A few months ago I started participating in a Twitter hashtag called #bookqw (Book Quote Wednesday), which I heard about from author/book blogger Sarah Chorn (BookwormBlues). In this weekly Tweet-fest, authors produce a quote containing the word of the week, and apropos of the holiday tomorrow, this week’s word was HEART.
As I was looking through A Wizard’s Sacrifice, the sequel to A Wizard’s Forge, for a good quote, I found a lot of great ones that also capture the spirit—one might even say, the heart—of the book. Where A Wizard’s Forge was all about Vic’s single-minded desire to get revenge for the wrongs done to her (and her struggle to overcome internal as well as external obstacles in that quest), A Wizard’s Sacrifice is about the quest for redemption through love. Sacrifice is not a romance, but it does embrace the romantic where Forge rejected it.
As a Valentine’s gift to you, dear readers, I’m going to share a preview by way of some bittersweet quotes containing the word heart.
To change the past, there must be a sacrifice.
A warrior fights to escape destiny’s trap.
An exiled prince fights the grip of despair
Vic the Blade became a wizard to end a war, but with her powers came a deadly illness and the brand of outlaw, should she be discovered. Keeping her abilities secret, she tries to live an ordinary life until she’s thrown back a thousand years and forced to fight in a war against alien giants.
Desperate to save the woman he loves, Prince Ashel forsakes duty and honor and follows his worst enemy down a dark and bloody path.
As options narrow and hopes dim, each must confront a destiny that may demand the ultimate sacrifice.
The last battle in a twenty-year war was finished. In this single day, she’d slain more people than she had in the five years she’d gone by Vic the Blade, when she used to sneak into Relman camps and kill their officers. When her blood, hot for revenge, had entered the icy chambers of her heart, and remorse had steamed away like the rain. When she’d killed with her hands and a dagger. Drawing her blade, she held the cut-crystal weapon to her chest and felt her heartbeat reverberate through the hilt. Regret, not vengeance, ran through her veins now. No matter how many Relmans she’d killed today, it wouldn’t make up for her failure to save the man standing in front of her now, his smile beatific with forgiveness and love.
The gate banged shut. Snow crunched, porch boards squeaked, and her heart’s pounding drowned out every step. The door creaked open. Ashel stood there, beaming, and her limbs quivered with the desire to run. To him or away, she wasn’t sure.
Blood crept through the sheets. At the midwife’s order, Vic fetched towels and water and sutures, held a lantern while the healer sewed. Silla’s skin paled, her breathing eased, then died to a whisper. At the foot of the bed, Maynon sobbed and clutched the bundled infant. Clasping Silla’s hand over her own pounding heart, Vic felt the stuttering echo of her friend’s.
As if he were stepping onto a stage, Ashel embraced the tickle in his belly and began a herder’s ballad.
The lupear’s howl fills the night
But not my heart
Its mournful cry echoes through
This plain so empty without you
The mare snorted and stepped toward him. He paced closer, singing a herder’s lament for his lost love, drawn into the steed’s glittering gaze. She glided forward and pressed a chitinous snout to his forehead. A purr rumbled a rough echo of his song. Love poured through Ashel, a sensation as deep as it was sudden.
“That monster nearly cut his leg off. They said the bone’s not broken, but it’s cracked, and the flesh around it…. It took the Healers a long time to stitch it all back together. The Ruler helped.” His shoulders hunched. “They said she kept his heart beating. Didn’t know you could do that.”
She shrugged and slipped her hand into Geram’s. His breath wheezed, his features pained even as he slept. “I’m glad she could. Thank you both for saving me. Again.”
“Spears,” he muttered. “Spears, Vic. Pikes with great long blades and thicker hafts. That’s what we need to fight those things. Our daggers couldn’t penetrate the shell, and it snapped our regular pikes like kindling. Geram got underneath it—that’s how he killed it, and how it almost killed him.”
Every drip through her waterlogged shelter saturated her heart with dread. Ashel was in trouble, possibly in danger. She needed to go to him. But the hammerblows to her temple held her stranded for a week, and the long, dull, lonely hours stoked her longing for him. She didn’t love him, but she loved his world of learned people who stayed up until dawn, banging fists on tables, pointing fingers, raising voices while they argued over minutia. Those debates were ridiculous and wonderful, and she loved how every evening ended with fond farewells, no matter how heated the arguments. She loved that he could make her giggle like a nitwit and how with him, she never felt foolish, even when acting the fool. She loved that he easily trounced her when they played chess or stones. She loved the tingle that raced to her heart when his fingers laced through hers, and when their lips met in a kiss…
That’s just the Woern. Shrinejumping parasites! An infection of the nervous system—the source of her power and her desire for a man she’d betrayed and abandoned.
Dawn seeped through the canvas, sculpting Ashel’s neck and shoulder like an artist carving life from polished wood. “I love you,” Vic whispered, looping an arm over his chest, awed at the potency of the feeling now that she’d finally admitted to it. Admitted it, let it in, into her heart and her head. It wasn’t just the Woern, she promised herself. She’d longed for him long before taking the Elixir, but her preoccupation with Lornk—her shame over the remnants of desire she’d felt for the Relmlord, and her need to purge those sensations through blood and vengeance—hadn’t left any room for love.
A citrus draft filled his lungs, and a wealth of spring tresses blossomed in the wavering torchlight. Snuffing the fire to avoid harming the old mother, Ashel parted the flowered vines and knelt among gnarled roots. “Please lead me to them,” he implored, pressing both hands against the trunk. “You led Vic to me. Help me find her now.” He poured his fear and need onto the bark. “My sister. She came here to teach the squatters to revere you, and when she’s Ruler, her duty will be to protect you as much as to govern the human and erin peoples of Latha. Please help me find her.”
Limp branches rustled, and more citrus scent wafted over him. Elesendar winked through the leaves. His eyes soaked in the meager light, picked out a darker patch of ground snaking away from the cerrenil. A trail! Hope flushed fatigue from his limbs, and he loped down the narrow track. No stone or root hindered him; he moved swiftly, breath puffing, heart pumping, a shadow among shadows, down into gullies and up embankments, past outcroppings and meadows. He ran minutes, half an hour, an hour—the time seemed long but no weakness of heart or lungs or legs slowed him until the trail led up a rise to another cerrenil. A figure slumped among tangled roots. Heart thudding, he crept closer. It was Erik. Cold stiff fingers clutched his flask, his life long since drained from a gaping wound. Grief and disappointment tore out of Ashel’s throat.
Will Vic and Ashel find each other again? Find out this fall.
In the meantime, if you sign up for my newsletter you can read “Kill Squad,” a short story set in Knownearth’s distant past, which helps explain why wizards are so very, very rare in Vic’s time:
When the Purge began, Maitchen was given a choice: become an Enforcer or have her throat cut then and there. She chose to keep breathing and do her part to heal the world of the madness caused by wizards like her. Fifteen years later, Maitchen finds the last pair of fugitive wizards and a confrontation that will make her question everything she believes.