A great read! March 15, 2017
I love books set around old legends and myths and this book didn’t disappoint. The story is imaginative and we’ll thought out, which is also unquie compared to other books I have read about Arthur. A great read! Would definitely recommend
Due to busting my ribs at the weekend and ending up in ER on Monday, I wasn’t much in the frame of mind to continue. The pain is more or less under control now and my muse has returned. Woo Hoo.
Azrael had imagined she’d be presented with the sentence of the person to be culled, detailing why they must die, but when she faced the banker assigned to her, a bald, fat, sweating man sitting behind a priceless off-world wooden desk, she learned otherwise.
Armed with a mental image of a middle-aged man, details of his usual security and precisely where he would be when she made the hit, Azrael wanted to vomit. She was no better than the gun she now collected on her way to the rooftop transport; one weapon carrying another. The Banker had also given her instructions as to where she must position her lethal shots on the body of her victim. One for the head and one for the heart so there was no possibility of saving the man. Of course, had she been equipped with a higher velocity projectile weapon, this would be a consideration as the man’s head would have exploded on impact. The choice to use what she must was necessitated by the proximity of other people to the man. Although the banker didn’t enlighten her, Azrael wondered if the extra care came because the person who ordered the hit would be standing close by to give a façade of innocence? She couldn’t think why else she needed to make shots into a crowd, for the second shot was going to confirm the identity of the victim as no accident.
Once on the roof she checked over the grav lifter left out for her, going over all the fuel lines and the ignition system. Aside from getting her in position on top of a highrise roof to make the kill, she depended on it to get her away clean afterward. A random thought crossed her mind, leaving her to wonder what happened when the banker’s angels got caught in the act?
Still looking for a name for this story.
A weapon needed honing, for that is what Azrael was now. The tanks merely grew a clone to the state of an adult person, one who had never developed consciousness for they had never been awakened until the essence of the original individual was infused. While electrical impulses forced the muscles to move, it wasn’t enough to build strength, particularly with the titanium shields on parts of her bones increasing her weight. She spent hours at the angel’s personal gym, dealing with replenishing the deficit. Not what she wanted to do, but as the others said, there wasn’t a choice. She found this out when she didn’t move fast enough. A wrenching pain pulsed through her head, bringing her to her knees. This wasn’t something a person ever wanted repeating, so she worked harder after that.
Weapons training also figured, both on how to aim properly and how to break down and care for weapons. They ranged from tiny lazars fitting in the palm of a hand to bulkier projectile weapons for a long-range kill. Azrael found her accuracy increased along with her strength, something she didn’t like, but had no choice to alter. Hand to hand combat began once she had mastered the perfect projectile shot over a distance and could run five leagues on a treadmill. She found herself facing guards armed with dull stone knives, like the one she wielded for practice. Strange she wasn’t matched with other angels, but they were never present when she worked out. What was it about her that the bankers wanted to keep separate from the others? Maybe the killing skills? Perhaps they didn’t trust their angels and so limited their abilities?
As hard as she tried to slow the process down, there came a day when she was judged ready for her first assignment. Clothed in camouflage gear, complete with an emergency medical kit and a communicator, but no weapons as yet, she was marched to meet a banker for the first time. He’d give her details of the kill.
At least the guards were looking through her instead of at her. Perhaps she was now a thing of aberration? Number 666 hoped this was so as her nakedness shamed her as much now as when she’d worn an older body. The stepped aside from a now opened door, gesturing her to go inside, which she did. The door snapped shut behind her, with the click of a locking mechanism very audible.
This place was dimly lit and bare but a lot bigger than her previous cell. It also housed five other naked people, three men and two women, with numbers engraved on the skin of their shoulders. They sat on the floor with their backs against a wall and their heads down. All lost souls like her. The room contained a reclamation station at one end as well as a sand shower. She guessed they angels, being possessions, represented a large investment, but what did it mean? Was she to sit in isolated silence until she had an assignment. That thought terrified her as it meant she had to kill someone, but what if she turned the weapon on herself? They had to give her some form of weapon, didn’t they? She had a way out of this horror.
No, you don’t. Self-destruction is not permitted.
The voice echoed inside her head. No one had spoken and yet she heard the voice clearly. Was this how the Bankers controlled her?
Sit down against the wall, lower your head and keep quiet, like the others here.
Number 666 did so. Whatever happened, or did not, was in the hands of a cruel fate. Strange the voice didn’t seem to belong to one, but to many.
Do not move or look at the others. Stay very still with your head down. Good. We are your companions, not the Bankers. They must never know how we communicate with each other.
Woo Hoo! Does happy dance. Oh and yes, there will be a post with another new story snippet later. I need to write it. LOL.
5.0 out of 5 starsChalice of Shadows
ByQwertyon February 26, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
Chalice of Shadows is book three in C.N. Lesley’s Arthurian-Science Fantasy series. The book can be read as a stand-alone, but for maximum enjoyment I suggest that you read all three. In Chalice of Shadows the writing and storytelling are excellent, and the author draws you easily into her world. And what a rich and varied world it is. Based on the traditional tales of Morgan and Mordred, two of the most fascinating characters in Arthurian legend, the author adds her own, unique spin to create a wonderful, original story.
Chalice of Shadows should appeal to lovers of Arthurian literature and lovers of fantasy in general. Within the book the author displays a vivid imagination and a sympathetic understanding of human relationships. These qualities lift this series well above others in the genre.
I urge you to read Chalice of Shadows for I’m sure that C.N. Lesley’s ‘Shadows’ series will soon be regarded as a landmark series in Arthurian literature.
Pain was the last thing she remembered, blinding, soul wrenching pain, but that was gone. She opened her eyes to the sight of a dim overhead light in what looked like the same cell she occupied before they started changing her. Was she an angel now? Her body moved with ease, an ease of youth. It was young. Not her body, and yet it was. She got up off the filthy floor, stretching to ease the kinks out of her back and then she felt an ache from her naked shoulder. Looking down, she saw the brand. They had marked her with her designation number 666. That thought brought home a greater and more terrible truth. She had no name, not for them and not for herself. However hard she concentrated, she could not find who she was, or even a trace of living family, aside from one memory; her murdered son.
Why leave that memory when destroying all the rest? Then the echo of her sentence resonated from the courthouse. The punishment shall fit the crime. She had to remember what she had done and why for the full force of everlasting punishment to take effect. They had sentenced her to be an assassin. The newly made number 666 didn’t like killing. Before killing her victim, she never hurt another person, or did she? How could she be certain? The memories of planning the killing seemed uneasy and the actual act, although driven by rage, provoked such nauseas that she had no chance of escaping after the deed. A sentence to kill others on command represented sublime cruelty.
Would anyone recognize her from her former life? With tentative hands, she reached up to touch her face; her young face. Number 666 had wondered if they cut off her head and grafted it on to a young body and yet no. All of her resonated with youth, which answered her question. Taking a few steps, something felt off. The muscle strength was there, and so too the coordination, and yet her body felt heavier than it should, although what they had given her appeared svelt.
As if her movement triggered action, the door of her cell opened to show guards waiting. They gestured for her to come with them. As she followed, she felt her neck, wondering if talking were possible, or they had decided to keep her mute? The skin appeared smooth and unscarred.