This is the second excerpt from my upcoming novel The Reckoning of Asphodel, which will be released on May 3, 2016. For more information about Asphodel, check out my website, Goodreads page, or my Amazon page.
Tamsen de Asphodel watched as her parents were killed—murdered by her sorcerer uncle. Raised by her Elven kin, Tamsen knows her destiny is to avenge them both.
Unfortunately, Tamsen’s destiny is complicated. She is the sole heir to her human father’s estate, but she is also the last remaining heir to the Elven throne. The Elves, especially the Scout Brial, are suspicious of her human ties and her magical power. Her magic is unique—neither human nor Elven, dangerous, and difficult to control. And when she and Brial fall in love, it is a relationship the Elves will not accept.
But when her uncle moves to destroy the Elves, war explodes across both kingdoms. Only Tamsen, with Brial at her side, can bring human and Elf together to fight against him. In the reckoning that is coming, she will need both sides of her conflicted nature…and the aid of a goddess.
“Get down!” Brial shouted hoarsely.
As I turned to see what was going on, someone jerked me out of the saddle. I landed on my back with the breath knocked from me. A large man hovered into my line of sight. He grinned, three blackened, broken teeth hanging precariously from his upper jaw. I lay there, trying to gasp air back into my lungs as he leered at me.
“Gots us a purty gel here boys!” he roared, bending down and picking me up by the front of my cloak. I felt the fabric rip under his dirty fingers and a cold realization surged through me. My breath came back into my chest with a whoosh and I gulped in fresh air.
Then my eyes narrowed.
“I am giving you one chance to back away from me,” I said, my voice still a bit breathless. He laughed, throwing back his head, and the teeth teetered in his gums. Behind me, I heard steel on steel. Brial was fighting. The man swept me against him with one blow of his meaty arm. Try as I might, I couldn’t free myself. As I closed my eyes and reached for the magic, I felt his ugly face nuzzle into my hair.
Two things happened next. As gorge rose in my throat at the man’s touch, an electric charge zipped out from me, blasting the ruffian back with an oath. Then a sword point thrust through the front of his beefy chest. I watched, stunned, as the outlaw slid down the cold steel edge, falling almost in slow motion to puddle at my feet.
My mind flashed back. Blood on the snow.
Flakes swirling in a howling wind, while the ground stained red with blood. The sickly sweet smells of cooked meat. The flash of a sword against a slender throat—
Are you all right, Tamsen?” Brial was shaking me, his face white.
I pulled back to the present, my gaze meeting his then sliding past him. There were two other bodies lying in the churned snow, already stained by a sluggish crimson flow.
Brial swore. “You don’t have time to be faint now. I only drove the others away! They’ll be back, Tamsen.” He worked quickly, wiping the sword on the outlaw’s jerkin and driving it into its sheath. Turning, he whistled, and the horses trotted up. “Can you stay on?”
“I’m fine, Brial.” I forced out the words from between numb lips. “Let’s just ride.”
We turned our horses and fled into the teeth of the storm. It was only after we galloped away that I wondered: had I killed the man, or had Brial? I looked down at my hands in a daze. Surely, the shock I had released was only enough to stun the outlaw.
The smell of roasted meat hung in my nostrils until several miles lay between the newly dead men and us. It took us two hours at a dismayingly slow pace to reach the next village.