“Moment of Doubt” — Excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum)

Daughter of Ashes

 

Legends of Tirum was another series that started out as a free-write notebook full of scenes. I started those back in the late 1980s, and collected them over the course of the next ten years, whenever I needed to take a break from the heavier Science Fiction books I was writing at the time. I was surprised to discover, in the mid-1990s, when I sat down to read through my accumulated scenes, that I had the foundation for a very unusual type of Sword-and-Sorcery Fantasy series. And, as the series background took shape over the next decade, the first book started to come together.

I really love the depth of these two characters – they manage to complete each other, without actually needing each other to be complete.  It’s a very interesting relationship. :)

 

“Moment of Doubt” – excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum, Book 1) –

Sala floated back into the fireplace, and the fire suddenly doused itself into little more than hot ash and a few smoldering coals.

Telyn swallowed hard, suddenly edgy now that she was completely alone with Nacaris.

“I don’t know how to do this,” she admitted quietly.

“Shh.” He touched a finger to her lips, stilling her. “I understand there are things you can’t share with anyone. I’m only asking to be a part of what you can share.”

His face filled her vision, and Telyn’s eyes widened as his lips replaced his touch against her mouth in a soft, gentle kiss she never expected from this battle-hardened man. Enclosed in his embrace as he released her lips, Telyn allowed herself to sink against the leather of his tunic and breathe in the scents of man, horse, and travel that clung to him. It was a comforting scent, underscored by something dark, dangerous, and uniquely Nacaris. She sighed regretfully. “I wish–“

“What?” He nuzzled her hair, and stroked a hand lightly over her back. “Talk to me, Telyn.”

She stifled a mirthless laugh. He had no idea how much she struggled to keep her thoughts from him — she already feared they were doomed. “I wish it could always be like this.”

“What, always on the hunt? Roaming endlessly, without a home?” He squeezed her lightly. “Be careful what you wish for, balnyt. Nature is both a capricious and mischievous mistress. You may get what you want, in ways you least desire.”

Telyn shuddered, hearing the ring of prophecy behind those teasing words. She wasn’t fool enough to test them just now. Instead, she burrowed into his embrace and allowed herself a rare moment to be something other than a warrior.

Pick up your copy of DAUGHTER OF ASHES today, at Amazon.com

“Gatekeeper” – Excerpt from BETWEEN WORLDS (Project Prometheus)

PPAtlantisdecalBETWEEN WORLDS wraps up the sub-series within Project Prometheus called Atlantis Silver — a sub-series of five books that kicks off the entire series with the reincarnation of five Elders from the abandoned and mostly destroyed ancient island of Ali-Antos, known today as Atlantis.

BETWEEN WORLDS brings the Elders back to Ali-Antos, and the temple they abandoned in the face of its imminent destruction at the hands of the Brotherhood of Spiders. And none among the Elders has more to set right than the gatekeeper to the Temple of the Stars — a woman who literally gave everything she was to correct a grievous wrong she committed. And the price she’s to pay in her reincarnation may be one she can’t face at all.

 

“Gatekeeper”  – Excerpted from Project Prometheus: BETWEEN WORLDS (Project Prometheus, Book #5)

She was so cold.  The wind here on the shore was bitter, chilled by the storm raging around her.  Csilla huddled in the cavern, watching as the boats were made ready.

“Are you ready, Gatekeeper?”

She turned at the sound of a masculine voice, to find Sargon beside her, tall and strong in his armor, the glow of his charge shining around him even from where it rested, secure in the scabbard at his side.  She shuddered to think how, of them all, only she was a real danger.  Only her charge could bring them all back to this place, and only her charge could be forced from her grasp by any manner besides death.

“Go, Warrior,” she whispered, already aware of what she must do.  And yet, she could not tell these men, her soul-brothers, what she planned.  They would surely halt her plan, if they knew how she meant to protect them all.  “I am weary, and will bide here a while.”

He frowned.  “It is not safe, Csilla.  Already, Arachaena swarm the mountain above us.  They must not find us here.”

She looked out toward the storm-tossed waves where she once found solace.  Sadness gripped her. She would leave all of this behind. She hugged her cloak tighter about her shoulders.  There was no help for it.  This was as it must be.

“I shall follow directly.  Have Mykalos tie me a boat in yon rocks.”

Sargon sighed, but relented.  Truly, he was too tender to a woman’s comfort. She feared that would bring him to ill ends.  “Do not linger too long, Csilla.”

She smiled up at him, careful he did not read her sorrow.  “I will be gone before they arrive.”

With a nod, his eyes wary, Sargon left her and headed for the boats beyond.  Csilla sighed, and shivered slightly as she rested her back against the cool rocks.  The weight of the knife concealed beneath her cloak was a cold reminder of what she must do.  She would keep her promise.  Only, it would not be as Sargon believed.

Look for the book that started it all, IN HER NAME, coming soon from Desert Breeze Publishing!

“Confessions in Blood” — Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus)

PPAtlantisdecalEvery once in a while, as an author, you encounter a scene that just blows you away. This scene was that for me — totally unexpectedly. I originally intended for Trevor to come around alone, to have to battle his thoughts and personal demons completely alone, to illustrate how much inside of himself he’s gone in order to retreat from what he can’t understand or face. Instead, his disappearance dragged Jaye into the mix, and this amazing bit of character exposition developed all on its own.

“Confessions in Blood” — Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus, Atlantis Silver, Book #3) –

 

Ten minutes and a gurney trip later, Jaye frowned in true worry as she realized Trevor was still dazed and not at all himself.  Even worse, the bright fluorescent lights illuminated the blood on his dark skin that the moonlight and shadows masked.

Helping him to his bed, she left him just long enough to collect gauze, warm water, and antiseptic.  She doubted he lost enough blood to need emergency surgery or a transfusion, though the amount was alarming to view.  She frowned.  Even knowing it was probably a superficial head wound, and looked worse than it was, she was worried.

Standing before him, she dipped a piece of gauze in the warm water and began gently cleaning the blood from his face.  If she could get through the blood, she could find out if he needed stitches or not.

Trevor flinched with a hiss, and she raised startled eyes to find him regarding her with clear eyes, as if he’d never been the animal she found hidden in the bushes.

“Jaye?”  His voice was weak, and his hand trembled as he lifted it – the only signs he was actually unwell.  He glanced toward the window, and his brow furrowed.  “What time is it?”

“About two in the morning.”  Jaye bit her lip.  He lost track of time, and she didn’t like that.  Losing time was a bad sign in psychiatric medicine.  She wiped away the last smear of blood, and a chill passed through her.  There weren’t any wounds.  Not a single laceration.  She swallowed past her trepidation, but her voice still came out small and breathless.  “What happened to you?”

He tensed. “I don’t remember.”

The tone of his voice alerted her something was wrong, even before she met his gaze.  His eyes were clear, but evasive.  Damn it, he was lying to her.  “Trevor…”

“No.”

She loosed a small cry of exasperation.  Zero-two-hundred hours, when she barely slept last night, was not the time for him to start pulling his stoic routine on her.

“You never were a good liar.”

His gaze darkened as he stared her in the eye.  “And you must have a lot of practice at it.”

Those words drove the breath from her even more than his bitter tone did.  Had he finally remembered Somalia?  Did he know what she did?  She sought blindly for a place to sit as her knees weakened with fear.  “What do you mean?”

The anger dropped from his face, and he reached out to her, oblivious of the blankets dropping, leaving him naked from the waist up.

“Hey, I’m sorry… I don’t know what that was.  I just… I don’t want to talk about where I went, okay?”

For a reason she couldn’t explain if he asked, his secretive attitude annoyed her.  She went back to cleaning the smaller blood smears from his face and neck.  “Great.  Fine.  Do you want to at least tell me how you ended up naked and covered in blood?”

“Not particularly.”

“Damn it, Trevor!”  She threw the gauze into the bio waste container with more force than necessary and glared at him.  “This isn’t a game.  I’m trying to help you.”

“I’m fine.”

“Funny.  Your boss doesn’t think so.”

“I said, I’m fine.”

“Bullshit.”

His eyes narrowed.  “You never used to swear.”

She bit down on words that would turn the air blue, and instead snapped, “Yeah, well I had to get tough.”

The frown on his face pulled her attention from her anger, even before he hazarded, “Because of me?”

She flinched, in spite of her attempt to remain neutral.  She couldn’t help it; she’d run from the truth for too long.  “Yes.”

His gaze turned away, toward the window, and he looked truly ill for the first time.  “I’m sorry.”

The words hit her out of nowhere, and stung because he had no idea how little she deserved them.  She should be the one begging for his forgiveness.  Jaye bit down hard on her lower lip, and stepped closer.

“Don’t apologize,” she whispered as she stroked his cheek gently.  “Not to me.”

 

Want to know more?  Find out how it all starts in IN HER NAME, coming from Desert Breeze Publishing in September 2014.

“Destiny’s Hand” – Excerpt from “Liberty’s Flight” (BOREALIS II)

Borealis II“Destiny’s Hand”  — Excerpt from Borealis II, “Liberty’s Flight”

Bars offered anonymity. Anonymity offered security, and survival. That was, if they didn’t turn into all-out brawls and bring down the Enforcers, which this one looked like it might do at any moment. Samuel Hanniford cast a wary glance over the boisterous crowd as it surged around the bar, and tried not to look nervous. It never paid to look nervous in a negotiation.

Eyes on the prize, Hanniford. He returned his attention to the man seated across from him. Baltarians were a humanoid-standard race not noted for being exactly forthcoming, but they owed the Rebellion big time, and Sam’s job was to collect.

“Look, we need to know the TPP patrol route through this sector. We know your people monitor them.”

“For a price.” The tall, reed-thin man’s voice was whisper soft, and hissed with his people’s reptilian roots.

Sam thumped his tankard down on the laser-scarred metal table with a clang that would have drawn attention had everyone else’s eyes not been riveted on the bar — and the women dancing on top of it. “Damn it, Eloyd, we had a deal. We kept those bastards from wiping out every man, woman, and child on your planet. Hell, we even kept them from abducting your friggin’ queen. We already paid the price, and you damned well know it!”

The Baltarian leaned back in his seat, a serpentine smile curving his lips — damned smug bastard. “I cannot act on such a price without authorization.”

“So get it.” He wasn’t about to back down on this one. The Rebellion needed these patrol routes, and fast, to have any hope of making a dent in the armored hide of TPP. And Sam had a personal interest in stopping the TPP’s expansion.

“Give me some time.” Eloyd slithered to his feet. “I will be in touch.”

As the Baltarian slunk from the bar, Sam cursed to himself. This mission was turning out as rank as any. But he couldn’t go back. Not yet. The TPP were closing in on him, and until he had solid information, he couldn’t risk running the patrols to get home. And, after nearly six Sol-standard years, he wanted — needed — to go home.

With another oath, Sam rose and turned toward the door. What he really needed right now was some shuteye…

A woman’s scream rent the air, followed by the drunken howls of the men in the bar. He yanked back to look, just in time to see one of the women being carried across the upraised, pawing hands of the bar patrons as she fought and kicked like a screaming hellcat. And, before he could move, or even blink, she came flying at him, landing with a solid thud against his chest, a spitting, hissing she-cat whose claws were set to tear into his hide.

Pick up your copies of  Borealis and Borealis II Science Fiction anthologies at Desert Breeze Publishing today!

“In Faith” – Excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum)

Daughter of AshesThe character of Telyn Gwndal began life as a writing exercise… a single line penned on a piece of paper half a lifetime ago, then shoved into a folder and forgotten for years.  What inspired me to open that folder, where I found that long-forgotten sheet of paper, I’ll never know for sure. But as I looked down at that single line on the page, I realized this was someone with a story I wanted to tell… a story I NEEDED to tell. And so began one of the most ambitious projects I’ve as yet undertaken – the quest to create not just a realm, or a world, but an entire universe. It took the better part of a decade, but in the end, I have to say I’m humbled by the result…. And I feel vindicated. I was right. Telyn’s was a story that NEEDED telling, and being the scribe to her and Nacaris’ story is an honor, indeed. :)

“In Faith” – Excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum, Book #1)

Nacaris eased open the stall door and entered the space.  Bloodcloud immediately pricked his ears, then lifted his head and turned toward this new invader to his space.  Looking into the dark, liquid eyes of the horse, Nacaris saw a plea that looked nearly human, as if the horse tried to tell him to help Telyn.

Crouching down beside her, he laid a hand on her shoulder and rubbed gently.  “Telyn?  What is it?”

She jumped, clearly startled, then swiped defensively at her eyes.  “It’s nothing.”

He sighed and eased down beside her, resting his head and back against the wooden wall.  “Isn’t it always?  When do you stop being so damned stubborn?”

She bristled instantly.  “I am not stubborn!”

“Then why can’t you let anyone in?  Why must you always be the brave one, the strong one?”

Her laugh was quiet with sadness, and twisted with a bitter sound.  “That’s just it.  I’m not brave or strong.”

He frowned.  This didn’t sound the cocky, determined warrior he knew.  “I don’t follow…”

She sighed heavily, and turned her face away from him.  “I’ve spent so much of my life running.  What happens if I’m really not good enough to do this?”

He squeezed her shoulder gently, and drew her into his arms.  “What brought this on?  For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been indomitable.”

“But you don’t know me.”

The bitterness in her voice got to him, knotting in his chest like a giant serpent coiled around his heart.  How he wished to tell her the truth!  His arms closed tighter around her, and he leaned to murmur against her ear, “No, but I’d like to.”

He felt the shudder that went through her, before her face lifted to his, and he saw the small, wavery smile on her face.  “Sorry. I guess I’m just nervous about tomorrow.”

That had him frowning, again.  “What about this Seoman bothers you so?”

She offered him a half-shrug, as if she wasn’t sure how to respond.

“You’ve known him a while?”

“Since we were children.  Seoman was an orphan my mother took in when I was very young.  He was a sweet boy, always desperate to please.  When his gifts for Seeing became apparent, the MajiMasters came and took him away.  I’ve only seen him once, since, and he seemed sad.”  She sighed again.  “But what Carmyd said this morning worries me.”

“What did he say?”

“That Seoman is no longer the boy I knew.”

Nacaris nodded, and squeezed her gently.  “Everything will be all right.”

She glanced up at him.  “How can you have so much faith?”

Nacaris couldn’t help himself.  He raised his fingers to her face, skimming soft skin as he leaned closer.  “Because I believe in you.”

“Friendly Persuasion” – Excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum)

Daughter of AshesI’m a Suspense writer, when it comes down to it. While I’m eclectic in my reading tastes, I’ve always preferred to write Suspense, and most of my work up until now has been what I call Bradbury-style Science Fiction (ie, Science Fiction slanted toward the societal and human aspects of Science. Some people call it “soft Science Fiction”… but that never seemed right, to me). Yes, I tack on the “Romantic Elements” part, as the human heart and human motivations are fascinating to me.  One thing that it never really occurred to me to write, for a long time, is Fantasy. It just never seemed gritty or real enough for me.

One day, in my “doodling” (random writing of sentences and scenes to get the creative juices flowing), I penned a line that would change my viewpoint on Fantasy completely.  It would become the core motivation of an entire journey into a world full of magic, mystery, and a few surprises I won’t yet divulge :) … and introduced me to a character with a story every bit as real as any I’d written so far.

 

“Friendly Persuasion” – Excerpted from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum, Book #1)

Inside the cave, Telyn removed her ruined woolen cloak and tossed it to one side in a disgusted motion.  Not that taking her frustration out on the cloak solved her problems, but it did make her feel more in charge of a situation already spiraling out of control.  She liked that cloak!  It was a mud-brown length of marmot wool that, while not particularly costly, was her favorite riding cloak.  That drab brown garment had offered her anonymity on many occasions when her only other cloak – a scarlet length of brushed fleece her mother had gifted her with – would have made her presence painfully apparent.

“What’s riding you?”

She turned from her contemplation of the cloak to find Nacaris at her side, his long hair and clothing dripping miniature puddles on the dirt floor of the cavern.  She sighed heavily, and shook her head.  She owed him an apology.  No time like the present.

“Nacaris, I—“

“Shh.”  One long, capable finger pressed to her lips.  “I figured out what you were trying to say.  You’re right – you don’t know me well enough to see me as a friend, no matter what else we share, and I can’t give you the answers you’re looking for.”

She turned toward him, her body instinctively seeking his warmth.  “Why not?  Are you running from someone?”

He chuckled, then sighed.  “No, not exactly.”

She frowned.  “What is it, then, exactly?”

“I can’t tell you.”

The grim set of his mouth and features told her how determined he was to keep his secret.  With a sigh, Telyn leaned into him, sliding her arms around his waist and pressed her face to his damp chest.  “We’re all right?”

His arms came around her, squeezing her against himself as he dropped a kiss on her head.  “Always.”

Relief sighed through her.   Perhaps her luck wasn’t as foul as she believed.

 

DAUGHTER OF ASHES is available from Desert Breeze Publishing.  Find out more about Legends of Tirum at www.esthermitchell.com

“In Raiador’s Shadow” – Excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum)

Legends of Tirum: Daughter of Ashes

Legends of Tirum: Daughter of Ashes

This excerpt comes from my currently-available Legends of Tirum Fantasy-Romance series (heavier on the Fantasy than the Romance, in this case).  The series can be found for sale in e-book at www.desertbreezepublishing.com or via www.amazon.com and in print at Amazon.com

 

Excerpt from Daughter of Ashes (Legends of Tirum, Book 1) –

Raiador.

“Quite a sight, isn’t it?”

Her attention whipped to her left at that query, to find a man standing beside her. He had the long, plaited hair of a Borderlander, and his tarnished armor screamed mercenary loud enough the dead could have heard it. And yet, something told her he was neither.

“Excuse me?”

He nodded toward Raiador. “The mountain. Never seen anything quite like it.”

She peered closer in the diming light, trying to discover what it was about him that convinced her he wasn’t exactly what his appearance claimed. He was tall, even to her with her Bathron blood. That could be a Borderlander trait — the few she met were easily as tall as she was. His mud-brown hair hung midway down his back, woven into the traditional Borderlander plaits. But there were secrets in his smoky-green gaze that told her he wasn’t who he appeared. A sense of kinship to this man blanketed her — she was more than she appeared, as well, even if she wasn’t sure what that was, yet. This man’s charisma told her he was far from the mercenary his garb declared him to be.

A well-worn scabbard hung from an equally abused leather belt, but his sword hilt had the gleam of care, and the glint of metal at the top of his scuffed black boots hinted that he was well armed. He wasn’t a man to take lightly, and she had to wonder if he was friend, or foe.

“And you are?” She frowned up at him, daring him to meet her gaze.

He did, but those eyes remained shuttered, not allowing her access to his thoughts. “No one of consequence, Sera.”

Trailers and Books

I thought I’d share some recently created book trailers with you… :)  Please feel free to share the link to this post with anyone you think might be interested… And stay tuned for the announcement of a total make-over of www.esthermitchell.com

This first one is a series trailer for my Underground series, available from Under The Moon (www.underthemoon.org).  This is a Speculative/Science Fiction series that’s received quite a bit of praise, including a Recommended Read from Fallen Angels Reviews, several years ago:

If Science Fiction isn’t your thing, and you prefer a Fantasy world, full of swords and sorcery, quests, warriors, and magic… Have a peek at the following trailers, for my Legends of Tirum series, available from Desert Breeze Publishing (www.desertbreezepublishing.com):

And, as always, you can find out more about any of these books, and more, at www.esthermitchell.com

A Flight of Fantasy (or “Why on Earth Did You Write That?”)

I was recently asked what inspired me to write a series set completely in a Fantasy world, when so much of what I do usually takes place in the “real” world (whether present or future).  I figured you all might be interested in my answer to this question, too.  So, let me tell you a story (*grins* Can’t help it… I’m an author!)…

 

Legends of Tirum, you may be surprised to learn, isn’t my first foray into the world of Fantasy.  Most of the time, however, I deal in parallel dimensions to our own Earth, when doing my Fantasy work.  I’m not entirely sure why, myself.  Maybe it’s because I’m truly fascinated by the concept of “What If…”.  I love exploring the possibilities of where our own world could be, or could have been at some point in the past, if things had gone differently (whether minor alterations, or complete world-changers).  I guess that makes most of my Fantasy actually more of a form of Speculative Fiction.

 

Legends of Tirum is a completely different animal.  I actually created not just another world, but another whole solar system, unique constellations, and a completely independent growth, world-wise.  My reason for doing this was to create something so far outside of my “norm” as to be truly unique among my work.  I strive for that, in every series.  Some unique facet, whether a small spark of difference among the contemporarily-set paranormals (for example, there are many such differences between the military-oriented Project Prometheus, which deals solely in parapsychological phenomena, and the mystery/suspense heavy Guardians, Inc., in which paranormal creatures – known as Paras – are a real and involved part of our society), or major leaps of difference, such as seen between the technologically-stagnant Underground and the hyper-technological Section Psi.

 

Legends of Tirum takes it to an all-new level for me, stripping away the technology (or most of it… but I won’t spoil the surprise! ;)…) and replacing it with a nod to the classic Sword-and-Sorcery storyline – with a twist.  After all, it’s not often when the main character is BOTH the sword-toting warrior AND the “sorceress” with an entire arsenal of deadly magical spells at her disposal.  I gave all of my characters unique qualities that set them apart from both each other and from every other character I’ve ever written about.

 

So, if you’re looking for something Fantasy, with a twist or two of Romance thrown in for good measure (and because, without it, my main character would probably be an irritating hard-ass…lol), you can find out more about this series on my website, at http://www.esthermitchell.com/LegendsofTirum.html

Legends of Tirum, Book 3: Spirit Mage

 

“Uncharted Territory” — Excerpt from SPIRIT MAGE (Legends of Tirum)

Legends of Tirum 3: SPIRIT MAGE

When Phoenix Telyn Gwndal returned to Raiador, she intended to bury her heart there, and never love again.  But when the  Elementals guarding the sacred World Forge set her a task that took her beyond the reaches of a mystical forest, Telyn was about to come face-to-face with a secret that would turn everything she believes about life, and death, upside down.

 

“Uncharted Territory” — Excerpt from SPIRIT MAGE (Legends of Tirum, Book #3):

The Eleshau was alive. That was what all the stories about this benighted wood said, and after everything she’d seen during her time in the Borderlands, she wasn’t inclined to disagree. Phoenix Telyn Gwndal eyed the trees around her warily as she rode along the undergrowth-covered ancient paths. Not many people ever travelled these trails. Few who did ever returned.

She glanced to her right, certain the trees were whispering, and not in the whimsical, imaginative way. She was far too aware the shadows here harbored monsters capable of killing the body, or stealing the soul.

“I must be mad.”

She had no idea why she was here, but she wasn’t inclined to linger without good reason. Somewhere out there in the trees was  Nacaris’ final resting place. Though she’d searched, she never found his body.  She mourned him the whole way to Raiador, battered and weary to the soul. She’d expected to hide herself away within the World Forge and lick her wounds — both physical and emotional — until she could face the world again.

But the Salamandars had other ideas. No sooner had she arrived, Phoenix Book in tow, than they put her to work memorizing the entire Book. And then, to her shock and horror, they sent her back out here, to the Eleshau. Sala claimed the next step in her journey as one of the Chosen lay beyond this forest.

Telyn swallowed hard. She wasn’t even sure there was anything beyond the Eleshau. Legend told of a land beyond here — a mystical land peopled by beings from the stars, and Majikal creatures few had ever seen. Other stories declared the continent dropped off sharply into the roiling riptides of the ocean, just past the forest. That, storytellers said, was why no one who entered the forest ever returned.