I want to take a moment to thank ALL of my readers for your steady support during the long and sometimes difficult road between Eolyn and High Maga. I also want to thank the folks at Hadley Rille Books, most of all Terri-Lynne DeFino, Kim Vandervort, Heather McDougal, and Thomas Vandenberg, who really pulled together to help get this title out on time in the wake of Eric's illness.
Eric continues to make good progress in his recovery; some of you may have noticed he even visited my blog earlier this week! Hopefully he'll be back in full action soon. Until then, Hadley Rille Books continues to move forward.
Our final excerpt from High Maga is a "throwing down of the gauntlet" of sorts between two of our minor characters, Adiana and Prince Mechnes. You've met each of these characters in previous posts, so without further ado, here's a peak at the first of many scenes between them.
Chapter 12 (excerpt)
“I don’t intend to find a place among the Syrnte.” Adiana's breath stalled under the look Prince Mechnes gave her, a strange mixture of amusement and menace. “What I mean is, my home is here, in Moisehén, not with the Syrnte.”
“It’s all one kingdom now. Or perhaps better stated, will be soon.” Mechnes nodded to the guards. “Unbind this woman.”
In an instant, the cords that secured her wrists were removed. Adiana cradled her hands against her breast, rubbing the places where the leather straps had left her skin raw.
Mechnes closed the distance between them in two strides.
“You will have to find a place among us, Adiana, or you will perish. That is the way of conquest.” He took her hands in his and studied them carefully, strong fingers tracing the fine delicate length of her own. “What do you play?”
Adiana’s skin crawled at the intimacy of his touch. His aroma was sharp, like coals on the hearth, and laced with the smell of blood. She wanted desperately to look elsewhere, but could not. Mechnes’s massive frame filled her vision; his presence, at once sinister and magnetic, demanded all her attention.
“The cornamuse.” Her voice had dropped to a nervous whisper. “The dulcimer, and the lute, the short wood, as well. Among others.”
He pressed her hands between his. Adiana was visited by the sudden image of him snapping her fingers one by one, as if they were nothing more than dry twigs.
“I see you are telling the truth, in this much at least,” Mechnes said. “You have beautiful hands, Adiana. We must be grateful they were not damaged during the attack on Maga Eolyn’s Aekelahr. And we must also hope they will come to no harm here, under my care.”
A heavy silence followed. Adiana understood the unspoken threat that hovered between them. Who else would he ask? The children, the survivors of the siege, the members of Lord Felton’s household, if any of them still lived. There were untold numbers of people in Moehn who might give him the information he sought. What would Adiana’s deception gain for Eolyn in the end—fifteen minutes? Half an hour? It did not matter. Every additional moment could mean the difference between Eolyn’s escape and her death. Adiana had already lost one friend tonight. She would not betray the other.
She lowered her eyes and held her tongue.
Next week: Purchase links for HIGH MAGA. Woohoo!