Below, you will find information on the book, my YouTube chat with the author himself, links to purchase, information on the author, ALL THE MAPS!!!, and an excerpt chapter from the novel.
We Break Immortals by Thomas Howard Riley
Series: The Advent Lumina Cycle #1
Genre: Dark Epic Fantasy (Rated-R fantasy)
Intended Age Group: 18+
Published: December 7th, 2021
A drug addict who hunts sorcerers down by tracking their magick, the most renowned swordsman no one has ever heard of, and a thieving magick-wielding woman hellbent on revenge collide during a last ditch effort to stop an insane superhuman serial killer from making himself a god.
The Render Tracers always say magick users deserve to burn. Aren couldn’t agree more, Keluwen would beg to differ, and Corrin couldn’t care less either way.
In a world where most people use swords for protection, Aren uses tools that let him see what no one else can see, and he takes advantage of loopholes that can undo magick in order to stop the deadliest people in the world. He is a Render Tracer, relentlessly pursuing rogue sorcerers who bend the laws of physics to steal, assault, and kill. But his next hunt will lead him to question his entire life, plunging him into a world where he can’t trust anyone, not even his own eyes.
When Keluwen finally escaped her fourthparents’ home and set out on her own to become a thief, she never thought she would one day be killing her own kind. She honed her magick on the streets, haunted by her past, hunted by Render Tracers, and feared by a society that hates what she is. Now she joins a crew of outcast magicians on a path of vengeance as they race to stop an insane sorcerer who has unlocked the source of all magick and is trying to use it to make himself a god.
Corrin is a sword fighter first, a drinker second, and a…well, there must be something else he is good at. He’ll think of it if you give him enough time. He is a rogue for hire, and he has no special powers of any kind. The most magick he has ever done is piss into the wind without getting any on himself. He is terrible at staying out of trouble, and someone always seems to be chasing him. When he gets caught up in a multi-kingdom manhunt, he finds himself having to care about other people for a change, and he’s not happy about it.
They are about to collide on the trail of a man who is impossible to catch, who is on the verge of plunging the world into ruin, and who can turn loyal people into traitors in a single conversation. They must struggle against their own obsessions, their fears, ancient prophecies, and each other. They will each have to balance the people they love against their missions, and struggle to avoid becoming the very thing they are trying to stop.
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3hVPA3J
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2UYvhtT
Paperback/Hardcover Link: https://amzn.to/3vDCb5w
Author Bio & Information:
Thomas Howard Riley currently resides in a secluded grotto in the wasteland metropolis, where he reads ancient books, plays ancient games, watches ancient movies, jams on ancient guitars, and writes furiously day and night. He sometimes appears on clear nights when the moon is gibbous, and he has often been seen in the presence of cats.
He can be found digitally at THOMASHOWARDRILEY.COM
On Twitter he is @ornithopteryx, where he is sometimes funny, always clever, and never mean.
On Instagram he is ThomasHowardRiley, where you will see books, and cats, and mayhem.
Prologue – Seb
IT ONLY TOOK SEB one look through the crack of a half-open parlor door at midnight to know that his friend had gone insane.
This young hero, this beautiful sweet boy he had helped raise from barely half past swaddling, grown to a man full and in truth, who held so much promise, had fallen. They had been filling Paladan’s head with who knew what for who knew how long. Never make promises like that to a boy. Never promise them they will be important. They may grow up to believe it. And now here it was, the fruit of their work. Paladan Algan had surrendered to the sweet seduction of prophecy they had whispered in his ear.
It is high time someone put an end to this charade, Seb thought. He shoved his way past Syman and Laester. The lads tried to bar the door, but Seb’s arms were each as thick as any two of theirs, and he brushed them aside as if the door was a broom.
The air struck Seb like a tidal wave of stale sweat and old forgotten exhales stranded in time. The candles and half-dead oil lamps lit the room barely at all. To think he has been living in this place.
“Let him in, let him in,” Paladan said carelessly over his shoulder, hovering over the far table. He shuffled and reshuffled a half dozen unruly, piss-yellow scrolls stranded atop a haphazard hill of opened books. “He should be here with us.”
Seb shook each of his legs and then stood firm. His feet already burned. He had walked a day and a half to come here. He tapped his heel twice on the floor. Two times for the two halves of the twin god. Give me good luck coming and going.
“Be here for what, Paladan?” Seb asked carefully. He could feel water begin to bead on his skin. Moist as the belly of a frog, he thought. He stopped halfway across the room. He looked at the walls. Pyramids of green jars lived beside towers of ancient leather-bound tomes stacked halfway to the ceiling, and all layered with the melt of scores of candles, one upon another, until the wax was thick enough that it would have piqued the interest of an archeologist. The twin windows on the left and right walls were nearly bricked over with towers of stone tablets unearthed in the distant buried temples of Holy Sephalon.
Seb peered at the books Paladan hovered over, trying to see if he could tell what they were. He only recognized the binding of one. Of course it is that one. Those fools should never have given him that. “The ancient story of Caldannon,” he whispered. “The god who fell to earth in the wars of a thousand centuries, and somehow saved it with his meaningless, unknowable power to walk in the light.”
Paladan ignored him. “I am nearly ready.” He stood over it, peering at the words as if they were distant birds he wished to identify. He shuffled more scrolls.
Is he even looking at them? Does he even see them in front of his eyes? “Be here for what, Paladan?”
“I am going to stop him,” Paladan said. “I am going to stop the Sanadi. I am going to kill the invincible man.”
“Sanadi? That is a word out of a book so old our ancestors ten centuries ago could have looked back another ten and still not have seen when it was written.”
“It is what he is.”
“There is no such thing.”
“You should know better than that, Seb. You of all people know what he has done.”
“I never said he wasn’t dangerous. I never said I wanted him walking free.”
“You taught me to be a man of action, Seb.” He turned to face him for the first time.
Seb looked into his eyes, pupils as wide as olives. His sculpted face, which had always made him look the part of the great hero, was now sunken in, pale like sour milk, eyes ringed in violet, and those rings ringed further still in yellow. His black and umber shortcoat and trousers could not hide the fact that his flesh had caved in against his bones, like the juice sucked out of a calpas fruit without peeling the skin.
“You look terrible. Have you been eating enough?” He turned to glare at Syman and Laester. “You need to be sure he eats, you worthless shitsacks. What do you do around here? What are you worth? Less and less.”
They both looked at the ground in brief shame, but they quickly glanced up at Paladan and regained their smiles, confident they could ignore even the most obvious of Seb’s criticisms.
“We are going to prevail, Seb. I am going to prevail. This is my destiny.” Paladan held up a stack of papers within a thin leather folio. “Do you know what this is? It is a composite, the Glasseyes call it. This includes detailed copies of the patterns he uses in his magick.”
“Where did you get that?”
“One of those Amagon-men stole them for me and brought them here.”
“And Bann Dester and Zigor are outside in the brush. They are Stoppers, Seb. They will prevent his magick from working when he comes here.”
“Two men. Two. Men. You know what he did to all those Glasseyes in Amagon a few years back. And they had more than two. They had more than twenty.”
“I have something they do not.”
“What? Tell me. Tell me so that we can end this farce and I can carry you a hundred miles away from this folly.
“I can see through it, Seb. Like the legends say. You know I can. I am a special talent among a forest of special talents. I am the man of sorrow, Seb. From the prophecy.”
“No, you are not.”
“You scoff, but it still fits. I can see what users do without needing the lens to look through. I can see it with my own eyes. Read the pages. Every line of it matches me.”
“I can look across a field at an army for hours,” Seb said. “Does that make me a general? Just because I can see it? Seeing doesn’t guarantee much of anything. Come with me. Let us get out of this place and find air fresh, unencumbered by these heavy thoughts. You are not Caldannon. Because no one is Caldannon. There is no Caldannon. There never was. He is just a story.”
“I have the book, Seb.”
“What book? The Caldannon book? Why should I care?”
“No, Seb. Not that one.”
“What other one?” But he knew the answer before he finished asking the question. He felt the blood abandon his face. He nearly dropped to his knees. He looked down at Paladan’s far table and saw the binding. Just beneath the book about Caldannon’s journey. “No. Where? Why do you have that? How? What are you doing with it?”
“I do not need even Stoppers at all anymore, because the book taught me that I can walk in the light. If I am in the light, I can break his magick. I can do anything.”
“If, Palad. If you can walk in the light. You cannot do it. Just stop all of this. Stop it. You have read too much, heard too much. You are confused.” He reached out a hand.
Paladan allowed the hand to sway right past him, hanging in the air, untouched. “This is the Advent, Seb. The Days of Light are no longer on the horizon. They are here, now. I am going to stop him. In the light.”
“I am ending this,” Seb said. “Call everything off. All of you. I am taking you from here before you get yourself killed.”
Paladan’s face tightened. “You do not understand, Seb. I have already called for him to come here.”
Seb felt his digestive organs take a sudden drop. He thought they must have hit the floor and left a crater in it. “You. Called. Him.”
“I sent the message by runner this morning.”
“Because I am not afraid. I am true. I am the one. I have been chosen for this. Me, Seb. Me. I was born to go into the light.”
“You do not know how to get into the light. You do not even know if you can get into it. None of us has ever seen it. We have only heard the stories.”
Paladan smiled. “I am true. I am the one. I know I can do all of this. That book right over there, the Codex Lumina, has mantras to open up the real world to the world of light, where all magick comes from. It teaches many tricks of the light. I have seen it. It is real. It is outside of space, Seb. Outside of time. The light is so very bright, but it does not blind.”
Seb pounded his fist so hard on a stack of books his bones were ringing. “I cannot believe you just told him where we can be found.” This is madness. I must get you out of here before it is too late.
But then he heard footsteps outside, on the cobbled path. They approached halfway to the front door and then ceased.
“Could it be someone else?” Syman asked.
“Bann and Zigor must have his streams by now,” Paladan said.
“And if they do not?” Seb asked.
“You think he would have let them live if he could?”
As if in answer, Seb heard a heavy boom, deep. It rattled the glass jar pyramids.
Seb froze. Everyone froze. Then something began slamming into the walls and the door. Every other second it boomed against the wall.
Paladan leapt into motion. He began reciting text from one lone page in the Codex. He read it over and over, as the walls shook. He had a smile on his face.
Then Seb heard a deeper, denser thud, like the sound of a heavy object slamming against the door.
Paladan jumped back to attention. He flipped the book open to another predetermined page and began reading frantically.
All the while the heavy weight slammed into the door again and again and again.
“Paladan,” Seb said. “What have you done?”
“I can fix this,” Paladan said. “I can fix it. I can fix it.”
Boom. Boom. Boom.
Seb glanced at Syman and Laester. Their faces drained of color to a shade well past ghost. Their hands jittered. Laester wet himself. Neither of them had bothered to draw their swords.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
Paladan read from the book. His voice changed. He no longer had the wide vowels of confidence. He began to furiously glance back and forth among the pages.
“Paladan!” Seb called out.
“I know. I know.”
Boom. Boom. Boom.
The door burst inward, snapping free of its hinges.
The bloody broken body of Zigor collapsed atop its splinters, his face and limbs unrecognizable beneath mountains of swollen tissue.
Syman gasped. Dropped his sword. Picked it up again.
Zigor’s lifeless body had been the battering ram.
“By the gods,” Laester somehow said on his exhale.
“Paladan!” Seb shouted.
“I can do it!” Paladan said. “I swear I can do it!”
The man who Paladan was so sure had to be a Sanadi stepped through the doorway. He surveyed the room and smiled. His eyes were black. If he had any color to them, Seb could not see it. He was dressed in a black cape to match, covering robes of blue and violet, as if the poison flowers of a nightmurder weed had come to life.
Seb looked through the gaping maw of the doorway. He saw Bann’s body twisted and broken on the cobblestones outside, soiled and torn beneath the midnight lanterns. “He is not bound!” He can touch as much of his magick as he wishes. Seb drew his sword. “Hold, boys!” he cried out. “Hold!”
Syman and Laester raised their swords.
Laester charged first.
An invisible projectile punctured his ribs and blasted out the other side. His arms went limp, sword dropped. His legs tried to keep charging for a step or two after he died, but the ankles went wobbly, the knees buckled, and finally he pitched face forward onto the floor.
“Paladan!” Seb cried.
“Almost there!” Paladan spat through gritted teeth, his face clenched with focus and determination.
But nothing happened.
Syman at least managed to swing his sword.
But he missed.
By a wide margin.
The man with black eyes created another projectile, invisible, unstoppable, lightning-fast.
It struck Syman in the skull, punching a hole the diameter of a fat olive in his head. He spun around in a circle, his body yet unsure if it was dead or not. But then it dropped in turn.
“Paladan!” Seb screamed. His throat shredded itself on the name and he tasted blood.
Paladan flipped to the last of his pages. He desperately read the passage in a chanting half-whisper, trying to open his mind with it.
He read it. He finished it. Nothing happened.
Seb looked over to Paladan with tears in his eyes. He thought of his wife, who had told him not to bother coming over here, and to just let Paladan be, and come home to the children. The last thing he told her was that he had to. And she understood. Seb thought about that and he wept. “Paladan,” he whispered.
The man with black eyes created another projectile. It was no different than the first. Or the second. He had not even required a variety of his magick to end them all. He did all this without really even trying.
It was hopeless.
Seb raised his sword to swing anyway.
The projectile moved so fast he could not have seen it even if it was visible. It plinked against the blade of his sword, snapping it in half, before boring a hole through his lungs and ripping out the other side, shattering a pyramid of glass bottles behind him.
He fell to the floor facing Paladan. He saw the pain on his face, bending his expression so bitterly into one of sadness.
“No,” he heard Paladan say. “It can’t be for nothing. It can’t. I won’t let it. I won’t.”
Seb tried to breathe but there was no organ left to him that could collect the air. His face felt heavy, so heavy. The room became so dark.
“This can’t be for nothing!” Paladan screamed.
Shhhh, Seb thought. Do not yell, Palad. You are a good boy. You always were. A smile suits you better than a frown.
Paladan looked into Seb’s eyes. “Seb. I’m so sorry, Seb. I thought I was, Seb. I did. I was supposed to be the one. I was supposed to end it.”
Shhhh, Seb thought. No need to worry. Smile, lad. You are a good boy. You always were.
Paladan shook. His mouth opened to scream but he made no sound. He was trapped within an invisible bubble. But something was happening to him within it. His nose began to bleed, and then his ears, and then his eyes. His skin flattened against his bones. Foam bubbled out his lips. He was being crushed by something Seb could not even see.
Paladan lay down beside Seb. His eyes were frozen open in wonder and terror. Blood leaked from the corner of his mouth, pooling on the floor.
You were a good boy. You always were.
One of them was going to die.
Aren could feel it.
This was a capture.
Down one of these dark corridors, behind a silent door at midnight, waited a madman who could kill with a thought. Any moment now the signal would be given, and in they would go, all together, to get him.
One of us is going to die.
He saw it so clearly, as if this day had already happened, and he was only living the memory of it. He was surrounded by dead men. They moved, they looked around, they drew breath. They did all the things that a man would do, but he could not deny it.
And no matter how hard he tried to stop it, there was a part of him that kept guessing which one it would be. Twig, with his wide eyes, always talking about his mother. Bear, with those strong arms that could wrestle a lion. Bones, with wrinkles around his eyes, but hands steadier with a spear than any he had ever seen. Young man or old, tall or short, strong or weak. It could be anyone.
They were all former soldiers, hardy, tough as steel. Two or three had seen real fighting in the Warhost, survived skirmishes with Kolkothan raiders. That was good. Fighting men do not scare easy. But armor and swords would be of little use here.
Glasseye, he heard them whisper when they thought he could not hear. It means I have seen the horrors that the magick can wreck upon wood and stone, flesh and blood. They know I have seen it, and they are afraid. I remind them of the terrors that hide in dark rooms, things they would rather pretend don’t exist. His presence meant only one thing—a rogue user did something unspeakable with the magick. That was all he was to them. A Glasseye.
He had learned none of their names either, of course. Never learn the names, Sarker had told him. Then it is too difficult to forget them. He knew them only by whatever their most visible attribute happened to be. There was Nose, and Chin, and the Twins, and Bear and Twig and Swan and Roundtop and Neck.
Even the youngest of them is older than I am. But I am all they have. I am the Glasseye. No one else can do this.
None of the men were ever the same from one capture to the next. Who would have ever agreed to a second try? Every time a different location with a new group of faces, a new set of dangers, and a new toss of the dice to see if they would all survive. Aren once heard it said that at least one man died for every seven captures. He didn’t doubt it, but he and Sarker had not lost a man for the past twelve.
That means we are overdue.
“Stay focused,” he warned them, as he had heard Sarker always say. “You all know the jobs you have to do. Do exactly as I told you and this will all be over in moments.” He spoke Sarker’s words in Sarker’s tone of voice, trying to make himself as convincing as his mentor had been. He had to be. Sarker wouldn’t be here to complete this trace with him. He was gone.
These men answer to my commands now. I am all they have to get them through this.
And I will. I will bring this trace to capture. Tonight.
He ran a hand over his forehead, wiping away beading sweat. He had soaked halfway thorough his tunic already. He scratched at the stubble on his cheeks and chin, unshaven now for days. He looked down at his feet and realized he had worn a hole in the toe of one of his boots. When did that happen? He carried nothing but his leather tracer satchel and an unused sword. No plate, no mail. Armor of any kind would be useless in this capture.
He did his best to keep his back straight. His stomach burned, but he would not eat. His mouth screamed for water, but he dared not drink. He tried to wear a mask of calm. He smiled as much as he could without his teeth rattling. He had to keep the others from panic if he could. Control your breathing. Stand firm. Speak with measured rhythm and tone, as if we are simply masons here to build a wall. That’s all it is. Just a wall.
Already the men were getting jumpy as the reality of what they were about to do was starting to set in.
“That man in there is a monster,” Bones said. “The worst of the worst.”
“Rapist, I heard,” Bear said.
“Murderer,” Roundtop said. “Madman.”
“He deserves to go to the fires for what he did,” Aren told them. “Deserves it a hundred times over. And we are the ones who are going to put him there.”