This is an excerpt from a rough draft of book 4 in The Jelindal Chronicles.

Chapter 1 - Paraworld Killers

Rumours of death came to Sezel in the late spring of 2133. By mid-morning of the next day the rumours had grown to encompass daemons, ogres and other such monsters, all razor-sharp teeth, lightning speed, and ravenous appetites. Two things gave these rumours more credibility than the usual wild imaginings of bored people trying to impress their bored friends, however. One was a consistent reference to the attackers from the sky. The other was the large amount of blood and shredded flesh splattered about at the scene of each attack. Whatever the nature of the attacker, it was a messy eater.

The help of the young but learned mage Jelindel dek Mediesar was sought, and she arrived three weeks later with her warrior companion, Daretor. The city Governor, the ailing steward Duke Vereux, had engaged them to rid the city of this menace in the cause of civic order and the municipal peace-so that thriving trade, increased profits and healthy taxation revenue could be restored. While the markets ran during the day, the stalls were stocked and set up at night. Being eaten alive was quite a good incentive for stallholders to take their trade elsewhere, or merely work shorter hours.

Jelindel was a mage of some repute. Her career had begun the moment her parents, court nobles of some esteem and influence, were murdered by a renegade mage known as Fa’red. Jelindel had learned to survive in the streets and markets, developing her magical skills during many perilous adventures. She had fallen in with Daretor, a master swordsman with an inflexible sense of honour, and a street thief named Zimak, whose integrity was about as solid as a child’s sand castle on a beach with a very severe storm approaching. As unlikely a trio as they were, they had become an effective team, and in recent times had begun to hire out their magical and martial skills to those in need.

Jelindel soon realised that the pattern of attacks involved what could be called a flight path: each victim had been in a long street, usually those stretching north to south. For the most part, only ragged bits and pieces of the victims had been found strewn about, as though they had been ripped apart hurriedly. Whatever it was, it was anxious to get on with the business of eating. No one was taken in cul-de-sacs or in narrow lanes with high walls on either side. It was as if great eagles were involved, the kind with broad wingspans that prefer to swoop down on their prey.

Standing at the scene of the most recent attack, Jelindel gazed north along the canyon created by the cityscape of street and buildings. A mile away, looming over the city, were the stark and ragged cliffs of Enak. To the east a fortress had been built into the cliff face, and here the Duke resided. On those ancient battlements, as forbidding as the cliffs that hung above them, were further sites of attack and dismemberment. Not even the rich and powerful were safe, something which seemed to offend the old Duke far more than the loss of some of his citizens. Monsters were bad enough, but monsters that did not know their place were simply the final straw.

‘What are you thinking?’ asked Daretor, shading his eyes from the hot equatorial sun. He was sweating profusely and although he had just drunk what felt like a gallon of water during breakfast, he was already thirsty again.