Today’s release day for my new box set, the Andovia Chronicles Books 1-3. Which is a epic fantasy box set that contains my three novels The calling, The Rising and Morrigan’s Heirs. You can get the book here.
Here’s a short excerpt from the box set:
“She must be put to death for her crime,” said the village elder. “Traitorous little wretch — killing the man who took her in and raised her as his own all these years.”
Nyx Ashwood froze as she stood surrounded by her tribesmen. Her mouth fell open at the man’s words. What? No, this can’t be happening. I haven’t done anything wrong.
“I was only protecting my sister,” Nyx protested. “Harland tried to—”
“Silence,” the village leader, Jarrod, snapped. “You killed one of your own people with forbidden sorcery. You will pay for your crime.” He towered over her with his massive frame, his dark eyes flashing. Long black braids trailed down his neck, his breath stank of ale and a bushy beard covered half of his weathered face.
Sorcery! Ridiculous. She didn’t have magic. Her abilities came from a curse, not from any magical talent. Now that very curse might cost Nyx her life. Everyone in the tribe possessed a spark of magic that allowed them to use basic spells. They viewed anything beyond that as evil. Nyx knew she shouldn’t have been surprised. The villagers had been looking for an excuse to get rid of her for as long as she could remember.
She sat huddled in the corner of an old barn the villagers often used for meetings. Her wrists were raw from where they had been bound with tight rope, and they had tied her to a post so she couldn’t even fly away. Her jaw and limbs ached from where one of the men had beaten her. Worse still, she couldn’t remember everything that happened the night before. She had woken up in the tavern early that morning with Harland’s wife, Mama Habrid, screaming at her. Mama Habrid had accused her of murder, and Nyx had seen Harland’s body slumped over on the other side of her foster sister’s room.
Why couldn’t she remember anything? She had known people were looking for her last night and her trading contact, Traveller, had been killed. After she had discovered Traveller’s body, she had fled from the cave the trader had been staying in. After that… After that, everything had turned black.
Cracks of light crept in through the broken walls, and Nyx flinched as a rat scurried past her. But she did feel sorry for the poor creature. At least the rat had a chance to run away. She didn’t have that option, not with all the men here.
She is guilty.
We should have gotten rid of her years ago.
I always knew that changeling was nothing but trouble.
Their thoughts buzzed through her mind so loud she wanted to scream. Nyx hated being around so many people. It made it hard for her to concentrate and consider her next move. With her hands bound, she couldn’t touch anyone and use her influence on them either. Mama Habrid must have warned them about that too. She had always been so careful about keeping her curse a secret from people because she knew they would condemn her to death if they thought she had magic.
What she wouldn’t give for some wine, or better yet, the drug Nilanda to dull it all out, but there was no chance of that.
Her mind raced with questions about the night before. She had heard her sister screaming and knew she had to stop their foster father, Harland, from hurting Kyri again. Everything after that remained a blur. What happened? What had she done?
She did remember Harland choking Kyri then… nothing. She knew she must have intervened somehow. Nyx guessed she might have used her influence, as she often did, to rein his temper in.
Everyone kept saying she had killed him, but how? Her curse worked by tormenting her with other people’s thoughts and sometimes allowing her to bend people to her will, but she didn’t have the ability to kill anyone. While she might be able to get someone to hand over coins and other possessions, she couldn’t force them to commit murder for her.
Nothing she said or did would make the villagers change their minds. If only she could get her hands free, perhaps she could force them to release her. Doing so always drained her of energy, but it wouldn’t harm them. The effects had always only been temporary. Usually, she got someone to do whatever she wanted them to do and then let them go. No harm done.
Nyx had to get out of there. At seventeen, she was too young to die. She had barely even begun to live. The life she had endured so far had been one of hardship. With Harland gone, she had hoped she and her foster sisters could finally have a better future and get away from this awful place, but there would be no chance of that unless she found a way to escape. Eight men stood between her and the door that led out of the barn. A quick glance around showed her nothing but a few cracks and loose boards. There was nowhere big enough for her to crawl through, not without being seen.
Nyx curled her long wings around herself, hoping they would provide her with a little warmth. She shivered as a cool breeze blew under the door and through the cracks in the walls. She had no idea what time of day it was. She had lost her sword last night too. Being without the weapon she had considered a part of herself for the past two years left her feeling naked and empty.
“She must be put to the flame,” another man spoke up.
Flame? Nyx’s heart pounded in her ears, and her blood went cold. They were going to burn her alive? Good gods, she hated fire. It had always terrified her. Worse still, her sister, Domnu, had said she had seen Nyx being put to a pyre in a vision she had last night when some strangers had come looking for her. They couldn’t put her on a pyre. If she had killed Harland, it had been self-defence. Nyx thought she would remember something as important as that. She sometimes blacked out when she used her influence – especially if it had taken more energy than usual. Maybe she had been too exhausted to stay conscious. Or perhaps her mind had blocked out the event.
Had she stabbed him? No, she hadn’t seen any stab wounds on him earlier that morning. Hit him over the head with something? No, they kept insisting she had used magic to do it. If she ever killed anyone, it was more likely to be with the end of a blade, not with her curse.
Nyx pulled her knees up to her chest and buried her face in her hands. This had to be a nightmare and one she prayed she would wake from soon.
Someone chuckled. “Oh, you can’t deny what you did to me, girl. Even if your mind blocks it out, you know you have blood on your hands.”
Nyx looked up to see Harland’s glowing form standing a few feet from her. He looked just as she had remembered with his mop of long grey hair, straggly beard and ice-blue eyes. He wore the same clothing that he had on the night before: a rumpled, dark red tunic and muddy black trousers.
Impossible. She had seen his body when they dragged her out of the tavern. His eyes had been glassy and lifeless, and the dead didn’t come back to life. No, he wasn’t alive, but his presence sent a chill over her.
“You’re dead,” she whispered. “How can you be here?”
“Yes, I am. No thanks to you.” Harland leaned back against the wall, yet his glowing presence cast no shadow, nor did the arguing village men notice him. How could they not see him? He was right there. Was she imagining this?
“You are a spirit,” she kept her voice low so no one would overhear her. “Why have you come back for me? I didn’t do anything to you. If I did, it wasn’t intentional. I’m not a murderer.”
“I’ve come to let you know I will be waiting for you. Fire is an awful way to die, but it is no more than what you deserve. I didn’t deserve to die, yet you used your unholy curse on me.” Harland gave her a bright smile. “Don’t keep me waiting too long. I have big plans for you on the other side.” Then he disappeared in a wisp of smoke.
Was this to be her fate? To die on a pyre and be subjected to Harland even more in the next life than she had been in this one? No, Nyx would not endure that. She had been a slave for as long as she could remember, sold to Harland and turned into what he wanted her to be. Now that time was over.
“You can’t kill me,” she told the villagers again. “I didn’t—”
Why wouldn’t anyone listen to her? Usually, the village elders gave anyone accused of a crime the chance of a trial first where they could speak in their defence. She should have known they would never give her such an opportunity. Nyx was considered little more than a gutter rat.
“Quiet, girl,” Jarrod growled and turned back to the other men. “Get everything ready. She will burn at noon.”