. I shall have to tolerate the imperfection of the heavens. His thoughts turned to the disappointing harvest and the subsequent punishments he had made.
The Beast must be fed.It is important that people know there is a price to pay for substandard work, he thought. If a farm produces one percent less rice this year, then next year it may produce two percent less and before long there is anarchy. The Beast must be fed.
He watched a new clone emerge from the palace escorted by two guards. It had the usual confusion on its face. Tao had long ago concluded that the cloning process must introduce a weakness into the copied mind. His scientists had disagreed with him, until he had encouraged them to change their view, just before they moved to the belly of the Beast. The clone was wearing a pristine black Tang suit. There were tears streaming down its face. Tao examined it. It’s face, he knew, was identical to his own, except it was reddened from sobbing. He compared it to the faces of the guards, they were almost identical except the guards faces had aged. One of the guards even showed a little grey hair.
The clone was crying uncontrollably. Tao put a hand on its cheeks. “I am going to call you Larry Fong the third. What do you think of that?”
The clone kept crying. It irritated Tao.
“Ugh, just go. You know what you’re supposed to do.”
I gave it orders before it existed. Yields must go up by two percent. He made a dismissive wave with his hand. Seriously I don’t ask much.
The new clone was escorted out of the palace grounds, to spend its life farming. Tao then noticed two red suited gate guards approaching. Hmm that is very unusual. They were very aged. Tao realized he really needed to clone some replacements and add the old ones to the Beast.
The two guards saluted and one spoke. “There is a visitor at the gate who wishes an audience with your excellency.” The expression on the guard’s face was of complete serenity, as if nothing was unusual.
A visitor? From where? How?
“Hmm, it has been over a thousand years since I had a visitor. How did he arrive at our gate?”
The guard maintained his serene expression. “He arrived on a dragon, your excellency.”
Tao smiled. “I suppose it is an old woman in a gold robe.”
“It is a man, your excellency,” said the guard.
Tao’s smile broadened. “An old man with a long beard, wearing a gold robe?” he asked knowingly.
“No, your excellency; it is a rotund man with no beard, wearing a red fur lined jacket and cummerbund.”
Really? That is a surprise. “Well show him to me. I shall meet with him below the empty scales.”
Tao shooed the guards away with a gesture and walked to the west side of the courtyard where there stood three golden scales. The scales were twenty strides high and forty strides wide. In the center there was a long seat and a table.
“Tea for two,” he said to a clone-servant, who then scurried away.
Tao looked to the sky again and frowned. I do not like the unexpected, and yet I find myself almost excited to have an unexpected visitor. I like the enigma of it; the impossibility of it. No one in my realm has escaped my tender care, and the barrier most firmly prevents any entrance or exit. If any man were somehow to enter my realm, then they’d be insane to come here of all places unless they wish to end themselves.
The guards escorted a portly middle-aged man, wearing very ornate clothing. Tao closed his eyes so he could concentrate on his senses. His mind’s eye saw the icor chambers buried within the man, and two on a necklace on his chest. More on his fingers, worn as rings, and a final one in the form of a short staff. The man was standing in front of him, but Tao kept his eyes closed so he could look within the man. He is not a chosen… ahhh he is a champion. Siva.
Tao opened his eyes, tilted his head and raised an eyebrow.
“My name is Bestich,” said the man. He was brimming with excitement which irritated Tao. Bestich was smiling more broadly than anyone Tao had seen in over fifteen hundred years.
Tao gestured to a seat by his side. “Please sit. I believe I knew your mother young Bestich.” Bestich nodded and sat.
“My mother told me of your last meeting; it sounded quite acrimonious.”
Tao nodded. “She survived, which was quite astonishing really. Her use of crows…” He saw a clone arriving with a tea service. “Let us have tea, shall we?”
The clone began preparing a white porcelain tea set. “You do not come on her orders, do you.” It was a statement, not a question. The clone rinsed the cups in steaming water. Tao noticed Bestich’s smile falter a fraction. The clone put leaves into the pot and moved them with chopsticks. He then poured boiling water into the pot, gently cradled and swirled it before pouring the water into a wide bowl. He then refilled the teapot, covered it and stood back.
“My mother and I have had a falling out,” said Bestich.
Tao frowned. “Ah yes, I did hear about that. You tried to kill her twice, didn’t you?”
“Three times,” said Bestich.
“Mothers can be difficult,” said Tao sympathetically. The clone poured the tea into a large fair cup, shook it and then put it into teacups. Tao picked up one of the cups and offered it to Bestich with both hands.
Bestich took the cup, sniffed the tea, sipped it and smiled. “Wonderful,” he said. “I expect your mother has been much less trouble since she entered the belly of the Beast.”
Tao chuckled. “Indeed.”
“The Beast has been idle for too long,” said Bestich.
“Ah, we arrive at the purpose of your visit,” said Tao.
Bestich took a big gulp of tea and winced. “I have altered the barrier, making it possible for the Beast to venture forth,” he said.
“I am aware,” Tao said. “I am not foolish; I know a trap when I see one. If the Beast takes over the realms of Pixous, Augmentous and Non Augmentous, then you will have control of the icor, and I, the Beast and all of this world, save for the Hall of the Ancients, will be under your power.”
“I have a solution in mind,” said Bestich and gently bit his lower lip.
“I thought you might,” said Tao taking a small sip of tea. “I am an empty cup.”
Bestich nodded. “Create a fresh clone, have him come with me and I will make him Yuang’s champion. The Beast can then consume all of humanity, save the sleepers, and the icor will be divided. You can then merge with the clone, and you will control Yuang icor.”
Tao closed his eyes. He listened to Bestich’s heart. He tasted the air and pulled in the icor that was seeping from Bestich. There is no deceit in this sweet innocent child. “I see two problems: how will you make my clone into Yuang’s champion, and how will we coexist in a world without humanity? We would surely find ourselves plotting against each other immediately.”
Bestich grinned. “The clone you create will ingratiate himself to Sam, the naïve simpleton currently gilded and gelded under Yuang’s yoke. I will help with that ingratiation. Then a worshiper of mine will poison the simpleton in such a way that he will look dead. His companions will bury him, and your clone will sneak back to his burial site and as the boy dies for real, your clone will be the only one nearby capable of inheriting the title.”
Tao took a sip of tea and then placed his cup down. “If Yuang’s champion is poisoned, he will just heal himself, and if he is already unconscious then one of his companions will heal him.”
Bestich looked around. “Do you have scones?”
Tao looked to a clone and nodded to indicate that scones should be provided.
“With strawberry jam and clotted cream please,” said Bestich to the clone who had just begun to walk away. Bestich poured himself another cup of tea. “This is really good. Green tea is my second favorite brew.”
Tao looked on patiently and without expression.
“The icor was very resistant to me but with Ethan’s help we found… a loophole.” Bestich gave a small smile, which Tao interpreted as a look of pride. “I call it ‘wizard’s bane’, a poisonous plant that would produce nausea followed by death.” Bestich looked excited, like a boy with a new toy. “Normally if a wizard was poisoned with it, they would heal themselves. With a few code alterations, I made it so the healing icor magnifies the effect of the poison. When Sam’s companions attempt to heal him, they will only make things worse. The icor will not allow the poison to kill him… but his friends will bury him, and that will kill him. I have tested it on one of my crimson wizards. It was most effective. He died in his grave from suffocation, despite being quite adept at healing. It took quite some time for him die.”
Tao gave a slow nod, a hmm-not-bad expression. “I have always believed that I am the true champion of Yuang. My purpose is, of course, perfect Karmic balance. My citizens in the belly of the Beast have no positive or negative experiences. They do no good, they do no harm. It is only when they leave the Beast that their Karmic balance sheet becomes indebted.”
“So Yuang will choose you, I mean your clone, as its champion when the boy dies,” said Bestich. “He will be close; he will have balance.”
Tao showed no expression, but he felt excitement at the prospect of finally completing the Beast’s manifest destiny. “How about the coexistence conundrum? How do we avoid becoming enemies after the devouring?”
“Simple; I will ascend.”
There was a long silence as Tao contemplated Bestich’s words. Ascension requires restricted technology, but with humanity out of the equation, there would be no need for the restrictions, so Bestich could indeed be augmented with enough processing power to ascend, just as the hyper augmented and the singularity did during the fall of the ancients. Bestich, the last human would ascend and leave the Earth to the Beast, and manifest destiny would be complete.
It was heart warming to see how concerned those left on the other side of the barrier were. They think we are too young and inexperienced to make it on our own. It is kind of sweet really…
She realized their expressions looked almost panicking. They were looking up the valley. She turned and saw a group of thirty men running towards them. They were all wearing heavy green cloaks with large hoods, so their faces were hard to see.
“Sam, some people have come to say hello,” she said.
Yurkin chuckled. “I think they’ve come for a snack.”
“He’s right,” said Sam. “Remember there are vampires and demons on this side of the barrier,”
She then realized the men were moving remarkably fast; faster than a human could run. Some were using their hands to run; almost like beasts. She realized she was about to be attacked. They all pounced at the same time. Their trajectory would have fallen on top of the three except Sam had an icor shield up. They slammed against it. They seemed enraged and clawed at the shield; saliva dripped from their fangs.
Their robes protect them from the sun, Rose thought.
Sam grimaced, as if the effort of the shield was too much for him. “They’re doing something to my shield. It’s that one…” Sam pointed to the biggest of them. “He’s not a vampire; he’s something else.”
“A demon,” said Rose. “Are they fire proof?”
Rose could see Sam look to the ground for a moment, in thought, then he seemed to make a decision. He looked up, tightened his grip on the staff and brough it before him. Fire erupted from his hands and tore into their attackers. Their clothes all caught fire, exposing them to the sun. The vampires then exploded. The demon howled. It sounded like it was almost speaking. Its blackening face pressed harder against the shield and then it turned to ash.
“Did it say something?” asked Sam.
“I think it said welcome to Augmentous,” said Yurkin with a smile.
Yurkin did not appear to be phased at all by the situation. It actually looked like he enjoyed the encounter. “It makes sense that they might see anyone coming from the Non Augmentous realm as easy pickings… easy food, I guess,” said Rose.
“The Demon stopped my fire. I had to use the staff,” said Sam.
So magic is not going to be an effective weapon against them.
“How long will it take for your staff to recharge?”
A WW2 Flamethrower would throw fire about 50-100 strides long and about half a stride wide for about 7 seconds. How does this compare with the Wizard’s fire in the Icor Tales?
In the Icor Tales, a junior fire wizard is a pathetic sight on a battle field. Their flame is a foot wide and ten strides long, lasts five heart beats and they can only fire once per day.
A normal senior fire wizard, of which there are 144 in the world, can shoot flame a stride wide and a fifty strides long. This is Sam’s flame at the battle of the central pass. They can fire once or twice a day.
Crimson wizards can have the same ferocity of a senior fire wizard but the strength has to be built by inflicting suffering. There is no limit to the number of times they can throw flame as long as they continue to create suffering.
Unmind’s flame is said to be ten strides wide and two hundred strides long. He has been seen to throw it twice, but may not be his limit.
I was told this was too complex, and too political… and I reluctantly agreed… and deleted it. The Red disease is something that Sam will have to defeat in Book 4… basically its zombies, and this is the back story for them…
Sam took a sharp intake of breath. “So the Beast is real. What exactly is it?”
Violet momentarily chewed her lip before speaking. “In the time of the ancients, the biggest nation in the world had billions of people…”
Violet chuckled. “Yes, billions. They were ruled by a dictator who judged each citizen by how much their will was subsumed by his. He even gave them a citizen score. The less individuality they showed, the higher their score. He soon realized that the icor could give him the opportunity to completely subdue his citizens individuality, so they would have no will of their own, no consciousness. He believed their individuality was an illusion anyway. So he created something called the red disease. When people were infected with it, their consciousness was suppressed, and their body became absorbed into his. So, he became one massive beast that contained the bodies of all his citizens. At a whim he could send them out to do his bidding. The beasts only objective is to absorb all mankind, to consume every consciousness.”
Sam blinked hard. “So, there is a beast out there that wants to eat everybody in the word.”
Violet nodded. “But the icor put a barrier around it to thwart it. The red disease was contained… mostly.”
The Goddess cast the icor upon the wounded land To cleanse it from the sin of greed To provide us with our every need To heal us when we bleed To lift us from our knees To bring back the trees To cool the warming seas And quell the red disease
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It’s going to be a busy 60 days
Today: The last promos for They Came By Night Kindle version start today and end June 14th. The price is reduced to just $2.99. Practically giving it away in order to boost interest for the audible version coming soon
June 10thBook 2: In the Hall of The Ancients comes back from editors, and I get to do one more rewrite before sending it for formatting
June 17th : Deadline for Audible of They Came By Night (I should have it done before then)
June 25th: Production begins for Audible of Book 2
June 30th : The deadline for first draft of Book 3: The Dragons Awake. Beta Read program needs volunteers
July 22nd: Deadline for publishers to receive Book 2
When I wrote the character of Morefield I had in mind the stereotypical Victorian British officer full of arrogance and self entitlement. I had not planned for him to be gay until I wrote his first scene and it just came out that way. I remember drawing a deep breath after writing that scene; I wondered if it was okay to have a gay bad guy. I was worried that this aspect of his character was so unplanned.
I reflected that his sexuality would actually seed a depth to his character. This came out later when we start to get hints of the abuse he suffered. His driving motivation is to be free to be himself, and to do that, he feels he needs the crown. I began to wonder if there could be a redemption for him.
In book 1 I write that ‘any abused dog will grow surly’. One theme that is important to me in all my books (published and unpublished) is that people, like dogs, can be healed with love… usually.
When my gay neighbors got married, I was overjoyed for them. It was like the jackboots had finally been lifted from their necks, and I probably embarrassed them by getting them such a big wedding present.
The idea of the jackboots being withdrawn made me think about what would happen to Morefield if he found acceptance, could he be redeemed…