“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 Science Fiction writer, when it comes down to it. While I’m eclectic in my reading tastes, I’ve always preferred to write 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 also thrive off of Romance, 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.

 

Weekend Gems: “Gilded Cage”

“No one said this would be easy.” Maltai circled her cage, watched her stalking movements match his stride warily as she pulled against the golden chain and collar that encircled her neck.  “You’re not going to get out of there, no matter what I do, unless you’re ready to quit being so damned noble.”

She loosed a warning growl that rumbled in the air between them as he stepped closer, her bright yellow eyes narrowing as she bared her teeth.  Then, backing off, she shook herself, shedding her feline form in the process.  In the space of a breath, she went from imposing lioness to a lean, proud woman with tawny skin and dark hair, wearing only the short, tattered drape of cloth that denoted her servitude, and the proud, regal tilt of her chin that told him she was far from a broken slave.

“If I compromise my very core, and everything I hold dear, then I might as well stay here and become a slave in truth.  What reason do I have to be free, if I sacrifice my soul self in the process?”

Want to know more?  Stay tuned for details about Legends of Tirum and this book, Mistress of Cats!  Meanwhile, check out Books 1 & 2 at Desert Breeze Publishing

“Rendevous” – Excerpted from Legends of Tirum: PHOENIX RISING

“Rendevous” – excerpted from Legends of Tirum, Book 2: PHOENIX RISING

copyright 2010 by Esther Mitchell

(This scene is unedited and may differ from the final published version)

By the time Telyn reached their agreed rendezvous place, she could tell how aggravated Nacaris was.  It wasn’t that he was acting annoyed.  If she hadn’t known him so well, she might never have known his mood.  He crouched by the trunk of a tree, his sword balanced loosely across his knees and his head resting back against the rough bark, looking all for the world as if he was meditating, or asleep.  But the tense set of his shoulders told a very different story, and Telyn hesitated for an all-new reason.  What if he truly didn’t want to listen to her reason?  Had she already pushed him too far?

“Nacaris,” she whispered his name as she stepped out of the brush to his left.  Let it never be said Telyn Gwndal was a coward.  She’d face his wrath head-on.  He deserved that much.

Instantly, Nacaris was on his feet, facing her, his blade in hand and the point aimed straight at her heart.  He froze then, and they stared at one another over the dim glow of the steel, bathed in moonlight.

Telyn shoved away her trepidation and, from deep inside, summoned up a teasing grin.  “If you kill me now, this’ll amount to the shortest partnership in history.”

For a long moment, he didn’t move, and the pain and anger in his eyes tore at Telyn’s soul, and raised her doubts again.

“Nacaris, please…”

With a weary sigh, he relaxed, his arm dropping until the blade hung loosely in his grip at his side.  “I swear you’re going to be the death of us both.”

She drew a breath, and ignored the pang of prophecy she heard in those words.  She didn’t want to contemplate that possible future.  “But not tonight.”

The sword thudded into the grass at his feet, and he took a wary step toward her, and then another with more confidence, until they stood toe-to-toe, their breath mingling on the cool night air.  His hand raised, and Telyn trembled as Nacaris’ fingers lightly skimmed her face, before his whispered words met her ears.  “No.  Not tonight.”

DAUGHTER OF ASHES Release – Today!

Legends of Tirum: Daughter of Ashes

Time to break out the party hats and celebrate!  Today’s the launch day for a brand new series for me!

Legends of  Tirum is a Fantasy series with Romantic elements that’s been a long time in development, and I couldn’t be more happy or proud to say it’s finally here!

Today’s release of DAUGHTER OF ASHES, the first book in the series, is the culmination of years of work!

So, in honor of today’s release, I’m posting a special excerpt.  Have a peek… tell me what you think… And if you like what you read, pick up your very own copy at Desert Breeze Publishing today! :)

Excerpt from Legends of Tirum: DAUGHTER OF ASHES –

The streets of the Brassanburg Market were already thrumming with morning business by the time Telyn and Nacaris entered the gates of the city. Telyn smirked at the hawkers — street corner peddlers who screamed their trinkets and wares like birds of prey — who badgered passers-by in the hopes of turning a head by sheer volume. She wondered if they knew how many potential customers they drove off that way. The proprietors of the storefronts and billowing pavilions certainly knew, if the disdainful, irritated looks they cast their street-corner compatriots was any indication.

“Is it always this loud?” Nacaris’ voice carried over the boisterous peddlers, and she turned to grin at him.

“This is the great part of the market.” She always enjoyed watching the subtle battle of wills that thrummed between peddlers and merchants. Trade towns were famous for both hawkers and shopkeepers, and little as they cared for each other, neither would have celebrated the demise of the other. As long as the barter war remained in full force, the powers of trade remained balanced.

Telyn drew her mount closer to Nacaris’, to be heard above the din, as she jerked her chin toward an inn at the end of the street. “There’s where we want.”

He eyed the non-descript building warily. “Are you certain?”

Her grin flashed, wide and wicked. She knew what he thought, but was too diplomatic to say. It looked like a swill house. But she knew that appearance could be deceiving, and this little inn was testament enough to that. “Trust me.”

He cast her a long look, then surprised her by nodding. She’d expected more of a battle.

Telyn turned Bloodcloud toward a stable a few doors up from the inn. She knew the stablemaster, and trusted him to take good care of her horse. She grinned at the man in question as he stepped from the livery doors at the sound of horses outside.

“Ho, Carmyd!”

He blinked into the sunlight, and a wide grin split his scarred face as he swiped a hand over his bald pate. “Well, bless my silver shoes, if it ain’t a grand sight for old eyes.”

With a laugh, she leapt from her horse and into his waiting embrace, breathing in the familiar, comforting scents of leather and horse. Unwelcome tears swelled in her eyes as memory washed over her. Carmyd was an old Gildgard — one of the few that actually managed to survive to a respectable old age and retire gracefully. He’d come to her mother, bleeding and near death from horrific wounds on his face, when Telyn was a mere babe, and his long recovery had made him a semi-permanent fixture in her young life. From Carmyd, she heard the old legends, and learned to ride her first horse. Under his tutelage — and despite her mother’s disapproval — she’d learned to handle blade and bow, though others were responsible for honing her skill.

“Here, now, girl,” he muttered, holding her away to look into her face. “What brings the tears?”

She blinked them away and shook her head, smiling. “It does me good to see your face again.”

He glanced beyond her, and his shaggy brows lifted curiously. “Who’s the stallion?”

Telyn laughed, but couldn’t contain the flush that crept up her neck. “A friend.”

“I see.” He frowned, and then, as if reaching some inner conclusion, shrugged. “What brings you to my fair city?”

She sighed. “Business, I fear.”

His gaze flickered to Nacaris again. “His or yours?”

“Both. I came to see Seoman.”

That gained her a piercing look from her old friend. “What kind of business?”

She batted him away and turned toward Bloodcloud as Nacaris swung down from his own mount. “Don’t pry, Carmyd.”

“I see.” Those two words carried a wealth of meaning, and Telyn sighed. She wasn’t about to explain herself to anyone — especially not Carmyd.

“We need lodging for the horses for the night, at least.”

He nodded, and gestured toward the stable. “You know the way. But, Telyn, a word of caution…”

She turned expectantly. There was something about his tone…

“Aye?”

“The boy you knew is long gone. Have a caution with the man he’s become.”

As she walked Bloodcloud into the stable, those words travelled with Telyn, and concern knitted her brows. What, exactly, did Carmyd mean?