Impure

( 3 )

Overview

Koristad Altessor, son of Arach the Black Guardian, is a young, driven necromancer who wants nothing more than to take vengeance upon the villainous vampire who caused the death of his family. But it is not long before the child of darkness is recruited by an order of righteous warriors who are dedicated to protecting the innocent from wicked magic users and unspeakable monsters. Koristad and the lightwielders are about to begin an unforgettable journey to the truth.

Koristad ...

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Impure: Resurrection

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Overview

Koristad Altessor, son of Arach the Black Guardian, is a young, driven necromancer who wants nothing more than to take vengeance upon the villainous vampire who caused the death of his family. But it is not long before the child of darkness is recruited by an order of righteous warriors who are dedicated to protecting the innocent from wicked magic users and unspeakable monsters. Koristad and the lightwielders are about to begin an unforgettable journey to the truth.

Koristad sets out to carve a path through the darkness of his bleak world. Ac-companied by Peril, a naïve and innocent lightwielder, Koristad rises to face the challenges that lie ahead-including a fierce battle with a barbarian intent on seeking his own revenge. Unable to call upon his magic powers out of fear of being pulled back into the world of the dead, Koristad must rely on his own strength as he realizes there will never again be one like him.

After the necromancer and lightwielder are tasked with protecting an ancient artifact, a long extinct bloodline of mages reemerges. Suddenly, Koristad and Peril are fighting for more than they ever imagined, including their own survival.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
In Bailey's debut novel, a young necromancer must reign in his "tainted" magic and fight on the side of the righteous. When Koristad agrees to serve as a proxy lightwielder, protecting the innocent alongside the do-gooders blessed with their goddess' power, he makes it clear that he considers the responsibility onerous and ironic. His status as a necromancer makes him a more likely threat than ally in the eyes of many of his new comrades. But he owes a debt to Gregan, the lightwielder who refused to kill Koristad when it appeared the boy might have let his power over the dead go too far. Koristad teams up, ever-protesting, with novice healer Peril, and the two get themselves into and out of a variety of violent situations. Throughout them all, Koristad balances his disdain for lightwielder piety with a wish neither to fall prey to his potentially self-annihilating magic nor to kill when unnecessary. The story is deliberately episodic; Koristad faces a necromancer from his past, a barbarian, a werewolf and an angry mob before even hearing about the mission that sets up the book's sequel. Most of these adventures also include flashbacks that embellish the world's history or shed light on the kinds of players in it. The result is a well-realized mythology with limited exposition. Venturing into different characters' backgrounds, however, sometimes serves to highlight the deficiencies of our heroes. Peevish Koristad and vapid Peril have a familiar relationship in which she wishes to be rescued more promptly and he refuses to admit more than a stoic tolerance of her. Love is surely soon to follow. Also likely in the next installment: political intrigue among the lightwielders, Koristad's confrontation with his father's killer and more on the identity of the mysterious Wraith, who aids Koristad from beyond the grave. A scattered but enjoyable romp through creative supernatural history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781462020324
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/11/2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 850,122
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Impure

Resurrection
By J. R. Bailey

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 J. R. Bailey
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4620-2032-4


Chapter One

As if in Dreams

Some say the eyes are a window to the soul. Then I guess one might think of the eyelids as shutters. I would rather liken them to inward facing mirrors; when we close our eyes, we don't find ourselves lost in the darkness. We stare back into our own soul and, when we dream, we can't look away. What do you see when you close your eyes?

Bloodcurdling cries. The death wails of something that didn't seem human crept across the darkened fields like an icy, groping hand. It could reach into your heart and squeeze it tight, choking the life out of you like your blackest fears. Worse still was the rattling. Chains. There could be no doubt; such a sound has a certain quality, a texture that can be felt down to the bones. Sometimes the sound was frenzied, like a terrified animal trying to tear its mutilated leg out of a trap. But other times, when the screams would grow silent, it was as if the chains were being dragged against each other; heavy, black links ground together by a terrible strength.

The source of this chilling cacophony stood alone in a wide and shallow gulley. It was an old, ruined prison tower built from dark blocks of stone. Though there was a pair of heavy wooden doors at its base that had once sealed the structure from the outside, the tower's east wall had crumbled years ago, revealing its guts to the open air. A clearly exposed stairway led to an iron door, laden with rust and age. But what was beyond that door, the top floor of the tower, was hidden from sight. This room had been built with more care, with the diligence of a craftsman who wanted whatever was inside to never find its way out.

Living things had always shied away from this ground. Birds wouldn't land here. The structure wasn't choked by vines or the roots of nearby flora, nor was it touched by moss or fungi. Not even grass would grow. Only gray, decrepit trees, the sap of life having long since fled, were in attendance. They stood motionless, their cracked and withered branches drooping near the ground, like mourners weeping at a never ending funeral. It had always seemed such a dead place—until that night.

It wasn't until daybreak, as the gentle sunlight poured over the horizon, that a lone figure approached the tower. The sounds of the night had been unsettling, and though he may have been too wary to approach before dawn, what terrifies us in the dead of night becomes more pale when touched by the sun.

A gray cloak was draped across his broad shoulders, stitched with an image of the sun, licks of flame spiraling out in every direction. His dark hair hadn't a single fleck of white, but his strong features had been weathered with age. The heyday of his youth had passed, but his limbs still retained their strength, and his eyes shined with awareness.

The man shook his head in disgust, both with himself and with the heavy doors, one hanging by a single joint. The wood had decomposed very little, but everything that had once been metal had turned to rust. The hinges had broken, and with a stout shove it became clear the lock had as well.

The entryway was strewn with dust and rubble from the collapsed wall, and the stairs weren't as sound as they had appeared from the outside. The rough footing made progress slow, and the lighting was dim. Not dark—sunlight could stream in from the gaping wall—but diffusely lit enough to remind the trespasser of what he'd felt hearing those sounds in the dead of night. But there was more to it than that; the closer he came to the top of the tower, the more a sense of deep dread crept into his bones. It was this sensation that kept all other living things away. Animals are born with sense enough to pay heed to such intuitive dread, but the man only shuddered and continued his ascent.

The upper door was more imposing than it had seemed from a distance. Though it had suffered the advances of rust as well, by virtue of its sheer mass it had been little damaged. Even the lock was in operable condition. The man carried with him a skeleton key; he'd been told it could open any lock on the sanctuary grounds.

With a sharp twist of the key and a harsh snap, the door popped open a hair, never to close again. It was a portal of uncommon size, the likes of which the trespasser had never seen before. It took all his strength to nudge the bulwark open just wide enough for him to slip through, stumbling into the interior with a groan of exertion. Inside, his heart leapt into his throat, and he wished he'd entered with more caution.

The chamber was nearly as black as pitch. Shadows flitted across the walls, cast by the light that passed through where the door stood ajar; it was the first light that had touched these walls in a very, very long time.

The first thing he saw was a stand wrought of marbled stone, crafted to resemble a pair of angelic wings. This was a style that had been favored by the lightwielders in decades past, though it wasn't seen much anymore. Nestled in the wings was a weapon of unusual and unique design; one could call it neither sword nor axe nor spear. It had a long handle, longer than any sword, and no guard at all, with a measure nearly the height of a man. It was topped with a wide, single blade with a flat back, but angled like the edge of a guillotine. The blade seemed to gather up all the light and reflect it like a mirror, gleaming even in the gloom. This was a sanctified blade, a holy weapon of the lightwielders, pure enough to rip through the flesh of even the darkest monster. The man snatched up the weapon without a thought, the dread he'd felt growing in him during his approach nearly overwhelming, now. It had more heft than he'd expected, too much to carry in a single hand. It was an unwieldy thing; its balance was akin to the axe of an executioner—an instrument designed for an instant, savage deathblow.

That was when he saw it. It was black stone banded with steel, and though it wasn't shaped like a coffin, he knew that's what it was. A heavy, steel chain wrapped around it thirteen times, criss-crossing in every direction and at every angle, and it was all bound together by a single, enormous lock. This chamber hadn't been exposed to the elements, and the restraints appeared to be in functional condition, if not ideal.

The man stood there, frozen. It seemed like days before he could bring himself to move his feet from that spot, and then only to grope around the walls in search of a lantern or torch, anything for more light. But there was nothing; had there been, it would have been rendered useless with age.

As the man's eyes adjusted to the darkness, he glanced uneasily back at the coffin. He was surprised to see an unusual depression in the stone's surface. Gathering his nerve, he warily approached, holding the sanctified weapon in front of him. It was not only a defensive gesture; he found he could use the shining blade to gather up and reflect what little ambient light there was.

The abnormality he'd spotted wasn't merely a depression, but a cut through the stone, a shaft piercing through to whatever was inside. He ran his finger along the finely chiseled edge, trying to determine just how thick the stone was. But such a gesture wasn't without reaction.

It was subtle at first, a stirring that could have been a squirrel on the roof if the trespasser didn't know better. It was coming from inside the coffin and growing louder. At first he couldn't move, he wanted to believe the sound of links of metal being scraped together was just his imagination. But when he began to feel the stone tremble beneath his fingers, he leapt back with a gasp, nearly tripping over his weapon in fear.

In a moment of lucidity, he realized the slot in the stone was precisely the same width as the weapon's blade. They were made to work in concert; the instrument could be driven into the breach, piercing the ribs and heart of whatever was locked within. There was hardly a moment of hesitation before the weapon was drawn up to strike, poised to rid the world of evils better left not unleashed upon the world.

"Stay your hand, Jonathan Vade," a voice boomed as the light from the entryway darkened. "I'll not ask you twice."

A man with a thick, brown and gray beard pushed the door open wide using only his right hand, making the massive iron barrier look like a toy. He was forced to use only the one hand; this was all he had, and an empty sleeve dangled on his other side. A shining chain hung around his neck, suspending a medallion wrought in the shape of the blazing sun, the contemporary symbol of the lightwielders, the children of Aura. The garments he wore were distinctive, but not gaudy, an attire that signified his rank among his order.

"Executor Mourne!" Jonathan blurted out, startled.

He was able to recompose himself in an instant, placing the weapon on the ground before him and dropping to one knee. The older man approached with a powerful stride that belied his age, casting wise and commanding eyes down on the younger man.

"Don't do that," the executor grumbled. "I get enough of that in the sanctuary; it's rare that I can sneak off and be away from those twitchy old men who call themselves my council."

His tone was even and his words slow, as if he wasn't aware of the increasingly feverish sounds issuing from the coffin between them.

"Executor," Jonathan spat out, quickly rising to his feet, "There's something inside this coffin! Something still alive!"

"Yes, I know," he said in a low voice, laying his hand upon the edge of the stone. "I had hoped you wouldn't enter this place. Curse your Vade name; your great-grandfather was every bit as over eager as you, even when he had no idea what he was getting himself in to. But I suppose it can't be helped, now."

"I'm sorry, executor," Jonathan said, bowing his head, though he wasn't exactly sure what he was apologizing for. "I sent my oldest to notify the lightwielders in the sanctuary. I didn't expect you to come here yourself ... especially not alone."

"Your key," the executor said, acting as if he hadn't heard a word. "It will open this lock as well."

He gestured at the mechanism that held the chains fastened tight around the coffin. Jonathan reached into his pocket with a shaking hand and produced the object in question.

"You're white as a sheet," Mourne sighed heavily. "Lightwielders can feel the flow of tainted blood all around them. You'll be in no danger with me here."

Jonathan nodded and approached the lock with the key in hand, his apprehensions little eased. It opened with a heavy click and the chains parted, unraveling themselves and falling to the ground in seconds. Whatever was inside the coffin went silent.

"Now, assist me in removing the lid," the executor ordered, grabbing an end of the stone slab with his one hand.

Jonathan didn't dare hesitate, even though his gut told him he should. Executor Gregan Mourne was the highest ranking lightwielder at the sanctuary, one of only seven executors in the empire. They answered only to the high executor who resided in the capital, and the high executor didn't even answer to the emperor himself. He was a man to be respected and revered, but, lightwielder or not, Jonathan was beginning to doubt his judgment.

It took both men all of their strength, but the heavy stone lid slipped off with a groan and crashed to the floor. The impact reverberated throughout the tower.

Jonathan's eyes went wide and his heart went still in his chest at what he saw. Smaller chains, stained black with age, wrapped around a still figure, binding it like a mummy. They twisted tightly around the arms and legs, the neck, everywhere. There were even individual chains running between the fingers, all rigged to keep the captive's hands crossed at its chest. These chains were then anchored to the stone with iron plates and spikes, forbidding even the slightest movement.

The entombed figure wore a mask, or perhaps it would be better called a muzzle. It was a brown, leather strip that covered the mouth and hooked under the chin. A pair of buckles behind the head made it impossible to remove without free hands, though one side of the device had been torn or fallen apart with age. The prisoner's hair was unnaturally long, as if it had kept growing for as long as this confinement had lasted. With the mask and hair both obscuring its face, Jonathan could make out only one feature—a mark underneath the right eye.

It was the mark of the necromancer. A dark design too complex and perfect to be natural, yet it hadn't been placed there by human hands. Jonathan had only seen it in person once before, but even then he'd known it well. The Vade family carried the blood of Aura, the divine gift that granted power to the lightwielders. Though his family hadn't been blessed with a lightwielder in four generations, since Jonathan's great grandfather's time, they were well acquainted with the marks borne by those of tainted blood. Most necromancers sought refuge far to the north, where their combined threat was just enough to keep them hated and feared, but alive. However, the further they strayed from those lands, the more likely they were to encounter people who thought they were too much of a threat to be left alive.

"Mr. Vade," the executor warned, "Keep your weapon at the ready."

"What? I thought you said we were in no danger!" he said, scrambling to pick up the halberd, which he'd let drop to the floor.

The executor didn't get another chance to speak. The coffin erupted with the clamor of snapping metal and a feral growl as the chains were torn asunder by an inhuman strength. The entombed creature leapt from its confinement, the shattered chains streaming behind it like the tattered wings of a devil. It landed hard on the stone floor, staggering to one knee. Its hands were still bound at its chest and its back was turned toward the two intruders, and Jonathan thought to take advantage of the opportunity and strike the creature down while he had a chance. Executor Mourne stopped him with his only hand.

"Executor, I saw the mark on its face! It's a vampire!" Jonathan protested.

"Jonathan Vade!" he bellowed, nearly knocking the younger man off his feet. "Don't assume you know what stands before you better than I!"

Jonathan was stunned, and for half a second he couldn't even speak.

"I-I'm sorry, sir," he said, taking a step back. He felt like he'd made a fool of himself.

The creature rose to its feet and turned toward them, its black, over long hair dragging across the stone floor. It stared down the two men with the fiercest eyes Jonathan had ever seen. They bore both the intensity of a predatory beast and the cunning of a man, a disconcerting combination.

"What is this thing, executor? What's going on?"

Gregan sighed deeply and said, "I suppose I have no choice."

Chapter Two

(Sixteen years before present)

BY THE TIME THE lightwielders reached the town of Ravensweald, there was no sign of anyone who had been left alive. The Great Citadel to the north had fallen and along with it, its protector, Arach Altessor, the Black Guardian. Now the barbarian hordes spilled southward, like a torrent of water from a broken dam, taking whatever they wanted and destroying everything else.

Gregan had never seen such berserk ferocity from man or beast in all his years; everywhere he looked there was murder. The scene was a regular feast for the carrion birds; they seemed to populate the land in limitless numbers. Not only had the barbarians slain the men who had tried to fight against them, but the women and the children as well. And those who left their lifeless, mangled corpses behind may have been considered lucky; at least they hadn't been taken as slaves or toys or concubines. But the barbarians took surprisingly few prisoners, seeming to enjoy the thrill of bloodshed more than plunder.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Impure by J. R. Bailey Copyright © 2011 by J. R. Bailey. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2011

    A Must Read!!

    I just got done reading my first ebook and this was it. I love the nook Book app and Im glad this was my first ebook. If you are looking for a deep story line and even deeper characters this is for you!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 15, 2011

    Hard to put down!!!

    This is a great book. I have enjoyed every page and am on the second read through. I would recomend this to anyone that has eyes!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2011

    An Inspired Story

    Amidst so many yawn inspiring fantasy novels, it's a real treat to come across one that grabs your attention from the very first page and never lets go...and leaves you wanting more when it's all over.

    I would absolutely reccomend this book to my friends.

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