Do you love high fantasy? Perhaps you've even read Amora: A Tale of Two Brothers? If you're looking for that next epic fantasy sword and sorcery read, try out Amora: The Regent and the Ranger! When it comes to the waxing and waning of fate itself, John and Kane are at the precipice of the action. Find out what secrets these two brothers possess and what makes them so different.
Here's a sample from the first chapter of The Regent and the Ranger, the second book in the Amora series.
Footsteps thumped against the ground as John Blackmar marched up a stone road in northern Amora. A swift chilling breeze from the north swept down across the hills and made him shudder. Golden beams danced across the sky as the sun rose on the horizon, its warm glow comforted John’s skin. The prince’s dark eyes watched columns of sleepless steel forms.
The man-sized figurines stood at attention, unmoving, and feeling nothing. He knew what they could do; the menacing steel forms were just as intimidating as they looked. Ever since they materialized outside the gate and later tried to attack him, he couldn’t help but watch this with unease.
The prince made his way to the front of the Amorian column where one of the mortal battalions of Amorian soldiers was situated. Thankfully, Lord Versio wouldn’t approve of sending the newly crowned king to war with solely an army of ‘foreigners’. A select number of Amorian, flesh and blood, troops were sent to escort the prince and king on their conquest northward. Sunlight glazed off of steel that moved about the encampment; mortal soldiers followed their routines of daily life. They were preparing to embark for the day, the smoke of smoldering fires billowed up toward the sky.
Thankfully, this time, Amora had the advantage of time. In the month prior, Boreveth had prepared, planned, and launched its assault which caught the Amorians off guard. Luckily for the Amorians, and less so fortunate for Boreveth, it failed. Now, Amora had taken its rightful turn to muster an army, much of which was conjured through mysterious means by the king himself. There was little complaint that reached John’s ears however from the kingdom after Kane had quelled the nobility. Furthermore, in light of the recent losses during the Siege of Airedale, an additional military force was appreciated. With such little time needed to recover, the kingdom of Amora was ready to march on Boreveth itself. What they planned was a single swift counterstrike that would end the war, or so it was planned.
John directed his pace towards a large tent; the fabric striped blue and white with the king’s crest embroidered on the side. The loose flaps of the entryway moved about in the morning breeze; he pushed them out of the way and entered. King Kane Blackmar, General Albinhelm, and another set of commanders that John was less familiar with, stood over a table. On the table was a map.
A servant brushed past the prince carrying a box as he disassembled the pavilion. The servant bowed his head and mumbled an apology. John paid no heed to him as his attention was entirely focused on the critical matter at hand: the invasion.
John met alongside the others at the table; they had already been discussing strategy before he entered. The prince’s attention was immediately drawn to a gangly man who lurked away from his peers in the shadows. John peered at the figure cautiously; he recognized that it was the royal hand, Drago, who watched from his corner in the tent and listened carefully. The creature of a man had no input that he was willing to give, no, he just lingered and listened.
John wasn’t terribly familiar with the royal hand; Drago was yet another one of the new staff that Kane had quickly appointed after his coronation. Needless to say, Amora’s administration had undergone some severe renovations. Despite Kane’s authority as king, he needed people he trusted to make things work, so the man surrounded himself with those people.
The royal hand’s dark sunken eyes leaped up to meet John’s own; he had been staring for too long. The gray slits were cold and almost lifeless, but no less clever, no less attentive, nor any less dangerous. A small gold sigil of the church hung around his neck, although he was hardly seen to be a religious man. The item was a token of respect, respect for the power he had been given and his role in it.
Royal Hand Drago often acted as a bridge between Kane and the Church. The royal hand wielded tremendous power in the newly formed Inquisition. All documents went through his office and he carried the king’s authority to some considerable extent. The wiry man wouldn’t leave Amora if the king did. Even now, he would likely just follow the army close to the border, then proceed to head back to Airedale.
John’s attention turned back towards Kane who was pointing out a number of positions on his battle map. In his other hand sat the strange, yet elegant, sceptre. John had become accustomed to seeing it by this point, yet the object still sent a chill through his spine.
“The Borevethian leaders know that we will have a counterstrike prepared, and they can estimate about where we will be crossing into Borevethian lands. They will have moved to supplement forces within these areas as best they can,” stated Kane, his sharp eyes dashed from person to person and pierced their thoughts and feelings.
“Aye, I agree, but I don’t think Boreveth has the forces to heavily defend all of these positions. Hell, they were never great at defending in the first place. The bastards love to drive the offensive,” argued Albinhelm as he stroked his gray-white beard.
John knew Albinhelm was correct, the Borevethians were largely exhausted and they had other areas in their kingdom to worry about as well. Word had arisen of a rebellion in the eastern parts of Boreveth, which didn’t fare well for the Northmen. Of course, this was nothing more than rumor and word of the tongue.
“They will likely have sentry garrisons along their border. If they spot us, the rest of their forces will surely come to meet us,” John stated.
Kane looked up and smirked. “Right you are, little brother.” He pointed a finger at the prince. “However, that gives us a golden opportunity to move quickly and punch a hole through them before they can react! If their forces are indeed scattered as we assume, then it should be a simple fight either way. You should have an easy fight.”
Albinhelm furrowed his eyebrows and looked at Kane. “You make it sound as if you are not coming with us, Your Grace.”
Kane nodded and looked at the map. “I am afraid that I have a short quest of my own to embark on, I should be meeting back with you not too long after I have finished. It is a simple, yet important, matter.” He looked towards Drago. “I will be leaving the army in the command of you all and Royal Hand Drago. I expect you to have done well by the time I return, it shouldn’t be too hard to find you.”
“I am surprised you’re leaving on the eve of battle, brother. This must be important,” noted John, who pried for further information. He received none. So the royal hand wouldn’t be staying behind after all?
Kane laughed. “It is indeed little brother! If it were not, I would think myself a coward. We both know that I am not that.”
“Will you be taking a sizable detachment of troops with you?” inquired Albinhelm. He was likely as curious as John as to what Kane was doing, and he wanted to know as much as possible. Information was a powerful tool, but a reduction in their attacking forces was also a concern to be followed up on.
Kane shook his head. “Nearly all the men are yours, general. I need only my two personal guards for this journey.” Albinhelm nodded and decided to not look for further information.
John wasn’t pleased however, his lips peeled downwards in frustration. It didn’t ever bode well for a king to travel nearly unguarded. However, Kane did seem to be a special case. Ever since his supernatural displays of might, John considered Kane to be far more potent than any detachment of soldiers.
John crossed his arms and thought to himself for a moment. “Our two primary targets should be the port village of Ixares and the fortress of Denwall. We know that the Borevethian fleet is often launched from Ixares, and it would bode well to burn the entire town to the ground.”
Albinhelm pointed to a small wooden model on the river south of them. “It would be easier to send our own fleet to crush them there. Our ships are far superior to their own and the village is not walled. It should be an easy victory for our navy, one that has been long coming.”
Kane nodded his agreement. “Send a rider to Vice Admiral Godric to launch an attack on Ixares, then to await the army as it makes way to the capital city of Muubus. We will need them if we are to siege the Borevethian capital.”
“Agreed, and while the fleet assaults Ixares, that should allow our ground forces to capture Denwall and raze the surrounding villages. After Denwall is captured and plundered, we can move on to Muubus. If we give them little time to consolidate their numbers, we likely won't be stopped,” added John.
He knew that they would indeed not be stopped; Amora was practically on clean-up duty. Their army was comprised of inhuman golems which made the perfect soldier. Boreveth stood no chance. It wasn’t even a fair fight at this point. However, Boreveth was going to get what was coming to them. John tilted his head; he supposed the golems were acceptable when they achieved results like this.
Kane stood to his full height, removed the wooden pieces from the map, and rolled it up. He then handed the parchment to a servant who had re-entered the pavilion. “It is settled then. You all should make it to the border by the end of the day, perhaps even before. I will be embarking from here with my personal guards. I leave this crusade in your hands, may you all be blessed,” he finished. Kane strode out of the pavilion with self-purpose. His blue cloak flapped behind him and his brilliant armor reflected gold in the rising sunlight.
John turned to Albinhelm. “Can you make sure that the men have finished packing up?” The general nodded and made his leave along with the other commanders. John and Drago stood alone in the pavilion, which was waiting to be disassembled completely by servants.
“Royal Hand, see to it that our… friends are in order and ready to move,” John ordered. The wiry man simply smiled showing his yellowed teeth. “You don’t give me orders Lord Blackmar. However, I will do as you say because it is my king’s will as well,” sneered Drago as he slithered out of the room. John watched him leave with a scowl; the man seemed terribly strange. Why had Kane given him such a position in the first place?
John too finally left the pavilion. Servants rushed to take it down and load what remained onto carts. They were headed towards the border now; an impending engagement with Borevethian forces was expected at any time. The forces of Amora would be seeing battle shortly, John was certain of it. The prince mounted his horse and trotted off towards the front of the Amorian column where his friends awaited him. The counterstrike against the ravaging Kingdom of Boreveth had finally come.
Elector Varindül marched into the Midnight Keep of Elderstock Fortress, the greatest bastion of Western Nigoc and seat of the Old Ældar Empire. He was a lofty elven male who towered over the others of his race. However, he did not strike a stranger as very imposing upon first glance due to his thin and non-muscular nature. Such was the appearance of the highborn; yet, to not fear them would be to die by their hand.
Varindül had a smooth and nigh flawless face with flowing hair that shined white as the snow of the mountains. His features were void of wrinkles or blemishes, and compared to a human man, he would be only twenty years of age. However, he was much, much, older. How many years had it been? He had lost count. Time tended to be irrelevant among the highborn.
The elector paced through the obsidian halls of the Midnight Keep. Light from torches seemed to be smothered by an encroaching darkness. It was only the dull light from the heavens, that rained down through mirrored shafts and reflected off of brass ornament on the walls, that truly provided him direction. His race was more capable of seeing through the dark than others, however, the darkness of the keep was something different. It trapped its prey in an endless pool of black and drained the mind of even the most stalwart champions.
Varindül quickened his pace as a shudder ran down his spine. The Arch Clairvoyant would be displeased if he knew any follower of the Invisible Emperor feared the darkness. The darkness was a part of their people; it had developed to hold a nigh sacred place in society. It represented a greater, unknown, intangible power. A power that only the Invisible Emperor himself possessed.
Finally, Elector Varindül came to a great doorway. It was black as the rest of the palace, but there was something different about it. Crimson vines embroidered the door. He had grown to hate what could only be described as the color scheme of his race. Who determined that black, red, and gold were the only colors by which to craft buildings? The old texts told of something else, something far more grand and beautiful; his memories too, yet faded, held a higher standard. He approached the door but did not touch it. He knew the risks of doing so.
Ever so slowly, the crimson embroiderment began to move and shift as it pleased. Blood-red markings seemed to stretch and twist as if debating his presence. Finally, the interlocking vines disengaged from one another and the great door split open, allowing the elector passage into the inner sanctum. Varindül stepped in, the hard sole of his shoe clicked at every step against a smooth obsidian floor.
Tap. Click. Tap. Click.
The inner sanctum was much more illuminated than the rest of the Midnight Keep. A great fire roared around an ashen throne; it was an eternal fire, he had never witnessed the flames dissipate once in his many years of service. Varindül took note of the remainder of his surroundings and perceived himself alone in the room. Himself and the throne, the empty throne. He eyed it for but a second. The Invisible Emperor sat there, or so they said. He had never heard the Emperor speak, he had not seen a sign of the Emperor’s presence, not for a millennia at least. However, apparently, the Emperor spoke, gave orders, and ruled the realm still; just not to him, a lowly elector.
“Elector Varindül. I wasn’t expecting you so soon,” bellowed a deep masculine voice that bounded forth from the flames. The elector’s attention snapped to the voice’s origin and his blood ran cold as ice. Had the Invisible Emperor spoken? Was this some trick of the imagination?
To quell his terror and curiosity, a figure stepped out of the fire, unmaimed, and cool as the northern breeze. Varindül dropped to his knees without hesitation. “Forgive me, Lord Regent,” he stated, his breath hung shallow in the air.
A slight chuckle escaped the Lord Regent. “Arise, Varindül. You need not be so fearful my old friend. You were my greatest supporter long ago when I was elected to this position, it would be absurd to condemn you now.”
Elector Varindül slowly rose to his feet. “Lord Regent, it has been some time since we last spoke,” he stated but kept his head slightly bowed. The Lord Regent stepped forward, the fires illuminated his face. He was a black-haired elven male, his face was much more rugged than Varindül’s; he was much older as well.
“It has been many years my old friend, I am surprised you haven’t visited sooner. However, your timing could not be more excellent, Varindül.” The Lord Regent approached closer. “The Invisible Emperor has spoken!”
Varindül watched his old friend with interest. The Empire was long fallen. The states were barely held together by the Lord Regent and hardly capable of stopping themselves from plunging into civil war. What did the Invisible Emperor want with it now? It was under his reign that the Empire fell.
“We are soon to move against Delucia once more! The humans and slaves have never been more divided, now is the time!” exclaimed the Lord Regent. Varindül sighed, he had heard this many times, and every time the Empire failed to retake Delucia.
“Lord Regent, how many wars have we led against the men and slaves? How many times have we been pushed back? The Empire too has never been more divided! Many of the electors do not pay heed to the Invisible Emperor, or his servants. I am the Lord of Carneath Hold, Warden of Fallium, and my army is yours to command as I have sworn. However, now is not the time to march!” argued Varindül. What did the Lord Regent expect to do? Lead a collective thirty-thousand elves to their deaths? Without the Empire united, they would never have the numbers to even try to cross the border again.
“At first I agreed with your position Varindül, I said the same thing. I was short of faith,” started the Lord Regent. “However, the Invisible Emperor is on the move, causing unrest in the kingdoms of men. The slaves have made war with men too! My spies tell me that the kingdom of Boreveth is soon to fall by the hand of Amora. If the kingdoms of Delucia are indeed so divided, then we could overtake the border kingdom.”
Varindül shook his head. “We still do not have the numbers, the electors are still divided here as well! Do you forget about the Ranger’s Guild? The army that fights solely for Delucia as a whole? They are still a united force that will march in mass to the border kingdom’s aid if we lay siege!”
The Lord Regent produced a large smile on his older face, his dark eyes lit with excitement. “The Invisible Emperor will bring the electors together, or they will pay the price for their treachery. He has taken action in person this time, something we haven’t seen for a millennia. My friend, we will take back what is ours! The Invisible Emperor has declared as much.”
Varindül remained silent, he looked to his friend, then to the empty black throne. The obsidian chair offered little response. Was there truly still an Invisible Emperor? Had the Lord Regent simply gone mad? He didn’t want to risk the lives of those under his command in another fruitless war. One more failed march and the Empire would surely crumble! What was he to do? Defy the Lord Regent and risk paying the price? Or march for the Invisible Emperor and risk the same fate? Where was the reassurance? Where was a sign?
Status: Amora: The Regent and the Ranger is still being released on an episode-by-episode basis on Kindle Vella. Catch up on the current episode and keep an eye out for more to stay up to date!