BOOK DETAILS

Sygillis of Metatron (League of Elder Book 1)

Sygillis of Metatron (League of Elder Book 1)

by Ren Garcia

ASIN: B075W65Q4P

Publisher Hydra

Published in Literature & Fiction/Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy/Fantasy, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

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When an enemy Black Hat is taken prisoner aboard Captain Davage's ship, the powerful Sisterhood of Light has every intention of executing her. They are astounded when the Captain refuses to allow it.

Sample Chapter

The Black Hat Sisterhood, certainly a scarlet-clad enigma and ever-terrifying vexation of the League.

They were the Devil in the flesh, the Boogey-man and the Riders of Doom all rolled into one convenient yet very-real package. They were the eternal enemy, the plague in the night, the pack of murderers who were the subject of endless stories spun to frighten children into good behavior. Of all the secret Xaphan Societies, they were by far the most powerful, the most dangerous, the richest, and the least beholden to the Xaphans themselves. As the Xaphans spun helplessly around Mirendra, depowered and slowly dying, the Black Hats had the dark power to make all five of them tremble.

It was a long-held belief that the Black Hats were invincible in battle, that to face them was to die. Only the mighty Sisterhood of Light, it was told, could stand before them—their League Light to match the Black Hats’ Xaphan Darkness, centuries of hatred standing between them. The check to the balance.

The two opposing sides certainly took a radically different approach to their various disciplines. The Black Hats loved the theatrical, the spectacular. Their Painters were known and greatly feared for their deep Cloaks, their clogged mire of illusion and deception, their ability to snare an area with deadly Shadow tech Traps completely undetected and slip away to the dark, their illusion all encompassing. And should they somehow be discovered, should the hated Sisters arrive, they had their Hammers, adept at the Special Gifts, the Point, the Sten, the Mass—all gruesome and thrilling methods of killing an enemy, at mowing down entire forces at a stand … deaths that will have people talking, have people locking their doors at night and gazing fearfully out their windows.

The Black Hats had their vile henchmen—the Hulgismen. Like visions out of a civilized person’s nightmare, they were brutal, their filthy mouths slavering in their mindlessness. And, stark naked, they did the Black Hats’ bidding, defending them in battle, screening them from attack. These mindless brutes were, of all forces known, completely immune to the Sisters’ power—it was their raw brutality and total ‘uncivilization’ that allowed them this immunity. It was said should a stitch of clothing ever touch their bodies, should a comb ever pass through their hair, then they would lose their immunity forever. They had a singular thirst for the Sisters’ blood, and as long as they had an ounce of strength available to them, they relentlessly strained to put their hands around a Sister’s throat and dim her light forever. In response, the League created the Stellar Marines and their dreaded SK pistols specifically to protect the Sisters from the ravenous Hulgismen. An odd juxtaposition—the naked howling Hulgismen armed with nothing more than Nyked knives and their savage bloodlust arrayed against the dapper, orderly ranks of Marines and their thundering, giant-sized SKs.

And finally, there was their Shadow tech, ever present, ever dark, a Black Hat specialty, the illegal darkness they flaunted in the Sisterhood’s face. In the hands of a Black Hat, Shadow tech could be made to do anything: make snares, make weapons, make Nyked poison, make demons of the night. To be touched by Shadow tech, it was said, was to never be touched by anything again.

The Sisterhood of Light, on the other hand, relied on more subtle Gifts. The ‘miracles’ they could create at will delighted the League and kept it in awe—rightfully so. Their TK was unmatched, as was their use of Hyper Gifts, and they could fry a Black Hat’s brain in a psychic grapple without half trying. Also, they were the only force known that could throw aside Shadow tech, detect it, and render it dead and harmless. Only the Sisterhood could de-snare an area rife with StTs, Shadow tech traps. Only the Sisterhood could hold back the Phantom Hand.

Arrayed before each other on the battlefield, the Black Hats surrounded by their naked, blood-thirsty Hulgismen, mindless creatures immune to the Sisters’ power, and the Sisters defended by their loving, orderly squadrons of Marines, they fought as they had for centuries, each giving the other no quarter within the pre-set and civilized parameters they had set for each other.

No one dared face the Black Hats, and no one dared question the Sisters’ authority. Their very reputations demanded a certain fealty from their opponents, a respect and decorum that had not been challenged in known memory.

Nobody willingly faced a Black Hat. Only the Sisters would dare.

Nobody attacked a Black Hat. Only the Sisters could hope to triumph.

And certainly, nobody tried to talk to a Black Hat.

Not even the Sisters …

* * * * *

The interior of the brig was cold and lonely. It was deathly quiet.

Sandwiched between various bulkheads and other required structural components of the Seeker’s rear hull, the brig was a long cylinder, about twelve feet high and fifty feet long, the metal walls sloping and convex. There were five cells in the brig, each cell guarded by a clear glass door that had been machined into incredible strength. All of the doors were open—there was no need to shut the prisoner in. The guards were all outside, all around, ready to strike, ready to kill.

Slowly Davage moved past the open cell doors.

Finally, in the center, he saw the prisoner—the Black Hat. He couldn’t believe what he had seen in his office; he had to see for himself. He had to look her square in the eye and see.

She was sitting quietly on the bench, erect, perfect posture, her small hands placed properly in her lap. Her scarlet robe was a shocking splash of color in the drab ochre interior of the brig.

Her black mask was gone, and her face was completely exposed. She was a tiny woman, barely five feet tall. Her face was thin and pretty. Her skin was pale and blemish-free. Her vacant eyes were big and green, a very striking shade. Cheekbones high, her nose was distinctive and prominent.

Her dark red hair was long and wavy. It was pulled back from her face and tied in place with a black felt bow. A black bow? That was not something he expected a Black Hat to wear.

And the mark was there—the Black Hat’s mark—the black, twisting, ink-vine tattoo wrapping around her right eye trailing down to her cheek bone. A hard patch of black on her pale skin. They all had a mark like that. He’d once seen a dead Black Hat on an autopsy table, the Hospitaler Hopkins surgeons going to work on her dead body. He remembered the mark the most, its shape and form had stayed with him.

This Black Hat’s mark was different: different size, different shape, different hue. Interesting.

Her expression was distant—blank. Her eyes were glassy and doll-like.

Here she was—the dreaded Black Hat, scourge of the League, evil given form, a tiny, pretty woman with a black bow in her hair and a mark on her face.

Slowly, Davage walked into the cell, his boots clacking on the floor tiles. With measured movements, he placed the tray on the small table to his right and sat down opposite her.

Davage thought, For the first time in centuries, a Xaphan and an Elder sit together without actively trying to kill each other … truly a first.

Her expression didn’t change; her eyes were blank, vacant.

Davage sat there, leaning forward slightly. He said nothing. His CARG rolled over in its saddle a bit, clanking on the floor.

He’d come all this way. He looked at her long and hard, taking in her features.

It was true, what he had seen from his office; it was all true. This woman, this Black Hat, looked just like Captain Hathaline …

“How am I ever to forgive you?”

… of House Durst, his neighbor and lifelong friend, his peer and cohort. Davage had spent his childhood with Lady Hathaline …

“You have betrayed me! Betrayed me!”

… at his side. And together in the Fleet, they had shared many adventures and fought countless battles side-by-side.

The more he looked at her, the more of Hath he saw. Everything was there; she was her perfect double with the exception of the mark, the Black Hat’s mark. Hath had no such thing on her face.

Dear Hath—how he missed her, how he regretted never giving her at least a little bit of what she wanted … before she died.

No, didn’t die—was killed, murdered by Princess Marilith of Xandarr. He couldn’t hate Marilith too much. It had been a fair fight … Not fair, actually. Hath had a better ship, better crew.

All dead. All gone.

But Marilith fought like a demon. She had owed Hath, and she had won.

Now, Hathaline, returned to him from the grave.

He wanted to talk to her, to this Black Hat. He wanted to hear Hath’s voice again. He wanted it like nothing else.

But this wasn’t Hath; this was a Black Hat—a Xaphan. This was an enemy of the League, a woman who could kill him with the slightest thought.

He had to be careful.

They sat in silence for hours, neither moving, neither blinking. Davage, his instincts for diplomacy inherited from his father Sadric operating in full gear, realized that if this was to work, and consequently if he was to get out of this alive, he needed patience. She had to make the first move. That was the key. His father always stressed: “It is imperative your opponent make the opening move. Watch what they do, consider their situation, their limitations, their strengths, and once done, you may plan your winning strategy.”

He’d sit there forever if he had to.

Silence.

Davage heard the vacuum manifolds that operated life support clunk a few decks above. He could hear the occasional muffled ‘whooshing’ of a lift moving by and the indistinct droning conversations of passing crewmen, blissfully unaware of the mortal confrontation that was going on in the brig.

He could hear his intestines gurgling.

He could hear her intestines gurgling too.

Then, from far away: Tap … tap … tap-tap …

He could hear it, plain as day, all the way from the outer hull, the odd, disembodied echoing knocking sound that happened from time to time. It sounded like a fingernail knocking against the thick duraplate hull. It was a sound that carried a long, long way into the depths of the ship. Lord Probert, the man who had designed this vessel, had explained it away to him once at dinner, speaking in the stark, sterile way that engineers tend to talk in: “It is simply the hull plates cooling, grinding together. The ship must be permitted to flex. That is all. Pay it no heed, I pray you.”

But the crew … the crew hated hearing it. They thought it was a bad omen, a sure sign of disaster to come; crewmen were always superstitious. They called it the ‘Hand of Vith’; other more macabre crew referred to it as ‘Hathaline’s Calling.’ Captain Hathaline and her lost ship the Dart had taken on a rather Flying Dutchman-type mystique since the second Battle of Mirendra, which Dav hated.

Tap-tap … tap … tap …

“Captain Hathaline knocking on the door, waiting for Captain Davage to love her evermore …” so they sang in hushed tones.

And here dear Hath was, returned from the grave it seemed, wearing a Xaphan’s Black Hat robes and a mark on her face, a murderer in a trance.

More time passed.

Come on, Hath … talk to me.

Finally, almost imperceptibly, her green eyes flicked toward the tray of food and water Davage had brought in.

The first move. Now … now was the time. He cleared his throat and spoke.

“I’ve only recently been informed that you were not fed in a proper or timely fashion. Completely unacceptable. As captain of this ship, the fault ultimately lies with me, and I offer my most humble apologies. Should you wish to file a formal protest, I assure you your complaint will be presented to the Fleet Admiralty, where, no doubt, an investigation will be conducted at once regarding the matter.”

The Black Hat said nothing.

“You should offer your complaint in writing, as is customary.”

After a few more moments of silence, her eyes, hollow, glassy, and doll-like, slowly moved toward Davage, regarding him for the first time. He felt his insides shudder a bit. He could feel her power, her terrible power, coiled, tense, ready to spring … ready to kill.

It was like being stared at by the Devil himself. The Devil in Hath’s beautiful body.

He knew, from this moment forward, that he was in mortal combat with this Black Hat. It wasn’t a battle of fists or weapons or starships but of words and ideas.

He knew his life hung on a thread.

Continues...

Excerpted from "Sygillis of Metatron (League of Elder Book 1)" by Ren Garcia. Copyright © 2017 by Ren Garcia. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Ren Garcia

Ren Garcia

Ren Garcia is a Science Fiction/Fantasy author and Texas native who grew up in western Ohio. He has been writing since before he could write, often scribbling alien lingo on any available wall or floor with assorted crayons. He attended The Ohio State University and majored in English Literature. Ren has been an avid lover of anything surreal since childhood. He also has a passion for caving, urban archeology, taking pictures of clouds, and architecture. He currently lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife, and their four dogs.

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