The Amber Menhir
Author: Jonathan N. Pruitt
Publisher: Spinner Loom Press
Publication Date: October 3, 2023
Series: The Shadows of the Monolith: Book One
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Satire
Chesa stole a glance at herself in the standing mirror across the bathing chamber. Her slight frame and ageless features were displayed to full advantage in her robes. Though the fabric hung loose around her legs, arms, and neckline, a grey sash was cinched around her waist to accentuate her modest breasts. The important parts remained featured, despite the middling fabric. One often needed to dull the lily to execute one’s plans.
In a life that was rarely her own, Chesa embraced herself in that moment. But her moment of quiet celebration was interrupted too soon by a soft spewing like a breaching whale, followed by a gurgle. She looked down into the steaming water at the naked man submerged there. Liam’s nose pierced the water’s surface and sucked in a breath before he slid back into his watery tomb. The generous veins upon his arms stood out, as though he were still struggling against an unseen force binding him. One side of Chesa’s mouth quirked up. The many days he’d spent sculpting his virile physique would soon enough be wasted.
He arched his back with a gentle thud. The movement sent his body up to the water’s surface like a sad, suffocating fish flopping through gelatin. Just before his nostrils breached the surface, Chesa pressed a finger to the tip of his nose with a throaty sigh, pushing him back to the bottom of the tub. Liam’s leafy green eyes opened wide. Their gazes met, and the tension in his body relented. A trail of bubbles escaped his mouth in an aqueous sigh of defeat.
He’d been a brute in life, and a powerful adversary to many scholars. His perfect bone structure, imposing stature, and easy likability had made leadership an effortless inevitability. Staring down at him, Chesa wondered if Liam had ever worked hard for anything in his life. Men of privilege, like him, so rarely ever did. No doubt he had never suspected his end would come at the hands of a servant … but life in the Amber Menhir was full of surprises.
“Oh, don’t look at me like that.” Chesa clucked her tongue. “You’ve been riding this leopard for quite some time. Had it not been me, someone else would have come.”
Liam’s eyes drooped shut, and his body spasmed in a tedious attempt to steal more air. Chesa let out another little sigh. He acted like some brainless sea creature dragged onto a boat— one that failed to realize the inevitability of its situation. This time, his nose sucked in a bit of air.
Chesa rolled her eyes. “Can’t you see?” she chided. “You have lost, dear scholar. Give up, my liege!”
Liam flexed his helpless form against Chesa’s thaumaturgic binding. His strength of spirit was indeed undeniable. Most people so privileged broke under real adversity. At least, that had been Chesa’s experience. But Liam’s exception, however remarkable, remained irrelevant.
“Such a pity,” Chesa purred, looking down at the scholar. “The one night you’re actually imperiled, and your precious mau isn’t here to protect you.” Her tone turned flat, each word edged with ice. “What an unhappy coincidence for you.”
About the Book:
With each new dawn, the celestial body known only as ‘Calamity’ draws closer – and with it the end of the world. Humanity’s only hope from oblivion rests in the menhirs, towering bastions of scholarship and imagination which cast long shadows across the lands. The scholars within the menhirs devote themselves selflessly to the discovery of new magic that will help avert the impending apocalypse … or so the masses have been made to understand.
In a society divided between those with occult potential and lay citizens, Tara Langcraw is recruited into the Amber Menhir with great interest. The long-awaited heiress of a bloodline bearing the rarest of the six magical disciplines, time manipulation, she is expected to flourish within this noble citadel of learning, as are her friends and fellow recruits, Roland Ward and Peony Bianchi.
They soon find, however, that those who fail to meet expectations, or who dare to challenge the prevailing order, put more than their marks on the line. For the menhir squirms with rivalries, and those who stand against the status quo may not stand for very long.
Author contact links:
Book Website: https://www.theshadowsofthemonolith.com/