Sands of Hanubi: Book 1
Young Kaylen has the unique ability to make gods mortal. After growing up on an isolated island with only her father as company, she escapes with the help of a pirate named Gregor. She embarks on her first adventure into the desert kingdom of Hanubi, where people are controlled by magic sands that instill fear in anyone who looks at them.
Meanwhile, a selfish prince, the daughter of a powerful Guardian, and numerous gods manipulate Kaylen for their own purposes. But only Kaylen can decide which gods deserve to live or die...
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Why I wrote "Ashes of Dearen" and
what it means to me now
Read the Sequel:
Sands of Hanubi: Book 2 not yet released
Gregor met Angelo in Port Fogsrow, the last place Gregor and the Lucky Licker had docked. They saw each other in a tavern and recognized an immediate attraction. After a frenzied tumble in the tavern stables, Angelo confessed that he had heard of Greedy Gregor and wanted to join his crew. He knew of a island in the Kelt Seas that harbored an item coveted by the gods themselves. Angelo refused to say what the item was, and every time Gregor asked, the fellow grew timid. As for why the gods had not bothered to take this precious item, Angelo claimed that the gods feared it, and wished to obtain it only for the sake of destroying it. But it could not harm a mortal.
“How do you know all this?” Gregor had asked, eventually. “And why can’t you tell me all that you know?”
“I shouldn’t know any of it,” Angelo had said in a hushed whisper. “I overheard things that I shouldn’t have. I’m afraid they’ll find out.”
Gregor had not pressed him further, but embraced him, and promised, “Do not fear, Angelo. I’ll protect you. And we will take this precious treasure for ourselves.”
And so the journey to Fang Island had begun, with Angelo now among his motley crew. The rest of the crew did not like the slender fellow, nor the way Gregor favored him, but Angelo stayed strong in their midst. And as the Lucky Licker sliced deeper into the Kelt Seas, Angelo opened up to Gregor like a flower. Every day he shared something new about himself or his past. And, more to the point, he shared his knowledge of Fang Island.
Gregor decided that now was as good a time as any to press him a little further. “Angelo, can you tell me anything more about the treasure? My men are getting restless. And frankly, so am I.”
Angelo grew very quiet. He hid his eyes under golden lashes as he considered this. “I suppose I can tell you that the item wields a tremendous power.”
“Oh.” On the one hand Gregor was intrigued; on the other he didn’t see this item translating easily to goldons. “Unless it can turn dust into diamonds, I’m not sure why I should care about that. I’m not looking to start any wars.”
“Then you can sell it to someone who does care,” said Angelo. “Maybe even a god. And I can tell you something else. There is a god in a land far east of here, the kingdom of Hanubi, that has already offered a fortune to anyone who brings him this item.”
Gregor didn’t feel particularly consoled by that prospect. As much as he might like to meet a god in person, he didn’t fancy trying to sell to one. If a god really wanted the item, he might very well take it. Then again, something had kept the gods from taking the item from the island to begin with. Gregor shook his head angrily at the strangeness of it all.
“You said a man guards the cave of treasure. A great warrior. Do you really think my crew can defeat him if no one else has before?”
“I have faith in you,” said Angelo, and snuggled closer to him. There was a finality to his statement, as if he had said all he would say for now. They lay in silence for awhile, listening to the creak of the timbers and the lap of the water against the walls. Then, quietly, “Do you think we’ll get there soon?”
“Hard to say. The map to this place is quite … indecisive.” Pessimism soured Gregor’s tone. “And a storm is coming tonight. It may set us back a day or two.”
“Or it may not, if we’re lucky.” Angelo reached over and drew shapes on Gregor’s chest. “You worship the god of luck, don’t you? You should pray to him tonight.”
“Lokke? Yes. Maybe I will.” Gregor did not care to admit that his last prayer to Lokke had been years ago. He still kept the statues and charms around his cabin. But ever since he heard about the events back in Dearen—about the awakening of Friva, and the fiery rampage of Belazar—he wondered if his own god lay dormant. He would give anything to meet the god of guile and luck. He had worshiped Lokke ever since he was a young boy, searching for scraps of food in the dark ravines of Vikand. But Lokke had not shown his face to any humans that he knew of. Perhaps Gregor worshiped no more than a shadow.
“What’s the matter?” said Angelo, studying him all too closely.
Gregor sighed. The only problem with Angelo opening up to him was that the fellow grew more inquisitive at the same time. “I was just thinking about … my old life.”
“In Vikand?” Angelo’s voice rose with interest. “And Dearen?”
“Yes.” Gregor could not keep some irritation from his tone. Somehow, Angelo already knew more about him than his own crew. How could this fellow manipulate him so easily?
“And King Darius? You served him personally, didn’t you?”
“Indeed I did.” Gregor’s grip on Angelo tightened as a surge of anger rushed through him. “But his real name wasn’t Darius. He was a Wolven named Sean, and he lied to everyone about it. I admired him for that at first, until it ruined me. He’s the reason I had to flee from a perfectly good life in Dearen and become a fucking pirate.”
“Even now, you still can’t forgive him for such a thing?”
Gregor cocked an eyebrow at his curious bedfellow. “What’s it to you?”
“I just figured you liked being Greedy Gregor. And …” Angelo smirked and played with his hair some more. “I’m curious how long you hold a grudge.”
“Sixteen years, I suppose. Because no, I don’t forgive him. He fucked everything up for me. I lived like a prince in that palace. And my gods-damned devotion to him was my very downfall. What does it matter? If I ever saw him again, I’d have to flee for my life. He swore an oath to Belazar that he’d kill me if I ever told anyone who he was. Which is exactly what I did, before I got the hell out of there.”
“Oh.” Angelo suddenly became very still. “I didn’t know that part.”
Gregor frowned at him. “Why would you?”
Angelo sat up and reached for his clothes. Gregor grabbed his arm and pulled him back.
“Angelo! Why is that so important? And why are you asking me all these things, anyway?”
Angelo sighed. His small frame withered as he hunched in on himself. His body went limp in Gregor’s grip. Gregor gulped. Whatever Angelo was about to say, it must be be very bad news. “There are a few things I haven’t told you, Gregor. You know that. I thank you for trusting me anyway. I don’t want to betray that trust. But … one of the reasons I thought you’d made a good captain for this journey is because of your history with the man who guards the cave.”
“What?” The blood drained from Gregor’s face. Suddenly he found it very difficult to breathe. “The great warrior?”
“Yes.” Angelo met his gaze reluctantly. “He’s King Darius. That is … he’s Sean.”
Gregor’s heart stopped. For a long while he couldn’t think. Couldn’t move. Only see Sean’s blazing red eyes as the Wolven snarled in the moonlight, If you ever tell anyone my true identity, I’ll kill you. And on this, I swear to Belazar.
“YOU FUCKING IDIOT!”
Gregor grabbed him and shook him so fiercely they both fell to the floor, Gregor on top. He normally didn’t think of himself as a violent person. But in this very moment he saw his life flashing before his eyes, ending on the tip of one of Sean’s many blades, and it was all because of Angelo. So he shook the fellow until his teeth rattled, and it was only because they’d just had sex that Gregor didn’t wrap his hands around the man’s throat.
“You’ve fucking ruined me! I’m not stepping onto the same island as that Wolven! I would DIE! You can forget about getting your gods-damned treasure! And I can forget about being a captain! I just told my crew they’d get enough money to last a lifetime! Now they’ll despise me forever! Because I’m turning this fucking boat around!”
Gregor got back up and scrambled around for his clothes.
“Gregor, please. Don’t do anything rash.”
“RASH! It’s not a matter of being RASH! It’s a matter of living or dying!”
“You served him for a couple of years, didn’t you? Surely he cares about you enough to overlook one mistake.”
“One mistake! I told his wife he was the assassin who killed her brother—and would probably kill her, too!”
“Maybe he can be reasoned with.”
“He swore an oath to Belazar! He has no fucking choice!” Now mostly dressed, Gregor didn’t bother buttoning his shirt, just threw his jacket over it. “And if I wish to live, I have no choice either!”
Gregor opened the door of his quarters, caring little that he left Angelo exposed on the floor behind him. That hardly seemed to matter when a gust of wind rushed into the chamber, blowing off the hat Gregor had just placed on his head. Cups and candlesticks rolled across his room. Gregor struggled to pull the door shut behind him.
He thrust his weight forward and cut through the wall of wind. His jacket and hair battered his body and slowed his progress. He squinted through the thrashing tendrils to see that the men on deck stood gawking at something ahead of them. Gregor followed their gazes to the sea beyond the bowsprit.
The purple clouds he’d spotted from a distance now filled the sky before him. The tumultuous billows cast deep black shadows into the swirling waters before the Lucky Licker. Rains and winds rushed from the heavens and stirred the seas into chaos. Waves thrashed high and wide, clashing against each other in the throes of opposing winds. Lashing wind spun in swirls forming miniature cyclones. The frothing storm of chaos sped towards them, like a curtain that would soon close over the existence of the Lucky Licker.
Tying back his hair, Gregor made his way up to the wheel, where he found Hogan clenching the wood with white fingers.
“It’s a bedlam, Captain.”