Dreams of Winter
A Forgotten Gods Tale #1 by Christian Warren Freed Genre: Epic SciFi Fantasy
It is a troubled time, for the old gods are returning and they want the universe back…
Under the rigid guidance of the Conclave, the seven hundred known worlds carve out a new empire with the compassion and wisdom the gods once offered. But a terrible secret, known only to the most powerful, threatens to undo three millennia of progress. The gods are not dead at all. They merely sleep. And they are being hunted.
Senior Inquisitor Tolde Breed is sent to the planet Crimeat to investigate the escape of one of the deadliest beings in the history of the universe: Amongeratix, one of the fabled THREE, sons of the god-king. Tolde arrives on a world where heresy breeds insurrection and war is only a matter of time. Aided by Sister Abigail of the Order of Blood Witches, and a company of Prekhauten Guards, Tolde hurries to find Amongeratix and return him to Conclave custody before he can restart his reign of terror.
What he doesn’t know is that the Three are already operating on Crimeat.
Read Dreams of Winter now and begin your journey into the realm of the Forgotten Gods.
Boots crunched over the broken wood and stone, small dust clouds puffing up with each step. Black and highly polished, the boots whispered authority. Senior Inquisitor Tolde Breed surveyed the room with a mix of disdain and horror. Decades flashed by, sending him back to the first time he had stood in this very cell. Amongeratix had been chained and drugged, left here to rot for his crimes. Senior Inquisitor Breed had harbored deep reservations about the facility on Prophet Isle successfully containing the prisoner. After all, the Shackled Man had already escaped from the nearly impregnable prison on Keltoo, and there seemed even less security here on this populated planet.
Tolde spent the next three decades rooting out conspiracies and following rumors of dark cults working to undo the Conclave and free Amongeratix. And now, back where it had begun, his greatest fears were being realized. Tolde had known deep inside that the Blood Witch’s spells would never be enough to keep one of the Three imprisoned for long. As powerful as the witches were reputed to be, the power of the Three was much greater. He shivered at the thought of both entities colliding before refocusing on the task at hand.
The air had an iron taint. Blood. The dark substance coated large spots on the floor and walls. Ruined corpses lay at broken angles. All that remained of the guards were the empty cries in the afterlife. Amongeratix had proven why he deserved to be executed, but this did not explain how he had escaped. Tolde Breed scanned the cell, hoping for some clue, some fragment of information that might lead him back to the trail, to the hunt. Stepping over a body in the doorway, Tolde frowned. He never understood the need for senseless violence.
The wall to his left was smeared with blood as if it had been ripped open and made to bleed. Tolde gingerly ran a gloved hand over the jagged stains. Specks of dried blood flicked away on his fingertips, raining down to the floor. The body at his feet was on its back. The head twisted in an awkward angle. Tolde had no illusions that any of what had happened was his fault, but a small measure of guilt still ate at him.
“This is worse than Keltoo,” Matthias whispered from over his shoulder.
Tolde nodded. The level of violence was certainly more severe than their first encounter with the Shackled Man. There had been no mercy, no side effects from the radioactive nebula nearby. This was plain murder.
Matthias gently tapped his boot against the nearest body. A rattle escaped the corpse’s lungs followed by a thin cloud of greenish haze. “The Conclave should have let us put him down when we had the chance.”
Tolde smirked at the idea. How does one kill a force so infinitely powerful as Amongeratix proved to be? “The Conclave has their reasons for doing what they did. It is much too late to reflect on it now.”
“Do you think he is still on the planet?”
Tolde shrugged. The senior leaders of the Conclave seemed to think he was, but that didn’t make any sense. His last escape had ended with him booking transport and fleeing to another world. There was no reason to think this time would be different. Still…. “I do not know. His brother being here might keep him here longer. Amongeratix is cunning; we know that from personal experience.”
Matthias moved to the massive hole in the wall. The sheer amount of destructive force went beyond his ability to process. “Do you notice that the blast came from outside? The debris pattern goes from the wall out to the hallway.”
“If he was the one to break the Blood Witch spell, the force involved would have blown outward.”
Tolde squinted. “He had help in escaping, powerful help.”
More bodies, or at least what remained of them, decorated the chamber with gruesome splendor. This was not Tolde’s first time stalking through such horrors. His life as an Inquisitor took him from world to world in seemingly vain attempts at halting heresies and secret cults. More often than not, murder and death trailed in his wake. This time was different, though. Tolde felt his heart darken. Something sinister and hidden was at work here.
“What force could have done this?” Matthias asked.
The Guardsman moved to the edge of destruction and looked down. Blast marks scored the outer wall in a wide circle around what used to be the window area. His initial assessment was that it would take a large bore howitzer to blow a hole so large. Unfortunately, there was nothing so large on Crimeat.
Tolde looked sharply at the mutilated body at his feet. “I don’t think I want to know. This feels wrong.”
Christian W. Freed was born in Buffalo, N.Y. more years ago than he would like to remember. After spending more than 20 years in the active duty US Army he has turned his talents to writing. Since retiring, he has gone on to publish 17 military fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as his memoirs from his time in Iraq and Afghanistan. His first published book (Hammers in the Wind) has been the #1 free book on Kindle 4 times and he holds a fancy certificate from the L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.
Passionate about history, he combines his knowledge of the past with modern military tactics to create an engaging, quasi-realistic world for the readers. He graduated from Campbell University with a degree in history and is pursuing a Masters of Arts degree in Military History from Norwich University. He currently lives outside of Raleigh, N.C. and devotes his time to writing, his family, and their two Bernese Mountain Dogs. If you drive by you might just find him on the porch with a cigar in one hand and a pen in the other.