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THE DREAMING HUNT Excerpt (Tor Publishing, release TBD)

Raina sighed and followed her gypsy friend, Rosana, outside to the courtyard behind the Heart building for some target practice. Although her range was not exceptional, her accuracy was excellent when it came to casting magic. Her friend was the exact opposite. The gypsy could throw a mile, but she tended to flub incants or fail to draw any magical power at all if she was panicked. Rosana had been doing better since their return to Dupree, though. Both her aim and her nerve were steadying with time and practice.

Eventually, they clumped inside to clean up for supper, and Raina reflected on how much she missed the spirited discussions she’d had with Leland Hyland about the White Heart. Her own understanding of history and political theory outstripped that of almost everyone else in the Heart hierarchy of Dupree, but not so, the landsgrave. Grief tugged at her, and she fought back tears as she headed down to the common room.

She did get the feeling from time to time that High Matriarch Lenora was holding out on her, not sharing sensitive information or her own analysis of local political matters. Whether the woman was merely guarding secrets or guarding political turf was anyone’s guess. In the meantime, Raina was left merely to observe and make mental notes about everything that went on around her.

Her early education with her older sister had done a remarkable job of preparing her to see and understand the complex goings on in a big city like Dupree. Still, she resented owing the Mages of Alchizzadon a debt of gratitude for that education. The Mages had, for thousands of years, bred the women of her family to be ever more powerful mages. In turn, her family had educated the women as if they would one day be queens.

Her desire to break the tradition led her to seek a great mage of old said to be locked in a sleeping stasis. He had not been the one she and Will had found, eventually, however. Funny how the fates worked. She started with one goal in mind, but now had moved on to a much more challenging goal. Now, she worked for the good of all the people of Dupree and not just for her sister and future daughters. Of course, the risks were commensurately higher, as well.

No one could tell her what would happen to a White Heart member who worked against Koth. Traditionally, her order was immune to any and all interference from the Empire. But what if a White Heart member engaged in outright rebellion? Then what? Raina’s guess was that even White Heart colors would not protect her from treason charges.

They’d just sat down at the long trestle table with the other healers to eat when a great sound of horns blowing erupted outside the building. The older healers leaped up with cries of dismay while the younger ones looked around in confusion, asking what was amiss.

Squire Hrothgar burst into the kitchen breathing hard. His face was red as if he’d been running.

“What is amiss?” Lenora asked sharply. “Why are the Haelan legion’s battle horns blowing?”

“Prepare for battle,” he declared between gusts of air. “All healers are called to the aid of the Imperial army by order of Lord Justinius of the Royal Order of the Sun. The Boki are attacking Dupree.”


Future Dragon Crest Novels





By |March 13th, 2015|Sneak Peeks|0 Comments



THE SLEEPING KING Excerpt (Tor, Sep 2015)

“What is it, Oretia?” Ammertus snapped.

Anton’s eyes widened. Oretia? The oracle of the Imperial Court? It was said the powerful Child of      Fate had never been wrong in centuries of prophecies. Supposedly, it was she who foretold the death of the first Emperor, she who predicted the mysterious disappearance of the second Maximillian. It was also rumored that she was a key power behind this Maximillian’s throne for the almost thirty-two hundred years of his reign.

Given her age, Anton expected her to look old. He expected wrong. She was born of the extremely long-lived race of janns, her skin swirling with the colors of the elements to which janns aligned themselves. However, if the rumors of her age were accurate, the Emperor himself must have gifted her with exceptional longevity. At a glimpse—and that was all he dared allow himself out of the corner of his eye—she could pass for a woman of middle age, the sort who worked hard at preserving herself. Her bare arms were firm even if the mottled skin covering them looked somewhat leathery. Fine wrinkles crisscrossed what Anton could make out of her face, but as her scowl eased, her skin smoothed into a falsely young mask.

“A prophecy comes,” she announced in a surprisingly lush and throaty voice.

Ammertus retorted, “Write it down and show it to His Majesty later. We are busy now!”

Anton gaped at her scornful gaze, locked in anger with Ammertus’s. She dared defy one of the archdukes, only exceeded in power by the Emperor himself? Did she have a death wish? Belatedly, Anton remembered himself. He hurled his gaze back to Maximillian and missed the rest of the silent battle of wills raging around him. But the air fairly crackled with it, a faint, metallic smell of ozone abruptly permeating the golden room.

Oretia snarled, “Your petty politics can wait. The power building within me is unique. Olde magicks touch me this day!”

The Emperor’s eyebrows twitched into a momentary frown—a mighty loss of control for him. So. Olde magicks worried him, did they? Interesting.

Maximillian leaned back casually on his throne, whereas Ammertus leaned forward aggressively. “Is this prophecy about His Resplendent Majesty?”

“Would I be here if it were not?”

Maximillian ordered in a bored tone, “Tell me, then.”

“It comes an-o-n . . . ,” her voice trailed off, taking on a singsong tone as she drew out the last syllable. “Ahh, the power of it. Perhaps I shall not share this after all. . . .”

Ammertus moved faster than Anton would have believed possible, launching himself off the dais and across the room to the oracle. The archduke embraced her head in his hands, shoving her up against a golden wall, staring into her eyes as if he would suck her brains from her skull. A visible field of energy built around the two of them, pulsing with almost sexual intensity.

“Sing for us, little Oretia,” Ammertus crooned.

Anton shuddered at the depravity and power in that voice. Gads, and to think the Emperor surpassed that power by orders of magnitude.

The oracle moaned, her body arching into a taut, vibrating bow, only her head still, trapped between Ammertus’s clutching hands.

“The end,” she gasped. “I see the end.”

“Of what?” The archduke was breathing heavily, something repulsive throbbing in his thick voice.

She spoke in bursts torn from her throat. “A nameless one . . . wakes in the wilds . . . shackles break–” Her voice broke on a hoarse cry and she sagged in Ammertus’s grip, clawing ineffectually at his hands on either side of her head.

“What?” he shouted, shaking her violently. “Show me.”

The force of that mindquake drove Anton to his knees, buffeting him nearly unconscious. His thoughts scattered, ripped asunder by that awful voice. Struggling to hang on to his fragmenting sanity, Anton stared up at the Emperor sitting at ease on his throne, completely unaffected by the massive mental energy flying through the air. His ageless face was devoid of expression, his eyes reflecting only bland disinterest.

Even Starfire seemed to be experiencing metal distress, and a look of concentration wreathed his features as he shielded himself from his father’s psychic assault. Iolanthe and Korovo did not appear mentally overly distressed by Ammertus’s outburst, but they did look mildly annoyed by it.

Of a sudden Oretia straightened in Ammertus’s grasp and, to Anton’s amazement, tore free entirely. She paced the width of the golden room, sparks flying from her hair as she whirled to stalk back. She paused before the throne, staring at it and the man on it, nodding to herself. The guards on either side of the Emperor tensed as she stalked up the stairs to stand directly in front of Maximillian, who might have been carved from the same obsidian as his throne for all that he reacted.

Her voice, preternaturally deep, resonated off the walls like a terrible storm. “Hear this, for I speak true. A nameless one comes. From the depths of the untamed lands to destroy us all. Olde magicks returned, change born of earth and stars. Greater than thee, Maximillian, Last Emperor of Koth. When Imperial gold is bathed in blood, your fate is written and cannot be undone. The end of Eternal Koth is anon.”

By |March 13th, 2015|Sneak Peeks|0 Comments
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