Working on the next book

Hello all you readers,

Robert here, excited to tell you I’m hard at work on the next book.

It’s called Assault Against the Heavens and it’s a fantasy novel. I want to share the prologue with you as a preview of what the story is going to be about. In this prologue you won’t meet the main character of the story, Daon, or any of his friends but I hope it will give you a feeling of the world he will inhabit. In the main story Daon is a Bronze Man, a protector and enforcer of his God’s laws. Daon begins to question if the God he follows, The Celestial Lord, is worthy of worship and even commits the hersey of thinking his world would be better off if The Celestial Lord was dead. He wonders, can you even kill a God?

The prologue hasn’t been sent off to the editor yet so this might not be the finish product when the book comes out. Enjoy!

PROLOGUE

The eight men stood in a rough circle. The swollen red sun, which had beaten on them all day, now sank behind a dune the size of a small mountain. The eight stood in the middle of an outcropping of jagged rocks that made a natural bowl around them.

Their bodies were drenched in sweat. Most wore minimal clothing, a simple sleeveless robe that stopped around the knees. Sand stuck to their bronze skin, in their intricately designed, beaded beards. Their bodies rapidly cooled in the falling darkness, just like the desert that surrounded them. All had ridden hard to come to this meeting. For some the journey to reach this place had taken days. Their horses were tied up nearby at the edge of rocks, trembling with exhaustion. Servants worked to feed and water the animals.

Tandor looked from man to man as he stood at the center of their circle. A look of satisfaction crept upon his face. Why shouldn’t he feel pride in his accomplishment. And of the greatness that was to come.

“I still don’t know how you talked me into this insane idea, Tandor,” said one of the men. He was the only one wearing his full, formal robe. His hooded face was concealed, standing in the shadow of the rocks. Tandor didn’t understand how the man stood the heat.

“I’ve done nothing but wonder how you came up with such a plan since the day you approached me,” said the warbling voice of Pasceto. He was clearly a successful tribal leader, judging by the man’s round belly. “Now that I’m here, I think we should get this over with.”

Now that the sun had set, a luscious round moon was rising. It shone a shimmering blue, which combined with the heat still rising from the desert floor made the world around them look vaguely like they were standing in a ocean.

Tandor ignored the man’s arrogance. He was used to it from his meetings with Pasceto. Tandor had met with each of the other seven tribal leaders in front of him within the past few months. He had been guided by a force. One that he was convinced came from a God. His visions told him to gather the all the leaders of Eur and guided him to bring them all to this spot on this day.

It had been hard work for him to get all of the leaders to agree to meet. They had all been at war with one another at different times in the past. Taskil, the hooded one, was still at war with Tandor’s people this year. All of course were suspicious. Most thought Tandor insane, of that he had no doubt. It had taken threats, bribes, and even worse measures to get the seven other tribal leaders to agree to this meeting. He looked around again, his heavy black hair dragging across his shoulders, a feeling of satisfaction played on his face. He had been successful, he had done it, all were here. He took that fact as a sign from God that he was on the right path. Tandor was ready to begin.

“Each of you knows something about the visions I have received,” boomed the deep set voice of Tandor. It echoed among the rocks. “What some of you would call a dream, some call madness, I say is a message.” Tandor paused, looking each man in the eye, even Taskil, who had dropped his hood, and measure them. Confident he had their attention he continued.”Instructions. From the one who created us. He told me that if we would come together, away from distraction, the petty divisions, and prayed for him, he would visit us.”

“Pray?” asked another of the seven men. “What does that even mean?”

“Created us?” Pasceto’s voice dripped with contempt. He looked down his fat nose at Tandor. “We have always existed and we always will. That is the teachings. Just as the trees and the sand. The water and the camel. We are born, we live, we die.”

Tandor spoke with a finality that it would be futile to challenge. “They are wrong. Does the saddle come from nothing? Does the house you live in spring up from the land complete? No. Neither did we. Someone had to make us. The world. It is to him we must pray. He has shown me how. To pray, we must simply kneel and put all of our thoughts, our mental energies, into asking the creator to come before us.”

A man would had been silent so far spoke up, his voice raspy like it had been seldom used. Unlike Tandor and most of the others, his hair was of a soft brown color, thin and short, like his body. “Does this creator have a name?”

“God.”

The seven murmured and whispered among each other. Tandor watched them all, a smirk on his face. Let them think him mad. Let the strange words such as pray and God roll off their tongues. He would be proven right. He knew it was more than a dream. The visions, each the same, had come to him several time over the past year. The last time, a few months ago, had been the most vivid of all. That vision showed everyone who stood before him, the place where they were now standing. It had even given him the unfamiliar words he spoke to the others.

“We’re out here. Let’s just get this over with,” Pasceto said. He was a smaller man, more merchant in build than warrior. His belly had grown soft and flabby with age. He patted it now. “I want to get back to my wives. Have them scrub the sweat and sand of this foolish endeavor off of me.”

Tandor was just as eager to begin. The anticipation of seeing the God of his dreams standing before him made him dance up and down on the balls of his feet. Oh how he would be rewarded by his maker! To prove all the others wrong would be as sweet as the nectar from a cactus.

“Let us form a complete circle then. We will all kneel down, look to the sky, and call down God to stand before us. You must all want it with your entire being.”

There was moaning and groaning among the men. Open whispers of madness and lunacy reached Tandor’s ears. Tandor had to give a some a stern gaze, to remind them of what he could do if they didn’t do as he asked. Some made a show of great reluctance but in the end they all complied The eight made a wide circle and knelt down in the sand. Tandor started the prayer he had heard in his visions. The others mimicked him as he repeated it.

“Oh God. The creator. Most powerful being of all. Our Celestial Lord. Visit us. Lead us into a golden age greater than any ever witnessed. Give us your wisdom and your blessings. Reveal yourself to us. Bring yourself down to Eur.”

Tandor was the leader of the largest and most powerful tribe in all of Anurkai. That wasn’t enough for him and God must have know that. Why else was he chosen? He envisioned something greater for his people since he wrest power from Albisin. Albisin was weak. He had led Tandor’s tribe to loss after loss against the other tribes. What should have been easy victories became sound defeats. That wasn’t the case anymore. Not since he became Anu. Albisin he sent into exile, as killing him would have turned the tribe against Tandor. That was just his first step to glory. He had tired of the attacks from Puu Oo to the west and Elias from the north. Once in charge, he’d crushed them. Tandor wanted his people strong enough to defend against all future attacks and perhaps even stretch out, ending any threats to his tribe once and for all. Once he became Anu, leader of his tribe, that was when his visions had begun. His goal was to unite all the tribes into one force that would create an empire. Together the tribes would be one. They would grow stronger and accomplish greater things.

This was on his mind as Tandor led the chant on and on. All his spirit and all his will was bent to bringing forth God. To have God answer his call. His fervent pleas influenced those closest to him. They seemed to chant with more vigor. That spurred Tandor on to increase his own. How long chanted, kneeling in the sand, mind, body, and soul tuned to the heavens Tandor didn’t know. All other thoughts and sensations left his mind except for the one. To see his God. He was snapped out of prayer just as he felt a strange sensation growing around him by a shout from Pasceto.

“I’m am done with this foolishness. I expect your tribute to be sent to me promptly, Tandor.” Pasceto rose to his feet, brushing sand from his skirt.

Tandor was about to speak when a sharp whip crack broke the air. The sound made the rest of the leaders jump to their feet. Looking up towards the source, Tandor saw a bluish lightning like bolt hanging ten feet above them in. It coalesced into a ball the size of a coconut. It grew at the same time it sank to the ground. Tandor began to chant again. The others murmured in frightened awe. Pasceto rejoined the circle, mouth agape.

The ball of crackling light reached the ground, in the center of the circle next to Tandor. It sharply collapsed to something the size of a grape. It’s brightness intensified and a smell that reminded Tandor of cleanliness after a rainstorm filled the air. A wave like pulse of energy erupted from the ball, bathing the circle. All the men looked about, trying to see if the others were hurt. They were all panicked, patting themselves and looking around wide eyed, but there seemed to be no effect to their persons.

A sound like two swords being clashed violently together snatched there attention back to the center of the circle. The blue light became brighter than the midday sun. All had to turn away from the glare.  Tandor still had the afterimage of blue spots in his vision when he turned back around. It dark again. Tandor fell to his knees.

“Tandor! What have you done!” One of the men shouted, his voice breaking in fear.

“Is that God?” another asked, backing away, tripping over his robe and falling into the sand.

While the others recoiled Tandor rose and took a step forward. Where the light had been now stood a man. He was taller than them all, standing about eight feet in height. He was naked and appeared a perfect specimen. His hair was a close cropped midnight black, not to different from the shade Tandor’s was. His eyes were black with no pupils. While all eight of them had beards of one kind or another the newcomer had none. His face was smooth as a young man and he seemed to be of an indeterminate age. Not young but not old either. He stood there looking around. Tandor could see confusion on his face.

“Where am I?” the figure spoke, in a masculine voice that somehow instantly commanded respect and loyalty. “Who am I?”

“You are God.” Tandor looked up to the man. “You are with us here. On Anurkai.” Tandor spread out his arms wide.

“God,” the figure spoke. He tried on the word like it was a garment. “God.” Confusion still dominated God’s tone. He looked down at himself then back at the circle of men.

Tandor dropped to one knee and bowed his head. “I am Tandor. One of your faithful servants. We have brought you here from the Celestial Heavens to lead us. To guide us with your wisdom and power. You are God, the most powerful being in the Eur. This is your world. You created it. You created us.”

“I created all of this?” the figure asked, incredulous.

Pasceto spoke up. “I don’t know what is going on. If this is a trick of some kind, I do not know how you did it. It’s black, foul, and a affront to all I hold dear. You will pay for this. I tell you, Tandor.”

Tandor stood and marched right up to Pasceto. He was almost screaming in the man’s face. “How can you not believe, even still? He has come to us from his seat in the celestial.”

“I see a man. A strange man I give you that. One I’ve seen entirely too much of. Don’t forget my tribute, Tandor. This changes nothing. I still intend to collect it.”

Tandor turned back to the figure and bowing his head in respect. “God they doubt you. Show us your power. Show us your magic. How you can create. Give us a place to worship you, greater than this world has ever seen.”

The figure rose his hands to his chest and looked at them. He looked at Tandor and then at Pasceto. Tandor felt a strange tingling sensation in his mind. The others must have felt it too as they started rubbing at their temples.

The figure then rose his hands above his head and closed his eyes. The ground began to tremble and shake around them. The circle broke and all of the man clustered before the figure, who now seemed to shimmer in the night. Like a haze formed around the blue moon.

Behind the naked man, the land began to change. Off in the distance an enormous ziggurat began to rise out of the ground. It rose complete, sand pouring off of its sides. Then around it a city arose, complete with canals and walkways, roads and palm trees. Around that massive walls of brick encircled the city in a square. Every twenty feet along the wall a low tower arose. Two immense bronze gates were set in each of the four sides.

Around that water began to seep up from the sand, becoming a large lake that surround the entire structure a mile in each direction. The last thing to arise were bridges of stone that crossed the lake to each of the gates. With a quiet finality everything froze into place. A complete city fortress stood where only dunes had been moments before.

The being lowered his hands. The haze around him vanished. He turned to look at his creation then to his hands. He seemed as astonished as the mortal men watching him. Tandor smiled at the splendor of God’s creation. Pasceto  jaw hung low. He crossed in front of the being and dropped to his knees.

“God, I am yours. Command us. Lead us to greatness.”

The rest followed. They praised God and they praised Tandor. Tandor smiled as his mind raced with possibilities. His dreams had become real. All his plans laid out before him as reality now, not just foolish dreams.

Looking up to God then down to the others Tandor proclaimed, “Behold, the city of Tandorlorn. Behold our God, The Celestial Lord.”

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