Where you can get "Hell in a Storm"

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The Author: K. J. Ester
Book-2 of the Demon Siege Trilogy: "The Descent of Darkness"

March 19, 2014

FREE - Chapter 1 of Hell in a Storm

Chapter One of "Hell in a Storm".

The wind picked up; its unrelenting force driving the rain against the castle’s great walls. Lightning streaked through the angry clouds, accompanied by thunderous claps that would boom and rumble away into the distance. Before one flash could fade away, another replaced it.

The citizens of Mazwar took shelter in their homes and businesses, closed their doors, and braced them against the weather. Some said it was the worst storm in ten years. Old men said it was the worst since they were small children, though in truth, none could ever remember worse.

Only one man braved the storm. Hunched over, Father Enek leaned on his walking stick as he crossed the street, holding a large Alkosch before him. A circular medallion with spiraling lines flowing outwards from the center, the iron Alkosch was the holy symbol of the Maklese Church. Between claps of thunder, the old priest shouted his warnings to any who would listen.

“—lord of darkness is upon us. Repent your evil ways oh citizens of Mazwar!  Repent your vile thoughts oh sons and daughters of Castle Malroy!  Repent your sins, for the darkness is upon us and soon God will judge your deeds.”

Another giant bolt of lightning lit up the sky, giving the rolling clouds a fiery accent. The priest had to shield his eyes from the brightness for a moment before thrusting the Alkosch back towards the sky. “Repent your wicked ways oh ye--”

A large spear of lightning struck the Alkosch, sending sparks clear across the brick paved road. For an eternal second the priest stood, outlined in a bluish white glow before the bolt of lightning was gone and the old man collapsed to the street. The Alkosch had melted the flesh of his hand and forged its wilted structure to his bones. 

No one saw the priest lying there in the street. Nobody noticed the downpour of rain pelting his lifeless eyes, for the citizens of Mazwar were keeping to themselves, hunkered down in the safety of their homes. Safe from the worst storm that has ever laid waste in the country of Shayle. The worst ever seen in the land of the Three Kings.

Deep within the castle’s dungeons, there was another storm loose. There was no thunder and not a hint of lightning. There was no rain or wind. Yet, this storm could unleash a darkness upon mankind, the likes of which the world has never imagined.

King Harren Malroy sat in the high backed oak chair, staring at himself in the mirror created entirely from shadows where a dark figure stood holding it. However he tried, the King of Shayle could not make out any features of the one hidden in the darkness and had long since given up trying. Now it was as if the ghostly image did not even exist. All King Harren could look at was his own reflection.

Once, he had been a large man. He’d been a Ruler who reigned with power, in his Kingdom as well as in his own physical appearance. Now the sight of himself made him want to vomit on the spot. A gaunt face, framed his sunken eyes, with his forehead covered with liver spots. At the age of eighty-three, he supposed he should be glad he could still get around on his own two feet, as slow paced as that was, but it was not enough. He hardly filled out his purple shirt the way he once had. He always wore purple. He believed that purple, and gold are the two colors of royalty, but gold always seemed overbearing when he wore it. Lifting a hand to touch his bulbous nose it froze half way to his face. Seeing how his hand shook disgusted him beyond words.

“You are nothing more than food for the worms now Harren.” The shadowy figure said, its voice sounding like a thousand whispers. “The twelve children you fathered in your years are those worms. They dream of the day you will die, wondering who it will be that you have named to replace you. A one in twelve chance of gaining the throne is far better than no chance while you live. You know well that you will not live another two years in your health, but I tell you now, you will not live out the year.”  With a quick flourish of its hand, the mirror faded away in a collage of wispy tendrils before the dark figure continued to speak in its haunting voice. “You can have your strength back Harren!  You can have ten more years to rule and likely longer. Your hands will no longer shake. Your vision will be as good as when you were a young man!”  The figure took a tentative step toward the king. “All you need to do--.”  It took another smaller step and leaned to look at the old king in the eyes. “— is to serve me! Give me your oath.”

Harren stared into the face. Up close now, he could actually make out the dark soulless pools that were the figures eyes. Harren’s voice shook as much in fear as it did with age as he spoke. “I serve you and I will retain my power as King of Shayle?”

The shadowy figure laughed; a deep and cynical sound that echoed in Harren’s head.  “But of course you will keep your power. In fact you will have even greater power, for you will have my strength as well.”  The shadow curled its dark hands into fists. “Serve me and you will be king of all that lies between the great seas.”

“I don’t know.”  King Harren whispered. Sliding one of his feeble hands down his face, he looked lost. “I just don’t know.”

The shadow grew even darker, as if swallowing what light there was for them in the deep dungeon. King Harren could no longer distinguish a face as the figure straightened up in front of him, but somehow he was certain it was now snarling. His whole body began to shake with fear that he was very near his death. The dark figure had done nothing to give him that fear, but somehow Harren was sure of it. If the figure so wished, it could crush him where he stood.

“You, decrepit old fool!”  The shadow hissed. “You will not live out the year without me. With me, you will live for many more years. You will have your strength again. The realm of your control will reach every shore. Yet you consider turning me away?  Without me, one of your seed will expedite your death in hopes of having your crown. Of your twelve children, only one is not hoping for an accelerated death.”  The shadow circled slowly around Harren once before finally continuing. “Serve me Harren, and you will retain power. Let me walk away and within the year one of your undeserving spoiled children will have you killed.”

The king silently wondered which child the shadow was speaking of. Could so many of them care so little for their father? Could eleven of the twelve truly be wishing for his death? It was unthinkable.

In the three lands of Jawiva, the kings have always chosen their heir to the throne. He had written his children’s names on a sheet of parchment, in the order he would have them reign. That list now rested in a small locked room and heavily guarded. Touching his fingers to his chest, he felt the key beneath his purple shirt. It was the only key to that room.

For a long time the shadow stood in silence, allowing King Harren to consider his limited choices. When the king did not speak up, the shadow hissed at him. “You are as big a fool as those leaches you call your children.”  The shadow spun around and walked away toward the deeper darkness in the corner of the dungeon.

“How can I be sure?”  King Harren’s voice shook as he hurriedly uttered the words, fearful the shadowy figure would continue to fade, leaving him with a quickly fading future.

The shadow stopped and slowly turned around. It stood so close to the deeper shadows that the king could hardly tell where one ended and the other started. “What is it you wish to be sure of?”  The question came in its usual echoing whispers.

“You offer me health and strength. You make promises of my kingdom growing. You promise that I can rule all of Jawiva instead of only Shayle.”  King Harren swallowed the phlegm that was caught in his throat before continuing. “How do I know you even have the powers to give me these things?”

The shadow moved slowly back to him and when it once again stood in front of the king, it stood quietly, considering what the king had asked. Finally, after a long while, the disturbing voice came again. “I will do this for you in good faith.”

The shadow’s hand reached out, sinking into King Harren’s chest. The king tried to move back as far as his high backed chair would allow him to, afraid of what the dark figures hand might do. At first when the hand seeped into his chest, he was surprised that it did not hurt. Then a moment later, he realized it actually felt quite good. When the shadow finally pulled his hand back, the king sat with his mouth opened in wonder at how he now felt. He felt-- invigorated.

“That,” the shadow said, “Is only temporary. It will fade as the days continue if I am not there to strengthen it. As it fades, remember how it felt to have your health again and consider the fact it is but a small thing compared to what I can do.”

The king stared in silence at his hand that no longer shook. He felt the energy inside of him strong again. He did not believe he was ready to run up the stairs to the upper floors of the castle taking two steps at a time, but he felt he could make it up those stairs and not need a rest. When he finally lifted his head, the shadowy figure was gone.

If you would like to read more, you will have to buy the book. The ebook, only $3.99 is available at Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and several others. The Paperback (printed) version is only available at Amazon.

March 21, 2013

Hell in a Storm

Hell in a Storm - book covers - A novel by K. J. Ester
"Hell in a Storm" Book Covers. A novel by: K. J. Ester

"Hell in a Storm" - Book-1 in the "Demon Siege Trilogy"
A Fantasy Novel by: K. J. Ester

The King of Mazwar is possessed by the High Demon, Shirakhul, and has initiated the darkest of curses. The existence of the human race is threatened and its only hope is in the disappearance of the king’s youngest daughter. Forbidden to take on a physical form, the angels turn to a few battled hardened men. These warriors will need to find the young woman before Shirakhul can lay his hands on her. Whatever the cost, they must keep the Demon King from completing the ritual. The hope of mankind now rests in the hands of a few warriors. Finding the girl will be dangerous. Keeping her safe from the Demon Lord is another matter all together.

Hell in a Storm is available as an E-Book, at all of the major  on-line retailers. If you still love the feeling of a good book in your hands, you can get the printed version at Amazon

Amazon ISBN# 1482017962
Barnes & Noble ID# 2940033233953
Kobo ISBN# 9781476444352
Smashwords ISBN# 9781476444352

Reviews from readers at Barnes & Noble

Anonymous Posted August 18, 2012 Awesome story
"Well written and truly inspiring. Great for teens and above with an excellent plot"

Anonymous Posted July 28, 2012 I loved this story!
I loved this story!!! It totally gripped me and even made me cry a couple of times. If you like Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind, then you will love this.

Anonymous Posted January 25, 2013 AWSOME???CANT GET ENOUGH!!!
Really enjoyed this read...cant wait till the next in this series...please hurry with it. I love the slight religious aspect to it...the good over taking evil. Really makes you think. AWSOME!!!!

Excerpt from Hell in a Storm

It was three nights after the attack when Stray sat under the cover of the trees watching as the rain poured around him. He and Bragen were soaked to the bones as the downpour continued on. Everything was wet now, too wet to take a spark, so they were forced to spend the night without a fire. The night the crazed farmers attacked them had been so clear and then by morning the sky was overcast. After only traveling for a few hours, the first drops of rain began to fall and the further south they traveled the heavier it seemed to come down. There were no storms as far as he could see. No lightning and no thunder. There was just a steady, heavy, drenching rain that never slowed.

Glancing over, Stray took a long look at his friend. The giant warrior sat a few feet away, his elbows rested on his knees with his head hanging low between them. Stray thought he was asleep, but could not be sure. The large drops of rain that found their way through the protection of the trees dripped onto his dark walnut colored skin then ran down the contours of his heavy muscles to fall to the mud below. Pulling his eyes away from the giant, Stray raised his hands to wipe his loose black hair out of his face. Rubbing his palms against his eyes, he wondered if it would ever end. God, he hated being stuck in constant rains.

When he dropped his hands and opened his eyes he froze. The rain had stopped!  Looking out from under the trees he could see Eternal Lake only fifty paces away, the moon standing full just above the horizon. Stray stood up and looked at his friend who still had not stirred. He decided that Bragen must really be asleep if he didn’t notice the rain had stopped.

Not wanting to disturb his friend, Stray stepped out and looked up at the clear sky. As many nights as he had spent out alone, he could not remember ever seeing so many stars. There was a sense of peace about the night he had never felt at any time before.

“Come and join me Joshua. Give an old woman company.”

Stray dropped his eyes back to the shoreline of the lake. Oruna stood there with her back to him, staring out over the calm waters. The light of the moon cast a silvery vale over her gray hair. The lake was a near perfect mirror showing the reflection of the large full moon behind her. He considered waking his friend then thought better of it. He did not believe the witch woman was there to cause any trouble. Why he felt that way he couldn’t say. It was just something in the tone of her voice as she called him over. Almost as if it was an old friend she was talking to rather than someone she hardly knew.

Walking down to the edge of the water, he stood beside the old woman, watching the calm waters. “What do you want with me witch?”

She chuckled slightly at the way he addressed her. No other would dare talk to her so without fear causing their voice to tremble. Yet he showed no care. “It is peaceful is it not?”  She asked.

“It is. More so, than I can ever remember.”  Stray replied.

“This is only a mirage boy. One I have created for you. Look at the giant one and you will see the rain still falls.”

Stray turned around and saw his friend. Water was still hitting him and running down his muscles. “I have found my inner eyes Oruna.”

The old witch shook her head. “No boy, it is the inner eye that has found you. What was it?”

Stray thought it was strange that she would ask that question. Somehow he just expected her to know that already. “It was a owl. I saw through its eyes as I slept.”

“The owl is befitting of you boy, it is a creature more comfortable in the shadows of night. For now, it will come as you sleep. Soon however it will begin to come when you are awake. Someday down the road, if you live long enough, it will come when you wish it to.”  Oruna took a deep breath before continuing with a new subject. “A darkness comes boy!  An evil is upon us that can shackle the world for all eternity if it is left unchecked.”  Stray opened his mouth to reply but Oruna raised a hand to silence him. “The Demon Lord, Shirakhul is among us and looks for the key to his quest. The daughter of King Harren of Shayle!  If he gets her before this night,” Oruna held a hand out as if to say she was talking about the mirage she had created, “All will be lost.”

“Why doesn’t Harren protect her then?  And why her?  Why not one of the others?  I have my own quest to deal with, I don’t need another.”  Oruna turned to look up into Strays eyes. For the first time he turned to look back at her and saw a true fear there. Something inside of him relaxed as he realized she was there because she needed his help. She was not looking to manipulate him as he had expected.

Oruna held his gaze for a minute before finally breaking eye contact. There was something about this young man that she could not understand. Something that made her like him. Maybe it was his unusual courage. Maybe it was his confidence. So many young men mixed up cockiness with confidence. Not this young man however. Taking a deep breath she spoke in a trembling voice. “Shirakhul has taken King Harren’s likeness. He has already drank of the souls of eleven of his children. His now, only living daughter is the last key that has somehow evaded his evil grasp.”  Laying her hand on his arm, she beckoned him. “Joshua, you are the only one I feel can save her. Even I, with all of my powers, cannot stand against the Demon Lord. He would sense my powers before I came close and would send an army, many of whom are his brethren now, to destroy me. But you, you could move among them unnoticed. What you seek will be behind the throne. Do not ask what it is, for I do not know. My vision did not show me more than that it was behind the throne. If he gets her before the moon is full, all is lost.”

Stray looked up at the round moon hanging so eerily over the lake. “How can that be?  The moon is already full!”  He felt her hand withdraw from his arm and when he turned to look at her she was gone. In that sudden movement of turning his head, the rain was once again pouring around him. Glancing up through the falling rain, it was immediately evident that the moon would not be seen. He moved back to the cover of the trees and what little protection they offered and found Bragen awake and watching him.

“Do you always enjoy standing and watching the rain pour around you?”  The large warrior asked.
“It was not raining when Oruna was here.”  Stray answered.

Bragen started, then began to look around, his eyes searching every shadow and Stray had to smile to himself. The warrior was likely the most powerful he had ever met and yet he was afraid of one old woman. “She is gone now my friend. Tell me, do you remember what moon it was when we were attacked the other night?”

Bragen nodded. “It was a black moon. Why do you ask?”

Stray nodded to the answer. He had thought as much, but the vision from Oruna had him second-guessing himself. They were still five or six days away from the city of Mazwar where King Harren’s castle was. If she was still alive when he found her, then he would have to protect her for another week. “Just wondering how long I might have to play the maid servant is all.”

Bragen lifted an eyebrow on his otherwise hairless head in question then decided it would be best to leave it. If Stray wanted to explain it, he would have.