Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I am pleased to be bringing you all a book excerpt from Light Dawning by Ty Arthur.
Once known as the City on the Hill and revered far and wide for its independence and boundless opportunity, Cestia has become home only to the damned. Surviving under the brutal occupation of a southern empire for three long years, the oppressed populace has lost hope of liberation, turning instead towards an increasingly desperate rebellion willing to commit any atrocity for a chance at freedom.
As total war approaches, four lost souls trapped behind Cestia’s walls are on a collision course with fate, destined to either save the city or see it utterly destroyed while calling on forces beyond mankind’s comprehension. For good or ill, the light of a new day is about to dawn.
3 (Eastern Ward, Warehouse District, Early Eventide)
Safe in a warehouse rarely searched by soldiers on the opposite end of the ward, a missionary worried that the city wasn’t falling into anarchy fast enough. The constantly disappointing rabble hadn’t risen up against their oppressors as a single mass yet. On the other side, there remained a constraint in the response from the authorities, a line of total genocide they wouldn’t cross even while tearing apart homes and murdering families. The process simply had to be sped up somehow.
Lowly man continued to stumble and falter in the face of god’s will, refusing to accept his lot in life and go down the path ordained by the Farwalker. If they wouldn’t set foot on that path of their own volition, the missionary had the strength of will to forcibly drag them down it until they discovered solid ground and took up the righteous journey on their own. The lack of progress was frustrating, but he knew beyond any doubt that eventually all men would take up the righteous path of light, just as the scriptures had foretold.
Picking the last brittle leaf from his carefully cultivated steinglass plant, the missionary wished, and not for the first time, that man was as dependable as nature. Three parts steinglass leaf, if picked at the right conditions when just turning brown and mottled, would always yield the same result when ground together with newly rotted brine root. If allowed to properly dry, the mixture would always yield the same special properties.
Not so with unreliable man. Put three men in the same situation with the same surroundings and achieving three different results was all but guaranteed. The trick then was finding the one element most likely to start a chain reaction that couldn’t be stopped, no matter how weak or disobedient the pawns at play.
He was certain that once a critical mass was reached, all would fall into place of its own accord. All it would take was the right pressure placed just far enough to tip the balance once and for all. Names and locations swirled about as half-formed plans came together and then collapsed, each flawed or not brazen enough to bring about the desired result.
His acolyte – one such unreliable and weak supplicant – broke the silence then, letting impatience override reverence when he gently inquired, “Father Erret?”
The missionary was still uncomfortable with the term, but after three years of leading his miserable flock, he was a father of sorts to the small collection of believers in this heathen-occupied city. His true progeny was the growing discontent that had been so carefully sown, but hadn’t quite managed to reach its full height yet. He’d been so convinced the riot stirred up in the ward the previous week would be the final act necessary, but success turned to bitter failure in an instant for reasons he still couldn’t comprehend.
Every variable had been meticulously considered and set upon the correct path at exactly the right location. All his calculations had been proven wrong when the violence suddenly evaporated in the responding crackdown from the soldiers. An act that should have seen the citizens pouring out of their homes to take up arms was instead met with fear and firmly-locked doors.
The will of the mob had departed in a baffling instant, as though whatever force was driving them on to fight had suddenly been extinguished. The matter required more study, for victory had clearly been at hand before being cruelly snuffed out by something unknown.
Erret smiled when the acolyte, barely old enough to be called a man, shuffled from foot to foot, unsure of whether to risk interrupting his superior again. He relented then, finally deigning to acknowledge the priest-in-training with a simple nod.
“I don’t mean to usurp your proper authority Father, but surely prudence calls for us to relocate to another house of worship?”
The flood of words from the acolyte’s mouth, all spilling out at once when finally given the chance, came with a cracking voice that betrayed his youth. The short but unkempt brown hair favored by these southerners furthered that appearance, a stark contrast to the missionary’s own platinum threads pulled back tightly into a single knot.
His response was softly chiding as the missionary used their current circumstances to yet again teach the same lesson that never seemed able to get through to this flock. “Don’t be in such a hurry to flee from hardship. We’re doing holy work here.”
Erret began the laborious grinding process then, mercilessly crushing the mottled leaf and rotten root against the edge of the stone mortar, jamming the pestle down with each word for emphasis.
Failing to notice his teacher’s annoyance and emboldened by the response, the acolyte ventured another interruption to the important transformation taking place inside the stone bowl. “Of course Father, but surely we can consecrate a new altar to the Farwalker’s glory in a safer ward?”
The question was left unanswered for a moment as Erret carefully spread the ground paste across a thin parchment covering the wood altar.
“Look to the way this woefully fallen world was shaped by the Farwalker in the purity and utility of nature. This lowly plant gave up its roots to become something greater, to be put on a new path it never would have discovered. Did it complain and flee as you would?”
When the layer was finally smooth across the entire surface, he resumed his impromptu sermon. ”Only in taking this living creature farther than it was intended to go on its own did it find its true purpose. Now its death will mean something, and in dying it finds a greater form than it ever would have achieved alone.”
His acolyte remained silent for a moment, as though uncertain of whether to speak again, but finally squeaked out, “Father… can we not find purpose and greater meaning without needless death?”
The fear of the unknown so readily apparent in his acolyte’s voice, the obvious desire for safety and self-preservation over holy duty to moving ever forward, struck a blow greater than any ever dealt by a mere soldier. At that moment the missionary decided this one would be of no use, and relegated him to the list of expendable fodder to be thrown into the next experiment.
He drew from the holy teachings of the faith directly then, idly quoting at the vessel he no longer saw as a useful tool, “When you burn an angel’s wings, it forces her to learn to walk on her own.”
A shortcut was necessary for the next step, as though the acolyte was cowardly, he wasn’t wrong that the makeshift chapel they’d erected here would soon no longer be safe. Erret slipped away from his disciple then, away from all that surrounded him, and called on the vision of a city burning. It started hazy and indistinct at first, but never altogether faded in his mind, not after first appearing since he was ordained in the priesthood. The image sharpened and focused on the canvas behind his eyes while he recited the familiar chant to call on the light of the Farwalker’s heavenly realm.
Lost in his spiritual reverie, Erret didn’t see the open awe on the acolyte’s face as a god seemingly answered this prayer, a crack of light now escaping the missionary’s outstretched hand. He slowly pulled the oddly-hued illumination across the sheet, bleeding warmth down onto the meticulously crafted mixture, bringing a week long drying process to an end in moments.
When it was done, he allowed the vision to return to the murky recesses of his subconscious and regained focus on the material world again.
The cracking voice was practically broken when the acolyte asked, “What is it Father?”
Carefully examining every inch of the now-dried substance, turned a dull black in the process, he responded, “In the hands of the uninitiated, it is death. In the right hands, it is nothing less than revolution.”
The boy – as the missionary found himself thinking of his subordinate as less and less of a man with each passing moment – had turned pale and nearly choked when asking, “Whose hands then will wield it, Father?”
He thought of that thieving wretch he’d discovered in the aftermath of the failed riot and placed for safe keeping with one of his resistance cells. There was a family there as well he recalled, most too far affected by the violence to be of use, but one still had a fire burning inside that could be stoked with the right conditions. Certainly not tools of the highest quality, but they would function for their intended purpose, god willing.
There was contempt in his voice, but he doubted the clueless child would notice. “Not yours. I have need of you for another task. One not yet of the faith will have to bear this burden.”
That holy purpose was where he needed to keep his thoughts, driving ever forward as the Farwalker commanded. All this death and misery would be worth it one day, and soon. Any price would be acceptable for the greater glory to come. Any cost would be paid in hope of the day that true revival of spirit spread across the continent, when these soldiers cast off the shackles of their false deity and took up the journey demanded by god.
His fearful and uncertain disciple brought to mind those simpering bishops so far away in a home nearly forgotten. The decadent leadership of the one true church had been only too happy to see him leave on what they deemed a hopeless quest. The fools were too shortsighted to see the revolution brewing here and even further south into the heart of the Ixnian continent, and how it could be used for the glory of god.
He didn’t know why the Farwalker allowed such swine to rule his physical foothold in the world, lounging about in their gilded mansions and enjoying the fruits of others’ labors. The holy text was clear that all the faithful depart the milk of their mother’s breast and seed the faith across the land, yet the leadership of the church hierarchy remained stagnant in their decadent surroundings. They boldly ignored the teachings of the god they professed to follow, heedless of the reckoning surely being prepared for them in the realm of light.
While carefully rolling the parchment up to store the dried layers, he cast a glance up at the boy who would never be a full priest and ordered him away. “Join the men waiting beneath Otta’s establishment and aid them in the task they’ve been assigned. When it’s done, meet me at the high ward.”
He took careful note of how quickly the boy was gone, eager to escape a place that would soon be the site of yet another brutal massacre. Slipping the parchment into a small onyx lock box and closing the latch, Erret mentally moved the pieces across the board of Cestia again, looking ahead to his meeting with overlord Brant.
Appointed by an Empress darkness-bent on conquering the entire continent and beyond, Brant was charged with the fool’s errand of running the city during the occupation and continued to be a major setback to the missionary’s plans. He pulled on his hair knot in annoyance at the thought of Brant’s reluctance to engage in full scale war against the people he was subjugating.
Erret turned his mind’s canvas then, with much distaste, to the ridiculous rituals the knights held seeking the will to do what must be done while they searched out their wicked artifact. He’d request Brant double the heretical services to a fallen deity, even if it disgusted him to do so. Even the darkness could be used for light’s purposes, if directed so by a man of true faith.
The missionary looked down then at the altar he’d carefully crafted and consecrated, muttering another passage from the Farwalker’s holy texts as a warning to himself. “Good intentions pave the road to eternal darkness.”
He tipped the nearest candle over and waited for the altar to begin catching fire before slipping out of the warehouse.
This is the third chapter of the book. If it has piqued your interest then you can find the links to both previous chapters below:
- Chapter 1 Introducing Myrr – http://www.metalunderground.com/news/details.cfm?newsid=134994
- Chapter 2 Introducing Tala – https://tyarthur.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/read-a-full-chapter-from-light-dawning/
Light Dawning by Ty Arthur is out now!!!
About Ty Arthur:
Ty Arthur gets to meld his passions with his work while freelancing for the likes of Metalunderground.com and GameSkinny. His debut sci-fi/horror novella “Empty” was released in early 2016, with many more dark tales still to come. Arthur writes to exorcise his demons and resides in the cold, dark north with his amazing wife Megan and infant son Gannicus Picard.
Ty Arthur can be found:
- Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Ty-Arthur/e/B0727MRVF8
- Official website: https://tyarthur.wordpress.com/
- Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12585427.Ty_Arthur
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