This is an excerpt from Of Fire and Steel, book one of The Forging Legends.
“Always war. You men and wars. Too much like the gods.”
Song frowned at the twisting smoke. “We didn’t ask to be attacked.” And he didn’t ask to be the Vhyth, Kat hadn’t asked to be the Ancarlia. No one asked for any of this.
“Not this time. But it is all you men do. War, killing, destruction. Yet, it is you the gods left the land to.”
“We did not betray them. Dragons chose their side and they lost.”
“We chose no side.” The voice hissed, the smoke turning acrid. “We simply…took no interest. We cared nothing for the struggle of power among the gods, it was only the land we wanted. We loved the land as you take life-mates. It breathed, it woke and slept. It sang—our ears heard the song. And the sun, the vyran, the fire-heart in all it’s flaming glory, blessed us.” The voice took on the tone of speaking of a lover. “But the gods were angry. They weighed the act of nothing the same as the act of wrong. And now we are bound to take part. So here you stand.”
“I cannot see that there is any right or wrong in your wars. They are all the same. It is as though you will reenact the weakness of the gods again and again for all of time.”
“You deny the wisdom of the gods?” The words came out before Song could measure them.
“Our magic is very old. We have known the gods a long time.”
But they were the gods. They created everything, ruled everything. Their rule is what banished the dragons below the earth and away from the sun they loved so. Song didn’t know how to say this aloud, though. “History has shown us the wisdom of the gods—“
“Our histories are longer than yours. Come. Your trials are only beginning.”
This is from Quenching the Blade, book two of The Forging Legends.
“I’d offer to buy you a drink, but I see you’ve taken care of that yourself.” He loomed over my chair, studying me to see how the half bottle of drink affected my senses. He would be disappointed. “I’ve yet to see you in person up until now. Heard you were small, but…I pictured you a little taller.”
Maintaining my silence, I offered him a cool look. This big, bearded man did not come to buy me a drink, nor did he come to make accusations. That meant he came for something worse.
“Drinking alone? More than one person has put a price out on your head, wouldn’t think you’d want to drink alone.” He shifted to block any exit.
Ah. The prices on my head were something of common rumors, but not the sort of thing people talked about so openly, unless, of course, they wanted to collect one. I appraised him again. He was a big man and it would be a huge mess to deal with him here. It would be nice if I could prove to my friends that I could make it through an evening in a tavern without a riot in my wake.
“Mayhap you’re right.” I ceded as I pushed back from the table to stand. Perhaps I could make it past him and out into the night without a scene.
“Here.” Before I could protest or reject him, he clasped a wide hand around my wrist as though to help me rise.
Something pricked into the soft flesh on the underside of my arm. In the same moment, my magic felt the poison spreading under my skin.
I smiled my thanks, slipping a dagger free. As I straightened, I shoved the blade between two ribs, into his heart. The muscle clenched around the foreign object once and then his weight slouched into me. He smelled like soap and horse sweat. Twisting as I pulled the dagger free, I shifted so the dead man sank into my chair. I wiped the blade on his cloak, letting the fabric fall to conceal the dark stain spreading over his shirt. Sweeping a look over the tavern, everyone was drinking and talking as before. No one noticed our exchange. The lamplight grew brighter and the faces before me blurred.
Pushing through the throng of patrons, I fought my way out to the crisp night air—I had to get away from the smell of sweat, drink, and tavern food. Pulling clean air in through my nose, I caught myself on my knees, fighting back the urge to vomit. Gritting my teeth on a curse, I waited for my magic to finish off whatever that man put into my arm.
This week’s excerpt is from Of Fire and Steel, book one of The Forging Legends.
Water woke me, not the feeling of drowning this time, but the way my back screamed as rivulets trickled over it. That scream moved to my mouth, ripping raggedly from a throat swollen and raw.
“Look, look, Ancarlia. You see, yes?” Shenab’s smiling face bobbed before me again.
I didn’t answer but he watched the focus of my one good eye with his, and seemed satisfied I was looking. He held something up to me.
“We call our criminals vishori.” He forced his mouth around the unfamiliar sounds of Esponian. “We mark them with a V so we all will know. I have this for you, do you see? It is a D, a D for doiya.”
He held up a D-shaped piece of metal—a brand. The word fought its way through the haze of my mind.
Shenab walked away from me then, a small smile playing with his full mouth. My back screamed again, told me it could not bare this pain, told me it was too much. My healing surged again, only to be pushed back. The room spun and faded before me, twinkled senselessly, and I closed my eye against it. My ribs throbbed and my shoulders ached. The darkness tugged at me again, but that back part of my mind was insistent, almost frenzied, that I needed to focus, to pay attention.
Other parts of my mind flicked to alertness, fought back the dizziness and pain. Fear became a cold tickle down the inside of my spine that spread out, up, through every part of me until I became wide awake and choking with it. Tears pricked at my eyes and rolled over bitten, bloody lips that began working out silent prayers becoming pleas. Pleas for Seven and Song, for my mother and father, supplications to be saved from this, from more than I could possibly bear.
He stood as we came in, unfolding a lean body swathed in shades of the sea, to tower over everyone else in the room. Silver streaked through the dark tangles about his face, but he seemed ageless. And his eyes…ah, Ashta, his eyes. They were black and bottomless, a glimpse and I could feel myself slipping into the insanity inside.
“You have something for me, do you?” The Sorcerer peered past Tylen to me.
“Something you’ve been looking for.” Tylen tugged me forward to display before this insane man.
Bile rose in the back of my throat.
“All powerful Arghast.” The Sorcerer’s voice wisped like wind through grass. “Can it…?” He looked back to Tylen and his face smoothed to caution. “What is it you want for this?”
The Sorcerer looked Tylen over like he was preparing to settle into a negotiation, but his eyes kept tugging back to me, giving away his weakness.
“Where is your sword?” He asked Tylen rather than counter his request.
My heart, already pounding in my ears and choking me at the back of my throat, leapt into a frenzy. Hepteta had that cursed sword. How could we overlook something so vital? People had been quick to notice when it rested on my hip.
“Something like this does not come to me without sacrifice.” Tylen answered easily.
The Sorcerer might have laughed, it was a strange rattling sound. “I will not give unlimited passage, even for her. You’ve always been an ambitious man, but lets be reasonable. I’ll give you one trip through the strait with no restrictions or taxes.”
“One trip?” Tylen scoffed. “No, you’ve hunted the seas for years looking for her. Let me take three ships through—once. No taxes, no restrictions, no harassments by your ships.”
The Sorcerer’s black eyes studied me hungrily, as though he’d already forgotten Tylen still stood before him. “Are you ready to go through with the three ships now?”
“I’m not foolish enough to leave her here and attempt to return.”
The Sorcerer’s laugh was unmistakable this time. It echoed hauntingly of waves crashing on rock.
“You can see them waiting.” Tylen gestured to the windows.
“Three ships, one passage with all the cargo you can carry.” The Sorcerer agreed, his hands twitching with eagerness in his robes.
My chain changed hands. Tylen held my gaze for a brief moment as he left me, and then I was alone with the Sorcerer and a handful of guards, this insane man clutching my chain.
“There have been many stories about you, calling you many, many things.” He caressed my face with cold fingers, oblivious to my cringe. “Not all those stories could possibly be true, I know, but I feel you. I feel how your magic calls out to mine.”