New Year, New Pre-Order: 4th Courtlight Series Boxed Set is LIVE

Happy Holidays all!

I hope you had a lovely time so far over this winter season. Just a brief note that my next boxed set is now live on pre-order! If you’ve been dying to read the next chapters in the Courtlight saga and haven’t read Sworn To Quell: Courtlight #10, Sworn To Restoration: Courtlight #11, and Sworn To Justice: Courtlight #12 this is the perfect set for you!

What makes this set a brilliant new addition to the rest? As one of my beta readers said, Hi Emily *waves*:

“Each of the triumvirate is evolving in their own way to fit into the new present where they are both dependent on each other and fiercely powerful individuals in their own right.”

This set highlights the complex changes in the relationship between the three members of the triumvirate, forces them to a reckoning about not only what it means to love one but to love enough to be a unified front, and throws an empire in turmoil, a regicide, a deity bent of destruction, oh and couple of angry mobs.

One thing I love about Thanar, Sebastian, and Ciardis is that even through personal conflict eventually they always realize that the needs of the bondmates come before the needs of the individual. The Courtlight Series Boxed Set (Books 10-12) is all about the growth and divisions of the triumvirate so that nothing will stand between them.

If you’d like to see the three progress as they never have before read Pre-Order the Courtlight Series Boxed Set: Books 10-12:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | IBOOKS | GOOGLE PLAY

 

Sworn To Justice: Courtlight #12 is LIVE!

12 Books, 1 Romance, 15 Dozen Adventures and Ciardis, Sebastian, and Thanar are continuing on strong! I hope you’re ready for the next in the Courtlight series because its here today! Merry Christmas one-and-all! My present from me to you is here: a brand-new novel in the Courtlight series launches today!

P.S. If you haven’t already read my blog post, don’t forget that I laid out all the information on how/why/when the Courtlight series was extended from 12 books to a possible 13-14! Go into Sworn To Justice with the expectation of adventure, exhilarating romance and even more books to come. 🙂

Ciardis Weathervane has come to face what she always thought was a myth. A legend. A goddess bent on destruction.

But it turns out that while the goddess wants to kill all those she loves and cares for, at least her motivations are pure. Ciardis quickly learns however that the Emperor’s conclave don’t hold to that same ethos. While Ciardis is destined to defeat Amani, she must first navigate the perils of an entrenched court balking against interlopers challenging their very existence.

The conclave will they take things further than could ever be imagined, forcing the daemoni prince, the Emperor of Algardis, and the Lady Companion to renegotiate the building blocks of their alliance. Ciardis once thought she had everything in the world – two individuals who loved her, a home in a palace, and power unlike any other. But as she learns – nothing is permanent and everything is up for grabs.

As Ciardis finds herself surrounded by traitors direct from the Imperial Court themselves, she has to wonder-if she’s fighting to save the empire, who is fighting to save her?

Enjoy Sworn To Justice: Courtlight #12 today on all retailers and remember that the series continues in Sworn To Victory: Courtlight #13!

 

The wait is over, a Courtlight series update (Spoiler: its been extended!) :)

Hello all,

I’ve been working hard on Sworn To Justice: Courtlight #12 and it’s DOOONE! OMG yay, I’ve never been more excited to type this out. We’re priming the book and checking it twice to get it ready for your eReader downloads. In the meantime, check out these awesome reader reviewers as Guild members have gotten an advanced look at the book in preparation for the launch –

“This is the best in the series yet!”

“This next chapter in the Courtlight Series has it all – action, adventure, and romance! I loved every moment of it!”

“Terah has done it again. Action packed from chapter 1 and heartache that everyone has come to expect from the Courtlight series.”

“You made my heart stop 😉”

“NEVER EVER let it end!! ❤️”

“Terah I LOVE YOU!!!!!!! This has been the best news ever. I will be sleeping with the biggest cheese grin. Lucky #13!!!!! Oh wait until everyone sees this!”

Now on to all the updates on my writing. My sincere apologies for the radio silence. I can’t believe its been nine whole months since my last publication date. That is unusual for me and trust me it wasn’t deliberate. Just a factor of writing this next adventure for Ciardis & Sebastian & Thanar, wanting it to be perfect, and realizing I was cutting scenes that made me so happy.

So now that I’ve figured out the focus on Courtlight #12, I’m back to writing other books in the Algardis Universe, and ready to keep you entertained for the foreseeable future. Which means your 2019 Year is going to be delightful with fantasy, magic, romance, and adventure once more! So I hope you’re ready to buckle in and get even more excited for a hyped new year!

Courtlight #12 will be the first release, perhaps in time for a little Christmas cheer *hint, hint* ^.^, then I will be going on to more books in the Crown Service series as well as some new spin-offs about the dragons of Sahalia and the school for Mages. But I did want to give you a head’s up before you started reading Sworn To Justice because there will be surprises in store, twists & turns, heartbreak, peril and of course – the continuation of the series!

What – you say? More Courtlight books? YES! That’s right. Now, when I started writing this book nine months ago I was sure it would be a simple matter of tying up loose ends, answering all the questions readers had (who is Ciardis Weathervane’s father!?), and making it a riveting adventure.

Turns out that was a huge undertaking to include all of that in one book. So I started writing and kept writing and kept writing. I’m now staring at 150,000 words of magical goodness…and I’m nowhere near done.

Oh, we have a battle with a goddess. A wedding of epic proportions. A father introduced. But so many scenes in between and after each of those momentous occasions need their time to shine.

So here’s what I’m doing – I’m extending the Courtlight series! After you pick up Sworn To Justice: Courtlight #12, now there will be a new title forthcoming – Sworn To Victory: Courtlight #13. I haven’t titled book #14 yet but at least half of it will be filled with more dragons than you could ever ever imagine. And both will have the wedding that will put Harry & Meghan’s to shame. 🙂

So I hope you’re ready! Courtlight has just a little bit more in store for you! In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled and those one-click fingers primed! I’ll be announcing the release of Courtlight #12 quicker than you can blink.

Sworn To Justice – the final Courtlight book – Chapters 1 & 2

So I spent Saturday crying my eyes out, Sunday furiously typing, and here we are one week later with the first glimpse of the latest-and-final Courtlight novel! I am so ready to see what you all think of this next chapter in my original series. 🙂

First let me say how excited I am to be working on the final book of Ciardis, Thanar, and Sebastian’s journey. Every time I open up the manuscript I let out a little squee of delight because let’s face it – these three have been with me so long that its almost like saying goodbye to long-time friends.

As I’ve been writing Sworn To Justice: Courtlight #12 I’ve also been working together plot threads all the way back to Sworn To Raise: Courtlight #1. So you’re getting many answers about different subjects including Ciardis’s father, you’ll see a imperial wedding that I’m also still sobbing over, and a celestial battle that’s been years in the making. Among many other things.

So without further ado, I give you the first two working chapters of the last Courtlight novel. Please keep in mind that this has not been seen by my editor team and even my betas are in the dark, but I hope you enjoy and look forward to the full read!

 

Ciardis Weathervane looked up, up, and then around with wide eyes.

Her mind was trying to comprehend the screeching, howling figures descending down from the sky in massive numbers. It was almost impossible to tell how many were coming at them now. Although she had conservatively estimated the number at hundreds before, she now saw thousands. All because the sky portals weren’t closing.

Instead they were widening and the creatures falling through kept coming without ceasing in a mad dash to enter the mortal realm at their mistress’s bidding. If she wasn’t partially scared and totally infuriated, she might have been impressed. The goddess of death and destruction had found a way around the slaughter of her minions. It was simple and effective and Ciardis had to wonder how long she’d been gathering these creatures in another realm as a back-up force.

But that wasn’t necessarily what mattered at the moment. What mattered was how were they going to fight them? To do that, she had to know what they were and at the moment—she could only guess from this distance. But they looked like scraggly black dots with membrane-like wings as they fell on the winds and swept through the sky.

Beside her, Ciardis heard the daemoni prince say grimly, “This doesn’t look good.”

“Does it ever?” she heard Sebastian say right back without taking his own eyes off the sky.

Ciardis was able to tear her eyes from the teeming mass growing above her only when Thanar began to snap open his larger wings and then close them right back up with unease.

It was like a nervous tic for him but an instant attention-grabber for her.

For reasons she didn’t plan to discuss. Not ever.

For now, she simply turned to him and asked lightly, “Scared?”

She was trying to be humorous in a dark situation but it came out a little tenser than she’d like.

He snorted and said, “Just getting ready, Golden Eyes. You should do the same. They’re coming this way.”

Then he took a step back. Then another. Not in fear though. His stare up at the sky was much too fixed and much too angry. Looking back Ciardis saw that he was right. The flying black dots were gravitating to each other and as their mass of wings and claws drifted lower in the skies it did seem like they were getting closer than ever to her hillside perch.

Ciardis and the others had come up to a higher elevation because it represented a defensive advantage against any enemies. But that only worked if those enemies were on the ground. Instead the goddess seemed to be thinking ahead and her thoughts for strategy were dead on—attacks from the sky and by land.

Grimacing as her eyes swept down from the skies and across the rest of the sweeping forces on the ground, Ciardis had the realization that they sat squarely in the center of a pincer. Even after they had worked so hard to defeat the goddess’s forces with a bold-and-desperate tactic to unleash a wave of magic across the empire so strong that it wiped out the enemies of the Algardis bloodline in one fell swoop, it seemed it still wasn’t enough.

She could see both claws from the goddess’ forces in the air and on the ground coming for her head and Ciardis Weathervane didn’t like it one bit.

Feeling that anger spill over in a mental connection and meet up with Thanar’s own rage only served to stoke the fires of her resentment. Whatever the goddess had planned for a frontal attack wouldn’t work. She was resolute about that. They might have to take a side-step in their plans to face her triumvirate-to-one but Ciardis was quite sure of one thing—they could defeat this group just as they had all those who had come before them. With her lightning strikes and Thanar’s skills in battle, let alone the individuals standing around them prepared to give their own lives for the cause, there was nothing the goddess of death and destruction could do to make them lose.

Ciardis Weathervane would make damned sure of that.

Deciding now was as good a time as ever, Ciardis called up her lighting and let it play between her fingers as it jumped back-and-forth in long, tantalizing arcs.

With a smirk on his face the daemoni prince rose to the challenge as well as he took flight with a strong gust of winds and longswords appearing in both fists.

As anger disappeared from his mental haze, Ciardis instead felt joy radiating from him.

Joy for the coming kills.

Embracing his blasé attitude to loss of life, she even took some of that for herself. If she was to battle against these minions and their deity, maybe it was time that she was a little less emotional and a tad more bloodthirsty.

Just a tad—she couldn’t change who she was after all. But she could certainly show them a side of the Weathervane Companion they had never seen.

She felt Thanar’s approval radiate down even as he rose in the air and her resolve rose with it.

Meanwhile, the mass of black dots was not unaware of their preparations though, and as one the throats of the oncoming beasts let out screeches of raw anger.

It was a challenge for the daemoni prince….and for Ciardis.

Fine, let them vent their anger. She would share her own righteous fury.

They were still far enough away that their focus could be mistaken for a wider target but the chill that went down Ciardis’s spine told her differently. Told her that they didn’t see them, so much as him as their screeching anger seemed to radiate down in a tunnel of echoes that sliced through the air straight towards the daemoni prince.

Looking around Ciardis could see why Thanar would be a prime target. Not only was he a member of the Emperor’s closest circle, but he also happened to be one of the few flying members of the Algardis offensive which could take them on mid-air.

Ciardis frowned.

It didn’t look good that they too didn’t have aerial forces to field as well. That wasn’t for lack of trying though. There were kith members here eager to fight for their homeland just as much as the human contingent was prepared to fight as well. But they were mostly present below on the main battlefield in the flying squadrons, not as personal guards to the Emperor and his retinue who were hundreds of feet away on the mountaintop but might as well have been miles in the distance for all the good it would do with the speed these minions of the empress were showing.

Deciding to not let it bother her, to instead take them on as she knew only she could, Ciardis stepped cautiously to the edge of the ledge where even her weighted cloak began to flap noisily as it was beaten by the fierce winds. Something caught her eyes, not in the sky this time where Thanar took his battle to the air, but on the ground. And it didn’t look too pleasing even from this distance either.

Squinting her eyes as she took a spyglass from her pocket, Ciardis took a good long look at those human and kith mixed together in well-ordered contingents on the fields below. They were packed in tight formation and it would be almost impossible for them to coordinate with the Emperor’s forces up top in time to reverse their positions and flight paths to come to their aid, so she approved when Sebastian conferred with his second-in-command and waved off his request to redeploy forces.

It was the right move.

They were too far off to aid them and would just be gutted from behind by the goddess’s forces lying in wait. This time it would just be up to them to aid themselves.

So like game pieces on a board, she watched from afar as pike soldiers arranged next to battle-ready griffins began to march forward in unison while eager feathered drakes from Ameles took to the skies alongside them with their own bloodcurdling warning cries.

Every one of them focused on the enemy in front, assured that the Emperor and his offshoot of forces could take care of those coming from behind.

Meanwhile high above on the mountain she stiffened in dread as their own piece of the enemy kept coming for them. It took longer because for the moment they were farther away from the area the portals had appeared at, but they would be here soon enough and their offshoot couldn’t back down.

The main forces were taking on the left pincer. She, Thanar, and Sebastian’s deployment were to take on the right. And heaven help either group if the other failed. So swallowing hard and preparing herself for the fury of battle, Ciardis looked up to the skies once more as she memorized every position of the oncoming enemy in preparation.

Their positions of course would change. But it made her feel better. Just as feeling Thanar’s sharp blades cut through flesh as if it were her own arms swinging the longswords also felt invigorating.

Meanwhile she reached out again mentally for Thanar. Almost with unconscious familiarity, hoping that whatever was going through his mind would ease her worry. Maybe he had a plan. He always had a plan after all and since the thoughts currently running through her head mostly consisted of fight and don’t-die she’d take all the reassurance she could get. But instead of warmth and comfort all she got was a blank wall for her troubles.

Glancing at him in surprise, Ciardis noticed that now he wasn’t even paying her the least mind. Too far gone into bloodlust apparently. Which made sense physically, but mentally she felt like a fly swatted away in irritation. This was why even as she spiraled into darkness with Thanar, she knew she could never go all the way. He always had some block, some mental barrier—usually linked to depravity, that kept her from walking into the sunset with him.

At least that’s what she had always felt anyway even if sometimes his block was more her own and as she had learned-and-grown in the court of Maradian, someone’s darkness was someone else’s temptation.

This time she decided to push forward rather than veer away, so she went back up against his blank mental wall and gave him a piece of her mind.

Or at least she thought she did.

But if he heard her, he gave no sign of recognition, which was very unlike Thanar.

Biting her lip Ciardis noticed that maybe it hadn’t been a deliberate attempt to push her away as she thought. In fact, he seemed unconscious to the entire world. Everything except sky above and enemies that would be on them in minutes.

It gave her time to think, if not much anyway.

He seemed to be unconsciously blocking a mental stream of thought from going from his mind to hers, but that didn’t completely prevent her from feeling his emotions.

And from what Ciardis could sense the darkness was only growing in the daemoni prince’s mind. What was once an eagerness to join him as he fought turned to wariness as she felt nothing but bloodthirsty desire. In this ability she almost envied him. His drive to fight and tear apart his enemies was superseding anything else in his mind. He was almost predatory in nature and it was certainly something she she’d never been able to holistically—not naturally anyway.

But did that really matter?

A howling scream distracted her and her eyes flickered from Thanar’s form disappearing in the sky as he was surrounded by a ball of ferocious enemies while more than holding his own to the creature which seems to have locked its gaze on her.

Seeing the drool coming down off its serrated canines as he flew straight for her, Ciardis decided it didn’t matter much at all. She made not have descended into a world of nothing but blood and battle lust, but she could certainly conjure and feast on some anger of her own.

Anger at how unfair the world was—that so many would die today. That they had to battle these minions in the first place. But inside that anger was a core of certainty. Certainty that they would emerge victorious.

She managed to ignore the tendril in her mind that said that they would emerge or die trying.

It wouldn’t do any good to for her resolve to falter now.

No, they had a fight to begin and as her gaze intensified Ciardis would have been unaware that the glint of determination on her face showed in the golden glow of her eyes.

Like sunfire just before dusk.

But the others around her were more than just aware and as they prepared themselves for battle with calmness it almost felt like, to Ciardis anyway, that she embodied more than just a focus point for them.

That she was going to change the world.

She hoped she could. For all their sakes’.

Upon release the 12th book in the Courlight series will be live at http://terahedun.com/sworntojustice

Ciardis and her people, the Emperor’s offshoot, watched and waited.

As the intensity of the fight between Thanar and the dozen or so creatures in the air continued, their brethren seemed less committed. The one that had caught Ciardis in its sights seemed to be hesitating now and they circled in the air like vultures rather than dove towards the ground in search of prey.

Heart in her throat Ciardis realized that even if Thanar had the upper hand now that could swiftly change. It would only take one of those creatures to get close enough to lacerate his wings or—let’s face it—a lot more kills for him to tire enough to be taken down and overwhelmed by brute force.

But there were seemingly hundreds of them in the air and a few dozen of Ciardis’s side on the mountaintop to fight back if the daemoni prince fell.

Licking her suddenly dry lips, she knew they couldn’t wait until the creatures decided to attack. They had cunning eyes, but her forces had ingenuity on their side, and right now they were hovering just out of reach of her lightning or the arrows of the offshoot behind her but that could be changed.

They just needed to force them down.

Turning around to see if they had something, anything that could do that Ciardis instead realized something else. With an uneasy look she acknowledged that they were just as much sitting ducks here as they were strategists with the upper hand.

After all there was no high ground when your opponents could fly.

And at the moment the ledge they stood on was an open flat-top with nothing but pebbles for ammunition, which was great when you wanted an entire group of individuals to get a good look at the battlefield below but left them immensely vulnerable when they needed cover.

The winged creatures realized that just as soon as she did apparently because a call went up and suddenly a squadron of the beasties broke off and dove—straight for the triumvirate and the hundred or so guards who were prepared to die for their reborn loyalists.

She felt Sebastian shift into position by her side and a veritable whirlwind of dust stirred up behind her as he called on the land and air around them to defend his people.

As she watched his suddenly gale-strength winds snatch bodies out of the air and slam them into the ground with such force that their hunched bodies burst, she smiled.

It was good to be emperor, was the only thing Ciardis Weathervane thought as she heard warning shouts go up and she felt a stitch of pride swell in her heart at the composure of those around her. That is before she got a good look at one of the flying beasties faces and seeing them close up—fear overtook her instead.

It was the stuff nightmares were made of and it was coming straight for them as it dove around a hapless daemoni prince and dodged currents of living wind that were snatching the rest of its companions out of air like flies.

Tempering her emotions down she studied its face and body for a weak point. Seeing dark gray skin stretch over prominent bone ridges that erupted into jutting horns told her the face may not be the way to go.

But the caved in hairless chest with its scrawny sternum may have just been the bull’s eye target she needed and satisfied as she stared into its bulging enraged eyes coming for her Ciardis smiled and let rip with her lightning for a direct hit.

It screamed and died mid-air and she was on to the next. Catching three more as she fried them to a crisp before one was able to get close enough to land on the ledge right below her feet. For a moment she stared in horrified disgust at its void of a nose that somehow still managed to throb in time with the pulse of blood in the rest of the creature’s body.

But she wasn’t squeamish enough to be stunned into inaction so she pointed and blasted him off the rock he was standing on with enough lightning to make her hairs stand on end.

Then she looked around for more. Before long she couldn’t turn an inch without seeing a new body to scorch and if she wasn’t throwing lighting, which was rapidly tiring her by the way, she was reaching out to the Emperor of Algardis mentally and physically to check on his stores of power and make sure the winds he was calling up alongside the columns of earth used as sharp bludgeoning tools weren’t exhausting him out either.

So far, so good. At least on Sebastian’s end. The true union of ruler and land had done him good. But it wasn’t doing squat for her as she was relying on her own reserves of power while he and Thanar took out their enemies separately one by one.

As she began to pant with exertion Ciardis didn’t falter but she had to wonder just how this was going to end.

The creatures just coming just like the ones who had gathered in the chasm below the wall of Ban had before…and she had to wonder just how many their enemy had stocked away in a realm unknown to them.

The other gods might have been able to tell them but they were all a little busy to consult with the deities at the moment and surviving—of course—took precedence.

As one particularly brutal flying creature that didn’t seem to want to die even after she struck it with lightning came straight for her, Ciardis stumbled back almost uncertainly until she fell within the security of the wall of soldiers bristling around and behind her with their pikes at the ready.

They had been killing the creatures who had gotten close enough to them all along but as ground forces they were limited in their range. At least within them she could take a respite, catch her breath, and then storm back in ready with more lightning.

She hoped.

Until that is until she heard a voice.

“Scared Companion?” came a taunt from above.

Even if she was, she would have never admitted it then.

“Not a chance,” she snapped back quickly. “Just catching a breather between waves of these…these creatures.”

“They’re gremlins,” Thanar said in between killing strokes. “Not creatures. Subjects of the goddess and pretty low-level scum if we’re going to put them on a scale of things.”

Voice uncertain but trying to be game, Ciardis said, “I don’t care if they’re called sheep, they’re endless.”

“Like ants,” Thanar said suavely as he cut the head and arms off two with almost uncanny finesse. “Just snap the head off, their life winks out of existence, and you’re done with them.”

Ciardis blinked and laughed as he demonstrated just that.

She couldn’t help it. Even surrounded by the angry creatures the daemoni prince had flair. And it was his humor even amid a desperate situation that made her snap out of her horrified state.

Discovering that she wasn’t so tired after all Ciardis Weathervane stepped forward to take them all on.

As she surged up with her energy renewed and began popping wings off the creatures like flies after a while she noticed a dead zone in the air above her. Turning her gaze from one of the falling creature’s dead eyes, she saw that Thanar had decided to use his magic to float about fifteen feet in the air above her. And for once he wasn’t surrounded by bodies’ three-creatures deep.

Instead he hovered in a relatively open space of air as he used his magic to stabilize him in place, almost like a sentry above her. As she watched he casually sheathed both of his swords and called up his magic into his palms. With a dexterity she envied he turned that power into two thin cords of brightly glowing orange fire.

Then he let loose.

The magic whipped out in a high-intensity lash that decapitated every creature that came within centimeters of his little protective circle.

He did it another time and the screams that resulted were music to her ears as their burned limbs fell to the ground if they were lucky, and their headless torsos came next if they were not.

Seeing what he was doing Ciardis Weathervane was at once grateful and incensed.

“I don’t need your protection!” she snapped up at him defiant.

The daemoni prince gave her a grin which flashed his pearly white and sharp incisors as he snapped out a fiery whip with a casual flick of his wrist.

Three more died.

“I just thought you looked a little tired,” he called down.

Ciardis rolled her eyes and threw an extra-large bolt of lightning just to show him she wasn’t.

She heard him say, “That’s my girl” but she didn’t deign to respond to the patronizing, if prideful, tone in his voice.

Instead she straightened her weary shoulders and keep going just as the trained forces around her were doing. She had no choice, because Ciardis Weathervane may have been many things, but she wasn’t ready to die yet.

Not here. Not now. Hell, she had barely lived her life so far and she desperately truly wanted to.

She wanted to relax on a bright summer’s day at the beach.

She wanted to walk down the aisle in a spectacular wedding veil.

She wanted to laugh once more with her friends.

Besides all of that she had fought too long to stay alive to let these minions take her out.

So she waved her hand and tossed lightning in the air. Straight for them.

Not to be outdone Thanar kept raining down body parts from the air and a satisfied smile swept across Ciardis’s features as she backed him up with as much lightning as she could throw, ignoring the subtle creep of ache that swept up her arms as she went for what felt like her fiftieth target and endured.

Then Sebastian stepped up by her side and her concentration was thrown off.

Not fatally, but enough for several guards to have to surge forward with swords and shields to gamely take on those that had gotten around her defenses.

As she turned a head to the side and looked at Sebastian with an arched brow, Ciardis said, “Something the matter?”

He replied with aplomb as if they stood at a ceremony at court all the while.

“As a matter of fact there is,” the Emperor of Algardis replied back.

Then his tone turned grim as he said, “We can’t stay here.”

She didn’t give him time to say more because she had to hurl a blast of lightning so heavy into the air that thunder crackled when it smacked into its intended target. It was more than worth the effort—she caught five of the flying gremlins in one blow.

Panting at the exertion but quite pleased with herself Ciardis shook her head wordlessly at him and stepped forward a bit for better positioning.

As she threw more lightning with maniac glee, she told Sebastian, “It’ll take a lot more than a sore arm and a bit of weariness to get me to back down.”

She looked back at him but his attention was taken up by the captain and a top lieutenant he had turned to confer with.

When he turned back Sebastian shouted at her over the noise, “But don’t you see?”

“See what?” she shouted back as she got into the swing of things and kept up her lightning volley. Her magic was flying so fast and furious through the air now that a distant viewer might be excused for thinking this was an almighty storm bearing down on them rather than one eager and incensed woman smiting a legion of flying beasties from the skies.

The sounds of her lightning blasts becoming thunder were so loud that she couldn’t hear what he said next and to be honest – she sort of liked it that way. The energy flowing though her and out in energy blasts was invigorating. Actually doing something was all-consuming.

Apparently realizing he wasn’t getting through to her and frustrated Sebastian climbed up on to the higher perch behind her. Which distracted her just enough to pull her back from the edge mentally and physically. She had to as the rocky platform they were standing on was barely big enough for one person with wide skirts to account for, let alone a broad-shouldered young man.

But at the very least she could hear him without straining now.

So she listened as he laid out his concerns.

“They’re baiting us,” he said grimly as he too fought off diving attacks from the gremlins who managed to evade Ciardis’s lightning based attacks and the lash of Thanar’s fiery whip.

Ciardis turned shocked eyes on him as her hair blew around her face with the force of the heavy winds.

“What do you mean?” she shouted back as she gestured wildly as the teeming field of soldiers fighting below.

“We’re fighting a ten-to-one battle here Emperor,” she reminded him. “And if we don’t take to the field offensive fast we may not be around much longer.”

He shook his head. “You don’t think I know that? But—“

“But what?” she said back in irritation as she turned back and hurled an almighty ball of lightning at a flying gremlin that got much too close for comfort.

Past Thanar’s defensive lines and almost zooming in so fast that she didn’t have time to kill it.

Listen to me,” Sebastian snarled while motioning to his archers to cover their front.

Gripping her shoulders and turning her to him so that she had no choice, Ciardis was shocked enough to drag her eyes away from the battle in the sky and focus on the irate Emperor of Algardis instead.

Upon release the 12th book in the Courlight series will be live at http://terahedun.com/sworntojustice

Algardis Universe Giveaway – Personalized Gifts!

Congrats on winning the Algardis Universe prize DAWN ROBERTO! Your package is on the way!


I can’t believe I’m saying it – but the end of the Courtlight series is coming very soon! It’s really hard to imagine but I’ve been writing this particular set of books for five years and now to see it close is just a tad tear-jerking. But it couldn’t have come at a better time as I’m full-throttle into the Crown Service series and opening up a third series in the Algardis Universe that I’ll hope you love this summer as well.

So now – the point of this post. In sincere thanks to you the readers for staying with me so long I’ve partnered with a beautiful merchandiser, Personalized Gifts, to bring a great giveaway to you! You can see the gifts I have for you below and I’m pretty sure every fan of Courtlight can find a use for one item or the other. So enjoy!

 

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Blades Of Destiny is Available Now!

It’s release day! Blades Of Destiny: Crown Service #4 is now live across all retailers! Grab the latest book in the Sara Fairchild series and meet the mysterious Kade who is fighting against everything she stands for.

~~~~

Sara Fairchild was sure of two things when she killed that Kade invasion leader. The first? That it was a righteous kill. The second? That she would always be haunted by it.

Now she’s shouldering the responsibilities of being a leader, not a follower, in the imperial armed forces while trying to figure out exactly what the Empress’s Representative has planned for her. Whatever the blood of the crown wants, Sara knows that she will suffer for it.

As she launches a mission to re-capture Nissa Sardonien, Sara finds out that she’s not the only one playing a cat-and-mouse game. Apparently the Kades have been keeping a closer eye on her than even she knew, and when Sara meets Gabriel—their enigmatic leader with amethyst eyes—all bets are off.

Blades Of Destiny: Crown Service #4 – First and Second Chapters

Hello readers,

I am so happy to see the chronicles of Sara Fairchild progressing so smoothly in the Crown Service series! I also love the reviews and comments I’ve received from readers saying they love her spunk and drive and I plan to continue writing this amazing woman’s adventures through 2018. Though fans of Courtlight do not despair! I’ve got something for you next. 😉

In the meantime, ahead of the release of Blades Of Destiny: Crown Service #4, here are the first two chapters that I can share with you TODAY! It’s been read only by me and my crack assistant Rachel, so I hope you enjoy this sneak peek into the newest book in the Algardis Universe!

Please keep in mind that this has not been seen by my editor team, but I hope you enjoy and look forward to the full read!

Also please think about grabbing the first three books in the Crown Service series BEFORE book four releases. I promise you will have a heck of a time gobbling down over 300,000 words in a single day otherwise.

Blades Of Magic: Crown Service #1

Blades Of Illusion: Crown Service #2

Blades Of Sorcery: Crown Service #3

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Sara Fairchild took a deep breath. One that was intended to be calming. Because calming herself down was about the only thing she could do at the moment to prevent her hands from wrapping around Matteas Hillan’s throat.

Again.

Face slack with disbelief as her emotions sidled into disgust, Sara looked at the mercenary her father had entrusted with the very secrets that had cost him his life. It was hard to believe this was his choice. As she stared at the man that she could barely believe was a mercenary, let alone a competent one, there was nothing she could say at this moment that wouldn’t turn this situation from bad to worse, so Sara elected for silence.

Ezekiel Crane however was done with silence.

As they all kept wary ears piqued for the signs of close fighting outside her tent entrance, he questioned the man with rapid-fire intensity.

“What do you remember about the layout of the building?” the scholar in a tightly controlled voice. She approved. The tension that echoed in his tones gave her pause, but by keeping his face clear and his hands from doing anything physical, the scholar was showing them both that he had control.

Control that she lacked. Control of her emotions. Control of her actions.

It wasn’t just the darkness rising up that she feared. It was the subtle whispers, the pushes that made her think the transition to becoming a Berserker wasn’t just a sudden change…but rather instead it was a series of cracks in the glass. Too many cracks and the entire panel holding back her darkness would shatter and with it she would lose more than her own control. Instead Sara feared that she would lose the thing that made her who she was as she fell, she would lose her psyche.

As she thought of that it sent a mild shiver down her spine.

But focusing outward on what was important, Sara watched as her friend stepped forward and took control of the situation when she could not. That was what friends were for after all, threatening others when you yourself were close to doing something that would only dig you deeper into the hole you had made.

Though to be honest it was more of a hole that she had inherited.

She’d only begun this quest due to familial obligation. They’d killed both of her parents after all and the least she could do was find out why. Whether it was the imperial representatives of the court or the unsanctioned actions of the mercenary guild was left to be determined and Sara had the feeling that this journal had all the answers. That her father had all the answers.

Her fist bunched tensely at her side as she thought of all he’d accomplished in his sterling career as an imperial officer lastly and as a brilliant gladiator at the beginning. To see it all stripped down to one heinous word, treason, was to feel like her whole life had been a lie. That her father was darkness and she was too, and that their gifts were merely a manifestation of that darkness in their psyche brought to life.

She wished she could brush away those thoughts. Perceptions that she was more worthless than even those who had spit at her feet in the streets of Sandrin had thought, but it was hard to do when the entire empire knew what your bloodline had done.

So she waited and she quietly hoped, that the man who Ezekiel was calmly coaxing answers out of had some for her. Answers that would quiet the ache in her soul and maybe finally allow her to push back the darkness once-and-for-all. Because Sara might have been most combative against the darkness while on the battlefield, but she knew it was always there. Waiting. Watching. Lurking.

And it always had been.

Turning her head slightly from the distant point of the tent corner which had held her focused gaze, Sara’s eyes flicked over to meet another’s who was watching her intensely. So intensely that her hand flexed on the weapon’s hilt whose blade she had managed to start cleaning methodically as they waited in these tense confines.

There wasn’t much better to do and besides…if there were Kades out there and they were coming for her, a ready weapon at her side would do more good than anything else she could get her hands on.

But as she snapped out of her reverie to find Ezekiel looking back at her with concern in his eyes, Sara had the feeling that he didn’t see a warrior preparing for another battle, so much as a friend in dire need of some help.

Not used to that. Not used to anyone coddling her, Sara did what she did best.

She raised a sure eyebrow and barked at the scholar, “What? Has he finally said something of use?”

She wasn’t really upset at Ezekiel. But rather it was this whole scenario, her whole life really. Starting with the memories that kept appearing like grim flashes in her mind—her abrupt-but-necessary beating of the Kade invasion leader into a pulp not even an hour before foremost among them, but she couldn’t tell him that.

However judging by the concerned way Ezekiel was looking her up-and-down he could tell that while she had washed away the blood, the wounds that had been left behind—emotional this time—still lingered.

Still he knew better to bring it up…especially now in front of a stranger.

Sara had always been one to internalize her emotions and feelings first. Muddle them around a bit and only then speak her mind. Her hot springs bath post-execution of the Kade invasion leader had been the first step in that process but it wasn’t the only step. The other part of the process had involved her getting some shuteye…even briefly before Captain Barthis came looking for her, or she had been forced to go to him.

In either case, it was a moot point now as the captain certainly had his hands full and as she looked at Matteas Hillan who gazed back at her with a piteous expression….she had her hands full too.

He didn’t want her to turn him over to the people who had been chasing him.

Which was fair, she didn’t want him going over to them. That however didn’t mean that she was going to protect him without getting some needed answers first.

“What have you given us except some shut out?” She finally spit out furious as she took a step towards the man she finally knew as her father’s confidante and the camp’s, particular the Red Lion guard’s, logistics aide.

He didn’t answer and Ezekiel stood up to shield him a bit with his body as he walked over to her and said in a soothing voice, “He can’t give us anything if we don’t make him at ease first.”

Sara looked at the scholar with her jaw agape, “Do you see the arrows buried in our floor? Do you hear the sounds of people dying outside? We don’t have time to coddle him!”

“Fine, but snapping at him gives us very few results,” Ezekiel said while gesturing at the man behind them. “And he’s—“

“He’s not simple and he doesn’t need your protection,” Sara Fairchild argued with a snarl.

“That’s true,” Ezekiel replied dryly. “But your pacing isn’t helping either. Maybe you should lie down.”

Sara shot him an ironic look, she knew what he was doing.

“To get me out of the way or to get me down?” Sara said slowly while twirling her sword. Not in a threatening manner, more like a habit that was so ingrained that sometimes she didn’t even know she was doing it.

“Now would I ever say that?” he said with a flash of his teeth in a smile—even as he flinched with the sound of weapons clashing grew closer.

Sara shifted her feet and prepared to move.

Ezekiel said in glumness, “I don’t know what you were doing earlier today or with who Sara Fairchild, but you’re too tired to do this now.”

Sara didn’t disagree with him, she felt her very bones aching with the weariness of a woman who had won her fight but at the cost of her own soul, and all she wanted to do was sleep. But she wasn’t wired that way. She couldn’t just back down when it was clear they were all going to be in imminent-and-present danger. Besides, who could sleep over the ringing of shields and clash of swords they all heard outside anyway? Not her.

All she said to him was, “Not now Ezekiel Crane. We can’t afford to falter. Get the information. Get ready to move.”

He didn’t protest, instead he just sighed as he shot a dark look of his own at the tent entrance. They were both like caged animals waiting for an enemy to tumble through the vulnerable flap doors. There was nothing they could do about that however, none of the furniture present was enough to properly blockade a tent entrance and besides, she didn’t want to get stuck inside if a smart opponent decided to burn the damned fabric walls down around them.

So she waited and paced as she watched Ezekiel do what he did best. Question. Discern. Analyze. And even if the answers were more evasive than useful, he at least could keep his anger from showing through when all Sara wanted to do was light up the small tent space with blistering threats.

Threats which would do no good.

The man who was three times as wide as she was, while still being a mercenary somehow, would only quiver and quail as he withdrew into himself more. Though she did note he managed to be as evasive as a snake while doing so. The only other reason she hadn’t gone over there to shake some sense into him was…she saw something in his eyes and it wasn’t cunning. It was fear.

As her hand stilled the sword that she’d been using to put herself through her formalized paces in the small space, Sara thought she recognized that fear. It was the fear of doing the wrong thing, saying the wrong thing. It was the fear of scaring them off.

While it was true that Matteas Hillan didn’t fear losing the bonds of friendship as she often did, she did see that it was clear he feared for his life and although his eyes jerked towards her every so often it wasn’t her sword his gaze landed on but her face.

He wanted her protection. He might even beg for it. But Sara Fairchild had never been known to back down in front of challenge and this man certainly was one. Not necessarily one she needed but he had fallen into her lap nevertheless. Thinking of how he’d managed to connive his way into the service of the Red Lions—one of the most elite mercenary companies in the empire—she had to admit that what he lacked in courage he most assuredly made up in his ability to be the person everyone needed.

From her father to her father’s enemies and now…her father’s daughter.

Briefly amused as she eyed him askance and Ezekiel continued to question him, Sara had the thought, Matteas must be damned good at his position.

She was very firm in her belief that there was no other way that someone who was both a close ally of her father—accused of treason and executed—as well as a quivering lump of flesh useless on the battlefield would be here otherwise.

Still he seemed to have answers. Answers to questions that Ezekiel was patiently pulling out of him strand by coaxing strand. Questions she would have had asked herself, again had she not been so caught up in her desire to kill the man slumped before them both.

To be fair, he deserved her recrimination. There was no worse place on land or at sea right now for a member of the vaunted imperial armed forces to go, let alone the Empress’s mercenary’s guild, and that was the Madrassa. Fabled as the greatest school for mages ever built in this empire, it only accepted the highest candidates for magical instruction. Those like the weather warden who had died getting their impromptu projectile through Kade defenses and those like the line mage, Arcnus, who had given up his life force alongside him.

The Madrassa didn’t accept fools gladly nor did it take on anything less than the best.

Which was why Ezekiel and Sara were staring at the cringing logistics officer on the floor so balefully.

He’d put those journals in a place no one could reach. No one on their side anyway.

Because the Madrassa was more than just an education institution for mages, by dint of being the best gathering places for magical practice, it also was the home of the Kade’s first uprising.

Although the imperial family had not condemned the whole of the institution for the infractions of one—in their eyes minor, uprising—they had made sure the entire empire was aware that treachery had been first fomented within those hallowed halls.

But just because it was minor didn’t mean it stayed inconsequential forever as the entire empire was learning now. And even if it had, the immediate repercussions of the uprising weren’t something that wasn’t so easy to forget.

Not for anyone Sara knew or for Sara herself. Especially because of what had had happened after the edict from the imperial family had come down.

An edict that no one spoke of. Not because they didn’t know this time, but because they all knew too much. After several more than terse confrontations, the Kades had taken over the institution which had formally belonged to the empire and was a shining example of the exalted progress a former backwater colony of Sahalia had made.

Sara had to admit, losing the Madrassa and it all it represented was like a black eye upon the Empress herself. She had to think the Kades knew that and they also had to know that as such their ruling family wouldn’t rest until it was returned to them.

But that was neither here nor there for Sara Fairchild.

She wasn’t a part of the deployment force assigned to camp outside the Madrassa’s mage-enforced walls night-and-day, waiting for an opening in her defenses.

What she was, was a desperate mercenary who needed to get through those defenses when even the imperial armed forces had failed.

Upon release the 4th book in the Crown Service series will be live at http://terahedun.com/bladesofdestiny

Eyes shuttered as she rubbed her forehead in deep thought, Sara groaned aloud as she imagined the impossibility of getting through her own forces, here and there, past Kade defenses, and to the journal.

When she opened her eyes even Ezekiel Crane looked glum.

The scholar was crouched down clearly trying to think of a simple solution to their problem and she saw him visually discard each idea that he came up with as he searched for another. He had either given up on questioning Matteas directly or was taking a breather.

Either way Sara knew what Matteas was requiring of them would be impossible. They  had to retrieve the journals from inside the Madrassa’s hallowed halls. It just couldn’t be done now that the Madrassa was walled off behind Kade protection spells the likes of which the world had never seen. That was on top of the fact that it was supposedly where the eight foremost mages of the Kade rebellion— the ones who had actually caused this civil war—planned their assaults from, which meant even more people to be watchful for.

Maybe they would have had a chance when the school had been just that…a school. But not now when it was the lair of a uprising.

He might as well have just given those journals to the Red Lions, Sara thought in distress.

Their only goal had been to keep them out of her hands, which this did just as well as them burning them.

With a deep sigh, Sara rubbed agitated hands through her head of tangled curls and paced—for once thinking as deeply as Ezekiel Crane. This, after all, wasn’t a situation she could fight her way out of with swinging swords. Not yet anyway. As she turned on the thinly carpeted floor of the tent, Sara thought about what she knew for facts and what she didn’t know…which was a lot.

A boom sounded not too far off and her entire body tensed at the sound of the blast and the screams that followed. But it was a singular boom, not multiple so she unstuck her feet from their stiff stance in the rug on the tent floor and resumed pacing.

The Kades obviously had specific targets in mind, and running outside like a hen with her head chopped off without knowing where to go would have been foolish. After all if they wanted to attack the commander’s tents further after the hail of arrows they would have done so. No, for now they were finished here which gave Sara Fairchild the desperate few minutes she needed to sort out the strands of deception running through her head.

She couldn’t prove that the journals were in fact what the Red Lions had been after when they’d slaughtered her mother, but they hadn’t come over for tea either and she and her mother had owned nothing of value otherwise. For them to kill an innocent woman and use a necromancer to raise her dead body in her own kitchen was just overkill…or a sign of desperation.

So thinking of those journals sitting right under Kade noses was just irony. But only so much. Because she’d much rather they’d be in her eager hands. She fought so hard for them. Shed so much blood.

Which was why she wasn’t giving up. Not yet anyway.

Pushing away her pensive thoughts, Sara tuned her inner turmoil out and struggled to focus on Ezekiel Crane’s words.

“When you say you left the journals at the Madrassa?” she heard Ezekiel question quietly. “Are you sure you meant the Madrassa?”

Matteas peeked up from where he crouched down on the floor trying to make himself as small as possible. A poor attempt considering there was so much of him and so little floor space to disappear into. If the arrows came through the tent walls again, they’d find their target easily and Sara wasn’t feeling charitable enough to drag him to safety again.

“Is there another?” squeaked the man from between his hands covering as much of his head as he could.

Ezekiel frowned and looked away before he spoke in the far-off tone that Sara had come to recognize as his ‘scholar voice’. The one that said he was mentally diving into the research library he stored in his brain and searching the archives for the answer as he spoke.

Aloud Ezekiel Crane said, “No, this is the only one and damn it all to hell that you chose the Kade enclave to store them there.”

His words were scorching with censure and yet…Sara heard something else in his tone. Hope maybe? Wonder even. Sara almost groaned. That was the scholar in him. The scholar itching to get through the doors of the fabled institution and feast his eyes on the all the texts and scrolls the Madrassa had managed to gather within its vaults in the decades since its foundation.

That wasn’t why they were going.

Feeling fed up with both of the men, Sara stepped forward with folded arms as she said harshly, “Don’t tell me you admire his tactic.”

Ezekiel glanced up at her briefly before going back to staring into the air at nothing as he said, “Admire? Maybe a bit. You have to admit it was a brilliant move to store them there. The empress’s traitorous courtiers may have gotten to your father through whatever defenses he was able to muster, but they’d never get through the Kades.”
“Let’s not forget that neither can we,” she shot back.

Ezekiel shrugged helplessly, “Hence our current predicament.”

“So,” Sara said darkly as she kept a keen ear out for more thumps. Thumps that meant explosives were incoming. They couldn’t stay here forever but she’d be damned if she’d run out onto another battlefield without a plan.

“So?” Ezekiel said pointedly.

She rolled her eyes at him but she answered, “So we need a way through the defenses.”

Ezekiel nodded, “Unfortunately I don’t see how an hour’s ruminations is going to solve the problem that we’ve been trying to find a solution to for ages.”

“No, not we,” Sara said softly as she tapped her fingers on the hilt of her sword in a rhythm.

“What was that?” Ezekiel said while looking over at her.

“I said not we,” Sara replied with emphasis, “The empire has been trying to find out how to get into the Kade’s fortress for ages but we haven’t.”

Ezekiel frowned, “Not to be snippy here but does it really make a difference? We’re still screwed if we think we can find out something that has eluded the finest minds this empire has seen yet.”

Sara snorted, “That would be true except for the fact that the finest minds aren’t at court are they? They’re in the Madrassa.”

“And so?” Matteas Hillan actually interrupted and said this time in an odd echo of Ezekiel’s earlier query.

But Sara didn’t mind, instead she mused.

“And who do we have that counts as among those minds?” she said.

It didn’t take long for at least one of the men to get where she was going with this.

Shaking his head Ezekiel quickly replied, “Not to demean your epiphany or anything but I do think you mean had. The rumors strongly suggest that Nissa Sardonien escaped when the Kades attacked.”

Briefly Sara deflated but she wasn’t through yet, she could still get to Nissa. As she thought about how she heard Matteas speak up again.

“Rumors, what rumors?” Matteas Hillan said in a high-note voice that was rapidly getting on her nerves.

Pinning him with a derisive look Ezekiel still explained, “The whispers going about camp before the attack. I spoke to a bath attendant personally who said we’re on high alert. But they wouldn’t say why.”

“Maybe they were just being overzealous,” Matteas Hillan said with a dark look at the tent walls surrounding him. It looked like he wanted to leave the confines just as much as Sara wanted to stay inside. Too bad, he’d snuck into her tent and now he was along for the ride—come hell or high water.

Ezekiel continued unbothered by the interruption as he said, “Not likely. In fact, it doesn’t take intelligence to figure out that the leadership of the imperial armed forces were either expecting another attack soon or they had other problems up their sleeves. Put that together with the fact that all of Nissa’s prison guards were discovered dead but no Sun Mage was trotted out for a whipping in retribution and you have a fact that’s hard to deny.”

Ezekiel may have been speaking to Matteas Hillan but his voice rose the end in a direct challenge to Sara.

She snorted. She wasn’t going to get in a fight over the fact that the scholar knew what she had already found out herself, if only just a few hours ago, and she wasn’t going to deny it either. The mercenaries weren’t fools and none of them having seen Nissa Sardonien in more than three days and nights meant something was up. Captain Simon Barthis, if he was still alive, was a fool to think otherwise.

Shrugging Sara said, “It’s true. She’s gone.”

Ezekiel pursed his mouth grimly and said, “I thought so. The Kades are strategic and they didn’t trap us and fight us to death for nothing. They wanted an important member of their leadership back.”

Sara raised a cocky eyebrow, this wasn’t news to her, however something else was.

“Listen to the outside,” she said softly.

Ezekiel’s eyes flickered between her and the tent entrance but to his credit he immediately did what he asked. She listened as well.

Soon they heard the thumping blast of another projectile hitting its target.

Then silence except for screams.

A minute, maybe three later. Another thump.

“The Kades are attacking,” Ezekiel said with a nervous shrug. “We’ve known that for the past half-hour.”

“Yes, that’s true but listen to how they’re attacking!” said Sara triumphantly with gleaming eyes.

Ezekiel’s eyebrows rose. “You lost me there.”

Hillan spoke up, “Individual projectiles with light, targeted strikes.”

Sara looked over at him in surprise—pleased. Maybe he wouldn’t be as useless as she thought.

She nodded firmly. “They aren’t doing the massive aerial bombardment from before. They could literally wipe us off the map with a single, well-coordinated strike. But they’re not. Instead they’re flushing out individual sections.”

“For what purpose?” Ezekiel demanded.

“I don’t know,” Sara said with a shrug. “Not as long as I’m stuck in here.”
“But you have a guess,” Ezekiel demanded.

She smiled. “I do.”

The scholar blinked warily. “Okay, so will you be sharing it with us?”

Sara turned hard eyes on the one person holding her back from being forthcoming.

“I would,” she said slowly as she eyed Hillan. “But it doesn’t matter what I think. It only matters if our friend here can do his part.”

The focus of her gaze eyed her back and squeaked, “My part? What part?”

Sara knelt down on her haunches and said honestly, “If I can get us through the Kade defensive lines to the Madrassa, can you get us through its walls and to where you hid those journals?”

Matteas Hillan opened his mouth to speak and she held up a halting hand. “The cold, honest truth if you please.”

He shut his mouth and chewed the inside of his cheek slowly as he thought.

Finally Hillan let out a deep breath and said, “I can but I can’t tell you where it is. I’ll have to show you.”

“Can’t or won’t?”

Finally, Matteas Hillan sat up and looked her dead in the eye, for a moment he shed the quivering exterior and she was finally looking at a man with some spine.

He said quietly, “Won’t. I don’t care if you kill me, I’m dead anyway. This way I have leverage. You need me.”
“Ahh, the mouse has teeth,” Sara said finally in a cutting a voice.

“I won’t be a sacrifice,” Matteas Hillan said as the strength in his voice faded to bluster. “I won’t end up left adrift.”

She laughed as another strike hit. This one no closer than the one before, but bigger. The force of the blast was so large that this time shrapnel came whizzing through their tent walls, cutting through the fabric like it was as thin as silk.

They all ducked to avoid the heated metal that passed inched from her cheek in a blur but as she stood up again hesitantly and stared down at the sharpened thin edge of a blown-off axle embedded in her table, she knew that they had lost all time to continue debating.

The Kades were escalating and it was now or never.

“We’ll get you through in one piece,” Sara snapped darkly. “You do the same for us. Do we have a deal?”

Hillan’s gaze was frozen solid on the shrapnel that was currently embedded in his arm. It wasn’t very deep, just a flesh wound as far as she could tell but all the blood had drained from his usually florid face.

He muttered something. Sara didn’t move closer, she didn’t have time to baby them if they were going to be on the move soon.

“Speak up!” Ezekiel said harshly this time. “Or we’ll throw you outside to the wolves were either the Kade armament will tear you to pieces—“

“—or your pursuers will wring your neck,” Sara said while finishing Ezekiel’s sentence coolly.

Matteas Hillan looked up with a pale and whey face as he swallowed deeply, “Protect me and I’ll get you to those journals, I swear on my family’s graves.”

Sara grunted as she pulled him up and he wailed, “Your word will do.”

Then she focused on the wound and ripped the cloth from his arm a bit to see better.

“Ezekiel?” Sara said in a calm tone. “You have any medical tonics on you?”

“Nope,” the scholar said while whistling softly as he poked at the jagged metal in the archivist’s flesh. It was soot-covered and warped from a hot fire. She couldn’t tell what its original purpose had been before but it didn’t matter much anyway, they just had to get it out of him and get moving.

As Matteas Hillan whined, “You do know what you’re doing don’t you?” Sara rolled her eyes and told Ezekiel casually, “Warehouse maneuver?”

He caught her eye and nodded with a remembering grin. “Am I still the flame?”

“Not this time,” she said with a smirk. “This time you get to pull.”

“Warehouse? Flame? Pull-pull what?” said Matteas Hillan in an increasingly frantic voice as he began to stutter as he backed away. That is before Sara grabbed him firmly, then he began sobbing.

“Stay still,” she snapped. “Ezekiel do it before he tears a freaking artery. That’s all we need right about now.”

Ezekiel, quick as a snake, didn’t hesitate. His hand flashed out, grabbed hold of the tip of the metal stuck in Matteas’ arm and yank back. A small yelp from the inflicted patient and a louder scream as Sara didn’t waste any time calling up her mage fire and sealing the wounds seconds later, was all the man had time to process before he slumped over in a faint.

As Ezekiel held the metal in his hand and Sara held the flame in her hand, they both looked down in disgust at the man who had passed out on her floor.

They were at war, no one had time for sleep at the moment, least all the person it seemed that everyone at the moment had reason to kill or capture.

Upon release the 4th book in the Crown Service series will be live at http://terahedun.com/bladesofdestiny

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In addition, EVERY purchase of this bonus will receive an entry into a showing of Black Panther on Saturday, March 3rd (time and location of your choice).

So go ahead, choose your price, grab a bundle, AND enter to win a Black Panther showing ($35 maximum) while you’re at it.

Remember you only have three weeks to grab this bundle and then it’s gone forever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blades Of Sorcery: Crown Service #3 is LIVE for $2.99 and Blades Of Magic is FREE!

Oh man, I am absolutely horrible at keeping secrets but I managed to keep THIS one. So as the title above states, Blades Of Magic: Crown Service #1 and the first book in Sara Fairchild’s amazing series is FREE. Zero Dollars. You can download it today on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Play for $0.00. Let me say that again –

Now that that’s out of the way, there is one more announcement pertaining to Blades Of Magic: Crown Service #1. I’m having a giveaway to announce the once-in-a-lifetime news (seriously its never been on sale since I published it in 2014) with a simple, easy entry. All you have to do is like and share the Facebook post.

Alright, ready to move on to the pièce de résistance? Then let’s get to the news on the release of Blades Of Sorcery: Crown Service #3! This book is now LIVE.  Yes, you read that right, its waiting for you to gobble down on your ereader, but not only is it live, but for 36 HOURS ONLY – through 01/25 5:00PM EST Blades Of Sorcery will be only $2.99 (or the international equivalent).

I can’t say this without hyperventilating, so I hope you are hearing me, it is live and it is only $2.99 for a day and a half. So I’d grab it up if I were you and tell your friends too.

They need to get Blades Of Magic: Crown Service #1, Blades Of Illusion: Crown Service #2, and Blades Of Sorcery #3 TODAY. There is absolutely no reason not to. 😉

 

 

Blades Of Sorcery: Crown Service #3 Blurb Reveal & First Two Chapters

Hello all,

Here. We. Go. The sequel to Blades Of Magic: Crown Service #1 and Blades Of Illusion: Crown Service #2 is coming quite soon. Release date is pending but all I can say is don’t take your eyes off this website.

 

Blades Of Sorcery: Crown Service #3 Blurb Reveal

The night has lifted and Sara Fairchild is out for blood. But this time, it’s her own. A gifted fighter and a skilled battle mage, Sara is now fighting everything she stands for — her heritage. For too long, she has held onto the certainty that her father was an honorable man.

But what does honor mean when you’re at war and surrounded by corruption from all sides? As Sara Fairchild brings the Kades to their knees and manages to capture a prize that rivals Nissa Sardonien’s worth to imperial intelligence, she has to wonder — how far should she go to extract the secrets her Empress and her empire needs?

As she fights to outmaneuver her growing list of enemies and win a war that becomes more complicated by the day, Sara Fairchild knows that no matter what, the empire will never be the same.

 

Sara’s heart was beating rapidly. Blood was rushing through her veins as fast as if she was running a marathon. But she wasn’t. She was still. She was cautious. She wasn’t afraid, however. She was excited. Against all odds, as fire bloomed in the air above them all and even as the wave of heat coming off it was so hot that everyone had to shrink lower to avoid the flames, Sara still smiled.

She should have been furious. Even scared.

Because as soon as the Kades had seen their shield drop, they hadn’t run through the portal like scared children.

No, not them.

Instead she saw one man stride forward and use an object on his wrist to let a spate of magic fly. Like a blistering comet, it rose in the sky and went off in the distance. It didn’t come back, but what did—within minutes—was initiate a second shield.

Sara watched the shield bloomed across the night sky in a wave of gold like a flower unfurling and she cursed long and loud.

It was stronger than the first, she could feel it. That was never good.

In fact, it just made her night worse as she swallowed harshly and studied their new foe — a dome strong enough to hold them all inside as prisoners, until of course—the Kades elected to bring this one down as well.

It was visible even to the naked eye, which meant mages weren’t the only one cursing around her, as they watched some of their braver compatriots run up against the new dome. Sara guessed their objective was to bring it down by sheer physical will. Maybe even push through its enhancements, but even from here she could tell that wouldn’t work. And as she, they, watched — those individuals were thrown back as soon as they touched it.

Sara stared at the prison dome with revilement. It was the bane of her existence, but she forced herself to look away. She couldn’t focus on it for very long because they were still trapped inside with numerous Kades and, well…it wasn’t going as well as she could have hoped.

A normal person would have worried themselves crazy in a situation like this, boxed in by enemies on all sides with natural flame raining down on her and her compatriots’ heads as well as weapons coming in at them from every angle. She was always on her guard, as were the others, but she wasn’t frantic. And neither were those surrounding her.

Tensing, Sara twisted to the side at the last moment to deflect a glancing blow from a foolish first guard of the Kades, who came at her head-on with only a pike in his offense. She snorted with amusement as she took care of him with a casual swipe of her sword across his neck. He froze for a moment, blue eyes wide with shock as he looked at her in confusion. Sara gave him a small, sympathetic smile, but there was nothing else for anyone to do for him now. He was a lucky one. She’d given him as merciful death as anyone could on the field of battle, and as he opened his mouth in one last reflexive moment of desperation, she knew that he realized that.

A calmness descended in his eyes as his knees crumbled, his bloodless hands dropped the pike in his grip, and a small gurgle of blood bubbled up from the clean line she’d carved into his neck. Then there was no more; he was gone as his spirit left his eyes and his body fell to the ground. Her attention was already elsewhere as she watched for more enemies, but they were already being taken care of by the others. So Sara took advantage of the lull in activity after his death to take in her group. The group of thirteen individuals, originally fourteen, who had stood by her side as they fought their way back from a cleanup crew that had turned out to be a rotation meant to end in a  death sentence. Only together had they survived and only together now would they do the same again.

Her gaze first landed on Karn, the man who — even with his foolish pride and bravado — had to be one of the best fighters in her group, if not the best. Herself excluded of course. His weapon of choice was a double-bladed axed which he swung around effortlessly as sweat poured down his dark brown chest and he laughingly took on the enemies surrounding him.

Sara’s lips twitched even if as she ducked and grabbed a knife off the fallen Kade to throw it directly at one of his many kinsmen surrounding Karn. The knife landed in that person’s left shoulder blade and seconds later as his body arced back in a pain-filled spasm in response, Karn finished him off by removing his head from his body.

The man then had the audacity to wink at her before turning back to his admiring fans. Which is precisely why Sara liked him, even though he could be a bigoted asshole when he so chose, he did so with a continuous joy for life in his eyes. Even now, with none of the enemies being able to so much as scratch him, Karn was swinging that axe back and forth while laughing in their faces.

Marx, who stood back to back with Isabelle, was swinging a long sword with dexterity as she fired arrow after arrow into enemies further afield. Reben, Sanir, and another person that Sara couldn’t quite identify through the heavy smoke around him were fighting their own battles. One large mage creature, an orc that she had never seen before but recognized from a description given to her by a tutor she hated—it had elongated arms and tusks in place of its front molars, and was pummeling Reben and Sanir without mercy. Sara flinched as she saw the orc break Sanir’s arm and throw him off into the distance like a rag doll. She wanted to go to them, but she only had time to catch glimpses of their defensive tactics as she moved to stand with Karn, holding back a different wave of enemies—even though her opponents were human, they were far trickier foes, with the dexterity and the imagination to shift between fighters and tactics.

Cursing as a particularly adept young Kade guard with spinning knives got close enough to her that her weapons were ineffective, Sara stumbled back. Deliberately. She was trying to gain some space. It was quite hard, after all, to cleave someone through with a sword when they were close enough to kiss you. But he seemed to know exactly what she was doing, sticking to her skin like honey with a maniacal gleam in his eyes. Deciding she had had enough of that and the continuous nicks of his knives against her skin, she went on the offensive.

Giving herself no time to hesitate or think it through, Sara lunged forward with all the force she could muster and head-butted him straight on, her unprotected forehead against his armored metal plate. It hurt like the dickens, but it got what she wanted done. She was free, and she put those extra feet of space that he had unwillingly introduced to good use. Sara raised her right hand overhead quickly and brought it down in a smooth sweep. His chest was covered with more armor plate, just like his head, but his collarbone was curiously vulnerable, and that was what she aimed for. Like a hot knife through butter, her sword went in at his throat and down through muscle and bone until it halted mid-abdomen. That was enough for her. She pulled herself and her sword back with one long step. Then, with a smirk of her own, Sara Fairchild watched this human menace crumble to the ground dead, and she stood up, surveying the field again.

She noted that her compatriots were in just as much trouble as before, but with some stunning displays of showmanship, Karn had managed to whittle down his opponents from an overwhelming four to a fairer two.

That had to be good enough, because those others weren’t looking so good.

As the orc lumbered toward Reben and the person Sara couldn’t identify still held back—knowing one of his fellow fighters was down and the other about to be crushed—Sara cursed and shouted at Karn, “I’m going to help them out.”

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him briefly drop his axe before he flipped a nearby heavy pole lengthwise and use it to shove his dual opponents back like a battering ram. It wouldn’t have worked so well if the pole he used hadn’t been on fire. Flames licked up and down the staff with wicked heat, forcing them to be wary of its touch. As for Karn, the flames didn’t seem to bother him…at all.

Sara filed that surprise away for later.

“Fine, I’ll hold this down,” Karn shouted back without taking his eyes off the armored Kade who had fallen to the ground, and the other that was already maneuvering to outflank him with evil intent in his eyes. Karn just kept his pole lengthwise and jerked it forward, forcing the maneuvering guy away with cautious steps and his friend to scramble backward on his butt. It looked like he could handle this for the moment, but Sara could already see others advancing on their position. They were using the smoke from the multiple fires burning at this point to shield their actions.

“Karn, look northwest—we’ve got more approaching,” she called out.

He glanced over but kept his focus on the two now facing him down.  “Go! I told you I’ve got these ones.”

Sara grimaced. She didn’t want to leave him, but she didn’t have a choice.

With clean slices of her swords, she cut throats where she could and cleared a way to the others in trouble. But it turned out she had spoken too soon. They weren’t flailing now—their opponent was. The orc was stumbling back with ferocious cries as it held up its paw and clawed at its face in pain. Its entire head was on fire.

“Guess they didn’t need my help after all,” Sara said as she flashed a grin at a Kade first guard who had gotten too close for comfort and managed to wallop her good in the face.

She stumbled back, but she wasn’t down. Instead, Sara dropped her right-hand sword and, quick as lightning, jerked her hand to dislodge the knife that she had in her wrist sheath. It went straight into his eye and he toppled like a felled tree.

Smirking in satisfaction, she was surging forward again. This time back to Karn.

Karn gaped at the group she had gone to help and whistled. “Where did that come from?”

As they watched, the orc swung its head back and forth, trying to extinguish the inferno, but nothing helped. Fortunately for the orc, it did have a mage on its team. The invasion force’s leader waved impatiently at an initiate, who stepped out from behind its protective detail and a line of archers.

The initiate, a mage with blossoming powers who had strength in many particular areas but had yet to settle on one above all others, raised a hand, which, even from this distance, Sara could tell was held pompously, and cast a spell to rid the orc of the flames and mute its pain.

“Well, that was quick,” Karn murmured.

“Maybe not quick enough,” Sara replied as she nodded toward the bright fire in the distance. “Look.”

He did, and they both saw what she had finally spotted minutes before.

The person she hadn’t been able to make out was now highly visible and resplendent, lit by the fire surrounding them rather than masked by its smoke. It would have been beautiful, if the look on their face hadn’t been so deadly. As Sara watched and waited for the moment she might need to step in, the male figure walked forward with a slight dip in his stride. Confident but maimed. She frowned, wondering, then as now, what a person like this was doing on the battlefield.

But her doubts were soon assuaged, because it became crystal clear that this person could fight, in their own special way. He stepped forward to take on the orc, walking around it in a wide arc that had Sara wondering if this fascinating individual was just trying to stay out of the reach of its claws or had something entirely different planned. She quickly realized that the orc was tracking him, and as he hobbled in a half-circle around the creature, it followed him, giving the battered Reben time to fall back before those meaty fists could wallop her anymore. Reben didn’t bother going for Sanir, from the way his body lay on the ground unmoving even Sara could tell he was dead from this distance.

But as her eyes tracked the man who was baiting the orc, Sara had the thought that Sanir’s death wouldn’t be in vain. For one thing, this mysterious man with a hobble seemed smarter than he looked…and a better strategist than she had given him credit for. Perhaps he wasn’t the coward she had thought he was, but only time would tell if that would be enough for him to defeat the orc.

She was too far away to make any difference in the outcome if the creature decided to swing its hammy fists at his head, and besides—Sara was of the opinion that a warrior should be given the option to stand on their own two feet for first time. Reben had done so and taken a walloping in doing it. Karn had proven his mettle as well.

Let this mercenary, and mercenary he was—she could tell by the bright colors of the clothing he wore and the standard-issue boots on his feet—prove his mettle.

If he could.

Blades Of Sorcery will be available at teedun.com/bladesofsorcery.

 

Wishing him well Sara turned back to the opponents who were determined to take her head off, forget the hobbled stranger’s. She ducked one person’s clumsy throw of a rock while casting them an evil eye for even trying.

Then another person came at her out of the corner of her eye, and she couldn’t duck — only deflect his first blow and position herself to take advantage of the fact that he was thrown off balance. With a swift kick to his upper abdomen, Sara kept him on his guard as she tried to keep her gaze half on the orc and his opponent, and half on her own—the man who was rapidly turning this into a dance of swords. Being distracted wasn’t good battlefield tactics and certainly wasn’t what her father had taught her, but she was learning to think on her feet, and keeping a wary eye out for opponents with the potential to advance on you was a part of that.

At least…that’s what she told herself.

It didn’t take much convincing though. Although this new opponent had seemed capable at first, he kept leaving himself open to attacks that would have end his life minutes before if she hadn’t been half-focused somewhere else. As it was this clumsy lout who had thought to take her own was as green as they came. She was quite surprised at his lack of talent, and wondered if the Kade first guard—and, by extension, the Kade rebellion—was more hard up for actual warriors than they’d first appeared. It wouldn’t surprise her, but that boded well for the empire in the end.

With a surge of pride, Sara jumped wide and came fast on the left side of the guard. She didn’t bother using her weapon against him. Instead, she shoved him toward the rocky outcropping, forcing his sword hand to be pinned uselessly against his side, and then grabbed him by his long, greasy hair with a ferocity that surprised even herself and slammed his head against the rocky outcropping with such force that it split like a melon with the first blow.

Standing up as his body slumped down, Sara wasn’t sorry. She did pity him, though.

The Kades had sent him in with no more preparation than an unseasoned chicken. He hadn’t known enough to never get outflanked, he hadn’t even been wearing a helmet, and his footwork was shoddy. It had been like killing an enemy Cams — the youngest and most vulnerable members of the Mercenary’s Guild. Which told her that the Kades had horrible trainers, because even a ‘Cam wouldn’t make all of these mistakes at once, including allowing themselves to be cornered where no aid could get to them. It had only taken seconds for her to end his life once she had him backed into a corner.

Shaking her head though, Sara didn’t let this imbecile get to her. She couldn’t. Just because she knew he’d gotten the short end of the stick, didn’t mean she could have afforded to cut him any slack. No one got that…ever. Because the single time she did take it upon herself to pity an individual, well she was pretty certain that same person would be the one who ended up stabbing her in the back. Snapping out of daze as she stood over his fallen body, Sara turned away, gritted her teeth and dove back in to the fray. Fortunately for her, the group fighting around her had shielded her back as she wallowed in a bit of disgust at the state of the man-child she had killed. When she looked back over at the orc confrontation, Sara’s eyes widened in surprise to see the hobbling warrior was shining as bright as the sun.

Fire, flames, energy, and magic licked around the hobbling stranger as if he was the source of all that made light in the world, and he responded by standing taller than she had seen him before. As if just by emanating that sort of magic, he absorbed it and threw it back out tenfold.

Sara was astonished, but Karn was not.

“Huh, well, I guess it makes sense now,” he said while staring at the person who had caught all of their attentions.

“What does?” Sara asked as she glanced around, flummoxed. Even the enemy Kades had halted their advance to turn around and watch the fight between one of their orcs and, apparently, a mage on the opposite side—Sara’s side.

This mage had transfixed every single person within viewing distance, and Sara could see why. As the hobbling individual’s power grew around him, magic flowed into the center of them all and was released in waves, and it felt as if they were all being battered by ever-increasing power. Power that was all-consuming and mesmerizing. It wasn’t tangible, and that was the only mercy. It was like drowning in your own mind, as you couldn’t look away even if you wanted, and you would be forced to watch yourself slowly be consumed by what was coming. Sara felt like she was standing in the midst of a tidal pool that was gradually building into a tsunami, and even she was frightened—as a mage whose primary focus was the physical manifestation of her gift, which gave her the ability to be stronger, faster, and, in general, a better fighter than most, this was different than anything she had ever experienced before. She was out of her depth, and mages whose gifts extended to the ephemeral aspects of magic and manipulation of the currents around them—even they had to be in awe of the gifts they all felt here.

Then they had no more time for awe, as the hobbling mage finally completed his journey away from the bright magic he had been building higher and higher, and Sara realized his intent hadn’t just been to distract his opponent, the orc. No, instead he had managed to position himself directly on a nexus point of power, one of the many that Sara knew the empire had scattered throughout the land for times of need. They were wells of magic used to restore the abundance of stored gifts to the people to the land if all else fell. Well, this mage was managing to tap into something only the empress herself should have been able to unlock. Sara didn’t know how, and there was no one to question it but her and the few mages who could also see and understand what he was doing.

Besides, she knew that at the moment they had bigger problems.

Because she could see his aura clearly now.

And she suddenly knew what he was. But she couldn’t say it. That was okay—she didn’t have to, because Kade finally answered her.

“You get it now, don’t you? The orc fears him because of what he is—someone who controls nature itself,” Kade said in a hushed, reverent tone.

“And what’s that?” she asked while leveling her sword out at her side.

She had no chance of using her blade, though. It was a physical weapon in a battle that would clearly call upon magical gifts beyond her knowledge. Even the orc looked afraid.

“What is he?” Sara demanded of Karn with a voice that was ever-increasing in aggression. Not fear. Never fear.

Finally, he answered, “A mage who can call upon the very fires of the earth.”

Sara shook her head. That didn’t give her an explanation. An explanation of how to defeat him, how to hobble him in the same way his physical body hobbled his movements. Yes, she knew he was an ally, but her instincts were telling her something different. Something was off here. His power alone was too great, and with the magic he was drawing from the nexus increasing with every breath they took, she worried that whatever he unleashed next would evaporate them all.

But she couldn’t do anything about it. The only thing she could do was brace herself and hope they were all ready for it. Whatever it was.

Hunkering down as best she could while keeping her weapons ready, Sara grimaced and waited.

She had never allowed herself to be taken by surprise while in battle, and she wasn’t going to start doing so now. He was dangerous, and as he released his gift in a wave they never saw coming, she had one depressing thought: If this is what the imperial army has been fighting with for the past half-year, what horrors must the Kades have back in their own fields?

Even watching it slowly evolve hadn’t prepared her for his mastery. It wasn’t just flames and fire responding to his call. But the creatures she’d only heard about in legend—creatures built of fire and flame that lived deep within the earth where only molten rivers burned day-and-night. She watched them dance around their master with a giddy delight that couldn’t be more beautiful as they danced in the night and their skins shone with a brightness that rivaled the dome imprisoning them all in from above.

“An inferni master,” she said with just as much awe in her voice as there was terror. It wasn’t just the creatures that he was controlling which made her tense. It was the fact to even get down to the ecosystem in which they lived, and survive the encounter himself, he would have to be a high-level adept in his field. Someone the likes of which she had never seen before. As long as he was in control of his powers, this was a good thing. But being a master didn’t always denote skill, just pure power.

Sara could be a master battle mage if she tested for it, but she had no interest in subjecting herself to that battery of assault, and the crimes of her father prevented the daughter for being called forth to do so anyway. No one wanted a traitor’s girl ranked among the best in the empire. Not publicly, anyway. What she had done on the streets of Sandrin was her business, and she had the feeling that whatever she did on the fields of battle would be too.

The fact that he was a master in his gift on top of being able to tap into the nexus of power didn’t bode well for the opposing side. Hell, he was supposedly on her side, and still she had an uneasy feeling about this. Too much power in one person, which could make him almost unstoppable. As for his natural gifts’ inclination to call forth inferni, she didn’t think one had been called forth in more than two decades, but, well it was working. The orc was trembling, frozen where it stood in terror.

Stepping back, Sara looked for the inferni master’s superior officer, the man commanding him to build and build on his gifts, but she didn’t see one. The only thing she knew about him was that he wasn’t one of her group, so he had to be one of mercenaries from elsewhere. Judging by his garments, he was one of the Red Lion mercenaries working for Captain Kansid. She’d just feel a lot better if his captain had taken the field with him as well.

Sara had to wonder where the rest of the mercenaries were, anyway. They should have been by their sides in this encampment field as soon as the warning call went out and the shield wall went down for the first time. Now it was too late, they were fighting an invasion force alone and to top it off the other side could potentially get reinforcements through their portals that she couldn’t. It sucked.

Staring around at the numbers she could count on her side Sara saw no one other than the soldiers and mercenaries who had been caught off guard with her. The ones who hadn’t died, anyway.

They were half-garbed, fully sloshed with too much to drink, and woefully unprepared against the Kades. She and her team and had only managed to hold back the Kades by the skin of their teeth because of the rock formation that had sheltered them at first. Now it was too late to back down, and the field was too tense with magic to move forward.

This didn’t look right. It didn’t feel right, and suddenly Sara knew that her label for this mage was ineffectual. It wasn’t wrong, but it wasn’t right, either—it didn’t encompass all that this mage was and would become.

No, he wasn’t just an inferni master.

He was something more. Much more.

She just didn’t want to find out what it was. Deciding that she’d had enough of show and tell, Sara stepped forward, glaring in defiance at the bright energy that was building around them fast and hard, like they stood in the eye of a typhoon about to hit them all.

As the air around her grew warmed and she found herself battered by waves of magic and heat, she realized she need to make a stand.

Raising her sword up in front of her, edge out, Sara Fairchild said a prayer to the gods above and below, and she walked forward.

Blades Of Sorcery will be available at teedun.com/bladesofsorcery.

Teachers & Librarians, Let’s Rock This!

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Classrooms, schools, and libraries are are on the vanguard of opening new doors to readers of all ages by making books available to a broader market. Even with greater interest, there are budget restraints for our libraries and schools – so authors get a lot of requests for free copies of our books. I wish we could send one to everyone who asks! But just because I can’t send you a physical copy doesn’t mean young readers can’t and shouldn’t have access to them! To that end Terah Edun Publishing has reached out, gained connections, and garnered a strong presence in the library eBook market.

We are now proudly carried in eBook Library and Classroom catalogs in 33 U.S. States and 9 countries! Let’s keep that momentum going forward by inviting your librarians, teachers, and education practitioners to join the Algardis Universe!

To keep up with the interest levels we’ve created a notification form just for teachers and librarians! Get a email AUTOMATICALLY when NEW Terah Edun Publishing titles are released on Library or School-related vendors.

Reading was always a transformative part of my life and I want as many young adult readers to have the opportunity to grab hold of my books as possible, which is why I make outreach to libraries and schools a core part of my work. If you would like to join the 200+ librarians with auto-notifications of my new books available specifically to vendors including OverDrive, EBSCO, cloudLibrary, and Ingram please fill out this form. We’ll always send you a simple email with notification that new titles are up and the ISBNs you can locate them under. More information available at teedun.com/libraries!

(Direct Link to form)

 

 

BLADES OF ILLUSION: Crown Service #2 is LIVE – Read the first FIVE Chapters Here

Update: Here are the links to Blades Of Magic: Crown Service #1 – AMAZON BARNES & NOBLE KOBO IBOOKS GOOGLE PLAY

Hi all,

With delight I can finally write these words – BLADES OF ILLUSION IS LIVE! I’ve been waiting since October 2014 to come back with a new, fresh saga for Sara Fairchild’s life. Happy to say that this winter of writing has been a success and she is now on the page for you to read with more blood, more battles, and more fight in her than ever.

If you are NEW to the Crown Service series, well you’re in for a treat. These books are set in the same Algardis Universe as Sworn To Raise but take place 300 years in the past, when the entire empire was torn apart by a war between mages and the crown.

In this epic adventure, Sara Fairchild is fighting to clear her father’s name of treason and struggling to do her duty by her empire. She believes in loyalty to her family and to her empire, but when those loyalties are conflicting – which will rise above all?

I hope you enjoy this new chapter in the Crown Service saga and to the readers who’ve contacted me eager to be the first to jump back into Sara’s world I hear you. As this is a re-launch of the second book in the Crown Service series, I know there are questions. First all, Blades of Magic: Crown Service #1 has gotten new cover art but the content of the book has not changed. However Blades of Illusion: Crown Service #2 has been completely re-written with new content, new characters, new destinations, and new cover art. You won’t be able to update the original version of Book 2, so you can choose to delete it or hold on it to but the new version is a completely re-written book which took months to write.

Before you click that buy button, I want you to read what I have in store for you. Here are the FIRST FIVE CHAPTERS of the brand-new Blades of Illusion: Crown Service #2.

To receive your new book you will go as normally to Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. As an incentive the book will be the same price as Blades of Magic, $2.99 (or the international equivalent), through December 2017. If you have any questions, reach out to Rachel Westra @ assistant@terahedun.com.

 

 

Blades Of Illusion: Crown Service #2 – First and Second Chapters

Hello readers,

Ahead of the release Blades Of Illusion: Crown Service #2, I’m sharing with you the first two chapters! Some of my first readers have had a crack at it and I thought it was time that you got a sneak peek into the newest book in my Algardis Universe!

Please keep in mind that this has not been copy edited, but I hope you enjoy and look forward to the full read!

On a personal note, as I switch back to the Crown Service series I do so with intense excitement. There are going to be some surprises in store that you wouldn’t believe!

But Sara Fairchild is up for everything as a masterful heroine who doesn’t back down from any challenge – physical or emotional. =) Lastly, this has been a fun and complete re-write of the 2nd book which was released on Amazon-only in 2014. As a reader I hope you’ll enjoy this new take on Sara Fairchild’s adventures and as I finish up the second book in the Crown Service series, I hope you’re ready to go on this journey with me! Here’s a taste of what’s in store for you with the first two chapters of the new Blades Of Illusion: Crown Service #2.

As Sara Fairchild cautiously made her way through the portal doorway in front of her, the victorious shouts of the First Division members behind her did nothing to comfort her.

She was stiff with anger and furious at their betrayal.

Captain Simon Barthis and his mercenaries had proven just moments before that they were everything she had despised as a child — ruthless, uncaring, and most of all — disloyal.

They had not only left their comrades, men and women behind, but had actually knowingly engineered a strategy which all but guaranteed the massacre of hundreds of fellow mercenaries in their ranks. Faces and names flashed before her eyes like ghosts arisen. She couldn’t speak to their betrayals now, but she certainly would when the time was right.

As Sara stared at the living mercenaries who followed her through the summoned portal with jovial claps on each other’s back and jokes as some took the time to poke and prod at their esteemed prisoner, she just grew angrier. Not at their treatment of Nissa, the sun mage, but at the studied nonchalance of a group which had just committed the worse crime one could commit in a warrior’s eyes.

They had turned tail and ran. Now here they stood laughing and Sara could only see red — the red of anger overcoming every emotion and the fury of the battle mage taking its place.

“Don’t let them bait you Sara,” she heard Ezekiel say from a far off distance.

And she was trying.

Trying to listen to the scholarly man beside her, as he was her voice of reason. She needed to hold back the righteous anger of the Fairchild family that was rising in her like molten fire if she wanted any chance of finding out the reason her father was executed.

But that anger was eager.

Eager to burn and consume anyone in her path.

Turning away from the celebrating factions, Sara rolled the coiled muscles in her shoulders carefully. Trying to ease up. Let the tension drain out as her mother had taught her.

Anna Beth Fairchild had meant for Sara to learn to use the tactic as a way to regain inner peace, but Sara’s father had taught her that peace was just another word for tranquility. The inner stillness in a warrior’s heart before they struck.

“And I’m ready,” she said with a fierce grin.

“Ready to let this go?” Ezekiel said in a nervous voice. “Come on Sara, we’re surrounded. Just like in the woods. There’s nowhere to go and more than a few hundred of them against just…us.”

Sara didn’t bother acknowledging his words. They were true. But she didn’t need back-up. She never had and if she was being honest — she wouldn’t consider Ezekiel Crane someone to fight by her side even if she had.

Instead she said in a calm tone, “They made their choices.”

“And we made ours,” he said in a voice that was just above a wheedle. “In the woods, when we handed over the sun mage to the captain.”

“That was before,” she snapped.

Ezekiel moved to stand in her line of vision. Not in her way but certainly not where he could be ignored either. She didn’t really care. She could knock Ezekiel out and keep moving the second she needed to.

“Before?” the scholar asked quietly while opening and closing his hands nervously. He probably could tell from her face that she was very close to making a decision.

“Before I knew what the captain had done,” she continued in a quieter tone.

As they argued, she even tried to rationalize to herself what the captain had ordered done as a practical application in the face overwhelming odds. But as she stared around at more joking faces, nothing about this struck her as tactical. Besides she could see a dozen different scenarios that a proper commander could have implemented to save lives.

Their own mercenaries’ lives.

Standing here surrounded by traitorous mercenaries, Sara was taken back to the visual of the ones who had killed her mother and set her world on fire. Oh, they’d been from a different company — the Red Lion guard but mercenaries were all the same.

Now the members of the First Division, the very same division she had been so unwillingly been elevated to, brushed her aside as they moved to slap each other on the shoulders in congratulations and relieved laughter. But she couldn’t understand how they now held their heads high as they more-and-more division members joined them as they walked through the summoned portal beside and behind her.

It was like being surrounded by a sea of wolves. And Sara Fairchild knew just what to do with wolves. You culled them before they could become a threat to the herd, in this case the rest of Her Imperial Majesty’s troops. Because whatever else she was. Disgraced as she was. Sara was still honor bound to upload her imperial charter.

Matter decided Sara’s lip curled into a contemptuous sneer as her hands itched by her side. She had only one of two weapons remaining — her childhood sword — but that was all she needed to start lopping off heads until the ground at her feet was littered with the round remains.

It would be fitting end to their cowardice after all.  This was no way to honor their dead and she knew that she had been right as a child, mercenaries were the dirt beneath a true soldier of Algardis’s feet.

She wanted to act. Her blood and her father’s dead voice was urging her to do right by the individuals she had served with. The ones who didn’t come through the portal with them. It didn’t matter that she had only done so reluctantly. It also didn’t matter that she’d only been marching and riding with them for a few weeks at most.

Sara Fairchild knew that she had hated the majority of the mercenaries on sight as well. It wasn’t personal. It was just professional preference. She was an elite fighter born and bred, and they were the dregs of the martial society in which she’d grown up in.

As one mercenary came up to her with a clap on her shoulder he said, “Well Fairchild — why don’t you wipe that scowl off your face? You’re a First Division now and we made it to the front lines. Smile, celebrate.”

Sara froze. Not out of fear. But out of the body-aching restraint it took to not slice his hand clean off at the wrist…just for touching her.

Instead she did what any good girl would do.

Giving no warning, she ducked down and kicked out with swift force. Taking him off his feet with surprise, Sara didn’t stop there. She used her right hand to push herself back up off the ground and lunged for his neck.

Wrapping her hands around his grungy flesh was the most satisfying she’d done since she’d been delivered so unceremoniously to the fields of war.

Even caught off surprise, she could sense his battle instincts kicking in.

Too bad, they didn’t come close to hers.

He was reaching for his weapons at his waist, but Sara already had her thumbs at the pulse points of his neck and was cutting off the circulation. The oxygen he needed to think, to speak, to act even was being deprived from his desperate brain.

Joy surged in her heart as she pressed harder. She had him just where she wanted him and she felt his flopping limbs, protesting her grip with ineffectual slaps, grow weaker as he went limp.

She took no joy in slow killings. Only in necessary ones.

But still, this one would feel good. She could tell.

“Release him,” came the command from behind her.

Sara stilled. She didn’t break her hold but she didn’t twist and snap his neck like she’d prefer either. She had been trained to respond to authority and whether she liked it or not, she was a member of this derelict band of mercenaries. At least for now.

So with a sigh of disgust, Sara stepped back and released him with look of warning.

He could get up and she would end him. Or he could stay down and live.

Her opponent chose to live. He fell back into the mud, spluttering and coughing while she looked around defiantly waiting for one of his fellow mercenaries to come forward and take her on in his place.

But none did.

Disgusted, Sara said, “Cowards, all of you. You didn’t stand up for your fellow men on the fields of battle and now this. Does none of you have one shred of dignity about you?”

She was furious.

She wanted a fight. And having these mercenaries, all of whom were supposed to be tough as nails, just stand around with fingers up their asses was doing nothing for her curdling blood.

She wanted to punched faces and break bones. She couldn’t do that if they weren’t willing to step forward on the killing grounds first.

So she lashed out at them with her words, “You’re all despicable. Your ancestors’ greatest shame.”

That at least got some of their attentions. A woman with the braids of the Mung people threaded prettily in her hair stepped forward with narrowed eyes and a firm grip on the baton she carried at her waist. Sara was quite aware of her peoples’ traditions and she knew this one would honor her forefathers every night beside the fire she built at camp.

“You think you’re so right, so tough,” the Mung woman said with fire of her own in her voice. “Say that again and I’ll tear your tongue from your mouth.”

Sara smiled and opened her mouth but she didn’t get a chance to utter a third challenge.

Instead the portal behind them all flashed in warning, indicating imminent closure, and the last of the Corcoran Guard stepped through.

As one the mercenaries turned and saluted with sharp military precision.

Sara didn’t bother doing the same. Instead she strode forward as the Captain came amidst them and began conversing with several of his top lieutenants — pointing all the while with animation at something in the distance.

Sara assumed he was gesturing towards the Empress’s encampment and giving instructions for their deployment but she didn’t bother listening to what he said.

As she walked forward the Captain turned to them all and smiled. Several of his mercenaries raised their fists in salute and some shifted towards her ominously, as they remembered what they’d been about to do before their leader walked through the portal.

Sara paid them no mind, because now that the person responsible for those atrocities was here, her focus wasn’t on a fight with them. As she drew closer, discontent and rumbles grew. Mercenaries who might stand by as she disrespected them, but not their captain. But it was the captain who held up a warning hand to the mercenaries who’d put hands to weapons. Stilling as they followed his lead, he just looked at her with a hard gaze. He couldn’t know what she intended to do as she walked forward but the violence anticipated by his mercenaries had them all on edge.

So when she acted — the cold swift silence that swept across the field was brutal.

Sara gathered up a big ball of spit between her lips and then with the deadly accuracy of a person who could aim just as well with the natural weapons of her body as she could with the metal weapons normally in her hands, she spat directly in Simon’s face.

He didn’t blink or jerk away. Instead the spit slid down his face glistening wet like a badge of honor.

For a moment silence wrapped around them all and she waited for his reaction.

Instead the captain of the Corcoran Guard, like the puss-filled coward he was, simply reached into his pocket and pulled out a clean white handkerchief.

Snapping it open with a contemplative look at her while never taking his eyes from her fury-laced gaze, he wiped the spittle from his cheek.

Then he stepped forward and leaned in to whisper coldly into Sara’s ear.

“You’re a little a hellcat, aren’t you?” the captain of the Corcoran Guard asked her quietly.

Sara leaned back and kept her hands at the ready as she said with no remorse, “Not so little, you traitorous scum.”

Upon release the 2nd book in the Crown Service series will be live at http://terahedun.com/bladesofillusion

The captain stepped back with a bit of a smirk on his face as he said, “I serve my empire and Empress. There has never been and never will be the taint of traitor to my name. Unlike some who stand before me.”

Sara Fairchild stiffened. There was no way he didn’t know who her father was — not after that remark anyway. It sometimes felt like everyone she met did. But she couldn’t pull out a weapon against him without provocation. Not here, not now.

She had to be smart about this, so Sara only shook her head as she said, “Keep my family out of your mouth.”

He raised a curious eyebrow.

“Please, Sir,” Sara spit out in a tone which indicated she was being forced to add in the polite entendre…if only for their audience’s sake.

He was the Captain after all. Maybe he even had some remorse for what he’d done. Though no explanation could ever come close absolving what he had facilitated in her eyes.

But if anything Captain Barthis’s next words were even more cutting. “Believe me I would be more inclined to do so, if I had thought the teachings those family members instilled in you went beyond strike first and think later.”

There was no remorse to be had. Not from him and not for him.

Sara felt her ears burn at the casual dismissal of everything her father had worked so hard to teach her. It didn’t help that the mercenaries surrounding them were hearing every word. Listening. Perhaps even judging. They already thought she was a spoiled warrior caste kid, she didn’t need to give them any reason to assume they were right about those assumptions.

She felt her back crawl with the stares but she didn’t turn and look them in the eyes. Her attention was solely on her captain, as his was on her.

It remained to be seen if each was intensely focused on the other so both could see the twitch of a muscle before the other chose to strike.

Taking in a swift calculating breath, Sara decided to give him one more chance.

One more chance to be the man that a leader was supposed to be.

She stared straight into his soul as she said, “Say what you have to say Captain, but I’d watch the words that leach from your mouth next. You’re already on thin ice in my book.”

Barthis’s gaze, if possible, grew even more distant.

“I don’t answer to an underling and certainly not to a Fairchild,” he said in a clipped tone. “Fall back.”

“And if I don’t?” she asked in a firm tone.

“Then you’ll make this a battle you can’t win. You forget that I, like you, am a battle mage. But I have decades more experience under my belt and if my swords leave their sheaths only one person’s head will roll, ” he said softly — so low that she was certain he didn’t mean for the others to hear.

Sara wasn’t so sure about that, but she knew he was right. Mage to mage, they were equal. So it would come down to technique and prowess and with his time on the battlefield, there was no certainty she could come out ahead, let alone victorious.

Barthis didn’t give her any more time to think that over though.

“Fall back mercenary, I don’t fight girls who could learn to do better before they make the same mistakes their fathers made,” he barked in a voice that was meant to carry over many heads.

That had been a direct order. He wasn’t challenging her. He was demeaning her. And according to the rules of engagement, there wasn’t a damned thing she could do about it. They weren’t standing in a dark alley in Sandrin after all. She stood on the field of battle before her commanding officer. A man she now officially despised more than ever but still served under.

Taking stock of the situation Sara let another moment pass, deciding what to do. How to respond.

“Sara!” hissed a voice she was well aware belonged to Ezekiel Crane.

She ignored him. As did the captain.

Her entire focus was on the man before her. Peripherally she was aware of all the mercenaries surrounding them, tense and anxious — if just to see what their captain made of this upstart. They, as well as she, were assessing Barthis’s actions. They wanted to see what to make of the man who was leading them. Maybe they even had their own doubts, hidden deep, about him.

“If only these idiots had a spine,” Sara said grimly.

“What was that?” the captain asked in a clipped tone. “Are you finally ready to give in upstart? I have been more than patient with you. Now and before.”

Sara’s lips twitched. “Feeling backed into a corner Captain?”

“Not a chance. Just…self-aware. You brought me my sun mage after all. I can forgive a lot for that. But there’s only so much forgiveness you’ll get,” he said while ending in a tight voice. He was feeling out her reticence and her willingness to back down.

Sara knew that was what he was doing because she had studied and been studying his moves since she’d met him weeks ago. He was a fighter that was true, but he was even more consummate tactician — on and off the battlefield.

She’d come to the conclusion that he was dangerous. But so was she.

What she didn’t have was the dark streak of manipulation that she saw running through his core every time she tapped into her gifts. It was the positive side of battle magic — being given the ability to see a person’s intent and divine their true self with it. It was like opening a window to a person’s soul every time she used it. She had sensed murkiness in his aura ever since she’d first met him in the fighting yards of the Mercenary’s Guild.

But by the same token, she couldn’t assess everything there was to know about him instantly. Not without making herself vulnerable to his own intrusions as well. Battle mages had natural enemies on the fighting fields, but for the most part their deadliest singular adversaries were each other. They could all divine intent and they could all enhance their abilities both magically and physically on the battlefield.

What differentiated one from the other was their training and their emotional health.

Many battle mages didn’t even live to Sara’s age because the people who surrounded them didn’t realize what it was they had in their midst to it was too late. Too late to help them, too late to guide them.

That hadn’t happened with Sara Fairchild because she had been born into a family of legendary battle mages.

It also hadn’t happened to Simon Barthis because someone somewhere had recognized who and what he was from an early age. Not as she stared at him with hard, contemptuous eyes Sara couldn’t let herself to allow hate to cloud a genuine assessment of the man.

Personal feelings had no place in a fight, it would only get in the way of her necessary actions. So now she studied and catalogued him for who he was.

Scum beneath her feet but devious scum, one she would have to watch her back with. Not as bad as a certain fishery owner, but worse that Sara wanted in the captain she served — reluctantly or not. She knew that as clearly as she’d seen into the mindset of Cormar, owner of one fishery and a warehouse with more illegal artifacts than sense. That particular man would have killed her as soon as look at her if she stole from him, and she had the feeling that she and Ezekiel still hadn’t seen the last of him thanks to a weapon the scholar had purloined from his warehouse.

As Sara stared down Simon though, she sensed that he didn’t want to kill her. Not yet anyway. Which didn’t meant she trusted him either as her hand hovered over but not on the handle of the weapon at her waist.

She wasn’t a fool. She was surrounded by trained mercenaries in too tight of a formation. She wouldn’t even be able to unsheathe her sword and get off more than a few cuts before they quickly converged. But her knife, well that was another matter.

Apparently her hesitance to fall back and her growing confidence in her ability to hold her own in a fight irked the captain. She saw it in the tightening of his eyes as his mouth thinned in displeasure as well.

But for some insane reason, he still didn’t want her dead for her display of misbehavior.

“Oh, don’t get too cocky. I’ll have you punished one way or another girl,” the captain said in a voice that promised retribution.

Sara settled herself into the dry dirt — more sure now that ever. This was going to be a fight that ended with blood on her hands. Her eyes gleamed in anticipation as she waited for it to begin.

Throwing the first punch wasn’t her style, but it seemed that this was the only way she was going to get some justice this afternoon….well, so be it.

Leaning back just a bit while keeping his voice low Captain Simon said in a conversational tone, “Why don’t you take a little look to your left?”

With a flick of his glance he quickly indicated what he meant.

Sara didn’t have to. She knew exactly where Ezekiel was standing. She had kept an eye own him from the moment he walked through the gates. She just hadn’t considered that the captain would be willing to use him as an incentive to keep her in line.

As she noted Ezekiel’s new predicament, she grimaced and had to admit she should have. A man willing to sacrifice his own to get to his destination a few days ahead of schedule was willing to do a lot of things she wouldn’t.

As for Ezekiel, he stood calmly held by the muscle-bound idiots that stood snugly at his side. An overt threat if she ever saw one.

Sara smirked and raised her hands slowly, “This matter should be between you and me Captain.”

“No underling,” Captain Barthis Simon said coldly. “It’s between an officer and his troops. You want to sow mutiny amongst my people, well you should be well aware of how vulnerable that makes you and your friends — the single one you have anyway.”

Sara sucked her teeth as she held back a sentence that was likely to get Ezekiel gutted.

Instead she said, “I didn’t sow mutiny. I merely spoke my peace.”

Captain Simon raised mocking eyebrow, “Oh, is that what you call spittle to the face? Words?”

Sara said flatly, “You shouldn’t have abandoned your own. No leader does what you did and shouldn’t be reprimanded.”

“I’ll leave it to the fair Empress to make that decision,” Captain Simon said while tapping his fingers on his crossed arms. “For now though — whatever shall I do with you?”

Sara said, “Do what you please.”

“Oh, I shall,” snapped the captain. “Starting with punishment for disobedience and assault of a superior officer in accordance to the Imperial rules of conduct.”

Sara shifted uneasily on her feet. Those were a lot of words and very little action. Precisely what did he have in mind?

“Oh and Fairchild?” the Captain said with a spark in his eyes.

Sara raised her chin in acknowledgement, waiting to hear his words.

“Behave,” the captain purred. “Or your educated friend over there will get the same treatment and I assure you…it won’t be pretty. Agreed?”

Sara’s jaw froze and she felt her fingers curl into her fists by her side. But she deliberately relaxed her hands and took a quick look around at the overwhelming odds. She couldn’t get to him if she didn’t want to call upon a battle rage and she didn’t. She needed to get past this challenge and onward to even greater misdeeds. Her father’s among them.

So Sara Fairchild decided to do something she never did in a fight. She was going to stand down.

“Fairchild,” the Captain chided while waiting for her answer.

Finally Sara Fairchild gave a tense nod and with a dark smile the captain took a few steps back and Sara was left standing alone in a circle.

Then calmly Captain Simon turned in a broad circle with arms raised as he said, “What say you mercenaries?”

There was silence.

They weren’t shy. Just wary.

Then a voice spoke up. “She needs to be taught a lesson!”

Captain Simon Barthis chuckled and nodded his head as he said, “You know what I couldn’t agree more?”

So he turned back to a wary and tense Sara. Oh, she knew that something bad was coming. How bad. Well, that depended on how wounded the captain was feeling. He didn’t want to her challenge her to a battle to death, but he wanted her to feel pain.

She knew that and pain she would feel.

Then he stopped playing games and told those surrounding them in a flat breath, “Men why don’t you teach our newest member a lesson in respect?”

Then he stepped back and the group surrounding Sara alone stepped forward with eager hardness in their eyes.

Hands raised.

Swords sheathed.

A world of hurt promised in their eyes.

Upon release the 2nd book in the Crown Service series will be live at http://terahedun.com/bladesofillusion

Announcing the Blades of Magic Re-Read Marathon AND a sneak peek into Blades of Illusion!

Hello readers,

November is turning into an exciting month!

I know that many of you are extremely excited for the next book in my second Algardis Universe series – well, wait no further! We’re getting started on it now and giving you a chance to bone up on the Crown Service series before we launch. So, it’s time to get super hyped for the new material and read along!

In anticipation of a lot of readers who don’t remember precisely what happened in Blades of Magic, Rachel and I are hosting a re-read marathon in the Guild starting TOMORROW, NOVEMBER 1ST!

Every five days we’ll start a brand new set of chapters, discuss the twists and turns, and talk about what we loved about this particular book. November 1st will begin the discussion of Chapters 1-5, so you’re right on time to join in!

If you are interested in participating, then grab up your paperback or ebook copy and join your fellow readers in our private Facebook group. If you haven’t bought Blades of Magic yet then we offering a special free addition only to read-along members so that no one is left behind!

We really hope you enjoy the first book in the series and are looking forward to book two!

__________

Next, if you’d like a (unedited) sneak peek into BLADES OF ILLUSION: CROWN SERVICE #2 read on for an excerpt of Chapter 1! As soon as I can I will be announcing a RELEASE DAY on this post as well, so happy to be diving back into the world of Sara Fairchild of the Crown Service series. 😀

As Sara Fairchild stumbled through the portal doorway in front of her, the victorious shouts of the First Division members behind her did nothing to comfort her.

She was stiff with anger and furious at their betrayal.

Captain Simon Barthis and his mercenaries had proved just moments before that they were everything she had despised as a child — ruthless, uncaring and most of all — disloyal.

They had not only left their comrades, men and women behind, but had actually knowingly engineered a strategy which all but guaranteed the massacre of hundreds of fellow mercenaries in their ranks.

She couldn’t understand how they now held their heads high as they walked through the summoned portal beside and behind her.

Sara’s lip curled into a sneer as her hands itched by her side. She had only one weapon remaining — her childhood sword — but that was all she needed to start lopping off heads until the ground at her feet was littered with the round remains.

It would be fitting end to their cowardice after all.  This was no way to honor their dead and she knew that she had been right as a child, mercenaries were the dirt beneath a true soldier of Algardis’s feet.

More excerpts for the new book – Blades of Illusion: Crown Service #2 coming soon! Dip into the Blades of Magic re-read discussion while you wait. 😉

Sworn To Restoration: Courtlight #11 is HERE!

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!!!

I’ve been excited all fall to get this new book out to you and am happy to say that Sworn To Restoration: Courtlight #11 is LIVE on all retailers right now. If you’d like to read the first chapter for FREE check out this link. And if you do read and love the book or the Courtlight series, it would mean so much if you left a review on your favorite retailer! We’re hosting an amazing giveaway just for those reviewers but you have to get it in before Nov. 3rd! Good luck and enjoy the latest and greatest in the Courtlight series!

If you’d like to chat about the series, join us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let us know your favorite lines!

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AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | IBOOKS | GOOGLEPLAY

~*~*~*~*~*

Ciardis has seen the goddess for what she is a bloodthirsty deity bent on breaking them before eliminating everyone Ciardis knows and loves.

She, the daemoni prince, and Sebastian, the sitting emperor of Algardis, have set a trap. A plan in motion that will unleash a wave of magic across the land in quantities not seen since the Initiate Wars.

Ciardis knows this is their only hope to defeat a god, but she can only pray that she doesn’t do the goddess’s work in the process by inadvertently killing the citizens of the empire that she had vowed to protect.

But the battle has begun and she’ll do what she has to protect the people she cares about – her family, her friends, her empire. When all the gods feel free to intervene, you do what you have to make sure that the one which wants to destroy you never makes the same mistake twice. In a battle between an immortal and a mortal, the humans are coming to win.

Follow Terah’s Facebook Profile

Interested in my personal Facebook profile? Right now, I have 146 Friend Requests on my Facebook profile and no way to really know or weed through all the people wanting to be friends. So to keep my sanity and keep Facebook from blocking me from adding more friends, I have opened up my personal profile. Nothing is private. All posts are public. So if you want to see my posts and comment on them, just hit ‘Follow’ on Facebook.

My personal Facebook profile is separate from my official Facebook author page which has over 11,000 followers now. I try to keep my updates on the official page serious with new release content and sales. The personal profile carries news about word counts, book progress and fun stuff. I invite all of you to join me on both!

If you want to follow me, Click “Follow” under facebook.com/terah.edun to see my new posts, pictures, and updates.

If you actually want to see my posts in your newsfeed or if you don’t like to find out later that the notification was buried, you need to go one step further and click “See First” to get all the updates immediately.

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Entire Terah Edun catalog on sale for OverDrive’s Back To School Promotion

The entire Courtlight series has been included in the OverDrive catalog promotion for Back To School. Librarians and teachers here’s your chance to beef up your catalog of Algardis Universe books. Head over to the OverDrive Markeplace today!

It’s Back to School season and OverDrive, the retail site with over 20,000 libraries, has tons of content on sale to kick off your school year right! Shop from over 25,000 kids and teen titles up to 50% off through September 30th including titles organized by grade levels and interest levels, collections of picture books and graphic novels, classics and academic resources plus much more. There are 10+ Terah Edun catalog titles in this sale and you don’t want to miss it. The catalog has criss-crossed the United States and foreign countries, finding purchases in libraries near and far – like the Los Angeles Public Library and those below.

“The magic in this fascinating fantasy world is intriguing, and I look forward to more adventure, suspense and romance!”

~ Leslie Jackson, Youth Services, Woodland Park Public Library

“Like Tamora Pierce, but bloodier.”

~ Athens-Limestone Public Library teen reader

“Edun’s complex magical system…and unpredictable plot twists set the stage for more adventures in this enchanted world.”
~ Kirkus Reviews

“Teens will find Sworn to Raise a compelling saga of magic, romance, and one young woman’s struggle to find and understand her role in her world.”
~ Midwest Book Review

“Intriguing and compelling!”
~ Whitney Waddell, Brentwood Public Librarian

“If you’re a fantasy lover, this is one world you don’t want to miss out on!”
~ City Of Books, #15 Best Reviewer on Goodreads

“Sure to whet readers’ appetite for suspense and intrigue…”
~ RT Book Review – 4 Stars

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Three New Releases including Sworn To Quell: Courtlight #10

Readers, I can’t thank you all enough for the emails, the messages, and the love! Seriously, you light up my life. I am happy to tell you that Sworn To Quell: Courtlight #10 is DONE DONE DONE. It is one of the longest books I’ve written in this series at 85,000 words and I seriously hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Without further ado, here is your latest release in the Algardis Universe!

SWORN TO QUELL: COURTLIGHT #10

Check out what the ARC Readers had to say about Book 10:

“Intriguing and nail biting anticipation to see what is going to happen page after page.” – Mary

“Definitely in love with this book. The series as a whole has been amazing and kept my interest the whole time.” -JennBerry

“Lots of twists, turns, and epic surprises await you. So prepare yourself and enjoy!”

-Samantha Pavia

Ciardis Weathervane witnessed the collapse of her empire’s system of governance. Because everything pivoted on the rule of one man. Now she must forge a new path. Through the madness. Through the chaos.

Still with the imperial palace in ruins, and the coalition between the nobles and the rebellion falling apart, there is no more time. No time to rule. No time to justify.

The god was here for retribution, and her triad would be forced to rise to the occasion or fall under its own bluster.

With an emperor dead, a prince heir uncrowned, and a people lost in the wilderness of death and destruction every which way they turn, Ciardis faces her most challenging assignment yet. Picking up the pieces. Mending the coalition. Winning the hearts and minds of Sebastian’s people. The people she could now call her own.

The heavens have come to earth. It remains to be seen if the earth will fall before its might.

Next, last but not least – below the two latest compilations/boxed sets that I have to offer you!

 

Many of you have emailed and asked for more compilations and boxed sets! So today, in addition to the brand new release of Sworn To Quell: Courtlight #10, I am announcing the release of:

Algardis Universe Short Stories: Compendium 1

Courtlight Series Boxed Set: Books 7-9

The short stories compendium is for the readers who prefer to have a single compact set to peruse at their leisure of my pre-released (and free on the newsletter: teedun.com/news) short stories set in the lands you are familiar with from the Courtlight and Crown Service series. It includes the first three short stories written in the Algardis Universe: The Rose Hedgewitch, Across The Arid Seas, and Lillian In Heels.

Next, the Courtlight Series Boxed Set is a compilation of the last three books in the Courtlight Series: Sworn To Vengeance, Book 7, Sworn To Sovereignty, Book 8, and Sworn To War, Book 9. You can grab both the boxed set and the compendium on all retail stores including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Play.

Last but not least, my next release is BLADES OF ILLUSION: CROWN SERVICE #2. I’ll be announcing the new cover details and a brand new trailer soon, so please subscribe to the BLOG to get your updates immediately. For those wondering, Sworn To Quell is the 10th book in a 12 book series. There are two more and then the Courtlight series is complete!

 

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Chapters I & II of Courtlight Book 10 — Sworn To Quell

Hello readers,

Ahead of the release Sworn To Quell: Courtlight #10, I’m doing something special. I want to share the opening pages with all of you tonight! So go ahead and get your fill, keeping in mind that this is after beta readers but before copy edits.

With all the feedback I’m getting from betas, editors, and proofreaders, I’m excited to deliver an action-packed fantasy adventure. This manuscript is also already officially the longest book in the Courtlight series yet. Here’s a taste of what’s in store for you with the first two Chapters of Sworn To Quell: Courtlight #10. Hope you enjoy!

The assassination was on everyone’s mind. Even Ciardis Weathervane’s. Although tonight she was quiet. Contemplative. She stood at the edge of the tower, leaning forward to stare out onto the sea with a concentration that suggested every lap, every wave, held the answer to her problems in its depths. She almost believed it did.

“Nature is serene, is it not?” a voice behind her asked.

“Hypnotic,” she called back as she shifted her stance from where she leaned against the white stone guard of the tower. Ciardis had a long glaive perched against the wall next to her. But she didn’t reach for it. It was too long for her to do much with in such a confined space anyway.

If she needed to deal with a malcontent individual, the tiny knife with the pearl handle at her waist would just have to do. She’d found it covered in soot in the wreckage of the east wing of the palace. She was in the north wing now. A maze of corridors and towers left almost untouched by the inferno that had leaped from one level to the next in the lower buildings. Made of glass and gilt and pretty burnished wood, those parts of the palace had gone up in flames as cheerily as a holiday log crackling in the furnace.

But this wing, and others, were made of harsh stone and fierce magical enforcements. Remnants of the Initiate Wars from long ago. Remnants of a time in which the Algardis Empire had been beset on all sides by enemies.

Dragons. Gods. Kith. Even their own people, Ciardis thought wryly.

The person behind her cleared their throat nervously.

They hadn’t gone away. She had half-hoped that they might. With a deep sigh Ciardis turned away from the entrancing vision of the sea and faced the chaos behind her.

Her eyes met the gentleman rocking back on nervous heels as he faced the woman who the city was beginning to refer to as a legend, and not in the kindest terms.

Ciardis knew what they thought of her now. It hurt. But she couldn’t show it. Not when they stood so perilously close to the edge, both figuratively and physically. She needed to be strong and she had to win their hearts and minds. But if the citizens of Sandrin weren’t willing to give her that, she’d still take their subservience. People were very accommodating when they wanted to live.

“What is it?” she murmured quietly as a harsh wind came off the sea and blew through her hair.

It got in her face and her clothes, a loose tunic with long sleeves and a cape to match, tangled around her form. They were practical clothes if not stylish.

She didn’t need stylish right now anyway. They could be mid-battle at any moment and she’d take alive and well-fitted to fight over beauty any day.

Even Lillian had agreed.

She’d nearly keeled over in apoplexy when forced to admit it during one of the few self-defense trainings she’d squeezed into Ciardis’s transition from village maiden to court-worthy Companion…but she had agreed.

But what mattered now was the fact that Ciardis was very well aware that she could fight in a dress if she had to. But she knew that she could win in pants.

The man, a young person no older than his late twenties, bowed nervously and said, “The conclave has been convened.”

Ciardis didn’t let any emotion show on her face. No joy. No relief. No anxiety.

This was going just how they had planned. Or rather…as closely as it could to the plan after they had killed an emperor, lost far too many friends, and destabilized all the lands without a proper transition process.

Ciardis Weathervane might have even been able to live with all of that.

The lost knowledge.

The lost friends.

But her heart beat with an empty hollow knowing that she had lost someone more precious than all of that combined.

She wished she could say it had gone down differently. But it hadn’t.

Life seemed to love to jerk her around.

This week had been no different.

The man cleared his throat as he swayed back and forth on jittery feet that even his palace training couldn’t hide.

She took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. She felt like she’d been through the wringer and hung out to dry. Which she had. They all had.

As if mirroring her dark mood, the winds off the sea picked up in harsh bursts. The storm that had been rolling in, bringing in the fresh smell of the wet sea that Ciardis so loved at the same time, broke at that point.

Harsh rain began to slam against her back and almost took the servant off his feet as he faced the winds head on while trying to maintain his position in front of her.

When lightning struck so close to the tower that she could see the arc of bright energy out of the corner of her eye, Ciardis smiled and he jumped like a frog into the air.

To his credit, he landed back in the place where he had started, but that apparently was the end of his deference to courtesy. The man was halfway back down the stairs before he halted, and very reluctantly turned to look back up at her while he gripped the remaining stair rail with a hand so tight that his flesh was ghostly.

Ciardis raised an eyebrow. She wasn’t entirely sure if he was waiting because he couldn’t move or because he needed more from her. He’d delivered his news after all. But she also knew that she wouldn’t get her answers by deferring to what protocol demanded of her in this situation. Which was waiting for him to say something. She could see from the dull glaze in his eyes and the way he opened his mouth then closed it again, that he was in shock.

So she said kindly, “You’ve told me your news, now you may go.”

“May I take your response to the prince?” the man finally said as gracefully as he could under pressure. His words were a little frightened, but his delivery was fine.

“Where is he?” Ciardis fairly shouted as another roll of thunder sounded over the both of them.

The servant said something then and nature drowned him out.

She asked again, but apparently he heard something entirely different. A question in her words about the person, rather than a clarification on where the person was.

Ciardis was highly frustrated. Because of fear and perhaps protocol, he wouldn’t come any closer to her.

This is ridiculous, she grumbled as she prepared to make her way across the tower. Keeping a wary eye on any stray fingers of lightning in the air.

But then just as she put one foot in front of the other, suddenly the thunder and high winds died.

It was like they had never been there in the first place, and the servant was already readying his reply to their previously drowned out conversation.

She didn’t have to struggle to hear what he was saying now.

He still began with a shout, “No, milady. The prince heir. The prince heir!”

She nodded, “I understand.”

“Not the diabolical one,” he was saying as he shivered in the now cold and still air.

She sucked in a breath but didn’t reprimand him. She couldn’t. He was right.

Besides, he realized his mistake all too quickly in the empty silence that followed.

Ciardis wanted to reassure him that it was all right. She put false cheer in her voice, but the words weren’t really for him. They were for her.

“Thanar’s been called worse,” she said cheerfully as the newly soft wind buffeted her.

The man blanched. “I-I didn’t mean…”

She shot him a darkly amused look. “I wasn’t speaking to you. Go. Leave me to myself. I’ll be along in just a few minutes.”

He took her at her word and scurried off to the dubious safety of the exit while she looked around at the vista below. This vista was different from the seascape just behind her. It was like standing on a precipice and being able to see the world burn. Or what was left of it anyway.

As Ciardis stared at the palace in ruins and she felt her hope die with it.

But she wasn’t empty. Because anger took its place. Anger and retribution.

It almost seemed silly, but when Thanar had taken his rage out on Maradian. Every blow, every crunch of bone, every yell had been both for her and without her. She thought victory would ring sweet, instead it was hollow. Like a log that had finally cracked and revealed an inside destroyed by beetles, then give over to rot and mold. She couldn’t shake the sensation that she hadn’t won, that instead she’d been allowed to win.

Ciardis let out a bitter laugh as she said aloud to the empty tower, “I wouldn’t be surprised if Maradian thought it better to die now than face a god at the head of a human army.”

It would seem to be just his temperament — throw a wrench in Ciardis Weathervane’s plans one last time, even if he had to die to do it.

She had the thought, which ran down her spine like an ice-cold shiver, that this was just the beginning. They had seen the palace burn. But before the end, the entire city and even the empire itself would be up in flames.

That was something she didn’t want to see. Something she couldn’t even imagine.

But she wasn’t sure she could prevent it either.

Everyone was dead. Everyone.

How were one inexperienced Companion, one unscrupulous daemoni prince and one very overwhelmed prince heir supposed to be able to commit deicide on their own?

The answer was…they weren’t. And Ciardis Weathervane was starting to realize that she had been set up to fail. It was a long game and even though he was dead at Thanar’s own hands, it seemed that the false Emperor had had the foresight to set his hands in play well before they had even stepped on the board.

It was the way the games of court life were played.

But just because Ciardis Weathervane was down, it did not mean that she was out. She knew that to win this fight it would take all she had, all they had, in one united force. Starting with the conclave awaiting her appearance. Awaiting her explanation for the string of deaths she had left behind her. Awaiting an explanation most of all for the death of the man they knew as Emperor Bastien Athanos Algardis.

So she turned for one last look at the sea and then began the long journey down the steep tower steps into the wreckage of the palace below.

She thought about the wicked storm that had descended on them with barely a moment’s notice. It was incredible that it had last for only seconds.

Like a storm called down from the heavens, she thought. Or a storm that a mortal mage had called in.

Neither idea appealed to her.

If there was an unlicensed mage in the city of Sandrin, or the seven gods forbid, on palace grounds—they would have to deal with them. Ciardis had the feeling that the palace and the people were a lot more vulnerable now than they had ever been. Whether the fight between she and Maradian had taken down more than just a ruler, was left to be seen. But one didn’t see incredible thunderstorms forming in seconds and weird snaps of mage power at the oddest intersections when everything was fine.

That, by definition, was the opposite of fine.

And she shuddered to think of what else was to come.

Whatever it is, we’ll handle it, she thought firmly. Like we always do.

And yet those words didn’t comfort her nearly as much as they had in the past.

 

As she walked down the steps Ciardis made a note to herself to ask the Weather Guild to keep a firmer eye on their members. Almost all the city inhabitants were running scared like headless chickens since a day and a half ago with the Emperor’s death.

But that didn’t mean that they could just descend into anarchy.

No, that won’t do, she thought as she trailed a finger in the dark ash that coated even the walls of these steps.

She hadn’t witnessed it personally, but she knew that the fire that had raged, stoked by unrestricted magic, had been a furious one.

Furious enough to throw the flames so high that they reached into an enclosed stairwell and roared to the fresh air at the very top.

She wouldn’t have wanted to be trapped in the resulting inferno. She didn’t think anyone would have survived.

And now the palace was once more in order, or as orderly as it could be considering that the people had simply traded the foreboding rule of a maniacal Emperor for the unspoken of, but very much realized presence of one very troubling god.

“No wonder everyone’s so frazzled,” Ciardis muttered with a grimace as she took the last step down and met the barely sane eyes of some skittish servants running to and fro like mice trying to avoid the notice of a very large predator.

Ciardis had the sense that it wasn’t necessarily her they were afraid of. But what was coming in general.

Panic and fear hung over the palace and the city itself like an oppressive cloud that would not rise.

It wasn’t something you could shake off. You lived with the fear, you woke with its choke hold on your breath, and you went to work with it riding your back like an ominous crow.

As she stepped around some flagstones that had been upended into crag-like outcroppings on the floor, she pursed her mouth into a grim line. They were in the eye of storm. She knew it. The servants knew it.

It was so calm that it was actually unnerving. Waiting. Watching. Wary.

Not knowing when the god would appear. What he would appear as. What they could do. What they would do.

She knew that the citizens of Sandrin feared for their lives. For their families’ lives.

Unfortunately, Ciardis Weathervane didn’t have much reassurance to give them.

All she could manage at the moment was to plan, even though her plans previously had had very nasty habits of falling apart.

“Plan and keep people busy,” she said as she looked around with a critical eye. She saw a man so frazzled that he walked straight into an ash-covered pole before hastily straightening himself with a frightened look and hurried along again with his fellow mice.

Ciardis reached out and snagged the hand of the person nearest her. A servant walking by with her cloth-wrapped head firmly down.

Another mouse, she noted disappointedly. She couldn’t blame them for their fear. It would rule her too if exhaustion hadn’t already taken a predominant place.

As of now all Ciardis Weathervane had time to do was function. Function and act as if every second was her last. So she planned and she schemed and she scoured the palace for anything that would give them the upper hand.

And today she would act. Because they had to. Their leisure time had run out. With the emperor dead and a god descending, they have very little space left for preparations. She would make the most of it.

“Where is the prince heir’s meeting?” Ciardis asked the woman not unkindly.

The woman blanched under the layer of dust and dirt that caked her face but fortunately didn’t lose her composure. She dipped a hasty curtsey.

“In the chambers of the Imperial Conclave,” she managed to say with barely a squeak of her voice.

Ciardis noted her calmness and gave her a smile. “Thank you.”

“My pleasure, Your Imperial Highness,” the woman said smoothly as she curtsied again and scampered off before Ciardis could correct her.

Looking after at her with a perturbed expression, Ciardis called out, “I’m not an Imperial anything.”

When five different servants stopped scampering through the halls mid-run and looked at her, Ciardis ducked her head self-consciously.

She wanted to shout out to them that they had it wrong, but it wasn’t just a problem of servants uttering the wrong title. Everyone from the head of the Merchant’s Guild to busy countesses looking to gain power while the social circles of the imperial courts were in flux, were referring to her outside of her current title. That didn’t mean that she had to like it. In fact it made her unsettled to think everyone was automatically foisting the title of Empress upon her. It almost felt like she’d been selected to run a town as mayor and yet had never even been asked if she wanted the position.

Ciardis knew logically that by agreeing to the wedding, she had agreed to all assumptions of the office, but she hadn’t gotten married yet, by the seven gods. She wanted her freedom for a little longer.

So she glared at all of the servants standing around and staring at her silently. Not challenging them, but not letting this go either. Whatever they saw in her eyes made them keep right on moving.

Which was just fine with her. She didn’t feel like having the discussion that she wasn’t married to the Emperor-to-be, and at this point in time wasn’t even sure she wanted to.

“We’re all going to die anyway,” Ciardis said as she resolutely turned around and headed down the imperial hallways.

If she had had a moment of clear thought, she might have wondered why the servant who had come to fetch her hadn’t waited to escort her to the conclave himself, but with a palace falling apart around her and no less than five friends dead thanks to scheming of her former future father-in-law in less than forty-eight hours, to say that her judgment was a bit clouded would be an understatement.

Grief could do that to you.

Ciardis Weathervane, above anyone, else understood that.

It was all she could do, to rein in the tide of emotions that were threatening to sweep over her. The pain. The fury. The burning need for retribution.

Retribution not just against the man who was a stone-cold corpse now, but also for the actions he had put into place.

But she couldn’t undo the past. No one could.

She picked up her pace from a fast walk to a trot. As if she could outrun her personal demons.

She couldn’t say it worked too well, but she did manage to avoid conversations with any more individuals along the way.

When she reached the conclave’s chambers, she noted with a frown that there were no soldiers guarding the doors.

Even the hallway was empty.

Hesitating, Ciardis lifted a fisted hand and knocked on the door.

It was the polite thing to do, after all, since she didn’t know who was in there.

Though when she thought about it after a moment she realized how silly she looked. Not the knocking itself.

But the fact that no matter who was in the room, she outranked them all. She recognized that the triumvirate gifts had made her one of the most magically powerful Companions in the land, if not the most powerful, and she also happened to be in line for the throne herself.

If only as the future Empress.

So Ciardis cleared her throat when no answer was forthcoming and turned the heavy crystal handle on the door herself.

With a bit of force and a firm hand, the broad door opened. She stepped inside to see dozens of individuals.

None of whom were paying her the least bit of mind.

Sheaves of paper were being waved about like weapons, voices were rising, fists being pounded into the table or the wall depending on where the occupant stood, and people were clearly getting angry.

She closed the door behind her softly and took in the scene.

A long, wide room opened in front of her. As big as one of the minor ballrooms, it was taken over by a grand oval table made of dark wood, maybe ebony, inlaid with crystal panels at intervals. Intervals that corresponded to the chairs that sat around the table. There were at least thirty seats with proper placements, but even more had been wedged into open spaces at the table. It wasn’t the mannerly seating arrangements that the nobility usually demanded.

Instead, Ciardis silently counted men and women, even kith, arranged around the table with fists raised in anger. Even more leaned over the backs of those individuals with places at the table and screamed to be heard.

The kith, she noted, stood apart. In a far corner of the room where their hooves and hands could defend any challenger if needed. She noted that even apart they, however, seemed more distressed than furious when compared to their compatriots around the room.

Ciardis delicately began to make her way to the front, where she had spotted a rather large set of dark wings raised upwards in warning. She hoped to find Sebastian standing firm by Thanar’s side.

They had had their personal pissing matches, but if there was one thing she knew she could count on, it was the fact that the members of the triumvirate would have each other’s backs.

Especially when faced with an angry mob.

If they don’t, Ciardis thought grimly, I’ll twist their ears so hard they wish they had.

She ducked the wide swing of a meaty fist of a merchant and practically got picked up off her feet by an angry group of women dressed in gowns that had been fashionable when her forefathers were alive — wide hoop skirts being brandished like the weapons they were as the women wearing them took Ciardis along with them in an angry flurry of skirts. It was then that an Imperial guard finally noted her presence. The guard hastened to Ciardis’s side to make sure she managed to make the rest of the way to the head of the table without being waylaid.

When the nobles closest to her noted who she was, their voices got louder and more belligerent instead of dying down.

Ciardis felt a hint of fear when she was finally able to untangle the words they were saying—one over the other.

It was hate spewing out of their mouths. And not directed at the Emperor. Nor at the coming god.

At her.

Ciardis turned to face the angry, powerful mob in the room that all of sudden felt far too small, and she flinched.

She looked around, wondering if she was mistaken but it was clear she wasn’t. Bloodshot eyes and furious expressions re-focused on her.

“We wouldn’t be in this mess if not for her,” screamed one irate noble.

“Traitorous concubine,” shouted another. “I knew you and your Guild whispered into our ears like snakes, but to see it with my own eyes—.”

“Enough!” shouted Sebastian.

When that didn’t settle them down, he signaled to soldiers—strategically placed throughout the room, Ciardis noted in surprise—and they unsheathed longswords at once.

That silenced their detractors.

Or rather her detractors, Ciardis thought glumly.

When she had come into the room, the nobles had been angry at Sebastian, scared at the turn of events, but they had also clearly acknowledged his right to lead in the place of his fallen family.

But for Ciardis, the tide had immediately turned. Their expressions, their emotions had shifted and like a feral pack they had turned on her in blame, in hate.

No, not hate, she realized. It’s fear.

Surprise colored her thoughts. Of all the things she had imagined when coming to court, being the instigator of fear had not been one of them.

“Now that I have your attention,” Sebastian said in a steely tone, “you’ll act like adults or you’ll be ousted from this conclave like children.”

There were rustles around the room as everyone looked at their compatriots and decided it wasn’t worth it to keep insulting Ciardis like they stood in the midst of a taproom.

She straightened her shoulders and tried to look as unintimidated as she could. But by the dark and disgusted looks directed her, she wasn’t so sure she succeeded.

Thanar, however, had no problem making his frustrations known.

He stepped forward and magic seeped into the air.

Dark magic that moved like shadows, forming into cloud funnels to reach out to the faces of surrounding individuals with lightning quickness.

They all jumped back and fell over each other to avoid his dark touch.

Even the soldiers had to hastily sheathe their swords in order to avoid spearing an individual tumbling towards them by mistake.

Ciardis couldn’t see the look on Thanar’s face as he came up to stand directly behind her and put protective hands on her shoulders, but she caught the looks on the faces of the individuals whose eyes he met.

They all fell back in line after that.

She glanced out of the corner of her eye to see how Sebastian was taking Thanar as the enforcer instead of himself.

But if the prince heir had any misgivings about Thanar’s use of magic to cow the angry crowd, he kept that to himself.

A moment later he reached out to her mind-to-mind. This is exactly what I need. I’m holding on to power with a tenuous grip right now, and to be seen arguing with my subordinates would not…be wise.

Ciardis wanted to say more, but there was no time.

Outwardly Sebastian said, “We’re calling this meeting to order. As the triumvirate that killed the sitting Emperor of Algardis, I have many claims to make known — the first should come as no surprise — I validate the actions which forced the former emperor’s death.”

“And the second?” said a voice from the far back of the room.

Sebastian let out a grim smile. “He was family but the late emperor wasn’t who you thought he was. He wasn’t who I thought he was. He was my uncle and an imposter who was doing everything he could to send the empire back in time a century or more as he consolidated power.”

Shocked cries echoed throughout the room.

Hope you enjoyed your sneak preview!