Welcome to my stop on the book tour for Travis M. Riddle’s Spit and Song. I want to thank Justine & Timy @ Storytellers on Tour for letting me be involved and a big shoutout to Mr. Riddle on his newest release!
Make sure to check out the rest of the tour by hitting up the schedule link here!
Below you will find information on the book alongside an excerpt, links to wish-list or purchase, Travis’s bio and all of his social media links. Be sure to give it a read and go give the man a follow!
Spit and Song by Travis M. Riddle
Published: November 19, 2019
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Age Group: Adult
Kali is a merchant who yearns to leave the harsh deserts of Herrilock and travel across the sea, trading goods and soaking in the sights and cultures. With a new potion on the market undercutting her profits, though, her seabound dreams are put on hold indefinitely.
Failed musician Puk hits rock bottom after yet another catastrophic performance. Wandering the city streets in search of any sip of booze or whiff of fire-spit he can get his hands on, he resigns to the fact that he’s stuck in the desert with no way back home to Atlua.
Until one day, their paths cross with an illicit job opportunity. With its hefty payday, Kali and Puk could afford to finally escape the desert heat and set sail across the gulf.
The black market job would see them travel endless dunes on a road made from a massive dead beast’s ribs and out to a mythical city in the sea, scuffling with monsters and thugs in search of a long-lost book that might be the most dangerous object in the world.
How hard could it really be?
Excerpt from Spit and Song (Ustlian Tales #2)
The cordol was quite literally taking the bait.
Now was her chance. Kali’s heart and lungs heaved in her chest as she dashed toward the pile of pale orange eggs, huddled together and nestled snugly into the sand.
She didn’t bother to look over her shoulder to find out what Puk was doing. She needed to concentrate, to act as quickly as possible.
Kali came to a sliding stop before the eggs and saw that their mother hadn’t yet reached the bait.
Plenty of time.
She gathered two of the eggs in her arms and held them close to her chest. Two should be enough to satisfy Puk’s acquaintance in Myrisih. It was a more than generous offer, she thought.
Kali turned on her heel and started toward Bella. Puk had not made it back yet with his unimpressive stride, but he wasn’t far off.
To her left, she saw the cordol had arrived at the bait and was busy devouring the miniscule amount of food. It would only be a handful of moments before it curved around and returned to its eggs. She urged her legs to move faster.
Puk was leaning one arm against Bella’s side and panting heavily when Kali made it to them.
“Two?” he wheezed.
“Two,” she said.
She unclasped the empty sack that had come with Bella. The added space was incredibly useful, granting them an entirely empty bag to house the eggs without fear of them smashing against their other belongings. As she closed it tight, Puk uttered a swear.
“What?” Kali turned around and saw what had elicited his alarm.
Somehow, the cordol had already made a speedy return to its den and discovered two of its eggs missing. It reared up and began to sniff the air for its stolen offspring.
There was no time to waste.
Without warning, Kali reached over and grabbed Puk under the armpits then hoisted him up onto Bella’s back. The qarm yelped in surprise and righted himself.
They had to move faster. The cordol had spotted them.
It slithered toward them with ferocious speed. Bella let out a soft whine.
Kali and the cordol moved in tandem.
She leapt up onto the saddle at the same moment the cordol propelled itself into the air. As Kali kicked at the ayote’s sides to take off, the cordol slammed into the ground and burrowed into the sand.
Shit, Kali thought again.
Maybe she hadn’t memorized the bestiary front to back like her sister, but she knew enough about cordols and ayotes to be fully aware that there was no chance they could outrun the beast.
But she had to try.
Better that than give up or resort to violence.
It was a good thing Bella was so young and hated being cooped up. Those factors combined with her fear of the approaching cordol injected her with an absurd amount of energy.
Kali had never seen an ayote run so fast. They were a blur.
Puk’s arms found their way around her waist again, and Kali had to lean forward to avoid being knocked back by the intense wind.
Their mount instinctively weaved side to side, charting a semi-unpredictable path, but it wasn’t enough to outsmart the cordol. It burst from the ground directly in front of Bella, who skidded to a halt, causing Kali and Puk to tumble forward over her head.
Kali crashed head-first into the sand, her legs accidentally whacking Bella on the face. The ayote yipped in shock, but seemed otherwise unharmed.
Puk had absorbed most of the momentum and was flung right into the cordol, knocking the huge, thick worm onto its back.
He scrambled to stand up, but the cordol was faster.
It whipped its lower half into his torso and sent him flying again, screaming “Fuck!” as he careened through the air.
If the stakes weren’t so high, Kali would have laughed at the ludicrous sight. But as it were, she pushed herself up off the ground and swiftly backed up to her knapsack which hung from the saddle beside the bag carrying the eggs.
“Shit,” she muttered aloud this time, distraught that it had come to this.
She extracted her antique dagger from the bag and gripped its hilt.
Just in time, too, as the cordol slid past Bella and rammed into Kali. She braced herself and held on to either side of the beast’s head, stabbing the blade into what amounted for its neck.
It gnashed its rounded teeth and roared with fury, rolling away from her and Bella. As it rolled onto its left side, it pushed the dagger in deeper.
Unfortunately, the beast was undeterred by the weapon sticking out of its body. Once righted on its stomach, it reared up again and charged toward Bella, who held the bag that contained its babies. The scent was probably all over her.
Puk was still many feet away, struggling to rise and rejoin the fray.
Kali needed to do something.
But the cordol was fast. Faster than she could have imagined. It smashed its head into Bella’s side, sending the ayote crashing down.
The egg bag slammed against Bella’s side as she landed, but mercifully it was the bags on her other side that had been crushed by her weight. Hopefully Puk wasn’t carrying anything too valuable.
A line of blood trailed from where the cordol had rolled over to where it now slithered around Bella’s frantically kicking body. It might be more concerned about retrieving its eggs than the dagger in its head, but apparently, the weapon was causing some damage.
That was good.
Kali tried to leap forward but slipped on the shifting ground, once again slamming her face into hot sand.
She looked up, spitting sand out of her mouth and blowing it from her nose, to see Puk running past her toward the fight.
“Hey!” he called in a feeble attempt to wrangle the cordol’s attention. “Look at me! Look at me, I’m a big fat idiot!”
His self-inflicted insults naturally did not register with the cordol aside from earning a passing glance. It quickly turned back to the bag where the smell of its eggs was strongest. Blood streamed from the wound in its head.
Puk stopped running.
Curiously, he reached down and began to undo his boot.
Kali got to her feet and rushed past him as he continued to mess with his shoe. With more preparedness, she jumped forward and grabbed hold of the egg bag.
The cordol roared at her as she tried in vain to pull it free from the saddle. The stablemaster had done too good of a job securing it.
Suddenly Puk’s boot zoomed through the air and lodged itself in the cordol’s throat while it was preoccupied with another intimidating roar.
The beast began to choke and sputter, which was Bella’s cue to get the hell out of there. She scrambled to her feet and took off straight ahead, dragging Kali along behind her as she held on to the egg bag. Bella’s wiry tail whipped her face twice before Kali decided to let go.
She rolled a few times before coming to an awkward stop. Up ahead, Bella continued to run for several feet, but soon came to a halt and looked back at her companions.
Kali spun herself around in the sand and witnessed what was possibly the stupidest death ever orchestrated.
Puk too stood motionless, stunned by his own handiwork.
The cordol was still choking on the boot he’d thrown. It thrashed about wildly, kicking up its own tiny sandstorm as it tried to dislodge the sturdy footwear.
Finally, the animal’s body slowed, and it lay down in the sand before coming to a complete stop. Kali watched its body bob up and down in a handful of halting, beleaguered breaths before it ceased.
Puk was astonished.
He was standing on one foot to protect the naked one from the heat, and he hopped to face Kali.
“I killed it!” he yelled, relief and amusement in his voice. “Killed it with a shoe! Dumbass!”
Travis M. Riddle lives with his pooch in Austin, TX, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English Writing & Rhetoric at St. Edward’s University. His work has been published in award-winning literary journal the Sorin Oak Review.