Thursday, December 5, 2013

MIA -- A Few Last Words

Baby #2 is due any day now, so I may not post on this blog for a while. I will do my best to keep up on Facebook, so feel free to "like" my author page there for any updates I may post.

Just a couple last notes, based on the feedback I've already received about "Legacy of the Blood."

This series is going to be a trilogy, so there's one more book to come before we see the last of Adesina's story. I've typed an outline for book #3, and I've actually started writing the first chapter. However, I'll be taking a break after this baby is born, so don't expect anything too soon.

Yes, I'm aware of how frustrating the ending of "Legacy" is. My husband and my editor both made that very clear. :) Book #3 will pick up immediately where "Legacy" ends, so don't worry about a time gap like between "Threshold" and "Legacy." All loose ends will (hopefully) be tied up by the end of the trilogy.

If you have any questions or concerns about the books, I really encourage you to ask! I love to talk to my readers and to get their feedback. I don't mind answering questions if something is unclear, or if you're simply curious about the details of the world I've created. Like I said above, Facebook is probably the best way to get my attention, but you can also send me an email. The one I have connected to this blog is specifically for my readers (you)!

And finally, I would really appreciate it if you would take the time to write a review of my books on Amazon and/or on GoodReads. I check those reviews regularly, and it's a great way for me to see what you think and to find ways to improve as a writer. I'm just as interested in 1 star reviews as I am in 5 star reviews, so please be honest!

Thank you so much for your support! I couldn't do any of this without all of you, and I am so grateful for such wonderful readers.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 29, 2013


It's finally here! Today is the day that my book has been released! It is also a promo day for "The Threshold Child" so you can download it for free if you don't already have it. I'm so excited to see what you think of the sequel, and I hope that you all write honest reviews when you finish reading it. I always appreciate feedback, and I feel it makes me a better writer.

Remember: today is the day of the promo competition. If you share the link to "The Threshold Child" (posted below) and leave a comment here to let me know you've done it, you will automatically be entered into a drawing for a prize! Help me spread the word, because the promo only runs today!

Here is the link to share:

And don't forget to spread the word about the sequel! If you would like to purchase "Legacy of the Blood" click here.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I love Thanksgiving. It's one of my favorite holidays. I try to keep an attitude of gratitude all year, but Thanksgiving is a day that I have the opportunity to really reflect on all the blessings in my life. I have so much to be thankful for this year especially.

First and foremost, I am grateful for my family. My wonderful husband is my rock, and I don't know what I would do without him. He keeps me sane and laughing, and I appreciate all that he does for our family. My little Lewis is a ray of sunshine in our lives (in spite of his toddler tantrums), and his smiles keep me smiling as well. And Baby Girl will be joining us soon, which is a miracle and blessing in itself!

I am thankful for my extended family. I have such wonderful parents, siblings, and in-laws. They find ways to show their love and support frequently, and I love them all.

I am grateful for my neighbors. When we moved into our home I decided that I really wanted to take part in the community and make friends (our previous homes were temporary, and we didn't make much effort). We have been here for almost two years now, and I have been so warmly welcomed and included. I love feeling like I belong here, and I've made such amazing friends. I look forward to the years to come in this home.

I am thankful for the skills and talents that God has given me. I never thought that I'd actually be able to be an author, in spite of my love for writing. I just didn't think I was good enough for anyone to take an interest in my work. I don't claim to be an amazing writer, but I am humbled to know that people enjoy what I have to offer.

And, of course, I am grateful for my awesome readers! I couldn't have done any of this without you, and I wish I could thank you all personally. An author is really only as successful as the readers make her/him, so I owe everything to you.

I am grateful for my faith. In an increasingly skeptical world, faith is becoming a thing of "the past," but I would be nothing without mine. It gives me a peaceful feeling of purpose, and it gives me courage to face whatever life throws at me. I love God, and I know that He loves all of us individually. That in itself is such a blessing.

This is just the beginning of what fills my heart with gratitude, but I suppose I shouldn't take anymore of your time. Thank you so much for supporting me as an author and as a blogger. I hope that this upcoming year is as wonderful for each of you as it possibly can be.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Legacy Cover Art & Description

We are now 4 days away from the release of "Legacy of the Blood" and everything is all set to go! I thought you might enjoy a preview of what's to come, so here's the awesome cover art and the book description that will be posted on the Amazon website. Enjoy!

"Five years have passed since Adesina began on her path to lead her people, the L'avan, back to their true purpose. Her hopes for peace and prosperity are high until her husband, L'iam, is captured by an enemy bent on ultimate control. Adesina is willing to go to the end of the earth to save her husband, but as she travels deeper into unknown worlds she discovers that there is more at stake in this journey than she ever could have imagined."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Promotion Contest

We are less than a week away from the release of "Legacy of the Blood" and I hope you're all as excited as I am! I've never tried to finish a project on a deadline (my first book sat around for years before I decided to publish it), and so I feel a definite sense of accomplishment.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I will be having another promotion day for "The Threshold Child" in honor of the release of its sequel. So, on November 29th you can download my first book for FREE! I really want to get the word out on this, so I'm having a contest to entice people to help me spread the word.

On November 29th ONLY--
Anyone who shares the following link with a promo about "The Threshold Child" (and announces that it's free for that day only) will be entered into a drawing for a prize!

Here is the link to share:

If you participate, please let me know by leaving a comment here on my blog or on my facebook author page. The drawing will take place November 30th, and I will announce the winner here.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Final Preview Chapter

I have posted one final preview chapter of "Legacy of the Blood" on Wattpad, as a bonus for those of you who follow me there! It's a free website, and it's easy to sign up. Please take a moment to do so, and help me to build my following there.

For those of you who don't want to participate on Wattpad, you will get to read that chapter when the book is released on November 29th. Oh the anticipation!

And just so you know, I'm almost done with the revisions for the book! I only have about 13 more chapters to go (give or take some re-revisions on certain sections). I'm excited that everything is on schedule, and I'll keep you updated as I go.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Legacy Cover Art Preview

One of my favorite artists has been kind enough to work with me on the cover art for both of my books (and hopefully she'll do the third and final book of this trilogy). She sent me this sketch of her idea for the cover of "Legacy of the Blood" and I thought it'd be fun to share it with all of you. I hope it fills you with anticipation!

If you would like to see more of Alyssa's work, you can find her blog here.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Legacy of the Blood: Chapter Four

This will be the last chapter that I post on my blog before the release of the entire book! Hurray! I will be posting one more chapter on my Wattpad page in a week or so, and I'll make that announcement when it's up. I hope that you have enjoyed these little sneak peeks, and don't forget to download the book on November 29th!

For those of you who haven't read the previous chapters, start here.

Chapter Four: Lake Breezes

They rode directly east from the L’avan settlement, which caused Adesina to frown in suspicion. Ri’sel’s report had indicated that they would pick up L’iam’s trail if they went south. She studied Maizah’s aura, and could see no indication that she was using her special skills to track the captured king.
With each passing league, Adesina grew more impatient with the apparent waste of time and energy. Than’os and Mar’sal glanced at her with questions in their eyes at the direction they were riding, and Adesina had no reassurance to give.
When they stopped for a break at midday, she confronted Kendan. “You are not searching for my husband. We are nowhere near where L’iam was taken, and Maizah is not tracking anyone.”
“You are correct,” was Kendan’s simple reply.
The young queen felt her temper flaring up. “Then where are we going?” she demanded.
A hint of a smile pulled at the corner of his mouth, and Adesina could tell that he was toying with the idea of goading her further. Her temper had always been a weakness, and his attempts to teach her control had been in vain. He decided against it after a moment, however, and gave a direct answer. “There is one more person that we need in our party before we have any chance of success in rescuing L’iam.”
“Whom might that be?” asked Ravi as he settled on his haunches next to Adesina.
Kendan’s expression became carefully neutral. “There is a small post in a village where we can find someone with unique expertise.”
Adesina rolled her eyes. “Very specific.”
Ravi studied him narrowly. “A small post? Do you mean a Shimat post?”
There was a slight pause. “Yes.”
The Rashad’s eyes flashed dangerously. “And you are only telling us now?”
He shrugged casually, but his expression was uncomfortable. “You asked for my aid, and I am giving it. I did not deem it necessary to share every single detail.”
Adesina folded her arms across her chest and glared. “No, you offered your help and we agreed to let you come along!”
Ravi was more concerned with other things. “Our intention was to rescue King L’iam without engaging the Shimat directly. How do you expect us to walk into a Shimat post without any confrontation?”
“There is no need for worry. I have a plan,” insisted Kendan.
“I disagree,” returned the large feline. “A reckless plan is worse than no plan at all.”
Kendan’s dark eyes became hard, and his handsome features looked as if they had been chiseled from a block of ice. “If you do not wish to come with me, I am quite willing to part ways here.”
The man got to his feet and walked away, leaving the young queen and her guardian to stare after him. Adesina had rarely seen him with his emotions so close to the surface, and she was surprised to see it now. It was clear that there was something bothering him, but she was tempted to call his behavior petulant.
She turned to her guardian and spoke quietly. “Should we go pick up L’iam’s trail on our own or trust in Kendan’s plan?”
Ravi frowned thoughtfully. “I would feel better about making such a decision if I knew what that plan entailed.”
“Well, he seems to be intent on keeping it a mystery for now.”
“Which makes his plan seem suspicious,” pointed out Ravi. “I am not feeling very trusting of him in general, and this does not help the situation.”
Adesina gave a frustrated sigh. “I suppose I can understand the decision, even if I do not agree with it. He has been a Shimat for a long time, and it is difficult to let such practices go.”
Ravi was silent for several moments as he considered their options. “I feel that Maizah will be very important in our search, and I doubt that she would leave Kendan without a direct order from him.”
The young queen nodded thoughtfully. “I believe that you are right. However, we will need a plan of our own, in the event that things do not go as we would hope.”
Her guardian gave a small grunt, and the two of them walked over to where Kendan was preparing his horse to leave again.
“We will go with you for now,” announced Adesina, “but know that we will not hesitate to leave your company if your plan proves to be too dangerous.”
Her former teacher’s expression remained cold. “You may do as you please.”
The group continued to ride east, with very little deviation. Kendan was silent and withdrawn, and the others made no effort to draw him out. The L’avan didn’t trust his intentions, and he did nothing to assuage their concerns.
They saw a number of farming communities and small villages, but they kept a wide berth from civilization in general. After a while they began angling south, toward two large lakes that could be seen far in the distance.
On their fifth day of steady riding, the L’avan noticed they were headed for a group of buildings that might have been large enough to be called a town. It was situated on the banks of the smaller of the two lakes, not far from the river that fed both bodies of water. Kendan made no effort to alter their course, so it was assumed by the other travelers that this was their destination.
Adesina spoke quietly to her guardian. “Ravi, perhaps it would be wise for you to become invisible while we are in town.”
He nodded. “I agree.”
Kendan glanced over at them and asked in a casual voice, “So…you can become invisible whenever you wish?”
The Rashad’s tone became slightly stiff, but he answered. “It is a gift of my race. We can choose who sees us and who does not.”
“How is that possible?”
“Magic,” stated the large feline.
It was clear that Ravi did not wish to discuss it further, so Kendan stopped asking questions. Still, his eyes kept darting back to the Rashad, as if hoping to see for himself how it worked.
They reached the town just as the sun was beginning to set, and Kendan led the group to a modest inn. The proprietor was a robust woman with coppery hair and a wide grin. Distrust flashed through her blue eyes as she spotted the L’avan and her smile faded, but she greeted them politely.
“Welcome to Lake Breezes, the best inn in the whole of Sister Lakes. How may I assist you?”
“We would like a warm meal and some rooms, if there are any available,” said Kendan calmly. He gave a small smile, and the innkeeper found herself staring at his handsome face.
“Of course!” she blurted. “Please be seated, and I will bring it to you myself.”
Than’os and Mar’sal sat on either side of Adesina, their eyes searching the room for any signs of danger. Ravi—now invisible to anyone outside of their party—sat in a corner, where he would not be inadvertently stepped on, and kept an eye on Kendan to make sure he did nothing to jeopardize the mission. Maizah stared at the floor with no expression on her face, and Kendan continued to ignore his companions.
The innkeeper brought heaping plates of venison and fried potatoes, for which they thanked her sincerely. None of them were especially talented cooks, and living off of traveler’s bread and dried provisions quickly lost appeal.
Than’os fixed his piercing eyes on their guide as soon as they were left alone. “So? Is our mysterious ally in this town?”
Kendan placed a piece of potato in his mouth and chewed it slowly before answering. “I have reliable information that indicates so.”
Than’os had rather sharp features, but his look of incredulity made them look even more pinched. “You mean you do not know for certain?”
Mar’sal pulled at his large nose in agitation. “We will have wasted the better part of two weeks for nothing if you are wrong about this, Shimat.”
Kendan continued to eat his meal methodically. “I am aware of that, magic-user. But I doubt that I am wrong.”
“What if you are?” asked Adesina.
His frigid black eyes wavered for the first time as he looked at her youthful face. “Then I will turn Maizah over to your care and cease to interfere.”
Mar’sal muttered to himself, “In that case, I hope you are wrong.”
Than’os gave a fierce grin and chuckled softly in agreement. Adesina, on the other hand, wore a worried frown. She wasn’t sure she trusted Kendan, but it would be incredibly valuable to have his help for this mission.
It had been more than six years since she had been given proper Shimat training, and three years since she had taken part in any regular military training at all. She had been an integral part of reforming the L’avan military training program, but after she had finished teaching all of the instructors she had become preoccupied by other matters—namely her wedding and all of the duties that came with being queen.
She had done her best to stay physically fit, but if it came to any sort of confrontation with the Shimat, she would need every bit of help she could get. Especially if that help had Shimat training as well.
Adesina took a deep breath. “What is the next step in the plan?”
“I will go out tomorrow and contact the Shimat who are posted here. Any additional information we need can be found through them.”
“Will they be hostile towards us?”
“No,” Kendan replied coolly, “because you are not going with me.”
Three sets of L’avan eyes locked on him.
“That is out of the question!” hissed Mar’sal. “The last thing we need is for you to use your fellow assassins to set a trap for us!”
Kendan gave him a withering look. “If I was going to set a trap, I would have done it before coming to your camp.”
The young woman shook her head decisively. “I am not letting you out of my sight while we are here.”
“You would risk the entire mission by parading your L’avan features all over town? It is dangerous enough that we have been seen at this inn.”
“I have no intention of parading anything,” she answered shortly. “There are ways to disguise the way I look.”
“Using magic?” he inquired.
Adesina gave a single nod. “I can create an illusion around myself to change how I appear to others.”
His expression became skeptical. “If your people have this ability, then why do they not use it every time they deal with those that distrust magic-users?”
Than’os answered, his eyes fixed on his queen in apprehension. “Because it is difficult to do for more than a few minutes. Those that wish to sustain it must focus all of their attention on doing so. They cannot use their vyala for any other purpose while they maintain the illusion.”
She waved a hand impatiently. “I am sure I can maintain the illusion without any problem.”
“But you can only do so for yourself,” pointed out Than’os. He gestured to his own metallic, dark red eyes with a ring of dark green near the iris, and then to Mar’sal’s dark blue eyes with a wedge of pale yellow. “Neither of us have that ability, and it would be too great a strain for you to give all of us different appearances.”
“Then I will go with Kendan and the rest of you will stay here.”
Mar’sal’s boyish face twisted in anxiety. “Adesina,” he said quietly, knowing better than to use her royal title while on a mission, “your brother made us swear an oath to stay with you and protect you.”
She chuckled fondly. “I do not doubt that he did. That does not change our situation, though. Kendan cannot go alone, and I can only disguise myself.”
“I will go with Ma’eve and Kendan,” said Ravi, “and the two of you will stay here with Maizah. You will wait two hours for us. If we do not return in that time, you will take the Tracker and continue the search for L’iam.”
“What if she refuses to follow our instructions?” asked Than’os.
“Kendan will order her to do so,” was the simple reply.
Adesina studied her former teacher. “Will you?”
She could see his mind working out the advantages and disadvantages of this plan by the flash in his dark eyes. He hesitated for only a moment before nodding once.
“Very well.”
No one seemed completely satisfied with the arrangement, but it was a compromise that they could all agree to. They finished their meal in silence, and then followed the innkeeper to their rooms.
Adesina and Maizah shared a room, and the men shared another. The young queen was grateful for a silent companion. She was not feeling very sociable, and it was a relief to simply go to bed and try to organize the chaos in her troubled mind.
Adesina removed her boots and let down her hair, thinking over the past few days. It had not been too long ago that her primary concerns were about building materials and sugar rations. Now those domestic affairs were far from her thoughts.
Perhaps it was too much to hope for a normal life—even for a short period of time.
She knew that her future would be filled with conflict and sacrifice—after all, she had accepted the role of Threshold Child, and that would not be an easy path. Still, her heart longed for a reprieve.
L’iam had promised her that someday they would live in peace and prosperity. He had spoken of an end to the Shimat and the thriving of the L’avan. Most of all, he had painted a picture in her mind of the happy days they would share together, basking in the love that continued to grow between them.
Adesina sighed deeply and closed her eyes.
She prayed that such dreams were still possible.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Quick Update

Hello, friends! This is just a quick update to let all of you know how things are going. I haven't been very good about posting on this blog, but that's because I've been so busy with writing (and chasing after a toddler)!

Right now I am working with my editor and making revisions to the manuscript. That's pretty much all that I'll be doing from now until the end of November. I've also been in contact with my cover artist, and we are discussing ideas for what we'd like this cover to look like. She has an art show at the end of October, so she hasn't started on sketches yet, but I'll post a preview when she does.

Other than that, my life continues pretty much as expected. Lewis is an adorable handful, and he is definitely asserting his toddler independence. Baby #2 is healthy, and will be making her appearance in December.

On that note, I feel I should warn all of you that I plan on taking a long break after this baby is born. I won't be writing for at least 6 months, which will push back the release of Book #3. I plan on the Threshold series to be a trilogy, so Book #3 will be the last. Sorry in advance to make you all wait for the last installment!

I have a fun idea to get my readers involved with the book release, and I'll be posting about that at the beginning of next month. If I don't post anything before then, have a Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New Chapter Preview

I'm trying to build my following on a variety of social media websites, as well as writing websites such as Wattpad. Therefore, I have posted the newest excerpt from "Legacy of the Blood" on my Wattpad page. I will post it here on my blog in a couple of weeks, but by following me on Wattpad you can read it early! It's free, and it's easy to sign up. Take a few minutes to do it!

Monday, October 7, 2013


I have officially joined the Wattpad community! For those of you who aren't familiar with it is a free website for writers and readers to connect, and there are thousands of free books available for download.

One of the authors at Comic Con mentioned it, and she said that it played a big part in helping to build her fan base. So, I've joined and I hope that you all join and "follow" me there! I've posted an excerpt of "The Threshold Child" as well as the chapters of "Legacy of the Blood" that I've posted here on my blog.

HOWEVER: Since I would like to encourage people to follow me on Wattpad, I will be posting an extra chapter from "Legacy of the Blood" on that website alone!

So, sign up! It's free! And then you can read as I post and comment and write reviews and make suggestions and all that good stuff.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Legacy of the Blood: Chapter Three

If you have not read the beginning, click here to go to the prologue.
If you would like to go to the previous chapter, click here.

Otherwise, enjoy!

Chapter Three: The Tracker

Adesina paced the length of her tent, her eyes fixed on her boots. Her mind swarmed with a dozen different emotions, and she didn’t know which one was the strongest.

She felt anger at the audacity of this man to walk back into her life as if he had a right to be there. She was vividly reminded of the pain of Kendan’s betrayal. She felt sorrow for all that had been stolen by the Shimat and by those loyal to the organization. Also, she was confused by the strength of all of her emotions. After all, she had believed that she had put her past behind her.

Kendan and the other cloaked figure remained by the entrance, and Ravi sat to the side. All of the queen’s counselors had exited the tent moments before at their monarch’s command.

Kendan looked as though he wanted to say something, but he knew it would be best to wait until Adesina was ready. He felt it best not to rush his former pupil.

Several minutes passed before Adesina felt calm enough speak. “What are you doing here, Kendan?”

He cleared his throat quietly and spoke in a reasonable tone. “I told you, I want to help you find your king.”

“Why would you want to do that?” she shot back acidly.

There was a brief pause before he replied, and his eyes were full of meaning. “Not everything you know about me is a lie, Adesina.”

She stiffened. “The Shimat perception of truth is always convenient to their purposes.”

He flinched at her hate-filled words, but he said nothing in return.

Adesina stopped pacing and faced the man before her. “So, how would rescuing my husband benefit you?” She emphasized the word, gauging his response.

Kendan didn’t even flicker an eyelid. He had heard reports of her marriage less than a week after it had taken place. “From a very young age I have known more about the Shimat organization than most of its members. My aunt has trained me with the intention that I will someday—far in the future, of course—take her place as Sharifal. I have not always felt easy with the knowledge I have been given, and my misgivings have grown significantly over the past several years.”

There was a hesitant pause and Adesina stared at him, hardly believing her ears.

The Shimat organization taught its members unquestioning loyalty from childhood. It was almost unheard of for there to be dissenters—Adesina herself being the only example that readily came to mind.

The young queen urged Kendan on. “What are you saying?”

He took a deep breath before continuing. “I am saying that I can no longer be a part of the Shimat.”

Adesina was speechless. She stood frozen in place, unable to decide how to react.

Kendan passed a hand over his eyes and his other fist clenched in growing agitation. “My aunt kept telling me that changes were about to be made, and that I would help shape the future of the Shimat. I thought that I could turn it into the kind of organization that we tell the students it is.” He shook his head. “I know now that such changes will never take place. My aunt was using me, just as she uses everyone else.”

The tent was silent. No one knew what to say after such a momentous declaration.

Ravi was the first to recover. “Does the Sharifal know that you have broken with them?”

Adesina’s former teacher gave a small smile. “No. The members of that organization do not treat traitors kindly, and I have no desire to lose my life.”

The queen’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Then how do we know we can trust what you say?”

“My aunt will know soon enough that I am not returning to her service.” He gestured to the figure standing next to him, “I have taken their Tracker without permission. Once that is discovered, they will know.”

Adesina and Ravi looked at the person with questioning expressions, and Kendan gave a short command in a language that the queen didn’t understand.

The Tracker reached up and pulled back her cowl, exposing an exotic face. Her light tan skin had golden undertones, and she had almond-shaped eyes. Her shining black hair was in a long braid that rested on her slender shoulder. Her face was delicate, but her expression was stony and cold. Her brown eyes were fixed on the ground, and she refused to acknowledge the existence of the others in the tent.

“This is Maizah,” introduced Kendan. “She is the Tracker for the Shimat.”

“What does that mean?” asked Adesina.

“She can track down magic-users,” he replied simply.

Surprisingly, Ravi was the one to give a detailed explanation. “She has a very rudimentary ability to connect to her vyala, and she senses a sympathy in those who can do the same. Someone with your abilities would shine like a beacon to her, Ma’eve.”

Kendan studied the Rashad with a curious expression on his face. He had only met Ravi briefly five years ago—during the rescue mission at the Shimat fortress—and he was very interested in learning more about Adesina’s guardian. “How do you know about her?”

Ravi gave him a level, measuring stare. “The eyes of my people see more than what is immediately apparent.”

Adesina smothered the urge to smile as Kendan began to shift uncomfortably. She kept her voice brisk and cool. “Tell me, Maizah, why do you wish to aid me in my search?”

The young woman was silent.

“She cannot answer you,” said Kendan quietly.

The queen repeated the question in the Shimat language, but there was still no response.

“I did not mean that she does not understand the common tongue. She cannot answer you because she cannot speak. She is mute.”

“How convenient that she cannot corroborate your story.” Her words dripped with sarcasm.

His expression darkened. “Why not use your magic to read her mind?” he quipped.

Adesina knew he wasn’t serious, but it brought an idea into her thoughts. “Very well.”

She connected to her vyala and focused on the part of her mind that turned her vision a light green. Adesina was unique among her people in that she could use every type of gift—which outsiders called magic—instead of just one or two. Her usually purple eyes swirled with a light metallic green, indicating that she was now able to sense the intentions and emotions of those around her.

She purposefully avoided Kendan—something deep within her warned that she was not prepared to face what she would find there—and turned all of her attention to the young woman standing next to him. Maizah didn’t move, but she stiffened as she sensed a surge of magical ability.

Adesina spoke gently. “Do not be afraid, Maizah. I mean you no harm.”

The haze of orange that surrounded the Tracker’s core flared with anxiety. She didn’t believe her.

“I was once a Shimat, but I left that way of life years ago. Now I strive to live a life of peace.”

Tendrils of yellowish green crept through the orange. She was cautious, but curious to learn more.

“Six years ago I met a man who taught me the truth about my history. He showed me the value of kindness and honesty and trust. I learned that I could be so much more than a weapon or a tool of fear.”

The orange aura around Maizah’s core faded to a sorrowful grey. She knew all too much about being used for the purposes of others.

“That man saved my life. Or, rather, he gave me back my life.” Adesina paused to study the exotic face before her. There was no hint of emotion, but she could see past the habitual mask of indifference. “That man has been taken by my enemies. If I cannot find a way to rescue him, he will meet a fate worse than death.”

The grey turned to a firm brown, showing determination.

The young queen smiled. “Will you help me find him?”

Maizah gave a single nod, and Kendan looked amazed.

“I have never seen her respond beyond obeying a command.”

“Have you ever even tried to truly communicate with her?” asked Ravi.

Kendan did not answer, but he looked distinctly uncomfortable. Adesina turned to face her former teacher, and her purple and gold eyes took on a determined gleam.

“Very well. You may come with us to rescue my husband, but listen to me carefully. I do not trust you, nor do my people. If there is even the slightest sign that you are betraying us, I will personally see to it that you never have another opportunity.”

He saw the dangerous expression on her face, and he knew that she was not exaggerating. Still, he gave a sardonic smile. “I do not doubt it.”

Her head dipped a fraction of an inch towards her guardian, and Ravi nodded in return. “I will show you to your quarters for the night, and I will stay with you until we leave in the morning.”

The Shimat looked uneasy. “I do not feel that is necessary.”

“But we do,” was the short reply.

Maizah followed without question, and the three of them left the young queen on her own. However, she didn’t remain in her solitude for long.

News of her imminent departure had spread throughout the camp, and there were many people who had requests or concerns to bring to her before she left. She sent a message for K’eb and E’nes to join her, and the three of them spent the next several hours going over rations and military support and assignments for the construction of the settlement.

There were many L’avan that came to her tent to wish her well on her journey and give her a parting gift. Most of the gifts were of food or other useful supplies, since there was so little in the camp that could be spared. Every single well-wisher insisted that their offering was insignificant and that they could easily spare it. Adesina knew better, and her heart swelled with gratitude for their sacrifice.

She spent the last few hours before dawn preparing for the journey. She was glad that Ravi wasn’t there to scold her about pressing herself too hard. She wouldn’t have been able to sleep even if she had tried.

Cor’a appeared before first light with a hearty breakfast and news that her horse was ready. Adesina ate what she could, but her worry made everything taste like sand. Her maid started to pull out a travelling gown for her to wear, but Adesina raised a hand to stop the young woman.

The queen had been putting off changing her clothes because she knew what she had to do, and she dreaded it.

She walked over to her trunk and opened it slowly. Wrapped in a cloth at the very bottom were the black garments of her Shimat uniform. Her chest constricted at the sight of them, as if they embodied everything that tainted her former life.

Adesina chided herself silently.

They were only clothes, and they were the most practical choice for the task that was before her.

She did not allow Cor’a to help her dress, feeling as though it was a burden that she had to take of her own accord.

The black leather vest—which served as a light armor—fit more snugly than she remembered, but everything else felt the same. The knee-high boots were still supple and soundless; the black gloves still seemed like part of her skin rather than a hindrance to her dexterity. Instead of donning the black blouse that was worn underneath the vest, though, she substituted a white one. It made her feel better about wearing the uniform that represented her enemies.

Adesina held the soft tube of cloth that served as a hood and the long scarf that was usually wrapped around it. She had no intention of wearing the Shimat mask, but she wondered if she should take it with her anyway. The white blouse she wore would make stealth extremely difficult—if not impossible—so why bother hiding her face?

She tossed the scarf and hood back into the trunk, and pulled out her dark riding cloak. She trusted Cor’a to be discreet, but she didn’t want anyone else seeing her wear the clothing of the Shimat. Adesina had made this choice because she knew she couldn’t do all that would be necessary on this mission while wearing a dress, and she didn’t own any other suitable trousers. The L’avan all knew of her past, though, and it wouldn’t do for them to assume she was reverting to her former self.

Adesina gave her young maid’s hand a squeeze in thanks and farewell, and then she stepped out into the chill morning air. Summer was approaching, but the pre-dawn still felt very much like spring. The early rays of light were appearing on the horizon, and it looked like the day would be warm and fair.

Most of the L’avan were standing silently by the entrances to their tents, watching their young queen depart from the settlement. There was no fanfare, no ceremony, but they all wanted to see her off as she went to restore their hopes for the future.

Her companions were waiting for her at the edge of the settlement. Mar’sal and Than’os were speaking quietly to E’nes, and Ravi kept his place at Kendan’s side. Maizah was already sitting on her horse, waiting patiently to depart.

Adesina noted with a glance that her own grey mare was nowhere to be seen. She paused in shock when she recognized the glossy black stallion with a white star on his forehead.


It was the horse that L’iam had given her after her first visit to Yavar, the capital city of Pevothem. Adesina had been forced to leave him behind during the escape from the Shimat fortress five years ago.

She moved forward to touch his face, and he nuzzled her hand in greeting. Adesina was pleased that he remembered her after such a short time together. “How did you get here?” she asked the horse with a smile.

“I brought him with me,” answered Kendan. “The Shimat who were guarding the gate when you were last at the fortress told me that you had ridden up on him, and I could see that he was no ordinary stallion. I claimed him as my own after things quieted down, and I promised him that I would return him to you.”

The smile faded from her face as she turned to her former teacher. “Thank you.”

“That is not all,” Kendan continued. “There is one more thing that I claimed that night, and I promised myself to return it to you.”

He unbuckled the sword that was strapped to his back, and he offered it to her with a hesitant expression on his face.

Adesina knew what it was immediately. She stared at the sword for several moments, uncertain if she wanted it or not. Finally, she accepted it and held it gently. It was still as perfectly balanced as she remembered, and it still felt like it belonged in her hands. The simple sheath bore the image of a diving falcon—the codename by which she had been known as a Shimat. The young queen drew the blade and studied the exquisite workmanship and the intricate designs that had been etched along its slender length.

It was her Blood Sword. The weapon that had been infused with a few drops of her own blood, and given to her upon her graduation from Shimat training.

Kendan could see the conflict on her face. “Zadok learned to be a blacksmith in a land across the sea. He said that it was common practice to make Blood Weapons, and that it was believed that it created a bond of loyalty between a warrior and his weapon. The Shimat may have forged your sword, but it only belongs to you.”

Adesina nodded slowly and replaced it in its sheath. “Again, thank you.”

He shook his head and turned away, as if denying his worthiness of her gratitude.

E’nes approached his younger sister with tears in his eyes. He embraced her gently and whispered into her hair, “I almost cannot bear to see you go. Who will protect you and keep you out of trouble?”

She smiled as she hugged him back. There had been a time when she could not imagine having a brother, but now she could not imagine being without him. E’nes had become a steadying and strengthening force in her life, and she already missed him fiercely.

“Ravi will keep an extra eye on me on your behalf.”

He gave a small laugh. “I suppose he will.”

Adesina looked up at her brother’s loving face and her heart was filled with warmth. “Thank you for taking care of me, E’nes. I would have been lost without you.”

“That sounds too much like a final goodbye,” he said with a frown.

“Is that not what one says when leaving?”

“No. We shall say farewell until we meet again.”

She chuckled at his insistence. “Very well. Farewell until we meet again.”

E’nes nodded in satisfaction. “Do not do anything foolish, little sister.”

“I never do,” she claimed as she mounted Torith.


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