Fun Friday

Archer's Aim Press

Fantasy Friday: The Cursed Mage Case Files Basement Tour Pt. 2

The Arch-Mage's WandDark places abound in The Order of the Dark Rose – here’s one more in the basement tour blog series.


Note: this is a continuation of an ongoing post series about The Cursed Mage Case Files. Here is the previous post:

Fantasy Friday: The Cursed Mage Case Files Basement Tour Pt. 1

Dark places attract hidden secrets, but they can also provide useful seclusion for an investigation.

Manny used to be a sniffer (spy), so there are plenty of secrets he knows, including some safe houses and a variety of places used in past years by the Imperial spies services.

When Manny and Wish find themselves followed during an investigation, they work together to avoid their stalkers and meet in a place Manny considers safe, if not used in a long time. It’s one more basement the pair use to avoid their enemies. Here’s another underground setting used by the characters in this tour of basements:

“Shhh, it’s me.” Manny eased his grip on my face. His soundless approach left me stricken. He motioned to the basement door that stood slightly ajar. “Down here.”

My heart thrummed in my ears, but I shuffled down the steps with my bag in hand and entered Manny’s safe house. It stank of mold and sat almost empty of anything of value except for a table below the landing of the steps that led to the basement floor. I opened my mouth to speak, but Manny motioned for quiet. My partner removed his gadgets from a pocket and checked me for any magical attachments, then scanned my original clothing. My eyebrows shot up as he removed quite a bit more than I expected.

When he was finished, Manny stowed his wands in his coat pockets. “I found some crude listening magic on me, and I figured you had it too. Most likely from Thistledown.”

I inspected the confines of the basement. “Nice place. Used it much?”

Manny threw the lock on the door. “It’s an old safe house used by the sniffers. Been a long time since it was active. I picked the lock and disabled the booby-trap.”

“Trap?” I glanced at the bare, mold-stained walls in the light of a candle that sat on a table below the landing.

Manny shrugged. “Just some darts. The knockout potion probably wouldn’t have worked after all this time, but the puncture wound would’ve hurt like the hells of Clo Clana.” He extended one finger up. “Rusty, too, so they might have left someone sick, if not dead.” He grinned and shifted his gaze to me. “Anyone follow you?”

I set about switching back to my original clothing. “My tactics shook him back at the station with a sudden jump on the train as it left. I made a quick disguise anyway. Lofton will get charged for all that.” I set the bag aside and motioned to it. “My new umbrella.”

Manny peered into the bag. “Nice choice. Brown hat and blue tweed jacket. Classy style there, Wish.”
I re-armed myself and swallowed my complaints about the mediocre clothing. “Best choices available.”

“Better than a knife in your kidney.” Manny smirked at me.

“True.” With my fleer gun settled back into its original pocket, I gazed about the room and waited for Manny to continue.

“Nice limp, by the way.” He straightened my coat collar. “Saw you from the front windows.”

“Thanks.” I tugged my lapels straight and brushed wrinkles from my sleeves. By the looks of those dirty windows, it was a miracle Manny had glimpsed me at all. “I think I saw your tail. Were you followed? Is this case really that dangerous?”

“Pointy-nosed fellow? I easily lost him without all your measures. And I do think something is definitely going on at Thistledown, much deeper than expected. Someone signaled the driver, who tipped off our man with the pointy nose. I’m surprised there were actually two men.” He retrieved the note from Thistledown’s butler and considered the information.
Our hasty departure from Thistledown returned to mind as our evasive adventures receded from the forefront of my thoughts. “Why did we leave so abruptly?”

Manny ran his hands through his hair and descended the steps to the basement floor, where he paced. “You noted the marks in the bedroom?”

An arch-mage can handle almost anything. Unless he’s cursed, lost his job and facing an unknown enemy.

The Order of the Dark Rose

Dark places abound in the book, including basements, cellars, and more…

The Gallantean Empire relies increasingly upon magical technology which cleans sewers, runs trams and much more. Within the capital city of Cal Rindon, magic is pervasive, but not necessarily used without crime involved. The bustling metropolis boasts constant innovations mixed with growing pains. Amid the good lurks the bad with unrest and growing crime.

Arch-mage Manny Mandeheim fell under a curse, watched his fiancé die, and then lost his job as a spy. So what’s an arch-mage to do? Start his own magical investigation service while he works to clear his good name and maybe avenge his lost love. With his very un-magical partner, Wish Ackford, Manny discovers the menace of a much larger conspiracy than he expected looming behind his curse. Suddenly, the limitations from the hex leave him at a distinct disadvantage as he and Wish investigate.

Assassins lurk at every corner or in every tram car. The threat of an unknown mastermind with murky intentions lingers just out of sight. A questionable source offers the hint of a secret order hounding Manny’s footsteps. A murder leads to wrenching discoveries.

Nothing an arch-mage can’t handle…

Unless the curse limits how much magic he can use or kills him outright.

A mixture of Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter, The Order of the Dark Rose is set in an alternate fantasy world where magic is both commonplace and dangerous. Mysteries abound in this original, new fantasy from P. H. Solomon, author of the award-winning, best-selling epic fantasy series, The Bow of Hart Saga.

Can Manny survive long enough to break his curse? Or will the arch-mage’s hidden foe escape him? Click the Your Favorite Retailer button to enter this high concept world of magic and fantasy to discover more about Manny and Wish.

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Reviews for The Order of the Dark Rose:

Reviewed By Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite
The Order of the Dark Rose is the first novel in The Cursed Mage Case Files series by P. H. Solomon. This epic fantasy is set in a world where magic is real and integrated into daily life. Manny Mandeheim, an arch-mage, was once a spy, but all that changed when his fiancé passed away; he was cursed and lost his social standing. In order to redeem his name, he opened his own investigation company with Wish Ackford and tried to look for a reason why he was cursed. However, the more they delved deeper into the mystery, the more complex it became. Before Manny and Wish knew it, they were knee-deep in a conspiracy that could very much end their lives. They were nowhere near figuring out who was the person behind this yet the danger only increased. All they needed was a single nudge in the right direction. But would they get it? Or was it already too late?

The Order of the Dark Rose gave me serious Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie vibes, and I loved it. P. H. Solomon’s narrative style is very similar to these literary legends. I could find similarities in the way the author introduced the action, pushed it forward, and made it an integral part of the story. The mystery and suspense were alive in the story, and that was all thanks to how the author handled the main plot while supporting it with equally important subplots. The flow was incredible, the world-building was “magical” and the character development was brilliant as well. There was hardly a moment when I was frustrated with Manny or wanted him to do something differently. He was smart, he was calculating, and he was ready to do something about his predicament. Overall, a great start to a fantastic new series!

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What Got Cut – Excerpt from The Goddess’ Veil

Introduction

Today, I thought it would be a bit fun to share a small bit that was cut from The Bow of Hart Saga. It was meant for a sub-plot that ran parallel to the main story but in a different part of Denaria – which doesn’t even appear on the maps in the book. However, all of this sub-plot was cut to create a simpler plot that was less confusing.

However, I have so much written it seems a waste not to use it at all so I’m seriously considering the publication of this material as a novella series or a single book. Here’s a short portion of what I wrote about a character named Sramsurash who is a monk who’s done something quite rash. He’s now thinking back over what he’s done which is what this scene describes. Read on and I’ll share more of why this was cut at the end:

Excerpt

A distant, rumbling growl echoed down the length of the pass. The monk froze in his steps hardly daring to breathe. Had that sound been some animal or the passage of wind? Maybe it was a falling boulder whose crash onto road had echoed strangely in the gorge. He swallowed hard at the thought of some ravenous animal tracking him. Sramsurash hurried on while looking over his shoulder as thoughts of worse things than bears flitted through his mind. The temple kept terrible creatures and he suddenly wondered if one had been sent to track him.
Sramsurash frowned at the thought. He had been rash in his actions, having planned for nothing of a trip – no food or clothing suitable for his needs. While he had walked the hallway to the goddess’s chamber with growing trepidation his only thought had been to take the veil. In sudden conclusions after long meditation, the monk had acted. He remembered pausing outside the rooms, wearing his padded slippers so soft and quiet but his heart pounding in his ears loudly.

The monk knew he had trembled but he had still crept into the rooms. He had shuffled across the carpets hoping to avoid anything in his way but there had been nothing. The goddess had been reputed to be a light sleeper and the slightest of disturbances would have awakened her. Indeed, Sramsurash was still surprised he had actually been able to take the filmy cloth from the stand where it hung in the pale moonlight that spilled across the inner chamber where the indescribably beautiful avatara lay upon her bed.

He had been sweating profusely when he exited the goddess’s rooms and found to his surprise he held the veil dangling in his grasp in plain sight. But it was more than fear that had distracted him he now realized. He had stowed the wondrous item within his voluminous robes and slipped noiselessly down the halls to his chambers, thinking he might hide the goddess’s sole garment until he could decide what to do and thus steal power from her by rendering her incapable of appearing in public. But along the way a blinding realization had struck his mind that he must leave the temple or be discovered and slain. Had not the guards seen him go and return?

The monk had diverted himself and left by a little used door. There was no thought to destroying the veil. He had seen the veil lain over open flames and simply smother them out. Sramsurash could only assume the veil held some magical or supernatural power that, thin as it was, it could not be quickly destroyed by a simple flame.

The monk had fled until he could decide what best to do. He had traveled west in the night opposite to the direction he was supposed to be going in the next week for his lone pilgrimage. All through the night he had stumbled down the road as fear grew in his mind that he should hear the sound of pursuit from the dreadful knights of the avatara. Indeed, such was his fear that as dim dawn grew on the horizon behind him that the monk had paused along the way to consider his next actions carefully. Holding the veil he had gazed at the seemingly frail cloth. He was not used to this fear since his life as a priest had been one of ease and repetitious ritual but now he knew he must decide a precise course of action.

Sramsurash remembered now his foolishness as he stumbled down the cold mountain road. Lost in his reverie of careful thought, the monk had not heard the swift approach of horses until they were just around a bend and almost on him. He had turned to run and fallen. But the veil had fluttered down over him and covered him with its large expanse. In the scant time it took the monk to take a few shuddering breaths the horses, carrying the fearsome knights had thundered into sight and passed him where he had lain on the side of the road in plain sight with the item of his offense in just as plain sight.

This event puzzled the monk even now. He could not see how the horsemen had missed his cringing form along the ditch but they had. He had wondered at this and thought at first if it was just the near darkness. But Sramsurash now doubted this as he hugged himself in the cold and slapped himself to stay warm. Had the veil some quality of hiding such that it had saved him from the knights and certain death?

Commentary

As you can tell, this is a very rough draft and needs a lot of work which is one reason it was cut – as a sub-plot it made the rest of the series cumbersome. I also wrote this before I start using deep point-of-view that is used in my current series novels so the style is rougher. There’s a lot of telling and almost no conversation until much later on in the scene. I’ve learned much better about developing the beginning of a book than I knew back in 2011-14 when I was working on this (don’t form an opinion about The Bow of Hart Saga based on this – it more of a sample of what got cut, why and how I’m going to use it in the future once it’s re-developed).

However, there are more problems that have to be corrected. This bit of remembering by Sramsurash should be show as its own scene to open the book and introduce the character and his motivations. Additionally, the setting of the far western empire of Gantura should also be better established – something which I did not have time to do. There are a number of other issues with it being a sub-plot such as tying it together with the main plot of The Bow of Hart Saga – these two stories just did not have enough overlap to make them mesh well. I concluded that it was best to pull this out and work on it another time which I’ll likely begin pretty soon after completing some other novel rough drafts.

Conclusion

Thanks for stopping by to read the excerpt today. Please excuse both the lack of artwork and how rough the work is but I hope it shows why I cut it from my series and on direction I’ll be going in the near future. Feel free to leave your questions and thoughts in the comments section and I’ll reply as soon as I can (I’m traveling today so it may take some time).

Also, please remember I’ve just released the digital boxed set of The Bow of Hart Saga on Amazon just this week – have a look at it!

About the Author

Fun Friday – The Broken Shield Chronicles & Covers

Welcome to Friday on Archer’s Aim! I’ve been taking a look at possible covers for a fantasy series I’m developing named The Broken Shield Chronicles (tentatively). I’m also considering whether I should writing as a LitRPG but it’s now become a strong lean in that direction for me. Here’s more information about my ideas:

The idea is to write the books in this series in more of a pulp style meaning that they are shorter at between 50-70k words. Additionally, they are intended to be more straight forward in plotting with a goal/problem and an assumed solution with a number of twists. Since these are shorter pulp fiction novels, they will be heavier on the action.

I haven’t settled on a title for the first book but that will come as I plan it – hopefully next month. However, I think the series will be titled something like: The Hopeless Knight Chronicles or The Broken Shield Chronicles. See the poll below and vote on the series title or suggest your own based on the premise. I suppose this will be more of a semi-gritty sword and sorcery series that I think may be rather fun and entertaining.

The main character will be a knight living off his wits and skill as a former member of an elite company. He formerly served a kingdom which fell in a sudden coup. He survived but presumes no one else of his cohorts still lives. In surviving that attack he used a broken shield – meaning that it’s cracked and floppy – but it somehow never fails him. He’s kept the shield and uses it as he earns a living fighting in tournaments. Because of his unique training, he’s very successful. However, because of the danger of being discovered as a survivor of the coup, he stays on the move and doesn’t reveal his true name or background.

As such, the main character stays to himself while traveling and makes few connections among other knights he meets. Additionally, he has essentially lost hope in any grand causes or service to anything because his idealism as a member of his former unit has been destroyed in the overthrow. As you can see he’s got some problems that can present some interesting challenges, mainly whether to get involved in some worthy cause or just mind his own business.

I’ve been looking at pre-made covers here on the blog for several weeks and I have another possible choice that could make the cut:

From thebookcoverdesigner.com – Sold By: matyan90

This one has a realistic look too it but I feel it’s too close and depicts nothing other than a knight. Sure, there’s danger since the knight is poised to strike or defend but it lacks that additional flare to my mind. It’s basic and functional for my needs so I’m not likely to choose it. Share your opinion in the comments and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks for visiting today!