Friday, February 07, 2014

Addicted to Writing ~ Blood Veins ~ Brian Young

Blood Veins
Brian Young

Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1


A black wave of terror has passed over the thriving kingdom of Larista. Mysterious invaders have swept over the land, laying waste to everything in their path and leaving ghost towns in their wake. No one knows where they came from and no one knows their purpose.

Tasting nothing but defeat after defeat after, the light of hope is fading in the kingdom; but the guerilla forces resisting the invasion have received new information. The news has provided a small glimmer that could possibly spark into something more. Captain Maximus Rex leads a daring rescue mission deep in the Laristan forests to save the lone surviving member of the royal family.

Once freed, Prince Alexander Novelle, along with his friends and comrades, face a perilous journey deep behind enemy lines. Their destination is Castle Varanasi. The once proud Laristan capital, gateway to heaven and salvation, lines in ruins under Dolus occupation.

Mysterious assassins, underworld savages and renegade Dolus survivors stand between them and the answers they seek. What they find there will shatter their perceptions and lead to unknown perils none of them are ready to face.

Maximus and Percival couldn't have looked any different. Maximus had brown eyes and raven black hair. His face was weathered and rugged with a distinguished long nose. A small white scar on his left cheek marked where the tip of a sword had nearly taken his eye. Percival, on the other hand, showed no signs of the burdens the two men had shared. He had a smooth complexion unmarred by the usual signs of a soldier's life. Wide eyes and a small nose framed his face. Some people said he was so handsome he was almost pretty; a sentiment most people didn't say to his face or after they had seen him fight.

They both were wearing green and brown camouflage, full-body armor. It was valuable and rare and could easily deflect a blade; could even deflect a firearm and was extremely lightweight. Most soldiers were wearing plate armor made from steel. This stuff was made of a composite containing ceramic and metal. The results were much stronger and lighter plates. They also had full helmets that completely enclosed the head and face. The visors were brand new with motion detectors, full zoom, night vision and a host of other functions.

Normally Maximus liked to play things by the book, but Percival was a special case and he couldn't help but rise to the bait.

"Maybe," he responded, "but we both know you couldn't hit anything with it. All you're good for is using a beat stick, Lieutenant; besides, I'm a lot more important than you. People care if I get killed; you're replaceable, expendable." It took everything he had to keep a smile off his face.

A look of mock horror passed over the lieutenant's face. "Not funny, Maxi, not funny. They sure wouldn't miss your winning personality though. Are you ready to get out of this rain yet?" Percival didn't even bother to hide his smile.

All humor drained from Maximus as he turned and glared at Percival. "Don't call me that Percy, besides I like the rain. Do you talk to Lord Bran that way, Lieutenant?"

Maximus shifted a little as he spoke, trying to relieve the pressure from the arm he had been laying on. The movement only seemed to make it tingle more.

Percival had been grinning before, but now that smile split his face, turning it from rugged soldier back to the baby-faced, optimistic look he managed to maintain despite years of fighting.

"You know I don't, but I might consider starting if it will keep him from sending us out in this nightmare in the middle of winter. It's cold enough to be snowing, Maxi. My sword is stuck in its sheath. I couldn't get it out if I wanted to." Percival mock-tugged at the sword on his belt. "See, completely stuck. We better trade spots."

Maximus glanced at Percival's sword then at the giant ax strapped to his back. I don't think I've ever seen him draw his sword anyway. It was Maximus' turn to smile this time, although it was more of a predatory grin than anything he would share with a friend. "It's alright, Lieutenant, we all know you'll be hiding once the fighting starts anyway."

Percival shrugged at Maximus then turned his head to stare at the river. Maximus waited for him to make some kind of comeback, and at first thought Percival had conceded the argument. Percival started to whistle and Maximus had to strain his ears to pick up the tune. He instantly recognized it once he heard a couple notes. It was a song about the events that had given Blood River its current name. This one happened to be about a cowardly captain who had abandoned his men on the eve of battle and the lieutenant who had taken over and rallied the men to victory.

Maximus snorted and turned away to hide the smile on his face. He had been upset about the current mission, thinking about scrubbing it before Percival came out here. Somehow, like always, Percival had been able to read his mood and turn it around. They had been friends for a long time and while Percival had never shown any inclination to lead, Maximus suspected he would make a damn good captain. Continuing to look out towards the rushing river, Maximus decided to get to the point. "Do you have a reason for wasting my time, Lieutenant?"

Percival sighed and the smile died from his face. "Targets sighted; they turned the bend about five minutes ago." Percival pointed south down the length of the river. "They should be here in about fifteen. No signs they spotted us."

Finally. Maximus nodded as he listened to Percy, his mind focusing on the reason they were out here in the first place. "Packages?" he asked as he glanced back at Percival.

Percival squinted into the distance, a habit he had when he had a mixed opinion about something. "In tow, Sir, but no conformation either way on the prime target."

Maximus noticed the slight frown on Percival's face and the reservation in his eyes. "He will be there, Percival. Don't worry about it. Formations?"

Percival drew his lips back and sucked on his teeth before answering. "Staggered. Troops, packages, troops, packages… more troops. It's not gonna be easy."

Maximus knew Percival was probing him, trying to test his resolve. They had suffered heavy casualties their last time out and for what? The few people they had saved had fled to their homes. Most likely to be picked up again and sent back to the mines.

"It never is Percy," Maximus looked up into the rain. We're here to rescue these people, but the conquerors have changed tactics on us. Your men are good shots, but nobody is that good. "We'll have to charge in to them. Tell Richardson, Davil, Willks and Klivos to hang back and use their bows. Richardson and Davil will take the front of the column. Willks and Klivos will take the back. Both pair will stay on the hill as snipers and backup. Only clear shots. Everyone else, swords or their beat sticks of choice. I have Alexander's guards." He glanced at Percival to gauge his reaction and got nothing.

"I hate beat sticks," grumbled Percival, completely ignoring the reference to Alexander.

Maximus realized Percival wasn't going to think about their primary package until Alexander was confirmed, but Percival had good reason to be skeptical. They had hit several prisoner convoys based on reliable information and had failed every time. They could only hope this one would be different. The general population and most of the army had already written Alexander off as dead. No one had seen Alexander killed at the battle of Valhalisa, and there was still the occasional report of someone sighting a man matching his profile.

Maximus gave Percy a nod and a grim smile. "It's what you're good at, Percy. We don't have a choice. We can't risk hitting any of the prisoners." As he spoke he watched a look of trepidation grow on Percival's face. "What's wrong?"

"What if he's not down there?" Percival sighed. "I can't handle this. We keep hitting these convoys, and he's not there. We lose good men every time, and the people we free don't even join us. They run off to hide and die. Eventually the conquerors are going to start guarding these convoys better and changing the routes. We are only going to get so many more chances at this."

"Losing your faith?"

A rare spark of anger flashed across Percival's face. "Never."

Percival wasn't the only one capable of manipulation. "We aren't here just for him. We would go through with this even if we knew he wasn't down here. It's our duty to help these people. Some of them have joined us. Emon was worth it. Without his medical skills we would have lost a lot more people to injury and sickness." Maximus thought of the unlikely doctor. One of the biggest, meanest looking guys he had ever met; a giant grizzly next to Alexander's lion frame. The man wouldn't hurt a soul. Emon spent his life trying to help people after his sister died of the sickness when they were kids. Maximus had even heard rumors Emon had spent time with the Sisters of Gnaritas.

Percival shook his head. "It's our duty to kill that murdering, traitorous scum, Novelle, and free everyone. Not just these people here today. We can't do that on our own though. We need him or no one will follow us."

Maximus cocked his head and looked quizzically at Percy. "You know both their names are Novelle, right? Not to mention there's no proof Prodis is responsible for this. I doubt Alexander would appreciate you calling his brother a murdering, traitorous scum."

It was clear Percival was convinced Prodis was responsible and all he gave in response was a short grunt.

"Anyway," Maximus continued, "If Alexander is down there and we don't go in, we will have missed our best and possibly our only chance at freeing him. We go."

Percival's face went blank as he barked out, "Yes Sir."

The captain sighed, his breath showing in the crisp cold air. The rain had started to let up, and it seemed the temperature had dropped another ten degrees as the chill renewed its assault against his rain soaked cold weather gear. "I hate it when you call me Sir. It means you disagree with me, or you're mad at me"

Percy gave his Captain a half grin. "First, if I can't call you Maxi and I can't call you Sir, what am I suppose to call you? Second, I do agree with you. I just know when you need someone else to voice your inner thoughts and help you sort things out. Lastly, I'll make sure everyone is ready." Percival finished with his customary grin.

"I hate you sometimes, Lieutenant."

Percival shrugged and turned to pass the plans along to the rest of the squad.


Percival turned to face Maximus. "Yeah Max?"

Maximus had been staring out at the river but turned back to look at Percival. "Cut true and straight, and for God's sake man, block well."

Percival smiled at Maximus' rare prayer and finished it for him. "You too, Max, and Creator save us all."

It's Raining Books Review:

"This author has a way of making his characters come to life so that you can really get to know them and begin to understand their reasons for doing what they are doing. He even made the bad guys real and helped you understand them also. Sometimes I wanted to stop reading because I had things to do, or because I wanted to prolong the story, but I also wanted to know what was really going on and how it would end.

Then, more than halfway through the story, I found out something very significant about this strange world and just what it really was. It made the story even more exciting. This book has the feel of a movie with vivid descriptions, exciting plot and a cast of interesting characters that I truly cared about. I can't wait for the next book in the series!

I give this book a 4 flower rating."

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