A horde of demons from the Abyss. A dread master of the undead. A choice between saving a single city versus the entire world.
Slight change of plans this month. I was more than halfway through Raiders of the Dark Coast when I realized I was actually writing two separate books. So, I split off the second half and that will now be the first part of Raiders.
Book two of the Rise of the Thrall Lord series is now entitled Protectors of Penwick. The good news is that with this change I should be done with the first draft in the next couple of weeks. So then, what is Protectors about? Here is a short synopsis followed by the first excerpt from the book:
Protectors of Penwick is the second book in the Rise of the Thrall Lord (ROTL) series. In the first book, City of Tears, the companions wrested the tower in the mists from the Empress of the Damned and her undead army. Having secured that tower, an even greater task now lays before them.
Demons still hold the tower in the mountains and are using it to summon more of their kind. The problem is demons are not your normal monsters. Weapons of great power are needed to defeat them, demon slaying weapons like those of legend.
At the same time, Penwick has come under attack from the inside. Creatures of the night have infiltrated the city and people are disappearing at an alarming rate. Even more terrifying, these vampires might be heralds of the dread Undead Thrall Master.
With all Arinthar at stake, can the companions protect Lloyd's home and still find the magic they so sorely need before demons overrun their world?
Althea Kitren Stealle felt at peace for the first time in a very long time. Her life had changed dramatically after the tragedy on Thorn Isle. Thea lost all her childhood friends, as well as her innocence, but in turn found Arenor. Joining the clergy, she threw herself into the study of the divine.
The road had not been an easy one, but Thea was no stranger to hard work. Furthermore, her studies in the art of the spiritblade had opened her awareness to life beyond the veil. Thus, in four short but demanding years, Thea earned the coveted title of Auric Priestess. Having just recently passed the tests, she now devoted much of her time to contemplation in the Chapel of Arenor.
Situated behind the Temple of the Ralnai, the chapel was easily the size of a small town temple. A life-sized statue of Arenor stood in the alcove above the main altar. Two vestibules opened up on either side, the one opposite from Thea dedicated to Phobas, the original God of Light. The one in which Thea currently prayed was dedicated to Arenor in his earlier role as the Hand of Light.
As Thea knelt before the small altar, communing with the light about her new standing and responsibilities, she heard someone whisper her name.
Hovering back just a few feet behind her stood Vestiralana Greymantle. Garbed in a shimmering silk bronze dress, the young lady waited for her with a quiet poise that belied the terrible deed that had recently been forced upon her.
Her prayers all but forgotten, Thea sprang up and grasped each of the young lady’s hands. Despite the long, golden-blonde hair and blue-green eyes, the resemblance between Ves and Ruka caught her off guard. A sudden chill went up Thea’s spine as a vivid flashback of the events on Thorn Isle played through her mind.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” Ves sounded mortified.
Mentally chiding herself, Thea forced the vision away and gave the young lady the warmest smile she could muster. “That’s alright. I’m glad to see you. How are you feeling?”
“It’s gone,” Ves murmured in a voice so soft that Thea could barely hear her.
“Gone?” Thea repeated, not sure she had heard correctly.
Using her spirit vision, Thea peered beyond the veil and into the next plane. Though enveloped by a huge aura, Thea could indeed find no trace of the dark seedling that had been implanted in the midst of Ves’ energetic body. Pulling her vision back, however, she did note a darkness hanging just at the edges of the young lady’s aura.
Sweeping her gaze around the small chamber, Thea noted they were alone. She pulled Ves down into the nearest pew and said in a hushed tone, “Tell me everything.”
Thea listened with rapt attention to Ves’ explanation. The Empress had used the tower crystal to create a dark version of Ves. In doing so, she had unintentionally pulled the seed out of her. In the end, Ves slew her dark doppelganger.
“I suppose I should feel better,” Ves paused a moment as mixed emotions played across her face, “but I still feel violated.” That last word was said so soft that again Thea could barely hear it.
Thea’s heart went out to this brave young woman. She herself had nearly been violated four years ago on Thorn Isle. It had been a horrific experience, one which she barely escaped. Despite that, she couldn’t imagine what to say to help this tortured soul. So she prayed.
The answer came to her immediately as clear as if Arenor were standing right next to her. 𝑇ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑖𝑠 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑒𝑑 𝑓𝑜𝑟, 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑎—𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑒𝑙𝑝 𝑠𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑛𝑒𝑒𝑑 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑙𝑖𝑘𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠. With a silent 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑘 𝑦𝑜𝑢, she resumed her discussion with Ves, hoping to help the tormented woman lift the darkness that hung over her soul.
That's it for now. In the coming months, I'll be posting more excerpts from Protectors. Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts below.