So many feels right now, I don't know exactly what to say. OK, well this novel clocked in over 115k words, the paperback is about 400 pages long, and I seriously need a break from writing epic fantasy after this (plenty of urban fantasy projects begging for my attention, anyhow).
I'd also love to know that people are also reading this novel. So if you do read it, post a comment, send an email/message, leave a review - something, anything! This story is very close to my heart, and I want to share it with as many people as possible.
If you'd like to purchase an ebook copy of Dead As Dreams, you can do so via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, Google, and Smashwords. You can also use the Books2Read link for ease in choosing your preferred online retailer. The paperback version will be available later this week on Amazon.
Now that I've given you the links, here's not one, but two excerpts from the novel!
Water dripped all around, the source of the droplets an enigma. A bulb of water appeared directly over an inky puddle, then fell, followed by another. Each drop hammered the Shepherd’s mind, almost as painful as the cries of the child.
The child that couldn’t be found. Not now, not ever.
She curled tightly into herself, large cold stones and gravel beneath her body, pressing hard against her side and cheek. Water soaked into her now tattered wraps, the feathers in her hair sticking to her face.
Again, the cries pierced the nightmare, echoing from every direction. An unvoiced sob caught in the Shepherd’s throat, and she covered her ears. No more. Please.
Her nightmare was always the same. Different settings, but always the child bawling, pain and loss infusing the cries. And the water that wasn’t water, the color of storm clouds and rust.
In the past, she’d searched for the babe. Only in the beginning, though.
Hard to believe there’d ever been a beginning. She strained to recall a time when the nightmare hadn’t existed.
Time. No sun or clock to keep track, she couldn’t tell how long she spent in dreams – time here was intangible, not following the rules of the waking world.
But there had been a beginning. She’d searched, filled with hope of finding the squalling child, only to ache more when she failed to discover the source of the cries. Always out of reach.
And oh, the misery, losing her child over and over again.
Unlike dreams, she had no power in nightmares. No ability to shift and adjust her surroundings or call the babe to her breast.
Even forcing herself to wake, to flee to reality, remained evasive. Though she never tried hard to do so, as that was a different kind of nightmare. And it would always come on its own before long, anyhow.
No longer wishing to fight against Muska’s will, she’d stopped searching after a while. Now, when thrown into a nightmare, she remained immobile and endured the wailing.
The Shepherd cringed at every cry, and the water numbed her skin. She pleaded to be released. Muska refused to acquiesce.
Her wrists and ankles throbbed, echoes of events long dead in her real life. Unless her present had changed. What was being done to her, where she was – she’d lost track.
She lived for the dreams and ran from the nightmares.
And so the babe cried, the water chilling the Shepherd to the bone, as expected. But this time, a new worry tugged at her mind.
The man haunted her. He shouldn’t have acknowledged her presence. She was a shadow in people’s dreams. No one noticed the outline on the floor.
Yet he had.
He couldn’t be like her, able to hop from dream to dream, manipulating the surroundings. He was an encroacher, not a Mahlani. Could it mean something was wrong in the dream world?
The decay she’d smelled in the Nexus – it had to be connected. A puzzle to piece together.
An emptiness hollowed out her insides, and she scrambled to find the first piece. The cries hammering her ears hindered her and derailed her thoughts.
Now a section from the spirit seeker Lazarus:
Lazarus swiped his staff down, driving its tip into the dirt. A tremor shook the ground, shot up his staff, traveled along his arm, and then burrowed into his chest. He stumbled from the unexpected power. Too many spirits.
Not all souls lingered, but this town had its fair share sticking around. More than one night’s work. He hoped the chief would be generous. If not, perhaps he’d allow a spirit or two to linger.
Lazarus knelt and laid his staff in front of him. He pressed his palms against the dirt and leaned down, until the charm around his neck brushed the earth.
The purple light flared, and when he closed his eyes, violet spots danced behind his lids. The brilliant color reminded him of the glossy feathers of the dream-woman.
He muttered under his breath, angry for allowing his thoughts to drift. Never before had he allowed such a distraction to intrude upon his concentration.
The small whisper shook the nearest gravestone – the dead were listening.
Focusing on the dangling orb, he directed the purple light with his mind. It plunged into the dirt and spread out, like the rays of the sun, or the roads springing from the city of Tyrrnah. The light touched several corpses that still had spirits tarrying in the waking world.
Then the first drop of rain struck the back of Lazarus’s neck.
So entangled in his thoughts, he hadn’t smelled the storm rolling in. The drizzle built to a steady rain, and he was drenched in seconds, his cloak clinging to him.
His power was more volatile during a storm.
At least the crowd outside the graveyard remained silent. If they ran for shelter, the ground would quake. Thankfully their fear contained them.
Lazarus recentered, stabilizing the threads of power weaving through the ground of Hambrea. The number of souls took his breath away. Even if a spirit seeker hadn’t visited here for years, it shouldn’t have reached anywhere near this amount.
The deeper he traveled into the Outskirts, the higher the spirit count. But this time... the quantity had leapt considerably compared to the last town, more than was logical.
So many. How?
Another burying ground. He hadn’t seen signs of a second one. Spirits lingered at the edge of his senses, though, out of reach.
He’d pry the location from the chief tomorrow. Nothing he could do from here, so no use worrying about those souls now.
Lazarus wrapped the tendrils of power and light around as many bodies as he could – not even a third of the lost ones in this graveyard. Then he called to them.
“Come. Seek your bodies where they rest. Come.” Though his voice remained a mere whisper, the ground trembled. “Come. Join the bones you left behind. Come.”
And they came, all faded shadows only he could see. One by one, the restless spirits sank back into the earth and curled up in their rotting bodies. When all the ones he’d called rested in their empty husks, he twined the threads of energy around their necks, anchoring them.
Some struggled, attempting to escape. Their wails reverberated in his head, and shook him to his core. His repulsion over the required violence churned his stomach. Always.
No matter the hope for a peaceful send-off, only pain persisted. Once, he’d tried to be gentle, before he knew better. If his mentor hadn’t been there to fix his mistake, loose, angry souls would have rampaged the town.
Lazarus tightened the threads around the spirits’ necks, choking off their ambition. Lightning flashed overhead, paired with thunder, and the tombstones rattled.
Souls chained to the earth scream for release, and nightmares devour dreams.
Aysa, the Shepherd of Dreams, hides in the dream world from a past she yearns to forget. But when the scent of rotting flowers wafts through the Nexus, and multiplying nightmares nip at her heels, she realizes it’s her responsibility as the goddess Muska’s chosen to protect her realm. And then a dreamer notices her for the first time...
Lazarus hates the power the god Lokahn cursed him with – as a spirit seeker, he’s tasked to wander Bodhira, sending off lingering souls to the unknown. In one town, he stumbles across a mass grave and fails to free the spirits, as they’re bound to the earth by another spirit seeker’s magic. Determined to liberate the souls, he seeks help from an unlikely source. A woman from his dream, with blue eyes and feathers in her hair...
Aysa and Lazarus reluctantly make a pact to restore the balance between dreams and nightmares, as well as life and death.