Cayneian: A Man From Blood By Aaron Dennis

Cayneian: A Man From Blood
By Aaron Dennis

Cayneian is more gory than Dead Rising, and that should say it all….

Remember this?

dead rising
dead rising

Blurb- A man stands resolved. Dysart, clan Bloodhammer, has returned to the island of Volgunther to purge it of the evil called Salamandrus. He has given his tongue, so that he may speak no contracts. He has given his manhood, so that he may not know his power as a man. He has given his mind, so that no God may take pity upon him.
Wielding the forbidden power of Sang Daemanus, Dysart imbibes the blood of Daemons to cast his spells, to grow his strength, to fuel his powers, but will he be able to stave off the bloodlust before the evils upon the island claim him?

Genre- Fantasy? Horror? Absolute freaking gore fest???

My Rating- 3.5 Meows ’cause I’m a scaredy cat!

My Review-

M’yeah, turn Dead Rising into a horror fantasy based on a blood drinking brute who has been granted daemonic powers, which he uses to battle the very daemons that gave them to him!!!

So, what’s the problem with the story? It was just very, very gory. I have read Dennis stories before, as you all know, and like his writing style very much, but this book was a little different.

First, it had a bit more of an archaic tone, but this is fantasy, so that’s fine, and I actually enjoyed that aspect very much. A breath of foul air considering the YA fantasy I’ve read lately, but there was too much action, and too much blood spattering, entrail pulling, skull crushing gore!

If you have a weak stomach, stay away. I literally fought off a few gags and cringed once or twice. It’s that descriptive.

That’s it, though, the gore and heavy action slowed the story down. I’d suggest cutting a few pages of that brutality from the story, but gore fans, go for it!

Here’s the story: Dysart, a descendant of the original inhabitants of the island of Volgunther has reached the island, from God knows where, to cleanse of the evil that lives within its bowels, the daemon Salamandrus, a daemon born of flame, but which for some reason grants the powers of Sang Daemanus, which is, like, ritualistic, satanic, blood magic, so yeah, a wicked bad “tail”.

On the island, the daemon, who seems to be trapped somehow, still has influence. It sends waves of monsters to terrorize the unfortunate people who crash upon the island’s shores, and they can never leave because monsters even inhabit the sea, and there is constantly terrible weather, and the sun never rises!!!

Dysart meets other stalwart men and women who wish to fight the daemon, but only Dysart has found a way to free the daemon, so that he can kill it.

I honestly don’t even to know how to feel about the story. It’s very, um, bitter sweet? The writing is immaculate. The story’s idea is unique. The characters are absolutely wonderful. The scenery is totally frightening. The monsters are crazy, but I was consistently slowed down by the level of violence and gore.

I will recommend this book to those of cast iron stomachs, but if you cringe from a paper cut, stay away. I mean, people, and monsters, are literally torn in half by Dysart’s daemonic strength and bare hands! Still, overall, it was a great story that I think will haunt me.

Here’s a review by someone who enjoyed it a little more than I did-

First, I have to state that this novel is loosely based on a Dennis short story called Expedition, but like really loosely based. Secondly, this is another fantasy, horror, slasher mix, and a wild one at that. There is a lot of action, and a ton of gore, there’s even a mildly intense sexual abuse scene, so beware.
The main character is Dysart, a member of the Cayne, the people that used live on the island of Volgunther, and oddly enough, he’s mute. His tongue was cut out before the story even started, but he can use magic to talk, but it isn’t really magic. it’s called branding and it’s all based on blood magic, something I’ve never heard of before.
Dysart is on a rather honorable quest though. He wants to kill the demon salamandrus who has not turned the island evil, he’s also the demon that gave Dysart the power of blood magic, so the whole story is really intense.
After Dysart crashes ashore, and all his men and gear are at the bottom of the sea, he meets an old ranger or scout, and learns that there used to be a town nearby, so Dysart goes off in search of the town because he needs blood and a plant to make a special magic, but when he gets to the town, it’s already destroyed, and there he meets my favorite character, the pyromancer Randall, who’s gay, no less, but that’s not really important.
Randall is looking for a gem or something, so the two become quick friends in order to travel safely to an abby, and there, they meet some knights that are trying to keep the isnald [island]safe. Well, undead attack, there’s a theif [thief]there, that Randall believes stole his gem, and then they all work together to kill the undead. After that, Randall, Dysart, the theif [thief] Pattius, and a knight called Marcus travel together in search of the knight’s barracks, the order of the cross, or the ordo et crucis.
It seems like tehre’s [there’s]a ton of latin involved because the knights are really just crusaders, and demon magic is called Sang Daemanus, or blood of demons, so it’s all very dark and sinister. I kept imagining something out of Spawn, really, like that real dark imagery. In fact, the sun never shines the entire time. It’s always night, but a new problem arises when Marcus leaves in fear for his sister, and then randall tries to kill Pattius, but Pattius ends up stabbing Randall and running off, so Dysart gets Randall to the barracks, and then when Randall gets healed, they journey by boat to make it to the plains where Dysart is supposed to be able to get the plant to make his magic. Of course a sea monster attacks, and they all get split up again.
Without trying to reveal too much, I have to say that while this was absolutley amazing story, one of the best I’ve ever read, there was a bit too much action and gore. Like every page there was fight scene, or almost every page. I think there were one or two chapters that didn’t have any action, but even so, the action is almost a neccesity because the island is evil and the demon unleashes a bunch of monsters to try to kill Dysart, so he has to fight his way to the castle where the demon is.
All in all, if your stomach isn’t too weak, this is a great book.

End of Anonymous Review-

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Here’s an excerpt, too ^..^

The farther east Dysart walked, the more difficult it was to hone in on the settlement’s glow. Something was obstructing its view. Feeling uneasy, he opted to skulk. Low to the ground and deliberately slow, he eased forwards.

After painstakingly crawling over small, grassy hills, he noticed a thick plume of smoke obscured the glow. Burned to the ground, no doubt. He narrowed his eyes in wonder of the forthcoming predicament.

Having no choice but to at least investigate, he skulked onwards. Over a handful more hills he saw—still from a distance—remnants of a township. Thick, black smoke rose from the charred buildings. Erratic flames crackled.

He waited patiently for a moment. Only a fool runs in lacking knowledge…and I’ve already blundered once. He saw nothing. There was no movement whatsoever, so he pressed closer, rounding the hills to avoid a direct approach. From behind a large stone, he scoured the scene.

Mangled corpses lay upon the soil. There were only a few dozen or so. It had not been a large town. Salamandrus did not allow for the flourishing of jubilation. A voice came upon him, carried by the wind. He squinted. Here’s something. A figure burst forth from the remnants of a wooden building. Smoldering flames lapped the structure’s floor behind it. Dysart observed.

“Too late,” the figure growled.

It was obviously a man’s voice. Whosoever he was, he crashed about quite brazenly, nearly frantically. Kicking wreckage about, and tossing flaming cloths, the man checked buildings. In the meantime, Dysart made a tedious approach.

A flurry of high-pitched howls halted his tracks. With axe in hand, he remained cautious. To his surprise, a dozen, short, wolf-like men scampered from the eastern hills. What manner of beasts are these?

Inner turmoil brewed. He was uncertain as to the beasts’ devices, but wondered over the man’s safety. Argh…I’d rather not see death come to anyone, but certainly, breaking the contract is my priority…if I get myself killed…. He allowed his thoughts to trail away, engrossing himself instead in observing how the mysterious man fared alone. He’s been here longer than I and survived. He must know there are beasts round this island.

His observations gave rise to new speculations. The brownish wolves, which ran on two legs with tail fluttering, barged into a building. A mere second later, they ran back out aflame. The man came from the building as well. From his hands, he flung balls of fire.

“C’mon dogs!” he cried out. “Are the little houndlings scared?” Upon impact, his fiery spells exploded to engulf the houndlings. Whimpers of pain and fear followed fire. “Ah, ha-ha-ha-hah!” the man cheered.

His hubris birthed a new predicament. While a portion of the houndlings had indeed sought him directly, more had circled round the smoky piles of rubble. One beast set upon the man’s back with a mighty leap. Its weight floored him, and the others joined in.

Dammit, Dysart cursed his benevolent heart. He ran, crashing through brush, over rock, and down the hill. Reaching the first houndling, he gripped dark, furry hide with his right hand. With his left, he brought the axe into the skull of the beast. Flinging it aside, he kicked another off the man, who rolled over, embraced a beast, and it erupted in flames. Coming to his feet, the fellow dropped the burning carcass before throwing a glance Dysart’s way. Two, more houndlings sidestepped, glaring and tiptoeing round the warriors.

One licked its snout and sniffed at the air. The other brandished claws before lunging forth with a full-bodied twitch of corded muscle. Dysart took a knee to drop to a better vantage point. He swung horizontally, spilling blood from the creature’s throat. It fell over dead as the other hopped into the air. The man with fire held both palms out. Billowing, orange blazes reduced the enemy to cinders.

Seemingly safe, the men looked upon each other; each wondered if the other was a threat. Dysart steadied himself. Can never be too cautious here. The man clad in bundles of black cloth eased back his hood. A surprisingly young face was revealed. The man had high cheekbones and angular features.

“I guess I owe you my gratitude,” he said.

The incandescent embers from the town’s remains cast a swaying glow about them. Dysart nodded then slipped his axe into his belt. The man offered his hand. The warrior scrutinized it with an arched brow.

“No fires,” the man joked with a smile. “My name is Randall.” Dysart shook his hand. “And you are…?”

He ignored him to search the wreckage. Randall gave a half-hearted shrug before following through the ruins of homes. Inside one building, Dysart’s foot went through the weakened lumber. He grunted in aggravation.

“Easy, mate,” Randall advised and lent support by lightly holding Dysart’s elbow. “What’s brought you out this way?”

A severed tongue in cheek remained his reply. Randall winced from slight irritation then placed his hands on his hips. Looking about, they spotted burned furniture and little else, so Dysart moved to another structure.

Much larger than the others, the building held immense tables and many chairs; evidence of a place for social gatherings. The long, yet smashed and charred counter with ruptured, smoldering barrels, identified it as a mead hall. Dysart kicked some of the rubble around. Got to hurry before the blood turns.

He grew impatient. Throwing splintered wood from behind the counter, he spotted an intact, glass bottle. Holding it aloft, the brown liquid inside sloshed around.

“Oh, there we are,” Randall said with a grin. He snatched the bottle from Dysart, popped out the cork, and quickly emptied its contents into his mouth. There was but a little left. “Apologies.” Randall wiped his lip then offered the rest to the scowling man. He made a motion with a hand to his mouth. “Right,” Randall beamed.

He finished the liquor. Dysart then motioned for the bottle and made a quick dash outdoors. Randall shrugged indifferently before deciding to run out after the stranger. Outside, he found the mute cradling a houndling.

From the ravaged throat, he collected several ounces of blood. Randall eyed him with distaste. Before he opened his mouth to ask a question, Dysart sank his teeth into the wound. Deep gulps of lukewarm blood drizzled down his gullet.

“Whoa,” Randall shouted. “What manner of man are you?”

Dysart winced then gave a roll of the eyes. He dipped a finger into the bloody throat hole of the beast. Then, with fresh blood, he scrawled the rune for speech on the side of his neck. Once more, the piercing scream emanated from everywhere then localized from within Dysart. Randall was in awe.

“Steady, Randall,” Dysart growled. “I’m the descendant of this island’s original inhabitants. My…practices require copious amounts of blood.”

Randall was speechless. He followed as Dysart dragged the wolf indoors. Utilizing a smashed crate as a chair, he continued the draining process. Soon the bottle was filled and he replaced the cork.

“Are you, are you really one of the Cayne?”

“Aye.”

“What’s brought you here?”

Dysart gazed into his eyes. After an obliging frown, he glanced at his newly recovered wounds then wiped blood from his mouth and replied.

“I watched in horror as the practice of Sang Daemanus twisted my people. This power is nearly limitless, but,” he trailed off with a look into the darkness through the damaged wall. With a deep breath through the nostrils, Dysart rubbed his ribs. The blemish had vanished and his mood livened. “It changes us. Animal blood is effective, if weak. Human blood is potent, if unsavory…but Daemon’s blood…Daemon’s blood makes us unstoppable.”

“Daemon’s blood?” Randall whispered. “Is there such a thing?”

“Of course there is, and though rare, we have ways for which to come by it…awful methods. Here, however, it would seem it is rampant,” he replied with a shake of the bottle.

“You think those wolves Daemons?”

“I don’t think it. Their blood proves it. Already, it courses through me. Now, I’ve been wondering since your display. What’s brought you here?”

Randall smiled then chuckled. He sat next to Dysart, though there was little room. Their shoulders touched.

“Oh-ho, you think perhaps it was I who started this town aflame?” he retorted. Dysart did not smile. Randall nodded, knowingly. “Certainly, one might think such,” he answered then stood before continuing. “No, alas, I assume the very same thing that’s brought you here. I was told there was a settlement. When I arrived to find it reduced to ashes, I decided to seek out whatever useful tools may remain intact.”

“Are there many people on this island?”

“Not sure, friend,” he whispered. “I’ve been here some time. Though with no sun, it is difficult to discern how long.”

“I might use your help,” Dysart said.

Randall lowered his eyes to Dysart’s. Embers glowed within the young man’s very soul. A strange power this boy carries.

“We might all provide help to one another, but…most here are lacking resolve. The island has bested them,” Randall fretted.

“I feel this rune of speech will fade soon. Though forged of Daemon’s blood, without esper oil, it cannot last long. My grandfather suggested the esper leaf was once abundant on this island. Have you heard of it?”

“Hmm,” the young man tapped his index finger against his cocked mouth. “I think the cleric may have your answer. She…is not altogether well, however.”

“Take me to this cleric. Without the proper reagent, there is no possibility of my reaching Salamandrus, the evil which presides from beneath this island,” Dysart demanded.

“Blast, I had not planned on backtracking. Nevertheless, I owe you for saving me. Let us rest and restock. Surely, these homes have some supplies intact.”

The rune upon Dysart’s body sizzled then evaporated. He took the dagger from his belt, and with it, neatly removed the longest, sharpest tooth from the beast.

“What’s that for?”

Dysart did not reply. After a moment’s respite, they stomped through the remaining homes. Some of them still bore flaming tapestries from their rooves. It was a mystery how the fires originated, but on the island, the most likely answer was simply Salamandrus. Perhaps, because the men were thankful for what little light the dying embers provided, a heavy rain set in and left them in complete darkness. The steady rapping of large droplets grew obscenely loud.

Randall, drenched, held quivering arms about his torso and shouted over the rain, “We’ll freeze to death.”

Remaining undaunted by the dark, the rain, and the cold, Dysart secured some hard, leather canteens, twine, and fresh clothing. After stuffing it all in a newly found travel pack, he turned to Randall. Practically indistinguishable from the surrounding darkness, the pyromancer raised his black hood. A voice in the darkness was all that remained of him.

“This rain probably won’t let up. We need to set our feet to the northwest. It’s a hike, but hopefully the movement will keep us warm. Come now.”

He crashed blindly through the damaged home. His awkward steps were in part to wearing clothing burdened by rain and in part to shivering uncontrollably. Dysart, however, did not shiver; drinking blood—and Daemon’s blood in particular—made him nearly impervious to all manners of affliction.

Reaching the outdoors, Randall oriented himself then set off. They marched steadily through sloppy mud, over and down hills, for many an hour. The rain, as Randall had predicted, did not lessen by any means.

Weary muscles forced groans from the pyromancer. Occasionally, he stumbled. Not Dysart; every step was a firmly planted stride. When a structure in the darkness drew his attention, he gripped Randall by his clothing. Startled, the young man relinquished a gasp.

“What is it?” he spoke into Dysart’s ear.

Daemon’s blood gave more than resistance to affliction, it also provided the imbiber heightened perception, better hearing, better sight. Dysart had spotted a den, a large hole dug into the bottom of a boulder. He dragged Randall along then gave a grunt while pointing.

Randall howled, and with a flaming display, shot plumes of fire at the den. The firelight revealed it was devoid of beasts.

“Clean. I don’t see any remains either,” he shouted. “Good sight, friend. How did you ever see it through this damnable darkness?”

They scurried into the den. It was a small space. Even scrunched together with their knees to their chests, their feet remained under rainfall. At least the water flowed away from the depression. Randall produced dried meat from a satchel he kept beneath his robes.

“Well,” he started while munching, “won’t be too much longer before we enter Etmire Abbey. Sometimes there are others there. They call themselves the Order of the Cross or Ordo et Crucis. The Abbey is a sort of refuge on this damnable place. Now that the town has been obliterated, it might bode well to return.

“Truthfully, I came from there only recently. You see, a thief has lightened my burden in a most inappropriate manner. I thought he might have passed through the town. Perhaps, meeting you is a boon. Ah, who knows?”

After chomping incessantly at the dried meat, Randall grew quiet, but the rain continued crashing down around them.

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