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SIGNED – Assassin (Darkblade #1)

$25.00
FormatPaperback

All in Voramis know the legend of the Hunter.
Relentless. Immortal. Death walking. The greatest assassin who ever lived.

Pay the master killer his due and the Hunter will execute any target, carry out any contract, no matter how impossible.

But when the Bloody Hand crime syndicate harms the innocents under his protection, they foolishly make an enemy of the one man they can’t afford to anger. The price of the Hunter’s vengeance is high—paid in blood and eternal damnation. Not even an army of crooks, cutthroats, and demonic creatures of nightmare can stand in his way.

He’s far more than just one man…he’s the Keeper-damned Hunter of Voramis.

 

(Each paperback is hand-signed and personalized by me. Swag included!)

Revenge quest
Dark
broody anti-hero
grim and bloody
Sentient weapon
demons and monsters
killer with a heart of gold


SIGNED – Assassin (Darkblade #1)

$25.00
Look Inside

Dead men lurked in ambush for the Hunter of Voramis.

Had they been more capable or cunning, they might have survived the night. Or given him a challenge, at the very least. Surprise attacks carried an immense weight of advantage, even against him. With a properly laid trap, one of the armed hulks crouching in the darkness of the port could have walked away from this night’s work alive and with a story to boast that they had slain the notorious, ruthless Hunter.

But these were sailors and roustabouts, not killers. Not intentional killers—Watcher knew how many unfortunate souls had died within the reeking, infested cargo hold of the Medora. Their competence lay in knots and sails, their wisdom of reading of the winds, ocean currents, and skies over the Frozen Sea. Hands roughened by hauling on ropes could crack skulls or break bones, certainly. But purposely taking another man’s life, that was another matter entirely.

There was an art to dealing death. It demanded a sure hand with a blade, steel-edged dexterity as elegant as a painter wielding brush and graphite. Strength mattered, but far more important were cunning and savage ferocity. At the final moment, when the time came to bathe in the infernal heat of battle, there could be no hesitation, no uncertainty. No fear.

And these men—these soon to be dead men—reeked of fear.

Even had the Hunter not spotted the eight solid shades of deep black crouching behind barrels and pressed up against the tottering wall of a ramshackle hut, the stink of their terror would have marked them plainly. The salty midnight breeze rolling off the ocean carried their scents to his sensitive nostrils. The sweaty, unwashed taint of rough men hardened by labor and drink and cruelty. The metal of their weapons and the bacon grease utilized to oil their crossbow strings. Strongest of all, however, an acrid tang hung in a miasma around each. A sharper, bitter-edged stench, that of prey instinctively sensing the presence of a predator.

The Hunter had come to the Port of Voramis, and death followed in his wake.

A hard, cold smile ghosted across the Hunter’s lips. He’d courted the impending ambush with full knowledge and bloody intention. Everyone in Lower Voramis had heard the whispered rumors that Captain Rothos was marked for death. The Hunter had paid good coin to spread the word in every tavern and doxie house within a mile of the port. The port inspectors’ extraneous visits to inspect the Medora’s cargo and the legal delays that prevented the ship from departing on the evening tide were also his doing. All to back Captain Rothos into a corner from which he would find no escape.

Neither captain nor crew would see the sun rise. It didn’t matter that the Hunter’s client had only paid the captain’s price; he’d throw in the rest at no extra cost. These weren’t guards simply protecting their master or servants going about their daily tasks as ordered. The sailors who lay in wait for the Hunter had full knowledge of and complicity in their captain’s actions. Some sins could not be forgiven.

Soulhunger’s insistence throbbed in the Hunter’s mind. The dagger sensed the adrenaline coursing through his veins, the promise of violence, and sang its ravenous desire into his thoughts, inflaming his own urge to spill blood.

Soon, the Hunter promised silently. Soon, you will feed.

He drew in a last long breath through his nose, identifying each of his enemies’ individual scents and affixing their locations in his mind. Then, drawing a pair of grease-coated throwing knives from the brace on his chest, he made his move.

Deep night and the depths of his dark grey cloak concealed him from his enemies. He raced toward the sailors, silent as a wraith and thrice as lethal. He vaulted the nearest barrel, hurling the daggers out to both sides mid-leap. Blackened blades sank home with meaty thunks. The Hunter landed atop the man who’d been hiding behind the barrel, driving both heels downward with all the strength of his powerful legs. Skull bones crumpled and a thick-muscled neck snapped beneath his soft-soled boots. Blood and brains exploded outward in a grisly halo. The Hunter charged onward, leaving gory footprints in his wake.

The next sailor’s unique scent—hemp, sandstone, and salt rum—drifted to the Hunter on the wind, accompanied by the scuff of a wooden crossbow stock on leather. The Hunter’s third throwing dagger flashed through the darkness on an invisible journey that ended with its blade embedded deep in the side of the man’s neck.

The Hunter darted to his left, dodging the arterial blood spray, then darted right again to snatch the crossbow from the sailor’s slackening grip. He turned the weapon on the dying man’s companion, who sheltered behind the ramshackle storage hut five paces farther down the dock. A quick caress of the trigger and the string released with a twang. The crossbow bolt leaped across the distance in the space between heartbeats, driving through the sailor’s left eye and nailing his head to the wooden wall that he’d foolishly believed would save him from the Hunter’s wrath.

Feed me, Soulhunger whispered, its voice velvet-soft and hard as iron. The raging desire grew the closer the Hunter drew to his target, inflaming his bloodlust.

Not yet! he told the dagger. First we eliminate these enemies to clear the way.

He sprinted toward the next sailor, who had turned at the sound of the released bowstring. Before the man could raise his long knife to defend himself or lash out—no telling what untrained enemies would do—the Hunter hurled the crossbow at the man. The heavy wooden stock and iron arms slammed into the sailor’s face. The Hunter seized the man’s throat, cutting off his startled, agonized gasp. A savage wrench snapped the sailor’s neck and silenced his cries forever.

Six had fallen, but two remained, and they had heard the sounds of death.

“He’s here!” came the shout from the darkness. “Keeper take it, don’t let him get to th—”

The Hunter’s fourth and final throwing dagger found its target in the man’s throat, and the call choked off in a gush of blood.

That left one. A second crossbowman.

The Hunter charged the stack of barrels that concealed the final enemy. The stink of the man’s fear drowned out even the thick odor of bacon grease and the stench of a body gone too many weeks at sea without fresh water to wash. With a savage grin, the Hunter ripped his long sword free of its sheath. A single slashing cut of the well-balanced, razor-edged blade cut the sailor from shoulder to hip from behind. The man fell without ever catching a glimpse of his killer.

Anger rippled through his mind. Soulhunger, furious at being denied the kill. The throbbing in the Hunter’s head rose to a pounding ache that threatened to shatter his skull.

Soon! he promised. Our quarry is close at hand! I sense him even now.

Through his bond with Soulhunger, the Hunter could feel Captain Rothos’ racing heartbeat. The man was near, hiding in the night, terrified for his life. No doubt praying his sailors bought him just a few more seconds of life—a price they paid in blood.

The Hunter raced through the dark port on a direct route toward the wharf’s edge, where the ocean’s salty tang grew stronger and the dark bulk of ships loomed large in the night. One in particular drew his attention: the Medora, a single-masted carrack built for both ocean and river travel. The gangplank had been drawn in and no ladders or ropes hung from its sides. Captain Rothos was prepared to fight. A challenge the Hunter relished immensely.

He’d just drawn within twenty paces of the ship when light suddenly sprang to life all along the Medora’s railing. Lantern shutters were thrown open and a bright golden glow spilled across the port. The brilliance momentarily blinded the Hunter—worse, it made him visible to the armed men aboard the ship.

The twang of crossbow strings screamed a warning of danger. The Hunter darted right and ducked behind the cover of a stack of grain-filled sacks—the goods that the Medora transported to conceal their true cargo. Two bolts whistled through the empty air where he’d been a split second earlier.

The third didn’t miss. A bolt slammed into the Hunter’s chest hard enough to spin him around, shattering bones and ripping through lung and heart muscle. He half-fell, half-staggered into cover.

Keeper take it! Blood seeped hot and sticky down his torso, soaking into his under-tunic. A wet cough sent sharp, stabbing pain rippling through his torso. Bloody crossbows!

“I got him!” a man shouted from behind the shipboard lamps. “D’you see that? I just killed the Watcher-damned Hunter of Voramis.”

The Hunter grunted, coughed. His heart faltered, losing blood quickly. Fluid bubbled in his lacerated lungs, making each breath difficult. A mortal wound for any normal man.

For him, a damned inconvenience.

At least the bolt’s head isn’t bloody iron! he thought.
Gritting his teeth, he gripped the crossbow bolt and ripped it free. Crimson droplets sprayed in a wide arc from its barbed head, and a fresh wave of agony lanced his chest. He growled low in his throat, biting back the pain, and forced himself to take slow, steady breaths. To give his eyes a chance to adjust to the lantern light, and his body time to re-knit torn flesh and muscle.

He evaluated the threat awaiting him. With eight of the Medora’s crewmen down, that left only six aboard to guard Captain Rothos. Crossbows were common weapons but far from cheap; the captain wouldn’t have more than a handful aboard to repel pirates and river scum.

Time to take a chance.

The Hunter drew in a long breath. Painful, still bloody, but easier than it had been moments earlier. He couldn’t afford to wait any longer. Can’t give them time to reload their bloody crossbows.

He darted out from behind cover and sprinted the last fifteen paces to the ship. He trusted his cloak to conceal his outline and his speed to throw off his enemies’ aim. And if not, if a bolt found its mark, these Keeper-damned bastards would find out the true secret behind the Hunter’s reputation.

“Fiery hell!” a man cursed. “He’s still coming.”

“Thought you said you hit him,” shouted another voice.

The Hunter grinned. He’d caught them off guard. No more bolts flew in the seconds it took to reach the Medora. He picked up speed and, at the last moment, leaped up and out across the dark water. He flew across the ten-pace gap between the Medora and the wharf’s edge, slamming into the ship’s wooden hull with bone-jarring force. His reaching left hand locked on to the railing and held fast.

The Hunter hauled himself upward in a powerful surge of long, lean muscles that propelled him over the railing to land on the deck of the ship. Right in the middle of a pair of crossbow-wielding, slack-jawed sailors, stunned into immobility by the impossible display of agility. The Hunter spun and lashed out with a swirling, slashing strike that opened both their throats in a single attack.

“Stop him!” came a shout. “Keeper’s taint, bloody take him down!” The voice rang with the same fear that saturated the air aboard the Medora. The stink of a panic so all-encompassing that bowels loosened and courage threatened to crumble. Some men fought, others fled, but far too many simply froze or lost all sense in the face of certain death.

The Hunter turned toward the voice. Captain Rothos stood alone at the ship’s helm, his eyes wide in terror and face drained of blood. He gripped a short sword in a hand that quivered as ferociously as his double chins. All courage fled the man—or had he ever truly possessed any? He quailed beneath the Hunter’s gaze and retreated, stumbling and falling backward with a pathetic squawking wail.

His sailors possessed more courage but equally limited good sense. A roar of rage echoed behind the Hunter and, a moment later, huge arms locked around his chest, trapping his sword arm against his side. The sailor lifted the Hunter off his feet and swung him toward the railing, doubtless intending to throw him overboard.

The Hunter snaked his free left arm backward and around the man’s bull neck, in the same motion planting his boots on the railing. He kicked off and flipped up and over the sailor’s head, using the man’s body as a fulcrum to support his weight. He landed on two feet behind the sailor, but the man’s neck couldn’t follow the backward motion, instead giving way with a loud snap. The Hunter dropped the sagging corpse to the deck and spun to face the next sailor foolish enough to come at him.

The man held a naked cutlass above his head, ready to slash down at the Hunter’s neck. The Hunter moved, too fast for the sailor to track, darting inside the man’s guard and driving his long sword into the man’s chest. The sailor’s forward momentum slowed and he staggered to a halt, legs weak, two feet of bloodied steel protruding from his back. He didn’t fall, though, not immediately.

For a moment, killer and victim stood locked in that macabre embrace, a strange bond of kinship formed in that instant. The scent of the man—whiskey, parchment, and yarrow root—filled the Hunter’s nostrils, joined by the metallic taint of deep, dark heart’s blood gushing from his wounds, staining the sailor’s rough clothing and the front of the Hunter’s leather armor.

Soulhunger throbbed in the Hunter’s mind; it sensed its prey, and it begged to feed. Demanded death as the Hunter had promised.

The Hunter shoved the dead sailor off his blade and whirled to face the last surviving sailors. Even with his face hidden by the shadows of his hood, they seemed to feel his glare lock on them. He snarled his anger and raised his sword with its bloodstained blade. For all their fury and hulking strength, the sailors wilted before his ferocity, their courage faltering, swords hanging midair in frozen hands.

The Hunter charged. A hacking slash of his long sword tore open the first man’s chest and tunic, spilling guts onto the wooden decking. His backhand upward strike knocked aside the next sailor’s useless short sword and he drove his balled left fist straight into the man’s neck. Cartilage crunched and the sailor dropped to the Medora’s deck, gagging and clutching at his ruined throat.

Last man down. No more swords barred his path. He grinned. Nothing but dead men and empty air between him and Captain Rothos.

The Hunter rounded on the man, but made no move to attack. Not yet. Instead, he slid his sword slowly into its sheath, drawing out the moment to let the terror build, pinning the captain’s gaze. Captain Rothos’ panicked heartbeat thundered louder in the Hunter’s mind, amplified by Soulhunger’s craving. The reek of urine overwhelmed the man’s scent and a dark stain seeped down his breeches. Captain Rothos had found his feet and short sword, but not his courage.

Soulhunger shrieked elation in his mind. Its quarry was close at hand. Its time to feed had come.

The Hunter stalked toward the man without a word, his soft-soled boots nearly silent on the Medora’s wooden deck. A wolf closing on a wounded deer. Both knew there would be no escape, no salvation. Captain Rothos managed a half-hearted stab, all desperation and pathetic skill. The Hunter disdainfully batted aside the weak strike with his left vambrace, twisted his hand to seize the captain’s hand, and drove a right-handed punch to the man’s wrist. Bone snapped like twigs and Captain Rothos shrieked.

But the captain’s pain had only just begun.

The Hunter wrapped his hand around Captain Rothos’ flabby throat and slammed him backward into the mast. Before the captain’s knees could give out, the Hunter buried the captain’s own short sword into the man’s belly, driving it all the way to the hilt, pinning him to the mast.

Captain Rothos gave a horrified, strangled gasp of pain, every pitiful muscle in his corpulent body going limp all at once. The stench of the man’s loosening bowels assaulted the Hunter’s nostrils, curling his lip into a snarl. He released his grip on the captain’s shirt, letting his weight hang suspended on the impaling blade. Captain Rothos gave a weak screech that cut off in a gurgling cough. His thick-fingered hands pawed at the cool night air, as if his dying mind deluded him into believing he could somehow claw his way free of the empty hell to which his soul would soon be condemned.

The Hunter could feel no mercy—and certainly no remorse—as he watched the broken man fight for his last pitiful, agonizing breaths. After what he’s done, it is no more than he deserves, he thought.

Soulhunger’s insistence rose to a terrible crescendo in the Hunter’s mind, its shrieking growing too loud to ignore. The Hunter had no need to fight its demands any longer.

He threw back his hood, revealing his face. A hideous face, lips and cheeks twisted by burn scars. It was a thing of nightmares, monstrous features that elicited a shriek of terror from the dying Captain Rothos.

“Lord Dannaros sends his regards,” the Hunter said quietly, dropping his left hand to where Soulhunger sat on his belt.

In one smooth motion, he drew the dagger and plunged it deep into the dying man's chest. The thrust snapped ribs and sliced through smooth heart muscle. Captain Rothos’ screams echoed across the now-silent Medora, an eerie sound tinged with desperation and terror.

Bright ruby light flared from the gem set in the dagger’s hilt and the ravenous voice in his mind howled its pleasure. Power rushed through the blade into his body, ripping a gasp from the Hunter’s lips. A familiar pain, like a fiery nail carving a line into his flesh, flared along his back, but he was accustomed to it. It was the price he paid for power.

And still the dagger fed, pulling more and more of Rothos’ being into itself. The weapon didn't simply kill; it gathered the essence of its victims and transferred it to the Hunter. Power flooded his body from another life devoured by Soulhunger's blade.

This, he thought, reveling in the sensations of vitality flooding through him, this is why I do it.

There was a part of him that hated it. Hated how much he needed what the voice made him do. Yet he couldn’t escape the craving, the deep-rooted yearning for the rushing fire that set the very fibers of his being ablaze in a way that no strong drink, mind-altering drug, or beautiful woman ever could.

A final shudder ran through the broken body before him, and Captain Rothos’ screams faded, drifting away on the gentle whisper of the ocean breeze.

Silence reigned aboard the Medora, broken only by the occasional snap of canvas and the creak of ropes once pulled taut by the hands of sailors now lying dead and broken. The Hunter breathed easier; the rush of power had repaired the damage to his heart and lungs, flooded him with a vitality so puissant he felt he could run across Voramis without fatiguing. Yet after the thrill of the chase and the fight, the lingering stillness hung like a weight on the Hunter's mind. His callused hands trembled from the threads of fire burning through his veins. Gripping the dagger’s worn hilt tight, he tore the weapon free of its most recent victim.

Blood glistened on Soulhunger’s blade, a red so dark it almost appeared black in the light of the shipboard lanterns. The Hunter watched the metal absorb the crimson like parched soil consumed water, until nothing but clean, unstained steel remained. The bright ruby glow emanating from the gem slowly dimmed, and the stone became translucent and colorless once more.

Soulhunger had been sated. At last, the insistent voice in his head urging him to kill had fallen quiet. He let out a long breath, feeling at once lighter and burdened by a weight he could not quite understand or name. It will remain silent, he thought. I’ll have peace. For a little while, at least.

Slowly, he sheathed the blade and stepped up to the captain’s lifeless body, still dangling suspended from his own short sword. Placing one hand on the man's head and the other on his now-silent heart, he bowed.

"May the Long Keeper take your body; your soul is forfeit," the Hunter intoned. His voice was rich and deep with a hint of gravel. A hard voice, reciting a final ritual for the fallen. A ritual from a past he could no longer remember. Simple words, but they served as a final kindness to those who would never know the Long Keeper's final embrace.

For long moments, he stood in the ponderous embrace of night, basking in the cool whisper of the sea breeze and staring down at his latest victim. A sense of satisfaction flooded him. Another contract fulfilled.

He had killed all manner of people. Big, little, strong, and weak. Men and women, cowards and brave fools. Heroes, villains, rich men, beggars.

He was the Hunter. All were his prey.

Note from the Author:

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Customer Reviews

Based on 12 reviews
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J
J.
Fantastic

Absolutely incredible once again. Dark, full of danger and emotion to keep you intrigued. Amazing characters.

B
Bevin
Dark, but excellent

{4.25/5}

CW: death, violence, gore, rape, various others

This book was…hefty. And I don’t mean the length, although the 600+ page count is nothing to sneer at. No, I mean the content. It’s dark and heavy and seems to have no issue crushing any small glimmer of hope you may experience while reading it. It was fantastic and you should definitely read it.

The Hunter of Voramis has no name. He probably did, once, but he can’t remember it. He can’t remember anything beyond the last 50 years or so, all of which he’s spent as a lethal assassin for hire. But something even darker than he is lurking in his city, and it’s about to rip away every shred of a life he’s built for himself.

The Darkblade series was another one of my husband’s recommendations, and yet again he’s proven to have excellent taste in books. Here is probably a good place to note, however, that the author reworked the first few books in the series, so the audiobook that my husband listened to is *very* different than the book I just finished reading. Check the release dates and do with that information what you will.

At first, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to like the book. It’s incredibly dark, and the first half was very exposition-heavy; I normally like a little more action and slightly faster pacing, but something about the story drew me in. I really wanted to know what was going to happen. And then, naturally, the author ripped the world out from under both the MC and the reader, and I had to know how the story ended. The second half was a whirlwind of blood and vengeance, and it was amazing. The plot was gripping, the characters were well-rounded and felt real, and the city itself seemed to jump off the page. I cannot get over how good this book was!

“Assassin” is the first of 6 currently published books in the Darkblade series. As I mentioned before, the first several books were unpublished and reworked; I recommend checking the author’s website for more info on that and his suggested reading order. If you like dark action books, mysterious assassins with memory problems, and/or insanely talented world building, you should check out this series. I will definitely be devouring the rest of these as fast as humanly possible!

J
Jackie
Outstanding

Dark, intriguing and absolutely fantastic. The characters are strong and draw you in forever.

D
Debra L
hmmmm

This isnt a series that would usually catch my eye. BUT I got it on a recommendation and thought why not. Well, it is now one of my favorites! I loved the first book, dark and gritty, lots of death, destruction, demons and anti-heroes. It also has an undertone of attempted redemption. Its just about everything you want. I devoured the second book and am on the third. Dont overlook this one because its not about fairies and elves, its better!!

E
Eduardo Meléndez
Dark and Light

Throughout the series there is so much darkness and pain but hope, love, friendship are forge and light becomes brighter. If you like blood, you will find plenty but the characters are wonderfully imperfect.