The Children of Never
The War Priests of Andrak Saga Book 1
by Christian Warren Freed Genre: Epic Fantasy
The war priests of Andrak have protected the world from the encroaching darkness for generations. Stewards of the Purifying Flame, the priests stand upon their castle walls each year for 100 days. Along with the best fighters, soldiers, and adventurers from across the lands, they repulse the Omegri invasions.
But their strength wanes and evil spreads.
Lizette awakens to a nightmare, for her daughter has been stolen during the night. When she goes to the Baron to petition aid, she learns that similar incidents are occurring across the duchy. Her daughter was just the beginning. Baron Einos of Fent is left with no choice but to summon the war priests.
Brother Quinlan is a haunted man. Last survivor of Castle Bendris, he now serves Andrak. Despite his flaws, the Lord General recognizes Quinlan as one of the best he has. Sending him to Fent is his best chance for finding the missing children and restoring order. Quinlan begins a quest that will tax his strength and threaten the foundations of his soul.
The Grey Wanderer stalks the lands, and where he goes, bad things follow. The dead rise and the Omegri launch a plan to stop time and overrun the world. The duchy of Fent is just the beginning.
Dawn was breaking, the first thin tendrils of pale light stretched across the darkened skies. Roosters crowed. Farmers rose and readied for the long day. Had any been in the fields, they might have caught a glimpse of an old man, crooked and dressed in faded grey robes, stalking down the dirt road leading to the cemetery. He carried a small lantern that swung with every step. The Grey Wanderer some named him. Others simply chose a more apt name: The Soul Stealer.
Whistling as he went, the Grey Wanderer sniffed the air for the scent of those freshly dead. Some whispered he was once a king of men. Others suggested he had been a sorcerer of great power who’d made a deal with fell powers. Most didn’t care; they avoided all mention of him. Wherever the Grey Wanderer went, bad things followed.
He paused at the cemetery gates and raised his lantern high. A wash of light fell over the tombstones, showing him what he’d come to find. Fresh earth cast over the recently deceased. His smile was thin and insidious. The Grey Wanderer began to whistle. It was a ghastly sound, unfit for mortal ears. A cry to the ones in the deep beyond whose very existence threatened the sanity of the masses.
Once he finished his task, the Grey Wanderer lowered his lantern and continued walking. He avoided passing through the sleepy village, choosing instead to disappear back into the mists of time and space. His work here was finished.
The ground shook at his passing. Fresh dirt slipped from the top of the mound. The tombstone, carelessly erected, toppled and broke. Hands, withered and clawed, punched free from their eternal tomb. They reached and dug, frantic to free their body. Rock and dirt cascaded away from the naked body as the once dead man pulled his head and arms from the ground.
Shoulder length hair the color of midnight had fallen over his face. Bits of wood and dirt fell away from his flesh. The once dead man held up his hands and blinked the grime away from his eyes. His flesh was riddled with damage where the worms and underground rodents had already begun their feasts. Bone glinted from numerous places in the fading dark. He stared at what he had become and cast his head back, uttering a primal scream.
Frantic, the once dead man shoved armfuls of dirt away, desperate to be free of his prison. His chest was covered in hair matted to his flesh. A red and black snake dropped from beneath his armpit. The once dead man worked furiously before being rewarded. He crawled and climbed free and collapsed beside the pieces of his tombstone. Memory lost, the once dead man peered to make out the name engraved upon the stone. Brogon Lord.
He had once been a man named Brogon Lord. That name, and the life associated with it, no longer held meaning, for he had died. This mockery of reanimated flesh was a far cry from the warmth of life. The panic subsided, and the once dead man began to think. Images born of random thoughts filled his mind. He watched events play out, an entire age born and died in a heartbeat. The once dead man knew what must be done. Who he once was no longer mattered. He once again had purpose.
Far off on the dying night, he heard whistling.
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.
What makes me write?
Unlike much in life, my answer for this is simple. It’s what I was born to do. Ok, maybe not really, but it sure feels like it. It all began in the summer of 77 when my dad took me to see Star Wars in the drive in. Mind blown. We followed that up with Ralph Bakshi’s version of Lord of the Rings and I was hooked! I started making goofy comic books and then less goofy ones. I wrote a very bad horror novel in 10th grade that earned me the student of the month award. (Every time I go home I try to find it and burn it.)
Joining the Army in 1991 put my plans on hold- but it was another thing I wanted to do. I wrote a few books during my first 10 yrs in service and didn’t get serious about it until I became so bored while in Afghanistan that I dug deeper. Since retiring from the Army I have gone on to put out over 20 military fantasy and science fiction novels. Not bad for a young kid from western New York who had a pen and a dream.
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