Sorrow Part 9: The Maker of Pain is due for release by Musa Publishing on 24 May 2013. Here is a brief synopsis and an excerpt.
An uneasy peace has descended over the World Apparent. The Winter Realm and the Old Kingdom are recovering from the cataclysmic events of the Twelfth Reconquest, while in the south, the Djanki and the Sharib retreat to lick their wounds from the battle at Temple Rock. To the east, the divided Empire of Temeria is nearing the end of a long civil war, in which rival Generals have fought like mad dogs to seize the long-vacant Imperial Throne.
General Saqr sinks ever deeper into despair. Besieged by General Anma, her grip on his magnificent city, Hasan, the City of Eagles, tightens by the day. Saqr is out of ideas and close to madness but his secretary, the cunning Hoshea, is prepared to go to any extreme to prevent the inevitable. Having escaped the clutches of the enigmatic Moon-Walkers, Bail and Sorrow find themselves in the company of the High Bloods – a stark and remorseless mountain tribe – and Sorrow makes quite an impression.
The secretary was holding a very ancient book in the crook of his left arm. The pages, yellow with age and covered in stains and water marks, were covered in spiky handwriting, a difficult form of Old Temerian that Hoshea labored to understand. His lips moved silently as he traced the words with his forefinger.
After a while he stopped reading and looked up. The musty air in the cellar had thickened slightly, and the flames of the braziers flickered as if rippled by a soft breeze.
“I expected something more dramatic,” said Hoshea, doing his best to sound nonchalant. “These old grimoires speak of dog-headed apparitions, curling horns, cats-eye pupils, grinning mouths full of wolf-like teeth, and the like. Perhaps they exaggerated. I suspect that many of the old true sorcerers were rather too inclined to indulge in narcotics.”
“You will call me Lord,” hissed a sibilant voice. It was as though someone whispered in Hoshea’s ear, and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up.
Control, control, he thought to himself. Ignore the prickling of sweat on your skin and the terrified knocking of your heart. The demon must know that you are the one in control here.
“You are mistaken,” he said, careful to speak slowly and enunciate every word, for the demon might seize on any inaccuracy of pronunciation. “I am not your servant, and you will call me Master. I summoned you, and the words of the conjurer are binding.”
Silence for a moment, and Hoshea was uncomfortably aware of the sweat trickling down his spine.
“What do you want with me, Master?” the demon said in a sulky voice. His name in the book was given as Am-Ho-Ra-Trep, or the Maker of Pain. His true demonic name was unpronounceable in the human tongue, and his true form (so the book claimed) too horrible for any human to look on without losing their sanity. Thus it was a relief that the Maker chose to remain invisible.
“That is proper obedience,” said Hoshea, “now, do you see this man before me?”
“I see him.”
“He is sorely wounded and his life hangs by a sliver. Restore him for me, but on my terms.”
A note of anxiety crept into the Maker’s hissing voice. “This one is sworn to the War God. You should petition him for aid, not me.”
“The War God does not listen to prayers. You know that. He is a harsh and unforgiving deity.”
“He is also proud, and jealous. I would be risking a great deal if I snatched one of his servants away from him.”
“Nonsense, you are more powerful by far. He is an old God, stale and failing, while you are young and vigorous.”
The Maker actually purred at these compliments, and Hoshea remembered that to a demon, flattery was an almost physical pleasure.
“Restore this man,” he commanded, growing in confidence now, “restore him to full health, strength, vitality, and more.”
“There is a price, Master.”
“I know. I am prepared to pay it.”
The Maker chuckled, a sinister throaty noise, his hot stinking breath drifting across Hoshea’s face. “Is he, though?”