Tome of the Undergates
The name never uttered without scorn, they are long loathed for their knowledge of nothing beyond violence and greed and their utter disregard for human life, least of all their own.
And Lenk, a young man with a sword in his hand and a voice in his head, counts them as his closest company.
Charged with retrieving the Tome of the Undergates, a written key to a world long forgotten by mankind and home to creatures determined to return, Lenk is sent after ancient evangelical demons, psychotic warrior women and abominations lost to myth. Against them, he has but two weapons: a piece of steel and five companions as eager to kill each other as they are to help him.
“Contrary to whatever you might have heard in songs and stories, there are only a few productive things a man can do once he picks up a sword.
“He can put it to use for his country, if he’s got any pride. He can use it to defend his loved ones, if he’s got any. And if he’s got any intelligence at all, he can put it down.
“For those who are lacking all three, the only viable option is to embrace that meanest and most disrespected of professions: adventuring. Falling somewhere just below the rank of mercenary and just above the classification of scum, adventurers are chiefly a source of cheap labor, providing with violence and misfortune what they lack in standards.
“And I count myself among the cheapest.
“Amongst my allies I count a murderer, a zealot, a heretic, a savage and a monster. Amongst my problems I count demons that shouldn’t exist, pirates with a loquaciously murderous bent, a society that wouldn’t care if I was rotting in the earth and my allies. Amongst my dreams…
“I count survival.
“I’ll get to the others after that one’s taken care of.”
Long has man dreamed of communing with heaven, to assert his own virtues and speak to the Gods he claims to serve. The Aeon’s Gate was a relic designed for such a creation, a door to enigmatic deities and answers. The Tome of the Undergates, its key.
Or so Lenk was told.
From the moment he and his companions were assigned to protect the tome, and its clergyman escort, it became clear that the book was an object of desire. If the pirates clamoring for it hadn’t made that clear, their leader, an ancient demon forgotten by time and mankind alike certainly did. And no sooner did the tome fall into the creature’s hands that it likewise became clear that the Gate was a door that opened two ways: one to the heavens and one to a place decidedly worse.
Now Lenk has been charged with another mission: find the tome before the demons use it to open the door to release their legion kin and their horrific matron into the world.
Simple enough, perhaps, and made simpler by a band of renegades and degenerates that can barely tolerate each other. A murderous rogue hides secrets from his past from the pious clergywoman harboring something far darker. An astonishingly socially inept wizard seeks to learn how to communicate with people from a hulking, monstrous dragonman who regards the term ‘people’ as interchangeable with ‘vermin.’ A tribeswoman from the race of savage shicts, long known for their hatred of humanity, forms an attachment toward Lenk that may or may not be driven by the urge to find out exactly what that haunting voice in his head is saying to him all the time.
The mission, simple.
Survival, not so much.
“Wildly descriptive slaughter-fest fantasy with a surprising pathos. Monstrous, murderous, psychotic, deranged, possessed and insane — the only question is what our heroes hate more: the demons they’re fighting, each other or themselves.” -Stephen Deas, author of The Adamantine Palace
“I enjoyed reading Tome of the Undergates from the first page, Sam Sykes writes with real poetry in places and he has a knack for constructing sentences with rhythm and tempo that make the reading fun and the story flow.” -Sci-Fi London