A tale of action, adventure, heroism, horror and sorcery…
BEYOND NIGHT pulls back the veil of nearly two thousand years of jaded history. Come trod in the bloody footprints left by monsters, soldiers and wizards and behold what lies hidden BEYOND NIGHT itself.
It’s Bigfoot War mixed with Lovecraftian horror on the edge of the Roman Empire.
How could Rome lose a Legion? What could’ve happened to blot out the existence of over five thousand men not only form history but the Earth itself?
As the Legion moves north to engage the forces of Pictdom, a dark horror emerges from the bowels of the Earth. Thought to be random attacks by hulking monsters, Decurion August soon learns a dire truth, that these bloody events are directed by opposing the wizards of the Picts. While one side assembles all tribes in a confederated army to battle the Legion, the other pulls these Greyman beasts from the depths of the Earth.
August fights not only these creatures and workers of magicks, but internal passions in the Legion itself.
Can he discover a way to survive the enormous bloodletting about to take place that will only serve to satisfy the wizards of Pictdom?
“Bloody battles, Roman legions, Pictish armies, supernatural entities and the mist covered hills of my homeland… how could I fail to be charmed? Fans of David Gemmell will lap up this earthy, brutal fantasy.” – William Meikle, The Ghost Club
“Vivid Lovecraftian horror set on the northern fringe of the Roman Empire. A powerful book with very real soldiers—and definitely not for the squeamish.” – David Drake, Hammer’s Slammers
And now for the cover reveal!
We present to you the work of Ben Baldwin for Beyond Night.
Beyond Night Chapter 1 Sample:
General Malitus didn’t care for how his day began. He had been roused from a drunken sleep due to the arrival of a frantic messenger. The rider, sliding down from the frothy horse like he’d been born to perform the act, announced himself from the scouting party, one dispatched ahead of Malitus’ Legion at Eboracum.
The General sat on a folding bench and frowned as he listened to the report. The messenger, a young man of barely eighteen by the look of him, wasn’t familiar to Malitus. His breaths came out hurried, and the youth spoke so quick Malitus reprimanded him twice with sharp words. Head still full of wine, the General tried to even out his thoughts. His mouth dry, Malitus reached for some morning wine. His head throbbed as a dire fear swam in the messenger’s eyes beyond the uneasiness of one so low ranked reporting to a General. That fright ran deeper and more primal, Malitus mused, as if the hounds of Tartartus themselves chewed at the puppy’s heels during the long journey back to Briton territory. The city of Eboracum, where Malitus’ quartered the Legion for the time being, sat near the border of the land of Caledonia where the wild Picts roamed.
“Enough boy,” Malitus ordered, weary of the broken attempts to speak and cursing his own swimming mind. “Am I to understand the cause of all your spirited words this morning is that one of the scouting parties has met a rather untoward end?”
The youth nodded vigorously, looking from the General to the two other military men emerging to flank him in the large tent. “Yes, sir. Decurion Arminius requests you come see yourself at once.”
Malitus bit down his anger and sipped the wine. His face contorted at the sour nature of it, but this beverage ran typical of what the soldiery drank.
“August,” he said aloud and rubbed his brow with his thumb and index fingers.
“August Arminius,” said the taller of the two officers, “for all his faults, truly acts as the best cavalry commander and judge of advanced scouts we have at our disposal.”
Malitus muttered, “Thank you, Ralta, I know who he is.” He turned to the shorter officer on his right and muttered, “A bad end? Are there men dead up there, Quintus?”
The officer shrugged and waved at the messenger.
The youth nodded again, fast.
Malitus sighed loud. “I assigned Arminius to use his men in order to avoid these kinds of problems.”
Quintus’ brow furrowed, but his look grew intense. “Arminius is a veteran, even if he’s a mutt German. He’s the best horseman we have and his instincts are better than a hound’s.”
“Scouts sometimes die, sir,” the taller man to his left offered and rolled his eyes at Quintus words.
Malitus turned, glaring at the taller man. “Mind your attitude, Ralta. August has served under me for several years now, and very well.” Though he didn’t extol the fact, the General understood August and he had never become high-quality friends, but he did hold the cavalry auxiliary leader in high regard when it came to the man’s abilities.
Ralta made a fake bow at Quintus. “Forgive me greatly, Quintus Pilate.”
Quintus’ look at Ralta soured. “Arminius’ job was a simple one. He and his detachment were to travel ahead of the Legion proper, out of Eboracum, and serve as not only its advance eyes but also to attack as bait for any locals in the region who were brave enough to go up against Roman might. His auxiliary force in the forward position must be compromised.”
Malitus sipped more wine and sighed. “I hadn’t actually thought there would be any who were foolish enough to try to oppose them, but the Picts of Caledonia are an unpredictable lot.”
Ralta seemed unable to stop smiling as he stated, “The 9th Legion, a battle hardened one, strides to action composed of veterans and men who know death well. I think a few of them have Death nicknamed.”
The General declared, “The 9th prepares to march out of our base here at Eboracum soon to head north again and I won’t have it delayed long. Certainly not by what was more likely the work of a lucky group of bandits than any real military threat. I shall hear what happened to our forces beyond August’s camp.”
The messenger nodded and wanted to back out of the tent, but he stayed put.
Quintus said, “The 9th had better get on the move or they would never reach their intended destination in the time allotted by the emperor.”
Ralta pursed his lips. “Do you think Hadrian will really visit this Isle in the next year? Such a trip for him seems based in words, not actuality.”
Malitus spat a curse, and a mouthful of wine, before saying, “It’s too early to talk wretched politics.”
He quickly moved to the door and left his quarters in the Scamnum Legatorum. His eyes beheld what his ears had heard before, that a bulk of the 9th assembled in the heart of the city, preparing for review, to be told when to march. Quintus Pilate and Ralta flanked him again in the yard of the Praetentura. They were officers upon whom he knew he could depend. The messenger was still present, and Malitus chose to ignore him.
Malitus turned to Quintus. “Ready my personal guard and a small group of your best cavalrymen.”
“Are you sure that is wise sir?” Ralta challenged him, his humor faded. “We haven’t heard what happened out there yet. If there is a large force of Picts afoot…”
Malitus glared at Ralta. “When I want your opinion, I will ask for it. I am neither so old nor feeble that I cannot ride or wield a sword.”
The General heard Quintus snicker at the good natured, if edged, rebuke he gave Ralta. If they were not all familiar with each other, then one could almost describe the relationship between Ralta and Quintus as that of blood enemies. Such was often the relationship between leaders of infantry and cavalry. Ralta believed Quintus a pompous showman and Quintus thought Ralta to be a simpleton. Their affections for one another did nothing to interfere with the effectiveness of the 9th’s operations, however, so Malitus tolerated it. The two men were soldiers and had spilt blood together.
Beyond that, they were brothers, though one could not judge them so by their appearances. Ralta, a tall, hard man, his shoulders wide and his jaw sat firmly as if carved in stone. The skin of his arms stretched tight around the masses of muscles underneath it, while Quintus had the appearance of a pampered scribe. He was thin and much shorter than his brother. Anyone meeting his gaze could see the fierce intellect that dwelt within him. He relied on speed and guile whereas Ralta was nothing short of a powerhouse of brute strength and determination.
As Quintus departed, Malitus returned his attention to Ralta, shaking a finger at the giant. “And no, you’re not coming with us either.”
Ralta’s expression was a tightly drawn rictus of rage but Malitus knew the big man would challenge him no further. “As you wish, sir.”
“I need you here to get the Legion moving. We are already behind and cannot afford more delays. The emperor is expecting progress with quelling the Pict threats into Briton since the last trip up north. I’ll not have our reputation tarnished. Channel that fury within you toward the men. It will surely motivate them to move all the more quickly.”
Ralta’s scowl slid into a wicked smile. “I imagine it will sir. I imagine it will.”
“Good,” Malitus laughed, slapping Ralta’s shoulder. “I will not be coming back to comfortable quarters soon. I expect you and the greater part of the Legion to catch up to us on the road to this place within a few days. Do I make myself clear?”
“As a sunny day, sir,” Ralta acknowledged the command, looking across the sky at two dark birds lazily flying across the open sky. “Severus?” He called out to a centurion nearby, standing at the ready, lance in hand.
“Yes, sir?” Severus answered, still at attention.
Malitus followed in the direction Quintus had headed, but turned his head to hear Ralta ask, “Is it ordinary for ravens to fly in pairs?”
Severus said something about thinking the animals Ralta saw were crows, but the General ignored the rest.
*Cover, sample chapter provided by the publisher*