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Dreams of Winter (Forgotten Gods Tale #1) by Christian Warren Freed ➱ Book Tour with Giveaway

Dreams of Winter 
A Forgotten Gods Tale #1 
by Christian Warren Freed 
Genre: Epic SciFi Fantasy 

It is a troubled time, for the old gods are returning and they want the universe back…

Under the rigid guidance of the Conclave, the seven hundred known worlds carve out a new empire with the compassion and wisdom the gods once offered. But a terrible secret, known only to the most powerful, threatens to undo three millennia of progress. The gods are not dead at all. They merely sleep. And they are being hunted.

Senior Inquisitor Tolde Breed is sent to the planet Crimeat to investigate the escape of one of the deadliest beings in the history of the universe: Amongeratix, one of the fabled THREE, sons of the god-king. Tolde arrives on a world where heresy breeds insurrection and war is only a matter of time. Aided by Sister Abigail of the Order of Blood Witches, and a company of Prekhauten Guards, Tolde hurries to find Amongeratix and return him to Conclave custody before he can restart his reign of terror.

What he doesn’t know is that the Three are already operating on Crimeat.

Read Dreams of Winter now and begin your journey into the realm of the Forgotten Gods. 

Dreams of Winter Excerpts.

Autumn’s bite was crisp this year. Sharp winds blew in from the northern sea, forcing people inside. Whole fields of crops were lost to the pre-winter freeze that gripped the land. It should have been a time for celebration, a time to pay tribute to the gods for their generosity bestowed. As winter drew closer the people prepared for the worst. Not everyone chose to hide in the safety and warmth. Two friends sat on a porch, staring off into the surrounding fields. Light mist clung to ground, curling up the porch and around their ankles. Frost kissed the few leaves that had not yet fallen.
“I cannot stay here much longer,” Mollock Bolle whispered.
An angry wind blew his stringy gray hair across his face, forcing him to push it aside with a frown. Deep lines creased his face; the bags beneath his eyes were dark and haunting. He’d lost much weight over the past year. Sleep did not come easily anymore. Perhaps it was a sign of things to come, though Mollock did not believe in premonition or any such devilry.
Fenrin shook his head. “What are you talking about? You just arrived a few days ago.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Mollock distractedly replied. His dark brown eyes focused on the night. A glint of fear danced around the corners of his eyes.
The wind howled; the cry of a thousand wolves. Fenrin shivered. His small plot of land on one of the surrounding hilltops overlooking the small farming village of Parnus was one of the larger vineyards in the region. Fields of grape vines filled the gentle slope off his back porch. Frost covered those vines now, frost and the first hints of winter. A half-moon hung high in the early night sky, shying behind the stratus clouds.
“Something is going on, tell me,” Fenrin persisted. “This doesn’t sound like you.”
Mollock eyed his friend. They’d known each other for almost four decades; childhood friends in a way that no amount of time could threaten. This made Mollock more uneasy. He didn’t know how to tell Fenrin something he himself couldn’t explain.
“It is a feeling. Perhaps just a dream,” he shook his head. “I don’t know.”
Fenrin narrowed his eyes. His curiosity peaked. “What do you dream of?”
“Do you have nightmares, Fenrin?”
He wasn’t sure he liked the direction of conversation; the menace behind Mollock’s tone.  “No, not really.”
Mollock rose and went and stood at the rail of the porch. His eyes scanned the nearby tree line, watching for things that his mind screamed couldn’t exist. Every shadow haunted him, threatened his life in a special way known only to the lords of darkness.
“I do.”
Fenrin rocked uneasily in his chair. The strained squeak echoed in the empty night. Dried leaves scrapped across the porch.
“If I didn’t know you better I would say that you are starting to frighten me, old friend.”
Mollock grimaced. Not even his long years of military service prepared him for this. “You should be frightened. I am.”
His heart skipped. Fenrin felt his mouth water. Hands shaking, he reached into a pouch and drew out a long stem pipe. He packed in the tobacco and lit it, drawing deep on the soothing smoke. Fenrin wasn’t scared. If anything he was confused.
“Mollock, I never heard you speak like this. We’ve been through wars together. How many times have we stood against the enemy and come out alive?” He exhaled a thick plume of bluish smoke. “None of what you are saying is making any sense. Come back over here and have a seat. I have some wine inside. It will ease your mind some.”
Mollock Bolle smiled softly. “You have been a good friend to me, Fenrin and I have wronged you. I shouldn’t have come here.  I cannot say why, but I feel that every moment I stay here threatens you with danger. I must leave soon.”
“You still haven’t told me why.”
Mollock stared at his friend, his face drawn and severe. “They are coming for me.”
Fenrin’s face paled. He leaned forward. “Who?”
“I don’t know.”
The darkness erupted. A flock of birds fled from the nearby stand of pine trees. Fenrin opened his mouth in shock, the pipe spilling embers on the old wooden porch. Mollock spun and drew his sword. His breath came quickly. They watched as a monstrous shadow crashed through the trees, coming closer to the house. There was no subtlety, no stealth. The creature was unafraid.
Mollock fought the urge to piss on himself. He closed his eyes tight. Not again. The beast roared; a dreadful wail that withered every tree and plant around it. Its massive bulk easily batted aside trees that had grown for over a hundred years. Their thickness meant nothing to the raw power exhibited. His mighty head rose higher than the tallest tree. The air grew rank, fetid. The beast was death, and nothing on the face of the world could withstand its awesome power.
“What in the name of the gods is that?” Fenrin stammered. His words were pregnant with slowly realized fear.
Mollock shook his head in denial. He couldn’t believe he had been found so easily. He quickly regained composure. There would be time enough for chastisement in the future, hopefully. Mollock sheathed his sword. The weapon would be of no use against a creature of shadow.
“Get back inside and lock your door. Douse the lanterns. This thing won’t bother with you once I am gone. It is me it’s after.” His voice was hurried, urgent.
Fenrin rose, hand scrambling for his sword as the beast drew closer.
“Damn it man, if you ever listened to me do it now. You cannot fight this. I must run,” Mollock insisted. The harsh tone of his words broke the beast’s grip on Fenrin. “Gods willing, I will be able to come back and explain what is happening.”
“And if you don’t?” Fenrin asked.
Mollock grimaced. “Then I am dead.”
Gathering up his back and walking stick, Mollock Bolle moved to the edge of the stairs. He turned and looked back at his friend. There was much to be said, but he had not the words for it. Instead he gave a haphazard smile and said, “Winter.”
Fenrin was confused. “What does that mean?
“You asked me what I dream of. I have dreams of winter.”
And with that he was gone, just another shadow in the growing darkness. Fenrin thought to call after him, to demand an explanation. The beast in the forest cautioned otherwise. Instead Fenrin ran inside and bolted the door. Every footstep of the beast shook dust from the rafters and threatened to bring the house down around his head. He hurried to extinguish all the lanterns and candles, silently thankful he hadn’t built a fire yet. The beast stalked closer. The ground trembled. The air became fetid and rank with the odors of death. Fenrin vomited in his chamber pot. His heart raced. His hands became sweaty.
And then it too was gone. The nightmare creature of shadow was gone. Fenrin struggled to his feet and, on shaky legs, ran outside hoping to catch a glimpse of the terror. Rather than finding the beast he saw a wide swath of destruction from the forest through his vine yards. The world had turned to death and decay. Fenrin murmured a quick prayer to Aris, goddess of protection and wisdom, for his friend. He knew Mollock Bolle was a dead man without the help of the gods.
3210 A.G. (After Gods), Prophet Isle, planet Crimeat.

Boots crunched over the broken wood and stone, small dust clouds puffing up with each step. Black and highly polished, the boots whispered authority. Senior Inquisitor Tolde Breed surveyed the room with a mix of disdain and horror. Decades flashed by, sending him back to the first time he had stood in this very cell. Amongeratix had been chained and drugged, left here to rot for his crimes. Senior Inquisitor Breed had harbored deep reservations about the facility on Prophet Isle successfully containing the prisoner. After all, the Shackled Man had already escaped from the nearly impregnable prison on Keltoo, and there seemed even less security here on this populated planet.
Tolde spent the next three decades rooting out conspiracies and following rumors of dark cults working to undo the Conclave and free Amongeratix. And now, back where it had begun, his greatest fears were being realized. Tolde had known deep inside that the Blood Witch’s spells would never be enough to keep one of the Three imprisoned for long. As powerful as the witches were reputed to be, the power of the Three was much greater. He shivered at the thought of both entities colliding before refocusing on the task at hand.
The air had an iron taint. Blood. The dark substance coated large spots on the floor and walls. Ruined corpses lay at broken angles. All that remained of the guards were the empty cries in the afterlife. Amongeratix had proven why he deserved to be executed, but this did not explain how he had escaped. Tolde Breed scanned the cell, hoping for some clue, some fragment of information that might lead him back to the trail, to the hunt. Stepping over a body in the doorway, Tolde frowned. He never understood the need for senseless violence.
The wall to his left was smeared with blood as if it had been ripped open and made to bleed. Tolde gingerly ran a gloved hand over the jagged stains. Specks of dried blood flicked away on his fingertips, raining down to the floor. The body at his feet was on its back. The head twisted in an awkward angle. Tolde had no illusions that any of what had happened was his fault, but a small measure of guilt still ate at him.
“This is worse than Keltoo,” Matthias whispered from over his shoulder.
Tolde nodded. The level of violence was certainly more severe than their first encounter with the Shackled Man. There had been no mercy, no side effects from the radioactive nebula nearby. This was plain murder.
Matthias gently tapped his boot against the nearest body. A rattle escaped the corpse’s lungs followed by a thin cloud of greenish haze. “The Conclave should have let us put him down when we had the chance.”
Tolde smirked at the idea. How does one kill a force so infinitely powerful as Amongeratix proved to be? “The Conclave has their reasons for doing what they did. It is much too late to reflect on it now.”
“Do you think he is still on the planet?”
Tolde shrugged. The senior leaders of the Conclave seemed to think he was, but that didn’t make any sense. His last escape had ended with him booking transport and fleeing to another world. There was no reason to think this time would be different. Still…. “I do not know. His brother being here might keep him here longer. Amongeratix is cunning; we know that from personal experience.”
Matthias moved to the massive hole in the wall. The sheer amount of destructive force went beyond his ability to process. “Do you notice that the blast came from outside? The debris pattern goes from the wall out to the hallway.”
“I did.”
“If he was the one to break the Blood Witch spell, the force involved would have blown outward.”
Tolde squinted. “He had help in escaping, powerful help.”
More bodies, or at least what remained of them, decorated the chamber with gruesome splendor. This was not Tolde’s first time stalking through such horrors. His life as an Inquisitor took him from world to world in seemingly vain attempts at halting heresies and secret cults. More often than not, murder and death trailed in his wake. This time was different, though. Tolde felt his heart darken. Something sinister and hidden was at work here.
“What force could have done this?” Matthias asked.
The Guardsman moved to the edge of destruction and looked down. Blast marks scored the outer wall in a wide circle around what used to be the window area. His initial assessment was that it would take a large bore howitzer to blow a hole so large. Unfortunately, there was nothing so large on Crimeat.
Tolde looked sharply at the mutilated body at his feet. “I don’t think I want to know. This feels wrong.”

Christian W. Freed was born in Buffalo, N.Y. more years ago than he would like to remember. After spending more than 20 years in the active duty US Army he has turned his talents to writing. Since retiring, he has gone on to publish 17 military fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as his memoirs from his time in Iraq and Afghanistan. His first published book (Hammers in the Wind) has been the #1 free book on Kindle 4 times and he holds a fancy certificate from the L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.

Passionate about history, he combines his knowledge of the past with modern military tactics to create an engaging, quasi-realistic world for the readers. He graduated from Campbell University with a degree in history and is pursuing a Masters of Arts degree in Military History from Norwich University. He currently lives outside of Raleigh, N.C. and devotes his time to writing, his family, and their two Bernese Mountain Dogs. If you drive by you might just find him on the porch with a cigar in one hand and a pen in the other. 

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