SGT. THOR the Bold: A Military Fantasy Adventure
One Ranger Leads the Way
A U.S. Army Ranger sniper finds himself on his own and on the move far downrange and beyond the wire in an epic fantasy world filled with deadly monsters and dangerous foes in a total battle royale for glory, hoard… and flat-out survival.
Adrift on the Sea of Riddles and lost in a dangerous world of epic fables, Sgt. Thor and his anti-materiel sniper rifle, Mjölnir, must survive brutal pirates, darkest sorcery, and a catastrophic shipwreck on a strange island steeped in arcane mystery and containing the remains of a lost civilization guarding an ancient artifact of great and terrible power.
Grim enemies and intrigue abound…
In order to defeat a Pirate Necromancer and his army from the east seeking to manipulate a battle between the warring Fates, this elite tip-of-the-spear warrior must use his modern warfighter skills and battle-tested leadership to forge an unlikely savage fighting force to pit against heavily armed enemies all too real, and for some… far more fantastic than the myths and epics of a long-ago past.
In a dangerous fantasy world one man must move farther, faster, and fight harder than foes seeking to kill him with might, magic, treachery and by whatever means possible. But U.S. Army Rangers don’t die easily.
Swords and Sorcery meet Modern Warfare in this epic fantasy world both familiar and new.
Find your edge… follow the bloody path blazed by Sergeant Thor!
Release date: October 31, 2023
Publisher: WarGate Books
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SGT. THOR the Bold: A Military Fantasy Adventure
Thor’s muscled back and calloused hands labored against the strain of the oars beneath the glare of a pitiless sun that cared little for the struggles of men. That burning ball of fire beat down mercilessly on the small, time-weathered boat and the bright and shimmering ocean spreading away in all directions like some endless piece of beaten armor, stretching into nothing but the merging of sea and sky. There was some wind for the thin sail, but the patchwork canvas the craft had come with had been destroyed in a sudden squall that came up in the late afternoon three days ago and drove the small rowboat, and the hulking man at the oars, south and further into the measureless depths of the Gulf of Riddles.
Or so the rumors called this place in the absence of credible maps.
The storm had been violent, tossing and turning the man and the boat like a giant’s plaything, and the man at the oars had barely survived its fury when it thundered at its full tempest.
But the man was a Ranger, and he had known other, worse storms, in his time under the sun.
It was the old wiry fisherman who’d traded for the craft on the beaches east of the Kingdom of Sût in the Lands of Black Sleep who had told the hulking man that the sea in the east was called Bahr Al'Alghaz.
The Sea of Riddles.
And that on the other side of it lay the fabled City of Thieves.
“But east is evil and who would go such a way, stranger?” muttered the old fisherman as he took the shining trinket the hulking man at the oars had offered in trade for the tiny boat and the patchwork sail.
It was clear the hulking stranger would. But he said little, and why was none of Kamir the Fisherman’s business in these strange days growing stranger all the time.
Blackest night would come soon here on the ocean, and there were strange and brooding islands in the distance, but the rowing would be hard and the currents were strong here in the deeps of the vast and silent gulf. The hulking man felt the oars thump against his chest as he pulled at them and realized he’d fallen asleep at the pulling.
Continuing to row even as he did so because his body knew nothing else but the dip and pull of these instruments of torment, his great back heaving, his arms pulling. Again, and again, and again…
His huge lats ached. His massive forearms screamed. His taut and well-muscled back felt as though it were made of tempered steel, forged and forged again by a giant who could never be satisfied by the folds he had beaten himself.
A lone and ugly sea bird came and sat on the prow for a moment, staring and barking at the hulking man with its hoarse sea craw of a call. The man looked up and around, the spell of his slumber shaken off. Those dark islands that had been in the distance were now gone, and the day was earlier than it had been when last he’d checked the horizon. He wondered how long he’d fallen into that deep sleep while rowing. Endless rowing.
Muttering and dreaming.
He took the last of the bait he’d saved, let out some of his line and bent to the oars once more. In time he caught a bright and beautiful fish. He gutted it, rinsed it, and threw it into the bottom of the old boat, taking a moment to stand and stretch muscles that seemed locked and tight from the endless rowing. The hulking man took a deep breath, scanned the distant sun-washed horizon, and then spotted the black sails growing on the water to his rear.
The dirty gray sea bird, not the kind found near ports, crowed at him again, begging for the caught fish on the bottom of the craft.
“Pelican,” rumbled the hulking man to himself and not the bird. Identifying and knowing it to be a long hauler that could fly for many, many miles across the sea and that its presence was no indication there was land of any kind nearby. Perhaps a slender spit, or a thin sandbar… maybe. But nothing of meaning, or harbor.
A galley of some sort. Low to the water. Oars pulling hard, and it was clear they were coming for him.
“Oh yes,” the spidery little brown fisherman who’d plied the coasts and sold the hulking man the boat had said. “There are pirates out there in the gulf indeed, stranger. There is nothing good that way. East is cursed, my friend. Everyone knows that is such. That east is curst.”
But the hulking man’s command of the local language had never been good, so perhaps the fisherman had said something else.
Now there were black sails on the low galley cutting across the water… coming for him and the tiny boat.
The hulking man stowed the oars as the low and sleek galley surged through the distant emerald waters to reach him. Coming for him. The wind was coming up too, blowing salt and sea into his broad and stone-cut face as he stood, stretched, rolled his massive shoulders. Flexed his powerful arms. The wind whipped at his blond hair and beard.
His gear was in the lone dry bag he’d brought with him. No need for that now, he thought, and slid the massive knife from the sheath on his thigh. He was shirtless and his chest was covered in rippling, powerful muscles. He bent, grabbing the small tuna he’d gutted when he’d caught it. With a quick and decisive stroke, he hacked its head off and tossed that to the barking pelican on the prow of the little boat. The pelican snapped at the remains and swallowed them grotesquely, calling out indignantly as it did so.
The hulking man skinned the rest of the tuna, washed the meat in seawater. Bent to the small sewn sack he’d taken from the market in the bazaar on the shore before he’d left. He found a lime, cut it in half, and squeezed it effortlessly all over the glistening red flesh of the tuna.
He had salt from the MREs he’d been issued before leaving the Rangers in Sûstagul. He fished in one of the pockets of his sun-worn and tattered Crye Precisions and found a packet of salt. He also found a small bottle of Tabasco but thought he would save that for some meal less palatable than fresh tuna.
Tuna was good.
All one needed was fresh-caught tuna, lime, and salt.
He salted the tuna and ate fast, taking huge bites of the ruby-red flesh, standing and watching the black-sailed galley pull herself closer and closer to his little boat.
To the hulking man, its progress through the water seemed like a panting animal sensing an easy kill in the offing. He was a warrior, and no ordinary warrior at that. A Ranger. Best of the best. From ten thousand years ago before the world was the way it would become, and was now. Revealed. And he’d been in many battles before. He’d seen the sightless dead stacked who’d thought an easy kill was what the day offered them, instead of what had been given out in the end by the Ranger and his brothers.
The hulking man had handed out a lot of death in his time. And he would hand out more.
He’d learned to trust his intuition more than maps and intel. He could smell a fight in the day even if the briefings promised none. He could sense it like some people watched the skies and smelled rain.
He knew that part about him was strange. That sixth sense for slaughter and warfare. And when he’d led Rangers as team leader and an NCO, he’d kept that part of himself from them. He’d simply made sure they were ready even if all signs indicated no combat.
But he knew. It wasn’t rain he smelled, but bad intentions. And this was what made him cunning. And dangerous.
He finished the fish, feeling the protein restore the savaged muscles that had done the rowing. He turned to the last of his water, and there was precious little left of it, but he drank it anyway because there was a fight coming soon.
The Ruin was like that. It wasn’t like the world Before.
It would be a fight when the ship came alongside, and so he drank all the water for the fighting that certainly would come.
He bent to retrieve the old leather belt and scabbard that had been made for the cruel and brutal chunk of steel he carried for a sword. The Bastard. He strapped that around his slender yet powerful waist and rested his giant assault-gloved hand on its worn grip.
The sword, like his other weapon in the dry bag, felt right on his body. He drew the blade up a little, making sure it would pull easy when the time came, clearing leather and free for action.
There was magic in the blade, but the old wizard that had gone with the Rangers had never been able to quite determine what it was exactly, just that it was there, and that could be dangerous either way.
“Some swords are more than the wielder bargained for in the drawing,” old Vandahar had remarked over his long-stemmed pipe. His faraway eyes roving over knowledge not spoken.
So the hulking man had never counted on the hidden magic in the blade, if there was any, and counted on it only for cutting and the slaughter that found him. What good was uncertain knowledge to the hulking man? Certain knowledge was that the blade he called the Bastard cut deep and swift and that he had once used it to kill a thing some called a god back in an ancient temple when the Rangers stormed a desert port city.
The black sails above the low galley were reefed, and the long banks of rowing oars took over as the ship with the cruel face of a proud harpy for a battering ram and prow closed. Men—ugly, scarred, tattooed, and adorned with weapons—clamored to the side to get a better look at the hulking man standing in the small boat here in the middle of the sea far from safety and port.
There were perhaps forty of them.
They catcalled to him, and though the hulking man didn’t speak their odd mish-mashed sea languages, he could make out their intentions. To them, he was in big trouble. To them, he was prey. He would slave for them and pull at their oars, and they would take his things and make him a captive.
As if to cement this impression, the bodies of other lifeless ragged men were dropped off the aft section of the galley as it came alongside. The dropped bodies neither flailed in the water nor tried to swim or float on the deep. They were dead and they lay lifeless and spinning in the currents, having rowed themselves to death in all the days it took for this final severance to finally arrive for them.
The Ruin is a hard and cruel place.
The motley pirates catcalled more and waved their weapons, noting the big sword the big man strapped. They would have that too and perhaps even dice for it.
A net was cast over the side, and it was clear they wanted him to climb up its thick ropes and become their prisoner. Climb up and be received to his doomed fate until it was his time to spin lifelessly on the face of the deep. Archers in the rigging, slight and spindly, pulled short bows nocked with arrows they kept in clutches between their gold-capped teeth. Their intentions, too, were clear. They’d pincushion him in seconds if the hulking man didn’t go along with the plan, regardless of his failure to understand the sailors’ pidgin of foreign and strange sea talk. He would board and surrender to his fate at the oars. Or be shot to death.
To them he was just prey. Another take from the sea this day. They were pirates, and this was the way of all things. Everyone must play their parts.
Slaves and rogues. Prey and predator.
To the hulking man, Sergeant Thor, US Army Ranger, they were already dead.
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