Hi everyone! Today I'm sharing with you an exclusive art reveal and an excerpt from Steven Shrewsbury's Overkill. Overkill is the second book featuring Gorias La Gaul. I have read and greatly enjoyed the first one, Thrall, but am yet to read this one, and let me just tell you: I am super excited for it!
If you'd like to learn more about Thrall, please read my review here.
OVERKILL by Steven Shrewsbury
Published 2012 by Seventh Star Press
Deliverance will come…A great flood once wiped clean the earth, destroying everything upon it. Before the deluge, in a time now forgotten, the world was a place of warriors and witches, conflicts between kingdoms, and, until theirextermination, dragons.In this world, men may live centuries, fallen angels have begotten terrifying spawn, and sometimes, the best hope can be found in a brothel.In the land of Transalpina, a new religion spreads, and important men are dying mysteriously, slain by what can only be the fire of dragon breath. Summoned by the Queen Garnet, the legendary warrior Gorias La Gaul returns to the place where he once saved the queen's young granddaughter from treachery and enslavement. The Princess Nykia is gone, and soon others may try to claim the throne. The queen has little choice but to turn to the only man who ever told her no.With the aid of one of the queen's elite guard, the battle maiden Alena, and the young palace servant Orsen, the old mercenary will face pirates and traitors, monsters and foul magic in the quest to find the missing heir and learn the truth behind the disconcerting murders.Deliverance will come for Gorias La Gaul, but for now there are women to love, secrets to discover, and killing that needs doing.
EXCERPT from Overkill:
“Why is it you do the things you do?”
“I’m still alive. Once I’m dead, I’ll stop.” Gorias took a deep breath before he said, “I’m still good at it, too. Find what you’re good at, son, and stick to it. What are ya good at? Carrying messages? Ya must be a sneaky bastard.”
Offended, Orsen shot back, “Why would you say that?”
Still placid, Gorias replied, “You got all the way to me in Rhiannontown without a knife in yer back or bein’ skinned by the bandits. Ya must be sneaky, stealthy and tougher than ya appear.” Gorias turned his head and grinned. “Or that fuckin’ tattoo is workin’ overtime. There must be somethin’ to ya, kid. Nothin’ in a wizard’s blessing bag or scrotal sack is that goddamn powerful to see ya through all that.”
Orsen swung quiet for a few minutes before saying, “The Queen speaks of you as if you’re a god.”
Gorias scratched himself. “You’re unimpressed?”
“I hardly said that.”
“But yer manners betray ya, young man, Yer eyes, nose and mannerisms all scream doubt at my godhood, hell, as well ya should. No one could live up to the Lady’s tales, I reckon. But I’ve lived a long time, over 700 years, and after all that, one picks up a few pointers. I read folks really well.”
Orsen swung in his hammock, eyes watching the ceiling. “I must be transparent to you then.”
“Pretty much, but not everyone can be like me.”
A half hour passed and Gorias guessed them far from shore when he noticed Vallen watching him, using his body to obscure Coryll’s actions at the portal. Gorias ruminated what a terrible guard Vallen proved to be as he clearly noted Coryll holding a metallic object not unlike a sextant to the portal. At first, Gorias wondered if Coryll plotted their trip by the stars until he saw the crystal within the tiny bars of the sextant. The moonlight struck the jewel and a beam of light glittered back out across the waves. In moments, the two sat beside each other, stowing their objects, hands to their laps. They exchanged a nervous glance.
Orsen turned his head. “Do you hear that?”
Gorias’ voice didn’t betray that his defenses rose. “Sure. The sound rolls across the waves.”
“Strange sounding thunder.”
Gorias cracked his knuckles as the two youths sat forward.
“That’s because it isn’t thunder. I’d hold onto something, Orsen.”
Overhead the scramble of boots on boards coincided with the roll of thunder coming nearer to their ears. Coryll and Vallen rose up and made for the door of the cabin. The air split and the night exploded with sound, at the same moment the vessel shifted in the sea, causing Orsen to swing high in the hammock, slamming into the ceiling. The two youths flew back from the door, crashing into the beams that bisected the room. Orsen swung down, but never fell from the bed of netting. Gorias moved away from the wall and put his left hand up, stilling Orsen in his motions.
“What was that?” Orsen shouted as those others across the room scrambled, a few drawing their daggers, one stumbling into Vallen, impeding him from leaving the room.
Gorias muttered, “Not something ya can stab with a dagger. We were almost hit.”
As he unfolded from the hammock, Orsen cried out, “Almost?”
“This thing is made of planking and logs across the belly,” Gorias explained as the cabin emptied and they moved closer to the steps leading to the decks. “If they hit us, we’d have heard a whine in the air you’d not soon forget.”
Orsen, frustrated, frowned as he reached the steps. “This barge is huge. Who’d want to sink it? Wait a moment! They? Who are they?”
“Pirates!” came the scream of the man in the upper deck, pointing to the east as the men flooded the deck. Orsen stood above the hold, gaping at the three ships in the distance.
Gorias slapped him on the back so hard the palace servant stumbled. “Hear that? Pirates? Crummy aiming pirates, but pirates all the same.”
As many scrambled all over the decks, Orsen stammered, “Why try to kill us?”
Gorias shrugged, still unruffled. “Maybe their aim sucks, maybe that was a warning shot. I can’t say. Just in case they do sink us, can you swim?”
Orsen glared at Gorias. “Not the entire channel!”
“We’re halfway across, ten miles, tops,” Gorias said, looking south in the darkness as if he could see the shores of Transalpina. He noted the crew grabbing Coryll and Vallen, both them trying to get a leg overboard.
“You must be joking.”
He pointed at the two being wrestled to the deck. “Those two punks thought it was a great idea. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Glad my horse is on a different ship. I’d hate to lose Traveler.” He then grinned at Orsen. “You? I can find another one of you anywhere.”
“This is no time for jokes.” He then took note of the violence the sailors used to subdue the two youths but still kept at Gorias.
“Can’t you help the crew?” Orsen waved his arms as if Gorias couldn’t see the desperate populace of the vessel scrambling.
Gorias grabbed Orsen and directed him back to one of the mast poles. “Hold on, kid, or yer gonna be wearin’ yer ass for a hat.” The night didn’t betray the projectile coming toward them, but their ears presently caught the thunderous echo just as the bundles of fiery explosive landed, ten yards below the bow, exploding on the surface but rocking them slightly.
Orsen exclaimed, “Goddess!” He then glared at Gorias and shouted, “Help them!”
Gorias scanned the deck. “I think that old sea bastard up there will do just fine.” He thumbed up to the rear deck at the skinny man wearing the sash of a Captain, but no pants. “Well, it’s freakin’ late. Glad Cody got off a whore for this fight. Son, ever see what this barge is hauling on deck here?”
Orsen blinked. “Farm implements from Albion aside from the rocks for the Prince’s sculpting.”
His hand gripping Orsen’s shoulder tight, Gorias said, “Since when did they plow fields in Transalpina with those?” The large tarps securing many shapes on the deck slid back, revealing a series of catapults and siege devices. From the rear deck, the Captain shouted orders and pointed a three-fingered hand at the catapults. The sailors turned the devices, in places unbolting them and reattaching them to the deck in a hurried fashion.
“Goddess,” Orsen mumbled. “What sort of madhouse is this?”
“Looks like the Captain knows what he’s doing.”
“That Cody, a wily fighter for certain. He lost one of his fingers as a prisoner in a camp.”
Gorias wondered, “Torture?”
“No, they wanted his academy ring, so they cut it off to get it.”
“Reckon he wouldn’t give it up any other way. Hell, I can see doin’ that.”
“But this barge is unarmed, of no military significance.”
“All the better reason to have pirates want to take her and the cargo.”
Another shot from the lead pirate vessel missed them, this time going over their heads. Everyone dropped to their knees.
One of the sailors said, “The gods are with us. Praise Rhiannon!”
“Screw the gods,” another shouted.
“We ain’t got time,” a third yelled and laughter rippled across the deck.
Gaping, Orsen struggled to find the words. “To laugh in the face of death.”
“That takes balls,” Gorias agreed. “Yer old man musta wanted this for you. Still think ya got what it takes to be a sailor? It ain’t all about drinking and screwing crab-infested whores.”
The sailors undid the tarps over the huge rocks and set about striking them with steel-headed mallets. In a few moments, the rocks fragmented. Several sailors took hold and loaded these pieces into the catapults.
Hand to his mouth, Orsen gasped. “Mavik will be in livid.”
Gorias sighed. “I think yer missin’ the big picture here, kiddo.”
Captain Cody moved down from the deck and raised his long scope. “Guide the settings by my words.” He then shouted off ways to set the catapults.
Orsen shook his head. “How in the world can they do that? He uses no instruments!”
“He’s using the tip of his nose, depth of his vision. He knows the sea, the curve of the earth and the breadth of waters he sails all the time.” Gorias smirked. “Those fuckers out there don’t have a prayer.”
“Secure the rocks,” Captain Cody called out, but the men had already started maneuvering the huge stones into their final places. Light rollers, no more than sanded logs, and manpower pushed the larger stones into the palm of the catapults. The sailors hurriedly stood back as the tension in the trigger mechanism got wound tight by a burly man on either side of the device. Already positioned back like giant mousetraps, the catapults extended over the length of the ship. The long arm of the weapons swung back, around like a weather vane, snapping into position far over the edge of the boat. Orsen’s mouth dropped open but no words came right away.
“That’s impossible. The arm will break.” Gorias looked from the weapons then toward the distant ships. “Get your faith tight, son. These artisans know what they’re doing.”
“Fire!” Captain Cody shouted and dropped his ruined fist to the handrail.
The sailors chopped at the lines securing the loads and the four catapults swung into action. Orson fell to his knees and even Gorias stepped back, so impressive was the recoil action and the spectacle.
The rocks flew across the waters and a hush gripped the barge. Over the water, they heard a huge splash, but this sound soon became overpowered by the crash of wood splintering and the cries of men in peril. Orsen rose up, stunned. “The old bastard, he did it.”
The sailors jumped up and down, hollering and screaming. Many praised their Albion god, Rhiannon, others made obscene gestures at the pirates, and still others dropped their trousers to show them their manhood or moons. The Captain’s hands beat a tiny rhythm on the rail as he stared. He didn’t look through his scope, preferring to listen to those sailors who shouted, “Two of them are hit! They are tilting already! By the gods, I bet they are taking on water.”
A smile on his weathered face, Cody remarked, “Damn straight they are. Screw with us, will they? Damn their eyes!”
The men cheered again and Gorias patted Orsen on the back. “Ya learn something every day, kid. It makes life worth living.”
Cody addressed the men on the deck. “Now, which one of you bastards is the spy?”
EXCLUSIVE ART REVEAL:
This gorgeously detailed, dynamic art image was done by Matthew Perry for the limited hardcover edition of Overkill. Isn't it absolutely phenomenal!? I LOVE IT!!!
SEVENTH STAR PRESS has generously offered to give away a GORGEOUS finished copy of OVERKILL to one lucky US/Canadian winner!
(Thank you so much, C.C!)
Enter through Rafflecopter below!
Open to: US/CANADA
Ends: May 12th
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About the AuthorEvie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and chatting with fellow book-worms.