Hey, Folks! For those of you foaming at the mouth for a taste of what is to come, posted below is the prologue for Book Three of the Bowl of Souls coming hopefully next weekend.
You have been warned. No complainees!
Deathclaw and Talon darted through the winter-frozen forest. Their lithe, scaled bodies glistened in the beams of sunlight that pierced the boughs of the fir trees. Their claws left behind deep trenches in the snow, but they didn’t bother covering their tracks. They didn’t fear pursuit. The scent of freedom filled Talon’s nostrils, while Deathclaw was simply elated at finding her. They frolicked through the daylight hours, racing each other and putting as much distance between them and the wizard’s castle as possible.
Once they had been part of a pack of raptoids, wingless dragon-like creatures that hunted the desert dunes of the Whitebridge Desert. The wizard Ewzad Vriil had come upon their pack looking to create soldiers for his army. The changes caused by the wizard’s cruel experiments had killed the others, but Deathclaw escaped and his sister had been taken back to the wizard’s castle.
It had taken over a year, but Deathclaw had found the wizard’s castle. He fought his way through the mutated monsters that Ewzad Vriil had created and now, despite his wounds that were still healing, Deathclaw felt no pain. He was happy for the first time since the wizard had changed his body. Though he would never again be able to return to his old life as leader of a raptoid pack, the new life ahead of him looked to be full of promise. He wasn’t alone any more.
As the sun sank behind the horizon and darkness crept in, they caught the scent of a herd of mountain elk. Deathclaw let forth a throaty chirp and the two transformed raptoids fell back into their old familiar hunting pattern. When they came upon the herd, they stayed downwind so as not to frighten the animals. The elk had stopped for the night in a clearing. The females and young were huddled in the center while the males stayed around the outside for protection.
Deathclaw had his eye on one particularly old buck that would provide more than enough meat for both of them. He was excited. Prey this large stayed away from the dwellings of the humans and he had not eaten a meal larger than a rabbit in weeks.
He chirped a command to Talon, telling her to circle around for support. Then he snuck up as close as possible. When the time was right, he pounced. Deathclaw leapt onto the back of the old buck. The beast reared and thrashed its head back and forth, but Deathclaw nimbly avoided its pointed horns. He tore out the elk’s throat from behind with his wicked claws and leapt from its back as it fell dying.
Deathclaw screeched in triumph. But Talon wasn’t satisfied with the single kill.
In the brief second of uncertainty caused by the suddenness of Deathclaw’s attack, the herd froze. Talon darted into the center of the clearing and began slashing about with her claws, teeth, and tail barb, cutting throats and disemboweling does and young elk. By the time the herd thundered away, four females and three younglings lay dead around her. From the thick trails of blood left behind the fleeing animals, Deathclaw knew that several more would die from their wounds.
Deathclaw watched his sister with his head cocked as she tore at the corpses and screeched with pleasure. What she had done didn’t make sense. She had ignored the hunting instincts that the raptoids had been born knowing for centuries. When attacking a herd, it was best to bring down the weak, the old, the infirm. They were easier kills and the survivors would live to grow and breed and produce more food for the hunting pack. Not only had Talon cut down the wrong prey, she had killed far more than the two of them could ever eat.
Deathclaw chirped at Talon questioningly. She ignored him as she continued to rip the bodies apart, destroying the meat as if he weren’t even there. He watched her reveling in the blood and chaos. She hadn’t killed for food. She had killed for pleasure.
Deathclaw was suddenly wary of his brood mate. The wizard had done more to her than just alter her body. Like Deathclaw, she was no longer a raptoid, but something different. Something terrible.