Welcome back to . Our program continues today with an excerpt from , a visionary World War II-era adventure from David Mack.
As World War Two rages, a secret army of sorcerers battle Nazis and demons.
On the eve of World War Two, Nazi sorcerers come gunning for Cade but kill his family instead. His one path of vengeance is to become an apprentice of The Midnight Front—the Allies’ top-secret magickal warfare program—and become a sorcerer himself.
Unsure who will kill him first—his allies, his enemies, or the demons he has to use to wield magick—Cade fights his way through occupied Europe and enemy lines. But he learns too late the true price of revenge will be more terrible than just the loss of his soul—and there’s no task harder than doing good with a power born of ultimate evil.
will be available January 30th. Please enjoy this excerpt.
The night reeked of demons.
Their stench haunted every direction as Nando Cabral fled through wooded hills south of Lemberg, Germany, less than five miles from the French border. He lurched like a drunkard, one hand clamped over the gunshot wound in his left flank. Shafts of moonlight pierced the trees’ canopy. Blood pulsed against his palm with each step he took.
He glanced at his pursuers. Blurs of motion, twenty yards away and getting closer.
It was too dark to see their faces, but the young Spaniard knew who they were. He didn’t know how they’d found him, but it didn’t matter now. Only a handful of spirits were yoked to his bidding, just enough to afflict him with a constant headache. He didn’t have the minor legion he’d need to fight one fellow karcist, never mind two. All he could do now was run.
A spectral whip cracked, spitting green fire as it ripped bark from the trees to his left. The enemy was upon him. All hope of reaching France abandoned, Nando turned and steeled himself for battle. His foes moved like wraiths, over a dozen meters apart.
To split my focus, Nando reasoned. With a thought he dispatched two demons normally tasked with divination to be his sentries. Then he used another spirit’s gifts to make himself invisible—a delaying tactic at best, but every second mattered in magickal warfare.
His enemies were nowhere to be found—whispers lurking in the dark.
He silenced his steps with the talent of Aris, one of the Descending Hierarchy’s patrons of thievery. Though the ground was littered with dry twigs and debris, he skulked across it without leaving a trace or making a sound.
They must have seen me trailing their courier. Other than one moment on the streets of Stuttgart, he had been careful to stay out of sight and under the concealment of warding glyphs. Breaking cover to track the Thule Society’s messenger to his final destination had been a calculated risk—one that had earned Nando a bullet in his gut and the attention of the two enemies his master Adair had warned him to avoid at all costs.
He searched the night as he flanked his foes. They had caught him less than prepared for battle, but he wasn’t defenseless. The strongest spirit he held in yoke was Beleth, a king of Hell renowned for its love of destruction. Nando felt the fallen angel’s wings as if they were his own. He beat them twice, unleashing strokes of thunder that rent tree trunks into splinters. Shock waves coursed through the broken forest, churning up dust—
Twin bolts of violet lightning arced through the haze and struck Nando’s chest. They hit like a charging bull, launched him backward. He tumbled over roots and sharp rocks.
A sharp freezing pain in his chest stripped away his invisibility as he lost his mental hold on Glasya, which returned to the Abyss, the letter of its duty discharged. Nando pawed at the maggot-covered wound in his torso and realized he had been felled by the spear of Savnok, a marquis of Hell that delighted in spreading pestilence.
Movement, on his right. He lashed out with a demonic blade against which no armor could stand, only to see it deflected.
A darting form on his left. Nando made the trees his soldiers. Their limbs lashed out to seize a red-haired young woman. Within seconds she was snared, an oaken branch coiled around her throat and clamped over her mouth. Nando commanded the trees, Tear her—
A fireball swallowed him whole.
It was a strike from a demon’s firebrand. Nando filled the air with screams, but he couldn’t hear them over the roaring of hellfire.
When the last lick of flame died, he lay supine before his enemies. The woman, now free of the trees, stood tall. She radiated contempt, her copper mane so tousled as to look almost feral. If not for the malice in her blue eyes, Nando would have found her beautiful beyond compare.
Equally striking was her companion, a fair-haired man with chiseled features. Even after waging a duel in the forest, he looked immaculate. His shoes betrayed not a scuff, his tailored suit admitted not one wrinkle. If the warnings Nando had heard from his master Adair were true, the man before him had to be the Nazis’ top sorcerer, Kein Engel.
Kein regarded Nando with weary regret. “So much potential. What a waste.”
The woman made a fist of her right hand. “Let me finish him.”
“No, Briet. It needs to be me.” From beneath his black trench coat, which bore a swastika on its lapel, Kein drew an athamé, a black-handled knife used in ceremonial magick. He kneeled over Nando, whose ravaged body was racked with tremors. Leaning close, Kein dropped his voice to a confidential volume and spoke in perfect Spanish. “Training you and the other nikraim as karcists was clever. Your master Adair never used to exhibit such foresight.”
Nando wanted to spit in the dark magician’s face, but his mouth was as dry as cinders, and it took all his strength to speak. “You won’t beat us all.”
“I have already killed Adair’s other five like you. And when I find the last of your kind, the one that was hidden, this war will be over”—he stabbed the blade into Nando’s heart with a savage twist—“and a better future can begin.”
Copyright © 2018 by David Mack
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