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Sherrilyn Kenyon's 'Deadmen Walking': Read an exclusive excerpt

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Courtesy Tor Books

Deadmen Walking is the first book in a new Sherrilyn Kenyon series — Deadmen’s Cross, due out in May 2017 — and EW is excited to offer an exclusive peek inside the book and your first look at the cover. 

This initial installment follows Devyl Bane, an ancient dark warlord who has returned to the human realm as an infamous pirate. He makes a pact with an immortal called Thorn — who’s tasked with keeping the very worst of the ancient gods’ former creations at bay. But the enchanted gates he’s kept them behind are breaking, and it’s up to Bane and his crew of Deadmen to keep these evil creatures from getting out.

Check out the cover and excerpt, below:

Excerpt from Deadmen Walking by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Devyl staggered back as he saw the sparkling veil fall over the ship and every member of his crew. It even covered Kalder in the water. A gossamer shimmer rained down like a Spring shower. Only instead of leaving them wet, it cast their skin in a light, ethereal glow, like that of coal that held fire inside its darkness.

William and Bart stared at each other with slack-jaws. Then they turned toward him for an explanation he couldn’t even begin to give them.

“Captain?” Belle asked as she shimmied from the rigging and moved to stand beside him.

He had no answer for her, either. Not for this.    

And definitely not for whatever caused the beast and its compatriots in the water to splinter into a fine shimmering mist that settled over the waves only to vanish in the blink of an eye.

What the hell?

If that wasn’t shocking enough, a huge wave lifted Kalder from the sea and set him down on the deck near the prow, as if to make sure he was safe, along with the rest of them.

His own jaw agape, Devyl handed his sword off to Belle before he made his way toward the only source for this he could imagine.

Cameron Jack.

He found her in his cabin, on her knees, clutching at the medallion her brother had sent her. Her eyes had lost all color to them. Her lips as pale as her body as she whispered a barely audible prayer. Even her hair had turned stark white.

The stark red, bleeding cuts caused by the shattered windows provided the only color anywhere on her body. Yet the strangest part?

Glass hovered in the air around her, forming the illusion of glittering wings jutting out from her back.

William drew up short behind him and cursed. “What manner of creature is she?”

When Bart stepped around them with a raised sword to attack her, Devyl stopped and disarmed him. “She’s not our enemy, Mr. Meers.” He returned the sword.

“What is she?” he repeated William’s question.

“Something that would piss down the leg of those what don’t think much of us if they knew she was among our crew. And it explains much about what happened to her brother and why the Plate Fleet be sunk as it was.”

William scowled. “You’ve lost me, Captain.”

Devyl carefully closed the distance between them before he took the medallion from Cameron’s hand. The moment he had it pried loose from her fierce grip, her hair returned to its natural chestnut shade and the blue-green color to her eyes.

The glass fell to the floor where it struck and let out a small, tinkling sound reminiscent of jester bells. 

Cameron blinked twice as if waking from a deep slumber. With a fierce grimace, she glanced between them. “Is the fighting over?”

Bitterly amused, Devyl released a tired breath as he rubbed his thumb against the searing medallion. The ancient power and the soul of the warrior it contained thrummed from the metal, similar to a heartbeat. No wonder Menyara had sent her to them.

Damn that interfering bitch for it.

“Aye.” He glanced to his men over his shoulder. “It appears we needs amend our earlier answer to the lass, Mr. Death.”

“Deeth . . . and what answer be that, Captain?”

“There are no humans aboard this ship, at all.”

Cameron gaped at him. “P-p-pardon?”

He held the medallion up in front of her face so that she could see the remnants of the faint glow it contained from having been activated by the evil that had come up against them. “Do you remember anything from the last few minutes?”

Her scowl deepened as she cast her gaze around as if seeking an answer before she shook her head. 

Handing the medallion back to her, he closed her fingers over it. “You are born of a Seraph’s bloodline, lass. And this trinket of your brother’s is the proof of it. I’d been hoping I was wrong with my earlier assessment. Sadly, I wasn’t.” He stepped back as he contemplated what it all meant. “The good news is, since you had no idea of your family’s origins . . . unless you have a sibling your parents failed to speak of, your brother’s still alive somewhere— you were right about that. They didn’t kill him, after all.”

Cameron gasped as hope finally filled her. “You’re sure about that?”

Bane nodded before he dipped his chin toward her fisted hand. “As we’ve all just seen, the medallion reacts to your blood when you’re under demonic threat. Had Captain Jack died, you’d have been approached about replacing him in this fight by those he serves. Since no one’s come for you, he’s alive without a doubt. And that medallion is from his own sword that I’m sure he inherited from one of your parents.”

Cameron’s breath caught as she opened her hand to study the emblem more closely. Never had she seen it in her parents’ possession. “Me mother had a sword that belonged to her father before he died, but we were never allowed near the locked chest where she kept it. She always said that it would pass to Paden on her death.” She bit her lip as she remembered something she hadn’t thought about in years. “After her death, he never let me see it, either. I never thought anything about that, until now. Like her, he guards it with the strictest care.”

“Because of the power it contains, a vile beacon it be. One that draws evil to it like a flame summons moths. Unless it’s kept shielded and enclosed, it would be a threat to any nearby innocent unaware of what it actually is.” Devyl crossed his arms over his chest. “Your brother must have sent the Seraph medallion to you to keep his enemies from using his sword or destroying the soul of your ancestor. And to keep you safe in his absence.”

“What is this Seraph you keep mentioning?” William asked. 

Before Devyl could speak, a pale shimmering women appeared in the center of the cabin.

Gasping, Cameron shrank away from her. The men, however, didn’t blink. They acted as if her ghostly presence among them was normal and expected.

More beautiful than a fairy queen, she stood eye-to-eye with Devyl and had hair unlike anything Cameron had ever seen before. Pale golden-brown, it was laced with strands of ice white— not gray or any facsimile of gray. It was a silvery, gleaming white . . . like fey-locks that fell in unadorned waves to her waist. Her black and white striped silk gown was plain, yet richly cut and elegant. A white lace kerchief encircled her neck, and as with her hair, it had shimmery silver threads laced through it— the same lace decorated the edges of her sleeves and hem.

Yet the most peculiar bit was that she stood barefoot even while she held the bearing of some grand empress. Obviously, she didn’t fear splinters from the ship boards.

And her eyes . . .

Almond-shaped, they were a deep amber brown. She turned to face Cameron and offered her a kind smile. “No need to fear me, child. I mean you no harm.”

Devyl stepped forward. “Cameron Jack, may I present you to our lady ship, Marcelina?”

Cameron bowed to the noblewoman. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, my lady.”

Marcelina smiled. “I’m not a lady, child. You misunderstood Du’s words, as was no doubt his intention.” She passed a chiding grimace toward Captain Bane. 

Confused by that, Cameron waited for an explanation. William laughed while Bart bit back a smile.

Devyl gave each of the men a chilling glare before he explained the lady’s comment. “Mara is this ship we sail upon, Miss Jack. Our warden— in all senses of that word— for this grand misadventure.”

“Pardon?”

“Perhaps this will help?” Marcelina posed herself like the ship’s figurehead. Before Cameron’s eyes, she turned into the wooden piece from head to toe.

“Holy mother of God!” Cameron crossed herself.

Marcelina returned to flesh. “No need to panic, child. As Du said, I’m the guardian for all who reside here. So long as you fall under my protection, I will do anything to keep you safe.”

“And ensure you have no fun whatsoever,” Bart mumbled under his breath.

The captain elbowed him in the stomach hard enough that he doubled over.

Shaking her head, Cameron did her best to absorb all of this, but . . . “How is this possible? How can she be the boat?”

The smile returned to Marcelina’s face. “I come from an ancient race. We are the wood and the wood is us.”

“They were the gods and guardians of the forest,” Devyl said. “Ever lurking among humanity and causing problems for us.”

Excerpt courtesy of Sherrilyn Kenyon and Tor Books