Friday, October 26, 2018

Master of Valor is out now at Changeling Press!

 The newest Mageverse novella is out now at Changeling Press, and up for preorder everywhere else!  Here's an excerpt:

So a vampire, a witch and a werewolf walk into a morgue… Seriously. The night has teeth.

Handsome Afghan war veteran Duncan Carpenter barely survived a horrifying IED attack that cost him his legs. He gets a second chance at life when he agrees to become an agent of the Magekind -- a vampire sworn to protect humanity. The spell that transforms him also heals his broken body and gives him incredible new abilities. Now he must pay for that gift, because the Magekind is preparing for war with powerful magical enemies. But first he must complete his training with a Magekind witch, Masara Okeye. Problem. He’s falling for his mentor, even as he struggles to deal with life as a vampire.

Masara finds her apprentice deliciously seductive -- a little bit too much so for her peace of mind, because he brings up memories better left buried. But when Duncan and Masara are asked to help a werewolf cop investigate the murder of a jogger, they’re targeted by the same vicious killers. The fight for survival drives the couple together, despite Masara’s determination to keep her distance. Then the case turns even more horrific and mysterious. What turned a couple of loving werewolf grandparents into vicious killers?

And what’s with the flying rabid zombie rats?

Master of Valor Buy Links
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A globe of fire the size of a basketball flew at his face. Duncan Carpenter ducked behind his shield as flame splashed its tough, transparent surface. The magical attack triggered the shield's enchantment, and a ward sprang out to encircle him as the flame licked the barrier.

The fire cleared, and for a moment Duncan saw his opponent -- a towering teal blue humanoid whose three-fingered hands held a massive sword. The Fomorian's features were basically human, except for red irises rayed in veins of purple and gold -- oddly beautiful. His snarl revealed a mouthful of long, jagged teeth designed to tear flesh. The Fomorian charged, running silently on three-toed feet, insanely fast in enchanted leather armor engraved with protective spells.

Just as the sorcerer reached him, Duncan bounded five feet straight up and chopped down with his sword, aiming between the twin bony crests running over the top of the Fomorian's head.

The sorcerer shied back, avoiding the blow by a hair. As Duncan hit the floor, the Fomorian's hand shot into the air, a nimbus of light dancing from thumb to the two long, thick fingers. Duncan jerked his shield up...

Too late. The force blast hit him right in the face and knocked him across the room. He hit the wall so hard, he saw a whole constellation of stars. When they faded, he lay on his back surrounded by smoke. Dazed, he turned his head -- to see the bloody remains of a leg clad in shredded camo pants. He knew it was his own...

Fucking flashback. Get up and fight, Marine! Legs ain't free!

Duncan blinked, and the illusionary leg vanished, becoming his sword again. He snatched the weapon off the ground as the Fomorian roared. Duncan threw himself into a roll. The sorcerer's blade cut so close, the breeze of its passage lifted his hair.

Springing upright, Duncan lunged at the Fomorian, shield still strapped to his left arm. Swinging his sword in furious arcs, he rained strokes at the sorcerer -- his head, his arms, thighs, abdomen. The seven-foot monster retreated, parrying, unable to launch his own attacks as he fought to block the thundering blows. Fear flashed over the sorcerer's face...

And Duncan really felt his own miraculous power, the speed and strength he couldn't have imagined six months before. Most of all, he felt every inch of his legs. The ones he'd lost a year ago on the worst day of his life. The ones that should be clumsy mechanical replacements instead of superhuman flesh and blood. He was the luckiest bastard on the planet. And he had to be worthy of his miracle. His lips peeled off his teeth in a bloodthirsty cross between a snarl and a grin.

Somewhere in the house, a clock struck midnight. The Fomorian threw up one hand and panted, "Lunch break."

Ha! He'd tired her out. Duncan straightened, breathing hard. As he watched, the Fomorian's body seemed to melt like wax, vivid blue-green skin darkening to something more human. A blink later, Masara Okeye stood there, no longer surrounded by the Fomorian illusion she'd worn for combat practice.

Masara was a head shorter than Duncan, but her lean body was as lithe and strong as a leopard's. Her long dreads swung as she walked across the room to retrieve a couple of towels from a shelf. She tossed him one and blotted her face with the other.

He caught the towel without really looking at it. She fascinated him, with those sculpted cheekbones, the full, deliciously sensual mouth, the exotic swoop of her nose, and her big, dark eyes. Not to mention all that skin, rich and brown and gleaming with sweat, barely concealed by a black jogging bra and leggings. Just looking at her made his upper jaw ache. Some air current brought the hot smell of exertion and woman to his sensitive nose, tinged with the seductive tang he'd learned to associate with witches. Lust flooded his blood and hardened his cock. And it wasn't the only thing growing, either. Judging by the ache in his upper jaw, his incisors had lengthened.

Great, Duncan thought, irritated at the all-too-visible reaction his instructor was bound to notice. I'm getting a fang-on. The spell that had healed Duncan had given him his legs back, but it had also made him a vampire.

Yeah, well, legs ain't free.

* * *

Good thing Duncan has no idea how tempting he looks, Masara thought. I'd be in trouble. Bare-chested, sweat-slicked, wearing only a pair of loose shorts, her apprentice tested both her self-control and her ability to concentrate. He wore his curling chestnut hair tied back in a tight tail, calling attention to the brutal perfection of his features and the sensual mobility of his mouth. His eyes were a shimmering crystalline blue that turned dark when he was aroused and icy in anger. He reminded her of a young god.

He was certainly endowed like one. It took all Masara's considerable willpower to keep her eyes off the erection testing the soft blue nylon of his shorts. The deliciously long, thick shaft made her imagine all kinds of sensual possibilities. She really needed to take him to bed. If he'd been anybody else, she probably would have done so months ago. He needed to get his mind off what happened to him that nightmare day in Afghanistan, and a nice hot fling would probably do the trick.

Trouble was, he wasn't just another apprentice. She'd trained dozens of witches and vampires over the decades, but none of them had been as driven, as focused, or as haunted as Duncan. And none of them had such vivid blue eyes that took on that chill burn when he was frustrated or angry.

When Masara had been a child, a look like that in blue eyes meant it was time to find something else to do, as far away as possible. Even one hundred sixty-one years as a Magekind agent hadn't been enough to reprogram the reaction. Which made serving as Duncan's mentor a dicey proposition. She had psychic landmines of her own, and those eyes could trigger them.

Still, he was a hard man to resist. It just wasn't his looks or his formidable intelligence either; none of her apprentices had been homely, and they certainly weren't stupid. No, it was the man's stoic warrior attitude, his psychic wounds, his dogged determination to deserve the second chance he'd been given.
A second chance he'd needed because he'd sacrificed himself to save an Afghani child from an IED. 

The Magekind needed people like Duncan, and it was Masara's job to make sure he had the training to fight the Fomorians -- and survive.

They needed every warrior they could get to fulfill the mission Merlin had given them 1500 years ago. Keeping humanity from committing mass suicide through war or environmental catastrophe took a lot of manpower.

"After lunch," she told him as they caught their breath, "I want you to practice against a troll." Which meant another grueling hour maintaining an illusion spell, not to mention the physical effort of sparring with a vampire hand-to-hand. She'd be black and blue by the time they finished. Still, if it kept him alive, it was worth it.

"Trolls, centaurs, Fomorians, Merkind, giants..." He rolled his eyes and curled an expressive lip. "Why the heck do they all want a piece of us?"

"They don't like sharing Mageverse Earth with humans," Masara told him. "Or our Sidhe cousins, either. They want us all dead."

"An alien Axis of Evil." He shook his head. "My life is so damned weird."

"Welcome to the Magekind."

Happy Halloween! I hope you enjoy Master of Valor!

Angela Knight