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Infernal Alliances

Infernal Alliances

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Book Two of the Order of Merlin Trilogy

Allies can be found in unlikely places.

The threat against the Hundred Halls grows clearer by the day—the barrier between Invictus and the demonic realm is breaking down.  In hopes of stopping the invasion before it begins, the Order of Merlin must court alliances with powerful beings who have their own suspect motives. The mages will also have to come to terms with the demons of their own pasts, solve the conflicts within the Hundred Halls, and put themselves and their futures at risk if there is any hope of surviving.

Synopsis

As the barrier between Invictus and the demonic realm weakens, the Order of Merlin must forge alliances with powerful yet suspect beings to prevent an invasion. The mages must confront personal demons, resolve internal conflicts, and risk their futures to ensure survival.

Chapter One Look Inside

Chapter One

The air was thick with power and golden light. Invictus held out his aged hand as if he were catching snowflakes, not the infinitesimal particles of faez. A tiny glimmering dot descended onto—and then through—his palm, bringing a brief creasing of his eyes.
Invictus reached into his gray robes to make sure the package was still resting in the inner pocket. The clothes were a bit cliché, but he enjoyed the mystery that they presented. He'd thought about shifting his look to a nice, tailored suit, but feared that he wouldn't inspire the same fear and adoration that he did in the traditional robes of his craft.
A great whooshing sound echoed through the cavern. His chest tightened as he assessed the glowing runed wall. Flame the color of an oil slick danced across the surface of the outer shell. The well of earth had vented excess faez. Invictus could feel the pressure on his skin. It was familiar—refreshing, bringing old memories to the forefront, the labors of centuries. Yet, there was darkness too. He couldn't look at the well without feeling an ache in his heart. Not tired. He was that too, but this was the feeling of standing on the edge of an abyss, toes jutting over, the endless expanse tugging him forward.
"A marvel of magic and pure will," said a voice coming up from behind.
Invictus had heard him five minutes ago, traversing the tunnels, cursing at each stumble.
"Thank you for coming, Malden."
Invictus turned in time to see the shimmering field around the head of Coterie of Mages dissipate, either by the action of its owner or the instability of the faez-rich air. Gray hair tainted the edges of his usually dark hair. The mottled scaled flesh on his jaw looked cracked and painful, as did his right eye, blotched with crimson. Malden squeezed the bandage on his arm as if it was causing issues.
"Are you well, my friend?" asked Invictus.
Malden took a spot by his side and stared at the metal casing that kept the well from exploding from the constant buildup of faez. He touched the gray hair at his temple.
"I'm not Celesse. I don't have time for vanity, especially when I already look like this."
"Does it hurt?"
"Now more than ever," said Malden with a sigh. "It feels awake."
"If it causes you more discomfort, come see me, and I'll make a poultice."
"Thank you." Malden arched an eyebrow. "But we didn't come here to swap healing advice like a couple of old midwives."
"How is your Hall?"
More frowns. "I feel like I'm presiding over a yacht club. The unbound scholarship of the past is...well, that...a thing of the past. Half my students come with no intention of using what they learn, only to use that badge as a key to unlock the doors of wealth. The other half are too timid, or ill-prepared for the rigors of high arcana. I have half a mind to knock the whole thing down and start over."
"I'm sure you recall when half of Adele's students could be considered domestic terrorists, the way they went after the zoos and private collectors with a certain amount of intensity."
Malden chuckled, which brought a brief grimace of pain. "Intensity? They killed dozens, and then more died when the creatures they set loose went after unsuspecting humans."
"Adjustments were made and now her Hall is functioning as she intended," said Invictus.
"You didn’t bring me down here for a lecture on running my Hall. You've never cared about that."
"No," said Invictus, staring into the prismatic lights exploding from the steel casing. "I haven't. It's been of secondary importance."
He didn't need to look over to feel the naked apprehension radiating from his companion.
"It's time, isn't it?"
Without looking over, Invictus nodded. "It's time."
"I fear what's to come."
"As do I."
"Is that why we're here?" asked Malden.
"No. Not yet. Not here, anyway. I don't believe."
Malden turned to face him. "You never have doubts."
"On the contrary, I'm filled with them," said Invictus. "But as a crotchety old man I've made more mistakes than all the patrons of the Halls combined, so I tend not to look so self-flagellating about them, even when some of them have been quite horrific."
Malden nodded as if he understood, and as one of the oldest patrons, he had more knowledge than most. Invictus assumed he'd probably researched his past, which meant he knew the extent of his crimes.
"I'm inspecting the wells," said Invictus.
Malden said nothing. There was no need to.
"I need a favor."
The head of Coterie nodded once. His eyes shifted to the well and then back.
"I need you to deliver a message."
"A message?" asked Malden apprehensively. "There's only one reason you would ask me to deliver a message."
"You are correct, my friend."
Invictus handed over the package. The thin metal box was covered in ancient runes, an intricate interlocking design that few human eyes had seen. Malden hesitated before grabbing it.
"Are you sure?"
"Promises were made and now is the time. I'm certain."
Malden stared at it as if it were a ticking bomb. "It will cause unrest."
"I know."
The elder patron looked away to the well of earth, so Invictus joined him. Coming down to the well had always been like watching an eclipse, or a volcano erupting. It evoked a primal fear in Invictus that felt like homecoming.
"May I ask what it says?"
Invictus nodded thoughtfully.
"It's time to come over."

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Customer Reviews

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T
Tanyawriter
Wow

Wow what a brilliant second book in this great series. It will pull you in and keep you there as you try to see where you will be taken. I was unable to put it down until I got to the end page

D
D.
Chaos!

Set some time aside to enjoy reading this trilogy with great world building. Your favorite wonderful characters from The Halls come together to face a crazy demonic invasion to save their world. Sacrifices will be made. There are multiple storylines to keep track of. There is a bonus short story and an interesting History of the Halls.

T
Trevor O'Brien
Wonderful continuation of the series

Keep up the great writing