Tempest Blades: The Withered King by Ricardo Victoria, the first book in the Tempest Blades science fantasy series is out tomorrow!
The final minutes of the Battle of the Line.
Life is full of parallels.
I hate this, Fionn thought. He looked at the battlefield spread across Longhorn Valley and sighed. Two more of the enemy were running towards him, swords aloft. Black Fang, his own sword with its graceful and sharply curved blade, was gripped in his hand, the blade dripping blood from his last kill. Black Fang emitted an otherworldly green glow that contrasted with its silvery surface. Around him lay a dozen bodies, either unconscious or dead. These two approaching enemies were the last of that squad.
Dodging a sword blow aimed at his head, Fionn tackled the soldier, impacting with his left shoulder. He rolled his attacker over his back and threw him onto the ground, then kicked him in the head, while parrying a slicing cut by the second attacker with Black Fang. With his free hand, he punched the second man in the face, breaking his nose, before kicking him away.
The first man had recovered enough to try attacking from behind, but Fionn caught the movement, reversed his hold on the grip of his sword and stabbed back with Black Fang. Spinning to the side so the sword could gain momentum, he sliced the second man, stepping aside as entrails spilled onto the ground. No more of the enemy remained in range so he took a moment to catch his breath and relax his muscles, already tired from the long fight.
When it came to the reputed fighters of the decade long Great War, Fionn was not the kind of warrior that came to mind. Contrary to the archetype of a war hero –musclebound, charismatic, shinning smile, fancy signature moves and strength that can sunder a mountain – Fionn had both human and freefolk ancestry. This made him slender, taller than average and with a preference for speed and precision over brute strength. A white shirt covered a light chainmail beneath, the brown trousers and brown combat boots he wore matched his long brown hair. He was twenty-two, although he managed to look younger, even after six years of fighting. Only the lines around his big and expressive green-grey eyes, showed anybody familiar with him how haggard and tired he was of the war. Even with his reputation.
Reputation is such a weird thing to earn during a war. When it came to fighting in battle, Fionn avoided fancy moves. Experience had taught him that in all-out frays, the most efficient moves are the ones that were straight and clean. No sword twirling, not a free-for-all, and no spectacular flips or somersaults. Those would only get you killed. And he wasn’t planning to die, at least not today. As a result, he had earned a reputation for being an efficient fighter. So efficient that the name of his freefolk clan had become his own nickname: The Greywolf, the famous warrior with the fabled sword that had helped the Free Alliance to stem the tide of the Blood Horde during the Great War.
At first, the Greywolf thing had been a badge of honor for him. The problem was it had led to the associated belief that he was a one-man army. He wasn’t. He wasn’t a weapon that Prince Byron, or any other lord or commander, could point and release at an enemy. Nor were any of the other Twelve Swords for that matter, not at Byron’s whims in any case, even if the Prince was also his friend.
There was another problem with his reputation. It meant that he now had to face wave after wave of enemy warriors, all of them wanting to prove themselves against him. And he had to do it while evading the barrage of energy attacks from the Horde’s giant source of power, currently sitting well protected within the main enemy camp: The Onyx Orb.
It was as if the thought had conjured the reality. Fionn saw the incoming green energy bolt at the last moment and jumped away.
I really, really hate that thing.
A Bite of... Ricardo Victoria
Q1: If you woke up tomorrow as one of the characters in Tempest Blades which would you choose to be and why?
Alex, most probably. In a fit of ego, he is the one that’s more like me or at least is inspired more on my life experiences and tastes. It would be easier to fit right in. And I love his skill set and powers.
Q2: What motivates your antagonist and how does that affect how they work to achieve their ends?
Without being too spoilery, he has a massive chip in his shoulder and is the kind of person that feels like is entitled to things, so when he didn’t get them, it made him make deals with things that prey on human weakness. Now he wants what he thinks is his and will stop at nothing to do it. Only his ego can be an obstacle for him.
Q3: Apart from your own, which three fictional characters would you most like to invite to dinner and why?
Providing I can take my wife with us to share the meal:
Tyrion Lannister (TV show version): good talk, smart guy, lots of things to discuss and share. We have very similar views on how the world actually works.
Duncan McLeod: C’mon! It would be awesome to ask him so many questions about history. Plus the guy is a gourmand, he will know where to get superb food.
Tony Stark: my wife already says that I have a crush on him, so it makes sense. Also, me having a degree in product design, the design interface used in the movies to develop his armors, would be a dream to use.
Born in the frozen landscape of Toluca, Mexico, Ricardo Victoria dreamed of being a writer. But needing a job that could pay the rent while writing, he studied Industrial Design and later obtained a PhD in Sustainable Design, while living in the United Kingdom and working in a comic book store to pay for his board game & toy addiction. He is back now in Toluca, living with his wife and his two dogs where he works as an academic at the local university. He has short stories featured in anthologies by Inklings Press and Rivenstone Press, and he was nominated for a Sidewise Award 2016 for the short story Twilight of the Mesozoic Moon, co-written with his arch-nemesis, Brent A. Harris. He also won a local contest for a fantasy short story during college. But hey! That one doesn’t count, does it?