Monday, December 5, 2016

The Crimson Queen by Alec Hutson

Release date: December 5th 2016
Sub-genre: Epic fantasy

About The Crimson Queen: 

Long ago the world fell into twilight, when the great empires of old consumed each other in sorcerous cataclysms. In the south the Star Towers fell, swallowed by the sea, while the black glaciers descended upon the northern holdfasts, entombing the cities of Min-Ceruth in ice and sorcery. Then from the ancient empire of Menekar the paladins of Ama came, putting every surviving sorcerer to the sword and cleansing their taint from the land for the radiant glory of their lord.
The pulse of magic slowed, fading like the heartbeat of a dying man.
But after a thousand years it has begun to quicken again.
In a small fishing village a boy with strange powers comes of age… 
 A young queen rises in the west, fanning the long-smoldering embers of magic into a blaze once more…
Something of great importance is stolen – or freed – from the mysterious Empire of Swords and Flowers…
And the immortals who survived the ancient cataclysms bestir themselves, casting about for why the world is suddenly changing…


Alyanna extended a filament of sorcery into the riftstone, sliding inside it like a key into a lock. She gave a twist, and the stone’s power blossomed.
Before her a circle of air began to shimmer and undulate, as if it was a length of silk caught in a strong wind. The quartz pillars and awakening garden encompassed by this floating portal slowly faded, and was replaced by another scene from a very different place. 

It was darker there, hundreds of leagues to the west, a few stars still visible in a charcoal sky. Shadows draped huge, tumbled rocks and pine trees, and the silhouettes of mountains in the distance bulked stark and black against the gray dawn. A chill wind slipped through the rift, and Alyanna shivered, pulling her cotton robe – the heaviest clothing she kept in the gardens – tighter around herself.

Sighing, she stepped through the portal and into the forest that bounded the southern Frostlands.

The grass was coarser, the dew colder. There was the faint sound of swift-running water from somewhere nearby, no doubt one of the countless small rivers that veined the north and carried snowmelt down from high in the Bones. She summoned a small orb of wizardlight so that she wouldn’t trip over anything on the uneven ground, and cast about for the other half of the riftstone. It did not take her long to find.  

The genthyaki was propped against a rock near the edge of a stream. It was motionless, its head slumped forward, an impossible tangle of scales and thorns and sharp angles. Alyanna brought her wizardlight closer, and clucked her tongue when she saw the state her servant was in.

What scales were left on its hide glistened wetly, but most had been sloughed off by some terrible heat, leaving charred black patches across its body. Under one of these wounds, which spread over much of its left shoulder, Alyanna could clearly see bone beneath the blistered flesh.

To her surprise, the creature stirred as she approached.

“Mistressssss,” it hissed, with great effort lifting its ruin of a face.

“Slave,” she replied, shaking her head as if in great disappointment. “You have failed me.”

A harsh, wet coughing wracked the creature, until it finally spat up a wad of black phlegm that landed in the grass near her feet. Wrinkling her nose in disgust, Alyanna stepped farther away.

“Mistress, it burns . . .”

“I should think so. It smells like someone’s bathed you in dreadfire.”

“Burnssssss . . .”

A frozen wind gusted, and she knew that they were no longer alone. Three ragged shapes now crouched among the rocks, watching.

mistress, the false man dies.

“I can see that,” she said. “But I need to know who did this.”

About Alec Hutson:


Alec Hutson was the Spirit Award winner for Carleton College at the 2002 Ultimate Frisbee College National Championships. He has watched the sun set over the dead city of Bagan and rise over the living ruins of Angkor Wat. He grew up in a geodesic dome and a bookstore, and currently lives in Shanghai, China. The Crimson Queen is his first book. He has previously been published in Ideomancer Magazine and the anthologies The Newcomer and You Are Here: Tale of Cartographic Wonder. He has a short story appearing in the next issue of Timeless Tales Magazine.