Seven Day Sale starts 08/27! All Courtlight ebooks $0.99

I’m having an AMAZING sale on all the Courtlight series books across all retailers. KOBO. KINDLE. NOOK. ITUNES. You can go to them all and get all five of the Courtlight series books for free or $0.99. Limited time sale running from 08/27 – 09/02. If you peek now you might even catch them early!

So if you missed a book in the series or have been waiting to catch up now is the time. SWORN TO ASCENSION releases on 09/30/2014. If you’re one of my fans that joined the readership ranks from Crown Service or Sarath Web you don’t want to miss this sale, Courtlight is the series that started it all! Remember you have only seven days to catch this sale. So tell a friend and click away. 🙂

Clicking on the covers will take you to Amazon. To view the books elsewhere click here: KOBO, ITUNES, BARNES & NOBLE

Sworn To Raise Cover - 900x1350

 

Sworn To Transfer Cover - 900 x 1350

Sworn To Conflict Cover - 900x1350

Sworn To Secrecy Cover - 900x1350

Sworn To Defiance Cover

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ACCESSION is LIVE + 48-Hour Sale!

Accession (700x1039)

 

ACCESSION is live and is $0.99 CENTS FOR FORTY-EIGHT HOURS ON AMAZON — now is the time to pick it up.

This is an Amazon-exclusive release. Hope you enjoy. You can find the ebook here. The paperback copy and the audiobook will be releasing soon.

Sixteen-year-old Katherine Thompson wasn’t trained to rule a coven. That was her sister – perfect, beautiful Rose. But when a mysterious plane crash kills off the heir presumptive of the Sandersville coven she has no choice.

After stepping in to fill her sister’s shoes, Katherine realizes she didn’t have a clue – faery wars, depressed trolls and angry unicorns are just the beginning.

For centuries, her family has served the high Queens on both sides of the Atlantic but it is a well-known rule that mid-level witches stay away from high-level Queens.

But when Katherine’s youngest cousin vanishes without a trace in the Atlanta court and no one wants to investigate, Katherine decides to step into the darkness on her own. She will soon discover that nothing, in a queen’s court, is as it seems.

 

 

Grab It and Read It Now

You can read the first FIVE CHAPTERS for free on Amazon, Smashwords & Google Play.

Keep in mind this is an Amazon-exclusive release and will only be available for $0.99 for a limited time.

*Off I go to finish Blades Of Illusion*

ACCESSION

ACCESSION IS LIVE!

Sixteen-year-old Katherine Thompson wasn’t trained to rule a coven. That was her sister – perfect, beautiful Rose. But when a mysterious plane crash kills off the heir presumptive of the Sandersville coven she has no choice.

After stepping in to fill her sister’s shoes, Katherine realizes she didn’t have a clue – faery wars, depressed trolls and angry unicorns are just the beginning.

For centuries, her family has served the high Queens on both sides of the Atlantic but it is a well-known rule that mid-level witches stay away from high-level Queens.

But when Katherine’s youngest cousin vanishes without a trace in the Atlanta court and no one wants to investigate, Katherine decides to step into the darkness on her own. She will soon discover that nothing, in a queen’s court, is as it seems.

A note on ACCESSION: This book was in progress last spring, which is why it’s still being published on it’s scheduled date. After Accession, I’m back on my normal schedule with a Crown Service release next (Blades Of Illusion) and then a Courtlight release (Sworn To Ascension).

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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ACCESSION (via TUMBLR)


Paperback Giveaway

I am giving away three *autographed* copies of the paperback over at Goodreads. Open international!

Preview Sampler

A FREE five-chapter sampler is available over on Amazon, Smashwords & Google Play.

Audiobook

The audiobook is in production and is set to release at the end of August!

NetGalley ARCs

From July 23, 2014 – August 10, 2014, Accession is available to REQUEST on Netgalley under All Night Reads. If you want a review copy, request it there. All requests will be approved or denied before August 10th when the title is archived.

Regular review copy – if you’d like one, send me an email at terahedun.ya@gmail.com. The only thing I ask is that you post your review on Amazon or your blog.

Blitzes/Blot Tours

Xpresso Reads is hosting a blitz from August 5th – 6th if you want to share the book on your blog.

Enchantress of Books is running a blog tour from August 7th – 20th – REVIEW posts and SPOTLIGHTS available.

Facebook Chat

I’ll be hosting a Facebook Chat on Bawaka’s Book Fair from 11:00am – 2:00pm EST on August 6th! So join me for some fun. 🙂

Finally, Where Can I Buy The Book?

AMAZON. This is an Amazon-exclusive release. You will be able to get it for just $0.99 during the first 48 hours of sale. So get ready for August 5th! 🙂

Special Print+Ebook Combo

If you buy a new print edition of this book, you will get the Kindle edition for FREE.

 

Sneak Peek Chapters for the August Release of ACCESSION

Accession by Terah Edun (Small)Hello my lovely readers,

I know you’re anxious for a new release and so am I! Without further ado, I want to introduce you to the third and final series I will be working on in 2014 – Sarath Web!

Sarath Web is a young adult urban fantasy (some say: paranormal romance) about a society of witches living in the original thirteen colonies. Set in modern times, it’ll bring magic, mystery, and romance with a 21st Century twist that you’re going to love.

But don’t take my word for it! I’ve released the first FIVE CHAPTERS for free on Amazon, Smashwords and Google Play. So if you really want to see what it’s about, here’s your chance!

Because I did a pre-release for this book, I won’t be doing the teasers every five days like I usually do. But that’s okay because that gives me more time to work on BLADES OF ILLUSION (Book Two in the Crown Service series). Alright, off you go to enjoy Accession. If you’re on my mailing list you’ve already read the first two chapters, so please enjoy these bonus three today! 🙂

Also I’ve been frequently updating my TUMBLR account (terahedun.tumblr.com), so join me over there. And sign-up to win one of THREE autographed copies of Accession on Goodreads today.

 Other Updates:

Audiobooks –

The audiobooks for Sworn To Transfer: Courtlight #2 and Sworn To Conflict: Courtlight #3 are now finished. You can find all of my audiobooks + links on: http://teedun.com/audiobooks/

Sworn To Transfer Audiobook by Terah Edun

Sworn To Conflict Audiobook by Terah Edun

Series Release –

Now that I have two high fantasy series and one urban fantasy series going, that is more than enough for me. I will focusing on these series until I can managed to complete the Courtlight series (9 books) in winter 2014. Thanks so much for sticking with me! 🙂

Blades Of Illusion change of publication date + 48-Hour $0.99 Sale & Free Crown Service Swag

Blades Of Illusion Book Cover - 900x1350It’s hard to believe it’s almost here! I’ve decided to change the publication date from May 31st to 1st or 2nd week of June for BLADES OF ILLUSION. Criminal, I know. But it’s only an extra few days and I’ve received responses from readers that they’re happy to wait if it allows me to put more time into my edits.  Thanks for all your patience! For the readers who want to know the MINUTE Blades Of Illusion is out, sign-up for my newsletter and I’ll send you an email ASAP.

Special Sale:

There will be a 48-hour super sale where Book Two in the Crown Service series will be offered for $0.99c during the first 48 hours of release! That could mean anytime during the first few days of June. So I urge you to sign-up for the new release list today to receive an email the minute it’s live! At the end of the 48-hour sale, Blades Of Illusion will go to back to its regular price of $2.99. Don’t miss out! :)

My Urban Fantasy Series

I’m still working on these books. I actually have two series getting ready. The first is one I’m ready to talk about, although if you’re a member of my mailing list you’ve already seen the cover for the second. ACCESSION, Book One in the Sarath Web series, is a young adult urban fantasy series following a young witch destined to be Queen of her small town in Sandersville, Georgia and eventually take on the throne of the High Queen in Atlanta…if her aunt allows her to live. You can check out the first two chapters here. The password is accessible to newsletter subscribers only. If you’ve already joined and need the passcode, then send me an email and I’ll get it right over to you. Release date: August 5, 2014.

 

 

Signed Blades of Magic and Blades Of Illusion Bookmarks!

Yes, they’re finally here! 😀 I have bookmarks from the CROWN SERVICE series now. I’ll be mailing these out when I can, so request away.

Just a reminder – these are FREE to my readers and interested bloggers, librarian, teachers and cons. I will ship them anywhere in the world and so far have 15 countries on my mailed out list – from South Africa to Indonesia. No one from Russia though. 😦 *hint, hint*

All you have to do is fill out the form here and if I’ve already sent you bookmarks before but you really want these then feel free to request them.

If you already filled out the form with a request for Crown Service bookmarks, then *happy dance* they’re already in the mail to you.

 

 

Free Buttons + Pins & A Mega Deal via StoryBundle!

Update 05/23/2014:

The charities chosen have raised close to $600 just off this bundle! Thank you all for your support of education and writing for young people.

——————

Hi All,

I have news and SWAG!

News first – I am proud to announce that I have partnered with STORYBUNDLE to give out my Courtlight series boxed set for a very good cause!

Storybundle A

A portion of each bundle purchased goes to charity and there are some amazing ones up for donations this time!!

Girls Write Now – GirlsWriteNow.org

MightyWriters – mightywriters.org

The Challenger Center for Space Science Education – challenger.org

So if you haven’t read the Courtlight series yet or even if you have and want to give a friend a chance to get started – then jump in, get a lot of great books for a very reasonable price and support some great causes!

You can pay what you want for the bundle and Storybundle accepts payments from Amazon, Paypal and direct. Thank you for supporting these great causes while getting a chance to read some new authors!

You can find out more about Storybundle here on iO9: http://io9.com/5957835/storybundle-brings-you-amazing-new-indie-fiction-every-month—-for-a-good-cause and The Verge: http://www.theverge.com/gaming/2014/4/7/5589338/new-gaming-culture-ebook-bundle-includes-Ian-Bogost

_____________________________________________

Okay, now for Part 2.

SWAG

I’m thrilled with how the Courtlight series is going strong alongside the obvious love for the Crown Service series. So I have the first of two swag gifts for you (announcing the second in a few days).

As a special thank you to all of those who have supported and continue to support my work I am giving away these buttons/pins for free. I will send them to you anywhere in the world. But I only have a limited quantity. Forty to be exact. And yes, there are a lot more than forty of you out there.

05-17

So here’s what I’m going to do.

Anyone who REVIEWS the Courtlight Series Boxed Set on AMAZON or BARNES & NOBLE will get one of these buttons personally mailed to you.

The buttons/pins are gorgeous and shiny — and pinbacks, just like you asked for!!! You can pin them on your shirts, your bags, your summer towels or even stick them on the wall. Each one features the gorgeous covers from four of the Courtlight series books and I think they’re just so awesome!!

To recap: Anybody who reviews the Courtlight Boxed Set on AMAZON or BARNES & NOBLE will be able to receive one of these pins. (There will be a form at the bottom of this post.) I’ll mail it to you. In order to have the button/pin sent to you, all you have to do is fill out the form with your link to the review.

The Rules

It’s really easy!

1. Review the Courtlight series Boxed Set on one of two sites

2. As per Amazon rules, the review has to be twenty words but after that it’s up to you. It can be as short or as detailed as you want.

3. If you’ve already reviewed that set, submit your link on this form so I can count it

4. Fill out the form below.

5. Include your mailing address and email so I can let you know your button/pin is on its way

The button/pin will be shipped within 3-4 days of the review posting. 🙂

That’s it! So get to reviewing.

HERE’S THE FORM

Sneak Peek Teasers & First Draft to Final – A Look at BLADES OF ILLUSION’s Cover Design

Hello my lovely readers,

So I’m ankle and hip deep in the draft of BLADES OF ILLUSION. The sequel to Blades Of Magic, Book One in the Crown Service series. If you haven’t started the Crown Service series yet, now’s your chance! Book One is still $0.99c and the reviews are pretty clear on it’s awesomeness. 😉

“Terah Edun is one of the best authors I have read, she entrances you with her story lines…” – Amazon Review

“Unique and imaginative magic systems, and strong female characters (evocative) of Brandon Sanderson.” – TDIR Blog

Full of adventure….that sets up a different cadence (from Courtlight) with its own unique signature in fantasy.” – Amazon Review

“Great first book and it definitely left me eager for more…” – Pretty In Pink Reviews

“A mesmerizing novel (in) a series that holds a touch of Tamora Pierce’s writings with a waft of early Mercedes Lackey…” – Eyes 2C Reviews

Entertaining and gripping…” – Goodreads Review

Readers have told me it’s one of the best action & adventure stories I’ve written yet. They love Sara Fairchild’s determination, strength and way with a blade.

Sara kills with impunity. But she also lives with regret. Regret for her actions. Sorrow for her parents. Worry over her magic. She is a mufti-faceted and headstrong young woman who I hope you see as a character as richly deep, genuine and talented as Ciardis Weathervane of the Courtlight series.

Sara Fairchild is here to stay and  as I said in my Author Newsletter I am deeply grateful to all of my readers who took this new main character into their hearts and minds. Sara’s popularity is unprecedented and I do so hope you enjoy her second book when it releases at the end of this month.

The first book is now available on: Amazon US    Apple     Barnes & Noble     Kobo

You can grab it at any time and catch sequel teasers starting now.

TEASER TIME

Starting today, May 5th, I will be posting excerpts from Blades Of Illusion on my Facebook page on every 5th day!

Like the page to see them first! www.facebook.com/TerahEdunAuthor

May 5th

May 10th

May 20th

New publication date for Blades Of Illusion – see post here

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Now I’d like to speak a moment on cover design. 😀

Disclaimer: I’m the designer and it’s a lot of fun.

Cover design is a tricky process. It can bring a lot of joy and a lot of mind numbingly crazy moments. I have designed every cover from Sworn To Conflict onwards. Why? Because I’m picky and I like to be able to tweak my design to my own desires.

Some covers are easier than others. I’ve found that designing the Courtlight covers is a much easier process than the Crown Service covers for instance. A Courtlight cover might take me a day or less to perfect but every Crown Service cover so far has taken weeks and I don’t expect that to change.

Blades Of Illusion had 51 mock-ups, which you can see below.

Blades Of Illusion Cover Art Progression

I went from different models, to different backgrounds, to different color schemes. If you look from top to bottom, you’ll see I started out with a robed figure and kept that person straight through until the last nine mock-ups. It took me that long to realize he wasn’t what I needed. So I blended in his model with THE one of Sara Fairchild. Then I took him out, in effect starting over.

I just didn’t know what I wanted or how to correctly portray it. Eventually, after a friend’s suggestion (Daniel Arension is his name and he has great dragon books BTW), I decided to see if I could focus on one model and whether having Sara Fairchild in a different pose would work. Turns out it worked PERFECTLY.

Eventually the cover you know came about and I have to say it fits the new book to a T. This book is about the battleground, darkness, mystery and a young woman surrounded by intrigue. While the first cover was about a woman with hope. Hope that she could resume a life despite her father’s disgrace. Hope that she could find a job and an occupation to support her family despite doors being shut in her face. Now Sara’s turning her back on those conventional dreams. She’d determined to right the wrongs of her past and find out exactly what happened to her father. Why he was executed for desertion. Who the Kade mages are. Why this war is raging.

See? I told you. Dark themes. So I hope this gives you some insight into the cover design process and you’re ready for book two in the Crown Service series to release on May 31st.

Blades Of Illusion Book Cover - 900x1350

BLADES OF ILLUSION

PRE-ORDERS for Blades Of Illusion are live! Order today and forget about it. You can wake up with the new book on your Kindle on October 18th! smarturl.it/tenewrelease

The Young Adult Fantasy sequel to the Amazon Top 500 Bestseller, BLADES OF MAGIC, Book One in the Crown Services series.

Sara Fairchild, duelist and combatant, is out for vengeance. Her father was betrayed. Her mother is dead. All she has left is her desire for revenge and a quest for answers.Now a member of the Mercenary Guilds’ elite guard, she fights on the front lines of her empire’s first civil war. But Sara’s priority isn’t winning the war for the crown or empire. It’s finding out the true circumstances of her family’s downfall while keeping one mild-mannered curator alive.

As emotionally detached as she is from everyone around her, Sara can’t seem to shake the stubborn affection of her one friend. When she stumbles upon the secrets of not one but two Kade mages, she soon finds out that neither of their lives is worth anything to either side.

As she fights to outmaneuver a group of fiendish imperial assassins and win a war that grows more complicated by the day, Sara Fairchild knows that no matter what, the empire will never be the same.

Join my NEW RELEASE mailing list for future announcements.

Cover Reveal & Blurb for Blades Of Illusion

 

Hey everyone! Wow, times flies! If feels like it was just yesterday that I released BLADES OF MAGIC, Book One in the Crown Service series.

Well, the time has come for Magic to get it’s own sequel and I’m proud to introduce you to ILLUSION.

Blades Of Illusion releases on May 31, 2014 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. 🙂

Are you ready? I know I am! So without further ado…here it is!

Blades Of Illusion Book Cover - 900x1350

The Young Adult Fantasy sequel to the Amazon Top 500 Bestseller, BLADES OF MAGIC, Book One in the Crown Services series. Releasing on May 31, 2014.

Sara Fairchild, duelist and combatant, is out for vengeance. Her father was betrayed. Her mother is dead. All she has left is her desire for revenge and a quest for answers.Now a member of the Mercenary Guilds’ elite guard, she fights on the front lines of her empire’s first civil war. But Sara’s priority isn’t winning the war for the crown or empire. It’s finding out the true circumstances of her family’s downfall while keeping one mild-mannered curator alive.

As emotionally detached as she is from everyone around her, Sara can’t seem to shake the stubborn affection of her one friend. When she stumbles upon the secrets of not one but two Kade mages, she soon finds out that neither of their lives is worth anything to either side.

As she fights to outmaneuver a group of fiendish imperial assassins and win a war that grows more complicated by the day, Sara Fairchild knows that no matter what, the empire will never be the same.

Sworn To Defiance is LIVE!! Read Chapters I and II of Courtlight #5 Here

Sworn To Defiance - 900x1350

Ciardis Weathervane returned to the imperial court of Sandrin to unite her foes. But her efforts hit a stumbling block. The imperial kind. She never thought that before rallying an empire, she’d have to fight the emperor himself.

An imposter sits the throne and the court she turned to for help is in turmoil. Ciardis hasn’t survived assassination attempts, torture and really bad luck to be taken down by her own ruler. So she devises a plan. But first she needs to get Sebastian and Thanar to agree. Each seems to love her in their own way. But neither is listening to her. Pushing them to put aside their differences, in an effort to ward off catastrophe, might be harder than displacing an emperor who would do anything to keep his throne.

Butting heads at court isn’t Ciardis’s only problem. With the princess heir’s threat looming she is forced to travel to the mythical city of Kifar, where it is up to her small group to stop the destruction of the entire city while heading a rebellion that could foment a revolution. It wouldn’t be the first revolution that Algardis has ever known. But with Ciardis Weathervane at its head–it would certainly be the last.

This fifth novel continues the story of Ciardis Weathervane from Sworn To Secrecy.

Grab It and Read It Now

smarturl.it/tebnnewrelease

Chapter 1

 

Ciardis Weathervane lowered her glaive slightly as she watched the reaction of Sebastian to Jason SaAlgardis’s claims. Emotions played across the prince heir’s face. Shock. Wariness. Anger. Eventually coldness settled over his features like a mask. She could still read Sebastian like an open book, even when others saw nothing but the careful persona he intended them to see. She knew the prince had trained himself to hide his feelings as well as his intentions while at court. He had to. From the time he was a toddler until just about a year ago, most of the imperial court had thought him worthless at best. That had actually not been so bad. Those individuals overlooked him as an inconvenience.

For other courtiers, he had been more than a hindrance, he had been a threat to their very livelihoods. As a consequence, a few had ganged together to kill him off and let another take his place as the heir to throne. Ciardis knew Sebastian hadn’t considered those men friends. But he hadn’t really known them, either. They were just four courtiers out of the thousands that flocked to his father’s court every year.

It was a scary thought. To think that someone you didn’t know, that you bore no grudge, would still attack and kill you because they felt they had been wronged. So now Sebastian kept his face unreadable. Masked emotions meant Sebastian was less likely to open himself up to a threat or be wounded by courtiers skilled in the art of internecine political warfare.

But Ciardis had come to know the prince heir. She could say without arrogance that she was aware of Sebastian’s thoughts and emotions in a more perceptive way than anyone else. After all, they were bonded. Unless he blocked her, his mind was an open book. But she didn’t need to read his mind to know what he was thinking. She knew how to read his facial expressions and where to search in his features to discern what he was truly feeling. Like now, as she glanced over at him out of the corner of her eyes. It was in the still lines that marked his pale brow, the crease at the corner of his green eyes that hinted at strain and the thin purse of his flushed lips that said unease. Beneath all of that was the almost hidden look of uncertainty. Not the uncertainty of facing an unknown opponent. But the uncertainty that was guilt. She wanted to take a step forward. To grip his hand. To ask what he would have to feel guilty for. But she wasn’t about to let her sentimental nature put them into a compromising position. There was a stranger with them and she would act accordingly. Never again would she give an individual the benefit of the doubt and consider them weak like she had poor, sniveling Thomas. That spectacled and flushing boy had turned out to be one of their greatest threats in disguise, a devious mind-controlling satyr.

She kept her full gaze warily trained on the gray-haired older man in front of them. He didn’t look weak at all and had already demonstrated a strong skill in martial arts.

They had been on the rooftop a good few minutes now. None of the three had yet to relinquish their weapons. They simply stood. Staring each other down with the thick silence of uncertainty weighing over all of them. She wondered if they could trust Jason. She was sure Jason wondered the same. She had to admit, though, if this man were going to kill them, he would have done it by now. The night sky was lightening overhead with the telltale signs of a dawn about to break through. The darkness was giving way to a sky streaked with the wispy light-blue color of a robin’s egg. It wasn’t day yet. But it soon would be. The Duchess of Carne was long gone. Ciardis just hoped Vana and Thanar were well. Hell, at this moment, she’d take alive. They could be bleeding from a dozen different places as long as they were still standing.

She hadn’t heard from or seen them since she and Sebastian had raced into the secret tunnel in pursuit of the Duchess of Carne. The noblewoman had fled after it became clear that it was she who had orchestrated the attacks against Ciardis and her friends. Furthermore, it had been revealed that the duchess had orchestrated those attacks on a whim. Persuading her now-deceased husband that they posed a threat to his wife—supposedly bedridden with ill heath from being forced to go on trial before all of her compatriots. Now Ciardis stood on a cold rooftop with just Sebastian and a strange man. They had come in pursuit of the fleeing duchess and found him instead. Now Ciardis would give anything to have Thanar and Vana by her side.

Vana had the unique gift of being able to see the truth in others—without the aid of a narcotic like the truth serum. It was a natural gift that Ciardis suspected was part of her powers as a mage of the unknown. It fit with her title of Cloudbreaker, as well. That innate ability hadn’t stopped her from using a vial of the truth serum on Ciardis, alongside a woman Ciardis hoped was long dead, Lady Arabella—Truthsayer for the emperor. That particular incident had occurred shortly after Ciardis was mistakenly transported to the northern war campaign. After her disappearance, the emperor had ordered her sought out for questioning in regards to her ties to the dead murderer known as the Shadowwalker—a human mage who had deceived and murdered hundreds of kith in the Ameles Forest for his own petty retribution. Ciardis had forgiven Vana for participating in the torturous session under the emperor’s orders. Sort of. It was more that Ciardis now understood why Vana had done it—to protect the empire. To protect its people from another mass murderer. But Ciardis had more trouble forgiving and forgetting that Vana had also been set to the task of hunting down her mother, Lillian Weathervane, and executing her in cold blood. The whole time she had thought Vana had taken a personal interest in her by overseeing her initiation ceremony at the companions’ guild, traveling by her side to the Ameles Forest and even working to discover the empire’s secrets in the north, it had been a ruse. The mage and companion had really been spying on Ciardis for information about the more famous Weathervane—her mother. The woman who was alleged to have died years ago and only within the last three weeks had Ciardis come to learn was still alive and had been in hiding in plain sight as Lady Serena.

The only reason Ciardis and Lady Vana were still on good terms was the fact that Ciardis’s mother still lived. Vana had had the chance to follow through with her orders and execute her mother, but she had stayed her hand and escorted Lillian to Sandrin, where she stood trial. Ciardis had hoped that the trial would free her mother from the threat of death. Instead the outcome had forced her into bondage by the emperor’s decree.

All in all, a fate not that different than her son, Caemon Weathervane, had endured after being plucked from his foster family and put to work by the emperor’s mages in payment for his mother’s crimes. At least Lillian wouldn’t be worked to death like a mule. Instead she would live imprisoned in the emperor’s dungeon for the next twenty years. All because the evidence gathered was insufficient to either clear Lillian Weathervane’s name or conclusively prove that she had performed the crime committed—the heinous act of murdering Empress Teresa Athanos Algardis, the first wife of Sebastian’s father.

Ciardis’s mind turned back to her contemplation of Vana. In many ways, the woman had been the linchpin in the Emperor’s decision to imprison her mother instead of executing her. Vana had saved Lillian’s life. Vana had stood before the court and defended Lillian’s actions against the Duke of Carne’s accusations. She had also kept a secret from the emperor’s ears. A secret that threatened to envelope them all in an imperial scandal that Ciardis was still hoping to quietly avoid.

Perhaps the fake emperor will have an attack of conscious and tell us where the real emperor is, she thought with a touch of sarcasm. Right, and pigs will fly tomorrow.

This unfortunate scandal seemed to be tied not only to the princess heir but also the murder of the former empress. In Ciardis’s opinion, history should stay in the past. It was causing way too much trouble by being reborn. This was the present and she really didn’t want to have to not only take on the true murderer of the Empress of Algardis but also the seated emperor, as well.

What’s more, Lady Vana stayed, Ciardis thought cautiously. She didn’t have to. When the emperor questioned her on the stand, she told her tale and could have left. Instead she kept our secret. The secret of the hidden vessel in a warehouse not five miles from here. And she came to confront the Duchess of Carne when she had no obligation to.

In Ciardis’s mind, that at least put Vana on equal footing with the deception that had originally forced her into Ciardis’s life. Nevertheless, they were going to have a long talk when this was over.

Ciardis almost laughed aloud at that thought. Because she honestly couldn’t decide when what was over. When they got off this rooftop? When the Duchess of Carne was dead? When the false emperor was taken into custody? When they had her mother back? There were so many, many choices. And so many obstacles. It was a never-ending battle.

As she turned to look at Jason SaAlgardis calmly, she wondered, Is this another one? A friend who will become an enemy? Or an enemy who will become a friend?

It never occurred to her to question whether or not he would be nothing to her. He could have been a mere flicker of candlelight in a room blazing with light. But she highly doubted it. As she had come to know her worse enemies and greatest allies, she learned that they came into her life at the oddest junctures. They always managed to have more of an impact than she thought possible. The people she encountered would always be something—friend, foe, vessel, or dependent. She had yet to categorize this one, though.

Thinking back on Vana, Ciardis knew she’d know what to do with this mysterious bastard son of the Algardis line. Thanar would as well. The daemoni prince wouldn’t hesitate to question the old man in front of them. By fair or foul means, Thanar would get his answer. If he didn’t Thanar could and would leave Jason a broken, brittle mess huddled on the ground after he poured through the man’s mind, unlocking its secrets and forcing him to obey his every will.

Ciardis, for her part, refused to admit that she wanted to see Vana and Thanar for more than their skills in torture and witness tampering. She knew instinctually that she considered them allies. No, more than that—they were friends. Manipulative bastards of friends, but friends all the same. She was in short supply of those, especially ones who had the power to protect themselves while she fought battles against creatures she had only heard about in legends.

The clear gray eyes of the man in front of her turned from the prince heir. Jason SaAlgardis’s gaze turned to her. She saw him assessing her. She wondered if he found her wanting. But she realized soon enough that she didn’t care. It wasn’t what she could do for him that mattered. It was what he could do for her.

A shiver of cold went down her spine as she remembered one of the first things that Stephanie, the companion with the unique skill of transferring personal talents from one to the other, had said to her, “Nothing is free… What can you give me in return?”

This week Stephanie had given her life to save Ciardis’s own. Narrowing her eyes, Ciardis wondered what she could possibly give to make up for the loss of the woman’s life. What could Jason SaAlgardis want from them in exchange for his help in winning back the throne?

The knot in her stomach tightened in unease.

We really need to find Thanar and Vana, preferably before I have an ulcer.

She refused to believe that it was worry that knotted in her gut. It couldn’t be. It had to be practicality. They had useful talents. She wanted to put them to use. End of story.

I am not worried about an assassin and a mass murderer, she grouched in her head. I’m just not.

You keep thinking that, was the prince heir’s dry commentary in her mind. Even when they managed to find themselves stuck on a rooftop and facing a man with a claim that could, probably would, have everyone involved executed for treason, she felt the worry in her mind ease. Because Sebastian was by her side. Sometimes she felt that she could do without his irreverent wit but in this case it was saving her from her own constant sense of impending doom. At least one of them should feel optimistic and it might as well be him. Because come hell or high water, it would be Sebastian leading the charge against the man who he claimed was his uncle, the imperial family member who was supposed to be long-dead but they had recently found out was in fact still very much aliverince Maradian Athanos Algardis.

Sometimes you have to laugh at yourself, Ciardis, Sebastian spoke to her softly. If you don’t you’ll go insane.

How can I laugh at myself when everything is going so very, very wrong? Everything I do only seems to backfire. We can’t escape it.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

Beside her the prince heir was silent. Then he opened up his mind. Not just to his thoughts but to his emotions.

When you disappeared from the battlefield near the Ameles Forest, do you know what I felt?

Ciardis was trying to read his emotions at the moment. It was hard. He wasn’t feeling one clear thing. Anger, despair, hope, passion, and even wry humor were like an intermixed ball in his thoughts.

No, she finally admitted.

Horror, he said. Horror because I thought you were gone forever. I didn’t love you then. I didn’t even like you that much.

Her eyes widened but she didn’t protest. She would have three months ago. But she’d learned something along the way: Sebastian had a tendency of unintentionally insulting a person before he got to the point.

Or perhaps not so unintentionally, she thought. I’ve never seen a single person with such a gift for it before.

To Sebastian she asked reluctantly, Then why horror?

Because, Sebastian said quietly, even then I could tell you were going to be a change this court hasn’t seen in dozens of years. I didn’t know if it would be good or bad just based on our history with the Land Wight, but I had hope. Hope that it would be good. Hope that was extinguished the moment you disappeared. And then—

He paused.

And then…? she prodded.

And then determination filled that gap. Determination to find you. Alive or dead. I found you because of that. So whatever we’re going through now, I have hope. Because we’re both alive. Besides I have humor. Because it can’t possibly be that much worse than the realization that we’re going to have to face down a god, can it?

Reluctantly a smile cracked her face. No, no it can’t.

That’s my girl.

I’m a woman, you snot-nosed brat.

That’s Prince Heir Snot-Nosed Brat to you.

Ciardis sometimes felt that Sebastian knew her better than herself. This was one of those times. This was also one of the few times that she didn’t want to snap at him for invading her thoughts. He liked to disconnect their mind link on a whim. Particularly when it most suited him. When he was mad at her, it didn’t suit him to speak to her. That didn’t sit well with her. A relationship was give and take, but communication was essential at all times.

It wasn’t that she was upset with him. How could she be after that pep talk? Well that, and the fact that they had just declared their love. She just didn’t like a fickle relationship. When she declared her love she meant it. She loved Sebastian Athanos Algardis. Despite being unsure of what she could do to face down the coming of a god or how they were going to persuade the man in front of them that leading a rebellion against their emperor was bad, she was sure of this one thing. Love. It was a funny thing. It made her feel determined, passionate, and optimistic in a world that was rapidly descending into a daemoni-controlled hell.

So understand when Ciardis knew she was fed up with imperial games, she was truly fed up. She wanted to take some time with Sebastian. Maybe even arrest a duchess. Yes, that would be fun. But she wasn’t crazy. Taking on a god and her emperor at the same time wouldn’t be fun. It would be suicidal.

Ciardis sighed and breathed out slowly as she recalled the conversation which had started this whole mess.

The man had told them, “We intend to put the rightful emperor on the throne.” It wasn’t often that you heard someone outright declare their intentions to overthrow an emperor. Much less someone who said so directly to the future emperor’s face.

So about the man in front of us, she said as she turned her head to look over at him.

Sebastian’s face was empty with mirror-like eyes and stiffness.

I’ll handle him, he responded.

By? she demanded.

By not admitting my father has been replaced by his bloodthirsty brother right away. Let’s see what he really knows.

Retrieving his sword, the prince heir said, “What makes you think I know what you’re talking about?”

Jason lifted a stiff eyebrow of salt and pepper hair as he lowered his own sword. Gruffly he said, “The night is waning. This be no time for games.”

“Games?” Ciardis cackled. She startled even herself at the viciousness held in that one word. But that didn’t stop her.

Distantly she heard Sebastian say, Wait a second, let me

But she didn’t stop. She was tired, sore, and heartsick over friends and family. Taking this man down a notch would make her feel a lot better for a few minutes.

“You want to talk about games?” she hissed as she kept her glaive at a wary stance. “We came to the imperial court to warn everyone. Nobles, merchants, mages, and militia alike. There is a god coming. A god of death and destruction that wants nothing more than to erase our society and make Algardis a mere note in history.”

Jason held up a cautious hand. “Regardless of your assumptions—”

“They’re not assumptions, they’re facts,” Ciardis interrupted. “If the denizens of this entire city weren’t so enamored with staring up their own asses to figure out how they can be the most devious and insipid beings in the land at any point in time, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

Well— Sebastian said in her head.

What? she groused.

Technically, if you hadn’t helped Thanar and his cohort bring down the shielding on the Sanctuary we wouldn’t be in this mess.

She felt some mild regret and annoyance. Mostly annoyance, because he was right. But they were facing an unknown threat. The least he could do was support her.

Don’t start with me, she snapped back. You’re either on my side or you’re not.

I’m on it.

Jason SaAlgardis and Sebastian Algardis exchanged almost identical male glances. Glances that said the female that stood between them had gone insane and neither was going to say a word about it.

Ciardis snorted.

Carefully she said to Jason, “I’ve been back to court less than a week. In that time I’ve been threatened, blackmailed, beaten up, and had my mother imprisoned for a crime she didn’t commit. On top of that, I’ve been instructed to fight a god who can’t be killed and tried to unravel the swirl of plots within the capital without being dragged down myself. Therefore, there’s no way in hell I trust you. I don’t know who you are or how you found us, but you need to leave.”

The older man in front of them sheathed his sword. “What if I told you there was a way to amass your army while ensuring the true ruler would assume the throne to control it?”

“As long as you don’t mean me, then keep talking,” said Sebastian.

Ciardis stared at him. “I’m listening.”

Jason gruffly said, “Let’s get off this roof first.”

Thoughts flew through her head. Her primary concern was something she didn’t want to voice aloud.

Instead she sent a quick thought to Sebastian. What about Thanar and Vana? We can’t leave them here.

            We won’t. We need them at our backs, Sebastian thought back.

She cracked a slight smile. For once this week, they were immediately in accordance.

Privately she thought to herself, This relationship thing might not be so bad. He’s already agreeing with me.

            The man in front of them cleared his throat. She and Sebastian hadn’t been looking at each other but she guessed they both had that far-off look pasted on their faces that said they weren’t focusing on him either.

“While you two make up your minds,” said Jason, “I’ll find us a way out.”

Ciardis lifted a curious eyebrow.

The older man half-turned away as he said, “You didn’t think you’d get out of here the same way you came in, did you? Those blasts were physical and magical. Triggered to shut down the inner tunnels all throughout the villa. You’re lucky you were already in one. Otherwise you’d be stuck where you were until the villa guards came for you.”

“I don’t know if I’d call that lucky,” Sebastian said darkly. “You nearly killed us.”

Jason shrugged. “It did its job. It will slow down Carne’s forces since its how they move from place to place in the interior walls. But this won’t stop the forces arrayed along the outer wall. Which is why we need to move. They’re probably on their way to target whatever auras of strangers are still left alive in the building.”

“Fantastic,” muttered Ciardis as she watched him walk away.

As soon as he was out of ear shot she whispered, “I don’t think he knows about Vana and Thanar. What if they’re trapped inside?”

Sebastian turned to her, his gaze dark. “We better hope they’re not.”

She frowned. “We need to do more than hope.”

“Any suggestions? We’d have to loop back around the entire villa to get to the chambers from here with the entrance we came through sealed.”

“I’ll think of something,” she said.

Her voice turned contemplative as she turned back to eye their lone rooftop companion. “Do you trust him?”

“Do you?”

Ciardis watched the older man walk to the edge of the parapet and throw a rope ladder over the side.

“No.”

“Why not?” Sebastian asked.

She narrowed her eyes. “I can’t put a finger on it. There’s just something…wrong.”

“I can.”

She turned to him in surprise. Sebastian’s face was tense. She’d never seen him so troubled. No, that wasn’t it. His mouth was twisted into a stiff line, like he’d bitten into a bitter lemon and didn’t like the taste. “You know something, don’t you?”

“Jason SaAlgardis isn’t who he seems to be.”

“What do you mean?”

Sebastian turned to her, his hand clenched tightly on the pommel of his sword. “He’s not a blood relative of the Algardis imperial family—bastard or otherwise.”

Shocked, she asked, “You’re sure?”

“Very.”

“Then how did he know the emperor is an imposter?”

“That’s what we need to find out.”

 

Sworn To Defiance is available today on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Other retailers to follow soon.