The 12 Days of Great Reading continues. Don’t miss your chance to win one of these great reads to take you through the holiday season—or all 12 on January 7! Today, enjoy a sample from the first book in the Curse of the Unnamed series
The aroma of the roast chicken, potatoes, and vegetables wafted to Viden Misk’s nose, but he ignored their tempting bouquet. Instead, he watched those gathered at the tables in front of his spot at the head table, three chairs from Caedric Carpera. Their attitudes couldn’t have been more disparate. The ones in the merchant’s employ sat eating their meals in quiet and solemnity, murmuring amongst themselves, reserved because of the knowledge they already possessed. Conversely, the new arrivals from the baron spoke in boisterous tones, bordering on abrasive, as they enjoyed Carpera’s food and drink. Especially the drink. The host’s men cast sideward glances at them, whispered to each other with sneering lips, but none of it dampened the moods of Rein Shriken and Jai Aryn.
As they finished their meals, a small platoon of servants emerged to clear away their plates and cutlery, to refill wine cups and tidy up. A young woman asked Misk if he was done with his untouched meal, and he waved his hand at her. She hesitated, then departed with his still fully laden plate. A minute later, the door at the end of the feast hall swung open and one of the merchant’s attendants led Shriken’s squire and the traveler into the chamber. He directed them to chairs at a modest bench at the rear of the space.
Misk straightened in his chair, leaned his elbows on the edge of the dining table to prop himself up. Even from this distance, he sensed a difference. That she was more accomplished than others of her ilk seemed obvious. Few were adept enough to travel an item as large as a horse, never mind a trio of horses and a wagon. But it wasn’t just her ability, was it? Something else he struggled to identify, but he intended to discover what before he sent them off to find the grimoire.
He studied her as Carpera droned on beside him, telling those in the room everything they required about the task laid before them. She took it in, glancing toward the squire or sharing a whispered word with him, nodding along to whatever her host said. Misk didn’t listen to him; he’d provided him exactly what to say. The merchant relayed the sad story of his ill child, told them the lie he believed—they needed to find the tome to provide what the old man requested to heal him. He lacked any further details to offer because he knew no more. Misk did—and those who’d perished seeking the book, but they weren’t revealing any secrets these days.
The merchant finished up his speech, and Rein Shriken made a loud comment, after which he and Jai Aryn laughed while no one else did. The girl smiled a nervous smile, glanced at the squire, then her attention strayed toward the head table, and her gaze met Misk’s.
He leaned forward, staring, and she stared back, if only for a moment. Their eyes locked. A chill crawled across his skin, but short-lived as the men seated in front of her stood, blocking his view. The rest of the gathering’s attendees did the same, first milling about, then heading toward the door, and he realized Carpera must have finished his instructions and dismissed them.
Misk pushed his chair away more quickly than he intended, its feet grinding against the stone floor as he banged his knee on the table leg. He winced and doubled over in pain, rather than standing as planned.
“You damn fool,” he muttered.
“Are you okay, sir?” a female voice asked him.
His heart jumped, and he raised his chin, then was disappointed upon finding it the serving girl who’d taken his plate inquiring after him, not the traveler. He nodded and gestured for her to come nearer.
“Yes, yes. Do help an old fellow up, won’t you?”
She came closer and offered her arm, which he accepted, using it to steady himself and leaning on the table with the other elbow to gain his feet. As usual, his knees and spine complained. Once he’d gotten up, he grasped the staff propped beside him, thanked the girl for her help, and returned his attention to the room, scanning for the handler.
Misk’s brow furrowed. They’d leave in the morning, but he desired to see her before then. To her and anyone else, he was the one to give her the guidance she required to take them where they needed to go. But he wanted to be near her for much more than that, for his own purposes. The girl possessed a strength, power he hadn’t sensed in any human before.
He toddled away from the table, taking great care of his footing as he descended the steps off the dais upon which it sat. He hobbled across the room toward the door, intent on finding her, speaking to her aside from her companions. Perhaps he might find another way to accomplish the reversal of the wrong he perpetrated so long ago.
Maybe he didn’t have to die like a common mortal after all.
The Book of Shadow
Florida Authors and Publishers’ President’s Book Awards Finalist
Llyris Fildarae is an outcast tainted by a sliver of magic in a world terrified of the supernatural. Loathed and distrusted, she uses her ability to control a magical Unnamed to survive.
Caedric Carpera is desperate to save his son from a deadly illness. He enlists Llyris to locate a lost tome containing secrets capable of healing him, but its location is a mystery that’s already claimed lives. Thrust into a hostile world, Llyris and her companions risk everything to find the relic and return before the child’s sickness prevails.
But who is the enigmatic old man who appeared out of nowhere to set them on this dangerous expedition? And what does he really want?
Only a perilous mission to an untamed land can save the boy and reveal the truth.
Except some truths are too shocking to be exposed.
Get ready for an epic fantasy adventure full of twists and turns from the author of the Khirro’s Journey trilogy and The Books of the Small Gods. Scroll up to one-click purchase your copy and start reading right away!