One by one at first, a steady trickle of polished black, like the heartwood of ebony hacked at random. Then they came together. Gossiping back and forth—Did you hear? The news is out. It’s all anyone can talk about!
They came in a swarm.
Viscera and carnage lay untouched for mere moments, then word spread like wildfire and the gossiping biddies came calling.
They came in a swarm.
Hair tangled but untouched. Clothes smeared and stained. Bones picked clean and hollow, just waiting to be bleached by the sun. Bit by bit they feast. Bit by bit they heave their roasts home. Devourers of death. Decomposers of life.
“Anything that denotes the colour of blood we consider unsacred. Nobody wears or paints anything red.”
Macready laughed and ran a hand through his hair. “Should’ve left me on the ship, Commander. Apparently I’m bad luck.”
Alison grinned and opened her mouth to retort, but before she could make a sound a low rumble jarred the floor. The blue glow of the holographs flickered and jumped, and a yellow light switched on overhead.
“What was that?” Alison asked.
M’Jin’s brows furrowed even deeper and she studied the yellow glow for a long moment.
“What does the light mean?” Macready said. He was losing patience; Alison could hear it in his voice.
“Yellow is for a storm that has breached the integrity of the city’s barriers,” she said, shaking her head. “But there was no warning of a storm that bad today and we were not warned of any sort of test.”
“What could—” But before she could finish her thought, static issued through the speaker in her ear, followed by a male voice she recognized.
“Commander, do you read me?”
“We’ve got a problem.”
Alison touched a hand to her ear, hating the flimsy comm system there. The setup in their helmets was infinitely more sophisticated. “What is it?”
“—yellow lights everywhere,” Hawthorne said, voice crackling in and out of the static. “M’Kra—ey say it’s a shield breach, but the storm isn’t—” Continue reading →
As they crested the hill to the cave’s copse, a robed figure limped toward them. They slowed their pace when they saw that it was one of the holies, the older one.
Morwenna stooped in a bow. “Holy Cadmon.” When Leto hesitated, she nudged him in the ribs and he slowly lowered his head.
“Hunter Morwenna, Rider Leto,” he rasped, tilting down his head. “I saw that you would leave today. Have you seen your beast again since first you came, Rider Leto?”
Leto winced. “No, Holy Cadmon.”
“We thought as much. Come, out of the snow.” He turned and hobbled back to the copse, Morwenna and Leto on his heels. “Holy Trahern and I took the liberty to recruit one who might be able to help your quest in that regard. Rider Leto, Hunter Morwenna, this is Eleri.” Continue reading →
Four stone towers, only one moderately intact, connected by walls that had long since crumbled in the middle. Vines crawled up the sides of the weathered stones as nature tried to reclaim what was rightfully hers. A flagpole still stood from the highest tower, the one closest to me, with a scrap of fabric still attached. It drifted lazily in the evening breeze.
Another shiver danced down my spine. The highest tower was one of the tallest buildings I had ever seen, aside from the castle in Nallis. It was majestic and magnificent, even with one side gone.
“I don’t like this,” I said to myself, and walked slowly past the tower, alongside the south wall, which was mostly intact. A few holes like slits were carved into the stone—places for archers to keep watch and ready their bows in case of invaders—and from one still dangled the ruined remains of a tapestry. Continue reading →
I swallowed a lump in my throat and my hand drifted to my knife, which I had taken to wearing on my hip instead of my leg once we entered the Old Lands. “Logan, I am the one who lives in this territory,” I said weakly. “I am the one who had to convince you that it wasn’t haunted. But this place… it feels wrong.”
Logan stopped and looked at me, head cocked to the side. Sophia crunched away, oblivious to our hesitation. “Riane, this is why we came here. My legs haven’t stopped hurting since we left home, and I have never been filthier. But this is why we came, remember? We were going on an adventure to break from the monotony of our lives.”
I bit my lip and stole another glance in the direction of the fort. “I like the monotony,” I whispered, but he ignored me and jogged away to catch up with Sophia.
I watched their retreating backs, and my grip tightened on the hilt of my dagger. Night was quickly falling; soon we would be lost in the darkness, and I knew I wasn’t about to camp next to the ruins of the fort. We would have to walk back to Vavenby, and that would take all night.
He made another noise, then crunched a few steps away. “Take off their blindfolds. We have nothing to hide from the likes of them.”
Rough hands yanked at my hair as the knots were untied, then the blindfold was pulled away and I saw him.
He stood a metre or so away, arms folded across the broad expanse of his chest. He wore dark cloth trousers and a similar tunic, with sturdy leather boots tied to his knees. Draped over his shoulders was a thick black fur cloak, which was clasped in the front with the tarnished bronze face of a bear. Tall and powerful, he watched us with dark eyes beneath thick, beetled brows; his hair was long and curled, pulled back from his face with a single braid down the side. Continue reading →
Purity’s cover is designed, and the book is finished!
I neglected to announce it on the old blog, but Purity is completed, with round one of edits done. Everything is prepared in the file, including not only the manuscript, but acknowledgments and a little author bio at the end, and with the cover finished it’s nearly ready to be put for sale! I have some beta readers lined up to go through and edit for me as well, and hopefully the book will be ready for everyone to read around the New Year.
This is happening quickly, so be on the lookout for more updates!