This is my stop during the book blitz for Maiden of Secrets (World of Almir #2) by Paul Neslusan. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 1 till 7 October, you can view the complete blitz schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.
So far this series contains 2 books: The Depths (World of Almir #1) and Maiden of Secrets (World of Almir #2).
Maiden of Secrets (World of Almir #2)
By Paul Neslusan
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Age category: Adult
Release Date: October 1
Raised deep underground in the city of Solypse, Caelin dreams of life in the world above. Her dreams are crushed when she is coerced into service, plunging her into a world of spies, smugglers, assassins, and corrupt politicians.
As Solypse negotiates a treaty with the city of Phira, a beloved war hero stumbles into secrets that could drive the political order of the depths into chaos. In the aftermath, they will have no choice but to try to save a mysterious nation from its own dark necessity, and in doing so, save themselves.
You can find Maiden of Secrets on Goodreads
Le’illi shook Brug gently, whispering again. “Wake up.”
Brug’s eyes snapped open, greeted by inky blackness. Slowly and deliberately, he rolled over and raised himself up on his fingertips and toes. He drew a knee in beneath his body. He gently plucked the pack that he had been using as a pillow off of the ground, and slipped it over his arms. He reached out to the left and right of where he had been sleeping, drawing in the pick and shortsword that he had pre-positioned before bed. Years of combat in the tunnels had turned such rituals into a reflex. He silently raised himself to a crouch on his feet. He slipped his pick into his belt, opting instead for the pouch with firestones wrapped loosely in oily gauze.
Through crisp dark vision, Le’illi watched this ritual with profound respect for Brug. Though she knew that Brug was blind in the darkness, he operated with a precision that made it appear as if he could see everything around him. The human warrior equipped himself, and silently snuck after the noise echoing down the corridor without a second order. Le’illi padded after Brug, both covering their rear and watching with wonderment at the blind human stalking the darkness like a native creature of the dark. Le’illi reached a hand forward to quietly tap Brug on the shoulder.
Before she reached him, Brug held up a fist–signaling stop, silence, or both. Her mouth fell open. Unused to being detected, the veteran scout certainly wasn’t expecting it from a blind human. Brug lowered his hand as he rounded the corner, the din of combat ringing out in the darkness. He cursed under his breath. Even though the twisting passages could conceal noise, he should never have slept through an attack so close by. From the rear vantage point, Le’illi saw a massive Ephir caravan under attack from a pack of ledgederops. Le’illi snarled in distaste; of all vermin, these were her least favorite.
Brug sensed his proximity to the combat. Le’illi seemed competent. If Le’illi was a scout worth her weight in seawater, she should be close. Brug held up the fist clutching the firestones, indicating a full stop. In his unit, the Darkened Veil, they had grown accustomed to the sharp twisting sound of leather that accompanied such a gesture; he only hoped that it translated to well enough to Le’illi. Brug cocked his arm back, and hurled the firestones at the floor of the cavern towards his targets. The firestones connected with a sharp crack, sparking and setting the gauze aflame.
Brug hoped this was enough of a distraction to keep the advantage on his side. He had a minute, maybe two if he was lucky; he had to assess and act quickly. In the bright flash, he saw a score or more bat-like creatures before him. They had the bodies of swollen pink hairless cats, if cats had teeth like the Ephir and a mouth that appeared as if they had smiled a bit too wide. They all appeared momentarily dazed by the light, the large orbs of their eyes contracting from the flash. The eyeless Ephir immediately pressed the advantage, felling nearly half of the ledgederops’ number in the ensuing confusion. Brug stepped in quickly. He pulled his short sword down through the nearest one. The creature’s belly opened up like a stringless pouch, spilling its contents on the ground before it collapsed. He saw one diving headlong toward the neck of an Ephir. He snapped his blade out, letting the momentum of the ledgederop carry its neck across his blade, severing its head from its body. He saw two more coming from the shadows ahead and swung, just as the light at his feet sputtered into darkness. He knew where they were around him, and he heard them move. Even in the darkness, he stalked and slaughtered his prey.
Le’illi plunged both hands into stiffened leathery gloves, hands now tipped with bladed fingers. The gloves were solid as stone, the fingertips extruded into long pointed blades sharpened to a surgical edge. Le’illi ducked around Brug, swinging both hands into the belly of a ledgederop and scooping its viscera out. The two scouts dodged and wove around one another in a fluid dance, preternaturally sensing each other’s next moves, felling over a dozen creatures in the process. Le’illi reached around Brug, slicing through the wing of the creature attacking Brug and plunging a clawed hand into the creature’s side. The Ephir scout twisted a hand inside the ledgederop until something in the creature snapped before she withdrew a gore soaked claw. All around, Le’illi could see skirmishes drawing to a close. Soon the shouts and clangs of battle subsided, the ledgederop attackers vanquished. The soft moaning of wounded Ephir broke the silence, punctuated by the heavy rhythmic sounds of the fighters trying to regain their breath.
Le’illi’s focus snapped back to the creature in front of her. Something wasn’t right; the creature was still vertical. Le’illi felt a surge of panic in her chest as she realized that the creature had fastened itself to Brug. The creature’s massive maw had clamped onto Brug’s face and neck. Even in death, the jaw was trying to contract on Brug, exposing the sinew and blood beneath the warrior’s skin, dropping acid into the wound. Le’illi swiped at the creature with a gloved claw, piercing its skull and knocking it away. Brug collapsed in the quiet cavern, his head connecting with the ground with a sickening crack, heart still pumping lifeblood out of his neck and onto the floor.
Le’illi knelt by him and gave him a cursory inspection. Brug hadn’t yet succumbed to his wounds, but he would not last much longer. The pool of blood grew rapidly outward from Brug’s neck and head in a neat circle. Le’illi lept to her feet, re-attaching the claws to belt loops and looking at the aftermath.
The caravan was large—a wagon train disappeared around the next bend, wagons wide enough that they wouldn’t have fit through the narrow passages a few short months prior. It was clear that though this team was used to driving caravans through the depths—they were armed to the teeth—they had sustained far more of a formidable assault than they were accustomed to. Several lay dead, and several more were in various forms of personal disrepair. Le’illi looked around, trying to discern who might be in charge. One Ephir stood back several paces, while the dozen able-bodied Ephir darted to him, seeking direction.
Le’illi walked swiftly to him. “Le’illi, scout of Phira.
The Ephir trail boss nodded testily. “I know who you are. We can exchange pleasantries once the wounded are tended to.” He turned and barked an order to another caravaner, who disappeared into the back of a wagon in search of supplies.
Thousands of feet below the surface world and tucked behind a waterfall lies a ceaseless juggernaut of commerce, the six tiers of the city working together to provide anything desired. Some come to Solypse for trade; others simply come to disappear. Though the descent to the city is treacherous and long, it is lucrative for those willing to brave the trek. Those who stay are bolder still: for in a city full of those who wish to be forgotten, the real rules are often made in the shadows.
With promises of wealth come promises of power. As evil brews beneath the city, clandestine power struggles between politicians, magicians, merchants, and assassins bring the city of Solypse to the brink of annihilation. With a temple unable to help and a council unwilling to save its own people, it is up to an exiled dwarf, a reluctant assassin, and a failed priest to save the city.
You can find The Depths on Goodreads
Nanong hummed quietly to himself as he worked. Though he had never been one for manual labor, he had never been one to shy away from work that needed to be done. “It doesn’t get done until you get doing,” as his father used to say, and that included the grunt work associated with his craft. His hard work and talent had already been rewarded, and that encouraged him. Nanong snagged the gaff hook from where it leaned against the stone wall, along with the ropes to the sledge. He trotted merrily down the dark corridor, the light of the vaulted room fading away; his sight was quickly replaced with vision of equal clarity in the pitch black. As a people, the gnomes had physically adapted to living in utter darkness long ago, and it wrapped around him like a comfortable old blanket.
Nanong came to the end of the corridor and ran his hands along the stone wall until his fingers sensed the depression for the hidden catch. He pressed on it, and swung the door inward.
In the distance, he could faintly hear the sound of the Veil crashing into the massive underground sea; though Solypse had been enchanted to deaden the sound coming from the outside, it was impossible to completely drown out the sound of hundreds of rivers pouring from the sky. He spread his feet wide, leading a little with his right, and swung the gaff hook into the underground river in front of him. It connected with a satisfying wet smacking noise; success on the first swing was always a good thing. Sometimes he would come up with logs, boat debris, or old fishing nets; any of which would slow him down and sometimes require him to waste even more time disentangling his tool.
He leaned back, pulling the hook and his quarry up against the rock ledge at his feet. He reached down and felt a belt. This was good. When the corpses were naked, or their clothes had mostly rotted, pulling them up required unconventional handholds that were both inconvenient and ran the risk of damaging the bodies. He pulled the body up onto the sledge, carefully shut the door, and headed back up the corridor. It was a shame that he wasn’t strong enough to drag more than one at a time, though he had perfected a sort of rhythm to it after many months of practice. As it turned out, he had a natural knack for organization, and a nearly compulsive ability to count and manipulate numbers. He chalked it up to his proud gnomish heritage. As of this snag, he had stacked 2,643 corpses in the main chamber, and one in his own quarters for personal uses. This snag was also his last of the evening, which meant he could now focus on his true passion. He dragged the sledge over to the most recent pile, the drenched body now leaking from a hole in its stomach where the hook had punctured it. He tipped the sledge on its side. The body rolled neatly into place, where it would function as the bottom of a new pile. He swiftly replaced the sledge and gaff hook in their positions by the tunnel entrance, and rushed off to his quarters.
Stripping off his leather apron, tunic, and breeches, he replaced them with a simple black robe. He lit a candle at the corner of his desk, and looked down in the warm glow at his spellbook. Though he had been studying and scribing in it for over a decade, it still seemed new. He smiled and traced a hand over the stack of un-scribed pages on the right side, imagining it as a tome as filled and complex as the one owned by Gerrus. He looked next to the desk, at the makeshift cot that he had built for the corpse—the one that Gerrus had graciously allowed him to keep in pursuit of his studies.
About the Author:
Paul Neslusan devours books whole (figuratively speaking), and has since he was a child. When he finally decided to put pen to paper, he set a goal of writing something that was understandable to a fifteen year old, engaging to a twenty five year old, and still compelling to a thirty five year old. Basically, he wanted to write the kind of books that he would want to read, and would have wanted to read when he was younger, and wants to read now. He lives in Central Massachusetts with his extremely patient wife and three children.
The Depths was his first work of fiction, released in December of 2014. His next book in the world of Almir, Maiden of Secrets, will be released in early fall of 2015.
There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Maiden of Secrets. These are the prizes you can win:
– 3 winners will each win a set of e-copies that includes: The Depths and Maiden of Secrets by Paul Neslusan
– 1 winner will win a 10$ Amazon gift card
For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway