by Paul E. Horsman
Release Date: June 12th 2016
Red Rune Books
Summary from Goodreads:
After helping King Ghyll to his victory in Zihaen, the beastmasters Uwella and Damion turn their attention to their own country of Vavaun.
High time, too, for the rumors have been persistent. There is something wildly amiss in the Gray Order, the temple protecting Vavaun from the Dar’khamorth’s machinations.
When Uwella DeGry, herself a wikke of the Grays and the heir to the throne of Vavaun, returns home with Damion DeAsharte, her mate and main competitor, they find their country in dire straits. Vile sorcerers and their beastmen roam the land, killing and ravaging at will and the Gray Order has almost been wiped out.
With only two very young fire warriors to help them, the ducal beastmasters vow to liberate their country, defeat the Dar’khamorth and bring peace between their competing Houses of Gry and Asharte.
Will even their mighty feline alter egos be strong enough to survive against the dark magic of the Revenaunt’s minions?
Vavaun is a tale of struggle, friendship and bravery against an enemy who plans total annihilation.
It is a stand-alone ‘Shadow of the Revenaunt’-adventure, running parallel to book 3, Ordelanden, and it starts after the final battle at the Owan Abai in Zihaen.
CHAPTER 4 – RECONNAISANCE
As they rode away from the farm, she listened with a small part of her mind to the sounds of the beasts in the fields. They left the forest and followed a narrow trail through a mountain pass into the next valley. The birds sang, wild goats leaped across their path and disappeared, a fox, a far-away bear – all the normal sounds and sights of the countryside. No beastmen yet. Uwella thought. I wonder how many are there? Then, just as they rode through a small brook, she caught a thought and reined in to listen.
Damion stopped beside her and grimaced in disgust. ‘Vile beasts!’
‘What’s wrong?’ Grisa said. As she looked around, her hand went automatically to the bow sheath at her hip. ‘Danger?’
‘Beastmen,’ Uwella said. ‘About a mile away.’
The girl growled softly. ‘Many of them? We should have a look.’
Uwella hesitated, and then nodded. ‘A handful, at most.’
After ten minutes, they came to the edge of a stony field with a few buildings and what looked like a small chapel, all built of local stone.
‘I thought their minds felt different,’ Uwella whispered, when she saw the lanky shapes. ‘They’re some sort of dogs.’
‘There’s only four of them,’ Grisa said in a low voice.
They left the horses bound to a fence and crept closer. The dogmen were watching the chapel door. One of them, a broad-shouldered monster with a black stripe down its spotted back, gripped the door handle and gave a mighty pull. The door groaned, but held. From inside the chapel came the screams of terrified villagers and the monster bayed in excitement.
Uwella went mountain lion. Her cat’s screaming rage was a bone-chilling sound and the dogmen wheeled around. The black-striped one barked and went for his sword, but it hadn’t counted on the mountain lion’s reach. Uwella jumped across the forty feet dividing them. Her claws tore into the monster’s bare chest and her sharp teeth went for its jugular. With an audible sound of ripping muscle, she tore open its throat and the monster fell down dead.
Blazing, the cat turned. The second dogman yowled and fled.
‘Mine!’ Grisa screeched, and Uwella slithered to a full stop as a fiery arrow tore past in pursuit of the fleeing beast. It caught the dogman between the shoulderblades and with a high-pitched scream, the monster tumbled onto the grass. Flames sprang up around the wound and erupted from its nose and mouth.
Meanwhile, Bartram engaged a yellow-stained dogman. With his sword blazing in one hand and his flaming dagger in the other, he looked nothing like a fifteen-year-old boy and the monster yelped in fear.
‘Die!’ Bartram cried, slashing at the beast. The dogman leaped aside, but the flaming sword caught him in the shoulder, and the dagger followed into the flank. The wounds burned and the dogman fell down, writhing and howling.
Paul E. Horsman (1952) is a Dutch and International Fantasy Author. Born in the sleepy garden village of Bussum, The Netherlands, he now lives in Roosendaal, a town on the Dutch border with Belgium.
He has been a soldier, salesman, scoutmaster and from 1995 teacher of Dutch as a Second Language to refugees from all over the globe.
Since 2012, he is a full-time writer of epic light fantasy adventures for Y.A. and older. His works have been both trade published in The Netherlands, and self-published internationally.