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Ty Arthur Premieres First Chapter Of Grimdark Fantasy Novel "Light Dawning"

Update: the second chapter has also come online and can be read over here.

Following previous sci-fi novella “Empty” from 2016, Ty Arthur (Metalunderground.com's very own xFiruath) returns with new full-length horror novel “Light Dawning."

Pivoting away from the emptiness of space, the book dives headlong into the waters of fantasy, but with a seriously grimdark twist.

This next foray into the bleaker corners of human existence is officially slated for release on Friday, May 26th, 2017. Kindle digital pre-orders are now online here, with physical editions available here.

Once known as the City on the Hill and revered far and wide for its independence and boundless opportunity, Cestia has become home only to the damned. Surviving under the brutal occupation of a southern empire for three long years, the oppressed populace has lost hope of liberation, turning instead towards an increasingly desperate rebellion willing to commit any atrocity for a chance at freedom.

As total war approaches, four lost souls trapped behind Cestia's walls are on a collision course with fate, destined to either save the city or see it utterly destroyed while calling on forces beyond mankind's comprehension. For good or ill, the light of a new day is about to dawn.

Today we're introducing you to one of those main characters: Myrr, a man on the run since coming across something beyond his comprehension that is desperately sought by the Knights of the Black Gauntlet. Check out an exclusive sneak peak of the full opening chapter of "Light Dawning" below.

"Light Dawning" was inspired by heavy metal of all stripes, from avant-garde black metal to occult rock, with the Myrr segments of the book in particular drawing on tracks from the Code album "Mut" and Shining release "IX - IX - Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends." If you'd like to read the chapter as it was written and intended to be experienced, a playlist of songs fueling the writing sessions can be heard below that match the themes and tone of the book's opening section.

1 (Western Ward, Old Market District, High Sun)

He knew, deep in his bones and even further beneath to a place newly discovered, that calamity was quickly approaching. Some fundamental change was coming, even though on the surface it all seemed the same. Whether from the deadly thing lurking within that new place or the violence-hungry soldiers stationed not far outside, Myrr was certain his own demise was at hand.

The distinction between what lay within and what occurred without was becoming less defined. The whole city teetered on the edge of annihilation, a hairsbreadth away from being consumed in a massive pogrom that would wipe out both sides of the ongoing conflict. It was hard to say whether the soldiers or the rebels would provide the final push, but there was no doubt it would come soon.

A handful of those ragged insurgents, dubbing themselves freedom fighters, huddled together in a corner of the underground safe house, both to stave off the cold and to whisper grand, doomed plans to re-take the city and be named heroes. Most of them would be dead by week's end. Sooner if they actually enacted any of their hopeless schemes to drive out the occupying force from their beloved home. Certain their names would be remembered for all time as the city's saviors, they remained blind to the hopelessness of the cause made obvious by the bleak surroundings they shared with Myrr.

He considered approaching the insurgents and warning them against rash action, but knew such council would fall on deaf ears, or worse yet, provoke a violent response. The occupation had dragged on for three long years, and the crackdowns were becoming more brutal with each passing day. The empire that sent the invasion force was clearly displeased with the lack of progress and had taken to applying more pressure on the local authorities, spurring them on to greater acts of violence. Oblivious to the spiraling cycle leading to one inevitable conclusion, the patrol ambushes organized by numerous resistance cells across the city only made it worse.

Myrr shuddered thinking of how every soldier killed resulted in dozens of retaliations, which in a cyclical and never-ending turn led to more of the downtrodden deciding to take up the mantle of freedom fighter. Cestia was about to burn, and no one who called it home or tried to bring it to heel seemed to be interested in changing that fate. Both sides were darkness-bent on destroying the other, not realizing or not caring that each was certain to lose the ultimate prize. It was only a matter of time before there was no city left to either hold or liberate. Cestia would be a city of corpses, with only carrion birds to rule over the dead.

Spread out across the far end of the hidden cellar Myrr had come to call home, re-purposed to hide away those who had run afoul of the authorities, the remnants of a shattered family attempted to keep their children quiet. He shook his head as the surviving adults also pointlessly tried to convince themselves all would be well. Like the resistance fighters unknowingly bound towards the mass graves just outside the walls of the city, this sad collection of dirty and hungry Cestian citizens was unlikely to survive for any appreciable length of time.

Mouth clenched firmly shut, he wished for the courage to whisper some reasoned plea for peace over the violence that would only see this destitute family killed. Five of them huddled miserably on the other end of the perpetually damp ground, only visible as silhouettes in the darkness. A mother tended to two young ones displeased by their current lodgings, urgently aiming to keep them from making noise, while two other distinct shapes could be seen just to the side; one hulking and brooding, another tiny by comparison and rocking back and forth.

Whether the occupiers discovered this latest bolt hole and burned them all alive or they only remained hidden until hunger forced them into the streets and a waiting patrol, Myrr felt an ironclad certainty in his gut that this would be the last residence of these beleaguered people. He was equally certain their suffering would only get worse before it finally ended.

Myrr knew all too well that the soldiers, having the gall to call themselves knights, continued their day-to-day ritual of intruding into homes and tearing apart the contents in fruitless searches. They claimed to seek out members of the constantly growing resistance and those who housed them, but it was the worst kept secret in the city that the Knights of the Black Gauntlet sought some artifact sacred to their order. Something they were certain was being hidden away by the populace.

Ending every intrusion empty-handed hadn't seemed to dissuade them from breaking down the next door. After years of increasingly brutal tactics, he wondered if perhaps they had just simply acquired a taste for it. They were just as likely to bring their spiked maces to bear and cave in the skulls of those who resisted as to those who stood by and silently allowed their homes to be ripped apart, board by board. Myrr stifled a moan of despair while realizing those people still openly walking the streets were likely in just as much danger as those hiding in cellars like these across the city. No one was truly safe anymore.

The slowly rocking figure in the corner reminded Myrr that the daughters of Cestia received the worst treatment. The number of fathers who objected had dwindled early on when it became clear the punishment for interference was bleeding to death in the street. There was nothing clean or quick about the way the knights went about their duties, as he could see by their handiwork spread across the bruised faces and broken bones of everyone crowded into the dirty hole. The cellar was illuminated only dimly – a small blessing for which Myrr was grateful considering the state of the hideout's occupants – with thin shafts of light piercing down at irregular intervals from the floor of the building above.

Remaining out of sight until joining a doomed resistance cell engaged in a latest act of guerrilla warfare, or even more pointlessly attempting to escape the city, necessitated that no torches or cook fires be lit. Not that any such actions would have been useful, as the smoke from either would have rapidly filled the cramped cellar and choked out the inhabitants anyway. Between the damp cold and the growing hunger, the need to remain hidden and alive was starting to war with the need to return to the world above. Someone would give in eventually, and Myrr knew that person was unlikely to ever return. For a moment the mad thought to rush into the city above and meet his fate before waiting any longer flashed through his mind.

Myrr searched the faces he could make out in the focused beams of pallid blue light and was overtaken by a growing trembling as he recalled the sight of the last resistance hideout that the knights had discovered. He'd almost been sitting in that one and died along with all the rest, but the deadly thing inside him had sent him doubling over with phantom pain just before approaching that particular bolt hole one night not long past. The wretched existence he now called life was saved when moments later the soldiers appeared from nowhere. The stink of burning flesh still clung to the remnants of his tattered cloak, once a dull brown but now stained black with soot and filth. Waiting for the memory to pass as they always did, the animalistic shrieks of the dying vied for dominance with less dreadful thoughts dancing through his mind.

For a moment he gave in and let the scene replay across his mind's canvas, allowing the screams and the crackling sound of cooking bodies to fully take over. Morbidly glad for the diversion, he knew the overwhelming emotion of the memory would keep those other thoughts away – the one's that weren't his own. Ever since they'd arrived, he'd been on the run like a common criminal or suicidal freedom fighter.

Watching impotently as friends burned alive was no longer the worst Cestia had to offer, as Myrr had learned only a handful of nights past. He tried to force his thoughts elsewhere, anywhere at all, but the battle was lost immediately as that flickering afterglow of green fire shimmered on his mental stage, just barely outlining the utterly black thing he'd stumbled upon. It had lain in wait for him, of that he was becoming more certain, biding its time for just the right moment when the latest riot erupted with Myrr caught in the chaos.

The knights had their fill of slaughter that night when the inhabitants of the eastern ward were pushed past the breaking point. A huge crowd had gathered at the site of some atrocity or other before an unlucky mounted patrol could send word for reinforcements. Rising up as one, the sea of desperate and dying citizens had dragged the knights off their horses and returned back tenfold the violence they lived under every day. What he witnessed that night was even worse than anything he'd ever seen the city's occupiers do to their victims.

With few weapons at hand, the downtrodden Cestians improvised at their sudden chance for revenge, using ropes and brute force to pull one screaming soldier apart limb from limb. That one died with a string of hoarse curses on his lips as his appendages slipped from their sockets and the tendons tore free. Loose bricks at the base of a nearby building ended another soldier's life as they were smashed down, again and again, until nothing remained but pulverized skull fragments and a red paste staining the ground.

A mania set in then, as thoughts of freedom or retribution were replaced by an insane lust for violence. Something that had been simmering for far too long finally boiled over, and no one in the crowd escaped the relentless flood. Flush with their sudden success and the realization that they had superior numbers over their captors, the crowd became a mob and went on the lookout for more oppressors to bring to justice.

The response from the ward's garrison saw fifty knights moving in formation from street to street. They put down anyone unlucky enough to be caught outside, whether or not they had been involved in the killing. The first volley of arrows from the archers behind the forward position and lining the ward's walls miraculously didn't deter the sea of indignant citizens, refusing to be downtrodden that night.

It wasn't until later, after he'd gained his new secret place deep inside, that those previously brave men went running in all directions only to be hunted down and stabbed with the superior reach of spears. Hatred and bloodlust couldn't stand before the overwhelming force of a highly trained militia forever.

Realizing that being caught in a mob killing knights was tantamount to a death sentence, Myrr saw himself clambering up the side of a nearby building and breaking a window to hide in the top floor as the memory continued its relentless push forward. He felt no guilt while watching the slaughter below from just inside the shadowed building, and no desire to try to intervene. When the march of death finally passed below to move into another street, he turned around and had seen it resting there on the floor.

As though it wanted to be found. As though it knew someone would be arriving that night.

He hated to focus on the details of its form, trying to turn his remembrances away, but the thing within forced his thoughts along its outline and then mercilessly deeper within, recalling how it had been more a shallow spot within the light than an actual physical object. A stark blackness beyond that of a night without torch or candle, limned by a flickering green aura reminiscent of flames. It was there one moment and gone the next, only to return with a blink. The shape reminded him of a fist clenched in anger, but thinking back on it he could only describe it as a hole – something that dropped out of the world of light into somewhere deeper. Somewhere he had no desire to go.

With every building in the city searched more than once, he couldn't comprehend how the Knights of the Black Gauntlet had never come into this particular building before and discovered the blinking darkness. He shuddered again as the implication set in that it had a will of its own, that perhaps it had been hiding from the knights as well. He didn't know if it delighted in the mass death and chaos as the soldiers sought it, but for reasons unknown it seemed to prefer remaining out of their hands.

Knowing what came next in the memory Myrr decided to fight back, violently, conjuring images of bloodstained boots marching across cobblestones. He tried to focus his thoughts on knights shouting out orders to more efficiently track down and kill the rebellious children of Cestia. Even the memory of that soldier's arms and legs tearing apart from his body while he called down curses of hellfire would be a comfort compared to what came next.

Seeming to know when he turned his thoughts away from it, the thing inside him forced the black image into his mind, into a void where all light was dead and never existed to begin with. It didn't seem to have language of its own and couldn't whisper its desires to Myrr, but it could make its will known to him just as well with the sudden intense sensations that overcame all other feeling. Despite not knowing the thing's name, Myrr reflexively called it out before he could stop himself when that inky darkness spread across his mind's eye, shouting a sharp and painful word in an unfamiliar tongue.

The pain was more in the place his thoughts occupied than in any physical location on his body, and it remained for a singular eternal instant that seemed to drag on far longer than it had any right to. All was silent after that awful word tore free of his mouth, hushed as though waiting for some response. Before it could come, the pain faded and time flowed back into its normal ceaseless stream forward as his surroundings snapped back into focus.

All eyes in the cellar darted towards him and a deathly hush fell over the room, every muscle tensed and ready to spring into action as the refugees waited for long agonizing moments. Each lost soul in the cellar waited silently for the outer door to fling open and soldiers to come pouring in, death in hand. Silence reigned only briefly, and everyone was on their feet and ready to bolt at the sound of a sudden sharp creak from the old building above.

He'd only seen the shop owner once, knowing him as a seller of goods that no longer flowed into Cestia. With threadbare shelves and a lack of customers, the middle-aged man tended to be the only one moving about in the store, so any creak or footstep set the fugitives below on edge, maddeningly unaware of what was occurring above and whether they were about to be discovered.

Another creak groaned down, followed by another, moving across the ceiling. Their benefactor Otta slowly paced in a back and forth pattern down the length of the empty shop serving as a front for the hideout. With no harsh shouts or the sound of breaking boards following, it seemed likely the former merchant remained alone, simply continuing his pattern of pacing while muttering profanities against the forces beyond his control that saw his fortune lost.

Myrr had no idea if the man had ever taken direct part in planning or executing attacks on the knights, but simply sheltering fugitives would be enough of a crime to see his home ransacked before he was executed, should the authorities discover what was occurring in the cellar below. Remaining silent and out of view was just as much about keeping the shopkeeper above alive as it was about saving themselves. Following the slaughter during the riot and the previous safe house burned to ashes, he knew too well the cost of drawing the knights' attention.

After several long minutes, when no armed men came battering down the earthen steps with weapons drawn, the rebels went back to their business while casting occasional hateful glances towards Myrr. One of the wounded civilians stopped tending to his family members to slowly approach and quietly utter soothing words, thinking Myrr to finally be on the edge of losing his mind in the monotonous darkness. Perhaps he wasn't wrong.

Those words of comfort couldn't overcome a sudden jab of revulsion when the man passed under one of the pale shafts of light, illuminating what the price of fighting back against Cestia's occupiers could truly look like. A partially caved-in skull, terribly misshapen like a cracked egg, looked out from under the light, with the right eye socket shockingly empty. Myrr vaguely remembered one of the others had called him Casterly, a man on the run after unmercifully surviving a beating from one of those spiked maces.

Myrr tasted the name in his mouth, mulling it over to keep out the other thoughts and recalling the story he'd overheard in bits and pieces as his fellow hideaways had spoken to one another in the night. Casterly was the eldest son of Tammin, one of those fathers whose sense of familial duty had overcome his sense of self-preservation. The fool had decided to intervene when a squad of knights took an interest in his daughter. His bravery had only led to his death and his family's current flight from the authorities.

Tammin's daughter now babbled softly and incoherently to herself, knees pressed up against her body as she rocked gently back and forth. Intentions aside, the father's intervention hadn't spared her from much. Myrr couldn't help but think she'd be better off if the soldiers had been allowed to put her out of her misery after they'd finished abusing her. Listening to her garbled words and the way she seemed oblivious to all around her, his pity turned to a twisted kind of jealousy. She, at least, wasn't aware of the hell they were living in.

A sharp pain tore through that new place the blackness had excavated inside him. Apparently it didn't enjoy maudlin brooding on mercy killings or jealous thoughts of madness. Just to spite it, he wondered further if her brother would end up acting as the executioner in place of the soldiers, having to take the step of ending things if she deteriorated further.

His own recent outburst had nearly doomed them, and there was no doubt the rebels hushed away in the corner would quiet her down permanently if her soft babbling ever rose to something greater. Anyone who looked at her could see a hysterical screaming that seemed to be hidden just behind her eyes, ready to be unleashed at the wrong provocation. Myrr again wondered who was in the better position, knowing something hidden within him had just been unleashed involuntarily, and might escape again at any time.

Barely avoiding the clemency that would be offered by slipping into a comatose nothingness, she remained in a twilight state between either fully giving up her mind or fully accepting what had happened and returning to reality. In either case a mercifully swift death, whether delivered by stranger or cherished love one, seemed the inevitable outcome.

While dreaming of deaths not yet come, Myrr noticed Casterly had been whispering to him for some time, but he had no idea what words had been spoken. Aware some response was needed to assure his companions he was still in control of his own faculties, Myrr awkwardly reached out to clasp the man's shoulder. He gently squeezed before grunting an affirmation. Keeping his eyes fixed on a point just to the side of the disfigured face staring back, he hoped the gesture might set the others at ease and convince them he wasn't a threat to their safety.

The fugitive didn't trust a single other person hiding within the damp earthen walls, but he had no desire to be thrown out of the safe house, or to have his throat cut so he couldn't reveal its location to the knights. He'd seen what Cestian freedom fighters could do when given the opportunity, and abruptly the cellar felt much less safe than it had only a moment before. Even hidden away from the eyes of the authorities, his life was in danger of being violently snuffed out by those around him.

To his surprise, Casterly squatted down in the dirt next to Myrr and hung his head in his hands, sighing deeply. With sound again returning as his mental stage cleared out to make room for reality, he couldn't help but notice the utterly resigned tone in the larger man's voice when he finally asked, “How long can we really stay down here before they find us and finish what they started?”

A desire for contact with someone who wasn't directly in his head, rooting through his thoughts against his will, struggled against the quiet understanding deep within that neither of them were likely to be alive long enough to share a friendship.

Better to keep a distance than to make the mistake of caring before some new horror born of Cestia's occupation inevitably cut Casterly down. Against his better judgment, the thought was set aside. When no new stabs of sensation were forthcoming from the thing inside him and all remained calm, Myrr slowly placed his arm around the other man, who began sobbing quietly in the darkness.

Waiting for the disfigured man's tide of emotion to pass, he finally whispered back the awful truth hanging in the air unsaid, “Not long.”

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1 Comment on "Read The Full First Chapter Of 'Light Dawning'"

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xFiruath's avatar

Former Contributor

1. xFiruath writes:

If anyone is interested, added a link at the top to the second chapter premiere that just came online today. Thanks to everyone who has read so far!

# May 23, 2017 @ 5:25 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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