News from the Cloak, November '17

Hello all and welcome to the November 2017 Edition of our newsletter. We know we are a couple days late but hope that you will enjoy what we have to offer this month and share with your friends.

Updates
Andrew Sweetapple, one of our regular contributors here at Cloaked Press, has a new writing project we think you should check out. His blog, The Scholarium , is a collection of flash fiction pieces in serial form to build the worlds he is planning longer works within. We highly recommend you check it out.

We are still taking submissions for our Science Fiction short story collection, Spring Into SciFi .

Our first collection, Fall Into Fantasy 2017 Edition, is available on Amazon and gaining some great reviews. Check it out if you haven't and let us know what you think.

One last thing, if you like what you read and would like to support our efforts here at Cloaked Press to bring you great stories, you can join us on Patreon . For the cost of a cheap latte, you can help us pay our authors more, as well as get unique prizes for yourself, such as: increased entries into our monthly giveaway, advance copies of our books, and special giveaways from our authors.


Let's award out Amazon prize for November. This month's winner of the $5.00 Amazon gift card is, Michael Paterson. Michael, if you don't see the email from Amazon sometime today, please email AMF@cloakedpress.com to let us know.

We want to tell you about a friend of Cloaked Press who has a new release this month. Melinda Kucsera has released her third book in her Curse Breaker series, Curse Breaker: Faceted

Check out her Amazon blurb for this book.

In a subterranean world where light is everything, can an untrained mage and his son stop the encroaching darkness?

He's an untrained mage spying on the men responsible for his best friend's demise--with his young son in tow. And those men are hunting for magic-stealing rocks to fuel a zealot's quest.

When greed collides, something far worse is released, and it's hungry for a certain mage and his son. Who will survive the dark terror lurking under the mountain?

Find out what happens when the lights go out in Curse Breaker: Faceted.

Curse Breaker: Faceted is the action-packed sequel to Curse Breaker: Darkens. Christian Fantasy meets dark fantasy in this fast-paced narrative pitting Sarn and his son against monsters both human and not.

Fans of Anthony Ryan, Julliet Marillier, Michael J. Sullivan, Mercedes Lackey, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman will enjoy Sarn's struggle against dark forces to save his son and himself. Get Curse Breaker: Faceted today!

***Curse Breaker: Faceted can be read as a stand-alone book or as part of the Curse Breaker Series. Shh, don't tell the characters I told you that.


This month's flash fiction comes from Andrew M. Ferrell 's "Realm of Ezrahn" project. This is a tale from the Consanguine, a guild of assassins. 
 
Initiation
 
“What's with all the secrecy?” mutters Beldin from under the black hood drawn over his head. “I finished my kills. Pay me and show me to my room.”
 
“You know you have to be initiated first. Now be quiet,” responds the man Beldin knows only as Talon.
 
Beldin curses under his breath. “This damn hood itches.” Cold steel presses against his throat, cutting off further complaint.
 
Water drips somewhere close by as Beldin blindly steps downward. The rope around his hands and middle jerks taut a few paces beyond the end of the stairs. Before he can protest a low chanting rises up all around. He turns his head side to side, trying to make out the words.
 
The chanting stops, a deep bass voice rises in its place. “Who comes to the Blood?”
 
Forced to his knees, Beldin replies as he was instructed, “It is I, Beldin Hern.”
 
“Brother Talon, has the petitioner completed his trials to your satisfaction?” The deep voice asks.
 
“He has,” responds Talon. Beldin breathes a sigh of relief.
 
“Beldin Hern, do you accept the strictures of the Order of Blood?”
 
“I do.”
 
“Will you guard our secrets with your life? On pain of torture or imminent death, can you swear nothing will pass your lips?”
 
“I swear.”
 
“Rise,” the voice commands. Beldin stands carefully, his blindness hampering his equilibrium. “Extend your hands.”
 
Beldin stands still as his already short sleeves are torn off at the shoulders. He tries not to flinch as a small cut is made near the joint of his arm and shoulder. Unseen figures squeeze his arm, causing blood to drip down to his elbow. Beldin feels heat just seconds before hot metal sears the flesh in the vicinity of the cut made in his shoulder.
 
The voice calls out, louder than before, as the bindings are cut away from Beldin’s hands and waist. “There is one final rite of initiation.”
 
The hood pulls clear of Beldin’s head. He blinks to adjust his eyes to the sudden brightness. He looks around, spying at least a dozen masked and hooded figures. A chalice filled with a thick red liquid is held under his nose. His next step clear, Beldin grasps the chalice and drinks deeply. The warm metallic taste tells him the liquid is what he feared it was: blood. What person or creature, he doesn’t want to know. Beldin stifles the urge to vomit as warmth spreads throughout his body. The heat rises, making him lightheaded. He falls to his knees, fighting back the bile in his throat. Minutes pass before he looks up. His angle from the floor affords him a glimpse inside the hood of the figure in front of him. Red eyes stare back at him.
 
The figure speaks, revealing it is the owner of the deep voice. “Beldin Hern is dead. Join us now, as a Brother in Blood, Scythe.”
 
His new ‘brothers’ smile at him from the shadows. Slowly, a cheer rises up. They begin chanting his assigned name. Beldin fights to his feet, slowly regaining his balance. An awareness fills his mind, a connection not only to those in the room but also to the legacy that is the Consanguine. He knows instinctively that the figure in front of him is Blaze, the current leader of the order, and nearly 300 years old.
 
Blaze laughs at the expression on Beldin’s face. “It takes some getting used to brother. The blood magic binds us together, and extends our lives. You will be faster, stronger, more agile than you ever were before. And before you ask, you are not undead. Some people confuse us with vampires. The fear of the undead has made our jobs easier, and harder, over the centuries.”
 
Beldin breathes a sigh of relief. “What now?”
 
Blaze smiles, “Now we have to erase Beldin Hern from common memory. Some of your brothers have already begun culling those who casually know of you. You, however, have to kill your captain and brother’s family.”
 
Shocked, Beldin stammers, “You knew I was with the Guard and you let me get this close?”
 
“Yes. We saw potential within you. Now you are bound to us in a way few outsiders could ever understand. You can refuse to do this, but the magic will wear off within a few days and you will die. Do you understand?”
 
Beldin nods. A figure approaches from the shadows, handing him his pack and weapons. Beldin hefts the blades, curved hand scythes he helped forge himself. He knew all along he wasn’t cut out for the Guard. His unorthodox methods often landing him in trouble with his superiors, even if the results met with approval.
*     *     *
Scythe grips the well worn handles of his blades, staring down from the rooftop. The memory of his initiation as strong tonight as when it occurred 200 years ago. His blades, stained crimson from two centuries of bloodshed, are now infused with the same magic as his own veins.
 
His target strolls down the dimly lit lane. Scythe’s eyes glow in the faint moonlight. He licks his lips in anticipation of the kill. Even after so many contracts, the adrenaline still burns hot in his blood.
 
Scythe stills his body, he can hear the target’s heartbeat from a block away. He sprints across the rooftops as silent as the darkness wrapped around him. When he leaps down to street level he buries both blades in the back of the man. A flash of light and an explosion knocks Scythe across the street. He smashes into a wall. Shaking out the cobwebs, Scythe fights to his feet.
 
The target throws his cloak, revealing a shining breastplate. “I wondered when you were going to finally make your move, death dealer.” The man radiates confidence and control. “If you seek to kill a demigod you have to move faster.”
 
“You're just a contract.” Scythe rolls his shoulders, causing the joints to pop.
 
“What fool takes a job that will kill him? You have to know you can't win.”
 
“That's where you underestimate me,” Scythe pulls a vial from within his pouch. Tossing it in the air, he claps his blades together. The liquid inside the vial coats the weapons as it shatters.
 
The two rush at each other, the demigod pulling two short swords. Sparks fly as magic meets magic. The dance of death begins. The two circle each other for over an hour before Scythe draws first blood. The magic in his veins screams at the crimson spray from the demigod’s arm.
 
“Impossible!” Yells the bleeding immortal, clutching his arm. “My father is the God of Death. No weapon can touch me.”
 
“Who do you think hired me?” Scythe asks rhetorically as he plunges both of his blades into his foe’s chest. His magic infused blades shred the immortal’s breastplate.
 
As the fallen demigod gurgles his last breath, Scythe performs the post kill ritual by instinct. He captures a bit of the blood from his target and adds it to a second vial half filled with his own blood. Chanting the ancient blood magic, he swirls it together before drinking it down. The life force of the son of Death courses through him like a lava flow. Scythe falls to his knees, trying to catch his breath. When he looks up, there stands Sephter, the Lord of the Dead.
 
“Now I have a servant worthy of my legacy,” he reaches down, helping Scythe to his feet. “The Consanquine have made good use of the magic I bestowed on them ages ago.”
 
“You gave us the blood magic? Why?”
 
“Who else could extend your life in such a way? I needed a way to cultivate the proper generals for my army. Now, gather your best. We have work to do.” Sephter vanishes in a swirl of inky black, leaving Scythe standing over the body of the slain demigod.