Book 28 of the Assassin Chronicles is now up and running and having a good first week’s sales at Amazon and Smashwords. Mark Andrew Ramsay, the Knight of Death continues his quest for a quiet, simple life while trying to save the world in his spare time. In this sample, he is having a disagreement with Raguel, the Angel of the Mountain of God.
“Who dares summon Raguel, friend of god?!” The wavering form of the angel spoke to them in a thunderous voice that echoed down the mountain. “How dare you come before the presence of God with thy shoes upon thy feet?! Does thou knowest not that ground whereon thou standest is Holy Ground?!”
“A thousand pardons, Your Eminence!” Lavon managed to answer the angry form and reached for his boot, hopping about on one foot almost comically.
“Stop, fool, unworthy one!” Raguel commanded. “Dost thou mock the god of thy fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?! Leave this place until thou art summoned! No one comes before the God of Israel without the blessing of the lord! Take thy tents and thy fatted calf away with thee lest thou find disfavor in the eyes of the Lord! Thou art defiled with the blood of man. Thou hast eaten of the Holy Manna in unworthiness and sin. Thou shalt surely die for thy transgressions. The lord is slow to anger and swift to vengeance. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, ineffable, indestructible!”
With each word the angel grew in stature and his voice grew proportionally in volume until poor Lavon and Simon were virtually flattened by his presence even outside the circle.
“Lavon!” Simon took hold of the Knight’s sleeve as the wind rushed by them in gale force. The Knights and the kings turned this way and that trying to see what was happening. From their vantage points in the double circle at the perimeter they could see nothing amiss other than the expressions on Simon and Lavon’s faces. They could not hear the angel’s voice, nor could they hear the whispered exchange between the sorcerer and his helper. “What is happening? Who is that? Raguel?”
“Simon!!” Mark Andrew shouted to him from his vantage point in the Ninth House of the Circle. “What is wrong?”
Simon was down, crawling on his hands and knees. He heard Mark’s voice and crawled toward him. Lavon fell sitting down and was fighting the wind as it endeavored to push him backwards toward Konrad von Hetz in the position of Gemini in the Third House. Mark reached for Simon’s hand, and the Healer shouted to him to look behind him at the fiery angel. Mark looked over his shoulder, but could only see Luke Matthew’s worried face. He let go of Simon’s hand and the Healer began sliding back toward Lavon.
“Stay here!” He shouted to Luke Matthew. “Something’s wrong!”
Luke nodded and Mark stepped into the inner portion of the circle. The wind struck him full force, almost knocking him to his knees and the sound of Raguel’s voice made him press his hands over his ears. The angel was still haranguing the hapless Knight of Solomon’s Wisdom.
“… and thou shalt see the mountains crumble and the sea rise up against thee! The very heavens shall fall upon thy head and the heads of thy sons and thy sons’ sons even unto the ends of the earth! And to everyone of them that dwelleth in the land of thy fathers, thou shalt see…”
Mark tripped over the censor, rolling as he fell across the central pentacle before coming to rest against Lavon’s feet. He struggled upright and put his head into the wind as his hair whipped about his face, stinging his eyes and nose. The Knight of Death fought his way back to the center of the circle, planted his feet solidly and pulled the golden sword from the scabbard. He held it up over his head and the angel’s voice faltered.
“Hark! What manner of man goest there with the golden blade? Whence comest thou barbarian into the presence of the angel of God?!”
Mark gritted his teeth and then lowered his head just a bit looking at the fiery angel from under his brows.
“Raguel!!” He bellowed the angel’s name and the yellow flames seemed to shrink slightly. “You foul windbag!! What god is this of whom you speak?! From what corner of perdition do you come here to this circle with your empty threats and your acrimonious accusations of impiety?! What do you know of holiness, pathetic as you have become? You are nihil and naught and in my way of thinking, that equals nothing.”
The flames sank abruptly into the ground. The wind stopped and the sound of crickets in the sparse vegetation clinging to the barren path behind them could be heard faintly in the quiet that followed the softly spoken question.
“Some have called me worse,” Mark Andrew answered before lowering the sword and turned to help Lavon to his feet. Luke Matthew and Edgard started forward as a few mutters from the others ringing the circle were also heard before Mark raised his hand to stop them.
“How can I apologize, my brother? Had I known it was you, I would have…” Raguel held out both arms as if he would embrace him warmly.
“Never mind all of that now.” Mark put away his sword and helped Simon to his feet as well. “We have urgent business with the god of this mountain. I suggest you stand aside and allow us to continue while there is still time.”
Raguel seemed confused as he looked with renewed interest at the grim faces of the Knights and Kings.
“Raguel!” D’Brouchart shouted as he stepped into the circle and the yellow angel cringed slightly. His blue eyes grew round.
“Two of you! This is a fine mess,” Raguel muttered. He was sorely perplexed at the sight of Nathanael. “This is a most unexpected pleasure.”
“Pleasure?” Edgard was relieved and perturbed to finally see what the cause of the trouble was. “Raguel! Do you have nothing better to do? We have serious business here. Where is your master?”
Again, Mark had to stop the others from stepping out of formation and completely ruining the circle. So far nothing had been damaged since Luke Matthew still held the Ninth House and Izzy d’Ornan held the Fifth House and the sign of Leo in his grandfather’s stead.
“No one else is to enter the circle!” Edgard turned about, speaking to the rest of them.
“Nathanael, what business do you have with these men? Who are they? Do they come to pay homage to the master?”
Edgard’s shoulders slumped. They had so little time.
“Is your master here, Raguel?” Mark Andrew accosted the angel.
“I do not have to answer your questions, Uriel.” The angel’s tone had changed again from one of surprise to one of suspicion.
“That is certainly true, but this sorcerer has summoned you and you must obey him!” Mark shoved Lavon forward slightly. “Ask him,” Mark told Lavon.
“Uhhh, sir… uhhh, Master Raguel. Is your master home?” Lavon’s voice was too soft. His insecurity overwhelmed him. He had practiced his spells and incantations hundreds of time, but never had he actually called up spirits or angels other than the one angel of destruction during the battle against Jozsef Daniel in the underworld.
“Is your master home? Is your master home?” Raguel put his hands on his hips and mimicked the Knight’s soft French-accented English. “Home? What does that mean, little one? Home? This mountain is Holy Ground. My master is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! I am the friend of God and this is my domain. How dare you…” The Angel’s voice had again become commanding and loud, the flames had sprung again from the earth around his feet and he had doubled in size. Lavon stood looking at him as if in shock. Mark Andrew dropped his head slightly, and then the golden blade sang as he drew it once more from the scabbard. The angry Knight suddenly shrieked something in Gaelic. Luke Matthew dropped on one knee and lowered his head as his brother ran straight for him with the golden blade over his head. Mark used Luke’s back as a springboard. He leapt completely over the angel and turned in midair bringing the twisted golden blade down in front of him, splitting Raguel cleanly in half on his way to the ground. The golden blade struck the rocky ground and the sound rang in their ears like a fine bell.
Raguel’s form melted onto the ground, forming two yellow puddles before running together again and reforming in front of Mark Andrew. The Scot held the blade back over his right shoulder.
“Uriel!” Raguel swirled around to face his attacker. “There is no need for violence.”
“Just answer the questions as they are put forth, Brother!” Mark stood his ground.
Raguel looked disgusted, but turned to face Lavon and Simon again.
“Ask him, no, tell him that we intend to return the Ark of the Covenant to its master. Tell him that we do not plan to open it, we simply plan to rid the world of the danger that is contained within it.”
“I hear you, Nathanael. You do not have to speak through the little one.” Raguel said fretfully. “My Master comes and goes as he pleases. He does not ask my permission, nor does He feel constrained to tell me his plans. Sometimes He is here and sometimes He is there.”
“When was the last time you saw your master, Raguel?” d’Brouchart asked him.
“A while and bit.”
“In the reckoning of men, how long?”
“Let me consider for a moment.” Raguel pursed his lips and tapped one finger against the side of his nose for several seconds. “Oh, a good round estimate would be four, maybe five thousand years…”