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Under a Warrior's Moon

The Adrex Mountains have long divided the Talesian Dominion until three hundred sunturns ago when the barbarians from the west conquered all the Eastern Lands, subjugating them to the role of their Ter-Rey or the High Prince. Over time, the provinces have been at peace until the corrupt prince, Lord Kazan of Gorendt secretly plans to possess the rich, northern province of Riehl and joins forces with the hated Covenant of White Sisters--once an order of empathic healers, now fallen into madness and dark witchery. Using his daughters as pawns, Kazan sets his plans into motion, but does not realize that the High Prince himself is aware of what is happening and has sent an elite band of mercenaries into the Eastern Lands to investigate. Soon, Kazan's treachery is uncovered and Assur, the leader of the Talesian mercenaries, realizes there are two princesses he must rescue from Kazan's conspiracy--Princess Alea, a vain and spoiled girl; and the other, Princess Kitarisa, the older daughter, a beautiful but sorrowful woman who has lived her entire life despised and rejected by her father. Assur is inextricably drawn to her inner strength, her gentleness and her desperate plight. Kitarisa is the last true heir to Riehl and Gorendt, but her traitorous father will stop at nothing to see her deposed (or killed) and then triumph over the Riehlians by placing his son Alor, Alea's twin, on the Falcon Throne. However, Kazan does not count on confronting Assur--a man who is much more than a mere barbarian mercenary--a man who has the strength and will to fight Prince Kazan and overcome the cruel plottings of the White Sisters and take back what is rightfully and royally his.

A Hard Shell Word Factory Release


C.L. Scheel

    Whether Christine Scheel is writing sci-fi/fantasy, a romantic suspense, or a Regency, writing is her passion-- not to mention horses, hiking and opera, but not necessarily in that order! Originally from Portland, Oregon, Christine resides in Reno, Nevada with her husband, Robert.

Reviews

"Christine AKA C. L. Scheel has created an interesting world, well conceived and with all that which makes it real. Ms Scheel shows great potential as a writer. Her imagination is refreshingly quirky, offering interesting elements of sword and sorcery to this Fantasy Romance."

Nan H Doporto -- Sime-Gen Reviews


"If you love action driven plots, this will suit you to a tee. Those who prefer more character development and relationship-based stories may have a hard time. Despite this, it is clear what that Kita is among the most noble of heroines, and the love between her and Assur is a powerful force. This is a well written promising debut."

Amanda Faye Killgore -- Huntress Reviews


"Under a Warrior's Moon is fast-paced action from Chapter 1 to the end. The world created by CL Scheel draws you in, allowing you to feel the crispness of the air, the chilling horror of the marglim, the courage of the warriors, and the gentle hope of a desperate woman ... the story is well worth the reading, especially for anyone who ever read and liked John Carter of Mars. Under a Warrior's Moon has the same flavor as the Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars series."

Linda Steadman -- SF Romance
Excerpt

Prologue

For five days, Cherneth rode toward the west, toward the four-towered keep of Gorendt with the hope of securing himself a position in the forces of Prince Kazan. It was well known that Kazan's legions were the best on this side of the great Adrex and a befitting place for an Odun warrior such as himself.

The father-shaman had begrudgingly released him of his tribebond now that the last of his kin was dead. Having never taken a concubine -- tempting as that was -- and his only brother, having fallen less than one moonturn ago fighting against the Huons, Cherneth knew he must leave his people.

He nudged his hardy black and white horse down the rocky embankment that rose above the East Sherehn River. From the high vantage point, he spotted a small clump of trees that would do well as a campsite. The sun rapidly edged the western skies, just showing over the crown of the mighty Adrex Mountains. Soon, the snows would come and he knew he must not take too long in his journey.

He did not know Gorendt -- the few Oduns who had seen it and its great keep were the old ones, battle-scarred warriors who spent their long lives fighting the fierce Huons, the Qualani, or on occasion, the well-armed and well-trained Gorendtians. The old ones were full of praise and fine words for them.

"Worthy enemies," said one, nodding wisely. "Their a'kenns are strong within them."

"My a'kenn is the red elk, The-One-Who-Wanders. I also wander as the red elk and fight as bravely. These men of Gorendt will need a warrior such as myself," Cherneth boasted.

But the father-shaman shook his head slowly. "The tribes of Gorendt are not like us. They no longer follow the herds of breok or ride with the mothersun. They live in towers where you cannot see the sky. And you must also beware the warriors of the 'Fa."

Cherneth snorted at the warning. "The Leashed Ones! They have no a'kenns; their souls are empty."

The old ones agreed with the father-shaman. The Leashed Ones were unworthy, but they were cunning. They knew all the Ways of the Odun.

But Cherneth had been determined. He sold all his horses, save for the painted horse -- his favorite. The horse would bring good luck to his a'kenn. He even asked the father-shaman to make a charm of protection for the horse.

He made his preparations the night before he left -- making sure all the fletchings in his quiver of arrows were in perfect condition and that his knives were sharp. He shaved his head to make certain the mothersun would find him. Cherneth did not say goodbye to anyone, but left when the mothersun was just rising to watch them.

The journey had been uneventful and now as he approached the swift-running Sherehn, he gave thanks to his a'kenn for its protection.

Hobbling the painted horse, he allowed it to graze on the last of the summer grasses and then made a small fire to prepare his own meal. Cherneth did not understand the old ones and their worries. He had seen no one -- hadn't even smelled the flesh-eaters.

Cherneth bit into the succulent rabbit. The old ones were as fretful as women. They even worried about Talesians! Ha! Talesians were ghosts now. No one had seen them for nearly three hundred turns of the mothersun.

Still the old ones had cautioned him: "You will give ground to the Talesians, Cherneth. Their a'kenns are powerful, more than the Gorendtians. Their blood is fierce and they die without fear. Even the Leashed Ones think twice before confronting them. Be warned."

Again, Cherneth shook his head at their advice. He was not afraid of Talesians either.

The sturdy paint suddenly lifted its head, catching an unfamiliar scent of something or someone approaching the camp. Cherneth never ignored the horse's warnings and immediately dropped the rabbit and pulled the long knife from his belt.

He waited, tense and alert, hearing nothing, but like the horse, he lifted his head, sniffing the air. He could smell nothing either, but felt the hairs rise on the backs of arms. Cherneth knew something was out there, just beyond the rim of his camp. He strained to hear a sound, any sound, but all he could hear was the faint rushing of the Sherehn. Glancing at the horse, he watched the animal's eyes and ears focus toward the river. Its nostrils flared softly as it whickered in friendly greeting to another of its kind.

Cherneth had no time to turn to see what the horse was watching. He suddenly felt something cold and hard pressed firmly to the back of his neck, preventing him from standing or turning. He heard the faint rattling of chain mail and the chink of spurs. From nowhere, five forms stepped from the gloom into the firelight. Cherneth felt his blood turn cold and sluggish. There was no mistaking the dark gray and blood-red surcoats covering their glittering black mail. Each of them held a long, metal staff -- one end topped with the head of some fantastic beast, mouth opened with the tongue slavering over razor sharp teeth. The other end, the foot of the staff was hollow and aimed directly at him. Fleetingly, he wondered if the head of the beast was their a'kenn. A voice behind him spoke: "An Odun! We were lucky this time. I am weary of stinking Qualani. Do not move, plainsman. Not until you are told. Drop the knife."

Cherneth hesitated. His blood cried out to fight. To yield to these collared dogs would be the most terrible disgrace. He clutched the knife and whirled to strike the man behind him, but he never came near his mark. Blinding, excruciating pain seared through his skull, down his spine and into the very bones of his hands. He dropped the knife from senseless fingers.

"You are brave, but foolish, Odun," the calm voice went on. "The Reverend 'Fa gives high merit to the courageous, but you must save your courage for her divine will."

Cherneth was unable a single muscle -- the pain bound him to his knees, immobilized him before his tormentors. His breath came in short, aching gasps. He tried to stand, to fight the agonizing hold on him, but with each struggle no matter how small, the pain rose even higher.

"The more you struggle, the worse it will get and if you struggle too hard, it will kill you."

The pain was nearly unendurable. It paralyzed him even to the point where he could not speak or cry out. Again, he tried to struggle and the pain soared in his skull. He felt the hot trickle of blood from his nostrils.

"Do not try again, or you will die," the voice warned.

Helplessly Cherneth watched the five in front of him lower their staffs and obliterate the signs of his campsite. They buried the fire and flung the remains of the rabbit toward the river. One of them saddled the painted horse and another took his longbow, the arrows, and the rest of his weapons and disappeared into the brush. They returned shortly, each leading a dark-colored horse, saddled and harnessed in black.

Abruptly Cherneth felt the pain ease, but he had no strength or will to fight them. Something long and white, a tasseled rope of some kind was wound around his throat and snugged tight. The pain stopped only to be replaced with... nothing. Cherneth felt at once aware of all that was happening to him, but powerless and empty. He had no will to fight, not even the slightest wish to defy them. It was as if he had been drained of every desire, every thought -- as empty as a dried-up waterskin. Vaguely, Cherneth felt his hands being bound behind him, then was dragged across the campsite and forced onto his horse.

His captors took up the reins and led him away, toward the north. Cherneth knew there were mountains to the north -- mountains that contained something terrible.

If he could only remember....