The Realm Below: A Sample

Posted by:
Susan Rooke
April 12, 2018

The sequel to The Space Between is getting closer to completion every day. Well, maybe not today. Glen and I are on vacation today, drinking The Daughter’s sophisticated hand-crafted cocktails, eating The Son-in-Law’s fabulous Eggs Benedict (I wish I’d taken a picture of the plated effect, but I was too busy devouring them to think of it) and enjoying some colder weather. (With April snow! It started as we were leaving a casino in the mountains of Colorado.)

But soon vacation will be over, and I’ll get back to writing The Realm Below: The Rise of Tanipestis. It’s the second book in the Space Between series, and publication is planned for later this year. The closer I get to finishing the manuscript, the more excited I am to share snippets of the book with readers. Starting today, with the prologue. First, a bit of background:

It is the dead of winter. Satan is in hiding in the Space Between, abandoned by his baffled army of followers after his unexpected transformation into a snakelike creature, thanks to the cat Kindle’s act of retribution. Alone and cold, he has sought warmth and refuge in the burning corpse of Fellson, the corrupt Penitent, and wishes desperately for his “pet,” the monster Tanipestis, to come to his aid.

Prologue: Satan Wakes

From dreams of warmth he woke freezing. The pyre of his former lover Fellson’s body had burned down around him, most of it reduced to ash, and now the cold iron of the winter soil chilled his dry, scaly skin. He coiled more tightly around himself, burying his reptilian nose in the flesh sheathing his countless ribs. If only Tanipestis were here! But he had called and called, his mind imploring, hurling thoughts toward the monster’s cavern dwelling place deep in the Realm Below, and Tanipestis could not hear him. How he missed the comforting blue flame! Now he was on his own, lost in the Space Between, without any notion of how he was to return to his kingdom.

He felt terribly exposed. The cold night sky glittered overhead, the midnight blue heavens slowly turning, visible through the cage of Fellson’s charred ribs that arced above him. Fruitlessly he strove to burrow his slim, triangular head down into the earth. As if purposely preventing him from entering, the earth remained a stony, closed door. For Tanipestis the earth would open willingly, he thought, and accept the last Titan to its accustomed home. But such was not the case for Satan, the lord of the Realm Below. No. Foolishly he had left Tanipestis behind, thinking he would have no need of the creature here. Now he was alone and barred from safety. The earth here did not open for him. And he did not dare venture out to slither across the ground. Not even in the night.

In another world entirely, but in other ways quite near, in the way of time, for instance, someone else awoke from dreams. It was the Titan of the Fire in the Earth, and its name was Tanipestis. Neither male nor female, carved not from flesh, but from sharp anthracite, it burned with a low, constant blue flame. Scattered here and there on its flinty body, high and low, front and back, were numerous eyes. Tanipestis saw things with a clarity multiplied many times, for each eye was a faceted diamond that glinted from one of its gleaming black surfaces. Perhaps such clarity of sight negated curiosity, as the creature always saw nearly everything there was to see. Usually that was quite enough. Now it looked about the cavern of its master Satan, and saw that its master still had not returned. Then, into its incurious mind came a thought, as though willed to do so. Tanipestis was certain the thought had originated outside of itself. It begged him, in words something like this:

Come to me, Tanipestis. I need your flame!

The thought persisted over time, often quite forcefully, until Tanipestis grew accustomed to it, never troubling itself to identify the source. The months went on. In the Space Between, a year of seasons passed. Winter gave way to a wet spring, which became a humid summer, and then autumn’s golds and russets painted the land. At last ice again rimed the banks of the fast-running river by the Keep, and snow frosted the heavy limbs of the ancient yew tree—the Tree of Life—in the Garden Field.

In the Realm Below, however, there were no seasons, merely a dull uniformity of days—a brownish haze of perpetually chilly air, a muted light from the feeble disc in the sky. In such timelessness, Tanipestis did not notice when the thought dimmed at last to silence.

**********************************

Thank you, Dear Readers! Back soon . . .

6 comments on “The Realm Below: A Sample”

  1. Interesting. But the second sentence is a mouthful, since I often tend to read as if out loud. I know it is a complex subject, but make it a bit easier on the reader.
    Have a wonderful vacation.
    Christa

    1. Will do, Christa, thanks! I had thought that myself, so that’s good to know. This is only the second draft, so there’s still plenty of tweaking to come.

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