The Hero’s Journey
Cole woke some time after tenth bell. His head pounded and his mouth tasted foul. A glance at the vomitstained clothes strewn over the floor of his cramped sleeping quarters confirmed his worst fears.
What hour had it been when he’d left the Gorgon to stumble home in the rain? He couldn’t remember the short walk back to his modest apartment. He could recall only fragments of the preceding four hours or so he’d spent drinking himself into oblivion. All in all, he was extremely lucky to have made it back in one piece. The Hive was one of the roughest parts of the city, and a man wandering drunk and alone in the middle of the night was a ripe target for thieves and cutthroats.
He hadn’t intended to end up in such a state. After his dramatic exit from the temple of the Mother, Cole had entertained some vague notion of attempting a daring robbery on one of Dorminia’s powerful magistrates and returning triumphantly to his shamefaced comrades. Witness!” he would have declared. A king’s ransom in gold and jewelry, enough to fund a strike at the very heart of Salazar’s power!”
As it happened, his ribs had begun to ache fiercely a few hundred yards from the temple and he’d decided that such valor would have to wait for another night. He had chosen to head home, only to become unaccountably sidetracked along the way.
Cole frowned. Somewhere in the hazy recesses of his mind, fragments of memories began to unveil themselves: a pair of women laughing at him; a kindly old man with his arm around him, calling him boy” and telling him everything would be all right. He looked at his clothes again. He hoped he hadn’t embarrassed himself.
Cole thrust his blanket away and slid gingerly from the straw mattress. He rose unsteadily to his feet, remaining perfectly still as the room swam around him and a wave of nausea threatened to heap further agony on his ribs. He breathed steadily for a few moments and the sensation passed.
He walked from the small bunk room into the main quarters, and then caught sight of his reflection in the mirror propped in the corner.
Cole stared in horror. His nose was hideously swollen and colored an ugly shade of red from the bridge almost to the tip. He had a large purple bruise under his right eye and his cheeks were scraped and scabbed from thrashing around on the floor during yesterday’s exploits.
He felt a flash of rage. What had he done to deserve this? He reached for Magebane, half intending to hurl it at the foul visage staring back at him from the mirror. Too late he remembered that he no longer had the weapon. That only made him angrier.
Storming across to the armoire on the wall opposite the mirror, he quickly selected some fresh clothes and pulled them on. Then he strode over to the opposite corner of the room and knelt down, feeling around for the loose floorboard. ?He levered the board up slightly to hook a hand under and remove it.
He examined his hidden stash. He selected a plain dagger and a handful of copper crowns and silver scepters, which he stowed away in his trousers. A tiny container at the very back of the shallow recess contained a dozen pale green pills. He placed one in his mouth and swallowed it down. He was just about to move the floorboard back into place when he noticed the small leather bag in which he had often stored his pendant. He felt a sudden pang of regret at having tossed it into the fire
"[F]un yet fearsome, gritty and gripping in equal measure...The Grim Company is pretty brilliant."--Tor.com
"[S]pins a gripping tale with expertise and relish."--The Guardian
"[A] grisly, compelling read...hugely enjoyable."--The Daily Mail
"A noteworthy and gripping debut that promises to develop into an altogether superior series--one well-worth getting hooked on at the outset."--Kirkus Reviews
"Luke Scull delivers a fantastic story that is ripe with action, strong characterization and a tight plot....This is one debut not to be missed and marks Luke Scull as one of epic fantasy's talented debutants."--Fantasy Book Critic
"[A] rollicking dark fantasy adventure novel. It moves with verve and pace...and is threaded through with a great sense of humor."--The Wertzone
"Highly memorable with a great cast and an even greater story all wrapped up in a mature world, told by a true story-teller. The Grim Company is one of the best fantasy books you will read this year."--SFBook.com
"Luke Scull is more than good. He's the sort of author you buy on publishing date and read on the way home."--TheBookBag.co.uk