Title: The Pleasure of Memory, Volume One of the Blood Caeyl Memories
Author: Welcome Cole
Publisher: Caelstone Press (2013)
Length: 526 pages
The Pleasure of Memory Description:
The Pleasure of Memory is the first volume of three in the Blood Caeyl Memories fantasy series. Told in a contemporary tongue, it’s set in an era where swords, crossbows, and cannons are the weapons of the times, though the character and flavour of the setting has more in common with the lawless frontier locales of the American Old West than medieval times.
Beam is a thief, rogue, and murderer who takes his gold wherever the path of least resistance offers it. Orphaned in childhood, his extended family abandoned him as a young boy, hitching him to a horse post at the steps of a rundown priory in Parhron City. He is discovered at dawn by Brother Dael, an elderly monk who is Prelate for the Priory of Saynfyl, a priory dedicated to the care of the insane. Dael finds Beam tethered to the horse hitch out front, and takes him in without question, and raises him as his own.
Years later, when Beam reaches the age of sixteen, he inherits his deceased mother’s estate. Along with a generous quantity of gold coins, he receives some of her personal property, including an elaborate puzzle box of olden design. Confounded in his efforts to open the box, he eventually tucks it away.
Years later, long after his mother’s money has run its course, he searches through his belongings in search of something to hock. Among his things, he rediscovers the box. He instinctively makes another attempt to unravel the secrets to opening the complicated panels. This time, the box simply falls apart in his hands. Inside, he finds an ancient map. The map eventually leads him to a cemetery the size of a small city tucked away deep in the southern scrubs.
The cemetery resides on the reservation lands of the Vaemyn, a savage race who sport tiny horns beneath their ears that allow them to “hear” images emitted generated by the vibrations of living creatures. Due to their ability to track their prey by listening to the earth, they are extremely difficult to evade.
Beam spends the next two years prowling through the cemetery, evading the savages by day and picking his way through their dead by night. As he searches, he finds trinkets of gold and jewels sent with the dead to the afterlife. Eventually, he discovers a secret chamber leading to a maze hidden beneath one of the crypts. There, he finds a brilliant crystal the size of a small apple. The blood-red gem seems to have a fire at its center, and is carved in the image of a sensuous, lidded eye. Believing he has found the treasure his mother’s map sent him after, he flees north to through the lawless Nolands and back to civilization with the Vaemyn in pursuit. He believes this gem will bring him the riches that will afford him the life of leisure and lavish indulgence he so richly deserves.
What Beam doesn’t know is that this crystal is actually a Blood Caeyl. This was the most dominant of all the stones of power, with influence over the forces of life itself, and one believed to have long ago vanished from the world. In time, the caeyl begins to alter him, gradually awakening the memories of a thousand lifetimes and changing him into a new man, and even a new life form.
His metamorphosis arrives just at the beginning of the end of times. A Fire Caeyl mage has created a rift to the Wyr, and has summoned an army of Wyrlaerds, Divinic Demons with an instinctual desire to rule all mortal life, and the ability to possess the flesh of living souls. The changes Beam endures lead him to the edge of his mortality, to the portal between the corporeal world he was born to and a labyrinth of memories spanning thousands of years and endless lifetimes. There he learns that his birth was never by chance, but rather part of an elaborate plan to end the threat of the Wyr for all time.
Excerpt from The Pleasure of Memory:
Beam landed on his hands and knees in the wet, muddy grass.
It was dark. Shadowy figures encircled him, but he couldn’t make out the details through the pouring rain and cloak of night. He tried to stand up, but the pressure of a sharp point in the back of his neck convinced him to stay where he was.
He grudgingly settled back on his knees and gave a silent curse. He didn’t need to see anything. He knew exactly where he was. The bastards finally had him.
He squinted up through the hammering rain. A clap of thunder rocked the night, followed by a several brief pulses of light. He couldn’t make out their faces, but the shimmer of their mail against the distant lightning was unmistakable.
He dropped forward and slapped the wet grass. “Stinking savages!” he cursed into the rain.
“Stand up, skeechka!” someone called over the crackling roar of the downpour. The voice was female. This warrior was a Vaemyd, a female Vaemyn, though there was nothing feminine in her tenor.
Beam spit some water back into the grass and again squinted up into the rain, aiming in the direction of the voice. “I’m comfortable right here, thanks,” he called back, though he could barely see her.
“I told you to stand up!” she yelled, “I’m not inclined to tell you twice!”
The sword point twisted viciously against his neck. Beam disappointed himself by wincing. He was confident it’d drawn blood. His mind drifted back to his own sword nestled snugly in its scabbard on the stone floor of the tunnel five minutes below him.
Another peal of thunder rocked the night. A lingering flash of lightning briefly unveiled the silhouette of the Vaemyd standing directly above him, illuminating her long enough to reveal her sleeveless armor and her bare, muscular arms glistening against the rain. He tried to look off to the sides, to evaluate the odds, but the sword in his neck convincingly dissuaded him. Still, he was certain there were at least three others.
He again slapped the wet grass. “Bad bloody luck!” he cursed.
“Nay, you’re wrong there,” she called through the rain, “Luck isn’t even in the equation.”
“Get that damned blade out of my neck. I'm unarmed.”
An explosion rocked the night. Beam flinched. It was too loud to be thunder. Despite the sword pinned to his neck, he managed a peek back behind him. The savages had opened the other half of the lid to the tunnel. The open round hatch gaped up into the dark rain like a radiant, mocking laugh.
A second sword found his right flank, and a third dug into his left. The blade on the right twisted a little harder than it needed to.
“Easy!” he yelled up at the offending savage, “Do that again, and I’ll slap you back into diapers!”
Something struck the back of the head. He collapsed into the grass. He wasn’t sure if he was hearing another peal of thunder or just the ringing in his ears. Before he could recover, the warriors dragged him up to his feet. His skull was throbbing. His legs felt weak as wind.
The Vaemyd pressed in close. “You’re damned mouthy for a man with three blades against his flesh,” she said into his face, “You’re either fearless or stupid. Which is it?”
She was nearly his height and as solid as an oak. Another rip of lightning threw her wet face into light. Her features were chiseled and commanding, betraying neither compassion nor humor. She wore her pale hair bound back in the severe Vaemysh tradition, laced up so tight even the rain seemed unable to penetrate it. Water streamed down her face and dribbled from the sharp horns curling up from under her earlobes, but it did nothing to diminish the malice in her eyes, which were as blue and cold as ice.
“Strange,” she said to him, “I’d expected you to be bigger. All this fuss about such a little man. I find it rather disappointing.” Her eyes looked almost serpentine in the greenish light radiating from the open hatch behind him.
“Don’t flatter yourself,” Beam said back, “A Parhronii dandy could’ve evaded your girls.”
“Have your laugh, skeechka. It’ll be your last pleasure.”
Beam shook the rain from his face. “I’ve heard that from your kind before,” he said, “You threaten and threaten but never seem to follow up. I was beginning to think you weren’t really trying.” He spit more water into the grass.
The blade on his right twisted into his ribs again. This time it stole his breath away. He tried to turn on the man, but was quickly subdued. The bastards had a solid lock on his arms, cocking them mercilessly behind him.
“Keep it up, you savage prick!” he snarled over his shoulder, “I’ll feed your jewels to you before we’re done!”
“You’ll have to excuse their zeal,” the Vaemyd said, “My trackers thirst for your blood. You’ve been a monumental irritation to them these past months, jh’ven?”
Beam again flipped the rain from his face, but said nothing.
“However, I do have an offer for you,” she continued, “I give you my word that if you answer my questions directly, I’ll make your death quick and painless.”
“And if I’m stubborn?” he said through the rain.
“I let my warriors have their way with you. You look strong enough that you might last a week or more before their fires.”
The fear that statement left in its wake disappointed him. “Do you really think I’m intimidated by you?” he forced himself to say.
She smiled at that, and leaned closer, whispering, “I’m confident of it.”