The Demon Lord had beaten us.
The university's best mages had cast their strongest magics, but Hatred’s pet had charged right on through. Worse, I couldn’t help but feel that this was my fault. For all my knowledge about obscure supernatural creatures, I had no idea how I could stop the thing. People were dying because of it.
My thoughts turned briefly toward escape. I didn’t think that I could outrun the Locran Demon, and I didn’t know if Harris could keep it occupied long enough to try. Harris would die, just like Lucas and Ferran and who knows how many others before the university mages could finally finish it off. I didn’t know if I could really leave her like that, not like I had left Percy, but I didn’t know what else to do. I was completely out of options.
It occurred to me that the thought wasn’t quite true. I had one trick left.
I looked over to where the rosewood box had bounced when I had dropped it. It was still mostly closed, despite the rough treatment, but the black wax seal was broken. The lid had been jarred open just a crack. I could sense something, feel something inside. Something subtly inviting.
“It should only be opened in the most dire of circumstances,” I repeated the note’s text in my mind. If this didn’t qualify, nothing would. “And not around anyone or anything you want to keep.”
That was a risk I couldn’t avoid. I crawled the short distance and reached to the box, pulling the lid entirely off.
Inside was a purple gemstone nestled in soft black velvet. The stone was taller than it was wide and about the size of my open palm. It hummed with energy, and I could see the facets of the stone reflecting light inside of it.
Reflecting light and something more. This stone held serious power. I got the feeling that all I had to do was touch it to get a taste. Something deep inside of me craved that taste.
I only hesitated for a moment. Whoever it was that had been following me, egging me on and sending cryptic messages, they wanted me to do this. They knew that Hatred and his servants would push and kill until I was forced to this moment. And I was playing along, doing exactly what they wanted me to do.
“No choice,” I lied to myself, and touched the stone with a trembling hand...
Shadow Games is an urban detective story told in an original sword-and-sorcery world. It features relatable conflict, quick-witted dialogue and a healthy dose of spell-slinging fantasy violence. Inspiration for style or tone might include Jim Butcher's Dresden Files or Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels novels.
The author, Robert Hicks, works as a therapist in Salt Lake City, Utah. During the day he plots the horrible deaths of his characters, but also works with his wife Aubrey to run Midnight Campaign Games. They publish the Mayhem tabletop RPG, which shares a setting with Rhaelin's story, as well as other card and storytelling game projects.
The novel is complete at approximatley 90,000 words, and more sample text is available here. For more information about this project, the Mayhem tabletop RPG or other Midnight Campaign projects, please follow the links above, or contact us by email.
Thank you for your interest,