Excerpt:With lightning rushing to greet the barbarians, not only sulphur made their guts wrench. That most feared God, the God of lightning, was among them. Sheets of power forked across the ground, felling dozens of the pure race. Repeatedly, the riverbed exploded and sprayed molten sand. Dripping glass sculptures remained and pressure waves threw barbarians into the glowing glass pools. Where some lay stuck, in death or dying.The false day reached the refugees, the sky pulsing green. From the Safety of the hillside they saw it all, with deafening thunder rocking them. Dodging lightning bolts, the barbarians ran when they could to slid into super-hot streams of glass where their flesh seared so completely that bare-bones were exposed among living tissue. There was screaming at newly blackened limbs and sizzling holes within a shoulder or thigh, created by actual lightning strikes. And then more astral screams as the black shadows of the underworld chased and fell upon the freshly dead. Only a handful survived. It was another mist-night.*Tancah. Ten ships comprising another fleet had landed. Gold. Mounds of gold was being turned into ingots for shipment to the Far World.The gangplanks were sunk into the pink sand by the tread of disembarkingwarriors.The scarred pyramids were towers with large stone tablets standingon top. Not very wide, with ladder-like stairs, each had an almost sheerdrop at the back. Saplings burst forth in unexpected places among the ruins.The seventh ship to dock was grander than the others. Its occupants always liked to be seventh, from superstition. Rhaim, the commander-in-chief hurried to meet these new arrivals. They were the main reason he’d come back to Tancah. After all, he didn’t want their leader to take offense. In black clothing with wide purple edging, the thirteen glided down the gangplank. Weary soldiers made hasty signs in the group’s direction while dropping their eyes. Even with a close trimmed mustache, the outlines of the first face were a death mask. Udo, the leader. Tall, white-haired and eyes robin’s-egg blue. The whole group was from similar molds.Not on land yet, Udo glanced at Tancah. A connoisseur, he breatheddeeply of the destruction. Then he put a foot hard on the sand and dogs began to howl. A flock of monarch butterflies, resting on their way to their wintering ground, filled the air. Raising his hand to the sky, Udo cut a swath through the gossamer wings. The lovelies rained down among the pyramids, while the coven roared with laughter.Invisible to everyone, a watcher hovered over the beach within sight of the ships. As one, the black-garbed group turned to look at him, eyes burning. Languidly, Udo said, ‘Kill.’Two men vacated their flesh so utterly that their bodies fell to the ground. Their spirits were shadow hounds. Instantly the temple flyer telepathed the sight to his temple, then spirit claws were on him. Dying, screams filled the heads of other flyers.The murdered watcher’s body, seated in the temple chamber, spasmed and went limp. A high priest wiped the corpse’s brow, ‘Where is the other?’Simultaneously, Udo’s face was in the room, hanging in mid-space.Gloating, he disappeared. Then he was back at the beachfront. ‘Find the other watched.’The two dark hounds pounced forward, but Udo’s snarl sent them scurrying into their bodies. He believed in sharing and signaled a fresh pair.
Hello, I’m Lucius Beauchamp and I’ve written a fast-paced fantasy novel, called ‘Beyond Atlantis: An Epic Of The Ancient Americas’. Today, I’ll talk about snakes.
“She frowned, threw a stick down the track and then waited. Nothing moved. ‘Mind you, it’s walking all the way and all, all, uphill.’ She tossed another stick, lengthways and high this time. A dozen six- inch snakes dropped from the trees. Poisonous. ‘Or the tabooed coast, north of the New Nile.’ She’d just had a feeling about that track; maybe because it was too overgrown, maybe because no sound came from the track. ‘It’s only really forbidden to those without Atlantian heritage.’
“Observing the sea snakes, he laughed triumphantly. ‘More illusions.’ He ploughed into the truth and shrieked when it bit him. For a moment he was frozen there, unable to believe each sear of pain. Then he was tearing the snakes off him. The serpents merely saw an invitation to bite his hands. His veins seemed to be pumping acid. Convulsing, he fell forward under the slithering mass.”
About snakes, they’ve been milk-fed attendants in the temples of the ancient Roman Good Goddess. Alexander the Great’s mother Olympia had a thing for snakes, in association with the worship of Zeus; with whom she believed, wink, she’d had a son.
Cleopatra wasn’t afraid of snakes, as shown by her choosing a snake with which to kill herself. Mind you, I’m not sold on that story. Cleopatra was a queen who personally knew all about poisons, what to watch out for and what to keep aside for a rainy day. And she lived in Alexandria where they weren’t shy about sharing expertise on poisons. Yet, apparently, after she had semi-walled herself into her mausoleum in self-defence against Octavian Caesar, she’d had to send out for a take-away of Asps. I doubt it; she’d thoroughly researched the least painful way to die. Hence, Cleopatra would have had a precious vial twisted into her favourite wig, or a couple of emergency vials papyrus papier-mâchéd into the walls of her mausoleum.
Back to our slivery friends. They are the other of man’s two most popular phobias. When I was a young boy, I knew a particularly nasty woman, friend of the family, who told me that tennis balls were filled with tiny, tightly-coiled live snakes. Proof that the wicked witches of Grimm’s Fairy Tales still exist in modern form; smiling sweetly while dripping poison. Now, be truthful, how do our fanged friends affect you?