Echoes of Madness (excerpt from the Ghost Wars Saga book 3)
The following is a draft version of what is currently chapter 1 of Echoes of Madness, the third book in the Ghost Wars Saga. This is a draft, it hasn't been revised or edited; my editor hasn't even seen it yet. I present it because I think its pretty cool despite its early stage. Veronika Kane will be sharing view point time with Alrik Solheim in Echoes of Madness, this chapter is from the troll's view point. Alrik is first introduced in Death Toll, I hope this taste of the next book will make you hungry to read Wail of the Banshees and Death Toll if you haven't done so already.
What do you do when confronted by a gang of AK-47 wielding dwarves?
If you're a normal human being, your choices are pretty much limited, surrender or die. But if you're a troll, like I am, you have a couple of additional options, most of which end in a world of hurt for both sides.
It was a black night, a heavy curtain of clouds hid the light of the moon and threatened to drench the city in cold rain. The blocky shapes of warehouses on either side of the narrow street added to the shadowy darkness. Behind me, the sound of the Delaware River lapping at the docks and bulk freighter ship was loud, muffling out other sounds that would have warned me of the ambush. There were cargo containers strewn about haphazardly, waiting for pickup. Other objects provided cover for lurking threats; a parked truck there, a crane holding a suspended container here, and a forklift a few feet away. Though the Packer Avenue Marina Terminal was open twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, this small section of the one hundred and twelve acre port facility was supposed to be clear of any traffic.
My orders had been clear, go to the port, find container 11003563, break into it, and retrieve a smaller spirit steel container covered in Celtic runes. Everything had gone according to plan at first, I'd rolled in after midnight driving a small Holt Logistics truck. The glamour I wore hid my true nature, presenting me as a large muscular man in a three piece suit. As far as anyone was concerned, I was just a Holt Logistics representative taking inventory. I'd had to leave the truck further away than I would have preferred due to cargo containers obstructing the narrow streets, but at least the area was clear of watching eyes as I'd been informed would be the case. I located the targeted cargo container with ease, it was just a hundred feet from the docks as expected and the huge lock barring its door clicked when I grasped it and used my will to force it to open. The rune covered blue steel container within was much heavier than I'd expected but was no impediment to my prodigious strength. I'd locked the container back up and headed back towards my waiting truck.
I was half way between the cargo container and the truck when the dwarves struck. There were seven of them and they'd clearly been waiting for me. They didn't say a word, didn't give me the opportunity to surrender or anything, they simply stepped out from their hiding places, leveled their AK-47s at me, and opened fire. I instinctively raised the spirit steel container and used it as a shield as I dove for cover. Luckily the dwarves weren't using blood iron bullets but apparently the expense of such armaments wasn't deemed worthwhile for a single troll. That was a big mistake on their part. Though seven dwarves armed with machine guns was overkill against a single foe in most cases, hell hath no fury like a pissed off Troll.
Most of the bullets ricocheted of the sprit steel container causing no harm to it, not even a scratch, but a dozen or so slammed into me. They didn't penetrate very far into me though as my mottled brown hide was tougher than an oak tree. I dropped the glamour that disguised me as a normal man and roared a challenge to the dwarves. I flexed my muscular, ten foot tall body and the armor piecing bullets that had struck me were ejected from me in a shower of tinkling music as they hit the pavement at my feet. The dozen small wounds across my body immediately began to seal up as my regenerative powers kicked in. The dwarves were no longer being quiet, orders were being shouted out in their guttural tongue. The shelter of the Cargo container that I'd dived behind wouldn't protect me for long, who knew what other toys the mercenaries of the Dawn Court had at their disposal. I put the rune covered container down and poked my head out to see what the dwarves were up too.
Dwarves and trolls both have their origins in the frozen north of Scandinavia. The dwarves had primarily been builders and crafters while the trolls were primarily primitive war mongers, constantly caught up in tribal conflict. The two races lived for hundreds of years in a symbiotic relationship where various troll tribes allied with dwarven clans that provided them with masterworked weapons. Everything changed when mankind expanded Northward. The dwarves fit into human society just fine, they were able to pass themselves off as deformed or half grown men with useful skills. The trolls however were monstrous demons to mankind, and so began a war between the two races that led to the near extinction of the trolls. The enmity between dwarves and trolls was due to the dwarven abandonment of their old allies and support of humanity. The dwarves were the difference in the war, providing human champions such as Beowulf with magical troll slaying weapons that devastated the proud trolls. That was centuries ago, we lost the war but we sill survive today. The war against us has continued, their hasn't been a program to save us though we are an endangered species. Those of us who have survived are the scariest mother fuckers our race has to offer.
A hale of bullets greeted the appearance of my head as I tried to get a glance at what was going on. I had to pull back quickly but the glance had shown me what I was up against. Five dwarves remained well positioned to pour fire into me the moment I showed a pinky. The real threat were the two dwarves stationed about a hundred feet away at the mouth of an alley. The two were crouched over a SMAW, a Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon. They were loading it with what appeared to be a thermo baric rocket. How they'd gotten such restricted military weaponry didn't matter, what did is that its purpose was to destroy bunkers or tanks, these dwarves weren't playing around. I had seconds before the container I hid behind, myself, and the warehouse behind me would be reduced to slag. The spirit steel container would likely survive though.
I took a deep breath and launched myself from the cover of the cargo container. Bullets ripped into me as I ran for the forklift. I hadn't brought the spirit steel container to use as a shield, I needed both hands free. I roared in rage and agony as scores of bullets tore me up, it felt a lot like what a person would suffer after stepping on a large wasp nest. As I reached the forklift, I saw one of the dwarves at the alley stand and start to point the SMAW at me. Without pausing, I grabbed the forklift, hefted it, and threw it towards the dwarf. The forklift sailed through the air, arcing and then plummeting straight for the two dwarves. The four foot tall, heavily bearded men stared in dumb disbelief as death came so swiftly upon them. They didn't even have time to scream. The forklift hit the ground with such a tumultuous crash that the crunching of bone was drowned out. I didn't pause to see if I'd killed them both, for now it was good enough that the SMAW's had been put out of commission. Standing around to gloat on a battlefield is a sure fire way to get killed, a moving target is always harder to deal with. I charged the nearest container that a dwarf was using for cover and slammed into it shoulder first. The container slid ten feet back, its steel bottom shrieking all the way until it smashed into the warehouse wall behind it. The thunderous impact collapsed the wall and knocked another dwarf from his purchase on top the container, the dwarf that had taken cover was likely a puddle of jelly.
With a single fluid motion, I drew my great two-handed blood iron sword from its sheath strapped to my back. Before the dwarf who'd fallen from the container could recover, I swept his head from his shoulder with a powerful sweep of my sword. Another dwarf stepped from its hiding place and leveled an M202 at me. The dwarf smiled and pulled the trigger before I could react. The impact of the weapons M74 rocket round sent me flying across the street to crash into a container nearly twenty feet away. The rocket tore a whole in my upper thigh, but before the incendiary round could explode and burn me alive with its organometallic compound known as TEA, I suppressed its combustive reaction by using one of the rings on my right hand. The remaining dwarves stepped out from their cover and moved towards me expecting me to go up in flames at any moment. Normally they would have been correct to be certain of my impending doom, nothing was more dangerous to a troll than fire. But I'm Alrik Solheim, last of Grendel's progeny, and I have my own toys. Among them is a ring that protects me from fire. The remaining dwarves died swiftly, their shocked eyes glared at me accusingly as I cut them down without mercy.
Ghost Wars Saga
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ghost Watch Publishing
Date of Publication: June 2014
Number of pages: 324
Word Count: 96,000
Cover Artist: Hannah Carr
What started out as a routine call led to so much more…
My name is Veronika Kane, and I’m the Captain of the Ghost Watch in the reborn city of Shadow Philadelphia. After we disposed of the city’s previous master and his minions, things were looking up, but in war things are never that easy. A routine call with Detective Frank Cooper blew the cover off of an elaborate scheme to plunge the city of brotherly love into chaos. When Necromancers, Were creatures, and the horrors of Chaos come together it can’t mean anything good.
With new and old enemies joining forces against us, I’m going to need all the help I can get. Lucky for me, my old friend Frank Cooper will be there to lend a hand, along with Brianna, a strong willed were-ferret, and the stormy eyed wizard Nathaniel Carter. I just hope it will be enough to save everyone.
This time, our enemies aren’t just attacking us in Limbo; this time, they are taking the battle to the streets of the living world and its unknowing citizens. If the Old Ones rise, I don’t think there will be anything anyone can do to stop them.
My name is Veronika Kane, and this war is far from over.
About the Author:
Robert Poulin was born and raised in the New England state of Connecticut. After spending his late teenage years in Boca Raton Florida, Robert moved to upstate New York where he lived with his uncle Wilbrod Poulin and attended the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. After earning a Bachelor's in Political Science and a Master's in Teaching, Robert went back to Florida where he taught Social Studies for a few years.
After returning to Northern New York, Robert took a job with the North Country Center for Independence: a disability rights and advocacy organizations. Robert has worked for NCCI for thirteen years and is now the Executive Director. Wail of the Banshees is Robert's first novel; he has been a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction since second grade when he discovered The Hobbit.
Urban fantasy in particular has become Robert's favored genre in the past decade. Robert has been legally blind since infancy, but thanks to a mom that encouraged independence, hard work, and a healthy dose of dreaming, the disability has mostly just been an inconvenience.