A Taste of what’s come…
My new novel The Emerald Queen will be available in two weeks. With that in mind I decided to divert from my usual fantasy/myth subjects, and share a snippet from the new book.
And, there’s more coming… The next book in the series, The Legends of the Longsword, will be available on January 10th––so I’ll be sharing a scene from that one in a few weeks. Book 2 in the new Mercenary Trilogy stars Corin an Fol, and follows the events in Gray Wolf. This time Corin faces a shape shifter. But more on that later 🙂 Back to the taster from the Emerald Queen.
What follows was the start of Garland’s troubles…
Garland shuddered, feeling the water seep through the leather of his boots. There was something unclean about that touch. He turned away from the lake. Doyle was right; they should leave this place––nothing for them here. A shadow flickered past him. Garland froze. Turned again; very slowly, sword leveled in palms.
A woman stood scarce ten feet away, her huge pale-blue eyes watching him as hawk studies sparrow. Her face was pointed, thin, the skin stretched like brittle parchment. The cheekbones and nose were prominent, and yet she was striking. Garland rammed the sword point down into the bank and waited for her to approach him. Ysaren had come just as his Queen foretold. The oracle––the one he’d been sent to seek.
She appeared both ancient and beautiful. Those were his first impressions. Tall and wretchedly thin, with wispy golden hair trailing down her back and blowing around her pale face. Willow-graceful, despite her evident age, the frail features were chiseled and those large eyes intelligent and hypnotic. There was power in that gaze. Enchantment. Danger.
I’ve a job to do.
Garland removed his gloved hands from his sword and held his arms out wide, palms forward. “I mean you no harm, Lady,” he said to the apparition watching him with those uncanny eyes.
“If you did you’d be dead.” The voice was soothing yet sinister. A contradiction; it lingered in the air and the sky crackled slightly on the horizon.
“You are the lady Ysaren?” The woman nodded slightly so Garland pushed through with his message. “My Queen sent me to consult a seeress called Ysaren at the Lake of Stones. Said she alone could help find someone she has lost.” The woman approached him a slight smile on her lips. Her gossamer shift left little to imagination, and despite his wariness Garland felt a stir in his loins.
“Do I excite you?” The woman––Ysaren––stopped inches from his face. He could feel her hot dry breath. She reached down quickly with thin bony fingers and teased his groin. Garland jumped back in alarm.
“You’re not what I expected!”
Ysaren’s eyes hinted sorrow and disappointment. “Too old perhaps. Too frail?”
“No––you are beautiful.” The woman smiled hearing that.
“I was once,” Ysaren told him. “Now I’m just lonely and tired. Stuck in this place.” She sighed, took seat on a rock, her slim shoulders hunched and her legs parted just enough to hint at what lay between them. She rested elbows on knees, hands cupped beneath chin, her cool uncanny gaze surveying him in silence.
Garland, feeling increasingly uncomfortable, rubbed his gauntlets together and fidgeted. How to handle this and move on? Job to do. The men would be worried about him. He needed to get back, but first he must do what had to be done. No time for small talk.
“I seek a nobleman. A cousin to my Queen. Missing these last three years. Feared dead.”
“Then dead he probably is––that’s usually what happens to the missing,” Ysaren’s laugh was abrupt and crow-rough. “They turn up dead, or not at all.” She traced a crooked finger along the inside of her thigh while smiling at his discomfort. “Have you any idea how old I am?”
“Nope.” Garland hadn’t known what to expect at the Lake of Stones, but it certainly wasn’t what he was seeing before him. “But you are very beautiful––I’m not just saying that.”
“Three thousand years, seven months, and fifteen days to be precise.”
“That’s a long time,” Garland nodded, having no idea where this was going. “But the years have been kind to you, I’m thinking.”
The Story Continues…
The character, Garland, is named in honor of Roger Garland, the late Tolkien illustrator who created the sketches seen above, for my series––Legends of Ansu. Garland faces all manner of danger, intrigue, and enchantment, and the Emerald Queen is only the beginning. The Journeyman Trilogy will continue in 2019 with The Voyage of Carlo Sarfe, pictured above.
I’ll see you soon