Monday, 24 October 2011

Teaser for Volume 3 of The Fireblade Array

Spoilers if you haven't read book 2, which is now in iTunes - looking a little lonely!

Below is a little snippet from Book 3:

The air ripped with the sound of screaming energy, and she found herself gliding through the low, evening sunlight. Artemi landed with very little grace on a pile of dead leaves. The creature in her mind was still writhing, baying for power, but it was tired and drunk. She forced it back into a box and locked the lid shut. It could follocking-well stay there forever! She kicked the box for good measure. Pushing herself up with feeble arms, she examined her surroundings. The woodland around her was familiar enough, and it looked as if she hadn’t been transported much more than a few miles from her last position. Artemi stood, dusted off her clothes and began to walk northward. She could have filled herself with Blaze to detect the location of the city, but she didn’t want to risk waking that thing again.  Blazes, how was she to kill it? And what a fine gift her husband had so generously left her with! Well, she wasn’t about to kill herself in an effort to stop this thing. There had to be another way to defeat it. She stamped firmly on the ground to release some of her anger, but mostly she felt relief for not having burned her friend. She hoped her children had returned safely.

It was a fair walk, but eventually she came to one of Gialdin’s brick-course roads and began to follow it to the city. A group of guards were gathered up ahead. Odd, she thought as she drew closer to them, they were wearing the old colours of Gialdin: blue and gold. Where was their Calidell green? She recognised some of their faces; they were indeed soldiers of her army. She stopped to examine them some yards away, and they turned to examine her also. Was this some curious experiment of Silar’s? “Why aren’t you wearing the green and black?”

One of the men approached her calmly. “And who are you?”

“I’m your queen, that’s who I bloody am!” Surely these men knew that!

Another soldier, Gavorna if she remembered correctly, came to join them. “You are, are you? You don’t even look anything like her.” They chuckled between themselves for a moment.

“Oh I see.” Artemi allowed herself a small smile. “This is some sort of joke, is it? Very funny. Now, let’s go back to the palace. I’m exhausted and I’d quite like to see my children. If you’d lead the way?”

The soldiers spoke quietly between themselves for a moment, but Artemi could hear most of it.

“... posing as the queen is surely an offense?”

“Yes, but she’s clearly insane. Maybe we should leave her here.”

“Crazy or not, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Let’s escort her back and leave it to the general to sort her out.”

Hah! Silar would give them the hiding of their lives for speaking of her in that way! She raised a rather self-satisfied eyebrow at the men as they moved to surround her. “Time to go?”

“Yes, my lady,” Gavorna said. He mocked a bow and invited her to mount one of their horses. She vaulted smoothly onto the best of the beasts, but her features morphed into shock when another soldier clambered onto the saddle behind her. “What are you doing?” she hissed at the man.

“Not enough animals, my lady,” he chuckled.

Fine. Let them get into as much trouble as they dared. They could play and act like fools all they wanted, but the repercussions would not be pretty. She grimaced and kicked her overburdened horse into a brisk walk, for once glad that her husband was not here to see this. He would have been very, very angry indeed.
The thick trees passed by slowly, the skeletons of last year’s leaves glistening softly in shafts of light. Gialdin’s forests were very beautiful at any time of year. The air was too dry and cold to smell of much, but Artemi drank it in deeply. This place always reminded her of happier times. At long last the trees began to thin out, giving way to the small farmsteads and fields that had grown up around the capital. But something was different. Something about them looked slightly... off. “Which gate are we heading for?” she asked her saddle-mate.

“West, my lady.”

West? There were only two farms on the west side, and she was sure that they did not have thatched roofs. And then the city came into view beyond. A great spire reached into the grey skies, and waterfalls clambered up its sides. But it was not the city she had left; it was not nearly so... errant. Shock tore through her body as she recognised it, paralysing her limbs and lungs. She knew this place. This was the old Gialdin.

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