A warm welcome to author Ryan T. McFadden! Here's a post about two characters from Cursed Black Swan.
Nathaniel - A scoundrel, a thief, an assassin, and whatever else he needs to be for his clients. Nathaniel accepts jobs that are too bizarre or too dangerous for others. And while he’ll tell you that he’s very good at what he does - he often tags his jobs as incomplete rather than the true failures that they are. He doesn’t fail because he’s inept. He fails because he really doesn’t care what the job is. It’s only another day longer that he’s tricking himself into surviving, then he wants nothing better than to give up:
Amber ran her finger along the straight pink-and-white scar under my left nipple. "How'd you get this one?" she asked.
"Hugo the Hellion stuck his knife in me."
"I heard Hugo was dead."
"He was after he stuck his knife in me."
She looked at me with a tightened expression. "I was there when Hugo and his attack dogs plundered the Fjords near Oldbank. His sword was so great it took two slaves to carry. You're telling me that you brought down the Scourge of the Succession?"
"A man has to defend his honour."
"I didn't...well, I didn't think you had honour."
"It wasn't my honour. He caught me cheating at dice and stabbed me. You remember O'Meara? With me bleeding on the floor, he went into a rage and brutally beat Hugo. The sawbones sewed me up but there wasn't much they could do for Hugo."
"That's quite a friend you have."
"O'Meara? He didn't do it out of friendship. He did it because I owed him three drake. He owes me. Instead of jailing him for murder, the Bronze appointed him the Sherriff of Havencastle."
She tucked a loose strand of auburn hair behind her ear. She was attractive, her skin soft, her earlobes delicate and flowing into a perfect line of her pronounced neck. She regarded me thoughtfully, her grey eyes dark in the meagre candlelight.
"And this one?" Her fingers played at the edges of a messy puckering of tissue along my side.
She slapped my stomach, a little too hard. "Now you're mocking me."
"I'm not," I protested. "You've heard of the Grand Violence?"
"The Grand Violence?"
They were the most famous, and most dangerous, performance troupe in the Succession. "I joined them in DunGhūl. They were the perfect cover when I needed to blackmail the Merchant of Maul."
"You're an acrobat?"
"No, and that was the problem. The whole debacle ended with a rhino loose during the performance. The rhino gored me and trampled the Merchant." I smiled fondly at the memory. "The rhino rampaged across DunGhūl for three days before the City Watch were finally able to chase it over a cliff. After my performance, the Grand Violence was able to double their admission price."
She asked about my scars and I explained each of them: shark, molten gold, cedar tree, razor-tipped sawfish. Finally, exhausted of stories, we fell into a relaxed silence. As I was drifting to sleep she asked, "Who were you running from tonight?"
History: Nathaniel was a child prince, though he doesn’t remember for where or whom. When his family’s kingdom was consumed by another, he was sold into slavery in Cresek-Tawn. He learned to survive in that hellhole. More than survive: thrive. He became a champion of the Saturday Night Fights. His infamy in those fights raised the attention of Joshua, the prince of Cresek-Tawn. Then he had to fight again, to claw his way above the other purchased slaves until he became the only survivor, and Joshua’s man. But rather than a reward, he was cursed with a darkness:
The pie pulsed. Nathaniel couldn't help but think once he cut into it, vipers would explode from the pastry.
"This is a gift I'm giving you, Nathaniel. A great gift. Now eat."
Nathaniel stared warily at the pie. Joshua placed a fork in his hands.
"You have worked so hard. This is your reward. You are the last of my disciples. The one that I have chosen."
Killed all the others, Nathaniel thought. Yet he knew better than to question Joshua. His master had unmercifully beaten a woman to death when she dared question 'why'. That was on the second day. Since that time, his lessons had been followed religiously. Do not question. Only do.
Nathaniel dipped his fork into the pie. The outer shell broke, flaky. The filling was a dark, rich purple. Elderberry, Nathaniel thought. Perhaps Joshua was doing something kind.
He took a bite. Sweet. Juicy. And wrong.
He began to retch but Joshua was already scooping another bite to Nathaniel's mouth.
"Eat. Get it in you. This will make you strong. Make you powerful. All your training was simply so you'd be strong enough for this gift."
Nathaniel's stomach revolted, but he knew if he vomited that Joshua would be harsh, perhaps deadly. As he had been trained to do, Nathaniel quelled his body, voided the sensation of the pie and its wrongness. He ate with a frenzy, swallowing down the pastry until there was nothing left except crumbs.
Creed - An ugly giant of a man with a murky past.
“He was not an attractive man and as he laid eyes upon the sword and his concentration heightened, so did his ugliness. His body was a slab of meat with large, oversized hands even too large for his monstrous body. While his left eye was blue, his right was white, perhaps useless. He had no hair, but his scalp was so laden with scar tissue, I wasn’t sure he could grow any. His face was almost as equally scarred. His exposed hands and arms were covered in a matte of dark, course hair.”
His strength and anger are near limitless, and as Nathaniel discovers, nearly indestructible. However, he driven not by rage, but his desire to be reunited with his love:
My love's name was Aliénor and she made me whole. Several lifetimes ago, I made a terrible mistake— one that I regret every moment I am on this earth. Ironically, my mistake allows my time to never end. Now, I will rip apart heaven, earth, flesh, and bone to get her back. I know that you'll do the same. Black Swan is the instrument to make me whole again. It's the instrument to make you whole again.
Cursed Black Swan
A Fixer Novel
Ryan T. McFadden
Genre- Fantasy/Dark Fantasy
Published By- Dragon Moon Press
Publication Date-October 30th
"Let's get one thing straight—I'm a fixer. You need someone murdered? Then hire an assassin. You need something stolen? Call a thief. But if there's something no one else can do, or a job that no one else wants, then you talk to me."
Nathaniel specializes in the strange, the weird, and the dangerous. But no matter how far he runs, he can't leave behind his bloody past, nor the ghosts that chase him.
Ryan T. McFadden is a writer of fantasy and horror, with short stories and novellas published through Dragon Moon Press, Edge SF & F, and Absolute X-Press. In 2014, his novella Ghost in the Machine won the Aurora Award (Canada's most prestigious award for SF&F) for Short Fiction.
His motley past involved such dangerous work as database administration, ice cream flavouring (seriously, that's a thing), hockey league administration, screen printing, web design, furniture building, and home renovations.
He lives in London, Ontario, with his two beautiful, but sometimes diabolical daughters, who he is sure are plotting to one day overthrow him.