In the gang-ridden Wormpile District, 16-year-old Larin shouts nonsense words into the decaying alleyways, a magical tourette’s syndrome that has brought him grief from every neighborhood thug. Protected from the worst beatings by his drug-addicted warrior-uncle, Larin’s life is one of loneliness, trapped in his uncle’s four block safe zone where no gang member dares tread. But when he learns his words have marked him as servant to Lord of Demons, things go from bad to worse. For that phrase has shoved him into the middle of an ancient war between the Six-Legged gods and the Lord of Demons, both of whom regard humanity as mere playthings.
Meanwhile, far to the north and across the Great Chasm, the non-human six-limbed Lidathi prepare to make war on the Tanbar empire. Their leader Kemharak is determined to steal back what was stolen, for the four-limbed ones have taken everything that matters. Yet his Six-Legged Gods demand pain, and he knows he will never truly be free while they still hold him in their claws.
And in the King’s palace, treachery and hatred weaken the Tanbar empire against the coming invasion from the north and a second one from the south by another land in the claws of the Six-Legged Gods.
As Tanbar faces threats from every direction, Larin will have to tread the narrow path between two evils, his only allies his drug-addicted uncle, a permanently drunk priestess, and a high-born wizardress who must hold her nose and work with the street rabble she despises. For as bad as his Master is, refusing to follow him will only plunge his empire into a greater darkness — an abyss so deep, it will turn mankind’s soul to ash.
Steve Rodgers has been reading science fiction since he was old enough to carry a stack of hard-bound books out of the central library. He's been writing all his life, including a novel started when he was 18.
In his adult life, Steve is a writer of science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction whose short stories have appeared in Deepwood Publishing's "Ruined Cities" anthology, Cosmic Vegetable's "Anthology of Humorous SF", Longcount Press's "Songs of the Great Cycle (Mesoamerican Fantasy)", and "Dysfunctional Family: An Anthology", all for sale on Amazon. His short fiction has also appeared in several on-line magazines, such as Perihelion (www.perihelionsf.com), Stupefying Stories (www.stupefyingstories.blogspot.com), Black ... (more)