when old gods rest paperback
old gods rest paperback

When Old Gods Rest (Paperback)

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BOOK 3 OF THE DEMONIC COMPENDIUM DARK FANTASY SERIES.

Stonehaven, the once-prized seat of the kingdom of Duska is a pile of rubble and Queen Avana Ostra is to blame. 

Nearly everyone she trusted is dead; some by her own hand. Weary and exhausted, her body resembles that of a monster. Without order and the loss of the crown, chaos is the new norm.

But Avana has a plan. 

To the east of her beloved kingdom is the land of Kogresh, home to a mystical healer who may have the answers she needs. 

Hunted, alone, and broken, Avana is once again thrust into an epic quest to rid herself of her demonic companion, clear her name, and bring her kingdom up from ruin.

When Old Gods Rest is the final installment and close to The Demonic Compendium Series. No stone will be left unturned. No question left unanswered. The Book must be sated.

Paperback 334 pages
Dimensions 5.5 x 0.76 x 8.5 inches
ISBN 979-8803642244
Publication date April 16, 2022
Publisher The Nightmare Engine


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Chapter One

Avana leapt from the precipice, veiny bat-like wings snapping open and catching the wind. Air roaring by her ears, she glided down from the last remaining peak amongst the ruins. The castle was sundered in two, the crack traceable starting from the courtyard and running up the main walkway to the overlook. The large viewing mirrors that once adorned the landing lay strewn about like great puzzles of broken glass. Piles of rubble pockmarked the courtyard below, and the buzzards had begun to circle.
The fortress was in chaos. Fires raged and people ran about in a blind panic. Some yelled or cried. Others fell into a deep state of despair, their faces reflecting terror upon seeing the destruction. Plumes of smoke melded with the gathering storm and the shared tension thickened the air.
It had barely been six months since the civil war and Duska was once again assaulted by something otherworldly. A monster of legends, the Hish, rose from the ground with the help of the traitor Daemond and summoned an army of dark, faceless soldiers. Then it pulled on great chains buried beneath the city, attempting to awaken a God, imprisoned from before the advent of time.
Things were different now. Not better, just different. And If it wasn’t for Avana, the Old God would have escaped its prison and destroyed reality itself, aiming to recreate everything in its image. It was a violent battle, resulting in the death of Princess Beggen Ostra and many others who truly cared about the Kingdom. It was a battle hard-won, and with costs not visible to the eye. Costs that Avana was all too familiar with.
The spell to imprison the Old God had a cost that was more than blood and body. It had cost her very soul, and now, she resembled something she despised. Something others feared. She was forever marked by massive wings, rippling red fur and black pinpoint eyes and she was more demon than human. Inside, she felt it too. Pemazu and the ancient deity Mephuzelahstelion now inhabited her body, and there was no room for her to feel anything. She was empty, yet a vessel for two prime evils at the same time. They were the Firsts, and she had no way to rid herself of them.
Avana landed hard on the dirt, her boots having been shredded by large flat scaled feet with razor claws and three individual toes. The talons clicked on the flat stone.
How curious, he thought. “Are you there, Mephuzelah?”
Call me Meph. Of course I am. I am eternal.
Avana lifted her gemmed arm. In the middle ruby, the largest and brightest, a small monkey with red fur matching her own sat neatly amongst a cloud of dust. It stared blankly at her.
But what of Pemazu? She asked the monkey with her thoughts.
He is here too. Quiet. Subdued. But here. Consider yourself lucky. Your body should be mine, and this world conquered by now, the monkey said, its mouth slightly open, voice traveling directly into her mind.
Its voice was snappy, sharp with an ethereal howl behind it, unlike Pemazu who was normally just rude. Avana lowered her arm and walked to a nearby puddle. In any other instance, she would have been taken aback by her appearance. She should be taken aback, but she felt nothing. She now looked like a monster, and the very thing she had been charged to destroy. Sheer indifference swallowed her, and for a second, she welcomed it.
“How curious.” It was a statement, empty and dry and didn’t feel quite right. She wasn’t curious… she was indifferent, but finding a way to express her own indifference towards her predicament was troublesome.
I am a monster. I resemble you, or Pemazu, or both. Why do I feel nothing?
She brushed her long thin fingers through her wispy hair. Strands pulled from her scalp as she did, and she let them go in the breeze where they drifted up and over the crumbling retaining wall. A wayward flame consumed it in the air.
Pemazu may have saved you from yourself, but there is always a price for escaping death. You have paid, both inside and out. Meph’s voice drifted through her head.
I suppose. She struggled to find the words to pry more into the demon’s answers. It was an odd feeling, to want to care, but feel nothing at all. Icy indifference. Absolute, and terrifying. Furthermore, she had to share her consciousness with two demons, but she still felt like an empty vessel, a shadow of who she once was. A shadow of a person.
Heavy footsteps and the jingle of armor from behind pulled her eyes from the puddle. A young soldier, blood leaking from under his helmet, parted by his nose, was poised to strike her with a silver tipped spear. He wore the armor of Stonehaven, his tabard torn, and his pauldrons dented. Avana tilted her head curiously.
“Halt, demon! Where be the Queen and her guard?”
“Demon? Do you mean me?” Her voice echoed oddly; a deeper tone resonated from within her chest. Like someone was speaking her exact words from over her shoulder.
“Of course! Answer me so I might slay you and be on my way.” The soldier, barely of age, held his spear unsteadily, though his eyes were full of courage. He looked like a boy who had been forced to grow up overnight, and Avana could tell he meant what he said, regardless of how foolish the idea was.
“Answer me, demon!” He commanded again, taking a half-step forward.
Avana pounced in a flash of fur, her wings opening with a crack, spurred into action by reflexes alone. Seconds passed by in slow motion, her palm opened up, wicked claws glinting in the light of a cart of goods on fire, her face a twisted snarl. The soldier muttered something before her claw wrapped over the top of his helmet and she crushed it in her palm.
She held the soldier’s limp body at arm’s length, head tilted still.
Wicked, even for me, Meph chimed in.
“I did not mean for this to happen,” she replied.
You saw a threat and handled it without forethought. You really are becoming one of us.
Avana wanted to rage inside. To hate herself for what she had done. This soldier, young, was one of her men, the people of her Kingdom, and she had slaughtered him. To make it worse, she felt nothing for what she had done.
As she was about to let the soldier’s body go, she noticed black spidery lines tracing their way from the gems on her arm up and under her armor. She remembered the lines distinctly, as they were similar to the ones Cereal had when he was marked by the Book. Avana let the soldier go, his corpse crumpled in a limp pile of armor near the puddle. With a clawed finger, she traced the lines from the upmost gem around the top of her forearm all the way to her fingertips. They were vine-like, creeping wherever she had veins.
A clock of sorts, Meph said. The fowl did not buy you as much time as you think. Soon, I will inhabit your body and expel Pemazu, or eat him.
She stopped tracing the lines. A sharp pain shot through her heart. Her knees grew weak, and she buckled, clutching her chest. Each breath was accompanied by another burst of pain.
“What’s… happening…” she managed to get out. Then, there was a vague moment of panic, as she feared her heart might explode. Normally she would have welcomed feeling anything, but now, all she could hope for was the pain to stop.
She willed her eyes to open, pain-wrought tears streaked down her cheek. The vines beneath her skin were moving. She looked on in horror as one of the gems was leaking the blackened essence into her veins. There was another flash of pain, and she clamped her eyes shut again, falling onto her back, the wings pressing awkwardly into her shoulder blades. She rolled onto her side, unable to even speak. Then, as a terrifying thought of everlasting pain entered her mind, there was a brief tickle on her cheek, and a painful pinprick melded with the burning in her arm.
Something stabbed at her skin, dulling the aches in her heart. A few moments later, the pain was near bearable, and Avana could open her eyes. To her absolute surprise, a magpie with too many eyes hopped near her outstretched arm. It was tugging on the little worms that seemed to come from a hole in her skin, next to the gems. The magpie threw back the writhing worm, then dove its beak under her skin again, retrieving yet another worm. Each time, the pain in her head subsided just a little more.
By the time the magpie stopped, she could breathe normally, the tears had stopped, and her curiosity returned. With a final click of its beak, the magpie guzzled the final writhing worm, but a crack in one of the gems remained. The monkey rested its head in its palms, conveying a look of utter disappointment.
“Pemazu?” Avana asked, her voice no longer echoing.
The magpie opened its mouth revealing two glowing red eyes deep in its gut and said in an ethereal, ghastly voice, “None other.”


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