Welcome to the book blitz for SOUL BORN, the first book in the adult fantasy series, Soul Born Saga, by Kevin James Breaux. See below information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on his giveaway.
About the Book
Title: SOUL BORN
Series: Soul Born Saga #1
Author:Kevin James Breaux
Category: Adult Fantasy
Release Date: November 15, 2018
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble
All Opal wanted was to be respected as a wielder of magic, but her teachers passed her over time and time again. When a mysterious warlord embarks on a conquest to destroy the lands of Illyia, Opal seizes the opportunity to step out from the shadows of her instructors and take her rightful place among them. Tala, an alluring young elf, was banished from her tribe, hunted and nearly killed by the beasts of the deep forests, but more than anything else she is a survivor. Joining forces with an ancient elemental power, Tala finds herself in the center of an unrelenting human war. Flesh like leather and bone as strong as steel, Karn, a veteran from the first kingdom to fall, is fueled by vengeance. While pushing headlong into battle Karn begins recalling memories of another life: ghosts that haunt his dreams. Through death of soul, their new world is born.
The screams of wounded men deafened Karn as he opened his eyes to the blinding glare of sunlight off a damaged shield. Were it not for the echo of his own breath in his ears, he would have believed himself to be nothing more than the soul of a warrior, floating off, on its way to the cherished afterlife. Yet he was alive, even though chaos had surrounded him on all sides.
The enemy’s cavalry charge had decimated his troops and scattered the few men still alive and on their feet. To his left were thirteen of his luckier soldiers, unharmed and ready for combat. To his right, a fog of thick dust swirled around the horses that passed through his lines. Karn tried to ignore the cries of the wounded behind him but could not. When he turned, he saw the ruins of a small town coughing black smoke into the pale blue sky.
My home. Gone.
Another group of men, all wearing familiar black-and-purple sigils, rushed to his side. They screamed and pointed in the direction of the dust cloud. He might have heard their words if not deafened by a new sound, one that would have made his heart jump from his chest had it not been caged by thick plates of armor.
Enemy foot soldiers advanced in five long combat lines, all pounding the flats of their weapons against their shields. Although greatly outnumbered, those who could still grip a weapon joined him.
Karn shed his fear with a blood-chilling howl, raised his axe above his head, then slammed its handle down against the left breast of his armor.
As he rushed the front line he was struck with an odd thought. Unlike his own men, the enemy soldiers wore the cleanest plate armor and most pristine white tabards he had ever seen—details that he employed to fuel his rage. As he engaged his first combatant, he ordered his men to soil as many of the pretty kingdom soldiers as they could before they committed their souls to the god of war.
Karn’s axe was an extension of his hatred for the enemy. It crashed down and split the helmet of one man before it buried itself in the leg of another. With his shield braced to his shoulder, Karn rammed his way into the crowd of opponents in a savage rage. His men liked to call it a death wish, but he simply preferred to fight surrounded, where every swing of his axe would strike a body that stood against him.
Karn sliced high and low and his efforts dispatched man after man. Blood and gore splashed around him, and painted friend and foe alike.
I will kill them all!
A crushing blow shook Karn’s frame.
His mind searched for reason. He had seen something moments ago, yes, he recalled it. In the crowd, a man with a war hammer. Only a massive weapon such as that could create an impact that would jar his entire body forward.
As he turned to face his attacker, he was stabbed in his shoulder. His vision blurred for several blinks—a long enough time for two rival soldiers to seize the opportunity to grab his arms, while another much smaller man aimed his sword at his belly.
The enemy had him.
He growled with fury and spat blood in the face of one of the men who stabbed him, before he was run through.
He struggled with all his might, with all the might of his kinsmen. Karn’s enemies tightened their grips, but he still broke free.
He reversed the hold the soldier on his left had and shoved him into the path of the shorter man’s bloody sword, but this bought him the briefest respite, as the glimmer of sharp weapons sparkled in every direction.
“Kill you all!”
Karn’s legs buckled after one uneven step, and he fell headlong onto the soft earth. He could hear his foes rejoice—the final indication that his forces were defeated. He fought to stand, gripping the loose soil in tight fists as he pushed up. But his strength, like his life, faded with each drop of blood that spilled from his body. As the world around him faded to nothing, he heard one last, faint cheer: “Death to the warlord!”
Karn opened his eyes and his senses overwhelmed him. He hadn’t known what to expect—certainly not a deep autumn forest, pine trees so tall he had to tilt his head all the way back to see the tops that surrounded him. Karn’s heavy heart raced as he sat up on a bed of old pine needles. He struggled to comprehend his last memory: a battle, blood, death—it seemed so familiar. He shook his head and tried to disregard the images.
A nightmare; haunting and real, but just a nightmare…
He spotted an old lumberjack’s axe nearby, its wooden handle wrapped in leather so thin and dry it looked as if it would crumble upon touch.
Karn picked it up and gauged its weight. He thought back to the axe from his nightmare: large and sharp, with runes etched into its blade and steel handle.
No, that axe was a war axe; it belonged in my hand. This one… He gazed at it and the trees around him. This is a chopping axe and it’s as foreign as this place surrounding me.
Karn swung the axe at the tree as he imagined a lumberjack would. The blade buried itself in the soft bark with a thud. He shook his head as he tugged the axe free. I didn’t sink my axe into trees–I sunk it into men: enemies of my kin.
Although he told himself the visions that flooded his mind were a bad dream, the fury of battle still built inside him.
Karn gnashed his teeth, swung the axe over his head, and released it on the tree in a slicing motion. The vibration of the strike up his forearm felt good, so he swung again and again. Slivers of dry bark flew from the tree, soon replaced by the splatter of gooey sap from fresh, green wood.
Engrossed in his attack, Karn did not hear the crunch of dry leaves beneath approaching feet.
“Karn! What are you doing?”
A young woman stood fifteen feet away. Karn’s violent mood washed away the moment he laid eyes on her.
He noted her style of dress, different from most of the young ladies of his lands’ court. She wore a beige blouse and a thick skirt, not unlike a commoner or farmer, yet hers were much cleaner than most.
Next, he noted her body, which was tall and lean, a good fit to her garb.
“Are you well?” she asked.
Karn recognized her long, wavy red hair. He remembered the cream-colored skin of her face and the sharp upturn of her lips. He was sure he knew this young woman intimately, but no matter how hard he tried to remember, her name escaped him.
“You’ve been resting in my father’s cabin for almost five days. This morning, when I rose, you were gone. I was scared to death,” the young woman said, her voice shaky.
He shrugged. “I awoke out here.”
“You’re still recovering from your injuries, my love. You shouldn’t be running about the forest.”
Karn could see her eyes as she drew closer. Not only were they filled with concern, but her irises were two different colors: one blue, one green. The sight caused something to flicker deep in his memory.
“Opal,” he announced. “Your parents gave you that nickname when you were seven summer cycles old because your eyes turned two different colors.”
Karn tried to make sense of his current situation, but there were no answers in his mind, no recollections to call from, nothing more than a black wall of emptiness that stretched on forever in every direction.
“What happened to me? How did I get here?”
Opal stepped to Karn. Now chest to chest with him, she reached up and placed her hand on his shoulder. She gazed deep into his eyes and was silent for a moment before she spoke.
“Are you having trouble remembering?” Opal brushed her warm fingertips across his temple. “You remember me, don’t you?”
Karn called upon his memory again, and this time hundreds of jumbled images flashed through his mind. “You and I are lovers; we hope to raise a family together.”
“Yes, we’re lovers.” Opal spoke as she stepped around him to the tree he had hacked away at like a savage.
Karn shook his head and rubbed his temples. “Why do I feel so… so lost?”
He thought back and found more memories of Opal. While these moments appeared with ease, he strained to catch even the smallest fragments of time he had spent alone or with others.
“I-I belong somewhere…” Karn rubbed the bridge of his nose.
“Do not pressure yourself,” Opal said as she stared at the deep gashes in the tree. “You were wounded in the invasion; you suffered a grave head wound and should have died. You’re very fortunate the horse I gifted you was trained to return here if lost.”
Karn stepped to her side in time to hear the words trickle from her crimson lips. His heart sank into his stomach and his body felt cold. For a moment, he feared that his feet were going to float off the ground and topple him over.
Opal slowly distanced herself from him while she waved her hands around in a circular motion. From her palms, an orange-colored smoke sprayed and took the shape of an oblong window.
What is this? This-this is impossible… he thought. No, I remember this. This is magic. Opal’s magic.
Inside the smoky frame was a vision unlike any Karn remembered. The image, not dissimilar from an oil painting, was soft and blurry, which caused him to squint. As he stared in amazement, Opal began to speak.
“Weiden’s Rise was ambushed by a marauding warlord. Outnumbered, her army fell quickly, but not before her generals issued two poignant commands.”
As she spoke, the scene inside the smoky frame changed, like pages turning in a book. Images of his kingdom with an enormous army besieging its gates brought back the desire for violence he had experienced moments ago.
“Your father, one of the kingdom’s highest-ranking generals, ordered you and the cavalry under your command to protect the citizens of Weiden’s Rise as they fled through a secret tunnel. Another unit of cavalry, led by the king’s brother, was dispatched to engage the enemy and distract them from your egress.”
“I-I remember this,” Karn whispered as the images shifted from one static scene to the next, displaying exactly what Opal described.
“The king’s brother tried, but could not keep the attention of the enemy. Their scouts discovered the tunnel’s mouth. Before you could lead all the citizens from the tunnel into the forest, the enemy dispatched its fastest riders, a legion of mixed horse archers and light cavalry.”
Karn recognized the next scene—it was him and his men surrounded by the women and children of Weiden’s Rise. As her magic summoned the image, he gasped. No… I failed…
The citizens he had been ordered to protect ran in fright, some injured while others lay dead, pierced by many arrows. Karn spotted himself in the picture; he fought off the enemy’s cavalry while he utilized his horse to defend a fleeing family.
“Refusing to retreat, even when it was clear your efforts were futile, you and your men saved hundreds, Karn.”
“I was run through…” Karn said, as he recalled his dream.
“No,” Opal replied. “As you raced to the forest’s edge to rescue a group of children, you rode straight into a group of twenty enemy cavalry. Karn, you saved those children, but not without a cost. You were struck by a war hammer.”
The last image Karn saw was that of himself slumped over his horse. Blood had painted streaks down his face, as well as the flanks of his mount.
“You found me?” he said, as the orange smoke dissipated and blew away in the cool fall breeze.
“Yes, when I returned from my studies, I found you lying unconscious, your horse watching over you. You looked half-dead.” Opal paused to catch her breath. “I used my magic to heal you, but your wounds were severe, the worst I have ever tended to.”
Opal’s story had had an effect; his heart raced, and his brow was soaked. He wanted to scream and punch the nearest tree. Thoughts of his father, defeated and most likely dead at the hand of this nameless warlord, filled his mind.
“Calm yourself, my love.”
The look of concern in her eyes troubled him. Why do you look at me like that? Am I still ill… or do you fear me?
“Calm myself? Fuck! I cannot. My kingdom is conquered!” Karn growled. “My family is dead!”
“Karn, please, don’t allow yourself to be overcome with these emotions—not when there’s still so much to achieve.”
Karn’s mind raced with jumbled thoughts. “Achieve? What do you mean? Wait, does the warlord remain in Weiden’s Rise?”
Opal placed her hand on his chest and looked deep into his eyes. Her proximity in that moment made him uncomfortable, so he glanced away, but not before a flash of magical energy emanated from her eyes: green and blue, a match to the color of each iris.
“You cannot confront the warlord alone. You need my help,” Opal said, slow and clear. “Allow me to take you to my teachers at the High Council; they can aid us in this coming conflict.”
“I need help.”
Opal nodded. “Yes.”
“Fine, let us seek out your teachers.”
Opal smiled before she leaned in and gave Karn a brief kiss on the lips. “I need you to rest first. Can you rest for me?”
Opal watched Karn turn and march off in the direction she had come from. Once he disappeared into the forest, she shifted her attention to the shadows that painted the trees around her.
“All clear,” she said with confidence.
From high above, near the tops of the great pines of the forest, the man she called her mentor lowered himself slowly. Malek was her head trainer and the overseer of her special mission. In his late sixties, Malek stood tall and thin, covered in the dark sapphire-colored mage’s robes— said to be made, in part, of cockatrice hide—that only the instructors of the High Council were permitted to wear. He ran his hand through his tight-cropped white hair, scratching lightly, then down his cheek to his thick goatee. When he spoke, he did so in a deep, commanding voice.
“You must pay closer attention to your surroundings, fledgling.”
“It has been less than a week since we enchanted him with the Ancient Warlord’s Soul spell.” Malek removed his hood and ran his hand over his tight cropped white hair. “This boy here might be our last chance to defeat our enemy. There’s no room for childish mistakes.”
Opal crossed her arms. “You think I don’t know that?”
The old mage gave her the same look he always gave her when her rebellious nature flared. Using his long, ornate staff like a cane, he walked toward the tree that Karn had assaulted. Opal watched her mentor study the cuts. He no doubt realizes just how deep they are now. Karn is much stronger than they ever imagined.
“Fascinating,” Malek said after he cleared his throat and coughed, spittle dripping into his unkempt white goatee. “However, it remains obvious to me that he requires further battle testing.”
“Very well then. Ferry him to the fortress, so we can evaluate his abilities appropriately…” Malek paused to glare at Opal. “As we do all our students.”
“I already convinced him that he needs to visit the High Council in search of aid,” Opal replied with a smirk. “I will bring him later tonight. Then you may do as you wish, Malek.”
“I always do as I wish, fledgling.”
About the Author
Kevin James Breaux has written nine books and devoted the past twelve years of his life to crafting short stories and novels. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Paranormal Romance Guild, and other groups.
Breaux is always enthusiastic about the challenge writing presents. He lives by the motto “Write Makes Might!”© and sees each new page as an opportunity to improve and advance.
Breaux was formerly represented by Marisa A. Corvisiero, the founder of the Corvisiero Literary Agency.
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