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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

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.

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.

 

 

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.

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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Self-Publishers & Libraries: Terah Edun Publishing Launches On OverDrive

To all the Librarians and Schoolteachers! All of my current titles are now available on OverDrive through my new publisher account – Terah Edun Publishing.

You can now continue to purchase the Courtlight, Crown Service and future series through this link:

http://www.teedun.com/overdrive

In addition, I have an exclusive interview with MediaShift and recommendations list over on OverDrive! Hope you enjoy. 🙂 For the past three years (wow, time flies!) my goal has been simple. Expand my readership. I see librarians and teachers as well as their library catalogs and classrooms as a HUGE part of that. Well, today I’m happy to announce that Terah Edun Publishing is now a Publisher Partner on OverDrive – the largest eBook library catalog service in the entire world.

For those of you who are Librarians and Teachers and have been waiting for more Terah Edun books to purchase for your catalogs, you’ll find that Courtlight Books 1-10 will soon be available as well as Crown Service Books 1-2. Email publicity@terahedun to get an email reminder on library update day!

For those of you who want to learn a bit more about OverDrive, well read on:

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OverDrive provides eBooks to million of readers through publishers like HarperCollins and Random House. And they make it SO EASY to check out your ebooks as well. All you have to do is log on to your local library page, click on their OverDrive account link and download your book! 😀

So now you can get my entire catalog in the same place you would download your next library read from Kiera Cass or Cassandra Clare.

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Thanks to this already awesome partnership, the Courtlight series and the Crown Service series are now available in public libraries in over half the states in the United States as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, and Great Britain.

Would you like to know more about the impetus behind my new OverDrive partnership? You should, because its not just great for me but other authors as well and I’m happy to move forward together with such an amazing eBook service that offers access to libraries and schools on an international scale.

Click over to MEDIASHIFT and read all about it!

Head over to FACEBOOK and see what I said to OverDrive. 🙂

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In My Inbox: Book Reports for 7th Grade, The Ultimate eBook Creator, and Instagram!

Hi Readers,

It’s been a year since I posted an IN MY INBOX feature from earlier, so I thought I’d update you all on some emails:

LETTER ONE FROM ERICKA:

I was wondering what format you happen to use for writing. For instance Word Processing or something like Ultimate eBook Creator?

I have always wanted to be a writer since my 6th grade teacher introduced the class to poetry. My parents or lack there of, were unreceptive. Fortunately that is behind me and I have a very supportive husband. The book I have started was finished in my Word Document but due to a sudden computer crash today, my only back up is from April, where it was unfinished… So I need to start over but I want to do it right, with some insight 😊 And I love the Courtlight and Crown Service series. I have them all on my kindle. Can’t wait to read more 😊

ANSWER FROM TERAH:

Hi Ericka, thanks for the love! I’m sorry about your lost files. Those are a writer’s worst nightmares. For writing, everyone has different habits that are ingrained. I always use Microsoft Word because that’s what I’m used to. George R.R. Martin uses a stripped down processor called WordStar. However most writers I know use Scrivener. Its a dedicated software located on literatureandlatte.com that keeps your work in separate folders and manageable files.

In order to keep from loosing it still, I recommend saving your working file in multiple places. You can email it to yourself, upload it to the Cloud or to a service like Dropbox, or have auto-backs on your computer into a separate hard drive.

Whatever works for you. Good luck!

LETTER TWO FROM SOPHIE (a 7th grade student):

Hi! I am doing a school book report that is due, and I chose Terah Edun’s book – Sworn to Raise. (It’s an awesome book by the way, cant wait for the new one!!!) and I need information on the author. I was hoping that you could tell me a little bit about your past ex- where you grew up, or where you went to school, as I could not find anything about your background. Thanks!!

ANSWER FROM TERAH:

It was super sweet of you to write me and I’m very sorry that I took more than a week to get back to you. I’m a bit overwhelmed with work.

In answer to your questions:

I grew in Atlanta, GA (my whole family lives in the Southeastern part of the U.S.), I later moved to go to college in Pennsylvania – a women’s institution called Bryn Mawr College, and then I spent some time traveling the world. I’ve lived in Spain, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, South Sudan, and Kenya. I really enjoyed seeing different parts of the globe and I think a lot of those travels bleed over into my writing and give me a great sense of dynamic diversity.

Hope your paper went well!

LETTER THREE FROM POPPY:

Hello, unfortunately I noticed you where doing a rep search a little to late. I just thought I would email to see if there are any more spaces or if there may be some more in the future. In the meantime if there is anything that needs doing that I could help you with please let me know,even if it is just reposting your post and photos I don’t mind! My blog on Instagram is called betweenthebinders…I know it’s a long shot but I thought I would give me a go!

many thanks for your time

ANSWER FROM TERAH:

Hi Poppy,

We would love to have you as an Instagram Rep for #ShatterAnEmpire!

In the Instagram post, we were only looking for 2 #ShatterAnEmpire Reps, but so many dozens of people emailed in that I couldn’t say no to the gracious support. We are so happy to have you on the team and as soon as you confirm you’re good to go. I have some surprises in store for the reps as well. ^.^

Highlights:

On Book Reports, I’m happy to help with assignments but sometimes I don’t get back to readers as quickly as I would like. I’ll be updating teedun.com/teachers with more information, so that your reports and grades aren’t predicated on my ability to answer you super fast.

On #ShatterAnEmpire, for those of you who don’t know, my slogan for all of my books and series that fall within the Algardis Universe (which includes the Courtlight series, the Crown Service series and two as of yet unreleased series – SacredCourt and Algardis) is: Let’s Shatter An Empire!

The hashtag to support any of my books on social media therefore is #ShatterAnEmpire. If you want me to share your pics, your quotes, and your messages just use that tag and it’ll be found no matter the series.

Slogan: Let’s Shatter An Empire

Hashtag: #ShatterAnEmpire

Also I’m on Instagram @terahedun, Twitter @tedunwrites, and Facebook /TerahEdunAuthor.

 

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Lillian In Heels: A New Short Fiction

Welcome to Lillian In Heels. If you’re a subscriber to my newsletter, you received a full PDF of this short story two days ago. If you’d like to receive this short fiction piece directly in your email as a downloadable PDF w/ artwork now sign-up to the newsletter above or go to teraehdun.com/news.

Whenever I write in the Courtlight character arc for Lillian Weathervane, I always find such joy in depicting her delicious snarkiness, her wit, and her love of family. But I also wonder…what was she like before she had children? When Lillian was the center of the court dynamics? I knew that she was hell in heels, but I never quite imagined just how far she’d go. That was how this short story was born.

I hope you all enjoy!

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All short stories, deleted scenes, and unofficial extended content are added to The Library portion of this website as I post them. I hope you enjoy everything that is available!

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Lillian In Heels by Terah Edun

“I’m bored!” Lillian Weathervane announced with an expectant pout on her face as she lounged on a dais and contemplated the man that sat across from her.

His lazy slouch was a mirror image of her lackadaisical repose.

But unlike most of her would-be suitors, Matthew didn’t bother turning his eyes away from his prized papers.

She waited a moment and repeated her exclamation with far more intensity.

The object of her attentions didn’t even stir his gaze.

Lillian however did hear a suspicious cough a few feet away.

When she turned to look out of the corner of her eye at the person who had caught her attention, Lillian saw the Barnonet of Verne flush from the top of his scalp to the edges of his very pudgy fingertips. Apparently, now that he had her partially divided attention he had no idea what to do with it. As Lillian turned her full, imperious attention on him he almost dropped his sheet music in his desperate bid to play lively tunes under her wilting gaze. As if she was fooled.

Lillian set her jaw as she looked around the room.  “Simpleton,” she murmured as she checked on the positions of her admirers and would-be detractors.

She didn’t like being ignored, but she was even less inclined to let someone else command her stage. And it was clear even to her that was just what she had done by begging for the attention of the young man in front of her. The court would be alive with malicious whispers before the night time was done. Lillian could shrug off a few whispers though. If it got her what she had wanted in the first place.

So for the moment, she let their murmurs slide. She would wait and see how it played out. If it didn’t play out in her favor, well then she’d just have to corner the individual who had thought to plant the whispers in the first place.

But that’s later, Lillian thought with a satisfied purr as she finally turned back to the one who commanded so much of her attention lately.

She shifted her body, did her best to thrust her chest out in an appealing manner, and tried for a flirtatious but approachable look.

He could be afraid to return my affections without a more direct invitation, Lillian thought confidently.

Apparently her looks were working on someone because the rich trader from the desert lands across the room flexed his muscles with an all-too-suggestive leer. Him however she didn’t care about. His companion was even worse. The first was too much of a daredevil for her tastes and the second…too much of a cad. She only had eyes for the man in front of her.

But just as she ignored the others, he too ignored her.

Imagine! A musician too busy for the likes of a Weathervane, she scoffed in her mind as she sniffed loudly to get his attention.

No such luck.

The man was acting like the sheet of music he was slowly reading held the very secrets of the universe from the way he furrowed his decadent brow in concentration and his onyx stylus traced every line of notes.

“I don’t have time for this,” Lillian announced finally as she sat up and did what any spoiled court woman who was being ignored would do. She reached behind her, grabbed a suitably heavy satin pillow and lobbed it straight at his curly head.

Matthew had clearly been in his own world because he didn’t see her attack coming at all. He didn’t move as the large pouch of fluff hit him squarely in the head and knocked his loose papers off the table in front of him.

Only then did he sit up with an offended frown and looked over at her with ire in his eyes. She had a moment to admire the cross look on his beautiful copper face.

So luscious, she thought with an appreciative look.

That is before Matthew exclaimed, “What was that for?”

Lillian had been feeling a tad remorseful at catching him so unaware. But any remorse died with the tone of his voice. Gratitude would have been more in line for a man of his station.

Still she didn’t let that dissuade her. At least now she had his attention. So Lillian sat back with a satisfied smirk plastered on her face and counted down the seconds before answering his question.

“I’m. Bored,” she said with a daring smile. “Do something about it.”

He narrowed his eyes and she waited for the feline look of hunger to cross his face. The look that all the ladies and men of court got when they were the recipient of her unwavering interest. Except it didn’t appear.

The man looked back at his notes and scribbled something, then said quietly, “I can’t quite understand how someone as talented as you could stand to dally on a couch the whole day.”

Lillian said with a light challenge in her voice, “I’m quite talented as you say in a lot of things. If I have the right partner.”

She waited for him to get the hint. It wasn’t that Lillian desperately desired the man. Truth be told, she knew she’d forget his name in a matter of days. In two weeks’ time, he’d be a meaningless lackey of the courts in her eyes once more. Unnoticed. Undesired. But for today, he was her conquest…if only he’d at least try to rise to the occasion.

But seeing her persist only seemed to push him away further. Lillian watched as he rolled his eyes and said with a snap, “Well, some of us have to work, Lady Lillian. I suggest you go find the ones that don’t.”

The seductive look on Lillian’s face died as she looked over at him with disbelief.

She waited for the laugh that was presumably coming. The deprecating joke that said he had just been teasing her, the darling of the court.

When he didn’t say a word, just lifted an eyebrow as if to say ‘why are you still here?’, she sniffed in feigned disdain, got off her lounging couch as elegantly as she could, and walked away. So this mouse didn’t want to play her game. Well, she would find one that would.

Lillian knew that all he saw as she walked away, if he was looking, was a seductively swaying back and an heiress calmly walking off to pursue other amusements. He didn’t see the small hurt in her heart because she didn’t let him or anyone else see that.

Weakness, she thought with a shudder as she walked out of the room with her face carefully composed. She’d been taught from birth how to carefully navigate the intricate rules at court. It was true that she was Lillian Weathervane. Rarely rebuffed. Always welcome. Her partners didn’t approach her, she chose them.

But this musician seemed to think he was above her. Or worse…that he didn’t need her. Which to Lillian was tantamount to heresy.

She was the jewel about which the court revolved. Not the empress. Not the emperor.

She.

She thought about what she would do to make him pay for the insult. But she wasn’t sure if she should. At least not yet. Perhaps he’d just been irritable today.

“Or even better,” she cooed to herself. “He’s playing hard to get. That would certainly be a change.”

She thought about it and decided that’s what it was. It didn’t necessarily make her inclined to like him, but it certainly gave her at least some semblance of mental entertainment. But for Lillian that wasn’t enough. She needed to be out. She needed to be doing something. She’d been growing more and more bored with the courts of late and only the emperor’s decision to take on a wife, the first of his reign, had alleviated that.

Instead of being a rival to Lillian, she had been a blessing. It hadn’t hurt that Teresa had been a favorite plaything of Lillian’s before her recent elevation and the youngest Weathervane never let her forget that. Teresa was an interloper upon the courts. Lillian was an institution, whose power only cemented further with each passing year.

Rounding a corner Lillian turned her thoughts away from her imperial ally and back to the small puzzle that was the musician named Matthew. She almost disgusted herself with how her thoughts focused on him, but he intrigued her so. Her thoughts were so consuming, that she didn’t even bother to say a word to the gentleman who strolled around the corner with a skip in his step and casually hooked her elbow with his arm.

That was apparently fine with Demetre because he quickly broke into conversation anyway. Whistling congenially he paused and said, “I do believe you owe me some shillings.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she deigned to say with her nose up in the air.

Demetre scoffed. “This is the second time you’ve struck out with that musician.”

Lillian stopped and turned to glare down at him.

“And how would you know about that you little imp?” she demanded of the height-challenged courtier who looked up at her with mischievous blue eyes.

“Well, I was sitting under a certain loose-tied noblewoman’s skirts,” he said with a roll of his eyebrows.

She blinked and shrugged. “So what else is new?”

He winked. “It might be someone you know.”

Lillian rocked back on her heels and thought for a moment. Then she got it.

“Ohhh, gross!” Lillian snapped. “You know very well that woman has more diseases than a dockworker’s daughter.”

He said with flair as he tugged her along to start moving again, “You exaggerate my dear. What she does have is great legs.”

Lillian grumbled. “Enough of your floozies and back to my dilemma.”

“Yes, do tell,” the imp said as he peeked around a corner and hustled her along.

Lillian was too distracted by the thoughts in her head to pay heed to whatever or whoever it was that he was avoiding. For all she knew, it was one of Demetre’s various liaisons ready to call him out for dallying with yet another beautiful and immediately available version of themselves.

Frowning she muttered, “He must a priest. Or a saint. Or both.”

“Uh-huh,” said Demetre in a far off voice. He was clearly paying just as much attention to her as she was to him.

Which was why she didn’t tell him that she thought the musician may have been playing hard to get. There was no need for him to know that or the even worse suspicion that she had come up with in her flights of fancy…the musician may just not have been interested.

For Lillian this was tantamount to sacrilege.

It didn’t happen to her. Not she who had her pick of any courtier or noble at court just based on her looks and vivacity alone. Add to that that she was the youngest Weathervane to actually develop her powers and they were seeing signs of other unique mage gifts, enough to get her a place in the famed mage academy near Ameles Forest. She was a catch for anybody’s arm. Let alone a mere musician.

Apparently Demetre could sort out her thoughts fairly well just from her expression.

“There, there, dear,” he said in mock consolation. “Rejection comes to the best of us all.”

She whirled on him as quick as a viper as they began to climb the stairs leaving the palace wing reserved for musicians and poets and other artists, and taking them out into the vast palace hallways with congregating servants and noblemen.

That didn’t slow her down though. The thought of more people to appreciate her presence positively invigorated her.

“I was not rejected,” she said with teeth clenched in fury.

Demetre eyed her and snorted delicately. “Have you considered that maybe, just maybe, dear, he’s a musician trying to make his way in a court of indolent nobles; spoiled, pampered, and surely without a care in the world.”

“Well, of course he is,” Lillian said decisively. “I plan to help him with that too.”

“Is that before or after you toss him in and out of your bed faster than a land snake?” he said derisively.

Before she could object, Demetre waved his hand in dismissal. “You know I’d do the same, so no shame there. It’s just that the musician is looking for a proper place in court. Not a dalliance to detract from his prospects.”

“I could have made a worthy minor patron for such a man,” Lillian said in a pout.

She was careful to enunciate the difference between a patron and a Patron. The latter of which was reserved only for trained Companions of the Imperial Courts.

Demetre shrugged as they reached the top of the marble staircase. “Don’t waste your time struggling to tap a dry well when the entire court is wet and eager for your attentions. The first among them being me of course.”

She gave him a wry look. “You?”

“Yes,” Demetre said with a puffed up chest. “Starting with that bit of wager profits you owe me. Considering he turned you down and all.”

Lillian laughed as she tossed her curls over her shoulder. “You are incorrigible. A skinflint. A snake.”

Demetre preened as if she had just given him the highest of compliments.

Lillian continued while glaring down at his smug boxy little face with the cutest dimples and evilest look in his pretty, cornflower blue eyes. “You’ll have your coins don’t worry.”

“Good,” Demetre said in satisfaction as he looked outside. “It’s already late afternoon, so my choices are limited. Therefore I’ll take your box seat in the imperial theatre this evening too.”

Lillian gasped in horror and said, “No, not tonight! I have nothing else to do. I swear to you, Demetre, when I told Matthew I was bored, I wasn’t lying.”

Demetre laughed and pinched her shoulder lightly with his fingertips, which was as far up as he could reach to touch her without her bending over.

“Oh, I have no doubt you told that poor musician the absolute truth. It doesn’t change the fact that you owe me both coin and luxury and the luxury I choose is access to the theatre. Since I’ve been dying to see this week’s play performance.”

Lillian gritted her teeth but she couldn’t very well refuse him. It had been her proposal after all, a small wager to see if she could win the notoriously difficult musician’s favor in a single afternoon. She had lost her own bet.

Finally she sniffed, “Fine, but you must take me with you.”

“No can do,” Demetre said cheerfully as they reached an intersection of the imperial corridor and prepared to depart.

“Why ever not?” Lillian asked with mild insult.

“I have an assignation tonight and as you well know—although extraordinarily well-placed, your box only fits two,” Demetre said as he departed with a wave of his hand.

Lillian’s jaw dropped as she watched him walk off down the corridor to the left. “You’re locking me out of my own play box for a random trollop?”

Demetre looked back over his shoulder and gave her a suggestive wink. “As if you wouldn’t do the same.”

With that he was off and she was left standing in an empty corridor with her hands on her hips in disbelief. “Well, I never.”

She turned around and immediately set off in the opposite direction. She wanted to fume and sulk in peace. Hopefully with someone delightful listening to her every word drop from her lips. There was only one place she could go where she was assured a captive and silent audience.

The imperial chambers of the Empress of Algardis.

With a smile on her face, Lillian Weathervane set off. “Today might not be so bad after all,” she said to herself with mild glee as she stuck her nose in the air and was careful not to meet the gaze of anyone beneath her. Servant or noble.

Lillian Weathervane was the talk of the entire court. The brightest debutante it had seen and the envy of all the women, and not a few men, who sought to be the belle of the ball. Now, even though years had passed, the entire Imperial Court was her playroom. She had swept into its midst with the vivacity of a woman seasoned by years at court, which made sense because prior to her debut she had grown up here.

Unfortunately that also was Lillian’s current predicament. There was nothing left. Nothing exciting happened anymore. She had seen it all; dallied with everyone from lowborn stableman to the emperor’s own statistician. None of them gripped her fancy. She was half-convinced that she had only pursued the musician out of some whim at being ignored in the first place.

Aside from her love life, the duels between courtiers were a thing of commonplace. No one had died in weeks. Even the scandals seemed to be quite devoid of titillation.

And now, she had been stripped of her only reasonable bit of entertainment for the night —her boxed seats at the play.

Although she sought refuge in the royal salon, Lillian was well aware that chattering with Teresa could easily become fraught with boredom. Which is why she was taking charge of the conversation and their activities from the moment she entered the imperial’s rooms, starting with dismissing all of the simpering courtiers who were lodging there like baby blue jays in the roost. Life would be so much more interesting when they were alone. At the very least it would be better than staying in her own suite of rooms with nothing else to do.

Then when she was done with her private conversations with Teresa, mostly consisting of Lillian holding court, she would just invite back all the simpering idiots into the rooms. The empress always had something or someone fluttering around her trying to get into her good graces with their insipid pleas. If nothing else happened tonight, Lillian could take pleasure in denying their banal requests.

She hasn’t even been married to Bastien long enough for tongues to start wagging that she hasn’t borne him the all-important heir yet, Lillian mused to herself as she continued her train of thought about the only woman she could be considered moderately close to at court.

She was careful though to not say anything aloud that might have even hinted at disloyalty. As Teresa’s primary lady-in-waiting and her closest confidante, Lillian enjoyed extraordinary favor at court. But there was nothing the emperor hated more than gossip about his person and as magically talented as she was, she also thrived on the life blood of the courts—secrets and lies. Cymus, the late emperor, had hated her. It seemed that his sons were destined to share the same animosity. So it went without saying that despite her status as the court belle, Lillian didn’t interact much with the emperor himself. Though to be fair he tended to limit his interactions with anyone who liked to have fun of Lillian’s variety. Bastien was said to be more lenient than his father but only in the sense that he preferred the ‘lazy courtiers’ as he called them to keep their distance and stay out of his way, instead of banishing them outright like his father had. As for the mysterious other brother of the imperial family, well the less said about Maradian the better, mainly because no one knew where he was or what he was up to. Aside from being supposedly dead. She had enough things to worry about without solving the mystery of a missing imperial. For Lillian knew all too well that her exalted status had brought her many enemies. Numerous noblewomen and not too few others, like the Companions of court, were waiting in the wings to take her place.

Now Lillian was swooping down on the inner chambers on her way to the Empress herself.

“We may not have as much time as I thought,” Lillian mused to herself as assorted people passed her by. “The courts seem especially busy today. Something’s up.”

Out of the corner of her eye she spotted the empty courtyards filled with mazes of green and not a hint of flowers in sight. Lillian had always thought the spot would be perfect for an elaborate set of fountains for courtiers and visitors alike to enjoy. Unfortunately, like the neglected rose gardens to the west, her vision was not to be.

Too bad, Lillian thought dismissively as she weaved between the ever-growing  assemblage of nobles lining the entrance to the emperor’s imperial audience chamber.

She managed to slip into the chamber with a refined nod at the chamberlain and skirted along the edge of the room, behind self-important barons and generals who hadn’t seen combat in over fifty years. Not since the last flare up with the kith in the Ameles Forest anyway.

She didn’t stop moving, even as some noblemen tried to catch her eye and ladies waved fans in invitation, all of them eager to capture the attention of the empress’s favorite attendant.

They knew, and she knew, that if they curried favor with her it was as good as done that their families too would gain favor. After all, a rising tide raised all boats.

Lillian however wasn’t feeling very inclined to be used this afternoon.

Sniffing in disdain as she dodged around a particularly malodorous gentleman, she thought to herself, Now if that musician had just been a little more court-savvy he might have realized the same. A plum position in the empress’s salon would have been worth a night in my bed and more. But no. He squandered his chances and prospects at court. Perhaps it’s time to turn my pursuit into a hunt. That musician won’t like how vengeful I can be.

To be honest, the vindictive turn of her thoughts pleased her. If she wasn’t going to be happy, neither was he.

Then she saw the one man she was dying to avoid this evening. He always ruined her fun.

She ducked behind a woman with wide-hoop skirts, the sort of fashion Lillian detested and hoped he hadn’t noticed her.

No such luck.

She felt a tug on her floating gossamer gown and turned around with obvious reluctance. She let a small frown cross her face, briefly enough not to mar her serene expression but she knew he would see it and know her displeased. Not that he cared but she would have the satisfaction at least of being able to display some sort of irritation even if court rules called for cordialness. As her flighty uncle stepped in her line of sight, Lillian stifled a reluctant sigh.

She didn’t want to say a word to him, but courtesy demanded it. If she bypassed her own blood without a word, especially when it was clear she had seen him, then the court would be atwitter for days.

And for all the wrong reasons.

“Uncle,” Lillian said with a stiff smile.

“Niece,” said the stick-thin man that reminded her more of a praying mantis than anything else. He leaned over and kissed her hand with dry lips.

Used to the sensation, if not entirely pleased with it, Lillian drifted a bit closer to hear what he had to say. He wouldn’t have stopped her mid-court with prying eyes and ears all around them if he just wanted her to acknowledge him. A nod of his head and a nod of hers, two ships passing in the night, would have done that just as easily if so.

True to form, her Uncle leaned forward and whispered into her ear. Every word came with spittle to grace her perfumed and powdered flesh like drops of morning dew. Only the training drilled into her since birth kept her from flinching away at the sensation.

“Well,” he said. “We have a newcomer to court.”

Lillian shifted uncomfortably. “Another merchant perhaps?”

“No,” said her Uncle softly. “Someone more important. The emperor has convened a group of nobles here not usually seen outside of their massive estates. Look girl.”

Lillian obediently turned away from her view of the door that was her escape through the back corridors into the private wing of the imperial family. She still hadn’t seen the empress after all and nearly an hour had passed since her time in the salon with Matthew. Lillian was growing impatient but she turned her practiced eyes on the courtiers standing around.

It wasn’t that she hadn’t seen who was here before, it was just that no matter who came and went the court always stayed the same. Staid.

Nothing to see. Nothing to do, she thought with alacrity.

However, this time she was very much mistaken.

She noted that her Uncle was right. He may have been a scholarly-type without an ounce of fun in him, but he kept his eye on court mechanics like his life depended on it. And in a way it did. As an advisor to the emperor, her Uncle’s task mostly lay in keeping an eye on bored nobility like herself and keeping everyone, from the musicians to the imperial armed forces, in check.

Unfortunately the latter purview of her Uncle took more work than one would think. A bored military was a dangerous one and there were dozens of garrisons of such armed men strewn throughout the empire. Ready and idle. After all, it wasn’t like Algardis had been in any wars lately-skirmishes of forest land didn’t really count, and aside from the rather unfortunate end of the former empress years ago, hadn’t seen much turmoil either.

It didn’t take Lillian long to notice the eddy in the current that made up the machinations of the imperial court powers-that-be. The most powerful were either surrounding a central figure standing near enough to touch the empty ceremonial throne or were making their way towards that person as surreptitiously as they could.

She couldn’t see who that person was, but for him or her to have such an effect on the jaded nobility boded for an interesting night.

“Who is it?” she asked in a calm voice, her eyes studying the reactions of each noble who came in contact with the mysterious stranger.

“That is a dragon.” said her uncle softly.

“A dragon?” Lillian scoffed.

Her uncle clucked his tongue. “I shouldn’t have to repeat myself, especially to you.”

“Are you sure?” Lillian said with faint distaste. She had just gotten a good look at her uncle’s dragon.

The man was shorter than the butler currently hovering over him with a serving tray, had a balding head, and what looked like the most horrible case of buck teeth she had ever seen at court.

That was no dragon.

Dragons were supposedly the most beautiful, refined, and elegant creatures to grace the courts of either empire. Not that lump.

Her uncle sucked his teeth in disgust.

“No,” he snapped. “I’ve taught you better. That is the dragon’s bodyman. Look at the man sitting on the steps of the throne itself.”

And so Lillian did and her heart nearly stopped in her chest.

He was beautiful.

But his features, like a stone carving from the imperial gardens come to life, were not why she froze.

That dragon had his paws on her man.

Eyes wide, Lillian saw her musician not just serenading the dragon with his music, deft fingers flying over a lute in hand, but also sitting on the dragon’s lap.

Not only that; the musician, Matthew, seemed quite happy to be there. Animatedly he played his music and let the dragon stroke his back without a care in the world. While the entire court watched.

The same court that would have undoubtedly heard that he had soundly rejected her advances just few hours before when the sun was up and the day had felt absurdly long.

Lillian was furious.

She wasn’t good enough for the minstrel but the creature from across the waters was? Lillian was no fool. Dragons were beautiful and graceful, but she was Lillian Weathervane. There was no arrogance in suggesting that she was the pre-eminent catch of the courts. That is…until now.

Forget small revenge, Lillian fumed. I’ll scratch his eyes out. I’ll scratch both of their eyes from their cavities.

Fortunately before she could make good on that threatening thought, her Uncle interceded. “Niece,” he said urgently. “I know that look in your eye. That look has a sense of urgency. A need for power. Harness that power, it has helped your family rise in the past.”

It wasn’t necessarily her Uncle’s avarice that broke the furious thoughts that had taken hold of Lillian’s mind. It was his thirst for power and the knowledge that he expected her, as always, to act in ways that benefited the family as well as herself.

Composure was expected.

Decorum was expected.

At the very least, a lack of bloodshed on the palace floors was expected.

So she smoothed her face and adjusted her bodice.

“I think it’s time I introduced myself to the newest guest at court,” Lillian purred. If her eyes didn’t match the warmth in her voice, well her Uncle didn’t necessarily expect miracles.

He let her go and she sashayed her way across the palace floor.

Before she’d even proceeded halfway though, an imperial chamberlain began knocking his very large ceremonial staff against the marble floors.

The sound was enough to get the swift attention of all those gathered.

Even the musician and his dragon.

They stood as smoothly as two choreographed dancers and Lillian barely held back a snarl as she smoothly about-faced with a rush of her skirts and faced the doorway.

The knock of the ceremonial staff against the marble floor meant only one thing.

The Emperor of Algardis was on his way. Everyone was expected to be silent as they awaited his glorious arrival.

She couldn’t help the tic in her eye as she tried to sneak a glance of her musician and her rival again but she noticed, with some relief, that the dragon was already walking away. At least far enough away that he wasn’t touching Matthew anymore. That relief was short-lived however.

The doorway to the inner imperial chambers swung open and out strode the emperor in a long, opulent robe and the empress tottering along behind him in fast heels.

As one the court dipped into deep bows and curtsies, Lillian among them.

When she rose the emperor was already pulling up the dragon envoy in a stiff embrace.

She held her breath as she too waited for what the legendary being would do.

Apparently used to human customs, the dragon accepted the emperor’s touch with equal somberness and leaned forward to whisper a small something in Emperor Bastien’s ear.

Whatever he said was too low for Lillian to catch but it caused the emperor to laugh loudly and slap the dragon on his back in a much more familiar gesture.

The dragon, a smirk on his face, stepped back and gave the empress a very salacious bow as he did.

The empress simpered and blushed as Lillian expected her to and swept up to her throne a step below her husband.

As they sat the dragon stepped to the side of the dark amber carpet that ran parallel to the steps leading up to the throne. He casually looped an arm around the musician’s neck, claiming him for all the court to see, and kissed him with a bit too much ardor on the cheek closest to him.

Lillian couldn’t believe it.

She didn’t understand how this envoy could swoop in and take everything from her in one step. She’d been silently pursuing the musician for weeks and not once had he ever been inclined to show a preference for only men. In fact, she had caught him and a certain harpist exchanging far more tongue than even Lillian expected to see in public viewing.

So it was clear to her and to everyone else, that it was just her that he did not prefer.

This means war, Lillian thought with such fury in her mind that if she had the slightest inclination to pyrokinesis the entire court would have been in flames.

The emperor, apparently mimicking her thoughts, said aloud “For too long we were at war with the dragons of the Sahalian Empire. Now one of their own kind has come amongst us from across the sea in a journey that has not been made in terms of peace for decades. It makes one wonder why.”

Lillian blinked and stiffened. This didn’t sound good. It sounded serious.

Her dismay this time was quite real. The courts were supposed to be fun. War and politics were not fun.

“I know why,” continued the emperor with firm enunciation, “It is to finally re-unite our peoples, a task that has gone undone for far too long.”

Fierce whispers started up from the back of the audience chamber and quickly swept through to the front. This was a subject that was tantamount to verboten in court life. The wars between Sahalia and Algardis, proxy and direct, had been the worst in Algardis history. They were not easily forgotten and to suggest consortium with one of the beasts, an alliance even, would have easily gotten another courtier hanged.

But this was the emperor speaking and his word was law.

Lillian strained to hear the emperor over the furious uproar that had erupted just minutes before. He was now surrounded by very anxious advisors who pushed and shoved to get close to him on the throne.

While the center of all this uproar, the dragon envoy himself, continued to stand at the foot of the stairway to the throne with a self-satisfied look on his face and fingers that were flying over the musician’s torso with decorous attention.

Before too long she heard the banging of the ceremonial staff on the floor again and the loud command of “Silence!” rang out.

The murmurs and whispers and conversations died out.

The emperor stood up from his throne and pushed through his coterie of nervous advisors. Like headless chickens the lot of them, Lillian thought.

It was clear the emperor hadn’t bothered to announce his plans to them before he took it to the entire court. She wondered if they had even known the dragon was coming.

When Lillian stole a look at the empress’s nervous face, she got the feeling that even she who shared the man’s bed—mostly—hadn’t known either.

Bastien’s got guts, Lillian thought with boredom as she twitched her fingers and wondered where this was going.

Emperor Bastien stood alone, his face determined as he said, “This will happen. This reunification will begin now. Tonight.”

One of the bolder barons came forward and asked in a booming, sarcastic voice, “And how do you propose we start to get along with our fey brethren? By dancing with them?”

A smile crossed the emperor’s face. “Not a bad idea, Baron.”

The emperor turned to his shell-shocked advisors and said, “A ball in the dragon envoy’s honor. Tonight.”

They went from furious and shocked to aghast.

The man who held the purse strings for the entire empire, the imperial banker, rushed forward and immediately proclaimed in a whiny voice, “Improbable, Sire. We need to plan —“

The emperor held up a single finger. The man stuttered to a stop. Then Bastien said, “But not impossible. Make it so.” Without another word the emperor turned away and looked to the envoy, “The court is yours until we reconvene tonight.”

Lillian heard someone gasp as someone else said in a rushed tone, “That’s only a few hours from now!”

The emperor didn’t pause at the exclamation. Lillian wasn’t even sure he’d heard it. That was alright. It hadn’t been for him. It’d been for every other socialite within hearing distance who wondered if they could pull an outfit out of their closet as fast as a street mage pulled a rabbit out of a hat.

She watched as with the empress on his arm, the emperor descended the dais and swept out of the room. The entire court lit up in shouts as soon as the massive doors closed behind them.

Only Lillian was silent.

Only Lillian was smiling from ear-to-ear.

The courts had just become a lot less boring.

*****

It was a few fast hours later and she was dressed in her best dancing attire. Emeralds adorned her ears and her hair was swept up in a frenzy of romantic curls.  She had rouge on her face and a twinkle in her eye.

She was going to be the talk of the city. Not just for her elaborate dress that she’d been saving for just such a special occasion they would whisper, but because she also hadn’t forgotten about her musician and that interloper dragon and she intended to do something about it.

Lillian danced with partner after partner for as long as the night went on.

Her heels flashed across the floor, studded as they were in emeralds bright enough to match her earrings. As they caught the light of the sconces and chandeliers with each high kick, their owner caught the eyes of numerous courtiers as she whirled in the arms of her dance partners.

Some of those eyes were lascivious; some were envious.

None could take their eyes off her, which was just how Lillian liked it.

So when she finally stopped dancing to catch her breath and a refresher drink, she was startled to find that the star of the night was nowhere to be found.

She had a thing or two to say to the dragon envoy but she couldn’t do that if he were nowhere near.

She peered around but didn’t see him in any of the talking circles or dark corners of the ballroom. When Demetre sidled up to her, he knew just who she was looking for.

Which was what she liked about him. He knew her so well that it only took a look for him to read her body language. That made him her favorite. Well that and the fact that he was quick to change his plans if a more tempting opportunity came about. Hence his presence here at the ball instead of the aforementioned play.

“The musician?” the drunk, human imp slurred.

Lillian sniffed, a bit intoxicated herself but not that far gone, as she said, “Him and his partner of the night.”

Demetre shrugged with a loose arm around some dancing woman’s waist and pointed with his other hand at a side door that led off into the interiors of the palace.

“They went that way,” he said with a squeeze of his woman. She giggled.

Lillian ignored her and set off.

“Wait!” Demetre called out. “Where are you going?”

Lillian turned back with an imperious eyebrow. “Isn’t it obvious?”

He stared at her and grumbled. “At least let me finish my drink.”

“Who said you’re going?” Lillian countered.

“There is no way I’m going to miss the imperious Lillian Weathervane get her butt handed to her,” Demetre said in a tone that indicated he was a lot less drunk than she had first thought.

Lillian huffed. “We’ll see about that.”

He snorted and off they went. When the dancing girl tried to follow, he swatted her on her bum and sent her away with, “Not you, dear. This conversation is for your betters.”

Lillian didn’t bother to turn around to see what she assumed was a characteristic pout on the woman’s face. She was focused on her mission.

As she exited the ballroom and some others fell in behind Demetre she began to feel a tad ridiculous. But she had started this little tete-a-tete; she would finish it.

It didn’t take much for them to find the trail of the dragon and his presumed lover. A servant was all too happy to point the drunk nobles to the other drunker nobles just to get them all out her hair.

When Lillian approached the private corner that the dragon had apparently chosen, what met her eyes wasn’t precisely how she had imagined this night going.

They all stopped in a stupor.

She alone walked forward across the empty, cool marble floor with moonlight shining down on her curls and delicate ribbon strewn hair.

There was only one other person in the large circular alcove big enough for fifteen or more people.

That person wasn’t awake though.

He sat on a bench next to the only other door out of the marble alcove. He was slumped forward in an awkward position, his clothes disheveled and his cravat undone. His body was posed with an unnatural stillness and she could barely see the mist of his breath floating in the air. It wasn’t because it was cold. It was because the air from his lungs had taken on a very nasty green tinge. He also had the undertones of someone who was deeply ill. Quite the opposite of the lively and vivacious young man she had seen just hours before.

As she stared at the musician and the single line of drool drifting down his arched cheekbones, she wondered what could have happened to him.

Fearing what she would see if she looked even deeper, she let her magic tentatively swipe over his aura.

Lillian sucked in a sharp breath. He wasn’t just sick physically but magically.

“What happened to him?” Lillian asked the others behind her reflexively in a harsh tone. She didn’t really think the people following her like scared children had the answers. They were too caught up in their own fears. That she didn’t blame them for. It wasn’t often that you saw mage illness at court. And whatever had happened to him, his current state was most certainly the effect of a malady made of magic.

Demetre fluttered a distressed handkerchief at the door off the alcove.

“He went in there,” her friend said with a disturbed look.

Lillian gave him a sharp look, prepared to ask how the imp knew but then she remembered his ‘talent’. He saw things. Not so much memories, more like impressions. Demetre had always been able to tell what the last moments of a person were as long as he happened upon them and was in a mood to listen. It was how he’d always known who she’d been with last and how to tease her for maximum efficiency because of it.

But now he was not in a teasing mood. The imp looked almost as pale as poor Matthew, whose brown flesh had taken on a decidedly grey tinge, did and he seemed to be unwilling to say more as he rapidly pulled the handkerchief up and held it to his face as if to ward off a disease the musician had. A taint that even she could feel was in the air. Though she didn’t know what it meant precisely.

Lillian and her assorted followers shielding the musician from view of wandering individuals with their bodies, exchanged glances.

A girl in the group with short close-cropped red hair said to Lillian, “Well, you have been complaining you were bored.”

Lillian looked down at the musician in displeasure.

“So I have. But even I wouldn’t have wanted this,” Lillian conceded reluctantly as she eyed the slightly ajar door beyond the musician.

“Well,” prodded another bored dilettante from her circle.

Lillian looked over her shoulder at him with a sniff. “If you’re so interested, Charles, why don’t you go ahead and inspect the room?”

Though it wasn’t necessarily senselessness that had pushed her to dare the man at that moment. It was numbness. It was disbelief.

“Don’t!” said another one with more wisdom than either Charles or Lillian at the moment. “And if you do, at least take off those shoes first.”

“What?” Lillian asked.

“Shoes,” said the man firmly. “It’s important.”

Charles, a young man too proud to be shown up in front of his peers, did exactly what she had dared him to do. Though he took off his shoes at the man’s behest first.

Lillian and her friends waited with no little anxiety outside the door.

Soon enough he called out with a harsh whisper, “You lot get in here, quickly! I assure you boredom is long gone now.”

If his tone had a bit too much bravado, then Lillian couldn’t blame him. She was torn between running back to the ballroom to get a sentry and going in to see what he’d found.

Apparently the others thought the choice was between the room and the drooling person outside, so they took off their shoes and two of the airheaded girls rushed in without further thought. Lillian and one young man along with Demetre hung back.

When she turned around she was startled to see a nobleman not often caught participating in court antics. She raised a curious eyebrow.

The staid young man said with a censorious eye to the room. “I’m not quite as bored as you lot.”

“Is that so?” asked Lillian unimpressed.

“It is,” the man confirmed with a grimace as he walked towards Matthew. “But this young man needs a healer’s aid or at the very least a stiff brew to knock off whatever fugue has overcome him.”

“Yes, yes a good jolt of alcohol should do the trick,” Demetre said from behind his handkerchief.

To Lillian’s critical eyes it looked like the musician needed more than a mug of swillwater to get through the night but she didn’t object as the young man heaved up the musician with a grunt and headed off muttering about idiots and sycophants.

When Lillian turned back to Demetre he seemed to have regained some of his composure because the handkerchief was gone and his shoulders were square. Wryly Demetre said with a wave of his hand at the door that had been knocked further ajar, “Shall we? We can’t let the others have all the fun.”

Lillian rolled her eyes and moved.

“Wait!” commanded Demetre with a snap of his fingers. “Shoes, dear.”

She did as he asked as she swept past him and into the mysterious room as requested, impatient to see what the others had found. She was no fool and although the musician was sick…that didn’t necessarily mean his malady had originated in the room past the outstretched door. He could have ended up as he was in a variety of ways and she wouldn’t be who she was if she didn’t at least investigate the room beyond.

When she did however, Lillian wasn’t expecting to see what she saw. But she now knew why she’d taken off her shoes. The entire floor was caked in a fine white dust that would be hard to explain away to a discerning eye. Besides that the room was nearly devoid of furniture and barely visible with only the moonlight to guide their questing eyes.

In the center of the room was a long rectangular table.

Atop it was tomes and documents, gold and jewels, upturned canisters spilling mounds of particles onto the white tablecloth, and a simple cauldron boiling over with ooze.

It was quite…unusual.

But what drew her to the table’s side, more than the eclectic mix of objects it possessed, was the strange aura of magic surrounding it.

Even she, not a trained mage in her own right, could sense it. Taste it on her tongue. It was like old cardamom spice mixed with the dangerous musk of heady intoxication. It was alluring. It was decadent.

As she stopped hesitantly in front of the table, in an unwilling trance, Lillian lifted her bejeweled arm and reached out to touch the table. Like an out-of-body experience, she watched another of their group manage to touch the contents before she did. A single gold coin.

The woman froze and fell at Lillian’s feet, the same look of stupor written on her face as had been on the musician’s at the door.

That woke Lillian out of her nightmarish dream fairly quickly.

Whispers erupted as half the group gathered around the fallen woman and the other half continued to stare at the table as if they remained entranced.

Keeping a wary eye on her comrades, Lillian took the chance to touch the woman. Her flesh was ice-cold. Like death.

Her magic was another thing entirely.

It was alive with the soul of a dragon. Lillian gasped aloud harshly and wrenched her hand back. She could feel the presence as surely as she could have touched her own magic.

One thing she was sure of now. The dragon was more than just an envoy. Much more. But Lillian knew as she stared back at the table with its treasure trove of secrets, locked by magic and by malice, that she wasn’t the person to uncover those secrets. Not today. Maybe not ever.

“That is a job for someone with far more experience than I,” Lillian Weathervane said in a decisively light voice. She was trying to make a joke of it. The others stared around at each other even more unsure than she was.

One person even reached forward to touch the edge of the glowing manuscript. Lillian hissed through her teeth with impatience and slapped his curious fingers away.

The signature was too dark for any of them, especially if the person tempted to try to overcome it was foolish enough not to heed the warnings of not one but two fallen individuals before him.

“These secrets are not for you either, Andre,” she said in a steely tone. “Not if you want to wake up tomorrow and greet a new day.”

He looked at her. He looked back at the table’s contents. They were tempting. But apparently not enough to risk being incapacitated by them. He backed away from the table with a muttered curse.

And it was as if a spell was broken because the four others stirred around the table and they too looked at it with unease as they hurriedly rearranged their clothing so that the sheer dresses and cloth tunics closed tighter around their owners…almost like a flimsy shield.

Stirring herself Lillian Weathervane decided they all needed to get back to the festivities before someone found them here. They hadn’t touched the table. Its wards were still locked. Even their shoes were clean. No one who saw them at the ball would know they had stumbled into here. And if the dragon knew they’d been in there…well, he had even less incentive than they did to speak up.

So she snapped at one of them, “Gather her up.”

The rest she shooed out of the room with careful motions of her hands, like a mother hen herding chicks away from danger. The glittered and bejeweled nobles were only too happy to follow her commands now that their de facto leader had indicated a strategic retreat was imperative. No one lost face if everyone was doing it.

When she was the last one out the door, Lillian Weathervane paused with her hand on the golden knob. But she didn’t turn around to view what even her gaiety-filled mind thought of as a dark trap waiting to snap closed around her neck. Instead she fixed her trademark smile on her face.  Adjusted the emeralds in her ears. Knelt down to put the one-of-a-kind creations that she carried under her arm onto the floor and slide her soft feet into the soft caress of the perfect pair of heels.

All was right with her world as she closed that door with a firm tug and clicked back into the ballroom. This night had promised that if nothing else…the court wasn’t going to be boring any longer.

And that was all Lillian Weathervane wanted.

Some entertainment. She hadn’t bought these atrociously expensive heels for nothing after all.

Join the mailing list and get the exclusive PDF and cover art that goes along with this short.

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Summary & Cover Reveal for Sworn To Quell: Courtlight #10

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Sworn To Quell: Courtlight #10

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.


Also in relevant news, the 10th book in the Courtlight series is coming in October 2016. However I need to do some further revisions and edits, so I am pushing back the Amazon release date. I’d much rather add more to the book and make it a purchase that will blow you away than to just push something out that isn’t the best book I can write. So another 20,000 words to go and you’ll have your sequel to Sworn To War! Woohoo.

For those of you expecting the release of Quell in the next two weeks, sorry to dissapoint but I promise its going to be awesome. I’m lining up the best beta readers and development team as well to knock this out of the park.

However, I’m not leaving you high and dry. While you won’t get Sworn To Quell in the next 10-12 days, you will get LILLIAN IN HEELS. The short story I promised you that would explore the life of Lillian Weathervane before she became the mother of our most infamous protagonist. The story is finished, has been approved by beta readers, and is with my short story editor currently.

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You’ll get to read all 8,350 words of Lillian’s mini-story this Friday! If you’re a member of mailing list (terahedun.com/news) you will receive a PDF download of the short story in your email two days in advance. So sign up today!

Lastly, if I’m not here on the blog then you can always find me on Twitter or Instagram. I’ve been having some great fun with readers from all around the world. Check out and LIKE some of their pictures of the Courtlight swag packs by searching the #shatteranempire hashtag on social media! Then grab yours today for only $9.99: teedun.com/supportpack):

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Best of Bookish Gifts: Store Sale AND T-Shirts Galore

09/03/16: Wow, I’ve already gotten emails from Canada and the UK asking for the Support Packs. So I’ve added international shipping. Enjoy!

Somehow I never got around to announcing that I have a new store:

http://www.teedun.com/store

There you’ll be able to find a few bookish related items such as jewelry, signed books, and branded satin bags to go along with your reads from me. I’m trying to keep the selection small (and shipping to U.S. Only) as I don’t have a ton of time to keep an eye on dozens of items. I think the bracelets are quite pretty but today I’m most excited to announce the product on the top of the store list! That’s right, we’re now offering new SUPPORT PACKS – in regular ($9.99) and mega-support variety. 😉

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This is a one-stop-and-shop combination designed to get everything you’ve wanted in a single grab bag.

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Each Courtlight Support Pack includes:

1 T-Shirt (Adult Size in S, M, L, XL, or 2XL)

1 Signed Paperback of Sworn To Raise (with new cover art)

1 Set of Bookmarks

1 Set of Buttons

1 Sticker Sheet

1 Algardis Satin Bag

All of that in one mailing for $9.99. Shipping included. I know, amazing right? It’s pretty impossible to find that combination of swag and goodies anywhere for such a low price. As of right now, I am not selling signed paperbacks or t-shirts separately, but if I do the support pack pricing will change.

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NEXT! I am so excited to let you know that you are not limited to just my store for custom Algardis Universe merchandise! I am proud to announce that Upon A Day Dreamer, an amazing graphic artist, has opened a Society 6 store and included the ‘Shatter An Empire’ tagline in a line of apparel for me as a featured author.

So you are welcome to buy merchandise from her as well. You can see more examples of her Society 6 merchandise below.

UPON A DAY DREAMER Society 6 Store

Go crazy and get all the things! The great thing about the Upon A Day Dreamer shop (and others like it) is that you can get any shirt size, color, and/or fit you want. Want a sweatshirt? She’s got it! How about a fitted t-shirt with v-neck? Also available! I love variety like that and the design is stunning too!

 

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Happy shopping! And if YOU decide to open a reader/artist merchandise store with items related to my books, I am more than happy to give you a shout out too! Just send an email.

Supporting Girls Any Way I Can

It’s one of those fast/slow weeks in-between releases when I’m drafting like crazy but not yet bogged down by release week preparations. So I’m going to share part of an email I got from a school in Florida.

“I am the Executive Director of a school for at-risk Girls called PACE Center for Girls. We are located in Polk County, FL. Our girls are currently doing an Accelerated reading program and many have started to read your series.”

Firstly, hats off to all the teachers and educators and librarians who have somehow found their way to my small corner of the universe. It’s a treat every time I hear from one of you. The letter continues on and after I connected back with the Executive Director I agreed to share materials with the PACE Center in Polk.

So I’m sending those lovely girls three hardcovers (books I’ve purchased myself), bookmarks, cards, and lots of love – because its important to support girls nationwide and I want to do all I can to help with that cause. And big thank you to the PACE Center for reaching out and to the amazing girls who are reading my books!

If you are a Teacher, Librarian, Educator or Bookseller, as always my inbox is open! Reach out to Rachel @ assistant@terahedun.com. I’d love to work with you in any capacity, especially in support of young readers.

Sworn To War: Courtlight #9 Cover + Blurb Reveal

Sworn To War Cover

I want to thank all my readers for continuing on the  journey with me through the Courtlight series! I hope you’re enjoying reading Sworn To Sovereignty and are getting all geared up to read Sworn To War! Without further ado, sit back my pretties and read the summary of Ciardis Weathervane’s new adventure!

 

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Ciardis Weathervane is facing a war on two fronts. One with the dragons. One with the deities.

She is ready to face the god that they’ve known was coming for months, but the people that she thought would coalesce around her are faltering under the pressure, the lies and the deceit.

She knows that the very foundation between ruler, nobility, and commoner had fractured down to its core. Now the capital city and its people need to be reforged, bound in fire before they’re consumed by brimstone.

But the citizens of the empire need more than a speech to believe in the rulers that betrayed them just days before. With their empire on the line, Sebastian lays out his first ruling edict which may be more than even he bargained for.

As Sandrin comes together once more before the final struggle, the daemoni prince is struck down and the princess heir-in-waiting has doubts as to whether they can forge a more perfect union without the one that completes their souls.

With Thanar trapped in purgatory while they fight to resurrect the city that gave them lifeCiardis and Sebastian are in a battle to the death against a god bent on living forever.

Click to pre-order on Amazon, iBooks, or Google Play today.

The Tweets Keep Coming – @tedunwrites + Hardcovers

If you haven’t checked out my Twitter posts yet, you should follow along! I’ve been sharing some of the swag that’s on order for librarians for the Summer Reading giveaway! I also love to share tidbits from my writing, the latest book of course being Sworn To Sovereignty: Courtlight #8.

In other news, we’re starting to see Sworn To Raise hardcovers pop-up in libraries nationwide (here we are in Alabama, Colorado, & Virginia) so I figured its time I do an ‘official’ reveal!

Beautiful, glossy, lovely pictures at the base. But first…some news. ^.^

This spring I announced a new cover for Sworn To Raise when we revealed the beautiful new trailer located here:

That trailer has since gotten 15,000+ views and has been a fan favorite. I couldn’t be more pleased!

“The trailer gave me goosebumps!! even though I have now read all 7 of the current books I cannot wait to own a physical copy!! #ShatterAnEmpire!”

So I’m here to officially announce a new special edition hardcover for the Courtlight series!!

New Hardcover Comp Design

As you may or may not have realized, I’m not the type of author to constantly change their covers. Once I make them they’re set and I can move on to things like formatting the paperback for publication, putting together swag pieces for the books, and distributing the title to as many venues as possible. The cover becomes the representation of the series wherever its seen and I’d say the original cover for Sworn To Raise has done a pretty good job of that so far.

But I was so excited that SWORN TO RAISE has been picked up in an exclusive distribution deal with Ingram, that I had to have a new cover designed to celebrate this release into hardcover! I hope you love the new cover design as much as I do and that you’ll enjoy reading Ciardis’s story in print. To celebrate the new hardcovers and (coming) bookstore launches, I’ll be doing some special swag giveaways later this summer.

Sworn To Raise Hardcover 2

Sworn To Raise debuts on GIRLS’ LIFE BOOK CLUB with New Hardcover & Book Trailer Reveal

Today I’m so excited to announce that the Courtlight series is now available in hardcover. As you all know I never do anything halfway and so I’d also like to announce the new trailer for the Courtlight series.

I am over-the-moon that Girls’ Life Magazine has elected to debut the trailer and the new cover. So check it out, share, and tell me what you think! Tag #ShatterAnEmpire!

WATCH THE TRAILER

ON GIRLS’ LIFE

My next post will go more in depth about where and how you can pick up a hardcover copy (trust me it’s going to be FABULOUS) but enjoy this post for now:

Sworn To Raise New1 Kindle

Last but not least there is a new BLURB to go with this awesome new cover:

Seventeen-year-old Ciardis Vane grew up in a small village on the edge of the realm. Beautiful, destitute, and desperate she is looking to get out any way she can. She has worked her whole live as a laundress with no hope of escaping her fate anytime soon.

But then her life changes when a strange woman appears with the key to Ciardis’s escape. With an offer to take her to the capital and a life she’d never dreamed of, its hard to resist. There’s only one catch.

She wants Ciardis to become a companion: she’ll be required to wear expensive dresses, learn to conduct suitable magic, educate herself on court proclivities, and – in the end – chain herself to the highest bidder. A Patron for life.

Ciardis knows that this is her one opportunity to change her life.

But what she does not know is that she will soon be at the heart of intrigues and power struggles, and that her new life in luxury demands a high price, perhaps even the life of a prince.

SEE THE MATCHING GIRLS’ LIFE GIVEAWAY ON @TERAHEDUN.YA

 

 

 

 

In My Inbox: Libraries, School Paper, The Holidays

Hi Readers,

I usually post In My Inbox on my TUMBLR account – located here – POST 1, POST 2, POST 3 etc. But I thought I’d try something different and post them on my blog as well. Here’s some of emails I’ve gotten recently and my responses.

LETTER ONE FROM AARON THE STUDENT:

Hi Terah, my name is Aaron. For my American Literature class in school I have to do an author study. I chose to do my study on you because I LOVE your Courtlight, and the Crown Service series! For my author study I have to include a 1 to 2 page biography on the authors life. In order to get full points I have to try to find interesting information that is hard to find on the internet, so I thought I would try to ask you. I can’t wait to start your third series. Just saying I read a lot of fantasy books, and I think you have written my favorite fantasy series. I hope you have the time to reply to me. I would definitely like to put some things in my biography that you think should go into it. Thank you in advance if you reply, and for giving me a series that I can actually read in my free time! Normally I don’t actually do that because I don’t like reading a lot, so I really love your books! Can’t wait for your future books!

ANSWER FROM TERAH

It’s quite an honor that you chose to do your author study on me. Getting this email was both of surprise and a delight, not just as an author but as a former student. It’s been 9 years since I had my last English studies class. AP English Lit actually and I have fond memories of the subject, so I’m delighted to help you.

—–

The easiest thing I’ve found about writing is coming up with the ideas themselves. The stories flood my mind like glimpses of a past life. A girl climbing the rigging of a sailing ship on the high seas one day…and a boy hiding from his dragon contemporaries in a dark alley the next.

I started writing fantasy as a way to combat boredom living overseas as a humanitarian in East Africa. Fantasy was my choice of genre because it’s all I read as a child and teen. My favorite books always took me to new worlds, so it only made sense that when writing I escaped back into those same unique realms.

Building on that desire to write, I wanted to see if people were interested in reading what I had to say. When I first published a book about young mages in an academy, I had to do a lot of studying of my own. I didn’t know what it meant to be an author, much less my own publisher. I had to reach out and make contacts with editors, artists, and book formatters.

I had to budget both my time in making this hobby (at the time) of mine worthwhile, but also see what I wanted to invest financially in the process. After two months of edits, proofing, and formatting I was able to put my first book up on Amazon. Luckily it wasn’t my last and from then I just kept writing what I loved.

What I’ve learned about being a writer is that it’s a lot of hard work and takes a lot of dedication, but when you get it right, and you’ll know when you do, it’s worth it. So my life lesson would be to stay true to yourself and never give up. You never know what you’ll find on the other side of the page after all.

As for my favorite animal…I’ve always been partial to Siberian tigers. They’re beautiful and ferocious. You asked me if there is anywhere in the world that I’ve loved to go see. I’ve been to many continents and countries, but one that I’ve yet to see to is Russia. I’d love to go to St. Petersburg and tour the old Tsarist palaces just to revel in the history of imperial family.

LETTER TWO FROM LINDA THE LIBRARIAN:

We would love to have this series in our collection for our YA’s but I’m having trouble locating all of the books in print format. Please help.

ANSWER FROM TERAH:

Thank you for contacting me! I’m so pleased to hear from librarians and would love to have Courtlight added to your print catalog.

Here are the purchase links for the books currently available in print:

Sworn To Raise: Courtlight #1

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1481918087/

Sworn To Transfer: Courtlight #2

http://www.amazon.com/dp/148417545X

Sworn To Conflict: Courtlight #3

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500391255

Sworn To Secrecy: Courtlight #4

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1496058356/

Sworn To Defiance: Courtlight #5

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1517234654/

All of the Courtlight books are also available for library distribution in eBook format and I’d love for kids, teens, and adults in your state to have access to the books in both formats.

You can find them on OverDrive here:

Sworn To Raise | Sworn To Transfer | Sworn To Conflict | Sworn To Secrecy | Sworn To Defiance | Sworn To Ascension
Thanks again for reaching out and let me know if I can help any further!
p.s. From Terah – this note came in more than a month ago and since then I’ve had some exciting further developments in the print arena for librarians and for readers! Stay tuned for updates in Spring 2016 – I think you’ll like it!

LETTER THREE FROM DIANNA:

Just a quick line to tell you Thank you for your generosity for Across The Arid Seas. I hope you have a tremendously joyful Christmas or whatever you celebrate, and make sure to tell everyone how you feel about them. Life is a mystery and we must take advantage of every moment to appreciate those who are important to us as tomorrow is unknown. Thanks again, Dianna

ANSWER FROM TERAH:

Aww, that’s so sweet of you! Thank YOU so much for being a reader and Happy Holidays as well!

 

Across The Arid Seas: A New Short Fiction

Welcome to Across The Arid Seas. If you’d like to receive this short fiction piece directly in your email along with three books absolutely free : CLICK HERE.

I always thought venturing further into desert culture and the life of the nomadic tribes would be interesting. Here’s a piece of short fiction that looks into that life from the perspective of an outsider. My editor says this reads like a prologue to a novel she would enjoy sitting down to read for hours rather than just a short story so I’m going to let you call it what you will.

All short stories, deleted scenes, and unofficial extended content is added to The Library portion of this website as I post them. I hope you enjoy everything that is available!

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Across The Arid Seas by Terah Edun

She looked up at the sun and she smiled. It was blazing hot and unrelenting. No different than every other day in this desert that she now called home.

It hadn’t been that long ago that home was lush valleys and apple orchards.

Here and there were as different as night and day. The only thing that hadn’t changed was she, and even that claim was only limited to below the surface thoughts and ideals and dreams. Because outwardly she was as different as a caterpillar was from its newest incarnation—the butterfly. There was no other way to explain precisely how invigorated she felt. Reborn even. Gone was the staid woman who had chafed at the rules and restrictions of her society.

Instead here stood the butterfly that had spread its wings and taken flight towards its own destiny. That feeling of freedom was almost unreal. What was very real however was her clearly physical transformation from a girl who wore cloaks and fur-lined gloves half the year to ward off the sting of winter’s bitter grip, to a woman who donned light and airy linens that fluttered with the movements of the wind and made her feel as if she could fly from there to the farthest reaches of the earth. Almost.

Amazing how a change of clothes and a fresh atmosphere could make a person renew their very outlook, she thought with a self-satisfied smile as her fingers played with the pale peach linen fabric at her waist.

Her gaze took in the still-alien land around her. She hadn’t been here long enough to recognize one massive outcropping from another, let alone navigate too far from her home base, which was just as well. Most denizens of Algardis tended to avoid this part of the empire and with good reason. It could be deadly. It was nothing at all like the majority of the inhabited lands of the empire. She knew this first hand from having grown up on the other side of Algardis; the side of the empire that had lush blue forests, verdant valleys of orange and yellow flowers, rolling plains that seemed endless in their expanse, and rivers that swelled like a mighty ocean before softening with wistful laps on the banks of open lakes.

The side that had more people than you could shake a stick at.

The side that had been home. For the longest time. Home of wet and mist. Of fertile lands and dark, loamy forests.

No more. This was home now. It had shocked her to learn as she’d become accustomed to this new desert life…that she’d never felt like she belonged more anywhere else. This new land had earned her blood. Had claimed her sweat. Was given her tears.

Now it gave back to her in its own manner, with the gentle desert wind that riffled through her hair like a lover’s caress and the light of the moon that shone down to show her the correct path. With the soft sand that bunched between her toes as if it were reaching out and welcoming her home. With the beauty of the landscape that turned into a never-ending expanse no matter where she looked. “I love it here,” she said with no little irony as she rolled her shoulder muscles in a languid stretch, “More than I ever thought I would. More than my sisters certainly thought I would.”

It amused her greatly to think of her old family in this new home. They would find it as miserable as she did beautiful. But she couldn’t blame them. It was a home that the entire empire viewed as no more than a death trap of strong winds, relentless sun, and sparse vegetation. It was her chosen sanctuary. She loved it more than she had ever loved her birth home.

Swallowing a swig of water from the canteen she always carried by her side, Marian corked it with a cloth top and set it back securely on the sand underneath her. Then she slowly trailed her hand through the sand at her side, wishing she could feel the living fire of each individual grain like a mage could, like she used to be able to. For now, she accepted that she would have to settle for understanding the land around and beneath her as a normal human would. As a magic-less and power-less human would.

Sometimes she missed the power that she had given up freely when she’d joined her husband’s clan.

Just in the small moments. Never anything more. She knew that if she just kept telling herself that, it would ring true…one day.

She hadn’t been that great a mage in the first place, more a hedgewitch than anything else. And if losing her small talents was what it took to leave the loamy forests for a place of her heart’s desire, then she would gladly give up those miniscule abilities and more.

Although if she had known then what she knew now, that once she had crossed the desert…the home the locals liked to refer to as the arid seas, she would face her greatest challenge yet, she might have insisted on keeping the powers and giving up something else instead.

Like a small bit of her health. Having a minor cough every other week seemed almost paltry a sacrifice to losing her magic. That is if the clan would have accepted such an offer. There was no guarantee that they would or wouldn’t have wanted some of the life-altering natural magic that came with a drain of the health from an individual’s body. They had preferences for what they took from each and every person, mage or mundane, who crossed the sands in the hopes of finding a new life. Their requests changed with the nature of the person and the clan’s needs at the time. The only constant rule was that to live among the clans, you were forced to give up something dear to yourself.

A boon of sorts.

She’d heard of many items and properties given up. From a young woman who lost her sense of sight to the third child who’d been given up for adoption to an unlucky clan of the arid seas that had refused to traffic in any other coin. Because they couldn’t. They’d lost too many of their own to the unforgiving desert and born too few souls to make up for the lack. As such they’d demanded the only price which would solve their dilemma. Children.

Marian shuddered delicately, thinking about it even now. She had been lucky, if you would call it that, to only give up something in her possession that she had used minimally…and some even said ineffectively at that. She had the gift of the magic too small to be of much use to her but great enough for the clans to accept it as a boon for one of their local collectives.

She’d given up that small magic with no little relief, thinking that nothing in the arid seas could be as alive as the dark forests of home she’d experienced. In doing so, she’d assumed that she would really be giving up nothing at all.

How could a mage with such a small magic regret its loss after all when such magic barely worked in the land of her birth, much less this new and barren wasteland. Oh, how wrong she was. She knew that now.

But hindsight was of no use to her in this instance. So instead of reaching out with her magic, she opened her physical senses instead. She was unsheltered in the blazing heat and she let her head lean back with a throaty sigh as she basked in the warmth of the sun like a lizard enjoying its midday nap. She was safe where she was. Secure as long as she stayed within her new clan’s local terrain. Leaning back until her arms spread wide behind her to brace her weight, she felt the edges of her dress slip just a bit from her shoulders. She delighted for a moment in letting her fingers wriggle through the warm shifting sand like worms. The grains felt at once as rough as the grit of the silt on a river’s swift bed and as smooth as fine sugar pouring across her digits at the start of a great day of baking. Her childhood had been filled with such wonders. She had left that all behind to become one with the desert. A woman of the heated sands, instead of a child of the fallow fields of old. This? This was her present.

She turned her head and her bright red hair, like a rooster’s crown, fell into her eyes. That red marked her as different from the rest of her husband’s family. It also marker her as a foreigner.

But that was alright with Marian. Because being a foreigner has its uses, she thought as she stood with dexterity and dusted off the thin dress she wore.

She began to walk down the dunes to her home. She had one task today. It was one that she was quite looking forward to. After all, how many people got to depose their new mother-in-law by force and get away with it? According to clan law she would be one of those erstwhile few. She smiled — today was going to be a good day.

It was tradition for the new wife of the clan chief’s son to assume the role of class mistress in any way she could. She could choose assassination or she could choose subversion. Either way would accomplish what Marian wanted, the death of her mother-in-law’s standing in the eyes of the clan. She would no longer be clan mistress after today, not if Marian had anything to say about it.

Shaman, in this case was the best word for the occupation of clan mistress. It worked well enough for Marian as well but she like the ‘ring’ of clan and mistress together. She would be shaman to the clan and head of the clan council as well with her new role. The clan mistress had many duties including running the physical aspects of the encampment, charting the clan’s new course from their ancestral grazing fields and back to their winter encampment, but also using the magic of the clan’s people—surrendered for the good of all—to protect its own.

Council, Marian thought with a mocking snort as she walked through the sand, her feet sinking with every step. She refused to don the sandals she held in her right hand along with her newly hiked-up skirt. More like a group of old biddies too far gone into self-reflection to realize that their entire way of life is under threat, she thought. Or too stupid to care, she sniffed as she finished her internal musings.

With a sigh, Marian looked ahead at the land that most resembled ‘verdant’ in a dry climate where barely anything to its name could be called green. The oasis was on the encampment’s edge. Upon seeing it she slapped her sandals down in the sand, thrust her feet into the wedges with a wrinkle of her nose, straightened up, and set off to her task.

As she dodged nimbly around the pens holding the desert water beasts, she took a moment to snap her fingers briskly in front of the eyes of one that was looking a little too ornery for her tastes. The beasts were known for their temper and their knack for striking opponents first and ask questions later. Better for it to confront her now than a child that knew too little to stay far enough away and out of its angry reach. This one had looked like it was ready to take a bite out of her shoulder. Best to let it know who was boss right then and there, and that boss was her.

It backed away with flattened ears and she turned away confidently with one last warning look. She knew the tethers that anchored it by magic to the sand rocks near their pen were taut enough to not give the beast the slack it needed to charge at her retreating back.

She didn’t have very long to enjoy the superior feeling of her encounter. She spotted the traders slinking on the edge of the encampment a moment later. With a grimace, Marian looked around for her family. She almost burned with fury as her eyes slid over the interlopers with a practiced nonchalance.

Those traders were laughing now with their feet up and their smug attitudes but they wouldn’t be laughing for long. Not after she took control of the clan and therefore of negotiations as well. Let them have their merriment for now. She knew that they did, much to her regret, have the upper hand…and weren’t losing anything in the process either. One more reason she had to wipe those grins off their faces.

After all, by kicking the Sherinsin off their land, they gained something much more valuable to them. Not gold – there was nothing worth mining here for miles. Not land – the dessert was as barren as a dry teat if you wanted fertile prospects. Not people – no one else lived here except for her husband’s people.

No what they gained was respect. The respect of her people back home. The respect of other traders looking for an easy score and the business partners to do it with. The respect of the imperial family. The rulers of this very empire that openly sneered at her husband’s people and considered the Sherinsin a pesky nuisance in their side.

A beautiful nuisance but a nuisance nonetheless, Marian thought with a bit of a dry smile as she spotted her husband walking toward her with a ground-eating stride. She took a moment to appreciate his fine form. He wore a leather vest that left a deep ‘v’ of skin from his throat down to his chest visible along with the clearly-tanned skin of his heavily muscled forearms. Set off by a thick head of black curls that fell to his shoulders, he was a sight to behold.

She wished she could do more than revel in his nearness, but the presence of the traders felt like an unrelenting spike in her side. One that grew and twisted with a malignant hook the longer they stood on clan lands.

The thing that irked Marian to no-end, besides the fact that they wanted to remove the Sherinsin clan from their ancestral home, was the fact that it took the traders so little effort to accomplish such a thing. They’d already done it with two other clans…and this one was just another notch on their belt. Offer the stupid desert dwellers enough wine and gold and pretty trade goods and they would go off to another encampment as happy as children with new treats at the campfire.

The very thought of the disrespectful treatment and the quite frankly un-tradesmen like bartering scheme made Marian’s very blood boil. Land for trinkets, she thought in disgust as she shook her head in irritation and tried to school her face into a passive countenance. She didn’t think it worked too well but the traders looked none the wiser to her scheming thoughts so perhaps it worked well enough.

Her mother-in-law didn’t understand her fury. To be fair neither did the majority of her inherited clan. They didn’t see the harm in entertaining the trader’s whims. After all, every desert dweller knew that the foreigners never stayed for very long.

They would sell them land on the hopes that they would reclaim it four or five years hence once the stupid foreigners realized that they couldn’t do anything with the land. It was the kind of gamble that the clan peoples lived for. And one they would have problem won, if the land had been occupied by any other approaching group. After all, it was too barren and too harsh a landscape to use for production, its very dryness precluded the establishment of successful and settled communities, and to top it off there was very little natural magic present in its bones.

Which was precisely the reason that the desert dwellers had traded for her little bit of green magic as a bride gift in the first place. It was a win-win situation in the dwellers’ eyes. They got paid for land they were planning to vacate anyway in their annual pilgrimage farther northwest for cattle grazing on the plains.

But Marian knew that when they came back there would be no home for them to settle back on. Those traders and the buyers they represented would give back the land they bought as soon as a sand snake turned as sweet as pie. Never in other words. The Algardis family had first claimed their fertile lands to the east less than a century ago and they were hungry to extend their imperial reach as far as their very-real claws could grasp. Through the desert and beyond, Marian thought as she gulped.

In her former life she wouldn’t have even thought of protesting such an eventually. It was only right after all that the empire stretch from the edge of the far ocean and onwards as long as the land it could reach continued on. But over the past few months her outlook had changed. She had once been a satisfied Algardis citizen, who looked to her emperor and his family as protectors of their land. To some extent she still was.

But this was different, she thought as she looked around at her husband’s small band of carefree people. She knew that they wouldn’t take well to living under the protection of the emperor, under his rules. Under his will. They were a proud people. A wild people, which was why she was doing her very best to stop this union before it ever began, for their sakes…and for hers. Marian didn’t have to feel magic in her bones like an oracle’s touch or see the future. She knew it because she knew the traders. Just as the Sherinsin were her husband’s family, the traders represented part of her own. A part that she wasn’t proud of.

She didn’t have time to think about it more because at that moment Raydal reached her and swept her up in his tightly-muscled arms with the exuberance only a newly-and-happily wedded husband could show. She smiled as her forearms gripped his shoulders and she let herself fall into his chest with a laugh and a kiss on his lips that was entirely real. For a moment her dark mood lightened. She let herself revel for a moment not in the worries of the day but in the touch of his lips, the flick of his skilled tongue, the firmness of his grip, and the pressure of his body against hers.

For a few seconds, no more, the world was just them as the heat of the sun beat down on them and the dry winds curled around their two bodies like a lover’s caress. As wisps of her hair were pushed upward by a determined breeze, she glanced up to see their heads and the majority of their faces were hidden by her bright-red tresses. At least for now. With a wistful sigh that they had to end their small tryst, she caressed his cheek as she leaned back and smiled up with no little pride into her husband’s face.

She had to admit. She’d chosen well.

From the look in his eyes and the grip that had slid from her arms and down to her waist as he hiked her back up, seemingly unwilling to surrender to the present and reality just yet, he appreciated her just as much if not more so. She swiftly wrapped her legs around his body and slyly crossed her feet behind him to the general laugher of the clansmen who surrounded them. They weren’t gawking, not really.

She knew that because it wasn’t the Sherinsin way. They prized physical and emotional affection between bonded couples. A quick kiss and some playful touches were nothing they weren’t used to, middle of the day or not. The traders across the way on the other hand; she could feel their affronted disgust with almost three dozen feet between them.

For the moment she was content to hang off her love like the famed colored rainbow monkeys from the isles off the Sahalian Sea. And he was content to let her. The love between them was well-known. The entire clan called their match fortunate. But then again, among the Sherinsin fortunate was common-place. They didn’t marry for looks or gold or wealth. They married for a match between the souls. Always. And she had found that match in a foreigner that her people despised as ignorant savages.

It mattered not, Marian thought with a peaceful sigh as she left go and slid down his front with a knowing look in her eye. He responded with fierce grin and tug of her hair to bring his lips back to hers. But this time more than just love passed between them.

“Husband,” she whispered to him in a barely audible murmur.

“Wife,” he whispered back in the same tone. Cautious.

She moved her head to the side so that she was leaning forward a bit and her head was turned so that she could watch the traders standing off to the side and muttering with a careful eye. Her lips were just off the corner of his mouth, so to anyone looking at them from the sides or behind it would seem that they were still sharing an affection lip lock.

To those that had the vantage of standing in front of them, the position was no less amorous if a little more genteel. After all, what better way for a husband and wife to show not affection, but contentment with each other than to stand within the other’s arms with no concern for the passage of time or the heat of the day.

Marian’s actions however had nothing to do with proving her own marital bliss, but rather served the purpose of preparing for her coming battle, physically and mentally.

As they stood there she heard one clansman say “Like newlyweds they are?”

“Disgusting ain’t it?” questioned another in a clearly joking tone.

“Now?” Marian whispered.

“Now!” her husband said as he tossed her away from his body like a whirlwind toy. Into the air she flew as she twisted around to land in the midst of some very surprised traders.

Marian smiled and wasted not a moment. She leapt onto the wagon of the nearest man and slammed a hand down with a resounding thump. The traders cried out in alarm. She didn’t waste any time in raising up an arm bringing down her hand in a vicious and calculating blow upon the head of the mage, leader of the traders’ caravan. She didn’t have the magical means to subdue him or the craft to kill him under the shelter of the night. So she did the next best thing… she attacked in broad daylight while most were lulled into a sense of complacency and others had been fooled by her love-struck show with her new husband.

With a satisfying ‘thunk’ the mage fell back and hit his head on the hard wheel of the wagon underneath her. He slumped down in a pile and with his abrupt unconsciousness other things fell with him, namely a certain magical barrier neither she nor her husband had had any hope of getting around otherwise. It prevented non-humans from venturing too far from the clan terrain while negotiations were going on.

It had finally come down.

Calling what little luck she had, she let out a piercing whistle and from the sky flew a bronze hawk to land on her upraised arm. Looking into the hawk’s eye Marian wished that she had the gift of telepathy, the ability to speak mind-to-mind with animal, kith, and human. Unfortunately she didn’t, so this would just have to do.

The hawk alone was the message she would send.

She jerked her arm up with a sharp two-tone whistle and threw the hawk into the air on a northern trajectory.

With a whoop and cry she stood all the way up on a perch and looked to her hawk flying, jesses snapping wildly in the wind as it carried her own hopes with it, towards freedom.

That hope died in her eyes as she heard the thang of a bow sending an arrow into the wind. It cut through the air like the weapon of war it was and before she had the time or inclination to cry out, her proud bronze hawk was falling from the wide skies to the unforgiving desert below.

Marian’s jaw dropped in horror as she turned her body from the spot where her loyal companion had died an ignoble death to where she guessed the arrow had first started its flight. Her mouth dry and her face twisted in hate, Marian wasn’t surprised when the owner of the bow lowered her arms and saluted her with one sleek remaining arrow that until now had been knocked and ready to fly once more.

Dark blue eyes seething with hate met the cocky smirk of a woman with skin of a weathered acorn, wild and dark hair not unlike her son’s wrapped up in a loose knot, and the wisdom of her foremothers in her smile. Her mother-in-law.

Fists tight Marian jumped down from her perch with teeth clenched as she stalked across the sands. Any traders who had though to object to her previous actions took one look at the fury and pain etched on her face and stepped back, wary and more than willing to let her meet her adversary without interference. They were just glad that they weren’t her chosen destination.

To her surprise, that she filed away to pick apart later, the people she’d been trying to protect had lost their smiling faces and carefree visages. Instead she glanced from eye-to-eye and saw a hardness that she hadn’t seen before. And something else that she couldn’t precisely fathom. Approval? Marian wondered as she stepped before her adversary.

Marian’s husband didn’t bother stepping in her way. Instead he took up a solemn place beside her although he made sure that he was turned so that he faced the eastern horizon. He stood between them like a lone pillar, neither near his wise but wrathful mother nor over at the side his proud but young wife. He was a neutral zone. In this matter at least. Marian respected his unique position as did his mother.

That was the only matter they seemed to agree on however. “Why?” Marian lashed out through gritted teeth.

Her mother-in-law smiled and looked up into the sun with a peaceful gaze. “You have much to learn.”

Marian scoffed and tossed her head. “I was saving us all.”

“No,” her husband said with a gentle look, “Listen to her.”

Marian cut him with a sharp look. “You too, dear husband? I thought that you and I were on the same side.”

Her mother-in-law cut in as she said, “You are. You were. But your people aren’t as stupid as you seem to think.”

Marian shook her head fiercely. “I think you’re wrong.”

“About which part?” her mother-in-law said blithely as she waved her hand. “Your intentions were pure. Your heart is strong. You have proved yourself worthy of the name Sherinsin by fighting to protect this clan in the face of adversity.”

Marian squared her shoulders. This sounded suspiciously like praise. Her mother-in-law paused to take her in. Then with a small wave of her hand Marian felt rather than saw clan members gather to form a living barrier between the three conversing family members and the curious traders murmuring off the encampment’s edge. Marian didn’t fail to note that they moved with soundless efficiency. Perhaps it was she that was wrong.

Still her mother-in-law said nothing more until her husband clicked his teeth and chided his mother, “Mother.” The warning was enough.

The older woman shrugged her shoulders. “This was a test. A test in which you passed.”

“What kind of test?”

“The kind that you either pass or fail,” her mother-in-law said flatly. Marian opened her mouth to further question her.

Her husband once more intervened, his face still neutral, “You two are worse than dickering stallions. Mother, she has proved her loyalty, has she not?”

“She has proved it to the clans,” his mother admitted reluctantly.

“Wife, do you not seek the protection of the Sherinsin against all foes major or minor?” he contested.

Marian frowned but said, “You know that I do.”

He nodded and took both their hands to push them together into one grip. “Then we are one in that accord. She is no longer a foreigner. She is family.”

The emphasis on his last statement was clearly meant for his mother. Marian looked into the eyes of her mother-in-law. Her mother-in-law returned her gaze. Both of their grips were fierce as they tested the mettle of the other. Neither could find slack in either grip. Finally her mother-in-law released Marian’s hand.

“You have much to learn, daughter, I shall teach you.”

Marian blinked at the endearment. Her husband’s mother had never acknowledged her new family ties. Not in all the time she had known her. It was enough to halt the automatic objection in Marian’s mouth unspoken. What could I learn from her? Marian wondered.

But she was no fool. Her husband’s mother was formidable. What’s moreMarian might have been new to the clans but even she recognized the age-old introduction of one clan mistress…to another. Stammering over her pause after a nudge from her husband, Marian said, “And I will learn.”

“You have much to see, daughter, I shall show you.”

“And I will seek,” Marian responded a bit hesitantly.

“You have much wisdom to discover, daughter, I shall prepare you.”

“And I will absorb.”

Her mother-in-law’s eyes gleamed as the noon-day sun reached its zenith high overhead. “You are welcome to our fold,” her mother-in-law said formally, “Daughter of my heart, mistress of the clans-to-be.”

Marian squared her shoulders. This wasn’t exactly how she had imagined her efforts to strike down her mother-in-law’s plans at their core. But it would have to do, for the sake of the clans. For the sake of peace. “I thank you,” Marian said gently, “I join with whole heart and fierce mind.”

Her mother-in-law let go of her hand and turned away. Over her shoulder the woman who had beaten her without raising a hand in protest said, “You’ll have to be…to survive in my lands.”

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Fechas del Tour para Juramento de Crianza (Libro 1 Luz De La Corte)

Saludos a todos los lectores,

¡Me complace anunciar formalmente que la serie Luz de la Corte será lanzada en Español!, he estado trabajando muy duro con un traductor genial para traer el primer libro de la serie del universo de Algardis a los lectores en Español en Suramérica, Norteamérica y Europa.

Revisa la contraportada –

“Ciardis era una joven de diecisiete años que se había criado en la pobreza, una lavandera en un pequeño valle en la periferia del imperio. Pero bajo la superficie aparentemente idílica de su imperio se ocultaba un secreto oculto. Las murmuraciones en torno a un príncipe heredero inepto no dejaban de crecer, y se intensificaron aún más en el quinto aniversario de las iniciaciones de unión de las almas.

En medio de esas murmuraciones escandalosas, Ciardis se vio de pronto elegida para entrenar para el Gremio de Compañeros. Dejó su casa y partió en un viaje personal para convertirse en Compañera de la Corte. Una posición que jamás había creído que pudiera conseguir una sirvienta, pero tenía que probar que poseía habilidades suficientes para atraer a un Padrino. Y debía dominar esas habilidades rápidamente. Si la leyenda era cierta, Ciardis era la única que podía controlar el poder de criar a un príncipe en una corte imperial que había jurado acabar con él.

El estreno de esta serie sensacional combina argumentos complejos con personajes extraordinarios y magia inolvidable. Juramento de crianza es ideal para fans de Kristin Cashore, Michelle Sagara y Maria Snyder.”

Ve las primeras opiniones –

“Es un libro realmente bueno! no puedo esperar más. muy buena serie. 🙂 tanta aventura! “

—FIVE STARS

“Muchas aventuras. un gran libro. No puedo esperar para la siguiente 🙂 “

— ¡Sorprendente libro!

“Leí los primero capítulos en Wattpad y me esta gustando :D”

—Wattpad en Espanol

“Leer en sólo un día…la línea de la historia te mantiene en el borde de tu asiento!”

—Reseña de Amazon

 

¡Hemos recibido excelentes opiniones del primer libro y ahora la serie Luz de la Corte va a irse de Tour!. Juramento de Crianza será promocionado por más de 25 blogueros desde el 01 hasta el 15 de Septiembre de 2015. Te animamos a registrarte si puedes leer el libro en Español y si estás interesado en una copia de revisión.

 

Los Registros son aquí:

Literature Watchers

Abrazando Libros

Recuerdos E Ilusiones

Amor Y Palabras

Los Libros de Martamartiti

Zaybet’s Mad Mind

Un Libro, Una Opinión

Reviviendo Libros de Antaño

Paraíso entre Páginas

Rubíes Literarios

Nadando Entre Palabras

Silent Storm

Anónima Lectora

Sueño de Séneca

Por Los Bigotes De Shakespeare

Mi Escapo A Otro Mundo

La Caja De Pandora

Viviendo Entre Letras

Viajeras Mentalmente Desorientadas

Rincón De Lectura

Imperdibles Vaqueros

Some Books You Read

Petites Lettres D’Amour

Dark Minds

A mis lectores, gracias por ser tan impresionantes. El tour va a estar buenísimo y vamos a dar dos certificados de regalo de Book Depository en el camino. Si eres un lector en español, comenta incluyendo tu nombre, libro favorito, y país y te DAREMOS gratis una copia para lectores de Juramento de Crianza solo por pasar por aquí.