Ashes of Ailushurai
The Esfah Sagas Book 1
by Christopher D. Schmitz
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Dwarves, elves, & goblins collide…
…Esfah is another world originally from the creators of Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance.
Here there be dragons!
When a reluctant Dwarven adventurer undertakes a quest on behalf of his blind father, he accidentally awakens an ancient evil banished ages ago. Now, with dark elves and goblinoid trogs snapping at his heels, Hy’Targ must prevent a powerful lich from reuniting with the ancient bones of his lover. Failure means a new age of darkness will spread across the land.
Prince Hy’Targ of the Irontooth vagha would much rather stay in the library and read about the exploits of others. In his studies, however, he uncovers the tale of a powerful artifact he believes could restore his father’s sight. On his quest, he accidentally triggers a trap that releases an ancient undead general that was long ago sealed away to prevent him from beginning a planet-wide uprising of the dead. Hy’Targ knows that this fiend must be destroyed before he can regain his full strength, and he knows where the lich has escaped to.
Journeying towards the creature’s dark tower, he enlists the help of the few souls who believe him, one of whom is an imprisoned thief that must first be freed… a thief who is linked to their problems more closely than they realize. He stole the sacred bones the lich is after and undead scouts pursue his every move. Can this band of unlikely heroes prevent a second rise of the Black Tower?
His blood ran crimson, like the humans; though he resembled one in many ways, he was no mere man. Melkior was Eldarim, both a mage and warrior champion… and by his efforts he’d just killed an entire tribe of men and women… and so many more—and after that came the fight against the elves, his friends—many of them intimate.
Ignoring the pain, Melkior snapped his hand back over the ragged tear in his flesh and tried to keep pressure on it. He glanced at his other fist; it was also slicked with blood, but not his own. Splatters of red and green painted him: red from the humans and green from the Selumari, the coral elves who he’d been a sworn protector of.
A tracker howled not far behind him, ominous in the pale moonlight; it had his scent. The blue-skinned elves would be on him soon.
The wounded Eldarim pushed ahead, though his lungs burned as intensely as the leaking hole in his torso. The captain of the elven guard, Leisterbane, would find him soon if he didn’t quicken his pace. He was a formidable opponent—even for the Eldarim champion—the demi-godlike acolyte. That Melkior could lose to Leisterbane in combat was not a possibility two days ago, before Melkior broke faith and attacked the Selumari kingdom under his house’s protection. But now, with so severe of a wound?
But even without his pet drake, Melkior was still formidable; dragon or not, he was still a Dragonlord. At his best, with his dragon at his side, none of the other champions from the other races stood a chance to beat him. He’d just proved as much in the secret room below his keep, battling and defeating the coral elf champion—though he’d paid a heavy price in the combat. He growled at the fresh memory. It had been her life Melkior tried to save… their lives… together.
Something made her betray him.
He grimaced at the hot wound he’d taken from her and bit back tears—more painful than the gash in his flesh were her words. Those had injured him worst of all. He refused to entertain them again.
“I’ll be lucky if death does not find me first,” Melkior panted, leaning momentarily against a tree and grinding his teeth against the pain. The hounds sounded their alarm again and the wounded fighter lurched forward, knowing he could not stay if he wanted to live another day. He took two steps and then tumbled to the ground.
Everything went silent. Blood still poured from his lacerated side, mixing with the silky loam to form a puddle of mud. Smells of lichen and stale water filled his nostrils. Pain wracked his body and told him that he still lived.
He touched his hand to the sticky wound and checked himself. Frankly, he was amazed that he had any blood left within him by now. What happens when I run out? The thought passed as quickly as it came.
Melkior rolled over and stared at the sky. Let the hounds come… what good is living anyway, without her… my Princess Ailushurai.
The moon was up, making her twice daily voyage across the upper atmosphere. Dead trees framed his view as they reached for the air like skeletal arms bursting up from their graves; they shimmered slightly from the glow of a nearby campfire. Such a light would surely draw the enemies quicker than expected, though he wondered that he hadn’t noticed it earlier.
The fugitive rolled over and onto his knees; Melkior finally rose to his wobbly feet. A large pyre,
built of charred skulls, towered in the middle of the glade. Flames licked out from empty sockets and gaps between teeth. Everything natural within the bubble seemed to have withered with decay. An ornate throne sat opposite him on the far side of the fire. A fair-skinned man with handsome features leaned forward from his bone chair; peering over steepled fingers, he watched Melkior intently, but said nothing.
With wide eyes, Melkior looked around the profane circle. The atmosphere dripped with corruption. Dread realization set in: Melkior had stumbled into a festration, an arcane bubble of evil where the presence of the Dark One lingered. Terror shot a jolt of adrenaline into his heart; it might keep him alive a few seconds longer, though the certainty that he would die in this corrupted, sacred ring gripped him.
Finally, the man stroked his goatee and waved him forward. He spoke from the throne as his Eldarim guest arrived nearer the fire. “Greetings, Melkior. I have watched you from afar, like I watch so many of Esfah’s citizens. The Teldrim you slaughtered were more children of Tarvenehl, the Creator… my enemy.” The stranger regarded him coolly. “You once fought my forces as a major antagonist against me,” his voice boomed, “but yesterday you murdered the Teldrim chief and wiped the stain of their presence from Esfah’s face.”
The Esfah Sagas Prequel
Elves. Dwarves. Blood Oaths & Dragons.
There are far worse things crawling upon Esfah than goblins...
...some, even swords and sorcery cannot defeat.
A devious elder monster allies with the lava elves of the Obsidian Grotto. She promises to provide an elven general with arcane weapons to throw down their dwarven enemies, and also the support of a black magic wielding cult hidden within the Nhur-Gale Forest. General Shedakor assumes that any bargain with such a dark creature would extract a high cost... but can he afford to pay it?
Meanwhile, on the far side of Esfah. An elven hero from the northern coasts embarks on a mission to protect his home from the goblins of Brackishomme swamp. But Davian Whisperwynd is prone to rash vows and the gods will not release the adventurer from a promise to lay down his sword: an oath that complicates things when he promises a beautiful enchanter that he will retrieve an item from the lair of the Death god himself.
Neither knows it, but the gods of fate have interlinked their destinies.
In the mid 1990s there was one fantasy RPG that ruled them all: D&D, of which Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and many other books and gaming worlds were a part of. It’s publisher, TSR, created another gaming world that won Game of the Year in 1995. That world was Esfah.
In eons past, when time was young and creation malleable, the four powers of Nature — earth, air, fire, and water — the children of Nature, gods in their own rights, brought forth two races of beings to care for their fledgling world of Esfah, created by the all-father, Tarvenehl. One race, the Selumari or coral elves, was created to husband the fluid forces of air and water. The other race, the Vagha, a dwarvish race, embodied the stability of earth and the tempering power of fire. Together, these two peoples worked to nurture their infant world into something glorious and beautiful... but then another god revealed himself: Death...
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Christopher D. Schmitz is an author of fiction and nonfiction books. Before throwing himself into book writing he had published short fiction in more than twenty outlets. In addition to a day-job working with teenagers, he also writes for a local newspaper, speaks/sells books at comic-cons and other festivals, runs a blog for authors, and makes an insanely tiny amount of money playing the bagpipes.
He grew up as a product of the 1980s and thinks Stranger Things is "basically my biography." He lives in rural Minnesota where he drinks unsafe amounts of coffee with his family and three rambunctious dogs. The caffeine shakes keeps the cold from killing him.
A copy of the strategy dice game this book series is based on (Dragon Dice) which was originally created by the makers of D&D in 1995 (approx $50 value) plus 5x copies of the audible book The Esfah Sagas: Rise and Fall of the Obsidian Grotto
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