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Announcement: Kiss of Death, by Cassie Sweet

Kiss of DeathQSFer Cassie Sweet (MK Mancos) has a new fantasy book out:

Alchemists and Elementals: Book Three

Before Headmaster Oberon Bertolini stands the lover he lost seventeen years ago: Hazrael, the most powerful etherealthant to ever live. Abducted and presumed dead, Hazrael has no memory of his time with the necromancers or the atrocities he was forced to inflict on humanity while under their control. Torn between his memories of the man Hazrael used to be and the one with blood on his hands, Oberon tries to offer the support Hazrael needs to heal and regain his life.

The only evidence Hazrael has of seventeen lost years are the necromantic carvings decorating his body and the chasm between those he thought were his friends and himself. Hazrael attempts to make amends for deeds performed without his consent, but as he heals, odd powers manifest. A visit from the Hierophant, a religious seer, warns Hazrael that the marks he bears are the Kiss of Death, a way for the necromancers to track him. He knows he must sacrifice himself to save those he loves. If he can’t help defeat the necromancers and gain vengeance for their crimes, he will never find redemption or win the future he and Oberon had planned.


Excerpt

Chapter One

GOLD SCHOOL Headmaster Oberon Bertolini stood on the edge of the slaughter. Flames from the villa that once housed the Agia family belched upward into the night, singeing the decorative trees that stood as a protective barrier to prevent onlookers from seeing the spectacle from the street. Those not involved in the bloodbath of the night should not have to bear witness to the atrocity. And yet Oberon’s feet were planted as firmly to the spot as the trees that smoldered and failed to catch.

The entire scene disgusted him. He knew it had to be done, that the prolates as a whole had decided to rid the world of one of their own—one who had upended the natural order of the world and brought the necromancers back into the Dominicál city-states. The Agia had to be made to pay. The prolates had decided that payment should be made in blood.

A nasty turn in politics and magic had brought Oberon here. One of revenge and retribution. In his heart he knew alchemists should be above such petty emotions. They had no place in the study of his beloved discipline, nor did they bring back the dead. The only beings able to do that were the Gods—and the necromancers. However, mortal men such as the prolates and their guards were no match for the wicked savagery of necromantic magic. To not lend the prolates’ combined forces assistance was to send them to their death. Either way, blood—lots of it—would be spilled. Reservations or not, the alchemists were here to ensure the necromancers did not win the day.

The scent of charred flesh hit his nose. It coated the back of his throat, making him gag. He turned his head so the others wouldn’t see his reaction. He had no stomach for death. No want for seeing an entire family destroyed for the crimes of a few.

But restitution had to be made, the balance restored, and necromancers pushed back from the Dominicál borders.

The necromancers were a vile threat who would not give up their quest to control the city-states until every last person residing within was under their skeletal thumbs. Friends of his had died because of their continued expanse into the peninsula. The elementals were threatened and for a very brief time held captive by the death dancers. Their entire way of life teetered on the brink of destruction, and strong, ruthless choices had to be made.

A guard wearing the crest of the House of DiCarni stalked out of the rolling smoke, his harsh face covered in soot and brass breastplate painted in blood smears. He held his short sword in one hand, his grip white-knuckled. He gave a curt nod to Oberon. “What do you wish us to do with the men held in the Agia’s prisons?”

Oberon was rather taken aback. Why were they asking him? He was the Headmaster of the Gold School of Alchemy, not the ringleader of this butchery. “What are their crimes?”

The guard shook his head. “I can’t rightly say. We haven’t interviewed them yet.”

“Have them taken to the cathedral. We will process and sort them out there. Have the records been burned in the conflagration?”

The guard had the good sense to read the disgust in Oberon’s voice for what it was. He gave Oberon a pleading look. “Master Nico gave us specific orders to burn the premises immediately afterward. He said it was the only way to cleanse the land.”

Oberon let out a breath. It was one way, but not as Nico stated, the only way. “That may be, but it doesn’t answer my question. Have the records all burned?”

“Not the court records.”

“Then have those removed and taken to the school. I’ll have the journeymen students review the case files and see if the charges and petitions match the prisoners’ stories. It might be the Agia prosecuted the individuals on false charges.” Sadly, it wasn’t the first time in the history of the city-states that corruption of that sort had been left to run rampant, and Oberon doubted it would be the last.


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Author Bio

Cassie Sweet lives and works from her home in rural New Jersey she shares with her hubby and dog. Most times life is a bit chaotic, but it’s always fun and never dull.

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