What evil intended to harm you... ... can become something far more terrible.
Rise of Dresca
The Draemeir Chronicle Book 1
by Tim McKay
Genre: YA Dark Fantasy Horror
From the pits of an ancient darkness, a new power is rising.
Ceremai has fallen.
After a decade of struggle for independence, a fledgling nation collapses under the unrelenting force of invasion.
Join an unlikely band of allies on a journey beset by shadow and intrigue, pulled by the strings of fate to the source of a new evil.
A lord’s daughter turns assassin. An orphan girl discovers her power. A captain plots in vain.
And the last soldier of Ceremai finds his destiny.
Witness the dawn of a new age, and learn if what evil intended for harm…
… can become something far more terrible.
of Dresca is the first book of the Draemeir Chronicle.
In the land of Naevoroth, a new power is rising.
And it’s yours for the taking.
Elaryn pressed her back against the sharp cliff rocks, panting as she sucked in the stale, toxic air. Her team, huddled together around the corner, felt the fumes scraping their lungs as much as she did. They wouldn’t have thought much of her forced, frantic breathing. They didn’t know.
They had to die.
She’d been planning these murders for months, but her resolve was untested. She knew there’d be no going back, and once it started, she’d have to be quick.
A crashing force shook the cliffside. Elaryn heard a few stifled screams as she fell onto her hands and knees. Her ears were ringing and her vision blurred, but she turned to take in the chaos. Four members of the team were bloodied masses scattered around the small crater where her pack had been. Good. There needed to be blood. Her heart raced, but the cold edge to her inner voice was unnerving.
Vorsha, the Selvan envoy leading the mission, began to stir and whimper a few paces away. Elaryn charged, covering the distance in seconds and driving her knee into the woman’s face. Vorsha’s head snapped back and cracked loudly against a rock. Shrapnel wounds peppered her abdomen and stained her scarlet dress a deeper crimson. She wouldn’t be trouble. Five down.
One last kill. Elaryn knew this one would be the hardest. She stepped over the corpse by her feet, boots dripping blood that pooled in charcoal sand. She left the woman’s eyes open, her face already pale with death. Evil like this didn’t deserve peace.
But Paltess was different. The boy was seventeen, just five years her junior. And she couldn’t be sure he was compromised. Unlike the others.
Paltess stood a dozen paces away, trapped between narrow obsidian cliffs. He stumbled backward and turned as Elaryn drew a crescent knife from her belt. He ran, then seemed to remember his pistol between strides. He faltered while grabbing it from his holster and turned halfway around before a spinning blade slashed his throat.
The boy toppled and the pistol went off with a hissing snap. The lead ball hit the rocks and small shards of black glass shattered down the cliffside with crystal pings.
Elaryn stepped closer. She cleared her mind and tried not to look away as the boy twitched in the sand. She was learning that people can bleed out far longer than she imagined. The stories always made death sound quick.
Now for the hard part. Elaryn scanned the rocks for a way up before spotting a narrow gap between the obsidian spikes. The rocks looked sharp, and for a moment she rubbed her palms together. Her black leather gloves were made for style and were ready to tear in a few spots. She’d have to risk it.
A loud shriek from behind settled the matter. She scooped up her knife and scrambled to the cliff, wiping Paltess’s blood onto a spare cloth she tossed aside once the blade was clean. She put her back to the wall and checked the rear passage. Nothing. But if the raptors had found the first bodies, they’d be here soon enough.
Elaryn took one last look at Paltess, eyes glazed over and staring at her with blank accusation. It had to be done. She pushed back any remaining hesitation, slipped her knife into its black crescent scabbard, and reached up with her other hand for the nearest ledge. Sharp rock pressed into her glove without piercing, and she risked more weight as she propped herself up with one foot on the other side of the gap. A few quick maneuvers and she was back on solid ground.
Dry heat and grey ash battered Elaryn from every direction. Outside the shelter of the cliffs, the air was thick with sickly orange smog painted by the sun’s glare. She could make out rolling mounds of black and grey a few dozen paces ahead before the smog grew too thick to penetrate. She’d keep the sun to her back and press on.
An ear-splitting shriek sounded above and Elaryn rolled aside. She almost fell back down into the gap and braced herself in time to watch a raptor swoop down through the spot she’d been. Its grey reptilian wing clipped her cheek as it flew by, and the creature crashed into the rocks as it attempted to change course. Sharp talons lashed out and its neck lunged up like an eel before the monster fell over the edge, leaving a trail of black blood on the rocks.
How I Got Here
If you’ve seen my head pop up on social media, you probably already know this about me: I used to be a pastor.
I like to tell people I still care about good and evil, and that makes being a fantasy author feel like the most right thing in the world.
I’ve always been a daydreamer. And like every young daydreamer who grew up on Star Wars and Lord of the Rings (I was the 10-year-old kid who yelled “Cooool!!” in the theater when Strider cut off the lead uruk’s head), I started writing my own fiction.
My best friend at the time took one look at my first page and said it was rubbish. He was probably (definitely) right. But I was the sensitive kid, and never put pen to paper on my story again.
And other than teaching you how to write useless 5-paragraph essays, our school systems aren’t exactly writer-friendly. Half the tips and tricks that helped me become the writer I am today, I learned in the last 2 or 3 years. And that’s after a theology degree, a history degree, a master’s in public policy, and a semester in business school.
Yeah, lots of school…
I should have been taught what I know now by age 12, if we did things right. I firmly believe writing is a skill, not just an innate talent, and it’s a skill we should teach as early as possible.
Anyways, I became a pastor instead. Okay, it wasn’t that linear a journey, and the tale is a long one.
The short version: I got caught up in the moment. But once I care about something, I’m all in. I was the guy in “Bible college” people came to with questions about the Bible. Seriously.
The journey away from all that was just as long, but in the end, I’d seen too much. And I saw too little of the things that mattered.
I realize how vague that sounds, so here’s what it came to in a nutshell: I stopped believing in ministry (being a pastor) well before I stopped believing in God. I got tired of asking church crowds, many of them struggling, to pay my salary for work I didn’t believe in.
Don’t get me wrong - I cared deeply about the people I served, and I really do believe I made a meaningful impact on a lot of lives.
But so much of that was just being and doing what the world needs more of, with or without faith: kindness, empathy, and a firm belief in the potential of others even when others fail to see it.
And leaving that behind, however sure I
am it was the right decision, was one of the hardest transitions I’ve
ever gone through. Some days, I’m still going through it.
Let’s fast forward.
I did a lot of editing work for academic and student journals during my studies, and eventually took some online courses that really helped hone my writing into something legible. Before that, I wrote like most academics: flowery, convoluted, name-dropping drivel devoid of real substance.
Sorry. I know plenty of academics are incredible writers. But again, we fail to teach the skills to get there. The few who do are prodigies who I salute.
This was around the time I was diagnosed with ADHD (at age 29). Not so much on the hyperactive side (though you should have seen me at age 5 after sneaking a glass of Nesquik chocolate milk - sorry, Mom). But when it comes to inattention and processing speed, I’m in the bottom 6 percent.
Where I scored high during those assessments (and on similar measures used for standardized testing to get into business school) was in reading, writing, comprehension, logic — all that jazz.
I’ve always believed in finding the sweet spot between learning new skills and playing to your strengths. My diagnosis and testing results, along with the writing skills I’d picked up that year, made me think my 10-year-old self hadn’t been so far off the mark.
So I made another transition, this time from business to professional writing (yeah, I know, MORE school). The program was an even split between business and creative writing, which meant I got to continue my business studies WHILE stepping my foot into the world of fantasy writing.
And now I had a story to tell.
Once I started, I couldn’t stop. All those years of daydreaming, struggle, trauma, heartache, joy, and meaning — every wayward step along the way, every victory, every beautiful experience — it all rushed out in a deluge I couldn’t control (and didn’t want to).
For the first time, it was like the journey made sense. And what you’re about to read in my book is the result.
I hope you’ll enjoy this first step into that story. I had only one driving principle as I wrote: create an evocative and meaningful experience for you, my reader.
I mean, there’s also all that other good stuff: monsters, dragons, magic, swordplay, hints of romance, and of course, the eternal struggle against evil, the collective and individual struggle for our right to thrive.
But beneath all that, I wanted to pull you into the dream of fantasy, to feel the magic for yourself and wake up believing it was real.
Cheers, and enjoy!
Tim McKay is a writer, editor, and marketer from Ottawa, Canada. He used to be a pastor, still cares about good and evil, and still strives to create meaningful experiences for others. He has degrees in history, theology, and public policy, along with a diploma in professional writing, but likes nothing more than hiking in the woods, running along the Rideau Canal, and connecting with the people he loves. Oh, and reading a good book.