We’re hosting an excerpt today from the second book in the “Leopard King Saga”, a historical fantasy novel called “The Leopard Stratagem”. Enjoy.
A fierce gust of wind stung Tullus’ face while Celestra fought to keep up with him.
The cold had announced itself hours ago, imposing its arrival like an unwanted guest on the two dauntless travelers. Tullus’ Leopard-print breeches had frozen to his legs and he wondered how much more of this cold he could endure.
Thin, powder-white mist surrounded Tullus and Celestra. Around them a frozen wasteland devoid of life. Celestra growled her disdain: no doubt the Leopardess hadn’t encountered weather this cold during her lifetime.
“I think we’re lost, Girl,” Tullus said. He pulled Vulcan’s map from his backpack and eyed it confusedly. Tullus squinted at the map’s handwriting, but could make nothing from it. The frozen haze made the map almost illegible. He summoned the Lucis spell and glanced at the map under the illumination of the yellow Lucis orb. After reading it for a few moments, he looked up and cursed; Celestra had disappeared. Now he could add her absence to his list of grievances.
He called out to the Incantra but she did not respond. Tullus drew his cloak tighter across his chest. His boots were stiff and his feet were so cold he could barely move his toes, while his body felt like a stiff slab of meat that had been left out in the cold overnight. Celestra appeared in front of him, her spotted coat emerging from beneath the invisibility cloak of the Furtim spell. She growled.
“What is it, Girl?”
Celestra pointed her right front paw towards a dim outline of a cylindrical object in the distance. Tullus cast the Oculus spell and noticed it was a tower of some sort. It looked old, but still intact. He smiled for the first time in days–finally, a stroke of good luck had come their way. “Lead on, Girl.”
They trudged on towards the tower as the fierce wind fought to claim them in its frozen grip.
As the tower grew closer, Tullus eyed its oblong shape that twisted upwards toward the glacial sky, its exterior webbed in ice. They found a wooden door crusted in ice. Tullus tried opening the door but it was frozen. He summoned what Vigor he had left and threw his shoulder into it. After two attempts, and with Celestra’s added might, the door slammed open.
Inside was dark. Tullus again cast the Lucis spell, and the glowing orb reappeared above his head, offering much needed light in addition to warmth. Tullus pulled the door back in and the howling winds deceased. It was still chilly inside; but for now they were safe from frozen death.
A stone staircase spiraled upwards to a second level. Tullus and Celestra followed it. It ended in a stone landing which opened up into a large, shuttered, stone room containing a long, dusty table surrounded by wooden chairs. Tullus removed his backpack and slumped down in one of the chairs. Despite its careworn condition it supported his weight.
Tullus surveyed the room. A pantry stood against one of the walls; next to it was an alcove where an old wooden sign was posted. The following words inscribed on it in gold Latin print:
Outpost III: Home of the 14th Air Wing known as The Star falcons
Commanded by Metux the Younger
The Leopard Stratagem
Author: T.A. Uner
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Camus Scorpio, the vicious criminal overlord, who for years tormented the good merchants of Rome, is dead. His ruthless army of thugs and bloodthirsty killers wiped out by the avenging force of Tullus the Leopard King, the Leopardess Celestra, and their Troupe.
But the victory is a costly one. Anna, Tullus’ lover, is dead, and her departure serves as an open wound to all her friends in the Troupe. Needing time to collect himself and continue developing his magical abilities, Tullus decides to seek out the wisdom of a reclusive wizard named Hradack, also known as the Leopard Master and a product of the Age of Paladins.
In Rome Eliana becomes involved in political intrigue and finds herself caught up in a conspiracy involving a persecuted race called the Dryads.
Decimus, now a prominent Centurion in the Praetorian Guard, is assigned to a new Roman Legion in Switzerland, where he faces the biggest challenge of his military career.
As Tullus’ power in Elemence grows, he foresees a hideous plot by an unknown enemy called Serpentus, who has kidnapped his Troupe friends and is holding them hostage on the island of Capri.
Unbeknownst to Tullus, Serpentus seeks revenge against the Leopard King and Celestra, and has armed himself with arcane powers. Under the tutelage of a fanatical cleric, Serpentus harbors plans of destroying the Leopard King and Celestra before embarking on a destructive path of conquest.
An accomplished public speaker and event promoter, he is also a graduate of George Mason University, and holds a Bachelors degree in Speech Communication and History.
A finalist in The 2010 Moonlight Mesa short fiction contest, his first short story, “The Banker’s Wife,” was published internationally in an anthology titled, Award Winning Tales. Mr. Uner lives in Virginia. He is the author of the Leopard King Saga and other works.
He looks forward to more readers discovering the life-like characters that inhabit his stories.