Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mark of Destiny by Azrael James








Mark of Destiny
Azrael James

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Publisher: Branch Publishing

Date of Publication: 03/02/2017

ISBN: 1544070276
ISBN-13: 978-1544070278
ASIN: B06XDSHCSS

Number of pages: 403
Word Count: 82,331

Cover Artist: T.K. Chapin

Book Description:

Her destiny will change the world forever.

Belstrom—an ancient and mystical land where the Curo Wizards rule and life is cheap.

Tizrah—a lowly armory brat who dreams of one day becoming a warrior but fate has other plans.

Korlin—a recent graduate of the High Wizard’s School of Curogath is tasked with an assignment to eradicate a lost magic system that threatens the very stability of Belstrom. Mark of Destiny weaves together the threads of a captivating fantasy adventure, while remaining epic in scope, and modern in its originality.


Excerpt:

HOLDING HER EYE
STEADY UPON the massive wolvike, Tizrah silently slid the longbow from her
back. The care with which she moved came naturally to her.
The way she
slipped unseen and stalked her prey might have even impressed the elite rangers
of Ravenwood Forest, had they been there to see. Alas, they were not, and
Tizrah was truly and utterly alone as she crept closer to the herd of colossal
beasts feasting merely ten yards away. Flies buzzed loudly, and the odor of
fresh blood hung thick in the air.
Tizrah’s heart
hammered against her chest. She tried to calm herself using the measured
breathing she’d been taught. It wasn’t helping. Sweat poured from her like
rain, rolling down her face in droplets that stung her eyes. When she drew as
close as she dared, she quietly climbed an ekenwood tree in hopes of finding a
better vantage point from which to view the pack.
Breathing a sigh
of relief now that she was off the ground, she waited. The branch Tizrah
straddled offered a measure of safety, as well as a clear shot, and she sent
out a prayer of thanks to Oshawa, who had given her the perfect perch from
which to bring down one of the legendary beasts.
This kill would
prove her worth before the men of New Hayden. It would change the direction of
her life, and that was what Tizrah desired with all her burning heart.
Desperation had
drawn her away from her home and directed her feet to the heart of the Labby
Forest. When she had caught sight of the wolvike, Tizrah knew that this was to
be her chance.
She had only
read about the beasts in her worn school books, and the penciled drawings paled
in comparison to the frightful creatures which stood less than a stone’s throw
away. Nearly seven feet tall, paws to shoulders, the wolvike were imposing to
look upon. Their fur resembled freshly fallen snow, and catching sight of the
wolvike’s sickle- like, razor sharp teeth, Tizrah was reminded of the fine
blades of the Knights of Eldor.
She knew from
her studies that one bite would be enough to bleed a full-grown man out in a
matter of minutes. Six—that’s how many of the beasts she counted. They grunted
and growled below her as they tore a spotted deer to pieces.
Now, for one to
stray from the pack.
Tizrah was
patient. She wouldn’t let her arrow fly until victory was assured.
Releasing a
long, controlled breath, she relaxed her muscles. Anticipating movement from
the pack, she raised the bow to eye level. The largest of the beasts, having
had its fill, began to traipse toward the nearby stream.

The moment had
arrived.
Drawing her
bowstring back with wiry arms, Tizrah followed the wolvike with her
steel-tipped arrow.
Stopping dead in
its tracks, the beast lifted its head.
Tizrah’s arrow
shot across the clearing, impaling the artery running down the side of the
beast’s neck. The wolvike toppled, its rapid blood loss dragging it down into
the sleep of death.
The rest of the
pack bolted, leaving their fallen alpha to Tizrah and her blade.
Dropping from
the branch, she took a steadying breath, then strode to the trophy. She would
need proof of her kill, as she wasn’t strong enough to drag the beast through
the forest. I’ll take its eyes, she thought, nearing with her blade poised.
The eyes of a
wolvike were unlike any other known mammal within the Four Kingdoms. Used to
make costly medicines for the virility of the wealthy, wolvike eyes were
extremely valuable. At the grisly sound of her knife cutting into the eye
socket, Tizrah blanched. Having completed the unsavory task, she rolled them in
an eken leaf and placed them in the leather pouch on the outer side of her main
pack for safe keeping.
Bending over the
prone form, Tizrah offered a whispered prayer. “Oshawa, Life- Giver, I pray
that this death will not go in vain. I pray that it might bring sustenance to
the beasts of the forest and afterward enrich the ground upon which it lies.”
Finishing her
heartfelt plea, Tizrah stood and took stock of the situation. Three days, the
time it would take her to reach home. The Warrior Trials were scheduled to take
place five days hence. Perhaps, with proof of her kill, she would be able to
convince Jax at the arena to add her name to the list. Dreams danced before her
mind’s eye. Picturing herself crowned victor at the completion of the Warrior
Trials set her feet in motion.
Tizrah wasn’t
worried about the competition. Her only worry was whether Jax would concede to
her request when she offered him the eyes. Years of working with her father in
the armory had honed her muscles into steel beneath her skin, and she had
hunted and trained in the fighting arts since she was small. Many thought her
dedication odd, preferring girls to keep to their traditional roles. Girls were
taught to cook, clean, and sew. They were also expected to birth offspring and
take care of the men. Tizrah viewed the societal limitations placed upon her
with hatred—not that it was wrong for others, but she wanted something more in
life than hiding behind a stove and raising brats for some man.
Shaking her head
to clear it of the endless stream of thought, she left the clearing and
reentered the forest. Ekenwood trees towered above the various shades of green
flora covering the forest floor. The chattering of wild poka birds echoed back
and forth beneath the canopy of branches. How had they ever been trained as
messenger birds?
While growing
up, she had seen them flying overhead often enough, and she had been curious to
know what important messages they might be carrying each time one passed over.
A single shaft
of amber light pierced through the tree barrier, distracting from her musings.
Tizrah entered the dazzling luminescence and reveled in its life-giving rays.
She loved the forest above all other places; in the depths of its silence and
solitude, she found peace.
Peace with her
mother’s death, for Tizrah had wanted her mother to live and had been unable to
save her. Disease rarely paid heed to the cries of children.
Peace with the
way her father had hidden his broken heart at the bottom of tumblers of ale
from the local tavern, instead of comforting his only child.
Tizrah even felt
peace in the fact that no matter the trophy she brought with her, her chances
of entering the Warrior Trials were slimmer than the dirty beggars who sat
pleading for crusts of bread on the outskirts of Silvermeere. If Jax changed
his mind, then she might be able to work her way up to fighting on the
battlefield of Echo Flats, or even serve a stint in the Fireblade Mountains,
where rumor had it the dragon still lived.
Pulling herself
from her musings, Tizrah continued onward. As much as she would have liked to
stay soaking up the rays of sunlight and marveling at the beauty of Oshawa’s
greatness, Tizrah knew that for her dreams to be realized, she must trudge
forward, allowing the old moment its death while a new moment was born.
After two days
of hiking, Tizrah reached the southwest corner of the Labby Forest. She was
almost home. Leaving the ancient ekenwood groves, she entered the forest’s area
of newer growth that was still recovering from being logged off before the dawn
of the Magi Wars.
When the wars
ended two centuries past, people had found that the ashenwood tree was far
superior in strength to all others. The newly founded Council of Nine had
issued a mandate for the loggers to focus their efforts on gathering the
stronger wood located in the ironwood and ashenwood forests that lined the
southern end of Belstrom. According to the history of New Hayden, Tizrah’s home
had once been a booming hub for logging, but the mandate had dropped its
population by half, and afterward, the town had assumed a much slower rate of
growth over the centuries.
Running lightly
down the dirt path toward home, Tizrah nearly bubbled over with excitement. She
imagined her father, Eldim, crafting an exquisite set of armor for her to wear
during the Warrior Trials. He would choose fine ossen metal, for it was
incredibly strong and lightweight and would reflect sunlight to the blinding of
one’s enemies.
Nearing the western
exit of the forest, Tizrah reached a stretch of the path that was open and
straight, set between two groves. Halfway across the stretch, she caught
movement in the sky. Diving down swiftly and alighting directly in her path was
a large, gray and white-speckled gryphon. The beautiful and fearsome creature
held Tizrah with its nerve-rattling gaze. Gryphons were considered the
messengers of Oshawa, and to see one so close was considered either a very good
omen or an ominous one.
What could
Oshawa’s creature want with her, a lowly armory brat? Nevertheless, she waited,
returning its gaze. She had nothing to fear; her heart was right before the
One-God.
Seconds passed
like centuries until Tizrah noticed a burning sensation sear her right arm. In
a flash of radiance, the landscape surrounding her disappeared as she lost
consciousness, falling to the ground like a crumpled doll.


The gryphon
watched over her as she slept.


About the Author:

AZRAEL JAMES fell in love with Tolkien at the age of twelve leading to a life-long love of fantasy fiction. Writing stories that capture the imagination, James invites readers into a world where magic rules and ordinary life is forgotten. When not spinning tales, James teaches guitar to underprivileged fairy folk. He believes music and love are what binds all life together.





Tour giveaway

Three lucky winners will win a signed copy of Mark of Destiny in paperback.
Drawing will be held on April 18th.



Exclusive Giveaway, enter to win  http://giveaway.azraeljames.com/



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