Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Escapist Book Tours virtual book tour for Christopher Russell’s Epic/Steampunk/Military Fantasy novel Divinity’s Twilight: Remnant! Today, I am excited to help kickoff the tour by sharing with you an excerpt straight from the book!
You can find our interview below, along with all of the info about the book, the author, links to purchase a copy of Divinity’s Twilight: Remnant for yourself, and a chance to win a copy in our giveaway! Also, be sure to take a look at the schedule here or at the bottom of the post and follow along to see the stops from our other awesome hosts!
Divinity’s Twilight: Remnant by Christopher Russell
Published: September 14, 2022
Series: Divinity’s Twilight #2
Genre: Epic/Steampunk/Military Fantasy
Intended Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Illyrium Publishing
Divinity’s Twilight: Remnant is the much-anticipated sequel to the multi-award-winning epic fantasy novel, Divinity’s Twilight: Rebirth.
Power is a curse.
As Vallen and his fellow cadets flee fallen Darmatia, he is forced to confront the ghosts of his past. The friend who perished that he might live. The girl whose smile haunts his nightmares. Now, a third voice joins them—something dark, something ancient. And the more Vallen uses his magic, the stronger it becomes.
Tools exist to be used.
The flames of Sylette’s vengeance are all but quenched. With each passing day, the dominion of the Sarconian Empire grows, and her treacherous father’s throat drifts further from her reach. Sylette’s last hope is a coded message, one that promises a growing resistance against the Empire. But even if she gains the means to avenge her mother’s murder, one question remains: how many ‘tools’ is she willing to sacrifice to see her vengeance through?
What color is love?
Renar has learned to hide a great many things: his emotions, his art, and one truly devastating family secret. But when he must face the man who’s controlled his life from the shadows, will he choose the family he’s always known, or the dysfunctional crew he’s been shackled with?
For every ending, a beginning.
Embers of conspiracy flare in Nemare and Sarconia. A resurrected Sarcon plots to reclaim his imprisoned flesh. As the winds of war swirl and forgotten myths rise, the choices these cadets make could save their country . . .
. . . or unleash something far, far worse.
The Empire Strikes Back • Portal, Portal on the Wall, Don’t Show Me My Past, Lest I Fall • Ice Queen of Hearts
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/dtremnant
Hetrachia 12, 697 ABH
Sarconian Occupied Beiras
Heavy mist filled the streets of Beiras, a choking pall mixed from furnace fumes, ash, and swirling gunpowder smoke. It reeked of iron and charcoal, and burned the eyes and throats of those it touched.
The first was normal. Beiras’ countless factories, the lifeblood of their war effort, poured black smog into the sky day after day, rendering the city’s lower levels a shadowy abyss that required masks and illyrium lanterns to traverse safely.
The second was not. Hundreds of smokestacks lay still, not so much as an ember leaving their mouths. Yet the smoke continued to thicken, fed by hungry fires that raced uncontrolled through the city and left charred ruins in their wake.
Beiras was burning, and it was not Rittermarschal Valescar’s fault.
“That’s an artillery factory,” he yelled, pointing with his gauntlet. “Get the water truck over ‘ere so we can save it!”
“Right away!” Irine glanced up and pressed a hand to her ear, relaying the order to her twin, Elias. Valescar had split the sensors up to help his teams communicate in the middle of this chaos.
Armor clanking, he strode toward the blaze, two great metal propellers—ripped from a crashed Rabbanite airship—whirling fast enough to blur in front of him. They drove back the flames and mist, allowing the soldiers with him to approach the factory’s brick front. Fire jetted from the doorway and broken windows, obscuring whatever lay inside.
Wheels screeched on the pavement behind him. One of his firefighting teams had arrived. Hoses in hand, two lines of men came alongside Valescar, aimed their nozzles upward, and loosed torrents of water at the inferno.
Valescar moved on, directing the propellers ahead of him with both arms. He didn’t have time to think; time to stop. A wooden tenement, four flimsy floors of apartments haphazardly shoved in an alley between two ball-bearing workshops, collapsed in a roar of sparks and cinders on his left.
Had there still been people inside? Workers that hadn’t managed to pack their things and evacuate in time? Valescar waved at another building, one with a red engine engraved on its crumbling wall, and Irine called for more support. Two steps behind him, Captain Gadler and his aides hunched over a char-blackened map of the lower city, desperately trying to locate resources they should save before all was lost.
How could they do this? Valescar wondered. How could those slimy slechers erase centuries o’ progress ta make things a wee bit ‘arder on us?
More buildings were marked. Sarconian soldiers swooped in, doused them with water, and pulled out what they could. A dozen half-melted lathes for boring rifles. Four crates of ration packs meant for Rabbanites at the front.
Articles with no merit went back into the flames from whence they came. An oil canvas, sunset colors running like blood. A child’s patchwork doll, black hair made from iron shavings, her clogs from whittled out bottle corks. Evidence of people’s lives that Valescar had no reason to preserve, even though something twisted inside his mangled flesh as he watched them vanish.
An explosion erupted two streets over, making everyone flinch and glance around nervously. It could be stored munitions cooking off . . . or insurgents attacking another platoon.
“Get air cover there, stat,” Valescar ordered. While Gadler relayed the command, he reached out with his magnetism magic, searching for moving metal in their vicinity—a sure sign that enemy gunmen were approaching their position.
Gadler stumped up beside him. Gray ash coated the man’s mustache, making the Judicator’s captain look older than he actually was. His once immaculate uniform was soaked with sweat, stained with soot, and singed along the legs and sleeves.
“Ya aren’t supposed ta rush in with the troops, Gadler,” Valescar admonished wryly.
The man snorted. “I could say the same about you, sir. Let me state once again that I disapprove of the theater commander leading a ground opera—”
“Noted. Fer the fourth time.”
Shaking his head, Gadler glanced at Valescar’s armor. He still wore the full plate, mail, and crimson cloak associated with his rank, along with two rapiers buckled to his back. “Aren’t you hot?” The captain asked, pulling at his sweat-darkened collar.
Valescar was always burning, but his pain was more imagined than real these days. “I ain’t felt hot since Aldona. Flyin’ through a crashin’ airship’ll do that ta—”
He clamped his mouth shut. Something made of metal—or someone with it—was closing rapidly from their right. Valescar spun in that direction, metal blades prepared to repel bullets, the spools of wire on his hips loosening to retaliate.
No attack came. A flight of Sarconian lancerjets soared over the smoky rooftops, angling toward the source of the earlier detonation. Valescar relaxed, then winced as Irine’s high-pitched shout assaulted his ears.
“I’m sorry, sir! Our comms are a mess with the battle still going on. I wasn’t sure when support would arrive.”
He waved her concerns away, gaze tracing the graceful arc of the lancerjets. The snub-nosed fighter craft did one loop before waggling their wings and departing. No enemy, all clear. They didn’t have any forces in the area, and the blast could be ruled an accident.
More thunder roared in the distance. Beiras proper was his, but General Schutte was still clearing the Rabbanite trenches and nipping at the retreating enemy’s rear guard. Fighting would continue through the evening and into the night, which would make the smog-obstructed visibility even worse.
The gunfire struck while Valescar was distracted.
Two of his men went down, one clutching his bleeding calf, the other plugged clean through an eye. Irine reacted quickly, grabbing the first under his armpits and hauling him toward the nearest cover—the chassis of their water truck.
Most of the Sarconians weren’t armed, their guns stored on the truck’s bed while they lugged log-thick hoses around. Another went down in a spray of blood as he ran to arm himself. Other stray shells pinged off the truck hood, the pavement, and the neighboring buildings.
Valescar raised his propellers in the air and spun them in a wide circle, hoping to catch as many rounds as he could. Bullets clanged against the blades like hundreds of weighty raindrops falling atop a metal sheet. He was catching most of them, but a few were still getting through—one into the truck’s front right tire, which deflated with a furious hiss, and another across Gadler’s shoulder. It sliced a golden epaulet off, leaving him stunned but uninjured.
Four, nay, five men, Valescar reasoned, listening to the clatter of striking rounds, feeling them whizz through the mist. Semi-automatic rifles, five shots ta a clip, with a sixth reloadin’ an’ passin’ them new guns. Damage inflicted aside, they weren’t trying to kill him. The fire was too sporadic, too unfocused for that. They were trying to suppress his unit.
But to what end?
Another group of Sarconians came rushing down the street, blazing green flares marking them as friendlies through the smog. With them was a huddled, frightened family. At the front limped a mother, ratty shawl wrapped around her wiry hair, infant clutched tight in her scraggly, burn-pocked arms. Next to her, a gangly youth of fourteen or fifteen too big for the tattered rags he wore ran with an even younger boy and girl on his left and right, their hands locked in his.
Refugees who didn’t make it out of the city? Defectors? Spies who worked for Sarconian intelligence?
Valescar’s thoughts ground to a halt. The hail of lead directed at his unit swung toward the unprotected squad. A lieutenant in a chainmail cuirass caught one in the chest and crumpled, nearly dragging the mother down with her. Only a desperate shove from another soldier pushed her free, and the man himself was hit in the ribs. He fell, clutching his scarlet side.
“Up there!” Valescar cried. He pointed with one of the unsheathed rapiers from his back, his propellers and wires already shifting to protect the approaching squad. “In the curved buildin’ at the end o’ the street, second floor balcony. Six men. Fire at will!”
All metal was his to know, to sense, to command. Every shell that struck his makeshift shields and cut through the smoke had brought Valescar closer to locating their foes. Now he knew exactly where the Rabbanites were, and they would pay for spilling his men’s blood.
The enemy’s diverted attention allowed Gadler, Irine, and the rest of his team to grab their rifles. Magazines clicked, bolts snapped, and cracks roared around him. The rounded building—once a tavern, if the blackened ale mug hanging out front was any clue—exploded in a deluge of flying brick splinters and wood fragments. One scream echoed from inside, followed by another. The rain of fire from the insurgent’s nest halted immediately.
Nay, lads, Valescar thought, disfigured lips bared in a snarl. Ya aren’t escapin’. Not today, not ever. He closed his eyes. He didn’t need sight to see the metal canteens strapped to their belts, the ammo casings in their chest bandoliers. Their coat buttons betrayed them, as did the piercing in one’s ear, the wrist bands three of them wore, and the cheap tooth filling on the fifth.
They were within Valescar’s hundred-meter range, and he would have his vengeance.
“Ret’mag’wa,” he chanted.
One hand kept the propellers suspended, spinning between the scorched tavern and street. The other yanked. Hard.
Surprised cries preceded the bodies by an instant. Arms flailing, curses on their lips, they came tumbling out the windows, banged against the balcony’s heat-warped railing, and kept hurtling toward Valescar’s outstretched gauntlet.
The first three never saw their fate. They struck the whirling blades—sharp, curved, meter-long hunks of metal meant to tug airships through the sky—and dissipated into a cloud of red mist that only added to Beiras’ pervasive smog.
Seeing their comrades’ demise, the last two insurgents dropped their rifles and unlimbered their belts, reducing Valescar’s hold on them enough to reach out and grasp the railing. Their bloody fingers hung on for dear life.
Chuckling at their foolishness, Valescar adjusted his focus and wrenched loose the very rails they clung to.
Two shrieks rang out, then were abruptly silenced.
“Bit messy, don’t you think?” Gadler asked, lowering his rifle and inspecting his clothes for crimson splatters.
“That,” Valescar flicked a mailed claw at the two dead soldiers near their water truck, men that should not have had to die, “was messy. What I did ta those slechers was clean-up. The city’s fallen. Don’t they know when ta quit?”
“Apparently not.” Gadler raised his voice and waved at the approaching soldiers.
“Who’s in charge? And who are these civvies?”
A woman with blood crusting her short black hair glanced over her shoulder at the dead lieutenant sprawled face-up on the street. “Lieutenant Snyder was in command, but she got slotted, so . . .” The three other soldiers around the Rabbanite family looked at her expectantly. “Well, I guess I’m in charge now, sir.”
“And these?” Gadler gestured at the mother and her children. They closed about their parent protectively, the eldest son holding his arm out to shield her, and the little ones hiding behind her torn dress folds.
“Pulled them from a burning building. I know it wasn’t our mission,” she trembled a bit while staring at Valescar, “but we couldn’t just leave them to die.”
Gadler raised an eyebrow. “Were they in a factory you were searching? Did they give you any intel? Do they know where the fleeing Imperium forces are headed? Is it Varas Fortress, or Rabban, or—”
“Enough, Gadler,” Valescar growled. “There’ll be time fer all o’ that later. Fer now, they’ve suffered plenty without us addin’ ta it.”
No father. The mother was sickly, her eyes dark, skin sallow, and chest sagging. She probably couldn’t properly breastfeed the infant, and it would die in a few days. Her eldest son was the breadwinner, Valescar reasoned, given the lad was healthy enough to glare hatred at him and muscular enough to follow through on that hate if someone put a blade in his hand. If not for his work in one of these factories, the lot of them would have starved by now.
They could do better for these people. The Empire could do better for these people.
“Irine, I think there’s a package o’ ration bars in the truck cab. Can ya bring it here?”
The cheerful sensory mage made it two steps before an illyrium grenade flew into their midst. Valescar’s eyes went wide. It was a crude device: a men’ar infused crystal attached to a smoking gunpowder satchel, long wick all but burnt through. No metal on it whatsoever.
“Glory to the Imperium!” the sixth insurgent screamed from the tavern steps. “Death to—”
Gadler shot him through the forehead.
Yet the charge he’d thrown would still detonate; still kill them all. The mother looked to Valescar, gaze pleading. She was right. He was the only one who could save them.
Snaps echoed in the air like gunshots. Valescar used his magic to split his armor along the seams, then sent the fragments soaring toward the bomb along with his wires, rapiers, and the blood-dripping propellers. They wrapped around the charge in an instant, forming a steel cocoon like the one he’d used to survive Aldona.
One second passed.
The mass of metal expanded outward, weaker sections spiking like little mountains. For a tense moment, the peaks continued to multiply, and the whole orb shuddered and bucked as if it would split into a thousand pieces of searing shrapnel.
Yet it didn’t. Valescar pressed his hands in from the sides, molding the air before him with the same magnetic forces being applied to the grenade. Sweat dribbled down his brow, across his scars, and into his ragged beard. Yet exhausted as he was, he held firm until, with a pop, the immense pressure pushing back against his magic disappeared entirely.
Valescar let the distorted sphere fall. It clattered across the pavement, and as it rolled, he breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m two fer two on survivin’ explosions, Gadler!”
Something metallic struck his side. The approach, and the strike itself, had been perfectly concealed by his focus on the illyrium grenade and all the other clangs, clicks, and clacks around him.
Protruding from his side was a combat knife—the kind issued to Imperium special forces. Valescar glanced down at the red spreading from the gap in his gambeson, a tear under his armpit and directly in line with his heart. Attached to the blade was a shaking hand, which led to a quivering arm and a misery-hardened face of no more than fourteen or fifteen years.
The boy. The woman’s son had stabbed him.
The brat’s lips moved, his eyes twitched, but no words came out. With a startled gasp, as though not quite comprehending what he’d done, his fingers jerked from the knife and he stumbled backwards.
“Th-they told me . . . told me this w-was the . . .”
“The o-only way to k-kill . . .”
“Fire!” Gadler yelled.
“No!” Valescar screamed.
Like before, he caught some of the bullets in an invisible grip. But not all. Shells struck the lad’s shoulders, chest, ribs, and hips, spinning him one way, then the other in puffs of red mist. He was dead by the time he struck the ground, by the time Gadler raised a fist to halt the gunfire and the boy’s shrieking mother reached his side.
Eyes glazed over, bloody mouth agape, limbs sprawled at sickening angles, he was completely and unequivocally dead—unlike Valescar, whose shrapnel-littered left side had saved his life. The knife had hit metal and glanced away from his heart, rending flesh but leaving his heart unscathed.
Irine rushed toward him, calling for a medical team. Yet Valescar didn’t feel the pain in his side, or the blazing needles prickling his tortured skin. Panting, blood-racing, he could only stare at the slain youth—too young to be drafted into any army—and his family crowded atop his broken corpse.
The little girl wept. Her brother clutched her hand while poking his eldest sibling, asking him why he didn’t wake up. And the mother . . . A chill swept through Valescar. Her tear-stained eyes weren’t glued to her son. No, they stared utter loathing through him, as if her despondent soul could tear into his and rip his heart out.
Deep ran the hatred of this war. Valescar’s men had died, he’d killed the men who slew them, and then a child had attempted to end him and been butchered in turn. Now his mother would surely walk the same path.
What are we doin’? a tiny voice in the corner of his mind whispered.
Ignoring the woman, the voice, and the pain, Valescar picked up his fallen cloak, wrapped it around his neck, and fled in the direction of his ship.
About the Author
Christopher Russell (native of Williamsburg, VA) is a 29-year-old mechanical and aerospace engineer (graduate of the University of Virginia) who has loved reading since the day he picked up a book and writing since he could scrawl his first letters. After voraciously consuming titles from every genre—ranging from Star Wars to Lord of the Rings—he decided to combine the expertise from his professional education, passions, and Christian faith into a fantasy epic bridging the gap between magic and science. He currently resides in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his loyal dog, Vallen, named after the protagonist of his first work. For behind-the-scenes information on all of Christopher Russell’s works, visit christopherrussellauthor.com.
Author Site: https://www.christopherrussellauthor.com/
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