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AUDIO: Excess (Audiobook)

AUDIO: Excess (Audiobook)

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Book Three in the Monster Punk Horizon series.

Listen in your favorite podcast app or in the amazing (and free) BookFunnel app.

New to the Monster Punk Horizon series? Start here!

About this premium audiobook narrated by Tess Irondale

Loot Like Your Life Depends On It!

Losing a trusty weapon is like losing a close friend, and Pix’s beloved capacitor blade is on its last legs.

Fortunately, she has a plan to craft a new, even better weapon. Unfortunately, her plan involves hunting down a vicious migrating monster that has more teeth than some hunters have brain cells. Even worse, this new creature has riled up the apex monster of Skull Harbor, and both of them are spoiling for a fight.

But Pix has one thing they don’t: a party foolhardy enough to take them both on.

She’ll need all the help she can get, because it’ll take all their combined luck, skill, and oversized weapons to put down these two monsters. But her friends have her back. After all, there’s awesome loot to be had!

If they manage to survive…

About the Series: Monster Punk Horizon is an exciting new fantasy comedy for fans of the Monster Hunter games and kick-butt ladies fighting monsters for fun and profit! GameLit readers will enjoy the focus on action over stats.


"This book made me want to game in this world. The author has an incredible gift for smart, witty names and vivid description. The characters are appealing and carry you through this light, fun adventure with tremendous energy." – Jane Lindskold, New York Times bestselling author

“Plays with planetary ecology as much as Dune ever did … Anyone who enjoys the monster hunter genre of video games should enjoy this.” – Upstream Reviews

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Enjoy a sample from EXCESS

“Why would anything need this many teeth?” Pix muttered to herself as she studied the sketches and diagrams laid out on the long wooden table before her. A gust of wind from the ocean fluttered her tent’s tarp, but her mind focused on the creature’s silhouette, sketched roughly in black ink on a much-abused and much-observed piece of paper.

So many teeth. Was this really a good idea?

Documents and equipment cluttered every inch of the table’s surface: detailed maps of the jungle surrounding Skull Harbor, vague reports of mysterious monster sightings, researcher notes on changes in the indigenous monsters’ behavior, and the disassembled pieces of her capacitor blade.

Her weapon of choice took up plenty of room, but not because it was big. It wasn’t especially large, at least not when fully assembled. But it was a complex weapon, a long double-edged blade bisected by a milky spellglass rod, with a hilt comprised of both mechanical and mysteric parts. These interlocked to allow the blade to open and the magic contained within its revolving cylinder to fire. She’d laid out every piece on an unfurled roll of canvas, carefully and meticulously cleaned each one, and set them down in a neat, orthogonal manner. She’d scrubbed and oiled them until the gears, rods, and springs glowed in the lantern light, then sharpened both halves of the blade to a supremely lethal edge.

Every mechanical component was as good, if not better, than when she’d commissioned the weapon …

But there was nothing she could do for the spellglass.

“I don’t know about its teeth, Miss Pix,” a bright, youthful voice said from her side. “Would you like me to check my gram’s book? Maybe she’ll have written something down from her adventures!”

Pix grimaced and glanced down at her Khatoyant assistant. Nova’s wide, soulful eyes glistened up at her, their vertical pupils eager for an opportunity to aid her contracted hunter. The young cat person stood only two feet tall, her fur a patchwork of black and white, most of it wrapped in a gleaming blue set of Radiant Scintilion armor crafted to look like a princess’ dress. She may have been short for her kind, but her enthusiasm more than compensated for her size.

“Nova,” Pix said dully.

“Yes, Miss Pix?” Nova’s ears perked up and swiveled forward.

“We’ve talked about this before, haven’t we?”

“I’m not sure.” Her ears drooped. “What do you mean, Miss Pix?”

“This ‘Miss Pix’ thing. I’ve told you not to call me that.”

“Buuut!” Nova clutched her grandmother’s hunting journal to her chest and wiggled as if suddenly uncomfortable. “But my gram caught me not using it, and she said I was being disrespectful! I never meant to be disrespectful to you, Miss Pix!”

“Uhh.” Pix put a hand to her forehead. “Please stop. ‘Miss Pix’ sounds silly, and ‘Pix’ isn’t even my real name. It’s just something Jaz started calling me back in college.”

“Oh, okay.” Nova took on a thoughtful look. “Oh! Should I call you Miss Weaver, then?”

Pix narrowed her eyes and glowered down at Nova in a firm, nonverbal “NO.”

“Maybe not …” Nova hugged her book tighter.

Suddenly, someone from outside flung the tent flap open and barreled in with all the majesty and elegance of a drunken debutante who’d never worn high heels in her entire life but had decided there was no time like the present.

“What’s up, minions!”

“Speak of the devil,” Pix muttered under her breath.

“Hello, Miss Jaz!” Nova said brightly.

“Hey, Nova!” Jaz plopped onto the corner of the table and crossed her arms and legs. “Pix?”

“Yes?” Pix replied without looking up.

“You’ve been cooped up in here all weekend.”

“I know.” This time she did look up.

Jaz and Pix may have been partners and roommates, but that didn’t mean they were anything alike. Jaz wore her raven black mane in an unruly, curling wave down to her shoulders, framing a dark complexion. Pix kept her blazing red hair neat and trim—and out of her eyes during the frantic moments of a hunt—while her pasty, cream-colored skin refused to tan in the Harbor’s sun. Her ears, too, were only subtly pointed due to her dilute ancestral dragon blood, whereas the more pronounced points of Jaz’s ears attested to the rich dragon lineage in her family’s bloodline. Most ancestral natives under the Dazzling Skies had Elder Dragon somewhere in their blood, but Pix and Jaz were on opposite ends of that genetic heritage.

Their attire was equally disparate. Pix had traded her old, mismatched, tabard-obscured leathers for a long gambeson made from some of the Pirazhka hides they’d carved last month. The thickness of the padded coat made it naturally good for fending off slashes and puncture attacks—which was how her intended target would deal most of its damage—but the tough, tightly-interlocked scales covering its outermost surface provided an additional layer of defense. The froglike, piranha toothed Pirazhkas might have been low-level monsters, but the way their scales compressed and tightened under direct thrusts meant armor made from their hide would be useful for many levels beyond its origin’s. For additional defense, she’d covered it in segments of Ignifex hide that granted a high degree of both mobility and fire protection (very useful in the Ignifex-dominated regions near Skull Harbor).

By contrast, Jaz’s figure strained against her monsterskin hot pants and bikini top, leaving little to the imagination. Those two pieces of clothing may have also been crafted from Ignifex hide, but they only served to make her butt and boobs fireproof.

Not that this advantage mattered to her; Jaz had only chosen the material because she had a lot of it and red was Her Color.

“You should come join us at the canteen.” Jaz patted her on the arm. “It’s Waffle Day.”

“Sorry,” Pix continued, “but I still have a ton of work to do.”

“But it’s Waffle Day!” Jaz spluttered, as if Pix had just said she didn’t plan to observe Hallowmas this year. (Hallowmas was a weird quasi-religious holiday that had evolved over the centuries. No one remembered what its original purpose was, but everyone still celebrated it because it was one of those holidays when it was socially acceptable to eat exorbitant amounts of candy and rich holiday foods while romping around in sexy costumes and generally being ridiculous. Not that the hunters here needed a holiday to do so, but they weren’t going to turn down the excuse.)

“I don’t understand everyone’s obsession with waffles,” Pix dismissed. “They’re just overcomplicated pancakes.”

“When has a pancake ever been considerate enough to hold extra toppings for you in convenient, specialized pockets?”

“Jaz,” Pix huffed. “I’m trying to work.”

“Yeah, about that.” Jaz scooched closer and draped an arm over Pix’s shoulders. “You see, the thing about life. The really important thing about life is you’ve got to live it. You can’t live it when you hide in a tent all weekend looking at papers and stuff.”

“Such inspirational words!” Nova exclaimed. “Thank you for sharing them!”

“See? Nova appreciates my immense profundity.”

“I am living.” Pix took hold of Jaz’s wrist and removed the unwanted arm from her shoulders. “And I want to continue living. Why do you think I’ve been ‘cooped up’ in here?”

“Because you’re a stick-in-the-mud who doesn’t like to have any fun?”

“No, because of this.”

Pix held up the spellglass rod from her disassembled weapon.

“Hmm.” Jaz squinted at the clouded rod, slightly darker on the end that connected to the hilt mechanisms. “What do we have here?”

“A crack in the base. And mysteric degradation.”

“Oh,” Jaz uttered. All the joy and sass leaked from her face as the revelation sobered her up. A hunter’s relationship with their weapon was a deeply personal one. It started with the initial selection and training, continued through the daily maintenance rituals and hard-earned upgrades, and sometimes ended in bloody life-or-death moments in the field.

A hunter’s weapon was a dear, invaluable friend. A trusted, unflinching colleague through any trial the Monstrous Continent could throw at that hunter.

And Pix had just told Jaz her friend was dying.

“Yeah. ‘Oh.’” Pix frowned. “I’m guessing it’s got two, maybe three shots left before the rod burns out.”

“Well, I suppose we haven’t been kind to our equipment recently, what with the Screecher and all the other dung we’ve had to deal with these past few months.”

“I know. And that’s probably why it’s in such bad shape right now.”

“Can you replace the rod?”

“Can’t afford it. I’m still paying off loans for this one.”

“Damn. Yeah, that sucks. I’d help you out, but …” Jaz made an emptying-pockets gesture, which would have been more appropriate if she’d actually had pockets.

“I know,” Pix said. “And I wouldn’t ask for a favor like that even if you could. I appreciate the thought, though.”

“So, what are you going to do about it?” Jaz asked.

“Miss Pix has a plan!” Nova inserted brightly.

“Of course she does,” Jaz agreed, unsurprised. Pix could be relied upon for many things, and one of them was to Always Have a Plan. “Now what’s this super awesome plan you’ve been working on?”

“It’s still a work in progress,” Pix stressed cautiously.

“Well, clearly.” Jaz picked up a random piece of paper from the table. “What’s this?”

“My shopping list.”

“You don’t say.” Jaz cleared her throat, then began to read. “Six Ex—Ex-iss—”

Zess-ee-on,” Pix corrected.

“That’s not a Z!” Jaz exclaimed.

“That’s how it’s pronounced,” Pix replied.

“Fine,” Jaz shrugged, then continued. “‘Six Xession spinal gems, black, large. Twelve Xession teeth, mouth.’” She looked up from the sheet. “Did you really need to specify that last bit?”

“You’d be surprised.”

“Seems a little redundant to me. ‘Two Xession claws, front legs. Two Xession claws, back legs. Ten square feet of hide, back or top of head. Three Xession teeth, tail.’” Jaz set the sheet down. “Tail teeth?”

“Yeah. Tail teeth,” Pix repeated.

“So … you’re looking to hunt a Xession?”

“That’s right.”

“Quite a grocery list you’ve got here.”

“The gems are the most important items. I can’t afford a new rod, but I can hunt for the parts I need to commission a replacement, which’ll be much cheaper.”

“Sounds like a great plan so far.”

“Well, there are a few hang ups. The biggest problem is only certain types of gems can be melted down and formed into spellglass, and the monsters native to the Harbor area aren’t exactly replete with this trait.”

“Which is why you need to go after a Xession?”


“A Xession, you say. Good old Xessions.” Jaz nodded knowingly, her face serious. “Yes, that’ll be quite a challenge.”

“You have no idea what a Xession is, do you?” Pix said.

“I …” Jaz shrugged. “Yeah, you got me.”

“That’s not surprising,” Pix replied.

Hey!” Jaz objected.

“No, I mean, because it’s not in the Hunter’s Handbook yet.”

The Society for the Exploration of the Monstrous Continent had known about the Xession for some time, but researchers had to gather a certain threshold of information about it before it would receive an official entry in the encyclopedia of known monsters, and the society was picky about the quality of information that was released in its publications. There was lots of peer review involved, which meant there had to be lots of hunts to gather information in the first place, and people generally didn’t hunt Xessions unless they had a specific reason to.

“There’s a decent amount of research in the Society library, though,” Pix continued, gesturing across the table to indicate the notes she’d spread there. She then grabbed one particular page and smoothed it out so Jaz could see it. The drawing that dominated the page was marked in Pix’s real initials—TW, for Tailer Weaver—and though she was still developing as a naturalistic artist, she’d managed to capture the pants-wetting, terror-inducing presence of the beast. It wasn’t incredibly detailed, just a big black silhouette: long, muscular, and low to the ground.

But it had teeth.

Lots and lots of teeth.

“Yikes.” Jaz cringed.

“Yeah,” Pix said, not bothering to look. “That’s how most people react.”

“You want to hunt that thing?”

“That I do.”

“You sure this is a good idea?”


“Wait a second.” Jaz’s face scrunched up in confusion. “How’d something this mean manage to roam around without me hearing about it?”

“Because Xessions aren’t native to the Harbor, Miss Jaz,” Nova chimed. “After they fell from the Dazzling Skies, they nested in the Hellpits and stayed there. They seem to like it hot.”

“Oh, we’re going to the Hellpits?” Jaz beamed. “You know we’re gonna have to visit the demonfey when we go. They’re drama queens, but they throw the best—”

“We’re not going to the Hellpits,” Pix responded. They’d been to that harsh volcanic region once before—when they’d gotten overconfident in their early hunting skills—and they’d only survived because a passing party of demonfey hunters recognized Jaz from the Team Red fan magazines that occasionally made their way over from the Wondrous Continent. It turned out the demonfey were rabid fans of the monster battling tournaments back home, especially the ones fought by Team Red, and given that Jaz’s full name was Jaspartina Red, they’d joined in the hunt purely for the novelty of helping out a very minor celebrity. (Jaz didn’t have the skills or desire necessary to be a professional monster trainer back on the mainland, but there was still some small fame to be garnered from being one of the daughters of Spinella Red.) In fact, Jaz and Pix now had a standing invitation to come to the Hellpits whenever they pleased, but it wasn’t something they’d ever taken the demonfey up on.

I want to go to the Hellpits one day,” Nova said wistfully, and the tone of her voice was so ill-matched to the danger of that fiery wasteland that Pix had to ask:


“My oldest brother and sister say they have lots of rare monster cards there. I want to go see them in person!”

“Oh!” Pix remarked. “That makes more sense.”

The demonfey were also rabid collectors, and that included the Monster Punk Arena trading card game imported from the Wondrous Continent. Demonfey merchants made special voyages from their shores solely to bring the game’s updates to the Monstrous Continent. In fact, much of the drama that occurred in the Hellpits coincided with the releases of new expansion packs and limited edition collector’s cases, and while it mostly stayed in the Hellpits, word of the 25th Anniversary Special Promo War had reached as far as Skull Harbor.

“Still a bit dangerous for someone of your skill level, though,” Pix stated.

“Oh, I know!” Nova beamed. “That’s one of the reasons why I want to be a good Khatoyant. Oscar and Ariel said they’ll take me to a release when they think I can hold my own in a crowd fight.”

“Wait,” Pix said. “So … part of the reason why you’re hunting real monsters is to train yourself to fight so you can survive crowds battling to buy monster cards?”

“Mm-hmm!” Nova said, as if this was reasonable.

“Makes sense to me,” Jaz added. “If you can beat up a monster, you can definitely beat up another nerd.”

Pix couldn’t even find the motivation to roll her eyes at that. Or rather, she could, but she also knew it would be such a dramatic roll that she’d probably pull one of her vital eye muscles and then be at a disadvantage in the next hunt. So with great effort, she abstained.

“Well, I’m glad I can help you achieve your goal.” Pix patted the long, fluffy wig on Nova’s head, and Nova beamed back, happy to help and be helped by Pix. “Anyway,” she continued, then indicated some of the field reports on the table. “You know how the Ignifex population hasn’t been causing as much trouble recently?”

“I …” Jaz blinked. “Yes?”

“Just take my word for it,” Pix sighed. “The number of Ignifex assignments being posted is down. Way down. Like over fifty percent down.”

“Oh! Which means something else could be hunting them.”

“Right. There are a few other indicators, such as reports of unusual injuries on some of the monsters or atypical movement patterns, but the bottom line is I think a Xession has migrated to Skull Harbor. A ‘Wandering Xession’ if you will, and that monster is subsisting on a diet of Ignifex meat. Apparently, he likes his food spicy.”

“‘He?’ You sure it’s a male?”

“Probably,” Pix said. “I haven’t found any reports of female Xessions straying too far from the pack Tyrant, but I suppose there’s a first for everything. I’m guessing competition between the males forced this one to migrate.”

“And then it settled down once it found the Ignifex buffet.”


“You could be right.” Jaz nodded, then stood up. “So, when do we leave?”

“Don’t you have waffles to eat?”

“Pfft! Those can wait. My friend needs some new gems.”

“Thanks, Jaz.” Pix smiled warmly. “I appreciate that.”

“Don’t mention it.” Jaz gestured to the map. “So, where do we start?”

“Simple.” Pix’s eyes twinkled. “Follow the buffet.”