I am entering changes/corrections to the copy edited manuscript, readying it for return to the publisher, shortly. Here is that LONG awaited sneak peek. Please note: I encourage you to post the LINK to this page, not to copy or paste the text elsewhere as this is copyrighted material.
On the moment the Prime Matriarch firmed her resolve, the renegade Fellowship Sorcerer in question stood on a rock slope in the Mathorns, red-and-white hair like a stallion’s mane tumbled over his taut shoulders. Above, like a massive stilled pendulum, a boulder half the size of a house creaked in a sling, cranked vertical by a match-stick brace of fir logs. The stone overweighted its groaning support, suspension maintained by permission and sorcery mighty enough to unravel the mountain beneath.
Being Davien, no such carelessness happened, though from an earth linked vantage at Althain Tower, Sethvir winced for the timing as Kharadmon swooped in, bristling to level the ancient score of his grievances.
Arctic draught at the nape his first warning, Davien flexed his interlaced fingers in an artistic stretch. “What, no flowering nightshade? No hellebore? Not even the toxic flamboyance of the tiger-lily? Provocative orange would suit us both, if you still style yourself in that obnoxious green cloak.”
Clad himself in autumnal russet and brown, the coarse outdoor wool paired with calfskin boots and cordovan leathers, Davien perched on the pile of casks and provender, stored under tarps in the open. The refuge at Kewar engineered for a shade now required renovation to suit his incarnate release from the dragon’s service. The old entry, drilled out, underwent the critical step of receiving a guardian cap-stone: finicky spells and physical effort interlaced in fraught measure with fatal danger.
Insolent necessity, Davien snatched the interruption to eat. His usual satirical mockery absent, he peeled the wax from a cheese, cracked a loaf of dark bread, and with a thoughtful expression, dug in.
Kharadmon commanded the wind for his voice. The question became, not how many, but which mothballed fight he picked first.
While the shade coalesced for the opening salvo, Davien raised an eyebrow and busily chewed as the tirade unleashed. “Not mentioning your colossal mistakes that saddled us with the rebellion, or the brutal inventiveness that destroyed King Kamridian, sunk in your criminal culpability, what excuse grants you the license to fling Asandir’s gift of survival into our teeth? Also Luhaine’s sacrifice in your behalf! How deadly the irony, that his butchered flesh once paid for your mess at Telmandir, only to lend you the undeserved grace to salvage your reincarnation?”
The Betrayer said nothing. He did not belabour the pertinent truth: that Kharadmon’s culpable action had upset Asandir’s intervention, which would have disarmed Shehane Althain’s sprung defenses on the historical hour that he became fatally savaged.
Yet Davien’s weighted silence failed to stem his discorporate colleague’s furious accusations.
“By your passionate claim, our use of clan blood-lines to treat with the Paravians created the schism between town-born and talent. Who’s the yapping hypocrite, now? Your accomplishment’s driven a zealot religion into the bleeding breach. If you’re not shamed by the Light’s slaughter of talent, and while you sat idle as three of us cleaned up the carnage after a drake war, I demand to hear from your lips: by our sworn covenant to protect the Paravians, why have you not stirred to explore what’s befallen the guardian at Northgate? Restored to flesh and bone, can’t you lessen the burden on Asandir? Explain now, in full! By Dharkaron Avenger, why not pursue the reason for Chaimistarizog’s absence?”
Davien straightened and jettisoned his bread-crust. “Sethvir likely knows. And if not, only Asandir has earned the right to inquire.”
Air shrieked to Kharadmon’s incensed recoil. The blast creaked the ropes, and whitened the plies a hairbreadth from flash freezing the fibres. “Enough cagey evasions. I’ll have answers no matter the threat to your self centred independence.”
“Some other day,” Davien dismissed.
Behind him, the guardian stone slung on its precarious ropes emitted a crack like the snap of a whip. The gryphon his artistry had yet to carve glowed briefly inside the unstructured granite, while the orb to become the watchful eye suddenly flared livid red. The precursor spell seating its protective enchantments scribed a ring of white fire around Davien’s planted stance and also encompassed the indignant swirl of Kharadmon’s indignant essence.
“What outrageous bombast!” The discorporate Sorcerer’s temper cracked before incredulity. “We’re not under attack.”
“We are, in fact.” Etched in the sharp sunlight and shade of high altitude, Davien flaunted an insolent grin. “Try a surprise visitation steered by the Prime Matriarch. She’s trying the might of the Waystone against us, backed by twelve circled Seniors.”
“You’ll have staged that charade,” Kharadmon huffed.
“Do you truly think?” The Betrayer measured the Fellowship entity pinched in the malicious breach. “If you can’t believe me, at least curb your pique. We’re stuck together for the duration. Unless, of course, you snatch your safe exit and flit?”
Kharadmon snorted. “What, turn tail and run from Prime Selidie’s wiles? Try my patience again!”
Davien laughed. “Then stay at your peril. Her sally to test me isn’t a feint.”
No toothless threat: wielded by a Prime at full strength, the amethyst focus packed force enough to endanger a discorporate Sorcerer. Particularly if the Matriarch drained her subordinates to leverage the contest.
Kharadmon’s presence snuffed out, condensed to a frosty vacuum.
Then Prime Selidie’s concerted blast struck and shattered the rudimentary wards laid into the unfinished cap-stone. Spelled ropes and unpolished granite exploded. Shards flew like knives. Planted inside the nexus with folded arms, Davien seemed unfazed as though he outfaced a social embarrassment. Yet the actualized spells that wrested the lethal missiles aside and crashed them impotently at his feet broke a sweat on his forehead.
He mocked, “A stone-throwing tantrum’s the best you can do?”
Reckless strategy, to mock a powerful rival maimed under his past round of trickery: bolt lightning stabbed downwards out of clear air. Harm deflected just shy of electrocution, Davien held fast, caged in branched forks that scribbled scorched channels of carbon around him. Through smears of wisped smoke, he taunted again, “You won’t have your way using pique for diplomacy.”
Yet his challenge just missed the dismissal of sarcasm. His straits were dire. Yield one step, and the entrance to his library would lie open to rifling trespass. Too many dark secrets were cached within: volumes of knowledge too dreadful to be shelved with the Paravian archives at Althain Tower.
Selidie had rancorous bones aplenty to pick with the Seven and a vengeful personal score outstanding against Davien for centuries. Which ferocious awareness scarcely prepared him for her next scalding strike. Dazzled nearly blind and hammered to his knees, Davien seized the moment to palm a flake of stone from the wreckage. The fragment yet retained the grant of permission to stand ward and guard for him in free partnership.
Also, within, the eidetic stamp of the violence that had snapped the harmonic working asunder.
Davien tapped the mineral’s matrix and grasped the aggressive thrust of the Prime’s motivation: a fury that echoed from her past failure to best Sulfin Evend. Thwarted plots to separate Lysaer from his steadfast war-captain’s moral influence had balked the order’s intentions. Again poised with the True Sect priesthood as agent under her thumb, Selidie raged to find a new obstruction guarding Lysaer’s vulnerability. Hell-bent, the Prime sought the secret that sheltered the sen Evend heir, Daliana.
Davien sorted his counter-moves, appalled by the stakes. Barraged under the lightning shimmer and crack of the Prime’s hostile charge, he seized the split second and sounded the chip for the remnant of his burst ward. Since mineral forgot nothing, the imprint remained, a plan configured to perfection well before the disruptive attack.
But set-back dealt him an unforeseen shock: the founded circle had included no safe passage for crossing, and Kharadmon’s wise retreat had never occurred. The discorporate’s choice to take cover in hindsight posed a drastic mistake.
Davien dared not risk that appalling disclosure with his resource taxed under fire. Pitched on the defensive with the Prime unaware of his colleague’s collateral peril, he stared down disaster and pressed the end game.
The stone fragment held the template of the wardspells already designed to withstand a hostile assault. Davien wielded the pattern. A further split second’s reckless intent engaged other forces that no Fellowship Sorcerer before this had been hardened to bear.
His hands flared into unnatural fire: a shimmer azure as gas-flame, and reactive beyond all imagining. Naked flesh and blood, Davien’s finger-tips unfurled the prepotent aura possessed by Athera’s great drakes.
The phenomenon, until now kept shrouded, exposed how profoundly Dragonkind’s dreaming had changed him. The volatile power sparked to his will and ripped the air with an ozone spiked crack. The elements screamed. The staid cliff-face before him ignited to the might of his focused desire and restored the pulverized statue. Reshaped in completed manifestation, the sentinel gryphon gargoyle engaged its guardian spells at one stroke.
Prime Selidie’s thrust tangled in the matrix.
White fire met blue with a shriek that cracked bed-rock. The ground rumbled and shook, while the elements bled light, a wild coruscation that fountained aloft and unfurled the shimmer of an aurora.
Prime Selidie’s lightnings snuffed instantaneously.
Socked by the earthquake punch of the recoil, Davien wrestled, hands locked, and vised his thoughts still. Crouched with singed hair, seared clothes smoking, he regarded the blackened ash dusting his skin.
“I’d rather the meddling Prime was not privy,” he gasped, while a land-slide of stones ploughed into the vale with a thundering roar. “Insolent shade! Were you endangered?”
“The question is moot!” Kharadmon’s presence unfurled with a whoosh. “If the Prime was desperate before, you’ve just torched the core of her insecurity.” The shade added, thoughtful, through a chattering storm of loose gravel and carbon, “I had not expected that move to protect me. If this force majeure bequest of Seshkrozchiel’s is behind your feckless delinquency, consider my grievance reproved. Your absence from the crisis at Northgate was justified.”
“Do you think?” gasped Davien, unable to muzzle a vicious onset of the shakes. Kharadmon’s damnable perception was true. He had not stabilized even wayward control of his untoward legacy. Until he mastered himself, a drake conflict was the last conceivable place Althain’s Warden would wish to dispatch him.
Wow. Just, wow.
Thanks for the nice comment! I wondered if anyone had notice the post...!
There is so much behind that snippet that it has whet the appetite of this reader! Can't wait to have that book in my hands!
I want to put crying-laughing emoji's in here.
A beautiful way to start the work day! September can't come soon enough!!!
A beautiful way to start the work day! September can't come soon enough!!!
I can't wait to read what leads into this scene and the Matriarch's response.
I suppose we'll have to wait until the final arc to see how Luhaine will be changed by association with Seshkrozchiel.
Thanks for sharing!
You know, I have a love-hate relationship witb you, Janny.
I love your books. I hate that I don't have all of them in front of me right now.
Instead, I have this snippet. It's... Agony.
Words fail me.
I. Cannot. Wait!
Awesome, must have now!
Thanks for the sneak peek Janny, very interesting.
Given Amazon says October 5th, the countdown is now 173 days, though 145 to 9/7.
Just finished reread of Stormed Fortress. Did not notice first time around that both the Beidar and Seschroziel call Davien "Fire hands". Now we know why?
Amazing!!!! I haven't visited for a while as we're having a general election What a fantastic treat(the sneak peek that is). My heart is pounding! Thank you!
That was awesome. I love the fellowship guys and am quite blissful we got a snippet of these two interacting plus giving Selidie more trouble. Someone really needs to revoke her stone privs!
Of course it makes me moan about not having the book right now.