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Thread: .44 Saint --- Tasty e-book goodness

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    Senior Member San Cidolfus's Avatar
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    .44 Saint --- Tasty e-book goodness

    Sol’s job is simpler when things are black and white. Protect the innocent, condemn the lawbreaker. Policing magi is dangerous work and that kind of clarity helps, most of all when it’s his finger on the trigger deciding who lives and who dies.

    1876 - France has been in British possession for twenty-four years, since before Sol was born. The British conquest of France and northern Spain has shaped his life and his work. Sol is a magister, part of a religious fraternity sworn to enforcing the laws that govern the use of magic and those who wield it: magi. Any preternatural crime falls under the jurisdiction of the magisters, whether that’s magi who’ve crossed the line, or something worse.

    A family friend delivers Sol terrible news, which points him to a rural town in France where murders have been going unsolved for years. People there have long been prey to savage nocturnal creatures, but lately the killings have been getting worse. Magisters are already on site, and Sol gets himself dispatched as their aide so he can deal with his family matter. Once he arrives, Sol finds that things aren’t going to be that straightforward. One hard turn follows another, and before long he’s isolated, outnumbered, and fighting tooth-and-nail just to stay alive. But that’s straightforward enough for Sol.

    Evil magi. Tainted beasts. Six bullets in his .44. He’ll make it work.

    Available on Amazon Kindle:
    Amazon.com: .44 Saint eBook: Kyle Hannan: Kindle Store

    Also available on the Nifty Nook:
    BARNES & NOBLE | .44 Saint by Kyle Hannan | NOOK Book (eBook)

    Thanks to the local overlords at Mythic Scribes for allowing unabashed self-promotion. You guys rock! But you knew that.

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    Senior Member San Cidolfus's Avatar
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    Definition : Teaser

    Here's a bit of meat from .44 Saint, in which a gang of proper villains confronts our hero outside of the sheriff's office.


    Four of them had pistols tucked into sashes at their hips, and those revolvers were the only things I recognized. The men wore loose-fitting garments, all browns or whites, while their sashes were dyed in reds and greens. I’d seen pictures of men who dressed like this, in pulp novels set in dusty desert kingdoms. They were bronze-skinned and clean-shaven, with charcoal hair tied in thick braids. Gold winked from their many earrings, and some wore heavy rings. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what such men were doing in backwoods France.

    One had his head shaved so closely there wasn’t even a shadow of stubble, so the stippled red tattoo covering his bald head stood out vividly. He was dressed like the others, but his white cloth was finer, silk, maybe, and pearls hung from his earrings. He didn’t have a pistol, he had a sword. A sword in a bejeweled scabbard, tucked into his crimson sash. He touched his ringed fingers to his chest and inclined his head without taking his eyes off me. His whole demeanor was genteel, down to the warmth of his smile, and nothing about it matched the predatory look in his eyes.

    I stopped on the top step. The door hadn’t fully closed behind me. “Uh…good evening,” I said.

    “Good evening to you,” the bald young man replied. His voice was deep and cultured, and spiced by an accent that I’d never heard before, pulling at his vowels and drawing out the thicker syllables. “You could only be Father Estévez. How fortunate that we encountered you here.”

    “Yeah,” I said, eyeing the men. Baldy stood at the foot of the steps below me, and the four janissaries--as I wanted to call them--were in a crescent behind him. Three of them were grinning, but not in any way I liked. They looked like they were about to do something bad, and enjoy it. “Fortunate.”

    “I extend to you an invitation,” Baldy said. “You will accompany me.”

    My heart clutched. At that moment, I wanted to do nothing more than get away from them. I considered running back inside the office. But I told myself to be cautious; the day’s events had just left me unsettled. Baldy did not necessarily mean me harm. I simply didn’t know what he wanted, or who he was. I told myself that, and tried to speak calmly through the tightness in my throat, “I’m sorry, sir. You did not give me your name.”

    The bald man laughed, a hollow little chuckle that did not brighten his eyes. “My manners have degraded. How awful. My name is Hureiyuman sìl Rastál nì-Andad. You may call me Andad. These men are my cousins, the en Quissars: Nishád, Tamil, Avom, Yessìr.” None of the four so much as nodded. One of them muttered something to another, and the second one snorted. Andad smiled that empty smile again. “Now that we are introduced, you will accompany me.”

    Call me surly, but I didn’t feel any more amenable. I glanced back inside the office, and Greux was coming towards the door with a frown on his heavy face.

    I looked to Andad. “Accompany you? To where? And for what purpose? I’m sorry, but it’s late, and I must be on my way.”

    Andad’s face twitched, and his smile twisted into a scowl. “You will not ask these questions! You will come with me!” With that outburst, his hand went to the hilt of his sword. Not to draw it, just to touch it.

    The blade had a prominent curve, and he was close enough that I could see its gold-gilt hilt. A snarling dragon’s head composed its pommel, and several more formed its quillons. Andad rubbed his thumb along the pommel dragon head, like it was a pet that needed soothing.

    “I do not like your tone, sir,” I said, and shifted backwards, taking a step inside the threshold. The four janissaries had made no hostile move, but I plainly didn’t like this. Andad had gone from cordial to threatening far too quickly for my tastes. “I would ask you to leave me be.”

    “I care nothing for what you ask,” Andad growled, his accent thickening. “You will come with me, whether you wish it or no.”

    “What’s all this, then?” Greux said, coming out beside me. He had his hand on the pistol at his hip. “You men disperse. Right now.” As much as I’d disliked Greux, in that moment he became one of my favorite human beings.

    “This is not your business,” Andad spat. Now he gripped his sword by the hilt. “You interfere, and I will go through you.”

    Greux frowned, blinked, and shook his head. “You wouldn’t dare.”

    Andad said something in a clipped and trilling language. None of the janissaries so much as moved, but the look in their eyes changed. Deadened. Suddenly my guts went cold. Suddenly I didn’t want to be standing on those steps. I froze. I didn’t know what to do. Everything was still, and I realized I was holding my breath. I heard Greux suck air in between his teeth, then I heard metal rubbing leather: his gun clearing its holster. I opened my mouth to tell him not to do it, then hands were moving, pistols coming out, and for half a moment all I could do was see everything: janissaries raising pistols, Andad ducking, Greux raising his arm, and everything else didn’t matter except for what pounded cold and thick and burning through my veins. No thought--I jumped, threw myself inside and away and I heard the crack-crack-crack-crack of gunfire, and I hit the floor on my elbows and slid, smacking the back of my head against the wall. I saw Greux through a haze, backpedaling and firing, his pistol spitting smoke, and sparks burned around him--bullets snapping into the stone wall--and he must have hit his heel because he tripped and went down, and there was a hush like thunder rolling away and the quiet hit in a rush. Everything still. Everything silent.

    Greux didn’t move.

    My mind was empty. Blasted clean. I couldn’t form a single thought.

    That other language trilled outside. Boots touched the steps leading inside. My thoughts burst free and drowned me: they were coming for me; they were going to kill me; there was nothing I could do. No. I had a gun. Why the hell wasn’t I using it?

    I pulled my Laudner, cocked the hammer, and pointed it at the door. Whatever it was, whatever bastard came through, I would pull the trigger. They were going to kill me. I thought to pray. I couldn’t. I pointed my gun, lying on the floor with my whole body like a knot, my hand shaking. I pointed my gun.

    Shift, a color, a shadow, someone coming in, and I squeezed and the Laudner kicked and cracked and spit and I pulled the hammer and the trigger again before I could see what happened, and when I saw through the smoke there were sparks hissing away and an empty threshold. A man was cursing outside, fluid, furious. I had the hammer back and the gun pointed and I was on fire.

    Thoughts sprinted through my skull: I needed to move; I was on the floor, exposed; if they came in shooting, I was dead; I needed cover. The desk was right next to me. I scrambled behind it so it was between me and the door. I listened, but it didn’t sound like they were coming in. I could hear them speaking their foreign talk.
    I looked, and Greux lay unchanged, on his back, left hand limp, fingers uncurled. His face was turned away from me. I couldn’t see his chest moving. He truly was dead.

    Jesus, what had just happened? They’d gunned down a deputy! Who were these men?

    It didn’t sound like they were running. They were talking; I recognized Andad’s voice. Would they try to come in? They should have run after shooting a deputy like this. But they weren’t. They were getting ready to finish the job, to come in and kill me. Could I flee through the back? I had no idea if there even was a back. Perhaps down that corridor by the cell, past the…

    Footsteps hit the stairs. I threw off my satchel strap so it wasn’t weighing on me, and slapped my hand on the desktop and pointed my gun, poking my head up just enough to see. Had I fired three shots? Two? Yes, I’d fired two. I had three shots left. I had more bullets in my satchel, but I didn’t have time to reload if they were coming up, and I heard them coming up. I shouted, “I’ll shoot the first man I see! Stay back!” I had to hope that would delay them, and I used my free hand to open my satchel. Where the hell had I packed my extra bullets?

    A shadow crossed the doorframe, but I didn’t see the man. Just his silhouette. I gave up looking for my bullets and focused on the door.

    God help me. There were five of them and they were coming inside.

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