This is a big day! Why? Well, there’s a lot going on:
A Wizard’s Sacrifice, Book Two of the Woern Saga, will be released just 7 days from now! You can preorder your copy here.
Today is the launch of a book tour celebrating the release of Sacrifice but focused on A Wizard’s Forge, Book One of the Woern Saga. Twelve bloggers have generously agreed to host reviews and interviews on their sites. The complete schedule is here.
Storytellers on Tour is hosting an International Giveaway of both A Wizard’s Forge and A Wizard’s Sacrifice. You can enter for a chance to win here.
Today blogger Justine Bergman of Whispers and Wonder interviewed me about the biological origins of Vic’s power and the storied history of how the Woern Saga evolved into its present form. Read the interview here.
And finally, today is the last day I’ll be posting a full chapter of A Wizard’s Sacrifice containing the #BookQW (Book Quote Wednesday) word of the week: fury. That word appears quite frequently in the Woern Saga (cough, cough), so the challenge wasn’t finding a chapter containing it, but choosing which one to post. Fortunately, it happens to show up in one that sets up the keystone dilemma of A Wizard’s Sacrifice: Vic’s destiny and the quest that will launch her into it. I hope you enjoy it!
Light pried at Vic’s eyelids, and she rolled over, away from the dawn, snuggling down under warm blankets and the soft pillow cupping her face. Fine linen—the weave silky smooth—caressed her cheek, urging her back to sleep yet pricking her awareness that she wasn’t in her bed at the Cobblestone. The sheets were not so soft there. Bleary eyes blinked open, took in a lamp shaded with glass flowers. She was at the Manor.
A temple free of ache, a stomach devoid of nausea meant Elekia had shared her Woern again, but heavy muscles told of soporific medicines. Groggy, she swung her legs out of bed and stumbled against the bedside table, rocking the lamp. “Shrine, don’t break it.” She settled the lamp, looked up, and snapped awake. What medicines had the healers given her, that she’d slept through this? Red-brown gore splattered the walls. Gooey green and brown smeared the carpet, obscuring the weave depicting a battle between humans and Kragnashians in the jungles of old Direiellene. She knew that land as a desert wasteland, but a thousand years ago it had been a thick rainforest where the Wizards Council had fought a sorceress named Meylnara and her Kragnashian minions. With all the blood, it looked as if the figures had sprung out of the rug’s warp and weft to savage each other.
An attack here inside the Manor, and the Cobblestone set ablaze. Heart thudding, she rushed to a window—and sighed in relief. No smoke or other signs of strife marred the pale sky. Undisturbed, Kiareinoll Fembrosh flowed down Manor Hill, a leafy channel between Manor and city. The sun broke over the Lathalorns, and the giant crystal atop the Senate flared to life, refracting light into a rainbow. In the garden, a cerrenil shivered with dawn’s first touch. Leaves unfurled in sunbeams, and one by one, the old mother’s limbs rose to meet the light.
There was a knock, and Elekia barged in. “I’m glad you’re up.” She shut the door. “The Relmlord escaped last night.”
“At least one Kragnashian and several hundred Caleisbahnin assaulted the prison and broke him out. They killed everyone, guards and prisoners.”
Vic sank to her knees and pressed her palms into the bloodied carpet. Within her, a girl hardly grown gibbered in fear as if Lornk would spring out of the closet and drag her off. But the wizard and the warrior took a deep breath and looked at the queen. “They went west?”
“Olivet has teams in pursuit. I need you to find Ashel.” A sound cracked out of the queen, laugh or cry Vic couldn’t tell. Her foster mother slid to the floor. Dried blood rimmed Elekia’s nails, dark circles her eyes. “I need you to find Ashel again.”
“Why?” Vic asked, dread seizing her breath. Geram had said he was in trouble last night, right before the commotion began.
Elekia’s eyes and mouth pinched, then collapsed into a composed mask. “You may stop pretending you don’t know Ashel and Lieutenant Geram are . . . connected. Selcher has Heard them speaking to each other, and last night she Heard them talking about some sort of jeopardy Ashel had found himself in, but she couldn’t discern the details.”
Vic’s eyes darted between the blood staining Elekia’s fingers to the rust-splattered walls. Her heart quailed. “And there’s a reason you can’t ask Geram?”
The queen’s mask twisted into anguish, her palm muffling a sob. She blew her nose and hid her face in a handkerchief. Vic patted her shoulder, feeling helpless and baffled. Elekia’s haughty serenity almost never broke, and Vic had no idea what to do or say. Awkwardly, trying to copy what Beth would do, she put an arm around the queen.
“I’m sorry.” Elekia shrugged out of the embrace. “I’m not myself.” She pinched the bridge of her nose, breathing deeply, and composed herself. “We know this much: your inn was set on fire, probably to force you to come here for the night. At least two Kragnashians came through the Device. One or more assaulted the prison, with support from the Caleisbahnin, freeing Lornk Korng and killing everyone else. The other came to this room, to kill you or take you, we do not know. Geram was severely wounded defending you. Which brings us to the last piece of the puzzle: something happened to Ashel, but we don’t know what, and the lieutenant won’t be able to tell us for some time, if at all. I need you to go to Mora and find out what happened.”
Heat prickled Vic’s skin, a mixture of dread and longing. Rising, she found some trousers and tugged them on. “I should go after Lornk.”
“Majesty, I can find him and bring him back in a day’s time.”
Elekia’s fists balled. “Four guards died and three were wounded last night, keeping you safe from a Kragnashian. I will not have you waltz into the clutches of another.”
“And how many troopers will die recapturing Lornk?”
“The answer would be none if you’d killed him in Olmlablaire!”
Blood pounding up her throat, Vic glared at the queen. “He deserves to rot at Mirkeldirk. Killing him was too quick a death.”
Elekia’s glower softened. “Vic, the Kragnashians’ purpose in freeing Lornk may have been to lure you into a trap. A backup plan, in case their attack here failed.”
“Why would they do that?”
“I don’t know, except they have an uncanny interest in you. I made a bargain with them long ago, and part of the price I paid was to give them news of anyone I met named Victoria of Ourtown.”
Fury sparked. “So you did sell me to them?”
“No! It was your idea to go through Kragnash to reach Olmlablaire. But I thought they might make you take the Elixir if you went there.”
The Elixir, another name for the Waters of the Dead. “And why didn’t you warn me?”
Elekia sighed. “Because the Center assured me they’d leave you alone. I hoped it would keep that promise, even as I expected it wouldn’t, and it didn’t, because here you are, a wizard, just like your namesake.” She waved at a pair of blood-soaked figures in the carpet, flinging woolen lightning at each other. “The Kragnashians first asked me about you when Ashel was in my womb, years before you were born. They asked me again and again over the years, as if they expected another Victoria of Ourtown to appear. When you did turn up in our throne room, alone and desperate for asylum, Sashal and I were terrified for ourselves and for you. We vowed, the two of us, to keep you close because we didn’t know what your arrival meant.” Tears streamed again, and Elekia let them run. “I’d never say so publicly, but like you, I am a heretic. Elesendar is nothing more than a vacant hulk of a spacecraft. I do not believe in prophesy or portents—yet here you are, Victoria of Ourtown, also known as the One. And here I remain terrified for you, for myself, and for this nation. I do not know why the Kragnashians are obsessed with an orphan Oreseeker, so I want you as far away from Kragnash and their infernal Devices as I can send you.”
She took Vic’s face between her hands. “Ashel was in my womb when I took the Elixir. Bethniel or I, we can help you survive. With Ashel, you can live. Go to Mora. Find my son. Help him out of whatever mess he’s in, and this time, don’t let him go.” A smile caught one corner of her mouth. “Wizardry isn’t outlawed in Semeneminieu.”
A sob clogged Vic’s throat. “I abandoned him! I found him the day before Lornk butchered his hand. I could have saved him then, but I panicked and fled because Lornk was there and—” she gasped for breath. The mingled hatred and desire she once felt for Lornk Korng had been subsumed by shame for that moment of cowardice, but the feeling was just as intense. “Ashel lost his fingers because I failed him. I cannot have either his forgiveness or his love, not after that.”
She expected to see wrath and hatred written on Elekia’s face, but she saw only inscrutable dark eyes above smooth, dry cheeks.
“Isn’t that for Ashel to decide?” her foster mother asked.
Elekia grasped Vic’s chin, and she fought the urge to shrink away.
“Consider your commission reactivated, Marshal. Now go find my son.”
Like what you read? Find out what happens before and after:
Get a copy of A Wizard’s Forge
Get a copy of A Wizard’s Sacrifice