Jim Melvin

The Death Wizard Chronicles

Book 3

Near the end of Book 2, the ruined snow giant named Mala engages in battle with the great dragon Bhayatupa. Mala is nearly killed, but he escapes and eventually is rescued and healed by the sorcerer Invictus and his minions. This scene occurs early in Book 3 titled Shadowed by Demons.

ON THE SAME day that Jord first met the snow giants, the brother of Yama-Utu—now known as the monster Mala—lay shivering and incoherent in a cave behind a waterfall. It was the morning after his vicious battle with the great dragon Bhayatupa, and Mala was near death.

But he would not succumb on this day. Invictus would see to that.

A band of Mogol warriors found Mala and began his rescue. Blood as foul as poison oozed from a gash on the side of his head and from a dozen other places on his huge frame. His chain glowed sporadically, spewing globules of molten liquid that killed several Mogols trying to rescue him. But the warriors were not deterred, for Invictus had given them orders, and they knew he was watching them even now. They finally managed to drag Mala through a tunnel that led out the back of the cave. Afterward, they built a great litter. It took ten men to hoist him onto it.

Shadowed By Demons - screenBhayatupa had slaughtered the dracools and the Sampati that had been summoned to aid Mala during his search for Torg and Laylah, but several hundred ravens had survived the assault. Some of these had returned to Avici and alerted Invictus of his general’s dire situation. Some flew back and forth, reporting all that they saw from the skies.

The rescue of Mala was slow, even with a team of wolves dragging the litter. All the rest of that day and night, they managed only two leagues. At that rate, Mala would be long dead before they reached the Golden City. But the next day around noon, another Sampati and a dracool landed nearby. Invictus climbed off the dracool. A thin, muscular pilot leapt off the crossbred condor and quickly roped one of its massive legs to the stump of a tree.

As Invictus approached, the Mogols fell to the ground and buried their faces in the grass, not daring to move. A happy band of crickets stopped chirping, a bubbling spring slowed to a crawl, and a frisky breeze lost its way, no longer rustling the spring leaves, as if Invictus’ mere presence turned off even nature’s sound effects.

With surprising tenderness, Invictus climbed onto the litter and placed his hand on Mala’s boulder-sized forehead. “My dear, loyal pet. I’m sorry you’ve been through so much and that it took me so long to come to you. But do not doubt that I will avenge you. Bhayatupa will become my puppet, before all is said and done.”

The Chain Man moaned but did not open his eyes.

Invictus turned to the Mogols. “You have done well, and you will be rewarded. But you are no longer needed here. Return to Avici and await further orders.”

As if in relief, the wolves and Mogols fled. Only the dracool, the Sampati, and the pilot remained. The man came forward, his wiry limbs trembling.

“Do you wish me to leave?”

“I have need of you,” Invictus said. “Come here now.”

“My liege?”

“I have need of you.”

The pilot hesitated. “I should stay near the Sampati, my liege. It has a wild temperament.”

“Do you disobey me?”

“No, my liege. I would never dare such a thing. It’s just that . . .”

“Come here.”

“Yes, my liege.”

The pilot stumbled forward, finally clambering onto the litter and staring into Invictus’ brown eyes.

“Give me your hand,” Invictus said.

“Yes, my liege.” The pilot held out his right arm.

“You must have misunderstood my command,” Invictus said. “Must I repeat it?”

“My liege?”

Invictus sighed. Then he grabbed the pilot’s forearm and spat a ball of yellow mucus onto his wrist. The flesh sizzled, and the hand fell onto Mala’s chest, its fingers still wiggling.

While the pilot howled in agony, Invictus calmly said, “If you wish to live, give me your hand.”

“Yes . . . yes . . .” the pilot managed to mumble. He reached down with his remaining hand, picked up the severed one, and gave it to Invictus.

“Very good,” Invictus said. “Now you are free to go.”

The pilot scrambled off the litter and ran, disappearing into the woods. Invictus could hear him emptying the contents of his stomach somewhere beyond the trees. He returned his attention to his prized servant.

“Everything’s going to be all right, my general. You saved my life. Now I’ll save yours.”

Invictus’ body glowed. In a slow and controlled fashion, the severed hand began to melt, dripping liquid globs of flesh, blood, and bone. Invictus held it over Mala, allowing the steamy goo to ooze into the Chain Man’s wounds.

“My most loyal servant deserves nothing but the best,” Invictus whispered tenderly.

Mala groaned, and his eyelids fluttered. Suddenly the ruined snow giant tore away the restraints that bound him to the litter and sat upright. Even in a seated position, he towered over Invictus.

“Where am I? What’s happening?”

“You are with me. I am healing you.”

Deep within Mala’s tortured subconscious, did Yama-Deva briefly emerge? The once-beautiful creature looked down at Invictus and seemed to recoil. Then tears sprang from his eyes.

Invictus didn’t care. “Tears of joy, my general? Yes, I have healed you. You and I have much to celebrate.”

The Chain Man smiled broadly, his blood-red fangs glistening in the sunlight, his black tongue stabbing the air like a serpent’s. “My king. You have not forsaken me. I feared you would be angry over my failure.”

“Angry? Never. I love you. You did your best, my pet. Rejoice! Your dreams will come true, I promise you.”

Mala stood shakily.

Invictus reached up and clasped one of the Chain Man’s fingers. Like a tiny father with a colossus for a son, they walked through the field toward their mounts. The Chain Man climbed aboard the Sampati, Invictus the dracool, and side by side they flew back to Avici.

About The Author

Jim Melvin

Jim Melvin was an
award-winning journalist at
the St. Petersburg Times for
twenty-five years. As a reporter,
he specialized in science,
nature, health and fitness,
and he wrote about
everything from childhood
drowning to erupting volcanoes.
Jim is a student of
Eastern philosophy and
mindfulness meditation,
both of which he weaves
extensively into his work.
Jim is the author of
The Death Wizard Chronicles,
a six-book epic fantasy
for mature audiences.

About my Publisher

The Death Wizard Chronicles
is published
by Bell Bridge Books,
an imprint of BelleBooks, Inc.
Bell Bridge Books is known for
nurturing emerging
fiction voices
as well as being the
“second home”
for many established authors,
who continue to publish
with major publishing