Explore A New World of Fantasy in Return of the Wizard King from Dark Horse Books

Get in. Get out. Get paid. That was the plan. Instead, these reluctant mercenaries uncover some hidden agendas and ancient power struggles centuries in the making.

The last wizard king seeks a return to Tralodren after nearly eight centuries of exile. But doing so requires the manipulation of a band of mercenaries oblivious to his goals.

The gladiator sold his soul for revenge. The knight's a bigot. The dwarf only cares about regaining his honor. Even the wizardess seems too bookish for anyone’s good. But they’ve all been hired by a blind seer and his assistant to retrieve some forgotten knowledge long hidden away in a jungle-strangled ruin.

Betrayal, madness, adventure, and magic fill this first volume of the Wizard King Trilogy, introducing readers to a world rich in history, faith, and tales of adventure—of which this story is but one of many.

A Word from Author Chad Corrie

"Return of the Wizard King (FEB200286) is the first novel in the Wizard King Trilogy, a tale of fantasy action-adventure based in the world of Tralodren. But just what sort of place is Tralodren?

Well, to start, it’s more than just one planet. The Tralodroen cosmos is a vast piece of real estate, complete with cosmic planes and realms, others planets, and solar systems. And readers will have a chance to explore some of these locales as the series progresses.

It’s also a place rich with history, which permeates every part of a world that has seen millennia of various empires and nations mold and scar both its physical and historical landscape. And throughout all these ages magic and faith, priests and wizards contest for influence and power amid a host of other philosophies, agendas, and beliefs scattered among various races and factions.

In short, its a place ripe with adventure and opportunities for those willing and bold enough to seek them . . . or brave enough to accept a challenge when its presented. Overall, Tralodren was created as a home for all sorts of stories and tales. And its with great pleasure I invite you to take your first steps in exploring it with the Wizard King Trilogy!"

Chapter Excerpt from Return of the Wizard King:

Dugan gritted his teeth as the cestus’ sharp sting plowed fresh rows across his bruised cheek. Above his left eye a fresh cut trickled down his face, a crimson creek mingling with his streaming sweat to burn and blur his vision. Except for the breechcloth he was naked. The two wide flaps of dark brown fabric covered most of his thighs like a skirt, descending about a hand’s breadth from the knee. His cell was spartan and small, windowless with a lone torch for light and an imposing door with a small viewing window he noticed was getting some good use.

“You belong to Gilthanius now,” the elf before him said in accented Telboros. “And that means you’ll have to perform better than expected if you want to keep your life.” The remark was followed by another punch to the face.

Dugan was chained to the wall behind him. The links connected to the chafing shackles on his ankles and wrists allowed him some slack, but that slack was made much shorter by the two elven men holding him at each wrist. The elves were members of the guard assigned to keep order, protect, and maintain the arena. As such, each wore a leather cuirass with matching metal bracers and greaves, while their captain, an elf named Balus, had opted for a simple brown tunic, pants, and boots.

The middle-aged, black-haired Balus was taking delight in Dugan’s beating, having donned his spiked gloves with dark glee when he and the guards with him first entered Dugan’s cell. At his arrival, Balus had beaten Dugan worse than a stubborn mule. Dugan’s tan face was now a massive patchwork of bruised and broken flesh. His body was splattered with blood and more bruises. But even though his frame had been nearly broken and his blond, shoulder-length hair was matted with gore and sweat, his green eyes still held a defiant glare.

Elves closely resembled Telborians in physical appearance, save for their pointed ears and inability to grow facial hair. Each had dark brown to dark blond hair and green, brown, or blue eyes. If they covered their ears, they could easily pass for humans. Growing up, Dugan had heard old stories about how there might be more than just one race of elves—like there was more than one race of humans. If that were true, neither he nor those who told him such tales had ever seen them. Probably for the best, given his experience with the Elyellium.

“And so you won’t forget your place,” Balus continued, cruelly eyeing Dugan, “we’re going to give you a small reminder.” The comment earned him a round of laughter from the elves beside him.

It was then he noticed the smell of searing metal. It grew more intense as Balus stepped away and was replaced by a stooped elf who smiled at Dugan with an almost toothless maw. He’d the look of one who lived his life close to a forge. He was covered in a light dusting of soot with wrinkles that had transformed into grimy black lines. He also held something else, but Dugan couldn’t see it clearly. The two guards pulled him into a rigid stance.

A few heartbeats later, he felt the pain of another blow. The sound of searing flesh filled the room. The elderly elf smiled as the screaming agony of a blistering rod jabbed into Dugan’s left shoulder, clawing its way into his skin and burning deep into muscle. He cried out in fury. In his agonized struggles he nearly succeeded at freeing himself. Balus saw this and threw a fist at Dugan’s jaw, but Dugan jerked his head to one side. Instead of making impact with his ruined cheek, the elf’s hand collided with the stone wall behind him with an audible crunch.

“Tripton’s bow!” Balus howled, trying to open his broken hand. “I’ll see to it you’re treated worse than the hounds!” He stormed out of the cell, leaving Dugan to ponder the dizzying pain swirling about his head. The bent old elf turned slowly, inspecting the brand he’d just placed. Once satisfied, he too departed.

This left Dugan alone with the two guards, who still held him fast at the wrists. They let go at the same time, both making a sprint for the sturdy oaken cell door. He let out a howl of anger and pain as he lunged after them, but was stopped by the sudden jerk of his chains before they slammed the door and barred it with a drop of a heavy iron latch.

The iron fetters and chains groaned against Dugan’s pulls for release. Laughing, the two guards looked in again through the viewing window at the helpless animal in his cage. So easy to control. So easy to maintain . . . from behind closed doors. Dugan cringed in pain as he stretched his right hand over to delicately inspect the branding. Examining his fingers, he noted how they were coated with a sticky brown liquid.

He drew in a deep breath, but quickly bent over in pain and spasms as he began to cough. This fit lasted for a good while. When it subsided, he noticed a small puddle of blood had chilled on the cobblestone between his feet. The immediate danger having passed, his adrenaline started to wear off, and the full gravity of his beating was revealed in ever greater detail with each passing heartbeat.

Licking his split, bloodstained lips, Dugan whispered, “I won’t be broken.” Raising his voice, he repeated, “I won’t be broken.” Then, snarling with the rising rage inside him, he growled, “I’ll have my revenge!” To add strength to his words, he hit himself hard on his burned shoulder. The pain was like lightning coursing through his being, causing him to scream as blackness overtook him.

Praise for Return of the Wizard King:

“With Return of the Wizard King, Chad Corrie delivers a very promising start to an exciting epic fantasy saga filled with intriguing characters and unexpected twists.” —Richard Knaak, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“Here be roaring monsters to be fought, characters who come vividly to life, and fell magic . . .  A wild ride. Highly recommended.” —Ed Greenwood, New York Times bestselling author and creator of the Forgotten Realms

About Author Chad Corrie

Chad Corrie has enjoyed creating things for as far back as he can remember, but it wasn’t until he was twelve that he began to write. Since then he’s written comics, graphic novels, prose fiction of varying lengths, and an assortment of other odds and ends. His work has been published in other languages and produced in print, digital, and audio formats. He also makes podcasts.

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