One Thousand Worlds enters its second month by welcoming Michael Diack, who shares the first One Thousand Words of Shadows in the Sand (Empyria).
The deathly Sanghouls have escaped from the Empty Province and, from within their golden dunes, they seek to wipe out all life in Empyria. Unaware of this, the last surviving humans continue going about their daily routine in the city of Nimar. But when the city’s water pool stops refilling, the Nimerians are forced to move into lands of myth and legend.
Only when Prince Viro, an elf of the southern lands, arrives in Nimar do the humans truly understand the threat to their existence. The two races must unite and reclaim the lost seven stones of light – the only weapon that can defeat the demonic shadow enclosing them. As four of the city’s most talented young men and women, Athmane, Faria, Bayoud and Mary will be critical to Nimar enduring the perils, both natural and unnatural, that await them.
About this author:
My name is Michael Diack and I'm from the UK, but currently living in Denmark. I studied geology at the University of Manchester and, after graduating, I was lucky to find a job in the Middle East working for a geophysical company. I enjoy table tennis, squash, football, Lord of the Rings, sailing, skiing on the green slopes only, and the card game Cribbage. I also enjoy computer games and playing a four hour game of Risk or anything Game of Thrones related with my friends. My favourite authors are Murakami, Tolkien, Markus Heitz and an Italian author Niccolo Ammaniti. I love fantasy but I'll read almost any genre that catches my eye. I always wanted to be a volcanologist, like Pierce Brosnan in Dante's Peak, but I enjoy my current job and lifestyle. I write because it makes me happy, but it doesn't quite pay the bills yet, perhaps enough for a chocolate bar every month based on my current sales! Reviews have been mainly positive so far for all my books, which is a relief and I'll happily interact with any readers through Twitter, my website or on Facebook.
Jax entered the cave system with Gravemaker in his right hand and a flaming torch in his left. Jax chose the entrance covered by the least moss; it was likely that was the one used by the snake. Behind him, Master Thane poured the remaining oil around the entrances and a few metres inside, assuming that would be more than adequate. There was still an air of scepticism about the size of the serpent, if there even was one. Master Thane re-joined the soldiers, longbow at the ready. The medics were armed with the dead soldiers’ spears and stood behind the formation. Only Sophia held the spear comfortably, the anticipation of another battle welling up inside her body and taking control. The flames from Jax’s torch licked the darkness greedily and the ground was wet and slippery to walk on, a slimy fibrous texture unlike anything Jax had walked on before. Jax was optimistic: the Dunein region looked full of water and a good place to relocate to. If the hunter had been right about the water, he would not have lied about the snake… Jax thought. Entering a small cavern 100 metres in where two of the caves merged, Jax disturbed hundreds of little bats which flew out from the caves and into the open air outside. In their nervousness some of the soldiers let loose their arrows. “Hold it!” shouted Master Thane. “Redraw and steady yourself.” Even with the strong oil scent wafting in from the entrance, Hilyx tasted Jax as soon as he was a dozen metres into the caves. It was a strange taste and it took Hilyx a while before he could place where he’d tasted it before. Hilyx flicked out his fork tongue to taste the air once more and place the scent – he remembered! Yes, these creatures had tasted good all those years ago and he eagerly left his lair to feast once more. Hilyx was so big his moving body expelled the air from the tunnels and as the gentle breeze coming from within gradually stiffened – and with it the smell of death – Jax knew he had lured his bait and retreated back to the entrance. As Jax ran backwards and towards the light, his heart pounding like never before, he could sense the serpent closing fast. Jax slipped on the wet moss, five metres from the exit, landing flat on his back. Jax could hear the serpent’s body smashing against the cave walls and closing fast. Picking his weapon and torch up, Jax jumped out of the cave, dropped the flame on the oil and swung Gravemaker behind him as he did. Mouth open, with his two foot-long fangs out, Hilyx was inches away from biting Jax before the flames from the burning oil roared up and abruptly stopped him. Jax was so close to the fangs he could smell the reek of death on Hilyx’s tongue. Consumed by flames, Hilyx let out a noise so terrifying the soldiers on the ground, already in shock at the snake’s monstrous head dimension, cowered in fear. Jax uncontrollably rolled down the scree and towards the men, still frozen in terror. Master Thane was the first to pull himself together and ordered the release of the arrows. “What are you waiting for? Fire!” he bellowed. The flames from the burning oil were not large enough to kill Hilyx, it merely aggravated him and those arrows and spears that found their mark punctured his scales, but their damage was nothing more than a needle pricking the skin. Hilyx withdrew back into the caves and doused the flames on the damp floor and cooled his head and upper body the best he could. There was another exit around the side of the Dunein mountain which Hilyx would come out of. He’d then kill every last one of these creatures and then hunt out their dwelling and flatten it to the ground. Hilyx had never felt so angry in all his life, how dare he be challenged. After rolling down the scree Jax regained his footing and stood at the front of the soldiers, Gravemaker clasped firmly in both his hands and sweat pouring down his face. For the first time in his life Jax felt weak, the fangs had come a little too close for his liking and suddenly Gravemaker felt twice as heavy. The snake was bigger than anything Jax or the Nimerians had anticipated – it was a freak of nature, a demon-serpent loosed from the bowels of the deep. “Where did it go? It’s stupidly huge! We can’t kill that!” said the soldiers. “Quiet!” shouted Master Thane. “Sir? Your instructions.” It took a while for Jax to register Master Thane’s words and remember he was in charge. “We heard it scream. It feels pain like us so it dies like us. Everyone be ready, this is the biggest fight of our lives. We’ve pissed it off, if we don’t kill it now it will kill everyone back in Nimar,” shouted Jax. The soldiers waited for what seemed like an eternity. Ten minutes passed and still no sign. It was eerily calm; the only noise was the crackling of the dying flames burning the moss and ivy. The sun was going down, the dust in the atmosphere obscuring the fading light. “Shall we enter the caves and pursue?” asked Master Thane. “No. We’ll hold our ground. We’re better positioned out here. It’s a snake, just bigger than what we’re used to. We cut off its head and it dies like all the rest,” responded Jax. “I’m not sure our arrows did much damage.” “They did. Everybody concentrate on firing at the eyes and the softer, fleshy underbelly. Pierce it through its mouth if you can,” shouted Jax. After another breathless five minutes passed, Hilyx secretly slithered out from the eastern side of the mountain and came up quietly behind the soldiers, oblivious to the danger behind. Hilyx coiled and rose his head, inflating his upper body to a width five metres across. As Hilyx rose, he blocked out the setting sun and cast a shadow over the soldiers, who turned around to face their enemy. The medics were now the frontline.Where to buy Shadows in the Sand (Empyria):You can connect with Michael Diack here: